Is self-care self-ish? Or is self-care an absolute necessity in order to put yourself in a position to succeed in any, and we’re talking ANYTHING you want to accomplish in life? Today Tony talks about the “Emotional Baseline” a concept he developed over a decade ago that has helped thousands of people make positive strides toward accomplishing THEIR goals...not the goals placed on this by those in their lives who, bless their hearts, mean well. Tony discusses the origin of the Emotional Baseline theory, what role it plays in overcoming depression, addiction, anxiety, and how to establish self-care strategies based specifically on YOUR life experiences.
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Transcript of Episode:
EP 224 Emotional Baseline-2020-09-23
[00:00:00] Coming up on today's episode of The Virtual Couch, we are talking about raising your emotional baseline. Just yesterday, I had a client in my office who said that self care just sounds selfish, but I'm going to lay out a pretty solid case today that raising your emotional baseline is a way to get your own head above water so that you're not only in a better position to take care of yourself, but then in turn to connect to others. That and so much more coming up on today's episode of The Virtual Couch.
[00:00:39] Hey, everybody, welcome to Episode 224 of The Virtual Couch. I am your host, Tony Overbay. I am a licensed marriage and family therapist, certified my Vltava coach, writer, speaker, husband, father of four, ultramarathon runner and creator of the Path Back and online pornography recovery program that is helping people reclaim their lives from the harmful effects of pornography. If you or anyone that you know is trying to put pornography behind you once and for all, and trust me, it can be done in a strength based hold the shame, become the kind of person you always wanted to be way, then head over to path back recovery dotcom. There you'll find a short ebook that describes five common mistakes that people make when trying to put pornography behind them once and for all. Again, that's path back recovery dotcom. And welcome to today's episode. I am I am grateful to be here. I am very distracted because I am doing another recording for YouTube and the music is continuing to go on. And I believe it might be too loud, but I will try to take care of that in post-production and killing a little time because I'm looking at the music as it is about to go away altogether. Let me let me hit the business things first.
[00:01:41] Of course, you can find me at Virtual Couch on Instagram or at Tony Overmanning Licensed Marriage and family therapist on Facebook and a big push to go to Tony Overbay dot com and sign up to find out more information about upcoming programs. If you do follow me on social media, you saw that I was actually in Idaho last week and that was to film. I was filming my magnetic marriage course with my friend Preston Buckmeier. And we will be introducing, launching, giving you so much more information about that course in the coming days, weeks. So watch out for that. It really was an incredible experience. And I can't even describe I will describe in so much detail in the coming weeks. But I think on one of the Instagram live videos that Prestons wife Corinne had talked about, I said we've cracked the code and really on communicating better in your marriage. But I also believe it's going to be communicating better with your family in your life. And that program is coming very soon. And I believe that is all of the business that I want to take care of. So let's oh, let me tell you this, too. If you do want to watch the video on YouTube, I would love it if you would hit the subscribe button. I know I'm now that guy subscribe like all those kind of things, but we're getting close to the number of subscribers where then YouTube will put the video out there a little bit more.
[00:03:02] So I would love it if you just happen to be a YouTube person, YouTube viewer dinge. And then if you would just go to the virtual couch, you can even search for it in the YouTube search panel and just hit subscribe. That would be wonderful. And I am so grateful for any reviews that people head to Apple podcast or any other podcast app and have a moment and can hit a rating and maybe take a couple of seconds to write the reviews. That would mean the world to me. So I really appreciate you doing that. So I have some amazing people that are beginning to help me behind the scenes. And one of those is a wonderful friend named Crystal, and she is starting to put pull quotes out of the transcripts of podcasts. And on one of our conversations online through a couple of weeks ago, I just said, hey, any suggestions on podcast topics? And I was grateful. She had mentioned more on the emotional base line. And this is something that I used to talk about often on my podcast. And I realized I mentioned it on other episodes of other people's podcast when I've been interviewed. But my initial emotional baseline episode was, I believe, episode 12, which is now about three years ago. And I don't even know how this all works, but I believe some of those old episodes of the virtual couch are no longer available on things like Apple podcasts. So I wanted to do another episode on the virtual couch on the concept of the emotional baseline, because this was really a game changer for me.
[00:04:32] And it is something that I, I don't know a better way than to say I made this up. I think a better strength based way would be to say that I created this emotional baseline concept over a decade ago when I was still just a shiny brand new therapist. I was a couple of years into my internship and this concept has moved forward. As a matter of fact, this is the next book that I am being blessed, fortunate to work on. And so I just wanted to go over the concept of the emotional baseline. Again, it's a way to really give yourself or allow yourself self care, the the permission for self care. Because as I said in the intro, I hear often that people put themselves last or they feel like self care is selfish. I work with a lot of people that feel like if they do anything for themselves that's prideful or that they're not doing something right. And so I want to address that today. But so first, let's take a trip back in the time machine. And I want to talk about the genesis or the origin of the emotional baseline. So long ago, again, this was over ten years ago. I was working with a client that was a doctor, a physician. And he at that time was in a pretty difficult marriage, as a matter of fact, when I remember this, we would talk about all kinds of new skills, things he had never been to therapy before, and it was well before I realized how difficult or challenging it can be if someone is coming in to work on the relationship.
[00:05:57] But only one person is interested in working on the relationship. And I remember back in that time I thought, OK, is once I can talk to maybe his wife one time, then she will want to come in and we'll work on this together. And that was again early on in my therapy career. And I had reached out to his wife and I wish I could tell you that. Then all of the sudden she said, Oh my gosh, I want to come in and work on our relationship. And they did. And they lived happily ever after. But that was not the case. She literally I didn't know the term back in the day ghosted me and I never had a conversation with her. So I would continue to work with this individual and try to help him stay as present as he could be. So it could be there to be able to provide for his family. So he was serving in a position in his church at that time that was really important to him. And he also loved his work, absolutely loved his work. And one of the difficult things in his marriage was his spouse didn't want to talk about his work at all.
[00:06:54] So he would come home and he would want to share some of the details of the day. I remember we worked on things like him going home and, hey, how can I help? And him listening to his wife talk about her day, he doubled down on empathy. Tell me more about that again. How can I help? And he did a nice job reframing that, but it was never reciprocated. And he loved talking about medicine. And so I would just say, how are you doing? And sometimes he would start talking about medicine. And I would have to say, hey, that is so amazing, but let's get to the therapy piece. But what we agreed to over time was that the last five to ten minutes of every session, he wanted me to ask him questions and he wanted to just talk about medicine. And I look back on that and I don't know if it was just I was able to offer something to him in therapy, so he wanted to offer something back. I'm not really sure what that was really about for him, but I know that he was passionate about medicine. And at that time I was pretty heavy into my ultra running career. And I was learning a lot about how the body works and how a lot about hydration and nutrition and the balance of electrolytes and your potassium and your sodium and just learning how the body really works as a machine. And he was he had done a lot of his early work in sports medicine.
[00:08:10] So he was very knowledgeable in this area and he really enjoyed talking about it. And I learned so much. That was at a time where I was running twenty four hours around a track to raise money for schools. And I was doing some of these 100k, which 62 miles or hundred mile endurance races and really learning about how much your how many calories an hour at your stomach can handle to produce energy and how you didn't want to go into too big of a calorie deficit or your body would start to burn muscle or fat, which wasn't a very efficient fuel source. And it was just incredible. And he knew so much. But there was a day where I was driving into work in this to show you how long ago it was. I used to listen to a thing called the radio for any of the kids that are tuning in. It was in my car and you could turn these dials and it would the people would talk out of this box. And now I think it's all podcast and everything's in coming from my phone, that sort of thing. So I'm driving in and I realize I really hadn't thought enough about what I wanted to talk to him about or what I wanted to ask him, the questions I wanted to ask him. And he I think he was my first client of the day, an early client.
[00:09:15] And I, I hear and an ad for an antidepressant. And again, it was on the radio. So I don't know if it's thirty seconds or a minute, but they talk about the antidepressant. And then at the end, if you listen to any kind of ad or even seen it on TV for some sort of medication, they come on. And here's the part where they say the I don't know, they say the side effects of the antidepressants may cause dry mouth, nausea, headache, diarrhea, nervousness, restless agitation, anxiety, increased weight loss, weight gain, insomnia, everything. And then one of those side effects they talked about may cause suicidal ideation. And I just remember I can right now, I remember I was exactly the exit where I was getting off. There's a golf course in front of me. I'm about to turn left and go back over the freeway. And I just remember that moment where I thought antidepressant and suicidal ideation, something doesn't add up. And so I thought, OK, I will ask the doctor this question. I at the end, I just said, hey, I what is that about? How can suicidal ideation be a part of taking an antidepressant? And he was a really good storyteller. And so he sat back and he said, OK, let me tell you a little bit of a story. And so he said he grew up in a very cold state. So let's just say for the sake of argument, Wyoming. So still keeping some anonymity here. And he said, all right, I grew up in Wyoming. And he said that it can actually get too cold to snow.
[00:10:37] And I had never heard that I grew up. In Utah, it snowed a lot, but I don't remember it ever being too cold to snow, and he said, yeah, it's a state called Anhedonia. And at the time I wasn't really familiar with the term. And since I've become a little more familiar, it's interesting because Anhedonia is actually something that comes into the therapy world as well. In my line of work, you know, anheDonia is the inability to feel pleasure and it can be a symptom of depression. And there are two main types of Anhedonia. There are social and donia where you don't want to spend time with other people. And then there's a physical and a donia where you just don't enjoy physical sensations. Even a hug can leave you feeling empty. Your favorite foods taste bland, even your even sexual experiences can lose their appeal. So he's talking about anhedonia of weather. And so he says again, it's so cold, it can't even snow. And I have given this emotional baseline talk speech, you name it, so many times that even as I was going back to record this episode, I wanted to look up. And again, I couldn't remember if this was an actual fact or if this was just a nice story. That does make sense the more that he lays out this concept of emotions. So I did go to Weather.com and said that one of the questions people frequently ask about winter weather, can it ever be too cold to snow? And according to whether.come, they said, strictly speaking, the answer is no.
[00:11:56] Even during a cold spell in Antarctica, it's still possible to get snow. But they say what is true is that heavy snowfalls are much less likely to occur when the mercury drops well below freezing, especially below zero degrees Fahrenheit. And I love where they lay out what are the conditions needed for snow. You need cold temperature. The air near the ground needs to be below freezing or no more than a few degrees above. And then moisture, the air must have enough water vapor to generate precipitation and then rising air for the air to release its moisture in the form of rain or snow. It generally has to rise and cool. So weather.com says extremely cold weather obviously meets the first criteria, but the other two conditions become more difficult to achieve when the temperature drops and just gets into this concept of extremely cold Conditions are associated with air that are stable instead of rising, whereas warm air rises.
[00:12:42] So think of a hot air balloon. A cold air mass typically hugs the ground, so the lack of movement prevents it from releasing snow. And so a lot of meteorologists say that that's a bit of a misnomer to say that it's too cold to snow. But the more accurate expression would be that conditions are too stable for snow. So there you go. But anyway, back to the story. We're talking about this AnnaDonia that he talks about. So what he told me was he said, think of somebody with clinical depression and they are so depressed or so down that they just don't even want to get out of bed and they may not get out of bed for days. And he said, think of this as if you were just in bed. And every day somebody came and just pulled your lip and put an antidepressant and gave you some water. And it can take a few weeks for an antidepressant to truly kick in. And I even remember I still remember at the time one of the first clients I ever met with who told me about having a period like this that they had had for over six months, where they literally just remember staring at the clock and watching the second hand move. And that was his entire day. I remember him talking about people would come to visit and his wife just said that he didn't want to see anybody. And he talked about eventually getting out of this state or snapping out of it. But that's what we're talking about. So when somebody is in this state, he said, so you're pulling their lip out, you're putting the antidepressant in. And over the span of two, three, four weeks, when the antidepressant kicks in, it's as if the person lifts their head off the bed and then looks around and thinks, man, I am not in a good place, I'm not in a good state right now. And that's where they may even start to have these suicidal thoughts and just say, I don't know if I even want to do this. I don't know if things are worth living right now.
[00:14:21] And so he talked about how that is a key period to raise raise their mood or elevate their mood above or get through that to the point where, OK, life may not feel fantastic or great, but the I want to to kill myself is gone or it's muted or it's that thought. But then we can just put that thought aside and start working toward healthier activities, that sort of thing. So that's when I felt like I really did the Skies part, Rainbow Unicorn, Pot of Gold. And I had this epiphany that I now call the emotional baseline. So I saw things. I mean, I do this with my hands if you're watching this. But your emotional baseline, if things are going well in your life, if if you're feeling pretty content in your relationship, you enjoy your job, your kids are pretty good financially. Things are well, OK, your baseline of emotions is high. And so you are being met on a day to day basis with a variety of decisions, everything from what bills to pay, what events to go to, how to approach your boss at work. When your kids come to you, you're if you're emotional, baseline is high, you're maybe in a little bit better place to really be present and be there for them.
[00:15:32] But then I've worked with people who have maybe gone through a divorce. So they're in a difficult marriage or they are really struggling with an addiction or there's been a death in the family. They find out that there's been infidelity there. There's so many things that can lower one's emotional baseline. Someone gets sick, chronic illness, worldwide pandemic, that one sound familiar at all? But so their emotional baseline lowers and they still have all of the things, all of the things that are happening on a day to day basis that they have to deal with. They still have car repairs that happen. They still drop drop things when they get out of their car. They still have people that spill or ruin things or I'm trying to think of all the things over the last couple of weeks that I've had people talk about people throwing up in one's car, for example, and or people that break very valuable things, lose valuable things. And so these things happen in the lower your emotional baseline. And so when your baseline is low, you are in a not as good of a place to deal or handle with all of the things around you.
[00:16:35] And when your baselines low, it can often feel like everybody around you, they're they're almost talking down into you. If you are down in this pit of despair and I'm thinking almost literally of a pit that they're it's as if all they're saying is just, hey, come on up here, just get out of the pit. And you're thinking, you don't think I want to get out of the pit, but I can't even move. And so baseline of emotions are low. And so oftentimes things just seem so out of reach, are so insurmountable and that can just even cause one to feel lower and lower. So I was thinking about a story and I did share this way back in the day when when I did this initial episode, I remember when my son was in sixth grade. So now he's a junior in high school. So that was a long time ago. And he was playing some instrument. He was taken band.
[00:17:25] He was an honors program at the time. And at that time, the honors program everybody had to take band. And my son really did enjoy it. He's a very good athlete. But this wasn't something that he had planned on doing. And none of my girls had really done much. As far as with band, I think everybody had played an instrument. But on this particular night we had a band performance and it was heading into the Christmas season and and we were pretty excited to go watch Jake play an instrument and to set the stage. We at that time, boy, at that time, this isn't the case now. We were pretty good. Our kids are pretty small and we had healthy snack night where it was some fruit or yogurt or that sort of thing. And we had unhealthy snack night, which was all the other good things, cookies, cake, ice cream, that sort of thing. And so that night of this band performance was a night that was on the calendar. Technically, it was a healthy snack night. So we go out and we go to the performance. And we were watching my son and the band and the whole family's there. And it was just this blast and it was so much fun. And they were playing Christmas songs. And I still have video of this to this day. And we're watching the kids faces that they're making and they're getting excited and everybody is having an amazing time. You're just in the joy of the Christmas season. So we get done and I'm just riding high. My emotional baseline was through the roof. I'd most likely had a good day or a good few days at work. My relationships amazing. My kids were good. My girls were probably dressed up really cute and just being fun and everybody's there together.
[00:19:00] And so we went and we got ice cream with all kinds of toppings. And even though, remember, it was a healthy snack night, fast forward a couple of nights later and I think I probably maybe I'd seen a lot of clients that day and who knows what was going on, paying some bills, financial things. Who knows? I think we've had a little dogs at the time. Little dogs are notorious for not being very good at being housebroken. I don't know what was happening at the time, but a lot was going on. And so my son came to me and again, this was another healthy snack night. And it's like, Hey, Dad, can we get some ice cream? And I was like, Jake, it's a healthy snack night. Come on, we can't just do that stuff all the time. And and boy, I watch. I would do that so differently now. Thank you to the nurtured heart approach parenting. But I just remember just watching his face go and I thought, wow, look at that. So that was all on me when my emotional baseline was up and feeling good. Then everybody gets a pony and let's all get ice cream every night and everything is great. And then a few days later my emotional baseline is lower and now nobody gets a pony and you're not having ice cream. And just that vibe, that energy that I was putting out was just not good. And and so really, that's what we're going to go through, all kinds of those things like that. We're going to go through rough patches, rough periods, and our emotional baseline is going to be low over at times.
[00:20:28] And when our emotional baseline is low, we're going to respond differently. So when I start working with the client, whether it's for anxiety, whether it's for depression, even if it's couples therapy, I. Like to give this emotional baseline speech or concept because it is about self care and so an emotional baseline, what I love about it is all we're trying to do at times. If we don't feel like there's anything else that we have control over, then what is it that truly brings us joy? And and it really can be as simple as walking around the block. It can be about setting a timer and watching something that you enjoy intentionally. It can be about reading a book for fiction, for fun, for pleasure. And that leads me into one of my favorite stories about this as well. I was working with a guy a long time ago, and he had been through a very difficult divorce. He had been blindsided by some things that had led up to his divorce. And so he's working from home. Let's just say he's in the high tech industry, I think a computer programmer, that sort of thing. And he was really struggling. That was when I started to see him work with him. And so, you know, he was struggling to get projects done. He was just struggling for a lot of reasons. And so we identify these areas at first. And it's of course, you're going to feel this way.
[00:21:38] You're going through you just went through a divorce. This the circumstances around that were really bad, crazy, that sort of thing. And you're going to have all these feelings and emotions. And but now he has these work projects, these deadlines. I remember even had a dog that he needed to take out. He was starting to put on a little bit of weight and he just wasn't being very active. So his emotional baseline was just plummeting, which then just starts to pile on. So then he's feeling worse and worse. Now he feels like I have no control over anything. And I said, what do you like to do? And he said, I like to read. And I said, OK, when's the last time you read? And I thought this was even more fascinating. I remember this very well. He was a fairly religious person. And he said, when I started thinking about wanting to read, I really feel like the things I should read. And he listed off a lot of these very religious tomes, things like the Bible or books about Jesus and books from other religious leaders. And he felt like if I'm going to read, I must read these deep books about spirituality to get me out of this feeling bad feeling that I am. But he said if I'm going to if I start to read them, I'm really not into them.
[00:22:43] And I. Now, you don't realize this because his emotional baseline was so low. So he's really not into these books that he's trying to read. And what does that do? Makes him feel worse. So all of a sudden, this thing that was his passion reading is not as exciting for him anymore. So when we frame that in terms of this emotional baseline, then I said, OK, what do you really like to read? And it was still hard for him to say. I like to read John Grisham. I like to read legal thrillers. And I happen to very much love John Grisham books. And so I don't remember which one was out at the time, but I asked him if he had heard it or read of it, and he said, Oh, I see it at the bookstore all the time. And so I said, All right, here's what I want you to do. I want you when you leave today, every day for 15 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes, whatever that is. I want you to go home and read a John Grisham book. And he's thinking, is that all? And I would say just yeah, let's let's start from there. And so he reports back a week later. Sure enough, we're talking about reading the book. And he was very enthusiastic. And then I said, what's this experience been like? And he said, I'm reading fifteen to twenty minutes.
[00:23:50] And he said every now and again I might push it to thirty, but as soon as I put the book down, I feel better, I feel a little bit better. And then that was enough momentum. His baseline was raised just enough that then he I remember yeah. He then he grabbed the leash, he walked his dog. So now he's getting a little bit of sunshine, fresh air, and then that led to being able to sit down at his desk and do a little bit of coding and doing a little bit of programming. And so he just started to look at things a lot differently. He began to really embrace walking. He enjoyed walking with his dog. And then and here's what I love about the concept of the emotional baseline. He went through a little bit of a period where then he would sit down to code and then he thought, OK, now I should be able to sit in code for hours. But he realized, OK, I can't do that. So if I have to get up and take another walk or if I do another 15 minute break and read more for pleasure, I will do that because the net result is this emotional baseline was higher. He was getting back to more work. And then the more that he did in the way of self care, the more he was able to turn back to the things that were really important to him.
[00:24:55] And I have to tell you, this is a happy lives happily ever after story. I did see him many years later. He was remarried. He was serving in a really neat position with his church. I remember I was speaking at some regional event and he came up and he was just beaming and and he just said that emotional baseline concept was what really started him on this path of self care, which put him in a better position to be available for others, his kids, his eventually his new spouse. So it was there that the dawn the genesis of the emotional baseline and I realized that this self care can lead to these bigger changes. And I see this in the world of motherhood. My wife is a stay at home mom. And I my I my heart goes out to the plight of the stay at home mother. I know. There are some people that they really enjoy that there's some people that don't necessarily feel like that is something that they they are as good at. And so it can be a real struggle. And that is a really tough position to try and put self care into the picture because their little kids are needy. That's the way they come. They are they come from the factories, a factory setting. And unfortunately, you can't switch that so they can be needy.
[00:26:01] And so one of the powerful things I love when working with a woman who's maybe a stay at home mom or actually one of my early podcasts was that Eric Strand's a stay at home dad. But it is you need to take that time for yourself. So if you do need to get a babysitter for a couple of hours a week or a little bit every other day so that you can get your own exercise in, or if you need to ask your spouse or let your spouse know that I need to be able to go to the gym, I need to be able to do some self care things, because that is going to allow me to do a better job of parenting because my emotional baseline is going to be higher. And and if my emotional baseline is higher, then I will be a better husband, a better father, a better wife, a better mother, a better employee, a better servant. And so any of these self care items may feel selfish. They might even feel like in the case of this person I mentioned earlier, they might feel like really 30 minutes of a fiction novel is going to help me. And absolutely it is, because what people are typically doing is they may be wasting an entire day because they feel so down and in comes the acceptance and commitment therapy principle of experiential avoidance, the I'll do it tomorrow.
[00:27:12] And so if we have had a pretty bad day where we haven't gotten any of these deep things that we need to get done, we will feel bad about ourselves and say, OK, let's do it tomorrow. But if we allow ourselves some self care, some things that we actually enjoy, or then we're going to at least be doing something, there will be movement and then you are more likely to then carry that momentum into something more productive. Now you do. I'm a big fan of being able to write down or be very aware of what would be productive. So if he came off of that John Grisham book and didn't have the leash ready or didn't have his the computer ready for him to program, it can be easy to come off of doing something for yourself and then settle back into a little bit of this state of Annedona. So it is being a bit more intentional, but I would much rather have somebody have a day of self care and then moving on to things more productive than to have someone just beat themselves up all day. There's actually some I was, again in Idaho over the weekend and I was filming and I went out to dinner with two of my daughters and watched my daughter, my oldest daughter's husband, and my next daughter Downs boyfriend.
[00:28:21] And we were having some really good conversations. And I was talking about and this is something that I've been thinking about a lot lately. But I was talking about if you are a procrastinator and if you wait till the last minute to get things done, and that is just your pattern. And there's some pretty amazing data that kind of talks about if that's the way you do things right now, there's a good chance you've created a nice neural pathway of creating your own dopamine supply. And what I mean by that is you wait until the last minute, then your brain just floods you with dopamine. Is hyperfocus chemical? So then you are able to get things done, which then is this kind of loop. Now you've reinforced that procrastination works. So then when you try maybe the next assignment or to study for the next test and you try to study three or four days ahead, there is a good chance that you are going to say, OK, I really need to study. But then you find yourself distracted. You find yourself then starting to beat yourself up because you're not studying, you're not staying focused. You're going off on lots of little rabbit trails, maybe on YouTube and looking up Dogfail videos, or you start to sit down and do something in chemistry and then you have a thought pop up and then you're doing a Google search.
[00:29:32] And half an hour later, you've learned about I don't know if the Venus flytrap, where they do when they eat a fly, but that doesn't have anything to do with the homework or the assignment is in front of you. So we were talking about this concept of and I feel like this is a bit of an emotional baseline concept. The acceptance, if the acceptance is I am not being productive, then those two, three, four days leading up to the deadline of that project, in essence, you're going to create a bit of a negative effect to your overall emotional well-being, because every day that you are not as engaged, not getting things done again, you're beating yourself up. You're doing this experiential avoidance. You're saying I'll get to it tomorrow and then you wake up the next day and kind of feel like, man, I really better get on this today. So if you know that you are a procrastinator and you accept or embrace that you are a procrastinator, then those two or three days leading up to the deadline, if you are providing yourself with self care, if maybe you were going to make sure it's the self care, if you can exercise, hydration, eat a little bit better, get a little more sleep if you're doing those kind of. Things, those kind of self care activities and maybe reading something that you enjoy. There's a good chance that you are more willing or likely to spend a little bit of time on that homework leading up to the deadline.
[00:30:48] And then as the deadline grows closer, it's the acceptance of, OK, it's go time brain flood with dopamine and let's do this. So that whole concept of acceptance and emotional baseline will lead you to start to move that it's go time date forward. So let's say your deadline is Friday night at midnight and at Friday night at nine o'clock. You honestly know that's when I'm all of a sudden going to get I got to get this done. That's in your brains flooded with dopamine. But Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, you had tried to get the project done and you had sat there for three or four hours every night and just beat yourself up because you just couldn't muster the focus. So, again, productive self care on that Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and then just embracing that nine to 12. Let's get things done will lead to you starting to say, OK, I think I can probably get some things done beginning at 8:00 or I might be able to get some things done at 7:00, just a little bit better, a little bit more improvement. And then that those days leading up won't be this fear or dread. And so when you embrace this kind of a pattern, if this is your pattern, then you're more likely to start to move a little bit of that work in on Tuesday or Wednesday or Thursday when it is intermingled with self care.
[00:31:58] And that is because your emotional baseline will be raised. I also and I am letting you know, this is this is my theory. And I'm usually not a big fan of the gospel according to me, but I believe that this is a fairly solid principle. I'm going to share with you about the emotional baseline and medication. So a lot of times and I'll go back to the antidepressant example, when I became a new therapist and this is just my truth, when I went to grad school, I just thought I can be the therapist that says you don't need medication, you just need a positive attitude, which I now know is a pretty it is not a very effective thing to say to someone that's truly struggling with depression or anxiety. And I remember in a psychopharmacology class in grad school, just learning more about the what clinical depression can look like and what medications can do and even to increase serotonin levels and to and how people with ADHD have this dopamine deficiency. There was science coming out literally. I remember the class. OK, we'll see how that goes. My card was full on my camera, so that stopped. And now we've cut over to the high end 4K Logitech BREO webcam to record the rest of this for YouTube.
[00:33:12] So when I go in and edit that, we'll see what that camera angle difference looks like and what the quality looks like. But where was I. Oh yes, the emotional baseline. So where I'm in the psychopharmacology class and I really learn more about how medication works and I learned that it is a very effective treatment for a lot of people.
[00:33:32] And I'll even get to that more in a bit. But so here's my my thoughts on the emotional baseline of medication. Often when somebody's emotional baseline is low, I feel that they want to do the work. They want to turn to their values. They want to use mindfulness skills. They want to do all these things. But they just their baseline is so low, they feel they just can't muster up the strength or desire to really do the work that can help them. So I feel like a lot of times what meditation can do is it bumps up your emotional baseline high enough that then you can do the skills or use the tools that can help you.
[00:34:08] And so in doing so, you're then you raise your emotional baseline even higher. So let's say that baseline gets bumped up enough through nice antidepressant or antianxiety medication, or even I have clients right now that if they take something to relieve some of the OCD like symptoms and then they are in a better position to do the work, the mindfulness, the turning, the values that the self care, the productive self care, and then their baseline raises up high enough that if they decide at that point they no longer want to take medication, then we prepare them that your baseline may drop your emotional baseline may drop a little bit, but you still have this net increase over where it was. And now you really rely on those skills that you've been able to do thanks to the medication. And I really I put in my notes here, my Ritalin. So I have been very open a three part series on my podcast a year or two ago about what my add or ADHD inattentive type diagnosis has meant to me.
[00:35:04] And so taking my Ritalin has immediately raised my emotional baseline, flooded my brain with the dopamine that it so desperately craves because I have these stunted neurotransmitters from the factory. And so when that happens, it's this hyperfocus, it's this feeling of hope, as I've said. And when I got on my own medication, that's when I completed my podcast, the website, an online program, started writing a book. It was all of these things that were just every day where I felt like it was just I'm kicking the can down the road. I'm having this experiencial avoidance, so I really do. I believe that then that can the medication can raise one's baseline to put them in a position to be able to do the work they so desperately want or need to do in order to feel better. And I really feel like there is.
[00:35:51] There's a concept where people will do the work and raise their emotional baseline and at some point I call it this tipping point, there's a local sun splash. It's a water slide. And I remember being there with my kids. And you go under this one part of the at the water park and there's a giant bucket and it just slowly filling with water.
[00:36:11] And then you stand there with your kids. And when it gets to a tipping point, the bucket tips over and you get drenched. And sometimes I feel like I love this concept in my head of that tipping point, your emotional baseline, this raises and raises. And when it gets to a certain point, thank you. Self care, where I'm doing all of these things that I feel like are much more who I really am at my core, then this tipping point occurs and I just feel like that bucket of water tipping over is really your brain just flooding with all these wonderful, amazing feel good chemicals that say I can do this and that can lead to some very positive changes in your life. So I have my notes. In the original episode in Episode 12, I told a story that that was about my own emotional baseline moment, some of the things that I've done to raise my own emotional baseline. I did some volunteer counseling long ago with a very elderly woman who could not get out of her home. And I did some volunteer counseling from this wonderful elderly woman who could not get out of her home. And she told me that it would help a lot if if she could just cook me breakfast. And so I would go over to her house and she would make breakfast and we would talk this again long ago. And she was a very great cook. But as she got older, there were a couple of times where she would forget and she salted this food or not.
[00:37:27] And so she would salt it every time just to make sure. And there were times where I would go there in the salt was just so incredible of it was puckering my mouth. But man, just my feel good chemicals, the rays of my emotional baseline. And those mornings was just amazing because and those mornings, because I was about to eat all this greasy food, I at the time in the height of ultra running, I would make sure in that morning I needed to literally run at least a half marathons distance. So a good 13 miles so that I could then show up at this house and then eat this greasy food. And I just remember having this moment where I thought of emotional baseline where I was there. I was feeling so just happy, grateful to be there, grateful that I could serve. This woman is in this elderly old folks home and cooking me this breakfast that and it is as salty as anything I've ever tasted in my life. But just eating that salt and just being so present and thinking, man, if I was bummed right now, if I was thinking this food is just going to weigh me down, and if my life was not feeling very good and then I could just see that experience of being one where I'm like, I don't want to do this. This is horrible, but so emotional baseline high.
[00:38:35] It was a magical experience. There is. So I want to address and this is not something I talked about in my initial episode on emotional baseline, I was not in acceptance and commitment therapy therapist at the time. And so I really feel like acceptance and commitment therapy now plays a huge role. And the emotional baseline here's where I'm going with that, is that I go back to what someone wants to do for self care. So in the world of acceptance and commitment therapy, remember, you have the thoughts, the feelings, the emotions that you have because you are the only version of you that has ever walked the face of the earth. So the thoughts, feelings and emotions you have are not because you're broken, it's because you are you. So therefore, with those thoughts, feelings and emotions come your own sets of values that are based on your nature and your nurture and your birth order and your DNA and your abandonment and your rejection and all those wonderful things that make you who you are, all those experiences that you've been through. So along with that, you are going to have specific things that you enjoy to do for self care. Some people might like to read, some people might like to write, some people might want to journal, some people might want to craft, exercise all of these things. So you will have your own version of what raises your emotional baseline. And if you say to somebody I just heard this podcast about raising my emotional baseline, I think I want to go get a trike, an adult tricycle and ride it.
[00:39:54] If somebody says to you and you don't want to do that, they don't know. They don't bless their heart. But that is not you are the one who knows what you I ideally would enjoy from a self care standpoint. There's a client that I just love to death who loves to fly and is learning to fly. But a lot of times puts herself in last and so is there trying to serve other people, but raising her emotional baseline, if that is to get out and fly, get out and fly, do whatever you can to do that. Put yourself first, because then you will be in a better position for yourself. And then if you are going to in a position where you need to do things for others, then that's where that would come into play. So I think a little bit of homework, a little bit of practice work to do is sit down for a moment and just jot down, write down in your phone, write down by hand, whatever works for you based on your experiences, what are things that you would like to do from a self care standpoint? And I want you to try to step outside of that what you feel is expected or what you feel you should be doing. Remember, nobody likes to be put on, even our own brains. And what is it that you want to do? And if you want if you ideally would love to put more time into writing, exercise, whatever that looks like, whatever will raise your emotional baseline.
[00:41:12] And this isn't something to say to somebody, hey, what do you think would raise my emotional baseline? Because guess what they might say, I think doing our laundry would do that, or I think cooking me an amazing chocolate pie. Would you cook that? You have the crust you might cook, but that would raise your emotional baseline. This isn't that isn't what this is a time for. It's a time for what would help you raise your emotional baseline. What is your best self care experience to put you in a better position to be a better you. And that is the goal of the emotional baseline. Raise your emotional baseline and improve your life. Raise your emotional baseline and that will put you in a better place to be. Fill in the blank to be a better you, a better husband, a better father, mother, any of those things that comes with self care. Putting yourself first is perfectly OK. It's acceptable. And if someone is telling you that is not something that you can do, bless their heart, but that is their own experience, you only have your experience. And so let's raise that baseline. Let's get that self care flowing through your veins. And I promise you, that will lead to a much more fulfilling and happy life.
[00:42:19] All right. May you go and raise your emotional baseline like never before, and I will see you next time.
[00:42:26] Compressed emotions flying. Starting out the other end, the pressures of the daily grind is wonderful. Must have placed in Robert Ghost voting past midnight and they push aside things that matter most to.