You can't run marathons after 50! You can't change your career after you've invested so much time and energy into it! Dads don't get all up in their feelings! Says who? Our pasts, our brains, our lack of understanding, that's who! Tony explores the psychology of limiting beliefs and how the stories we learn in our youth can heavily influence how we live life...until we realize we have an unlimited amount of possibility in front of us once we lose the limiting beliefs. 

Tony references the article How to Change Self-Limiting Beliefs According to Psychology by Nicole Celestine, Ph.D. https://positivepsychology.com/false-beliefs/

If you are interested in being coached in Tony's upcoming "Magnetic Marriage Podcast," please email him for more information. You will receive free marriage coaching and remain anonymous when the episode airs. 

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Tony mentioned a product that he used to take out all of the "uh's" and "um's" that, in his words, "must be created by wizards and magic!" because it's that good! To learn more about Descript, click here https://descript.com?lmref=bSWcEQ


So I recently turned 53, and I have never really been one who cares much about age as a number. No offense to my dad, but when he turned 50, to me at that time, I think I was in my late twenties. Well, 50 was really old, but here I sit at 53 and I feel good. I feel pretty amazing. And a couple of weeks ago, my wife and I completed a half marathon, as I shared a couple episodes ago. It was a really good experience. But one of the most fascinating parts of that half-marathon experience happened actually about eight weeks before the race. So let me take you back a few years. There's a website called ultrasignup.com where you can view the results of your ultra-marathons or races over the marathon distance of 26.2 miles.

So the last few race results for me, read, the Havalina hundred miler, which was in Arizona. Then the Western States hundred miler, which happened to be the third time that I had run that race from Lake Tahoe down to Auburn, California. Then a random 50k in Sacramento. Then the Tahoe Rim Trail hundred Miler, which was the second time I had run that race, followed by the Quad Dipsea race in the Bay Area in California. And if you're not familiar with the Dipsea trail, it is a 7.1 mile, incredibly hilly, stair filled race from Mill Valley, California down to Stinson Beach. It's beautiful and it's hard. And every year I used to do the Quad Dipsea, or 28.4 miles, so down and back and down and back and again, incredibly hard and wonderful and beautiful.

And then I broke a rib or two and I separated the ribs from the cartilage. And if you've ever done that, that hurt so bad. I did that playing basketball. So I was out for several months and I was on my way to returning to a hundred miles, and I did a hundred K in Julian, California. That was absolutely difficult and wonderful and beautiful.

And shortly after that, again, playing basketball, I tore my meniscus and I tried to run through it, the old just ignore it and hopefully it'll go away. And I got to the point that I couldn't even bend my knee or move, and I did that for almost a year where I just would, it would get a little bit better. I would try again, and it didn't go away. And I literally put on over 20 pounds. And so then I eventually received an MRI where I was told that my meniscus was shredded and that I could remove it and I would be able to run, but maybe not as much of the distance. But the surgeon recommended that I start by losing weight and I was so offended.

I said, how dare you? I'm an ultra marathon runner, and then I proceeded to do elliptical machines and not much else. And then I actually put on about another five pounds over the next several months. So another year passed and I thought, it's time, I am losing my mind. I am a runner and I need to go ahead and accept that I need to remove the meniscus and I needed to accept that I need to remove the meniscus. So I consulted the doctor who said, well, does it hurt as bad now that you've lost the weight? How dare he? Number two. But it was self confrontation time, and I had in fact not lost any of the weight. So, accountability. What was I pretending not to know, that I did not really want to put forth the effort to lose weight. I preferred simply waiting until my knee felt better and then running all the weight off, and that was not happening. So I did this thing called “eating right” and “portion control''. And yes, I'm making air quotes and I eventually lost weight and lo and behold, my knee started feeling better. Turns out that those people who know what they're doing actually know what they're doing.

So I then spent the last two years just running and working out, but I was capped at about four or five miles, and so I felt like I couldn't really muster up much more than that. And it really wasn't a knee issue. It was more of a, I guess, a me issue. But I really felt like four or five mile long runs were going to be the limit. And honestly, I was really grateful for that because I remember being at a time where I thought if I could just run again even two or three miles, I was gonna be okay. But internally, I really did just miss that. Being able to run and run and run distances and listen to audio, audiobooks and podcasts, and that was just something that I had done.

That was what it felt like to be me for well over 20 years of my adult life. Now in come's my wife who has completed many triathlons herself, a few marathons, even an Iron Man, and she was starting to run more and more and she suggested that we sign up for a half marathon, and just in a couple of months. So I thought that absolutely sounded crazy.

I was no longer a distance runner. I was coming to a place of acceptance. My longest run over the past two years had been six miles, and honestly, it had wiped me out, but I wanted to run the half marathon or 13.1 miles, especially with her. So we looked up a training program. We laid everything out on the calendar and we did long Saturday runs that went six miles, then eight, then 10, then 12. And then on race day we took care of 13 miles in what was my wife's personal record or pr. And in the weeks that have followed, I've maintained longer Saturday runs of eight to 10 miles, and we have a 10 mile trail run scheduled on New Year's Day. And now, if I'm being honest, I start looking ahead to the goals that I've always had of being the grandpa who still runs ultra-marathons. So why tell this story? Not for validation, I promise, but because today we're going to talk about something that I really have had a low key fascination with, and that's the concept of limiting beliefs. Now you hear a lot about them in the world of motivational speaking and maybe life coaching, but I had not worked with them much in the field of psychology.

So I had been poking around the internet until I found a resource that I thought truly summed up the concept of limiting beliefs, where they come from, and of course, more importantly, what do you do with them? Because I clearly had bought into the limiting belief that five or six miles was my max, and had I stuck with that limiting belief, then eventually over time, my implicit memories or what it feels like to be me, would become somebody who, because of this knee trouble, was limited to five or six miles, but simply because my wife happened to want to run a half marathon, within a couple of weeks I unlocked something from the way back machine and managed to find as I have returned to running shape, that the only limit I personally had was one that was self-imposed, one that was between my ears. Now, this isn't to say that somebody with true physical limitations is simply not thinking about things the right way, because I know that that's not the point.

But are there areas where perhaps your own limited beliefs are in fact holding you back from achieving the things in life that you would like to pursue? So I would imagine to some extent with some real self-reflection, that that answer is probably yes.

So today we're really going to dig in and explore the ins and outs of limiting beliefs so that, and so much more coming up on today's episode of the Virtual Couch.

Hey everybody, welcome to episode 350 of the Virtual Couch. I am your host, Tony Overbay. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist, certified mindful habit coach, writer, speaker, husband, father of four, hopefully soon to be ultra-marathon runner once again, and a creator of the “Path Back”, an online pornography recovery program that is helping people reclaim their lives from turning to unhealthy coping mechanisms like pornography.

And I'm going to get through the business side of this so fast because we've got a lot to talk about today when it comes to limiting beliefs. So I mentioned in a previous episode that I am offering a discount through the month of December to the Path Back program. So just reach out to me contact@tonyoverbay.com or go through my website and I will respond and we'll hand you that discount and then get ready, the Magnetic Marriage Podcast is coming soon and you can still reach out if you want to be coached info@tonyoverbay.com or go to sign up for my newsletter at tonyoverbay.com and you will be one of the first to know. And I just can't say enough about the episodes that have been recorded already and just coaching and working with these couples. And so if you've never been to couples counseling, if you've never seen couples coaching or heard couples coaching in action, then I think that this could really be eye opening and help you understand the things that you don't know, that you don't know about what your relationship could look like. On that note, you can still go to tonyoverbay.com/workshop, and there's a $19 hour and a half workshop that gives you some ideas of some of the things that I really feel like can help somebody in their marriage right away, and then follow me on social media.

The Yeah Yeah agency, my social media team, they are doing incredible things with reels and with just the content in general. So I'm trying to share as much in essence, free content to just advice, marriage advice, and we're gonna be doing a lot more with some live, some q and a. So please follow me on social media, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, Facebook. And I mentioned earlier in the intro, my birthday, and I was going to, and I did not end up doing this, but I was going to just ask, all right birthday present, provide this free content for the last six, seven years. And so if you happen to be somebody that hasn't rated or reviewed the podcast, wherever you are listening I would love that if you don't mind because that does help feed the algorithms and wherever you are listening, or even go to the Virtual Couch YouTube channel and maybe subscribe there. And that does get the podcast in front of more people. So let's get to today's topic. How to change self-limiting beliefs according to psychology. So this is by an article on positivepsychology.com and it is by PhD, Dr. Nicole Celestine. And many of the things that we will work from are her words from this article. 

She says, “How many times have you written yourself off or passed up opportunities due to beliefs like these, I'm too old to do that. There's no way I'm qualified to apply for this job or I can't talk to him, he's out of my league.” So whether you're questioning your credentials when applying for a job or balking at the chance to strike up a conversation with somebody who may be, I don’t know, attractive, your apprehension might be highlighting something about your self beliefs.

So she says, “False and self-limiting beliefs can stifle progress toward achieving goals or prevent us from living out our ideal lives,” and the core, she says, thankfully, a core component of many psychological treatments, including one of my favorites, acceptance and commitment therapy does involve helping us to recognize and undo these unhelpful beliefs so that we can start living life more to its fullest.

So in this article, we're going to talk about the different origins of false or self-limiting belief. And then she mentions a couple of different therapeutic treatment options. I'm going to talk about some of what she shares and then I'm going to throw my own spin or take on a lot of what I feel like is even going deeper into how to work with these self-limiting beliefs.

So, Nicole says there's no universally agreed upon definition of false or self-limiting beliefs, but there are a lot of examples in the press and then she references a study in 2018 that self limiting beliefs are assumptions or perceptions that you've got about yourself and about the way the world works. And these assumptions are self-limiting because in some way they are holding you back from achieving what you are capable of. 

So in 2012, Boden and Colleagues noted that these beliefs have the potential to be central to one's identity, negatively biased, inaccurate, and rigid. So when you take them together, we consider these false or limiting beliefs to be negative, potentially difficult to change, and then somehow preventing us from achieving our goals or being as happy as we could be.

If we just start from that place that we have these thoughts, do we have these stories that we've made up about how the world works or we have these stories made up about what a 50 year old person can do or what somebody in my position can expect from reaching out to others for connection or what kind of job somebody that is in my shoes can get.

So when we start right there, then that becomes part of our identity, central to our identity. And so if we are trying to move away from this story or these limiting, self-limiting beliefs then we're going to be fighting the path of least resistance because it's going to seem like we're doing something that doesn't seem natural because it's not the story that we have told ourselves for our entire lives. So she said, “A good first step to understanding where and how false beliefs develop is by taking a look at them through a systematic framework.” And one such framework that is commonly employed throughout psychology and sociology is Rokeach, which was from 1968, but their hierarchical system of beliefs, according to this framework, an individual's inventory of beliefs can be structured according to five levels, depending on their importance and the most central forms of belief referred to as type A beliefs are those that we consider unchallengeable. These are just absolute common sense. For instance, it's the average person knows and will not question who their family members are or where they live. So I know who my kids are, I know who my wife is. So that is a type A belief. It might seem silly, but we're trying to set up a framework and I think it'll make sense when we get down to the next one, the type B beliefs. But if we start with type A beliefs that are, again, unchallengeable, common sense, in contrast, type E beliefs, which then are furthest down the pecking order or the most peripheral belief. Then those are largely matters of taste or opinion that are not strongly tied to the rest of your belief system. So they're also more likely to be subject to change. So she says, “Examples of such type E beliefs include your preferred brand of toilet paper or whether or not you enjoy broccoli.”

And what I think is really interesting is, even right there, I talk so much about the world of emotional immaturity or narcissistic traits and tendencies, or do you want control or love in an adult relationship? And so what I do think, we'll just get a note for later, maybe we'll throw this over on the Waking Up to Narcissism podcast at some point, but it's fascinating because even those type E beliefs, if you are incredibly emotionally immature or if you need control to feel like you have a sense of purpose, then you probably are saying, but I do know what the correct brand of toilet paper is because obviously it's 2-ply and it's Charmin. That's a fact.

But in reality, if you can't even agree that there are possibilities of these peripheral beliefs that are different from yours, and we're talking about the world of emotional immaturity. So let's talk about then what are type B and type C beliefs. So type B, Rokeach said primitive type B beliefs, “Type B beliefs, sometimes known as primitive beliefs or core beliefs, are typically core beliefs about ourselves that others' opinions can neither confirm, nor deny, so these beliefs often characterize our self-image and our self-esteem. They may also lie below the level of our awareness, and unconsciously they dictate our decision making.”

So the examples of such beliefs are, I am a funny person, nobody likes me, I am capable of overcoming challenges or I deserve the bad things that happen to me. And beliefs like these primitive, these type B beliefs, these are particularly vulnerable to being shaped during our early development and primarily by messages that we receive from our parents and our caregivers about our self worth, our potential, and our deservingness of unconditional love. And importantly, researchers believe that because type B beliefs tend to constitute these global judgments about who we are and what we're capable of achieving, then they can start to trickle down to affect our beliefs relevant to different situations that we might be facing. For example, they give the example of, imagine a single woman they named her Haley, who is considering approaching an attractive man in a bar. So Haley often expresses how badly she wishes to meet a romantic partner, so her friends are by her side, they're eagerly encouraging her to walk over and introduce herself. Haley, however, is hesitant. And she expresses concern that her appearance doesn't compare to the other women in the bar. Her friends are incredulous. They assure her that she looks beautiful and amazing, but still Haley cannot shake the feeling that she will be rejected based on her looks. So unbeknownst to Haley, there is a primitive, or type B belief, underlying her present belief that her looks are not up to par, because growing up her parents would often make comparisons between her and her sister.

So in their comparisons, often made in the presence of friends and family, Haley was always told she's the brains and her sister was the beauty. So while these comparisons were never intended to even be malicious, they shaped Haley's beliefs about her self image leading to her current predicament and the self-limiting belief that she is not attractive enough to approach the person in the bar.

That's an example of how the messages that are reinforced to us as children may shape our beliefs. But it's not hard to imagine how insecure attachments, or the experience of neglect or abuse during childhood, that may have these long lasting, or Nicole says “devastating effects” on our primitive beliefs.

So these effects, they may subsequently drive a host of false and self-limiting beliefs in various situations. Additionally, because these primitive type B beliefs are so central to our belief, second only to beliefs about our name and where we live. Again, those are those type A beliefs. Then they can be incredibly challenging to surface and shake without professional or psychological support. So let me stick around here in these type B beliefs because I think that it's really funny if we go back to the examples they give of, I am a funny person. So if I was continually validated as a kid for cracking jokes and making fun of things, then I may grow up feeling like I am a pretty funny person. And so then what do I want? I want people to validate this version of me that I feel is part of my core sense of self. My core self image is I'm hilarious. So if people then are not seeing me as funny or not seeing me as hilarious, then what am I going to do? I'm going to beat myself up. I'm going to feel like what's wrong with me?

So here's what one of the challenges is, let's say that I really do feel like part of my self image or my self-esteem is that I am funny because I was told that I was funny. Maybe I was the funny one when a sibling of mine was the smart one and another one was the handsome one, but I was the funny one. Now, let's say that I show up in the world, and quite frankly, I'm not very funny. So then if people are not laughing and they don't think that I'm hilarious and that is part of my self image and that's how I derive my self-esteem, then you can see how I have no psychological flexibility. I am funny, and if you don't think I'm funny, then again, something's wrong with me because that's the message I've been told my entire life.

I'm hilarious. I'm funny. So that would be part of this type B belief or self-limiting belief. I may say, okay, I would really like to be smart. I would really like to study. I would like to go to med school, but I'm the funny one. And I guess I can go in there and crack a few jokes, see how I do. But that's where we operate from our core sense of self. And man, she gives the example that breaks my heart of the, if we start with the, nobody likes me, or the I deserve the bad things that happen to me, that's where we start from. That's where we are operating from. I remember on a podcast that I had with Sam Tillmans quite a while ago, Sam said, “The strongest force in the human personality is to act in alignment with how you see yourself.”

So however you identify yourself, you're going to find a way back to your home base. If you believe, if you have this core self-image or self-belief that you are not enough or that nobody likes you, you may get to a point where you're on a roll and all of a sudden you find that you are finding a connection with others, but you will eventually find your way back in alignment with how you see yourself. If that type B, if that core belief, that self-limiting belief is that nobody likes me or I deserve the bad things that happen to me or I'm not enough, then even when you're starting to gain some traction, when you let your foot off the gas, that path of least resistance goes back to that view of self, which is those negative, those self-limiting beliefs. I feel like it's so important to even recognize that those are just stories that my brain is telling me, and those stories happened and they developed in childhood. Let's talk now about what Rokeach says are authority or type C beliefs.

So according to this framework, type C beliefs, which are somewhat more peripheral than type B beliefs, can also trickle down to produce false and self-limiting beliefs. So type C beliefs are referred to as authority beliefs. So these are the beliefs that we accept based on their having come from a trusted authority. So examples of such authorities include scholars, business leaders, religious leaders, religious figures, people in the community, or even publications such as newspapers. So this is where we deal with the constant they, they said, who said they did? It's in print, I read it, the internet, or my religious leader told me. And they're in a position of authority or my parent, and so one would hope that the authority figures we choose can be trusted to provide us with accurate information that will serve us well in life. However, we need only turn to those around us to know that that's not the case. Nicole gives the example of, “Can you think of a friend or family member who was invested in a get rich quick scheme more because it was touted by a charismatic guru, or perhaps they cling to what you believe to be an outdated belief that they learned at school or at church.”

So these are examples of authority beliefs, and again, while more malleable than these primitive beliefs, they may trickle down to affect our beliefs in more day to day situations. So we rejoin Haley at the bar and she may now see this attractive person and she may think, I cannot go approach that person because I learned in maybe my church class or maybe I've seen on TV some show that talks about how a woman does not approach a man at a bar. That's just not the way it works. So that could be one of these type C beliefs or a type B beliefs, one of these more primitive beliefs might just be the fact that if her parents have drilled into her, hey, you're the smart one. You're the smart one. So the smart person is not necessarily gonna want to go put themselves out there. They need to sit back and wait for a man to approach them because you're not as attractive as your sister. So we start to get these limiting beliefs and unfortunately what could happen is that in that scenario, she may miss out on the love of her life because she's hesitant, because she may express concerns about her appearance, that it doesn't compare to other women in the bar. Her friends, again, they're telling her, you look amazing. But she is so afraid based on these self-limiting beliefs to put herself out there. And to her it just makes perfect sense. So she's not even open to somebody suggesting a different opinion because she's working with her core self-limiting beliefs. And again, I know this is a little bit of a silly example, but as pointed out in this article to understand the extent to which authority figures can negatively influence. Take a look at the harrowing experiences of cult survivors and their journeys of struggling to detach from harmful belief systems that have dictated to them for many, many years of their lives.

So now with a better understanding of these false or these self limiting beliefs, then there are some different therapeutic options. And so there's a couple of them that I'm not very familiar with. I'll quickly go through one called Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy, or R E B T. And that's been around since the fifties. And it's been targeted specifically helping people identify these negative or rational thought patterns that affect their behaviors. And I think it's worth noting because the R E B T, at the foundation of it, is what's known as this ABC model.

So using the ABC model you can track where these limiting beliefs come from. So they give another example. So they say, “Tom recently submitted a report for his boss to review. Then the following day he receives a report back via email and he notices his boss has written a lot of comments and made a lot of changes. So before looking at the feedback closely, Tom feels sad and worthless and experiences negative thoughts about his capabilities relative to his colleagues.” And in reality the feedback the adjustments made to Tom's report may honestly have a, they might be a combination of some useful, some constructive suggestions for improving his work as well as compliments. But he has no idea because these self-limiting beliefs are just so ingrained that he sees any feedback on a report and he starts to shut down. So he has prematurely succumbed to these false beliefs about his abilities without even taking a look at what has been written on the paper.

And I know, I run into that one a lot, honestly, with something as simple as the mail, man, when I get mail and if it says something, state of California franchise Tax Board or whatever, oh my goodness. I go right to that place of, sometimes when I open them up they say hey here's your annual privacy notice.

But I get that thing and I think, oh my gosh, something. It's horrible. I'm a horrible person. So let me just go through this ABC model from this REBT, abc, R E B T R E S P E C T. You had to have been thinking that, right? But rational emotive behavior therapy, R E B T. So this ABC model, so using this example from Tom's experience of receiving his report, A in the abc, A is the activating event that triggers the negative thoughts.

So in this example, the activating event was Tom receiving feedback from his boss, period. Not reading it, but just receiving the feedback. B, then becomes this false or irrational belief. There's the B that is formed following the activating events. So in this example, Tom's potentially false belief is that he is ineffective at his job.

And then C is the consequence that flows from the irrational thoughts. So in this example, the consequence is Tom's experience of sadness, worthlessness, and effectiveness. And the reason I think that they go with this abc, it's just this just immediately abc this linear situation where there's an activating event, then there is a false or rational belief that occurs. And then the consequence is Tom shuts down. So it's not very hard to see how we can become the authors. And I love this quote that she uses, “The authors of our own misery. When activating events trigger false or self-limiting beliefs unnecessarily.”

And I know it can be scary to then step outside of this because this is the story that we've told ourselves that when I get some paper that has feedback on it, that it's going to be negative and that is just at my core. So it takes a lot of work to be even aware of that, to then be able to move past these self-limiting beliefs. I'll tell you as a therapist this is where I started looking at the concepts of acceptance and commitment therapy. So I feel like we can say, hey, that's just an automatic negative thought. That's just your stinking thinking. And instead of thinking, okay, that might have some negative feedback, you need to look at it like, or it might say, hey, that's a job well done. And that might feel good in the moment, but then the next time that you're handed a paper that has marking all over it, it's going to be hard for you not to just have this visceral or gut reaction. So I like starting with a place of acceptance. So when you have that immediate belief, I like understanding that it's this self-limiting belief that it comes, this primitive, this core belief is coming from our childhood. It's coming from experiences that we had, our childhood programming. So we're going to accept. So when I get a paper, let's say that I grew up in every single paper that I ever got, said, great job. A hundred percent, 105%. You're so smart. Top of the class. Then if I get something back, I'm going to say, oh yeah, there's marking on this paper.

And I could be sitting right beside somebody that every time that they got papers back, it was marked up so much with the corrections that they, the teacher would run out of ink and would have to jump onto a second pen just to mark that thing up. So when they would get the paper back, their immediate thought is, oh gosh, I'm gonna get fired. You know what's wrong with me? So two people can have these completely different experiences based on these internal beliefs or the stories that their brain is telling them to try to make sense of a situation. So what I think is next is let's talk about neuroplasticity and the fact that we often feel like, well, those are my self-limiting beliefs, and I am over the age of, fill in the blank, 5, 12, 25, whatever the latest version of your brain is all set and cement. Because that's actually not true data. We're now learning more and more about the neuroplasticity of the brain. I had Mike Twohig on last week who is, what an interview, that episode is done just phenomenally well. So if you have not listened to last week's episode with Dr. Mike Twohig, it is honestly incredible, and I took some quotes out of the transcript.

So we were talking about neuroplasticity, and so Mike's talking about the concepts around acceptance and commitment therapy. So he says, I will say it for both people, or both styles of people that we can work on altering how we feel or we can work on altering how we live. And we're whole human beings. And whether you alter either one, it's going to affect all sorts of things. So if you change the way you live, you will start to change the way you feel. And if you could change the way you feel, you'll probably change the way you live. So in ACT, he says that with the clients he works with, this question would be, well, which one are we going to focus on? Are we going to focus on what you feel internally or how you're living? And he said, I say this to clients a lot, that there are a lot of things that I really care about and a lot of things that I work hard on that don't feel good. He said, for example, “Parenting a teen doesn't feel fun, but it's meaningful. It's important, but it's not like, oh my gosh, that's great all the time.”

Or he said even the same thing like writing a paper, it's not the same as snowboarding. So he said, but I like the feeling and the importance of it. So he said rules, and this is what I think is so important and what I think makes so much sense here when we're talking about these limiting beliefs. He said rules, like when you, we were talking about socially compliant goals. And again, in acceptance and commitment therapy, a socially compliant goal is something that you feel like you have to do or you'll let somebody else down. So a socially compliant goal. And he said, socially compliant goals and rules are really interesting things. And he said, this is a good point for a professional or a non-professional. And he said an interesting thing about humans is that we decide the way the world works. And I think this is what we're talking about these self-limiting beliefs. He said, “We decide the way the world works and then we follow that. And the truth is,” he said, “It's never fully accurate.” He said, “It's close to the way that the world works or it could be totally far off.” But he said the interesting thing about human beings is that they will make this rule about what we are supposed to do. And now we're identifying that those rules could have been formed in childhood, they could have been informed by authority figures, and then we just keep following it. And he said, and a lot of research has said it can be really hard to help people do things differently. He said it's hard to create variability and it's hard to change behavior. So if somebody has a problem, for example, that they have a way of living that isn't very functional, he said some of that is that they've determined that this is how it works and this is the way that they have been acting. And they've been doing the same thing for maybe 20 or 30 years. So part of the job as a therapist, Mike talked about, is to create flexibility in these different behavior patterns.

And that can be tricky because then we get into this experience of avoidance and he said, humans work so much, they spend a lot of time working to feel a certain way. And he said, and that's what I think is in contrast with doing things that are important. And I love this, Mike said that one of the lines that he likes to say is, he said, “I think healthy, happy people are probably spending 80% of their day doing things that are important to them.” He said, “I didn't say fun. I said important.” And then people who are maybe less healthy are probably spending 80% of their day working hard to feel good. And so he said, he often says to his clients what was meaningful for you? And a lot of times they don't have a lot. They said their day was all about dodging anxiety and getting away from things that they're afraid of. So I want to turn to the book. It's “ADHD 2.0” . It's by Dr. Hollowell and Ratey. And this one has been an incredible book, whether you have ADHD or not, if you do, or somebody in your life has it, please read this. And I'm going to pull from a concept, a couple of pages where he is talking about, the authors are talking about the brain.

So he says, “For example, it is because of epigenetics that you may have been born with genes that predispose you to depression, but because of loving parents and a nurturing school system, those genes never get expressed.” I love this idea of getting expressed. He said, “You may go through life never suffering from depression, even though you carry the genes that might have led you there. Now, on the other hand, if you had unloving parents and if you never received nurturing and positive connections, or worse, if you suffered trauma and abuse, then you also inherited the genes that predispose you to depression or other pathology. And now those genes are far more likely to get expressed. So regardless of the trait or the condition, the disorder, the disease, nature versus nurture always comes down to.” What a concept. So we're already looking at these self-limiting beliefs. We're already looking at the way that they've developed from our childhood, and these become stories that we tell ourselves, this is the way we make sense of the world, and we just do it over and over again.

And so we have these different traits, but based on these belief systems that we have, some of these things are going to be expressed and some might not. But again, regardless of the trait, the condition, the disorder, the disease, nature versus nurture always comes down to both. Good nurture can dramatically reduce the influence of bad nature or bad genes.

But he said, “Unfortunately, the result is also true. Bad nurture, like cold or distant parents, ongoing conflict, or outright trauma while growing up can suppress good nature or good genes. So the science of epigenetics has helped prove that the brain's wondrous ability to change over the course of your lifetime.” not up until you're 12 or 18 or 25, but up until your lifetime, so called neuroplasticity, this is one of the major discoveries in neuroscience in the past generation. So people used to believe that the brain was more or less set by a certain age, and he even said, “Let's say 30.” And after that your dye was cast, the brain was set. But it this, he says, “This fixed brain notion begat a host of home spun cliches and conventional wisdom to the effect that you simply cannot teach an old dog or even a middle aged dog, new tricks. That from the age 30,” he says, “the leopard does not change at spots that you are who you are and you better get used to it because no amount of therapy or life experience or other magic can make a significant dent in the architecture of your brain or your personality, except by changing it for the worst through disease or stroke, cancer, poisons, alcohol, drugs, or dementia. But that is wrong.” It's absolutely wrong. It. Dr. Hallowell and Ratey say very confidently, “As with much homespun wisdom regarding the mind,” so I'm going to say pop psychology cliches, you name it, “we now know different.” So thanks to the work of many neuroscientists, we know that what you do, who you love, where you live, what you eat, how much you move, what kind of stress you experience, if you have a pet, whether you laugh a lot, and all those and a zillion more bits of experience, constantly change who you are in subtle ways.

Your brain responds to all of these cues in turn, so most people don't realize what fantastically great news this is, he says, “We can change who we are and where we're headed. It's not easy, but it can be done and it can be done at any age. You are never too old to find a new life, a new love, or a better day. Our brains present us with the opportunity day in and day out. We just have to unwrap this gift.” And again, talking about ADHD in particular, he says, the science of the last 30 years also explains in the least part, the tension and the contradictions that lie at the core of things like adhd, I mean, explains what's going on in the brain that leads to creativity, entrepreneurialism and dynamism, but also at the same time, irrational, brooding, worrying, ruminating or falling prey to self-destructive addictions and compulsions.

So our brain is just this incredible, magical, wonderful, neuroplastic thing that we can continue to develop, we can continue to change, but it does take time. And I think that's the part where people don't want that to happen. So I think it's so important to recognize these self-limiting beliefs and know that these are just stories that our brain is telling us and it's ways that our brain is trying to make sense of things, make sense of, I wanted to say, make sense of things that don't make sense, but the sense is what you make of it.

And I'll finish this up with one more quote that I think is really powerful, and I've read this one on a couple of different things. Rick Hansen, in the book “Buddha Brain” says, again, “Much as your body is built from the foods you eat, your mind is built from the experiences that you have. So the flow of experience gradually sculpts your brain thus shaping your mind, and some of the results can be explicitly recalled like this is what I did last summer, or this is how I felt when I was in love. And then most of the shaping of your mind remains forever unconscious. And this is called implicit memory, and it includes your expectations, your models of relationships, your emotional tendencies, your general outlook. Implicit memory establishes the interior landscape of your mind or what it feels like to be you based on the slow accumulating residue of lived experience.” That's the part that doesn't sound so exciting, that it is the slow accumulating residue of lived experience that changes the interior landscape of your mind or what you feel like, what it feels like to be you.

But he goes on to say, “Here's the problem, your brain preferentially scans for, registers, stores, recalls, and reacts to unpleasant experiences.” He likes to say that the brain is like Velcro for negative experiences and Teflon for positive ones. So consequently, even when positive experiences outnumber the negative ones, the pile of negative implicit memories grows faster. And then the background feeling of what it feels like to be you starts to be undeservedly glum and pessimistic. The remedy is not to suppress negative experiences when they happen because they happen, but it's to foster positive experiences, in particular take them in so they start to become a permanent part of what it feels like to be you.

So put all these pieces together. You have these self-limiting beliefs. Often they are negative beliefs. I had this limited belief, and it may seem insignificant or inconsequential, but it was important to me that I had spent 20, 25 years with what it felt like to be me with somebody that just ran and ran and ran and solved problems, and figured things out, and listened to audiobooks and just felt, and was, a runner.

And then I get hurt and I spend this time and I'm working hard to shift the interior landscape of what it feels like to be me. And even coming to the point of acceptance that I may never quite be the runner that I was and was starting to just settle in with that, but oh my goodness, just even doing this simple half marathon just uncorked something back to what it feels like to be me. And I recognize now that is just an amazing way that the brain works. That just having somebody else challenge one of these limiting self-beliefs, allowed me to just challenge it myself and say man, what if I just pushed through and then it wasn't as scary as I thought it was.

So I think the challenge might be, I would love for you to take a look at what those limiting beliefs are. If you had a parent that worked the same job forever, then maybe you feel like if I wanted to change careers, that wouldn't work. Or if you grew up in a home where the dad didn't, wasn't vulnerable, didn't show emotion, didn't get up and play with the kids, then that might be a belief that you have or a story that your brain is just hooked to that that's not what you do. Or if you grew up in a home, again, I'm going all in on the men as a guy myself, where you didn't express emotion, you didn't tell your wife you love her, you didn't try to be spontaneous or plan date nights, or if you didn't see taken ownership or accountability of things modeled, if you didn't see empathy modeled, well, then that can make sense is why you feel like that isn't the way the world works. But it's just a limiting belief. Do you want growth? Do you want change? It can be scary, but just like this experience with this half marathon, it didn't take a whole lot to break through that ceiling of limiting self belief.

And at this point now, I literally feel like that whole sky's the limit. So I hope that you can maybe just challenge your own limited beliefs. What are those stories that you feel are the stories that this is just the way the world works and even just the beginning, the starting down this process of neuroplasticity or changing that interior landscape of your mind or what it feels like to be you?

It really does just start simply by just being aware, starting to think, starting to dream, starting to just envision what change could look like. And then slowly but surely you'll start to look for more and more areas where you can change and then what that can feel like to be you can be a completely different version of even the person that you were earlier today.

I'd love to hear your feedback, questions, and comments. Head over onto social media and you can comment on whatever the post is that goes up with this. And thank you so much for spending time here on the Virtual Couch. Don't forget to check out Waking Up to Narcissism. That one again, not just all about, this is a narcissist, but we talk a lot about emotional immaturity, how to become more emotionally mature, how to unhook from unproductive conversations and relationships. And there's just a whole lot more that is coming out and I'm grateful for the support of all those who continue to tune in. Taking us out per usual, the wonderful, the talented, the also now on TikTok, Aurora Florence with her song, “It's wonderful”.

Have an amazing week and we will see you next time on the Virtual Couch

Despite what you hear from the self-help world change takes time, so it is important to give yourself a little more grace. If beating yourself up was the key to success, then we'd all already be perfect! Tony shares his secrets on how to become unstuck, and why we continually try to think our way out of thinking problems, and why our brain, bless its pink squishy heart, thinks it's doing us a solid by keeping us heading down the same deeply rutted neuropathways. Plus, learn the mysteries of "piloting the human meat suit." 


Visit http://tonyoverbay.com/magnetic to learn more about Tony’s Magnetic Marriage program, or visit http://tonyoverbay.com to take Tony’s free parenting course, or to learn more about his best-selling book; or only recovery program “The Path Back.” And please subscribe to “Waking Up to Narcissism,” Tony’s brand new podcast, which is part of The Virtual Couch podcast network.

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Tony talks about a recent health scare "wait, am I seriously having a heart attack?" and how that led to his desire to be more present, grateful and to make changes in his life. But do major life scares, events, even near-death-experiences (NDEs) lead to long-lasting change? Tony reviews this 5 steps of the "Transtheoretical Model of Change" or TTM from the article "Why it's Hard to Change Unhealthy Behavior - and Why You Should Keep Trying" from Harvard Medical School's Harvard Health Publishing site.https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/why-its-hard-to-change-unhealthy-behavior-and-why-you-should-keep-tryingPlease subscribe to The Virtual Couch YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/c/TheVirtualCouchPodcast/ and follow The Virtual Couch on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/virtualcouch/

This episode of The Virtual Couch is sponsored by http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch With the continuing “sheltering” rules that are spreading across the country PLEASE do not think that you can’t continue or begin therapy now. http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch can put you quickly in touch with licensed mental health professionals who can meet through text, email, or videoconference often as soon as 24-48 hours. And if you use the link http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch you will receive 10% off your first month of services. Please make your own mental health a priority, http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch offers affordable counseling, and they even have sliding scale options if your budget is tight.

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Tony's new best-selling book "He's a Porn Addict...Now What? An Expert and a Former Addict Answer Your Questions" is now available on Kindle. https://amzn.to/38mauBo

Tony Overbay, is the co-author of "He's a Porn Addict...Now What? An Expert and a Former Addict Answer Your Questions" now available on Amazon https://amzn.to/33fk0U4. The book debuted in the number 1 spot in the Sexual Health Recovery category and remains there as the time of this record. The book has received numerous positive reviews from professionals in the mental health and recovery fields.

You can learn more about Tony's pornography recovery program The Path Back by visiting http://pathbackrecovery.com And visit http://tonyoverbay.com and sign up to receive updates on upcoming programs, and podcasts.

Tony mentioned a product that he used to take out all of the "uh's" and "um's" that, in his words, "must be created by wizards and magic!" because it's that good! To learn more about Descript click here https://descript.com?lmref=v95myQ

------ TRANSCRIPT ------

[00:00:00] Ok, here goes, I think it's been a little while since I have recorded a podcast where I wasn't quite sure if this one would actually see the light of day. And that is not trying to be very dramatic, although the story I'm going to tell is going to sound a little bit dramatic. But truly, that's not my intention. It was about two or three weeks ago, and I will remember this very well. It was a Wednesday evening and on Wednesday evenings now I have a group call for my Pathbackrecovery.com group, the Online Pornography Recovery Support Group. That is one of my favorite things of the week. And I have a lot of people that I'm I'm looking at on Zoom, some people with their cameras on, some people with their cameras off. And I don't remember the particular topic we were talking about, but it was the conversation was going very well and I was feeling very in the moment. And I remember all of a sudden I really started to have chest pain. And that's one of my biggest fears. I'm not going to lie. I'm fifty one and a half years old. I've been an avid ultra marathon runner my as long as I can remember, twenty, twenty five years and fitness has been one of my passions. It's one of my core values. But if and I've heard other people have shared this experience as well. But for those who really do are almost consumed with fitness in this attempt to stay young forever, there's always that fear.

[00:01:13] And I think it's because people will bring this up from time to time, but that you're going to be that guy that is in good shape. And then you hear somebody says, oh, my uncle had a heart attack running around the high school track. He was in great shape. And so you do you hear these stories often? Because I think that that's just the way that we work as human beings. We want to have some relatable story. And if someone isn't necessarily a runner, they will either talk about old so-and-so is a runner or somebody ran a marathon. If you run the Boston Marathon, that sort of thing, or they'll tell you a story of someone they know that was a runner until something tragic happened. So I've heard plenty of those stories throughout my life. So there is this fear at times of what if I become that guy? And I've even gone so far as to do a fair amount of research on that guy and the person that does get the heart attack and and the date is pretty good. It shows that that person most likely would have gotten a heart attack, whether they were mowing the lawn or whether they were running or whatever they were doing, maybe even if they were just getting up from the couch, because it's not necessarily about the running per say, but it's about the the damage done to arteries.

[00:02:14] It could be something genetic. It could be something within their diet, diet, plus genetics, that sort of thing. So in one sense, I feel like, well, if that happens, it happens. But it's not going to stop me from doing things that I love, like running. So back to the story. So it's a Wednesday. I'm about ten to 15 minutes into this group call and I really start to feel this just pain in my chest. And I mean, I've had gas bubbles or those sort of things before, and I've gone a little bit hypochondriac on those and thought, oh, this is something I should really worry about. But this one got pretty intense to the point of where I started to start to feel a little bit clammy, starting to I think I'm getting a little bit pale. I'm watching myself on my on my webcam. And I'm just to the point. And I just I was telling my wife this, I think the later that evening. But I just got to the point where I was about to say, hey, hey, everybody on the call. I think I'm going to tap out here and I think I'm going to I think I need to do something. And I was starting to just become obsessed with what do I do? And as it started to get a little bit worse and worse and I remember having it wasn't necessarily one of these my life flashed before my eyes moments, but it really was a moment where I thought, OK, what do I do? Like, what if what if I go down in here and in front of all the people on the webcam, I was thinking, well, it's recorded.

[00:03:26] I guess there they'll see what happened eventually. But it was a wild feeling and it really was a feeling where I thought, oh my gosh, I, I still have all the stuff I want to do in my life. And and so I guess I did have a mini life flashed before my eyes kind of a moment. And I sat there and I kind of try to get present with the moment and breathe and and through my nose and out through my mouth. And I ended up not saying anything about it. And honestly, within a few minutes I was back to normal and I and I went about the rest of the call. I think I might have even had a client or two after the call to the point where when I went home that night, I almost forgot to tell my wife and one of my daughters is is in town as well. So I told them about it and they were. Oh, my gosh, Dad, are you OK? And you need to go see somebody. I don't know. Maybe I do. Maybe I do need to go check in. But that's been two or three weeks now and there's been many, many runs and peloton rides and hikes and that sort of thing since.

[00:04:18] And I feel great. And so I'm going to I'm going to attribute that to a gas bubble. But the whole point is it really did give me one of those moments where I thought I need to be more present. I need to take advantage of more opportunities to do things with those who I care about, those who I love. And it really did get me thinking about how often I've met with clients who have had these type of experiences, people that have literally had heart attacks, people that have had near-death experiences, people that have lost loved ones. And how that does give us a little bit of a reset. But what I really became fascinated by was the concept of how long does that reset last? Because here I am about two or three weeks after that event. And part of the reason I wanted to record something about it was so the. I would remember it because I feel like since I made it through, since maybe it was just the world's biggest gas bubble and am I still going to make good on the feelings I had in the hours, the days, the week or two following where I felt like, OK, wake up call. And so I got online and I started to research that whole concept of a wake up call and how often to wake up calls work.

[00:05:22] And if you look online, it really talks a lot about all of these experiences where people had these near-death experiences or these miraculous changes. And so then therefore, they went on to live more productive lives, more lives that were more connected with people that they cared about. But I have to tell you, from my perspective as a therapist, I often see a different side of that story. And I still remember one of the first clients that I that I talked to who had cancer. And they told me that one of the first things they did when they had a break, even when they were in getting chemotherapy in a hospital, was they said they're going to go out and take a walk. And they had smuggled in a cigaret. And so they went outside and smoked, even though they were there getting chemotherapy for lung cancer. And I remember talking with several other clients over the years who talked about how difficult it is to break some of the bad habits that they have even when they are nearing some life or death situation. And it made me realize just how how it can be so difficult to break a bad habit, or it can be so difficult to maintain a change where even a near-death experience can have someone think I have to do something different with my life. And I call it shelf life, where sometimes we do have a week or two weeks or maybe three weeks or a month where people say, OK, I'm going to I'm going to make all these changes in my life.

[00:06:38] You know, I see it even in the world of things like addiction, and especially when someone gets caught or when they finally feel like they need to confess to a spouse or to an ecclesiastical leader or someone that they don't want to do this anymore. And so then they have, again, this shelf life and oftentimes they start doing the work, whatever it takes, to get them in a better place. But then it's almost as if when we put our foot up off the gas, then we kind of revert revert. Hopefully I'll be able to edit that out. Then we revert back to the path of least resistance. We revert back to these deeply rutted neural pathways that are brain so knows the well. Maybe maybe it wasn't as big of a deal as I thought kind of a situation. Or we start to think that, OK, well, now I'm in a better place then I think I'm OK. I think I don't really need to worry about what all those memories or emotions that came flooding to my memory as soon as I had this this horrific experience. And so too often then we say, OK, I'm good now. Now I get it. And now I can kind of start to go back to where I was. But I'm more aware.

[00:07:43] And granted, being more aware is definitely a good thing. But is it enough? Is being aware all that you need? And no, I mean, being aware is one of the the steps of change. So today and you know what? I'm going to skip the intro. Welcome to today's episode of The Virtual Couch. I'm your host, Tony Overbay, licensed marriage and family therapist. Go find me on Instagram, a virtual couch or Facebook or go to Tony Overbay Dotcom. You'll find all kinds of things. They are links to podcast programs, courses, that sort of thing. But so today I also did a little digging and I did find something that I haven't talked about in quite a while. So rather than just do a bit of a reboot, I found an article, and this is one by Harvard Health Publishing from Harvard Medical School, and it talks about why it's hard to change unhealthy behaviors, but yet why you should keep trying to do that. And the article talks about the fact that researchers say that successful change comes in stages and how long it takes is absolutely an individual matter. And I think that is something that I see on a day to day basis when people say, I know that this should be easier for me, I know I should be moving along the path of change faster. And I often do say now Will says who? Again, if I go back to my favorite modality of act acceptance and commitment therapy, you're it.

[00:08:54] You're the only version of you that's ever walked the face of the earth. So who are you comparing to? We have a desire or a nature or it's built within us to compare to others because that's part of our survival strategy. We feel like if for some reason we don't fit in with the crowd, the crowd is going to boot us out and we're going to be devoured by wolves. But that's no longer the case. That's that's some deep genetic imprinting on our brains. No, in reality, we are the only versions of us. And the sooner that we can get to that feeling of being authentic, the sooner that we can get to living the way that we really want to live or the we feel that we are best suited to live based on our values. The sooner we can get to that point that I feel like that is when we can make change because the change has to come in in a way that works for us. And a change can only come when it's about something that matters to us. You know, if I wasn't a runner to begin with and I had a little bit of a scare and then somebody said, you know, you really shouldn't run, OK, done, done and done. No worries there. I won't run ever again. But running is part of who I am. It's in my core. It's been my survival strategy.

[00:09:56] It's been my therapy. It's been my way to commune with. Odd in nature, it's been my way to listen to audiobooks and learn it's been a way to to tap into what I didn't even know of at the time was, by the way, my aide shows up that if I'm running, I got part of my brain locked into the running and the other part of my brain can now focus on whatever I'm listening to. I've devoured audio books as I ran, where if I tried to sit down and read them, I lose my place, I lose my I lose my my whole vibe, my mojo, my energy. I fall asleep. So running can mean so much to me. So if someone's telling me, well, just don't run, then that's where I feel like, well, even if I were to say, well, yeah, I probably shouldn't, but I know in my core that's what I'm going to do because that's who I am. So again, researchers say that successful change comes only in stages and however long it takes is an individual matter. And I wanted to dig down in this article. I'm going to skip a big part of the beginning of it. But it does talk about change being a process, not an event. And this is part of what I wanted to talk about. And this is what I did an episode on. It's probably been a couple of years ago, but it's called the trans theoretical model of Change or will the TTM trans theoretical model.

[00:11:00] And so the the Harvard article talks about that there are several models of behavior change, but the one that's most widely applied and tested in health settings is this trans theoretical model change. And it was first developed in the 1980s. It was by an alcoholism researcher named James. And I feel so bad when I put your names, but it's pro Chaska and Karlo DiClemente. But Trans the trans theoretical model presumes that at any given time a person is, as in one of these five stages of five stages of change. There's pre contemplation, there's contemplation, there's preparation, action and maintenance. And then some people do at a six stage, which is relapse because we're human. So in talking about these stages of change and the pre contemplation, let's let's break this one down. And actually, let me give you a little bit more background. They talk about this in the article. The idea is that people move from one stage to the next, but that each stage is a preparation for the following when so hurrying through or skipping stages is most likely going to result in a set back. And also different strategies are needed at different stages. For example, they say that a smoker who's at the pre contemplation stage that is not even really thinking about quitting smoking probably isn't ready to make a list of alternatives to smoking. So that's why it's very important to identify where you're at in this model of change.

[00:12:15] And most of the evidence for this model comes from studies of alcohol, drug abuse, smoking cessation. But it's also been applied to a lot of different health behaviors, including exercise and dieting. That's where I found it when I first did the episode on this a couple of years ago. But clinicians, health educators, they use the trans theoretical model to work with patients, counsel patients. But you don't have to be an expert to try this approach. That's what I love about it. Anybody motivated to change can use this to see where you're at, assess your situation and formulate strategies for success. So here are the trans theoretical model, the stages of change. And then again, according to this Harvard study, Harvard article, the way that people some ideas about how people move through them. So let's talk about pre contemplation. So at this stage, pre contemplation, you have no conscious intention of making a change, whether it's through lack of awareness or lack of information. And so the example they give is that if overweight is my family overweight, my family is genetic and it's just the way we are or because you maybe have failed at making change in the past and you felt less than or demoralized. The example would be, I've tried so many times to lose weight that it's hopeless. So in those moments, this is part of that pre contemplation phase.

[00:13:22] You tend to avoid reading or talking or thinking about unhealthy behavior, but your awareness and interest might be sparked by outside influences such as some public information campaign. Or you might see some feel good story in the media. Or you might. Yeah, I mean, you might see I noticed that a lot of people get motivated by when they see some person on Instagram or Facebook or they see these before and after pictures or they have emotional experiences or illness, or they talk about how, you know, clinicians or family members concern that when someone says you need to make a change and I talk about an emotional experience, I think that's what I had a couple of weeks ago, that I'll now classify that as a bit of an emotional experience of, oh, my gosh, what if I get a heart attack? What do I do? I got to do things different. So to move past pre contemplation, you have the sense that the unhealthy behavior is at odds with very important personal goals, for example, being healthy enough to travel or to enjoy your children or grandchildren. And that is absolutely a an important personal goal of mine, is I want to be around. I love my life. I've got so many cool things I want to do. And it's not that it was always that case. It wasn't until I really found this passion, this career of working and doing the things that I love.

[00:14:29] I've talked about it many times. I did ten years in computer software. I didn't even know that you could really enjoy your job. As a matter of fact, I'm just rambling here, but it's kind of fun. Haven't done one of these in a while, but I often have people bringing this into my office. This concept of, you know, I don't want to I don't want to do a job based on something I love because I don't want it to just become a job. And I've even sat with clients and I've thought about that. And I've I mean, I validated that. And of course, I will, if that's their experience. But then all of a sudden it hits me one day. Where I thought, well, I did 10 years of a job that I didn't care for so that I could then have time to do the other things, hanging out with family run vacation. And I realized that man, that that eight to 10 hours or more, whatever that is, that consumes you and your day to day, if that's something you don't enjoy. I mean, that's a big energy zap to to happen throughout your day, to then come home and say, all right, everybody, I'm ready. You know, I'm ready to now do all the things I want to do that oftentimes I feel like that is what leads to people coming home and feeling like exhausted, mentally exhausted from trying to to do something they don't necessarily feel a connection with or feel joy in doing.

[00:15:36] And that can often lead to me. And I'm just tired. I'll I'll do the fun thing I want to do later. I'll do it tomorrow. I'll do it this weekend. I'll do it in the summer. I'll do it next year. Although when the kids are older, so, so part of me feels like it really is about trying to find what that is that you really care about. And if you can't just immediately pivot and go do some Value-Based Job, Value-Based Goal in your job, work your values into your job, I've talked about that often. I've talked about people that have had value of connections. So they they bring that into their current situation and they try to connect with more people or they have maybe a value of had someone that had a value of the environment. They they suggested putting in place a green waste program within their their office, within their company. This very large company ended up leading to a different career position. So it's never too late to work values into your job while you maybe you're looking at turning toward a value based job if that would work for somebody. So to move again, to move past pre contemplation, you have a sense of the unhealthy behavior that you're doing is at odds with these important personal goals. So after contemplation comes contemplation and in some programs and studies that employ this trans theoretical model, people who say they're considering a lifestyle change in the next six months are classified as people that are contemplating this.

[00:16:53] That would be the second stage contemplation. But in reality, people often vacillate for a lot longer than that. I mean, you've maybe felt that in certain things in your life where you've contemplated making a change for far longer than six months. And in this stage, you might be aware that behavior is a problem and you might be even be considering doing something about it. We still are committed to taking action. And so this is where they the article talks about ambivalence. That ambivalence may lead you to weigh in, reweigh the benefits and costs. If I stop smoking, I'll lose that hacking cough. But I know I'll gain weight or I know smoking could give me lung cancer, but helps me relax. If I quit, stress would kill me too. And health educators often use several techniques to help people. What they say, unstick themselves and move on to the next stage. One is to make a list of the pros and cons of making a lifestyle change and then examine the barriers of the cons and think of ways to overcome them. That can really be a powerful tool. For example, a lot of they talk about here, a lot of women find it difficult to get regular exercise because it's inconvenient or they may have too little time, especially if they're chasing toddlers around all day.

[00:17:51] But if finding a 30 minute block of time to exercise is a barrier, how about two separate fifteen minute sessions or three ten minute sessions or how about just a little bit each day? Could somebody else cook dinner so you can take a walk after work? Or if you feel too self-conscious to take an exercise class, how about buying a tape instead to use at home? And if you've been there, which I feel like we all have been there in the contemplation stages where your brain's going to fight you, it's going to give you a lot of that. Yeah, but, you know, how about taking an exercise tape to use at home? Your brain's really good at saying. Well, yeah, but but I don't really I don't want to put myself out there. I don't want to do that. I don't want anybody to see me doing it. I you know, I don't really like those classes. I don't like doing things at home. And so those are a lot of times where we get to learn how to say, OK, well, we're not even arguing that we like it or don't like it. But is it a productive thought of trying to work some exercise into our day? So that's not contemplation mode. After that, experts say in this trans theoretical model comes preparation. And at this stage, you know, you need to change. You believe that you can and you're starting to make plans to change soon.

[00:18:52] They talk about maybe, let's say, in the next month. So you might have joined a health club or purchased a supply of nicotine patches or added a calorie counting book to the kitchen shelf. And at the stage, it's important to start to take a look at potential obstacles. So if you're thinking about lowering your alcohol consumption, then be aware of situations that they promote drinking, you know, avoid the social situations. That might be a problem. You know, if preparing a dinner makes you want to have a drink, then have seltzer water there instead of wine. And if social situations are the problem, then really make a list of alternative find safe people that will help you help you in those situations to go to a movie instead of having drinks or dinner with friends. But at the same time, you you have to be honest with yourself. That's where the article talks about that. It's going to take as long as it takes for you based on your situations. So create a realistic action plan, have achievable goals. If you've been sedentary and you want to start exercising more, then don't immediately think I got to go run a marathon. There's some really cool programs like couch to five K wear. Start making it a goal to avoid using the elevator, climb the stairs, park further away from work, or plan to just go on a ten minute walk at.

[00:19:59] Every day, and this can help you start working your way up to these more ambitious goals, you can start to raise your emotional baseline so that you can start to take more action on on change. So after preparation, so we've got free contemplation, we've got contemplation, we've got preparation. Here comes action. So at this stage, you've changed. Yeah, maybe you've stopped smoking. For example, according to this author of The Theoretical Model, per Chaska, he says cutting down would not be action or preparation for action. And you've begun to experience the challenges of life without your old behavior. And it can be hard. You'll need to practice the alternatives that you identified during the preparation stage. You have to be intentional about these steps. For example, if stress tempts you to eat, then you can use healthy coping mechanisms such as yoga or deep breathing or exercise. At the stage. It's important to be really clear about your motivation. So they say in the article, if necessary, write down your reason for making the change and read it every day. This is different than just a, quote, positive affirmation of just saying, hey, you're the man or you're an awesome person. It's saying, I want to I want to be around for my grandkids. You know, I want to I desperately want to be the grandpa that goes running with my grandkids. I really do. And so at that, it's really clear about your motivation.

[00:21:10] So write down those reasons, read them, engage in some positive self talk to bolster your resolve. You can get support. You can join groups. You can this is where it's important to be vulnerable. Let others know that you're making a change. It's OK. Your own brain is going to say, yeah, but I don't wanna put myself out there in case I fail. Then that's just a story your brain's trying to hook you to, because if it can, then you're not going to go seek help. We're all human. We're all going to have times where we succeed, where we maybe have setbacks. And that's part of the process. It's time is this is your life. You know, it's time to really find ways to overcome those path of least resistance or those deep neural pathways. An after action, they talk about maintenance once you practice the new behavior change for they even say up to at least six months now, you're more or less in the maintenance stage. Now you're working on preventing relapse and integrating the changes into your life. And that may require other changes, especially avoiding situations or triggers that are associated with your old habits. And it can be really tough. And they talk about especially if it means steering clear of certain activities or friends while you work to fully assimilate your new healthier habits. And and in the bottom line is it can take a few rounds and the path from one stage to the next isn't always as linear and direct as I've made it sound.

[00:22:20] That's where we build in after that action phase. And they even talked about it in that action phase, this relapse. I think in the episode I did a couple of years ago, I was pulling from an article that literally talked about a sixth stage, which is relapse because again, we're human. And in the article said one study found the smokers trying to quit cycled an average of three or four times through the action stage before they eventually succeeded. And that when relapse occurs during the maintenance stage, you might find yourself back at the contemplation or the preparation stage or maybe even all the way back to pre contemplation. If the relapse was so demoralizing that you are thinking, I don't even know if I want to change, but relapse is common and they go on to say it might even be inevitable. But so experts urge people not to be derailed by it, but think of it as an integral part of the change process. So you're going to learn something about yourself every time that you have a setback, every time you relapse, for example, with my people that I'm working with with that are trying to overcome turning to pornography as a coping mechanism. You know, they I often talk about the difference between impulse control and compulsive behavior. You know, compulsive behavior is this premeditated thing. So people that are constantly looking for when they're going to get their next fix, whatever that fix is, shopping, pornography, alcohol, food, you name it.

[00:23:30] And a lot of times you can have someone get the the contemplate the compulsion under control. But then they still fall prey to an impulse, meaning that there's a lot of things that can lead up to an impulse. Somebody can be there's an acronym Hault. Somebody can be hungry or angry or lonely or tired, and they can fall prey to an impulsive decision. But that doesn't mean you throw the baby out with the bathwater. That's just part of being human. That might be one of these setbacks. And you just recalibrate. I often say break down the game film we know. Where did you where did you where can you bolster up that that game plan so that you can be more successful so that you can stay in that action phase. But remember, it can take a few rounds and those steps of pre contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action and maintenance, those are often just wonderful, amazing tools to just help you frame this, whatever the experiences is that you're going through in life. So if I go back to my what I thought was maybe a heart attack that I opened this thing with in the beginning, that did cause me to want to be more present. Now, one of the things that I was grateful for is I have a daily mindfulness practice, so I feel like I jumped right in at the preparation stage.

[00:24:37] I know I need to make some changes. I can and I'm making plans to soon. So then it was a matter of taking action. I was able to go on a trip over Memorial Day. I just got back last night and there were so many times where I started thinking about the week ahead or thinking about next month or thinking about other opportunities, even amazing opportunities that caused me to have a little bit of stress or a little bit of anxiety. And I thought. And yeah, those are opportunities and there and I'm going to deal with those, but right now I need to be present. I need to be here with my family here in this moment because I need to just squeeze every moment out of life, because, man, if that if that was a heart attack, if that was giving me a little heads up on how quickly things could change, then I'm so grateful for it. I'm grateful that that becomes one of my inact. They call them private experiences, one of my nature, nurture, birth, order, DNA, abandonment, rejection, all those things that just happen that now that I've had that experience, now it is time to take change. And this trans theoretical model of change can really help me move toward change. As long as it's changed, that's important to me. And then the fact that I want that change doesn't mean that it's going to happen overnight.

[00:25:44] It means that it's a process. And this trans theoretical model of change is a very good marker of what that process looks like so that I can get to this better place. So I hope that you don't feel like you have to have a similar experience because, man, that's still hurt. I mean, I would hurt right in my chest. And but I hope that you can sometimes I mean, I feel like sometimes we hear of other people's experiences and we think, oh, hey, I got a I got a rally. I got to figure some things out. So I hope that that might be the case today. It's time to rally, you know, it's time to figure things out. What's important to you and what do you want to do more of? What would you like to do? Less of? What direction would you like to point your life toward? What are your core values? Have you identified him yet because it's important to identify what your core values are, not what other people say that they should be. And so as you identify those and now you identify some action steps to take toward each one of those values, then when you do start to feel stuck or you start to feel overwhelmed, now you can take a deep breath and in through the nose and out through your mouth breath and you can kind of point yourself toward a direction of a value-based goal.

[00:26:46] And that really is a big piece of making that change, that change that will eventually become the new, deeply rooted neural pathway so that you find yourself pretty much constantly being present and that when your brain starts to drift away, that your brain actually catches it on its own and says, hey, get back here. Our goal is to be present. We've been working on this for a long time. This is now the way that we do things. So I hope you have a great week. I think this one, we'll see the light of day. I think this episode will will Will will hit the podcast airwaves. And and if you're interested in more about the trans theoretical model of change, I'll go ahead and put the link to this Helfgot Harvard edu article in the show notes. And hey, later this week, I got a kind of a cool bonus episode coming up from my buddy Kurt Francom of Leading Lights on acceptance and Commitment Therapy. That's just a little bit of a teaser recorded, an actual intro and everything. So if you made it this far, you'll know what's coming next hour, later this week. If not, it'll be pretty funny because I don't think I say anything on the intro of the episode. And then but we get into acceptance and commitment therapy in a way like I've never done before. So have an amazing week. Taking us away, as per usual, is the wonderful, the talented, incredibly talented Aurora Florence with her song, which is always, always so appropriate. It's wonderful.

With the New Year soon approaching, it’s time to talk habits! Inevitably millions of people will start to look at creating new habits, and breaking old ones and guest Abby Green has done all the research on habit formation so you don’t have to! Abby is a certified Tiny Habit’s instructor, successful life coach, wife, and mother of four vibrant children so she understands that sometimes you only have a short amount of time to work with when it comes to self-care, and especially the formation of new habits. Abby and Tony discuss in detail BJ Fogg’s breakthrough book “Tiny Habit’s” and Abby talks about the formula that BJ has developed over years of research that bring results. Abby mentions her “Health Holiday Habits Challenge” during the episode and she’s offering a discount on her program of habit change which begins on December 7th. Go to http://simplythrivenow.com for more information.-Sign up at http://tonyoverbay.com to learn more about Tony’s upcoming “Magnetic Marriage” program!-This episode of The Virtual Couch is sponsored by http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch With the continuing “sheltering” rules that are spreading across the country PLEASE do not think that you can’t continue or begin therapy now. http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch can put you quickly in touch with licensed mental health professionals who can meet through text, email, or videoconference often as soon as 24-48 hours. And if you use the link http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch you will receive 10% off your first month of services. Please make your own mental health a priority, http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch offers affordable counseling, and they even have sliding scale options if your budget is tight.
Tony mentioned a product that he used to take out all of the "uh's" and "um's" that, in his words, "must be created by wizards and magic!" because it's that good! To learn more about Descript click here https://descript.com?lmref=v95myQ
Please subscribe to The Virtual Couch YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/c/TheVirtualCouchPodcast/ and sign up at http://tonyoverbay.comto learn more about Tony’s upcoming “Magnetic Marriage” program!
Tony's FREE parenting course, “Tips For Parenting Positively Even In the Not So Positive Times” is available NOW. Just go to https://www.tonyoverbay.com/courses-2/ and sign up today. This course will help you understand why it can be so difficult to communicate with and understand your children. You’ll learn how to keep your buttons hidden, how to genuinely give praise that will truly build inner wealth in your child, teen, or even in your adult children, and you’ll learn how to move from being “the punisher” to being someone your children will want to go to when they need help.
Tony's new best-selling book "He's a Porn Addict...Now What? An Expert and a Former Addict Answer Your Questions" is now available on Kindle. https://amzn.to/38mauBo
Tony Overbay, is the co-author of "He's a Porn Addict...Now What? An Expert and a Former Addict Answer Your Questions" now available on Amazon https://amzn.to/33fk0U4. The book debuted in the number 1 spot in the Sexual Health Recovery category and remains there as the time of this record. The book has received numerous positive reviews from professionals in the mental health and recovery fields.
You can learn more about Tony's pornography recovery program The Path Back by visiting http://pathbackrecovery.com And visit http://tonyoverbay.com and sign up to receive updates on upcoming programs, and podcasts.-
Tony also mentioned his appearances this week on two podcasts, The Betrayed, The Addicted and The Expert with hosts Ashlyn and Coby, and Virtual Couch former guest Brannon Patrick where we discuss narcissism in detail and the challenges people face in relationships with narcissistic individuals https://www.betrayedaddictedexpert.com/podcast/episode/25d19bf1/is-narcissism-nature-or-nurture and The Millennial Member Podcast hosted by Emily Ensign where we discuss the topic of pornography, what helps with recovery, and what doesn’t https://www.buzzsprout.com/1072564/6209683-tony-overbay-pornography-and-recovery

You can watch this interview on the Virtual Couch YouTube Channel! https://youtu.be/kso620-siUE

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