Kurt Francom, podcast host, and executive director of Leading Saints, takes over The Virtual Couch to share a recent interview that Tony did for their "Mentally Healthy Saints Virtual Summit." The topic of Tony's presentation was "Acceptance Doesn't Mean Apathy," where Tony shares Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) principles in the context of religious leadership. You can gain full access to the Mentally Healthy Saints Virtual Summit for two weeks by signing up at http://leadinglds.org/tony Leading Saints is a non-profit (501c3) organization that creates content (podcasts, written articles, virtual/live conferences, etc.) to help religious leaders become better.
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.
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[00:00:00] Everyone, welcome to the Virtual Couch podcast. Now you're probably sitting there wondering why does Tony's voice sounds so much more sexy? Well, that's because it's not Tony's voice. My name is Kurt Francom and I am taking over this podcast. I have Tony tied up in the corner, duct tape over his mouth. And this is a coup. No, actually, Tony has been so kind to allow me to share more of his brain on his podcast. You see, I've run a podcast called Leading ST's.
[00:00:28] And recently we did a virtual summit or a Virtual conference all about mental health in the context of being a member of the Church of
[00:00:34] Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints. Now, maybe not everybody listening to this is a latter day
[00:00:40] Saint, but that's OK. You will still find this so applicable. So I interviewed Tony Overbay on this virtual summit called Mentally Healthy Saints, and we had a phenomenal discussion about act, which is acceptance, commitment therapy. I'm sure you've heard Tony talk about it numerous times on this podcast. But we had such a dynamic, interesting discussion. I told Tony, hey, you should publish this on your podcast. And guess what? He agreed. Now you're going to listen to this conversation and think, wow, that was so good. I wish I could get more quality content like that. And guess what? We had 20 plus interviews, presentations as part of this Mentally Healthy Saints virtual summit. And I'd love to give you a chance to listen to all of it and listen to the end of the episode. And I will tell you how you can get access to all 20 plus presentations, including Tony's, which you're about to hear at no cost. So let's jump into this episode of the Virtual Couch podcast.
[00:01:52] So we'll go back to another session of the Mentally Healthy Saints virtual summit, and today I am with Tony Overbay. How are you, Tony?
[00:02:03] Hey, Kurt, it is always a pleasure to be with you. And you know that. I mean that very, very sincerely.
[00:02:07] Well, thank you. And you're of you're one of those I was chasing a little bit. You're super busy. I wanted to make sure you're part of this. I knew you wanted to be part of this. Yes, I was just schedules and things like that. And and here we are. We made it. And I want the audience to know that Tony is one of those guys, at least for me. The minute I met him, we were like best friends, like we were with this guy. And so we're going to have a great conversation. He's a professional, but we're also friends. And so hopefully that'll help the the conversation flow today.
[00:02:37] But I don't know what a professional what a professional courtesy, though, because that was your kind way of saying, why didn't you ever return my texts or emails when I was trying to set this up? So I'm grateful. I appreciate your staying with me because I'm so excited to talk about the topic we're talking about today.
[00:02:52] Why you ghosted me, Tony. Come on. Exactly. That's what they call it.
[00:02:56] They do. So don't you just give us a background, like when people say, what do you do for work? How do you say how do you respond?
[00:03:03] Yeah, so I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist. And, you know, I still it's still so funny. I've been doing this full time now for 15 years or so. And it's still odd because I started in computer software for a decade and I still feel like I need to share that, even though fifteen years into a profession, I think I'm I think this is what I'm doing. So with a licensed family therapist, I've written a book and have a podcast and have some courses to help people. And I just love everything that I get to do on a daily basis.
[00:03:34] And you're like you're one of those therapists that are super busy. And this is like something that maybe we can just touch on briefly. I'm just concerned about because as we talk about mental health, a lot of the answer is, well, go see a therapist, you know, make sure you get professional help there. And if you're dealing with this thing, definitely reach out to a therapist. But it's like if you're a really good therapist, you're two, three weeks out, maybe a month out before or they don't even have room for you there. And so, I mean, what are we going to do about that, Tony, or what are your thoughts?
[00:04:04] No, I appreciate. And I will try to not make everything humor, but it is so hard. And this is where I've done a podcast on primary and secondary emotions. And it's fascinating that my primary emotion is one of I feel so bad because I do want to help everybody. That's why I got into this. And then I'll jump into a secondary emotion too often of humor, because I don't want to sit with that primary emotion of just feeling like I wish I could help more. But it's a real problem because I've watched this over the last decade, especially the stigma around mental health start to evaporate, which is an amazing thing, especially as a mental health professional. But I think the problem is that now all of the sudden, people are willing to seek help and where it once felt like there was a therapist on every block. Now, those therapists, especially good therapists, are they are booked out. I mean, I when you say two, three weeks, it's more like for a lot of us, it's two, three months, four months. There's a wait list. And and I love that you brought this up because I. Yeah, when somebody says you're so busy and I want to say, yeah, but and you'll hear it's must be a good problem to have.
[00:05:05] And I boy, I feel like unfortunately in this space it's not because the people that are reaching out, they want help with their marriages or depression or anxiety. And oftentimes they feel a connection with you, whether it's through they hear you on a recording or they read your profile in Psychology Today or wherever it is. And they think, OK, I feel I feel impressed that this could be the person that could help me. And so we get those messages that say, I feel like my husband won't go to therapy, but he hears you and he thinks that he would go see you. And meanwhile, you're booked out about four or five months and they're saying, and our marriage is on the brink. So not trying to say that to get the violins playing in the background, although maybe you can do that and edit that. Sorry. No, I'm OK. But I really do feel like it is, I guess, a good problem to have for the mental health community in general. But I hope that by no means is that a sign where someone hearing this thinks, well, I'm sure that there it would be too hard to find a therapist because we'll talk about that today of how the brain kind of does still want to default to the path of least resistance.
[00:06:05] And so even in things where we feel like a little bump of dopamine, I'm thinking, yeah, I'm going to go get help. And then they start to think, well, but it's there's probably I probably won't go to find somebody or that sort of thing. So go find somebody. And then I feel like it's so important to find somebody that you really do gel with or GI with. And that's why I love the topic we're talking about today, because acceptance and commitment therapy was a game changer in my practice. But if just if you hear this today and you like it, then it's perfectly fine for you to try to go find an acceptance and commitment therapy therapist. And if you already have a therapist that practices a different modality, but it's working for you, please don't feel like you hear this today and think, well, I must not be getting good therapy then. So if if it helps or works for you, then that is such a wonderful thing.
[00:06:46] Yeah. Yeah, for sure. And this is like. As I look at a part of me wants to look at this issue of that the good therapists are booked out and want to say, let's put some programs together and get some more and create some more good therapists. But people through school or whatever we need to do. But really, that wouldn't even be enough. We have to come together as a community, as churches, as whatever it is, and and understand these concepts. And that's one of the big reasons we're having this summit, is to just start the conversation and understand the resources out there. And we're going to find help and progress from various areas or various resources. And and that's that's, I think, a start in the right direction, maybe overcome this pandemic of of mental health that's out there.
[00:07:32] Yeah. And the bottom line is, I love the fact that people are having the conversations and they're there is a lot to be said about people that hear things and go research them on your own, because I understand you have to meet somebody where they're at as well. So if somebody feels like they hear a principle or concept that really resonates, but they're not quite ready to go to therapy, it's still you know, you can't force somebody to go to therapy and you can't force them to work on themselves. So it is a process for people and you have to meet them where they're at. So if you hear this today and you like the concepts of act, then start to look at it more and do a little bit more research and digging and but don't feel like it's an all or nothing thing where I either have to now jump completely into act and go find a therapist and meet every day or that sort of thing, because it is just the process of trying to really feel like what fits your situation and what resonates with you.
[00:08:20] Yeah, awesome. All right. Well, let's jump into this as far as an act, which is an acronym for Acceptance Commitment Therapy, and I love this. I'm excited to have this conversation because oftentimes we say, well, go see your therapist and we don't necessarily know what sort of witchcraft goes on behind those doors, but it seems to help. So keep going, keep going with it. But this will maybe be an opportunity to really understand some of these modalities, that specifically one that that you found very successful. And I have the same experiences I've talked with you and learn more about act. I reached out and you said, hey, give me one good, solid book about this. And you recommended the I think it was the confidence gap, right?
[00:09:01] Yeah, that's that's I love that one.
[00:09:03] And I read it and as like and it was it wasn't this academic book like it was very applicable. And I found myself, you know, I don't necessarily really deeply struggle with mental illness of any type, but I'm a human being. Right. And I have a brain that that acts like know gets out of line at times. And so these these taxes really help me. So where do we start to understand act and maybe just help us understand the landscape of where it's in a world of other therapies or approaches out there?
[00:09:34] I love the set up. And, you know, Kurt, please stop me if I start going a little bit too long. Let me let me kind of step back and really its act is this perfect mix. I think of it has some cognitive therapy pieces and it also has some behavioral. So one might think, well, isn't it cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT? But there's some pieces of it that are really significantly different. And that's what really changed my practice, because I was a practicing cognitive behavioral therapist for a number of years, six, seven years, and I went to a training on act and it really did change my whole practice. Let me kind of back up there and I sent some notes and I said, OK, let me just do a tiny bit of super deep, geeky stuff. But Act is really founded off of this thing called relational frame theory. That one sounds exciting. Right. Or if they have a right. But boy. Right. But what relational frame theory is talking about is it really is that we all have these different we even have these different concepts of what words mean to us and emotions mean to us. And so you can take a word and it has this relationship to certain feelings or emotions or events. And so you can start to see how difficult it can be when even a single word between two people means something different. Now, at the extreme, I often talk about having a couple at one point that we're talking about the word abuse in a session, and the husband would become really, really angry when this word abuse was used by his spouse. But I understood that from her standpoint, she felt like she was being emotionally abused. And so we talked about what does that word abuse mean to you? And then when we sat with the husband.
[00:11:10] And so what does that word mean to you? And he had been grown up with a lot of physical abuse. So abuse just carried a completely different meaning to each person. So we were able to talk about what even words mean. So and that can be significant. My wife and I teach Sunday School. And a few weeks ago in the come follow me, we teach the 17, 16, 17 year olds and there was even the definition of repentance. And and I find that people bring in the concept of repentance in my office. And it often feels really heavy. And you can almost watch their countenance shift or their demeanor change. And in the manual, we learned that in this one scenario it was talking about repentance. Meaning turn toward so if it's repent, turn to Christ, then I feel like a lot of people would say I'm in. That sounds great. I mean, there's hope in Christ and faith in Christ. And so even that relationship with the word is really important. So so that's one of the big principles behind the concept of acceptance and commitment therapy, is that we even have different relationships to word. So we're trying to communicate with somebody. No wonder it can be really difficult when we have two different experiences with somebody even says the word repentance or abuse or fun or anything like that. And at that point, now, oftentimes we are now trying to figure out ways to express ourselves, to communicate what we really feel. And we're talking to somebody that's having a completely different experience with their entire world, not just to mention a word or feeling or something that's happening.
[00:12:34] Yeah, and maybe this is a good way, as I've learned more about this as far as explaining it along with this and there's other ways, other modalities to do this. But it really helps you sort of break the messiness of emotion and mortality and life down to certain sort of building blocks. Then you can address each building block as it as it is, rather than talking past each other because you define abuse differently, right?
[00:13:00] Yeah. Yeah, exactly. And so and I love that you brought that up because I do I do work this into my couples therapy. A lot of that concept of telling me what a word means to you. But yeah, let's take it back to the individual level and maybe where I'll go here is that let me tell you what. This is my view of what a cognitive behavioral therapist, because, again, I practice like that for years and then what that shift look like with act. And then we'll kind of go into the principles of act.
[00:13:26] And that cognitive CBT is sort of a a different approach to therapy. Right. And they're not. Yeah, it is eating. It's just different.
[00:13:35] It's just different. And I feel like a lot of therapists, it's almost the thing we often call it the fundamentals of therapy. So most therapists are going to learn CBT in school and they're going to come out a practicing CBT therapist excuse me, a cognitive behavioral therapy therapist and CBT is and it's a wonderful thing. Again, I practiced it for a years. There are books about it, a lot of motivational speakers and life coaches and a lot of good therapists use CBT. So I appreciate that, that I'm not by no means saying, can you believe these people using CBT these days? It's not that at all. But for me personally, CBT kind of starts with the thought of your thoughts, lead your emotions and your emotions, lead your behaviors. And so you then if you have and if you have a if you want to shift your behavior, then you work it back up and you take a look at your thoughts. And they have clever acronyms like ants, automatic negative thoughts or your stinking thinking or that sort of thing. And so you identify kind of this whatever the broken thought or the the wrong thought is. And because that's going to lead to an emotion and that emotion is going to lead to a behavior. So the thought behind that is if I can change what that thought means to me, then it will lead to a different emotion, which will lead to a different behavior.
[00:14:43] And so I often give this example and I apologize if I've just beaten this one to death. But it was it literally was when I was learning I was going to act training as a CBT therapist and I had a client in my office that I was working on. It was actually a single client who was a client who was suffering with some social anxiety, who had also been overweight at one point in their life. And so they're coming into me and talking about walking into a room and seeing when they walk in the room, they felt like everybody turned to them. And then, you know, he thought they got to be making fun of me or they must be looking at me thinking, well, look at that guy and what's wrong with him. And so as a CBT therapist, I would say, all right, that's an automatic negative thought or some stinking thinking that comes from your past. And so let's start working on different things that that could mean because he had lost a significant amount of weight. So as a CBT therapist, we would run through some drills like what else could they be thinking? And he would say, OK, maybe they're thinking that he looks good, or maybe they're thinking that every time somebody walks in the door, we turn our attention to that direction. And so which would lead to an emotion of I feel a little bit better, maybe a little bit of joy or happiness in a behavior of I'm going to walk into that room and I'm going to meet someone.
[00:15:54] But then he would go back to that scenario almost on a weekly basis and at some activity or event. And we'll walk in and everybody would look and then he would think they think I look awesome. And then his brain would say, I don't think so. I think they still think that you don't. And so you would come back to me and think, OK, what's wrong with me, Tony? I'm paying money for therapy. I'm doing these drills and I walk in there and I still feel like something's wrong with me. And and so then I'm taking this act model, this training at the time. And so act what I just love it. So access that you are, he's the only version of him that's ever walked the face of this earth, that he's the only one that's had that experience of growing up in the family he did. And the environment he did with the friends he did at the weight he was at and had those experiences of people that would bully him or tease him or say those kind of things to him. So here he is now showing up. Even though he had lost a lot of this weight, he had a good job.
[00:16:46] He was in this position where. He really wanted desperately to meet people, that was a real, real core value of his, but then he still had this flood of emotions that met him. So he would say, what is my problem? I want this connection. But and I'm trying to tell myself that those people maybe think that I look great. But so going back to that's what's wrong with me story. And when I talk about act on my podcast, I love to go big with this whole thing about, you know, again, you're the only one with your nature and nurture and birth order and DNA and abandonment and rejection and hopes and dreams and people that have moved and died. And so you're the only version of you that has all of that stuff walking into that moment. So the fact that you feel those things, those thoughts, feelings and emotions is because you're a human being. And so that's where ACT has a little bit of a shift. That acceptance is that, of course, you're going to feel that way because you're you. And I feel like if you start throwing that into the principles of even the gospel, it's like we're all children of God. We have our own unique talents and abilities. And and so that is how you feel. So there isn't anything broken or wrong with you yet.
[00:17:45] And I appreciate that because there's sort of this destigmatizing that happens or, you know, it removes the shame of that. Like, well, of course, you're having that thought there's something wrong that you're having that thought because you have a history that thought is coming from. And so let's begin to maybe separate us from from from then and then and see what we can how we can proceed going forward. But and again, there's nothing wrong with CBT or anything like that or those that that do a lot of thought work. But sometimes there's this feeling of like, yeah, I know that I'm not supposed to have that thought, but that thought is like the big elephant in the room and it won't go away, Tony.
[00:18:24] Yeah, yeah. I love how you say that because I feel like I do often. A lot of the work is reframing. So when somebody's saying, I know I shouldn't feel this way and I always love the saying no one likes to be should on because even our own brains are like, I shouldn't think this way. And this is where that that concept of reactance, psychological reactance, that instant negative reaction of being told what to do, I believe also known as agency, where when we even tell our own brain, I shouldn't think this, I shouldn't think of the white polar bear wearing a green hat around like here it is. And so I feel like even when we say I shouldn't be thinking that whatever the thought is in our brain kind of fires back with no, I can I can think what I want. So so the acceptance piece is saying, yeah, that I feel that way because I'm a human being, but now what do I want to do with it? Because one of the cool things is being able to recognize, oh, wait, we have hundreds of thoughts every minute even. And so why am I assigning such emotion or a belief onto this thought where there are all these other thoughts that happen as well, where there are other times where I really feel good about myself or my situation.
[00:19:26] And so why don't I buy more into those thoughts? Why do I go down this path of buying into the I'm not enough or I'm not good enough or I'm broken or I'm unlovable or why do I go back to those thoughts? So it really is that first step of saying, I'm not I'm not broken, I'm human, and I feel like there's so much power there. And then being aware that then when people say, well, you just need to bless their hearts, whatever they're telling you, you need to do. That's why we don't immediately say, oh, yeah, I'll just do that. That's really easy. It's because you're the only person that has been through what you have been through. So we still have that desire to just be heard and are very core. So when somebody saying you just need to we still have this residual feeling of here, you don't really know what my experience is like. Let me let me let me share this with you. I really want to be heard.
[00:20:10] Yeah. And that's why I feel like it with this modality, that the grace of Jesus Christ just fits in so snug because we all have to get to a place of surrender for the tone of Jesus Christ. We're going to get to a point of like, well, of course, I'm broken and of course, I'm having these thoughts. Of course, this doesn't work out because I'm mortal and I need and then I, I need Jesus. And then it's like, oh, OK. So now let's take the next step with Jesus and see what progress we can make together. And it's not again, this is where maybe some people get caught up. It's like, well, yeah, but if we tell people they're broken, then they'll never get over that and they use it as an excuse and all these things. But I don't know. How would you respond to them?
[00:20:50] I mean, that's why I just say bless all their hearts. I mean, because it's you're the only one going through your journey. I mean, this is what how do you feel? And I think kind of to take this example even further is this is where I feel like because we are all unique children of God with their own talents and abilities and and gifts, and we've been born into the families that we've been born into and the times that we have and the situations that all of those than we all actually have, these different values that are core. I mean, we have these different reasons why we're here and the things that we can do upon this earth. And so in that scenario, back to this, this guy I was talking about earlier, he has a deep value of connection, connection to others. He wants desperately to connect. So so this is where then when he feels like these people are looking at me and maybe they're making fun of me, then if we go back to this acceptance model, we have to even be able to accept that, OK, maybe they are I don't know. And if they are, I'm not even arguing if that's a true or false statement because. Is that a productive. Thought toward my value-based goal of connection, and that's where we start to learn how to make a little bit of space or make room for our thoughts so that we can start to move or pivot back toward those things that really are important to us. And that can be scary. I act as a part of it that's built into the confidence gap. Does this so well, where it talks about our primitive brain by nature is a don't get killed device.
[00:22:09] You know, we now write we try to come up with all these scenarios of what if what if I get in a wreck or what if I fail a test or what if I get a disease or what if, what if, what if? And our brain is doing that thinking it's doing us a solid by saying, OK, if we can if we can worry and prepare for all these things, then we'll really be ready. But in reality, what it's doing is by nature, we typically default to this worst case scenario because we're worried that if all of a sudden I don't worry about all these things, that all of a sudden I'm going to walk like some rube out into the middle of the street, get hit by a bus, or our primitive ancestors are going to turn around a corner and then there's a saber tooth tiger. So we're designed to to worry and we're designed to try to protect ourselves, but at the cost of really moving toward our value based goals. And what I love about when you kind of put the gospel spin on act is that whether it's our brain fighting against the path of least resistance or it's the adversary, the result is the same. We're not out there living our best life. And I feel like in that scenario, are we being our best selves? Are we putting ourselves in the best position to serve God or others or our families or. No, not when we're we're so up in our heads or feeling like what's wrong with me or that sort of thing.
[00:23:19] Yeah. So if I'm understanding this right, like the act is very value focused. Right. You're negotiating the values in your life where CBT is more of a thought approach where you're sort of negotiating the thoughts, right?
[00:23:32] Absolutely. And that's where I feel like and I didn't prepare any write off this the second. But there are times where I say, man, this is a great opportunity for CBT to go through like a thought exercise or that sort of thing. But I feel like for the for what has changed my practice and what led me to start a podcast and is a part of my recovery work and my recovery program and my marriage program and parenting program is all around Act because it starts with that premise of that you're human, but then what are your values? And I love how you say that. Yes, really value centric. And one of the most difficult things, I think difficult and empowering things is identifying your values. I remember when you had reached out and said, what's the link to I have this worksheet where you identify your values. I'm curious, what was that like for you discovering your values?
[00:24:19] Yeah, I think it's just like a helpful like it gives you like tools to hold onto. Like when? Because I think we naturally want to want to reflect all positive values. Right. There's always going to come a time of like which value are you going to step forward with today? Like is are you going to go help the the the boy in the street that's that's crying or are you going to go feed your family like these are two values that maybe conflict. So to me it was just really helpful to be like, OK, these are I can see where values, what values stand out. And and as I'm sort of have this conflict where my brain or the adversary is pushing me one way I can sort of step back and say, OK, what what value am I trying to act out of? And so it really orders the process well from and I don't know if I'm answering that well, but.
[00:25:11] Oh yeah. No, absolutely. Yeah, yeah. And so and I even had to I always give an example of honesty, which I think is a really powerful one, where and I'll make it simple, but I'll give you a one that was in my office just a few weeks ago that I thought was fascinating. And so the honesty one is interesting because if you grew up in a home where there was brutal honesty of I didn't like that desert and you do look bad in those jeans, and I thought that talk was horrible, then you may have a value moving forward in your life, more of one of compassion. So you may not. And that's one of those that's so funny when you're working with somebody and you get to that value of honesty and you say, OK, is this a core value? And people almost feel bad if I mean, oh, of course it is. But when you lay out that scenario, it doesn't mean that you are bad if you have a value maybe of compassion at times over that brutal honesty. But if you grew up in a home where you can never make sense of the truth and things changed all the time, then you may have more of a value of that absolute honesty because you grew up with without that in your life. But I had someone that we were going over their values. They had some that were about connection and empathy and authenticity and all these really powerful ones. But there's one on this list that's a value of humor. And I thought it was so fascinating because the person identified that they aren't they really aren't working in humor into their day to day life.
[00:26:21] And they're in a profession. When the pandemic hit, they didn't have as much personal connection. And so they weren't able to be around people that they like to just have fun with and joke with. And and then in their profession, it's a little bit stuffy. And so then I was saying, OK, what would that look like if you were humor into your profession? And then that's where they felt the anxiety, where they felt like, what if people think that I'm not as good of a practitioner or that sort of thing? And so that's what I feel like. You can do a quick check in an. See, are you living in a line in alignment with your values or there's a there's an amazing principle in act called a socially compliant goal, and that's one way or if you're doing something because you think you're supposed to or you have to because you'll let somebody else down, you know, then you're living. What is one of these socially compliant goals? And the founder of Doctor Hayes says, when you're living or when you're working for it's socially compliant goals, your motivation is weak and ineffective because it goes against your sense of self or your sense of unfolding or your sense of being. And so, so often I find that people are trying to do things because they feel like they're supposed to or they should. And that's often when somebody is living kind of out of alignment with their value. And so when you're living out of alignment with your value, that's when we tend to find that we'll do things later. We'll do them tomorrow. We'll do it next week because they aren't even something that we're really passionate about.
[00:27:38] Yeah, and I think this is a really helpful point for, like church leaders, that oftentimes an individual may come in and you're sort of just as you talk with them, the leaders sort of picking up on signs that they're just not really engaging with the gospel. Maybe scripture study isn't a priority. They've sort of been hit and miss with church. And it's easy to sort of be sort of project your value on them like, well, this value is really important to me. Maybe you should try my value here, take my value and try that on for a few weeks and see if that works. But or they have a smoke screen of maybe some doubts or historic concerns or whatnot. And when in reality they think when I come to church, everything just it just feels like, you know, compliant goals, what would you call it?
[00:28:21] Socially compliant, socially compliance goals.
[00:28:23] It's like I just come here and they're just socially compliant goals. And when I go through those motions, I don't feel like I'm my authentic self. And so then then it was like get gained new perspective on helping that individual, like, oh, OK. So it's not just because you have these concerns or doubts or whatever, which you may still have those, but usually the sort of values that rises to the surface, then it's like, OK, so how can we remove these socially compliant goals out of your life and just engage with the gospel authentically? What does that look like to you? Right. And then it's such a refreshing conversation.
[00:28:56] That's why. And I set up and I started smiling because I think that is such a good example. And I often talk about seminary for seven years, but I'm confident I didn't grow up with much religion at all. And so I didn't have all these years as a kid reading scripture, scripture, memorize scripture. So I show up as an adult and I didn't it's the old I didn't know what I didn't know. So I'm I'm so, so blessed. When I was having these discussions, I wasn't able to answer to the gospel, but I had such a valuable insight to call so late. I would still I would go in there and love every minute of it and just connection to the scriptures.
[00:29:36] And that's what a student would do. Such a good job of trying to apply these principles to lines that would. Picture. So that they're going. Let's spend more time back and forth with the. The teacher was engaged, is not trying to play ball. It's a bit it's like I would have to OK, I have to. Principles are what makes you so bad. That's where I get that acceptance comes from. It's always so difficult.
[00:30:17] I'm curious, a guy like this yesterday, that is, of course, this week's. Well, now I go back to that what I love about this is, you know,
[00:30:36] I should tell
[00:30:37] You what that's like the. Months without a thousand. And so thank you for that acceptance accepted that. This is a shed light, the.
[00:31:01] So I
[00:31:02] To say.
[00:31:04] I think it goes back to the. What is their. To say that then somebody gets a
[00:31:18] Calling the ization, and if they if that isn't one of their core values, that then, well, that won't work. But I feel like one of the cool things with act is, is you try your best to start to live in accordance with your values or take action on your values or if you need to, you work your values into certain situations. So if you feel like you are in a situation, work, calling life where you feel like you don't necessarily have that freedom to change or pivot toward these new value based goals, if you have a real value of humor, then work humor into your life, your and your accounting job or your church auditing thing. I don't know how you can be funny with that, but I'm sure there's a way, you know, how about these checks? I don't know. But that's where you work those values into your into your existing situation as well.
[00:32:06] Yeah. And so I want to step out of our conversation a little bit, just sort of sort of clarify the boundaries we're putting here. So obviously there may be individual who are individuals who are just paralyzed with anxiety or depression or social situations, OCD, whatever it is, and obviously these extreme situations. Yet you've got to have someone like Tony, a professional, who can sit down with them on a regular basis, walk them through this type of thing. However, I think learning about act can also be helpful just in a leadership role or a parenting role or even just, you know, leading yourself or finding success in your own life where you're sitting down and saying, I'm going to lead out with values. And instead of when an individual comes in who's struggling, I'm not analyzing their behaviors, but I'm going to actually analyze their values. And why is it you come to church? You know, if you don't if you don't like reading the Scriptures, then why why our scripture is even important to you? Or if you don't like visiting people, then what do you like in the gospel or so? And then you identify these values and then you can find like, oh, now I know how the puzzle piece is shaped and I can fit that into my ward or our community or whatever. And and I would I would guess over time they may say, you know, that was really good and engage me in the gospel. I feel more part of this community, this ward or whatever. But I think my values are shifting a little bit. And now I maybe would like to try you know, I found a new a new desire to read the Scriptures, Linnear or whatever it is. Right. And is that a safe explanation of what we're talking about?
[00:33:38] Yeah, no, it's good. Is the whole title of this acceptance doesn't mean apathy is exactly what you're speaking to. And I feel like because when we are being pushed against or told that we're wrong or we need to do it differently or what's wrong with you or you're broken or all those sort of things, we have such reactance. We have such this when the shame creeps in and we start to feel down and I'll never have this figured out or all of that is so not the point of the gospel or so not the point of life, that then when we find that we can accept who we are and where we're at and what our values are and we lean into those, then that's where I feel like the parable of the talents just is is one of the most amazing things in the world, because now that we are, you know, we're not burying that one and feeling bad about it and trying to do some socially compliant goal. Now we're leaning in and saying, OK, this is my talent, and now that I've owned it, now I'm going to be able to multiply it. I mean, I think that is so true because and I feel like that's one of those biggest fears as we worry that once we accept if we accept that I'll never be scriptorium, then it's like so I guess I never have to. And it's the opposite. It's once I accept that that is not my strength. Now, I'm no longer trying to find, though, what's wrong with me. What why can't I do this? It's like, oh no, that's that's not my strength. So now I'm a little bit more, a lot more eager to be engaged knowing that. Oh yeah.
[00:34:55] I if the fact that I'm I can't sit here for 15 straight minutes, but man I'll give it my all and then if I'm doing that on a on a regular basis then that is going to be something that I feel more comfortable with and more confident with. So I'm very glad you brought that up because that acceptance doesn't mean apathy is is huge. And even as we can throw this into parenting, into relationships, into all of these things where we worry that if I'm not pushing on this person, that then they will just do nothing. And it comes from a good place. But in reality, we're pushing them on things. Are we pushing them on things that even matter to them? If not, they're going to try to do these things in a socially compliant goldway where it's like, OK, fine, I'll do this thing to get you off my back, but I don't feel engaged with it. I worry what's wrong with me. And meanwhile, I'm missing out on what my true calling in life was anyway. And that's what leads to this concept of experiential avoidance again, of, well, I don't know, I don't want to do this thing. So I'm going to I'm going to turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms a lot of times. And I'll try to do this again tomorrow or if it's Wednesday, I'll try again on Monday or if it's the multi month, I'll try next month. And we want people engaged in what they feel is something that really matters to them because that's what they bring passion to. And that's where you're going to really feel that connection or they're going to feel like they are really they have a sense of purpose. And you can feel that.
[00:36:08] Yeah, yeah. And as you as you focus on values, it really does propel somebody forward rather than because. It's easy to think, well, you know, if we've identified that there maybe don't have an intellectual mind and their value of becoming a scriptorium, isn't there, like and I say something like, well, maybe don't read the scriptures so much, maybe journal more or maybe go to the temple or maybe, you know, pray more like our music and then do maybe they'll never read the scriptures and that's not good. So I don't want to say that. But again, we're not like diminishing them or discouraging them to do one thing or identifying values and that propels them forward in the gospel or in life or in their career.
[00:36:53] Yeah, we're meeting them where they're at, which I think is something where the savior did that often. He met the person where they were at and didn't condemn them. And then I feel like, you know, he was the greatest empath. I mean, he really did have that that true empathy and Christlike love. And that's where I feel like we need to come from with ourselves as well as though with the others around us. And I know that we mean well when we're saying we you just need to do this because we feel like that's the only way that that we feel like we can be heard. But this is why act is a shift. I mean an endpoint. The data around accurate is is phenomenal of the act with OCD, act with anxiety, act with depression. I mean, there's so much good data here because I feel like it really does allow the person to really find themselves and then move forward and and then you'll watch that. Boy, you know, if I go back to that example that I was talking about earlier. So now let's say that this guy has a value base of connection, is entering this room and now his again, back to his his brain says they're all making fun of you. What power to then be able to say, OK, again, I'm not even arguing if that is a true or false statement. Maybe they are. Maybe they're not. But is that a productive thought toward my Value-Based Goal of Connection? And then Act has some pretty cool tools built in where there's one called expansion that I am so just in love with an expansion is saying I'll even invite those thoughts of maybe they don't.
[00:38:12] Maybe they are making fun of you to come along with me while we now go and and talk to somebody. And so you're the more you push it away, that's what leads to those feelings of just that that heaviness and that anxiety in that. And it can lead to depression. It can lead to I'll do it later. And so that tool of expansion is so powerful and it's not it's not easy, but it's one that keeps the ball moving toward a Value-Based Goal and talked so often to about our brain is trying to figure out this present moment by ruminating about the past. How many times do we say, yeah, but this doesn't work well in the past or yeah, but you are never much of a whatever fill in the blank in the past. And so and then we'll sit there and we'll fixate on that. We'll try to work through though I wasn't die or whatever. And, and in fact there's this really cool principle where we spend 80 percent of our our effort or our time trying to manage our emotions and maybe only 20 percent and actually living this purpose filled life where access we have to flip that around. We had to go 80 percent of movement toward a value based life and not worrying as much about managing those emotions.
[00:39:15] So back in the scenario, so we're saying, yeah, that did happen in the past. I mean, if I did a career change 10 years in and I wish I would have done it five years sooner and I can still find myself saying because I just turned fifty one and I think. And what would that have been like if I would have had 10 more years of doing this, this job that I love. And then it's like, yeah, I don't know, I probably would've been pretty cool, but like that's the ultimate drop the rope with the tug of war with the rumination and in the past or the brain might say, yeah, I don't know, I don't know. I don't know if you can keep this up. And then it's like a I don't know. But anyway, all I can do is come back to this present moment and then I can move toward a value based activity. And over time that just becomes the deeply rooted neural pathway, the that does become the path of least resistance. And that's where I find that people, when they're living their value-based goals and life and they're feeling like they can just stay in this present moment and they have these new tools of what to do when they start worrying about the past or that fear of the future. Because all you really can take care of is right now in this in this present moment. And that is such a powerful tool.
[00:40:19] Yeah. Now, I really appreciate this expansion concept because I remember reading that confidence gap book and really finding this applicable and easy to to apply that oftentimes, for example, if someone is begins to experience doubt of the gospel, it it's easy for to attack our identity. And that's exactly where the adversary wants to go. That's where he gets the most leverage, because if he can convince us our identity, identity is flawed, then he's more likely to get us to behave a certain way. And so so instead of saying, wow, I doubt I'm having these doubts, and then you have to think of your past like men. I've never been this person. The doubts. And now I am like, what happened? But instead of you imagine that doubt is actually this separate body that just comes and sits next to you in the room and you're like, oh, yeah, I'm not I'm not doubting, but doubt, doubt a sitting next to me.
[00:41:09] There's doubt right now that's so cool. Yeah. Because my wife tells me all the time when I start talking about this, I. My hand instantly goes up in front of me if you're watching the video, because it's it is it's a check this out because I'm Tony, I'm doing all the things I enjoy doing. But in certain situations here comes out or here comes depression or here comes anxiety and act gives you away. They call it self in context where you're able to kind of step back and view something in the context that you're in. And that's where you can see often that, oh, that comes down and descends upon me when I am. There's an acronym in the addiction world. Halt when I'm hungry or angry or lonely or tired. That and then when you're more aware of, OK, I'm me, I'm living my I'm really living on my value-based goals and I'm being present and but then there are times where I notice that I am feeling sad, you know, and act as a really cool thing. And maybe we'll kind of get into this. It's there's these six kind of principles of act. And the first one really is this. It's it's contacting the present moment. And this is like it's so hard to just stay in this present moment because of that thing I was talking about where we ruminate about the past or we worry about the future.
[00:42:21] And so contacting the present moment is that instead of I'm sad, it literally is starting to put some space there. It's like I'm noticing that I'm sad. I'm noticing I'm feeling sad when and so because in this moment, I am I am. I'm feeling sad. But it's a feeling that I'm having I have lots of different feelings. So let me kind of step back and be able to recognize what are the things that are going on in my life that are causing this sadness. And so trying to contact with the present moment is a pretty fascinating thing. And I dug up a little bit of this is something I haven't ever really talked about. And I was I was really fascinated by it. I'm going to read this a little bit. When I first started working with Act, there was this this concept that mindfulness or meditation was still a little bit to woo woo a little bit to maybe a Zen or Eastern philosophy or whatever that would be. And I would have people where I felt like I almost had to defend what mindfulness was. And I feel like now that was a long time ago and people are pretty comfortable with mindfulness. But I found this this context I really love.
[00:43:18] And it said mindfulness is often expressed as well. OK, so in the context of, let's say, Eastern philosophy or maybe Buddhism, where mindfulness is often expressed as a move toward no self or maybe like rising above these problems of life, which can be absolutely empowering when people can learn to just, you know, kind of have this no self or rise above the problems that they're having. But that's what's kind of looked at is what many people refer to as a practice of empty, of just of kind of trying to eliminate or get rid of these thoughts and just really just be present in this moment. I love that concept. And with mindfulness and I do a daily mindfulness practice, I can get to that point where I can do some breathing and through my nose, out through my mouth, I can get present with the moment. But what act talks about is that where when you then come back to the present moment now, what do you do? And an act that talks about how now mindfulness is about bringing ourselves back to the present moment so that we can now make a pivot toward what truly matters. Because I do feel like a lot of times people struggle with, OK, well, now that I'm now that I've kind of got myself present now what? And I feel like that's a real big piece that is missing and access will now we now pivot toward what one of your value-based goals.
[00:44:29] And that's where the the the commitment, peace and acceptance and commitment therapy. As of now, we're taking a committed action. And I feel like that's really satisfying because I love when I can get myself all Zen and present it in the moment. But then for me personally, then I feel like, OK, I'm so glad I was able to stop that rumination or though the worry or the excessive doubts or fears or that sort of thing. But now that I'm back in this present moment now, what do I do? And so now I turn toward a value-based goal of connection or authenticity or humor or adventure or fitness. And that's that thing where the more that you bring yourself back to a present moment and then turn toward a Value-Based Goal or activity where you start feeling this more purposeful life, and that is the life where now you you're moving from there into this place of being able to just be a better fill in the blank, a better husband, a father, a servant, an employee, whatever it is, because you're really now feel like you're living this whole sense of purpose. I don't need, like, a flag waving behind me or my soapbox or whatever.
[00:45:30] You're doing great. OK, this is just really helpful. And I appreciate you. We're breaking down that acronym, the Acceptance Commitment Therapy. And so you accept that you're human, you're accepted. This is your experience in the present moment that you're feeling like everybody is looking at you or you're feeling like you've just began to doubt. And just that acceptance removes your identity from the actual experience. So then you can say, all right, I know my identity secure. I know I'm a child of God that I know. And so I'm what can I move forward? What value can I move forward with in this scenario, like your friend? Well, connection. So instead of worrying about everybody staring at me and judging me, I'm actually going to go talk to one or two people and absolutely right.
[00:46:15] Ok, thank you for bringing that up, because then I still feel like whether we go into the adversary or the brain or whatever we want to, whichever method we want to talk about, our brain is still wired. When I talked earlier about it's this don't get killed device, it also it means so well, but it thinks that it has this finite amount of energy. And so it wants this path of least resistance. That's why we develop habitual patterns, because look at the data. It's pretty fascinating where when we look at where our brain pulls tying our shoe from and we use 10, 20 percent electrical activity, when we look at what what it's like to go explore some new challenging environment, we're tapping into 60, 70 percent of our electrical activity. And so in that so our brain wants to say, do we have anything that we can pull from and have a center here? Is this guy needed to stop Tyisha while he's on this adventure and because it wants this path of least resistance? So even when that guy then says, OK, I'm I'm present, I accept that I am human now I'm moving toward this Value-Based Goal of connection now is where I say that. Yeah, but like now it brings and say, I don't even know what to say next. I mean, it's going to keep it's not like once you have this moment now it's like and then I entered and I and I held court and everyone loved me and I got married the next day. It doesn't work that way. But because it's still this process of. So now when he says, OK, I'm going to go in there and start connecting with people because that's a value-based goal.
[00:47:35] And I detached from the I've been able to separate myself from this thought of I'm broken or that sort of thing. I've accepted that I'm human. Your brain's still going to say, yeah, you don't know what to say. And that's where we go back to that. We're not even arguing if that's a true or false statement, if I know what to say or not, maybe I do, maybe I don't. But that's not a productive thought toward my goal of connection here. So now I'm going to expand, make room to invite, not knowing what to say to come along with me while I start communicating. And that's the part that I think is so, so amazing that even when you're a seasoned practitioner working toward your value-based goals, your brain's still going to throw some. Hey, what about this? You know, I was I was speaking in Salt Lake a couple of weeks ago. I was communicating with you back then. And I was really I love the topic I got to talk about. I got to talk to a whole world full of mental health professionals about a topic that I'm passionate about. And my brain went crazy right before I got there of, you know, you don't have a PowerPoint ready. You don't know. It was all kinds of things and it was still throwing out all these yearbooks. Yeah, but and I had to sit there and just stay very present and say that is true. Not even arguing with that. Thank you, brain, for looking out for me. And I invited all of those to the the lectern and started the presentation. And then it was just it was it was so fun. Yeah.
[00:48:49] Yeah. So I have another question, but I want to I want to make sure I don't take you too far off your outline here. Is there anything we haven't hit on that at that, or did you describe your outline long ago? It seems like you're still following me.
[00:49:02] I am your kind man. I forgot how to outline. I was going through it right now. I think we said a lot of these words. Right?
[00:49:09] Well, maybe. Let's go to. Well, let me ask you this question then. I'm intrigued by this Jesus straight to the cross, but did not try to avoid it. Yeah, OK, so let me ask you this question. As as you're giving therapy to individuals and maybe it's a scenario where you, the bishop is paying for it through thast offering funds. And so you are you are in connection with them. And and there may be there's this opportunity to speak past each other where then know, I sent this guy to therapy and he's going to talk to this Tony guy. And the Tony guy isn't emphasizing the importance of scripture, study of prayer, of fasting and all these things. And because as a as a church leader, you're sort of you're leading through certain values that have really worked for you and helped you have a positive experience in the gospel. And so you're sort of assuming the therapist will somehow manipulate that individual to start living through the same values. And if they don't, I'm really concerned about Tony's strategy here. And so what's sort of that dynamic look like as far as maybe working with maybe it's a church leader or a parent or a spouse where they're like, whoa, what are you doing? Like, your seems like you're encouraging him to not do these values. And that's concerning to me. Any thoughts there? Oh, oh,
[00:50:23] I have eight hundred thoughts on this. This is why you're pro and I even my head's exploding with what direction to go because you are so right and I feel like this is as a and this is probably not even the direction that maybe you were anticipating it would go either. But I feel like this is what is a big challenge is that and this is why even as therapists, we are constantly evolving. And when I talk about moving from CBT to act or I mean, I am learning as I go and I love that. And I need to be honest with that. I got to model what I want my clients to do, which is to take ownership or accountability of things, to not feel like they know everything. And I feel like too often as a parent or a leader, that that's what we feel like. Well, it goes back to that man. If I let them know that I don't know. They're not going to they're not going to have faith in me. You're not going to trust me or that sort of thing. But meanwhile, as I have continued to to be on this path as a therapist, doing something that. I absolutely love after I spent 10 years working as socially compliant goal job where I just thought we just go to work and you get your check and you just do it and that's what you do. I don't even know that you could just be so passionate about something. And that's why I am so passionate about even the concept of act, because I feel like whether it's what you do for work or what the way that you read your scriptures or your spiritual practice or the way you take in music or information or friendships, that the quicker you can find somebody and help them find what their path is, then the more they are going to exude this excitement, this confidence, this purpose.
[00:51:51] And that is how they are going to let their light so shine that others will feel that that glory of God within them. Now, that has nothing to do with the question you asked. If I get back to that, though, I feel like the the hard part is I know what works for me. And I and I feel like if if you have a priest, a leader or a parent is trying to tell me, here's what you need to do, then that's where I get to say, man, bless your heart. And I hear you and I really do. But I feel like I can't live a socially complacent goal. I mean, and when I can do more teenager therapy, they would often say, hey, can you fix my kid? And I learned early and often that that kid is coming, not usually because they want to go to therapy, but they're doing it because they feel like they have to. And so one of the first things I could do is say I don't have a magic pill or a magic wand. Harry Potter was big at the time. And so I can't just, like, wave this thing over and fix you. You have to want to be here.
[00:52:43] And so I would love to just talk with you. And I felt like I'm playing the long game, building that rapport with somebody until they feel like they actually could open up to you if they really wanted to. And so that's one of the first times where I realized that I made a shift myself from somebody telling me you need to let them know that this is what they need to do. They need to do their homework more. They need to not be on their phone as much. And I remember long ago kind of feeling like, OK. Door closes I'm like, so like you probably should be on your phone and stuff, right? And it's like they. Yeah, I know, man. That's what I'm hearing all the time. And so I feel like that's where, you know, all I can do are the things that I know that are really that really will help someone feel heard and help someone really settle in and find out who they really are and what's important to them. And in a gospel context, Kurt and I appreciate this, too. I remember I remember one of the first times where I started recognizing what I really saw, the socially compliant goals or people that were going to college and they were trying to do a career based on what their parent wanted them to do. And I'm not saying this is a negative thing toward the parent. If their parent was an engineer and said, I think that you would be a great engineer because you like math and it's worked for me and you should go be an engineer.
[00:53:50] And the kids say, OK, but then they get to college and they think, I don't even I don't really like this. I want to do I want to do something else. I'm going do psychology. I want to do art. I want to play music. I want to do something like this. But they feel like they really can't speak to what their values are or what their goals are. And now we've already started now down this path of socially compliant goals and so and so with leaders as well. And again, I've been that leader that wasn't as confident in my therapeutic modalities. I get that. And where if somebody did say, well, I think they should be doing this, I remember having those feelings of thinking and I don't know if I agree, but I don't want to let this this bishop down. And so I feel like it's imperative for a therapist to really be able to take ownership of what they feel they can help with. And if they're being asked to do something that they don't necessarily feel speaks to them, then then it's OK. And they need to take ownership of that. And sometimes is therapist as leaders, as as parents in our marriages, we have to learn how to sit with that invalidation. And it's and it doesn't mean goes back. That doesn't mean that anything's wrong with me or that I'm broken. But I feel like the more that we can be honest about what we can do for someone, the better. I hope that if that made any sense.
[00:55:03] Now, that's really helpful. And I've noticed just from my experience talking with so many therapists and professionals and and seeing some of these approaches, like on the surface, like your eyebrows go up and you're like, are you seriously doing that? Like we've talked about this before, where maybe an individual has as struggles with pornography, masturbation and like a daily practice. And then the therapist says, OK, we're going to only do that once a week and in fact, we're going to schedule it when you do it. And it's like, wait a minute, time out. Mr. Therapist like that is not appropriate. Needs to stop right here right now. Right. But oftentimes the way I see it is that the individual is like trying to write the gospel bike. Right. And they're writing. They're pumping, but they've they've gotten on that bike with completely the wrong premise. Maybe they're in a they're in an overcoat and they've got a scuba diving suit on and whatever. And you're just like, OK, I see you're trying to ride the bike, but the way that you dress to get on the bike is not working for you. So we actually need to get you off the bike, get you in the appropriate attire, and then we will put you back on the bike. But the fact of they're getting off the bike, they're disengaging from the gospel, we like we want to throw up are the red flags and be like, stop. It cannot get off the bike. But you think. Listen, trust me here, I realize both of our goal is to get them on the bike and pedaling as hard as they can as far as they can go, but it will not work unless we can break this down and get them off the bike, get them rearranged adequately and then get them back on the gospel bike. Is that a good way? A good analogy to use
[00:56:33] Is so good. I want to jokingly say I remember when I first told you that analogy, if I want to take credit for it, but that was a great analogy. Like, I really like that a lot. And are you OK? Can we go light a little bit longer? Can I can I give us a
[00:56:44] We will go another hour if we need to. Tony, this is
[00:56:48] You tell me. OK, so here this is where there were there was about a six or seven podcast stretch where every chance I could get I went into my my big attachment and abandonment speech. So if you do not mind, I feel like this this is one of those where I feel like doing this for 15 years. And then I really feel like these pieces came together in the last nine months or so. And it just I would tell it to anybody, somebody help me out at the store and a drive thru. I'm like, let me tell you about attachment abandonment and how that shows up in adulthood. But so here we go. So starting from birth, literally as babies, we exit the womb. It's probably not the right clinical term, but we do. And so we are programed to cry and express ourselves to get our needs met because and this is act talks a lot about this because we're programed that abandonment equals death. So if you think about that little baby is going to cry and people are going to immediately pick it up and they're going to comfort it and they're going to change it and they're going to feed it. So we are wired in our brain that abandonment equals death. Keep that in mind. So now we go forward into let's say that's usually like zero to one or two years, that stage of life.
[00:57:53] Now, when we get into let's start saying two, three, four or five years old, this is where I say, OK, welcome to the world of abandonment. Because what that looks like is as a baby, we're expressing ourselves and everybody's just jumping to to meet those needs. But now, as we actually are able to put words together and make sentences and we start to express ourselves, welcome to the world of abandonment, meaning we start saying, hey, can have candy for dinner, can I stay late? Can we go to Disneyland? Whatever I what? Can I have these things? And all of a sudden what do we run into? We start having people say no. And so we're thinking, wait a minute, I don't remember like what I did as a kid. I mean, I, I express, I scream, I cry and everybody jumps. And so now I'm asking for things. I can actually use words, but people aren't meeting my needs. And so at that point, it's so important to know that every little kid is an egocentric, unsympathetic person center of the universe that is not not aware even of what the circumstances are around them or what other people's experiences are. And so what that sets the stage for is now we've got this abandonment.
[00:58:55] So abandonment equals death. I have to be able to get my needs met. And as I express myself, all of a sudden my needs aren't being met. And this is where I say now we we welcome this concept of attachment. And what attachment means is that now I have to figure out how to get my needs met. So do I show up as the the straight-A student? Do I show up as the angry kid? Do I show up as the peacemaker? But whatever I can do to make sure that people now recognize me, because if they recognize me, they they won't abandon me because abandonment equals death. And I feel like as a therapist, this is where it started to make sense of when we talk about why people why they'll seek any any connection, even if it's negative, because maybe in their childhood, the only time that they really were acknowledged was if they were screaming, if they were angry, if they got in trouble or those sort of things. And so moving forward, I always say, now you've got these two tracks, you've got this abandonment track and this attachment track. And one of those look like going into adulthood. The abandonment one is the more that people are not responding to my needs as I get older and we now know that it's because people are human, imperfect world, imperfect people.
[01:00:02] But we're coming from this abandonment equals death. Why are people not responding to me? I'm the center of the universe. So then it must be me. So if somebody is not responding to me and meeting my needs, then I must be broken or unlovable or something must be wrong with me. And so we bring that into adulthood. And so now and this is the reason I went on this path is what I talked about and validation. So now sometimes when we feel this in validation from our spouse or our kids talks back to us or church leader says something that doesn't really jive with us. This is our childhood abandonment wound creeping up there and saying I must be not worthy of this person's love or response or whatever. And now back over here to this attachment place. So now we've also throughout our whole lives, we tried to show up and how do I get my needs met with my parent, with my bishop, with my friends, with with the significant other in my life. And so all of these are are really what have kept us or pulled us away from who we are as a child of God. And so this is that work of determining our values and detaching from these unproductive thoughts because those unproductive thoughts and trying to figure out how do I show up.
[01:01:08] Those are our attachment wounds and our abandonment wounds that we're bringing into our adulthood. So as we figure out who we are. Child of God values and take action on that, that siren song of what's wrong with me and the way I do this differently. Those are our attachment abandonment wounds that are showing up into our adulthood, which is why it makes it so important, in my opinion, to figure out really. Yeah. Who you are. That's part of this whole journey. That's again, that's why I love the concept of acceptance where, of course, you're going to think these things because you just had to try to figure all that stuff out, too. How do I get my needs met? How do I avoid abandonment? How do I show up so that people will like me? And so we're bringing that all into adulthood where now we realize, oh, wait, this is my my journey. You know, this is I. But then when I try to step out on my own, I still have all these Yabut coming up. Yeah, but what if people don't like me. Yeah, but when people don't respond, you know, I'm going with that or I don't know if that made any sense.
[01:02:03] Yeah. No, I love it. As far as you know, you're sort of just building the you're painting the picture here of why, why these things come up. Right.
[01:02:12] Absolutely. And so which is more of why you are human and why humans emote and they care and they want to be loved and they want to be heard. And even the ones that are saying you need to do this, it's because maybe that's the way that they got their validation as a kid, that they were the the one that took care of people or they were the whatever that looks like.
[01:02:31] Yeah. And we're more likely to accept ourselves when we as we understand these the steps that you went through. And also we're more likely to accept others. Right. When an individual comes in, you know, the what's his name, the old comedian he has there's this Bob Newhart. Bob Newhart. Yeah. As a skit where an individual comes in and he's like a counselor and he just says, stop it. Right. Like that, like, oh, you're having this problem. We'll just stop it. Like, just don't don't have that problem. Right. And unless leaders it's easy or his parents or whatever, it's easy to sort of have that feeling of like, well, I don't know. Have you thought about like stop looking at the porn or have you thought about like maybe not staying in bed all day and crying, like try that and see if that works. Right. But instead, when we understand that there's know you go through your list of all the DNA experience and we can be more accepting of where their ends, say, oh, OK, well, I accept you and let's let's talk about it more rather than thinking, well, something's wrong with you. Like you got the recipe off somehow, like maybe you're not pedaling as hard as you should. And in reality, they're in a scuba suit, so.
[01:03:34] Absolutely. That's exactly it. So I appreciate you. Let me let me talk about that. But we didn't get to the. Yeah. The the one comment on the notes, you're right, is that I wrote this part about and this so the setup of Jesus dreaded the cross but did not try to avoid it. And because I feel like one of those core principles of act really is that we are it's the goal of act, according to Russ Harris, who wrote the Common ASKAP. Well, and there's many goals, but he said one of them is mindful values, congruent living. And so and this is significant. So the goal of act is not to reduce symptoms, although the reduction of symptoms has occurred in almost every trial and every study ever done on act, which is I mean, that alone is mind blowing. So we're not trying to say, yeah, just do this or just do this or just do this. It's yeah, I would feel that way if I were you as well. That's got to be hard. Now, start pivoting toward this direction. And in every every, almost every trial and study done on act that reduces symptoms of anxiety, depression, OCD, those sorts of things. And so he said the idea is not focusing on reducing symptoms. So that idea can seem challenging because we even as professionals were typically trained on what you're talking about.
[01:04:40] Have you thought about not doing it? Have you thought about doing this? Have you thought about doing this? Let me tell a cool story of what I used to do. Did that motivate you anymore? And so and that's where I feel like the act. And I think Christianity in general work under a similar assumption that human suffering is natural and it's normal and it's a common experience. And all humans, if you are a parent, you have uttered many, many times the life's not fair. And Act says, yeah, totally not. But once we kind of accept that it's not fair, then we're no longer trying to argue why it isn't fair or why it's fair for that person or it's an acceptance of. Yeah, it's kind of it isn't fair. So so now we take action on these Value-Based goals. And so ACT believes that this suffering is due to a lot of things, the words that we talked about earlier on, or it is negative self talk or undesired memories or things like that. Our brain can come up with all kinds of things that can trigger us to feel bad or to feel a whole variety of emotions.
[01:05:35] And I remember doing a training once and I talked about this in a podcast, and this is such a quick tangent, I promise. But it was talking about how you could be you could have had someone pass away a long time ago that was significant to you. And you can be out looking at a sunset and you can think this sunset is amazing and your brain can say it's too bad this person won't be around to see it. And that's where we can be like, oh my gosh, I am so broken. I can't even sit here and stay present in the sunset and not be triggered to think of something else. Because that concept of triggers triggers can happen with sights and smells and sounds and TV shows and food, you name it. And so ACT is trying to say, yeah, we have. Stop trying to push those things away. We have to recognize them, make room for them and I mean, and and so once we make room for them and we pivot toward those value-based actions, now we're going to slowly but surely start to make this progress of this more purpose driven life. So then when those things do pop up, we even say, yeah, man, I wish they were here, too. But, boy, what a miracle in God's creation of this sunset.
[01:06:39] And so we're staying more present. And and I love the work that you've done with things like, for example, scrupulously I mean, that's discussed so well that when we worry that every thought or emotion or feeling might be prompting from God, that can lead to so much of this worry and fear and doubt. And so that's where act holds that it's psychologically healthy to have unpleasant thoughts and feelings as well as pleasant ones, because we are going to if we're going to live this entire human experience, we're going to have all of those ups, downs, highs, lows, good, bad. But the more that we're pointing ourselves toward these value based principles, then the more purposeful life we're going to give and the more that is going to be the path of least resistance that our brain is going to take. And so that's all the setup to say that I love. If you think about the concept of act and that, you know, Jesus, he dreaded that cross, but he didn't try to avoid it. He made room for those feelings, those thoughts, those emotions. He brought them along with him as he as he went to the cross. And so that to me is that's powerful.
[01:07:40] Yeah. Yeah. And I think that's such a like the application of this to be so powerful for leaders and or others, parents or individuals working with others, that it's so natural to sort of just try and get past the cross. But let's get this suffering behind us and move on, because then to move on is so much, so much better than the cross, but instead seeing the purpose in the suffering and then sitting with the person in the suffering and realizing, wow, that does hurt. You know, what what opportunities are there to connect with the savior in the suffering as he suffered for you? Right. And I recently wrote an article about this where, you know, John Hilton, BYU professor, wrote this great book recently called Considering the Cross and just talks about Christ suffering. And one thing I pulled away from it is that, you know, as we're guiding people through a repentance process, or maybe it's we're helping someone through mental health concerns or whatever it is, it's so easy to default to those behaviors and being like, well, you know, let's stop doing this, start doing this and get there. But instead of instead of doing that, just taking them to the cross metaphorically and saying, why don't you sit down by the cross and look at the suffering that Christ did for you and the love that's there. Like like to me that that's so much there's so much more motivation of change when I see the loving act the savior took for me rather than saying, OK, yeah, we all know that the atonement there and can help you. So we have that covered. Now let's just get you doing the right behaviors and then it's just sort of like, yeah, but I don't understand even what that suffering was or what Christ did for me, let alone how to change my behaviors. So maybe help me understand. The Cross helped me understand Christ and his suffering. Then those behaviors will suddenly become a little more easy for me.
[01:09:31] Yeah, I love that. And what I dig the most is that I do I often talk about I love how you said we do give that energy of I know we've got the atonement, but and I feel like, oh my goodness, know what this all leads up to is it makes more sense of what that the atonement really is. And when I get to bear testimony, it's typically of the atonement. I mean, nothing else, because the atonement is it is truly a miracle. And I feel like this is the concept. The people don't want to come into my office. A lot of times they don't want to have gone through the things, the trials, the struggles, the infidelities, the addictions, all those things. But then it is going through those experiences. Those experiences become part of their nature and nurture and birth order and all abandonment, rejection. So there is that acceptance that they just it becomes part of their journey. And then they had to have that journey to then be able to learn a lot of times the tools to communicate better or the skills to be able to expand or diffuse or put yourself in the present moment, because until those things have happened, they didn't know what they didn't know. And I feel like that's what can be so difficult from the but wonderfully difficult from the leader who saying you just need to do this. It's like, OK, I'm glad they haven't had to go through some of these. Some of these trials are challenges. And that's what I feel like.
[01:10:46] The the scripture, all these things will be for your good. While I know that that is not what somebody wants to hear in the moment when they're in my office, that when they get in the rearview, when the big issues get in the rearview mirror and now they can sit back and say, what did I learn? That's why I feel like, you know, the act principles are so just in parallel with the gospel, because all of a sudden now that does become part of your experience. And those are things that are now have been for your good, because had you not gone through those, you wouldn't be in that position that you are. Now, with extra doses of empathy and compassion and an ability to relate more and connect, and so that is what the atonement is, it is about trying your very best and knowing that you're not it's not going to be enough. It's not because you still don't know what you don't know. But it's trying and just continually trying and staying back on the path and having those ups and downs and and at times the hopes and dreams are squashed. And then even having those thoughts of like, well, that didn't work. And then being able to learn a nice skill of saying. Right. It did not even argue with that with you. But is that a productive thought toward your compassion or your resilience or your connection or your desire to to to do something bigger or more or whatever that is?
[01:11:55] Well, now, I was going to say, you're going on a deep dove here. We're going to come to the surface, take a breath here and there. I have a few more questions for you. But I'm just curious, are there any big points that that we missed or concepts that we didn't get enough time to?
[01:12:11] I would have no idea right now. And I think we set a lot of a lot of words that are good,
[01:12:17] Good, good. Well, and I just want to again reiterate, if we don't like them, this part of the acceptance, hopefully the listening audience can find the personal acceptance. We don't expect you to be able to listen to this and then turn around and be these dynamic leaders and that are sort of guiding people through this these act steps or whatnot. But for me, like it has given began to give me, like, just some tactics, some coping mechanisms that are healthy to really think through some of these these attacks from the adversary who wants me to think you're sort of broken a little bit more than other people or you're doing it wrong or, you know, to sort of just find that space to breathe and then let Christ feel that space. It's it's awesome. And so if, you know, like you mentioned me checking out that the the Confidence Gap book, who's the author that again,
[01:13:11] That one's Ross Harris and is funny. The reason I go with that one is because, again, like you said, it's very relatable and easy to read and it is evidence based. And he just does such a nice job in there. But I feel like the it's funny, I didn't even like the title at first. I used to make fun of the title. But then once you realize what that means, it is so big. So the confidence gap is we feel like we do this so often where we say, I don't know when I'm confident, then I'll do whatever the thing is. But what act teaches us in order to do the thing, are doing the thing will give you the confidence. And so we're our whole model is is really challenged when we're because how many times do I have the people that are coming into my office and they're saying now, I don't know, I'll know, I'll know when, I'll know when I'm feeling like I can do this or I'll know when I'm over there. I'll know when I'm and then I'll do whatever the next step is. And it's like now it's do start doing the next step. Now watch what your brain does to try to say, oh, this isn't working or this doesn't work before. This is what you did before. Because, again, Brain wants to stay in that path of least resistance because it feels like that's going to require less electrical activity. Therefore, I will live forever. But what it's doing is it's kind of cheap and cheapening you out of a pretty amazing life, full of all kinds of, you know, not as amazing times, but having the tools to deal with those as well.
[01:14:24] Yeah. So that's one resource. Any other resource of people maybe want to continue down this path, the Path of Understanding Act, and both as a therapy and also just a way of life, where else would you send them to do that?
[01:14:37] Yeah, there's a great I can send you the link to this, but it's syk wired.com piecewise. Why are dotcom and there's there's a whole section on there for Russ Harris and his resources and that's where I usually send the link out. That is the Value-Based Goal Exercise. And I feel like that is one of the the most powerful steps to take first is to really go in there and identify what your core values are. And it's a hard exercise to do only because when you go through it the first time, there's a 40 value worksheet in the 60 value worksheet. And I feel like when somebody goes through it the first time, you will honestly say, well, they're all values, they're all core values. And I feel like as a some of my favorite one on one sessions is to go through that with somebody and then just immediately give me a reaction of is that a core value or is it just a nice value? What's a story that comes along with it? And you'll find where that's where people say, I know I should care about this. And if you think that right away, it's probably not a core value, you know, or and it's so powerful to figure out what those values are, because once you once you figure out what your core values are, not what somebody is telling you, you're supposed to feel or think or do. And then I usually have people jot down a couple of value based actions that they can take. So one of the easiest ones I talk about is so let's say that somebody is feeling down or low or they're sad or that sort of thing, and then they become aware of it.
[01:15:58] They they do a little breathing. They give themselves in the present moment and then they take action on a value. So if they have a value of connection, they may scroll through their phone really deep and then to send a couple of texts out to somebody they haven't texted in a while. That alone is taking action on a value. It is getting you out of this place where you're in this. What's wrong with me? And so you can have all kinds of activities based off of your value. And then even when you start to do that, you'll hear your own brain do the thing where you'll say, well, this person might be annoyed or it's probably too late or they don't want that. I don't even know what to say or your brain's still going to send all of these Yabut out. And so that's where you learn to invite the Abbotts to come along with you while you take action. And then the more you do that, the more that becomes the new path of least resistance, so that when your brain sees that you're starting to shut down, you're going to start thinking of I should reach out to somebody, I should go outside or I should I should make a connection instead of getting in that space and then feeling stuck. And so that that would be where I would maybe start. Yeah.
[01:16:59] Awesome. Awesome. And and then I ask the final question is if people want to learn more about you and I know you have different classes and courses and obviously therapy you offer of great podcasts, where would you send them
[01:17:13] To just head over to Tony Overbay dot com and then so I do. I've got a free parenting course that sometimes I feel like I'm the world's worst promoter because I really like it and it's there and it's free. And it's called the I think it's because the name I thought it was really clever at the time, but it was when the pandemic hit. And it's I think it's I don't even get it right now that I'm parenting positively even in the not so positive of times. I think it's probably a marketing faux pas, but it's a free parenting course that talks about the nurtured hard approach, which I, I love. And then the podcast, the virtual couch. I just I love doing it and I have guests and I have individuals and that sort of thing. And then I've got a magnetic marriage course that is honestly something I'm working on for a decade that I am absolutely passionate about that I work on with a co creator named Preston Buckmeier. And we've done two rounds of that now. And it's changing marriages. And then I've got a pornography recovery course called the Path Back Pathbackrecovery.com, and I've started doing weekly calls on that path back and that oh my gosh, that has been phenomenal. I mean, that is where I really feel like this connection with people and and that whole thing is based off of acceptance and commitment therapy, of learning how to to accept a lot of the things that people have been through and then turning toward this more purpose driven, value based life and and just having more of this feeling of connection. I am the biggest no shame guy like nobody's business and just seeing a lot of really significant results there. And I think that those are the things I think that would be it. Yeah.
[01:18:31] Well, Tony, the last question I have for you is if you in a room full of bishops, really standing presidents, ministering brothers and sisters, just good Latter-Day Saints who are desperate and helping other individuals who struggle with mental health, what final encouragement would you give them?
[01:18:47] I love it. I didn't think this would come. I should have. Right. So my first thought was to go down that whole thing of your not broken. You're human, that part. But I really, really feel like having people on honestly understand the difference between empathy and sympathy. And just that sympathy is feeling bad for somebody like that. Really. I'm so sorry, but empathy is trying. And again, after you learn as much as you can about act, this is where I feel like you really realize that I want to be as empathetic as I can for somebody to really feel like I'm right there beside them and I'm not trying to tell them what to do. And I want to know what's this experience like right in front of them and what do they want to do with it and what are they worried about and what are their experiences with it? And I want I want to try to feel that and be there with them, because we all have this deep, deep need to be heard and to feel like we're understood and real empathy is it is trying to understand what that person is going through and turning off your fixing in judgment brain. And it is funny, I think I had this on the notes, but I was doing a training at a for a new stake presidency and they had all the bishops and elders and presidents and really society presidents there. And and this guy was amazing and wonderful. And it's a true story. But he just said, what do you do when you're telling people, you know, what they're going through but they just won't listen? And man, it was it was it was the world's greatest set up.
[01:20:02] And so then I said, tell me more. And he said, you know, I was telling this woman that I had three little kids once, too. And I just thought, right, they're blessed that guy's heart so much. But I said, man, so she wasn't really willing to hear you talk about your experiences as a young mother of three, you know, and everybody kind of chuckled, but it was like that's that's at the core of empathy, really is saying, hey, what's your experience like? Tell me what that's like. I can't imagine what that would feel like. What how hard that would be. Not saying no. I've been in that situation to thirty years ago in a different situation because that's where we just feel like we immediately kind of push back. So I would just talk about really learning what empathy is and I'll be so fast to the script. But I remember in grad school and I love this one of my teachers, she stood on the other side of the room and moved some chairs around in the middle of the room and then somebody over to the other side. And then she said, OK, your goal is to get over here. So and she told him, move over here, move around there, step over that desk, all that stuff. And we were all just watching. The person got beside my teacher and then my teacher said, what was that experience like for you? And the person even thought, I don't know. I mean, it was OK, I guess. And so then she had someone else go to that side of the room. And she walk over there and that side of the room as well, and she stood right beside the person and she said, where do you want to go? And the person said, I guess I want to go across the room like, OK, which way do you want to go? And then and it was so powerful because, you know, then she was saying, OK, they walked upon a couple of desks and she said, how do you what do you want to do here? If you want to go over it and go under it and go around it and help picking it up, what's this like for you? And just really had the person feel empowered, but also had this person feel heard and understood by by my instructor.
[01:21:41] And so I felt like that really was this great example of empathy. And I feel like that's that's where our savior is. I mean, our savior is. Yeah, he knows where where he knows he's been there. He knows what it's like, but he's right there with us saying, I am here. Tell me more. Tell me what you want to do. What can I do to help? I'm here with you. But I think he also knows that if we can get across that room with him there beside us, that we will feel like we're empowered and we will have learned a lot of things. And we have learned like what makes us tick and what our talents are in our abilities and our strengths. And then by the time we get to the other side of that room, man, all those experiences have literally been for our good and now we are in a position to help others.
[01:22:21] All right. And that concludes my interview with Tony Overbay. Wasn't that great. I told you you would love it. I mean, of course, that's why you come to the virtual couch. It's because you love Tony and his knowledge so much. And he brought his A game for sure. Now, like I said at the beginning of this episode, if you want to access all 20 plus sessions of this mentally healthy ST's virtual summit, you can do so. Just go to leading ST's Morgane. That's right. Leading ST's dogbone. And I'll take you to a basic form that will allow you to sign up for the Core Leader Library for fourteen days. So the Mentally Healthy Saints is part of the Core Leader Library. So just put your name and email there and then you'll get a email from KJB, the system we use to host all this content. And within that, the Core Leader Library, you will find the Mentally Healthy Saints library and you can jump in there and binge to your heart's content. And there's some other libraries as well. You may want to peruse around, check out and listen to again. You have fourteen days to listen to it all should be plenty of time. You're going to love it to go to leading Saints Dogbone for access to the Mentally Healthy Saints Virtual Summit.