Tony shares why values are so important, and how a thought truly is simply a thought...thoughts do not always lead to action. He also describes the most effective thing to do when you're feeling down, lonely, anxious, depressed, or any other feeling. You can find Russ Harris' values worksheet here

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[00:00:22] Hey, everybody, welcome to take, I don't know, 300, 400 of this morning's episode of The Virtual Couch. I am your host, Tony Overbay. I am very calm and being very present now as I have continued to ruin and take after take of simply trying to say hi, how are you doing? As I have been distracted or had a coughing fit or had to clear my throat or literally then forgot what to say. So this time I am determined to stay the course. So welcome aboard. Welcome to this episode of The Virtual Couch. And today we're going to talk about values. I talk about values so much that if I look at there was my throat again, I swear to you, I could I could stop right now and start over again. But instead, watch this. I'm going to pause. Well, that was a good one. I just cleared my throat like nobody's business. But I talk often about values. And probably now the most consistent email I receive is can you give me a link to this values worksheet that I talk about often? That is by my favorite author, Ross Harris, who is author of The Happiness Trap and the Confidence Gap and Act, made simple all of these amazing acceptance and commitment therapy books. And I have a little copy and paste there. So if you if you want to, you can reach out contacted Tony Overbay dot com or go through the website and I'll send you a link.

[00:01:31] But you can also find the link on site You can find it in under additional resources. But I talk so often about values and the importance of finding your values, determining your values, that that really guides you in the direction that you need to be. That I really wanted to go through and take a look at what that looks like when you're trying to find or figure out what your values are because they're significant. Let me let me kind of go over that again. So when you find out or determine what your values are, those start to point you in a direction, a new direction of where you want to go with your behaviors, where you want to go with your thoughts, and even just trying to figure out what your values are or what's important to you is a pretty mind blowing experience. Here's why. It may sound like you already kind of know what matters to me, but do you when I have clients in my office one on one, one of the first things I like to do is go over this values checklist, because so often our values that we think are important to us are really things that are carried over from our parents or from our teachers at school or from a neighbor or from our siblings or from our religious community. And they're those things that we feel like we are supposed to care about are supposed to do.

[00:02:38] And what I think is fascinating, when you do a deep dove on your own personal values is that they're very unique and personable, personable, personal to you because of all of the experiences that you've gone through in life. And I've probably said this so many times that it gets old for somebody that's listening to a lot of my episodes. But let's just take a look at honesty. For example, if you grew up in a home where your parents, one or both were brutally honest to the point of where they said, you absolutely look horrific and what you're wearing, or today when you gave a talk in church, I can't even believe that I call you my kid, which those are very real examples that I hear on a fairly regular basis of people growing up saying, well, you know, at least I knew where they stood, that my parents were honest, but oftentimes it came with a cost of that person's self-esteem or their confidence. So if you grew up in a home where people had this brutal honesty, then you may not have a value of that absolute brutal honesty. You may have more of a value of compassion, or if you have a value of connection with others, then you may say, I think you look pretty good, or I think that not that talk was was great.

[00:03:47] I love this part where you said this one thing, this story that you told that was fantastic because it might not be in your nature. It may not be a value of yours to then tell somebody really what you think, what you think deep down in your soul about what they look like right now or what they're wearing. And I'm not saying there's any good or bad or any right or wrong value. That's the fascinating thing about values. They just are they're there because of all the experiences that you've gone through as a kid. You know, if somebody has some deep abandonment or attachment issues in their life, then they may really have this value of connection. They desperately want to connect with people, but they may not know how. So sometimes just identifying and accepting that you have this deep value of connection with others, that that becomes a really important direction to guide your life. So if you have this value of connection, but then you are afraid that you may not know what to say in a particular moment, then that I'm worried. I may not know what to say in a particular moment becomes this story that your brain is telling you and you then hook to this story. If used this story, you believe this story, even though it's just a story, it's just a thought in your head, and then that keeps you from trying to connect with others.

[00:04:56] So it's so important to determine what your values are. So in that scenario, let's say that you really have this deep core value of connection with others. But again, you're afraid you're afraid that you might say something silly, that you might stumble on your words, that they might not think that you're smart. And so let's say that you are. Going into a new environment, you were starting a new job or you're heading off to school and now you have this opportunity to talk to people or connect with people, that's at your core. That is your deepest desire and value in life is to connect with others. So you think I'm going to go talk to those people then? And that gives you a little bit of a bump of dopamine. You get pretty excited about it, but then just take a pause and watch all those stories that your brain tells you. Your brain starts to say, I don't. They're going to like you, you know, or you haven't had a lot of success with this in the past. So why is this going to be any different? So if you believe or buy into any of those stories, then guess what? You don't have to go try and connect with that person. And if we just take a step back again, your brain is kind of wired for survival and survival at a real primitive level.

[00:05:57] Your brain wants the path of least resistance. It knows what the current situation looks like. It knows what it looks like or feels like to say, I'll try to talk to somebody later. It knows what it feels like to say, I'll sit this one out. But what it is afraid of is this fear of if I go over there and make a fool out of myself, then things might actually be worse. And that's going to that's going to require a lot of emotional calories and energy. And I might not get a payoff for it. So your brain saying, hey, how about we sit this one out again? Is this concept of experiential avoidance? I'll find other things to do right now. You know, I'm going to I want to do my laundry. I'm going to I'm going to just watch a few more videos on YouTube or open up the Tick Tock app or something like that. And tomorrow tomorrow I'm going to connect with those people. I mean, how many times do you say that to yourself? That I'm to do it later or even in the grand scheme of things? I'm going to do it when the kids are out of the home. I'm going to do it when we're in a better financial situation. I'm going to do it when I have lost a little bit of weight or any of those type of things.

[00:06:56] So we're designed to just kick that can down the road to put things off. So as soon as we identify what our values are now, we start to take action toward our values or activities based on our values. And your brain is still going to try to talk you out of it. But at least now we have a direction to go and that's where we can really do some good work. So if I'm going to start moving toward a connection with somebody but my brain says you may not know what to say or they might not think that you are very smart at this point, then we're not even trying to argue that. We're saying, OK, all right. I appreciate your warning brain. You mean well, but that isn't a very workable or that isn't a very productive thought toward my Value-Based Goal of connection. That's why the identifying of values becomes so important. So I wanted to walk you through what that looks like when you pull up this values list. So this values list from the sites like says, a quick look at your values. And right in front of me, I have the 60 value version. And the reason I picked that one, they have a 60 value version and a 40 value version. Alfonsin clients the 40 value version, but the 60 value version has a really nice explanation. At the top, it says, values are your heart's deepest desires for how you want to behave as a human being.

[00:08:06] Values are not about what you want to get or achieve. They're about how you would want to behave or act on an ongoing basis, how you want to treat yourself or others or the world around you. And I feel like there's some real significance there. The significance in that values are not about how they're not what you want to get or achieve. They're about how you want to behave or act. And I was doing a little bit of a values exercise or values workshop that I found. And I found this through a training that I was doing. And I'll have a link to this, but I am drawing a blank. You can see me stumble here on trying to figure out or remember who the author was that provided this worksheet. And I will find that I feel so bad. But she said that values clarification worksheet. She said, before you begin to identify your values, remember that they're unique to each one of us and you get to choose them. And you may have learned your values, like we said earlier, from your family, your community culture, your country, your religious or spiritual traditions or your friends. However, you are not required to share values with them. And I think that's so important and is so is so simply and easily and wonderfully stated that just because your parents value something or your religious community values something, that doesn't mean that you have to value that thing.

[00:09:22] You value what you value again because of your experiences. And so when she says, however, you're not required to share values with them, values are typically going to elicit one or more of these following feelings, a sense of purpose or vitality or connection or contentment, fulfillment, warmth or meaning. And if you don't feel at least one of those things, it's most likely not a core value of yours. And she says, include all aspects of what's important to you, all shades of you, values that are similar and values that are in contrast to one another. And I think that's important. You can have a value of compassion, but you could also have a value of authenticity or you could have a value of justice, even though you also have a value of connection. And some of those can seem like they are conflicting values. And we'll talk about that here in a little bit. Values, and this is why I brought this up. She talks about values being like directions that they can't be achieved. So if you can get it or you can have it. And it's not likely a value, so if we're talking about money, if my if people want to say I have a value of getting rich, then that that really isn't a value.

[00:10:20] That might be a goal. That might be a direction to go, but it's not a core value if you can get it. If I become rich, you know, whatever that looks like, then it's not really a value I could have a value of being authentic, a value of cooperation, a value of courage, value of fairness, a value of fitness or flexibility. And we'll talk about those. But really ask, what about this particular value or what about this thing is important to me. And here was the part that I thought was so brilliant. She talked about no core values, that values don't necessarily exist in a hierarchy of most important to least important, that it really boils down to the context of the moment. And in that context or moment, that will really determine what value is the most workable for you to focus on or the most productive for you to focus on. And we'll talk about that will give some examples here. So I want to I want to challenge you if you right now have no idea what your values are. Of course, I would like for you to get this worksheet or that I'm talking about and have a link to it in the show notes so you can email me and I'll look for you even to start to think about what really matters most to you, what really gives you this sense of meaning or purpose or connection or fulfillment.

[00:11:26] And then watch your brain immediately say, but yeah, but here's why this wouldn't work for me or here's why. And those are all just your brain. Bless its little pink, squishy heart, trying to protect you or trying to just keep you safe or trying to make sure that you don't make a fool out of yourself or you don't embarrass yourself because the brain is again, this this just stay alive, don't get killed device. And I think it's so brilliant when you think about that concept of your brain. It really is working off of some faulty information, which sounds crazy because it's your brain. I have one. You have one. We all have one. But the brain is saying that if I can just work less, if I can just conserve my energy, then I've got a good shot of living forever because your brain wants to live forever. It's this organ that if it dies, it dies. I mean, we can talk about soul and we can talk about the afterlife. We can talk about all those things. But your poor brain is saying, I got one shot at this, you know, and then and then I am then I am done. So I want to hold on for dear life, literally. So what your brain is doing is that saying if we don't have to put ourselves out there too much, then we have a better chance at living.

[00:12:28] But again, that's a false premise. So and this goes into that whole concept of why we develop habits. If you think about tying your shoes, as soon as you learn to tie your shoe, you don't think about tying your shoes at all or you don't think about backing the car out of the driveway or you don't think about buttoning up a shirt. Those become habitual, those become habits, and they're put into a little part of your brain called the basal ganglia. It's the habit center of your brain. And if you were to look at how much electrical activity your brain uses when pulling from that habit center, it's it's minuit. It's infinitesimal. So in that scenario, your brain wants to do whatever it can to make something habitual, whether it's a thought or behavior, whatever that is, put it into that habit center. And then when your brain sees cues coming, then it says, load up this habit because this whole process is going to use less electrical activity and therefore we're going to be able to live forever. So let's try to get as many things as we can as habitual. And the way it's going to do that is even to to kind of trick you into these things of saying, hey, we'll do that thing later, because that thing sounds pretty scary. But for right now, let's just focus on something that we know. Let's focus on the known.

[00:13:34] We know tick tock. We know YouTube, we know sleeping. We know watching episodes of the office. So let's do that today. And then I promise you tomorrow we'll take a look at whatever that new thing is that you want to do. And then we believe our brain. We trust our brain and we say, OK, brain sounds like a good idea. That's right. We'll tackle that tomorrow or you're right. I think I do deserve a little bit of tick tock time right now and I'm going to spend some time there. So when you look at it that way, I think that will often help us understand that there's nothing wrong with us. This is just the way that we're presenting. This is a survival mechanism. This is how we're wired. This is our brain thing. And it's doing us a favor. It thinks it's doing us a solid. So let's get back to this quick look at your values. Oh, where I was going when I was talking about that is if you aren't sure what they are, I want you to get this worksheet out or when you start thinking about things that really matter to you or what really you feel a meaning or sense of purpose around and then watch your brain, bless his heart, try to talk you out of those things that. Well, yeah, but this doesn't really matter. Or you shouldn't think that even your own brain is going to shoot on you.

[00:14:37] Nobody likes to be shown on. And so as you develop these or even want to start testing to see if these things are your values or not, this is why I love this point that she said in this worksheet that there aren't there isn't really a hierarchy of values most important to least important. We just need to start doing. And we spend so much of our time thinking and we try to think, think, think, think our way through things. We try to think our way out of thinking problems. We ruminate, we fortuneteller, we worry. And all of that is a lot of thinking. And we get to the point where we feel like I just have to figure this out. But in reality, we spend far too much time in that. And not enough time and doing but here's the caveat to that is it really does help. I was going to say it matters. It matters. It really does help if you know what to do. So you can start thinking and get yourself anxious and you can practice mindfulness and you can bring yourself right back to the present moment. You can notice that you're thinking you can turn to your breath, you can get yourself right back into the moment. But now what? Because when you let your foot off the gas of trying to be present, you're still in that same situation often.

[00:15:43] And so your brain says, hey, how'd that work, champ? You know, it didn't. So let's get back to worrying. Let's get back to ruminating when in reality, if you can bring yourself back to the present moment and now take action on a value of value based goal or value based activity, you're starting to create this nice new neural pathway in your brain that when I start to worry, when I start to fear, when I start to doubt, when I start to get anxious, when I start to feel depressed, when I start to do any of those feelings or those those thoughts come into my mind that I'm going to notice them. I'm not going to judge I'm not going to try to push them away. I'm not going to try to change them magically. I'm going to recognize them. I'm going to acknowledge that thought. And then I'm going to just gently set the rope down to the tug of war with that thought of why am I thinking this? I shouldn't be thinking this. Don't think this thinks something else. Instead, all of those are just that's that's that same pattern that's kind of kept us stuck. Where we are. Where we're going to do is we're going to acknowledge the thought, recognize the thought, drop the rope of the tug of war with that thought and then gently move towards some value based action.

[00:16:45] Let me give you an example of this. This happened over the weekend. I was in Vegas, Las Vegas, with my wife and my oldest daughter, Alex, and my son in law, Mitch. And we were at the NBA Summer League games, which are so much fun. So you're in this arena and you're just watching game after game and it's these future NBA professionals. And so they're young and they're exciting. And you get to sit really close to the court and it's game after game after game. So if you're a basketball fanatic, which I am, it's just it's such a fun time, but we're all human. So after about the second or third game and you're sitting there and maybe you're your butt starts to fall asleep a little bit, you are starting to think, OK, I'm kind of getting a little tired of of eating the concessions from the the arena. And and so there was a moment that came over me where I just felt a little bit flat because I'm human, even though I love what I'm doing, I love the people around me. But I just noticed I was kind of feeling flat. So here's what that looks like. I notice that I'm feeling flat. And when did I notice that? I noticed that this is going to sound silly, but I noticed it when I noticed it. So I was sitting there and I was just not really communicating with those around me.

[00:17:52] And I was watching this game, but I really wasn't into the game. I wasn't participating actively watching the game. So I recognized it, noticed that that came to my attention. I didn't say, man, what's wrong with me? You know, you're here. You've got your family around you. This incredible you should be more excited about this. You should be more grateful because that's too often what we do. And that then starts to put a lot of pressure on us. It starts to lower our emotional baseline. It starts to raise our stress level. We start to think, I mean, I can't even come to Vegas on a vacation and be present. What is wrong with me? Nothing. You're human. We have a bunch of thoughts and emotions and feelings all throughout the day, all throughout the hour, even at times, all throughout the minute. So when I recognized that I was feeling a little bit flat, then I noticed it. I acknowledged it. Oh, I'm noticing that. I'm feeling a little bit flat. That's interesting. And so then I turned to a value of curiosity, a value of knowledge. These are two of my my main values, say one of the his core values, even though I just told you that this one author says there aren't any core values, but these are values that really are important to me, especially in that moment and in that context.

[00:18:58] So when I noticed that I am feeling flat, I acknowledged it. I didn't push it away. I made room for it. It's right there. It's right beside me. This feeling of being flat. I didn't judge it. I didn't try to say what's wrong with me? You shouldn't feel this way. You should think something different there. It's just a thought. So when I noticed that thought, I pulled out my phone and this this value of curiosity or knowledge kicks in and I love nothing more, then all of a sudden I start picking out players and I just start to Google them and I start to read about them and I start to learn about where they're from, how many years they played in college, how how tall they are, how many how many years have they been trying to make it into the NBA? I remember at one point I was pointing out something to my son in law where I noticed, OK, this particular guy, he missed a few games of his college career because he fled the scene of a of an accident. And I thought that's that's interesting that I'm clicking on the news article about it and I'm reading more about it. And it's just something that's fascinating. Or you or I see another player and he it was kind of funny. He had a very, very deep look, like a fake tan and some bleached hair.

[00:19:57] And we said, OK, let's find out that guy's story. Find out that he's a thirty year old from Russia who's tried to make it into the NBA several times. And so then that becomes a fascinating story. Then I Googled him. Last name's Tima. He was a 2014 Lithuanian dunk contest at. Champion, so how fun is that? Then he hits a couple of shots, the crowd gets excited and all of a sudden I feel like I have this this not a connection, but I, I just have this awareness or this knowledge more about this particular player. So I want to go back to that then. So when I'm noticing that I'm feeling flat, I don't judge it. I don't I don't try to change the thought. I don't try to push the thought away. And why is that significant? Because if I try to say why, why am I thinking this, then that's a negative. That's given some negative energy that's going to lower my emotional baseline. Why am I thinking it? I don't know. Because I'm thinking it. Because my brain said, here's a thought. Our brains do that constantly. Our brains do that all day long. Here is a thought that thought can lead to an emotion, but that does not have to lead to a behavior. And that's one of the things that I think is so amazing about acceptance and commitment therapy. Our brains, it's not this mechanistic model.

[00:21:01] We can't just simply change a thought and have it lead to a different emotion or different behavior. That's one of the things that we read often. I even have a chapter of a book called Act Made Simple, and it has a piece. This is by Russ Harris, where he says, Shattering the illusion that our thoughts control us. He said one of the key insights that we want our clients to get is that our thoughts do not control our actions, that thoughts have a lot of influence on our actions when we fuze with them, when we give them too much meaning, he said. They have less influence when we diffuse, he said. Once a client understands this, it enables us to do brief interventions like these. If a client says, I don't think I can do it, the therapist said, Can you have that thought and do it anyway? Or the client says, Well, I just know this is going to turn out badly. The therapist says, well, if that's what your mind's going to tell you, can you tell your mind? Can you let your mind tell you that and still go ahead and do whatever it is that you want to do? And so he gives a couple of examples. He said, if our thoughts and feelings actually controlled our actions, where would we be? He said, think of all those angry or resentful or vengeful thoughts and feelings that we've had just because we're human.

[00:22:05] When we thought negative things about people, he said, remember all those nasty things that you thought about saying or doing to people that you were angry with me, with a guy that cut you off somebody and that's rude in front of you in line. But imagine if those thoughts and feelings had control their actions. What if you really had gone and done all those things that you've thought where we all be of our thoughts and feelings control our actions. And he says, you know, wait for your client to answer. A lot of times they'll say in prison or in the hospital or dead. And so then you often as a therapist, want to bring up have you ever had thoughts and feelings that you didn't act on? For example, have you ever had the thought, I can't do this, but you want to and did it anyway? Right. Or do you have those thoughts about yelling at somebody or leaving your spouse or quitting your job or, you know, getting angry with your kids or calling in sick, but then you don't act on them? Do you ever feel angry but on the inside of you act calmly on the outside, or do we feel frightened but you act confidently? I mean, I had that example even just over the weekend when we were traveling and going to the airport. We run a little bit late later than I would like to.

[00:23:06] So in my mind, I saying, oh, my gosh, I'm going to miss the plane. I can't believe I to do this. I need to speed and all those are just thoughts. What did I do? Stayed present, stayed calm, had a great conversation with my wife on the way to the airport and we made it. I completely forgot about all those thoughts, those fears, those worries, that anger. So Russ Ariston says, Did you ever feel like running away from an awkward or stressful situation, but you stayed. So what does that show you? Do your thoughts and feelings truly control your actions, or do you have a choice on how you act? And I remember one of the first things I learned, and he touches on this when I was learning about act, is this it's called the I can't lift my arm metaphor. The therapist says, and I could do this for all of you right now. I would like you to silently repeat to yourself, I can't lift my arm and say it over and over in your head. And as you're saying it, lift up your arm. And if I'm if you're doing this in my office, usually I wait a little bit and there may be a slight pause for a second or two. And so then you do mention so you you can lift your arm up, even though your mind says you can say, did you notice how you hesitated, though? We are so used to believing whatever our minds tell us that for a second there we kind of maybe even actually believe it.

[00:24:12] But now repeat yourself. All right. I have to stand up and as you say it, stay seated. So your thoughts do not mechanically control your actions, your thoughts have they have influence on your actions? But I will. I love that concept of just because we think it doesn't mean that we have to do it. And and once we understand that concept, then oftentimes you say, well, what do we what do we do then? And this is where I love that we're going to find something that matters to us and we're going to start to take action and do it. And our brain will even say, what if that's not the right thing? And then that's. And now I hope that you have a context from what we were saying earlier that, oh, bless my brain's heart. Yeah, it might not be the right thing. Not even arguing if that's a true or false statement, is that a productive thought toward taking action on something that matters to me? So I really believe that when you start to figure out what matters to you and that can be fluid and what matters to you can change. And so the key is just to start taking action.

[00:25:10] And once you start taking action on something that matters to you, you'll see if that really matters to you. So go back to this example that I have of I love nothing more than just Googling things. I love information. I have such a value of curiosity that it can almost be overwhelming at times. I could be in a session with somebody and you add that value of curiosity to attention deficit disorder. That could be trouble. And I will tell clients often, OK, I love what you just said to me, but I'm dying to Google it right now and find out more about it. And I love that some of the clients that I work with are saying, oh, I'm thinking the same thing, so let's let's Google it. You know, they pull out their phone. I've got my iPad. We have this value of curiosity or value of knowledge. But if you are sitting there in an arena and you start to feel flat and then you say, oh, well, Tony has this value, curiosity or knowledge, I think I'll pull out my phone and see if that works for me. And if you just don't care, you don't have interest in that, then note it. There you go. You have some some data to work with. OK, maybe that's not my value. If you have a value of just connection with another human, then when you notice in a moment that you're feeling down or flat or blue and you have this value of just connecting with another individual, then turned to that individual and start asking them questions, they.

[00:26:20] Are you enjoying the game or what do you like about this in particular, or have you ever done this before? Did you ever think about playing basketball or what must it be like to be a basketball player and have access to this money? Or, you know, what would it look like to be seven feet tall and have to duck under doorways or so? But I'm asking those questions because I have this value of a connection. And then if you're hearing me say that and now you say, OK, I'm in a similar situation and I don't really want to Google anything on my phone or I start asking people questions, and that isn't very satisfying either. Maybe you really just have a value of a presence and you just want to be there. And so when you notice you're feeling blue now, pay particular attention to the sounds around. You hear the ball bouncing on the court, hear the shoes squeaking on the floor, hear the buzzer, hear the people buzzing around, listen for conversations around you, because that might be something that really matters to you. And the cool part about it is we are all different. We're all going to have different things that matter more to to you than they do to me and and you.

[00:27:19] It's your goal to start really figuring out what those values are so that when you are in your head, when you are anxious, when you are depressed, when you are flat, when you are feeling any of those feelings, instead of saying, what's wrong with me, nothing, you're human. Instead of saying, OK, I need to think something else, here comes psychological reactance. That instant negative reaction of of being told what to do if you tell your brain, do not think about being blue right now, I should be more happy. Your brain is going to say, oh, I'll be blue, I'll do whatever I want. It's that whole thought suppression, peace that don't think about chocolate ice cream right now. You all just thought about chocolate ice cream and don't don't put sprinkles on it, whatever you do. OK, there you go. Some sprinkles on your chocolate ice cream. Your brain is so wired for this reactance that it is going to do whatever you tell it not to do. So instead, we recognize a thought. I notice I'm feeling blue. OK, that's that's it. It's a thought. It's a feeling. You can label it. You can notice that I'm feeling blue and I can label that is OK thinking that's what I'm doing. I don't have to judge it. I don't have to push it away. I don't have to change it. I don't have to say it man.

[00:28:27] OK, whenever I feel blue then I need to think, OK, no, you're happy to be here because you can do that and you can drill that drill into your head as many times as you want. And then if you then notice you are feeling blue and then think, OK, I need to be grateful, I'm here. But if that doesn't shift your energy, then guess what? Now you get to do. I can't even do the tool you need to say to yourself, I can't even do the tool right. What's wrong with me? Nothing. You are human. We're using the wrong tool. We're using this tool of trying to figure things out. We're using this tool of trying to think our way out of a thinking problem when the real tool to use is noticing the thought and noticing the feeling, noticing the emotion. There it is. And then just gently move away from it and take action, take action on something that matters to you. And if you realize, OK, I thought that I really cared about friendliness, you know, that's one of the values on this worksheet, friendliness to be friendly, companionable or agreeable towards others. But if you found that man, I really find that I'm not as friendly as I once thought I was. There is nothing wrong with you. Noticed, there are a lot of values. We all have a different connection to these values based on all the experiences that we've been through.

[00:29:32] If you have been continually burned and trying to be friendly to people throughout your lives or if you grew up with parents that said do not talk to strangers, whatever you do, don't do it. It's scary. It's a scary world, then that value of friendliness may not be intrinsic. It may not be something that is deeply rooted within your core. And that's OK. I have on this list there's one fairness and justice, to be fair. And just to myself or others. I love when you get to process this values list with other people because that's one where it is. OK, if you don't feel this deep compassion of fairness or equality, it's hard to say that out loud because we feel like we're doing something wrong. But if you have more of a feeling of empathy or compassion, then you may not feel like that is not fair and it needs to be fair, whatever that is. If you're if you're one who sits back and says, well, I mean, it's OK, I a lot of things aren't fair, I accept that, then that's OK. That's how you feel. And if you also feel like, OK, it's not fair, I got to do something about it, even though it's not about me. That is one of your values. That's OK. I have a tremendous value of humor. I love being funny.

[00:30:40] I love cracking jokes. I love trying to see the humor in a situation. And I talked about this on a podcast a few weeks ago, but I was working with a client who has a value of humor. But they realize that in their profession and in their home right now, they they aren't able to exercise that value of humor. They're worried their brain has them hooked on this thought that if they are funny in their job, that people won't take them as seriously and therefore people will not respect them and won't want to come see them. And that's a hard place to be, because if at your core you are stuffing down your your humor and your fun and this value of humor as part of your connection, then be funny, because that is how you are going to be more of yourself and for being more of yourself. Your emotional baseline is going to raise and you're going to present as more competent. And if you present as more confident people around, you are going to feel that energy and you are going to be around people that want to be with you and you are going to want to be with those people. If somebody says I can't go to you as a professional because you are too humorous, then that's OK. Bless their heart. This is where that concept of differentiation comes into play, where differentiation again is where one person ends and the other person begins.

[00:31:52] We are all different, unique individuals. And so when we recognize that we can be interdependent, not codependent, we can we can realize that my best self is to be me. Even if there are people that disagree or even if there are people that are going to invalidate my experience. I mean, I've heard often and this is funny, I remember early on when I started putting out my podcast and somebody would hear it and they would come to me as a client and I had more than one person say, and I didn't know if I could deal with your energy. And I remember a couple of times feeling like, oh, I should not be as energetic. And I thought, oh, no, that's who I am. And then I would often say, OK, I appreciate you sharing that. And if you feel you can't deal with my energy, then no problem. I understand. And let me try to get your referral, because I want you to find a connection with a therapist that you can connect with. And I might not be everybody's cup of tea. I really might. And guess what? That's OK. And in that vein, how often do we spend our lives really trying to figure out who do I need to be and these particular situations to be liked and how difficult is that? But if we're finding our values with this whole episode is about today, we find out really what matters to us and then we act on those values and we take action and we start to move toward those values instead of worrying about what really other people are thinking while we take action on our values or we notice that we're worrying about what other people are thinking and we think our brain for that worry and we drop the rope of that tug of war of trying to really determine, oh, man, should I think should I be this way, should I not be this way? And we start taking action on our values.

[00:33:21] We are going to start to thrive. And that is a whole different relationship with yourself and with others that I worry that people don't even know what that's like. And I recognize now when people are coming into my office and I'm drilling them with this, you know, learn your values, take action on your values, invite your thoughts and emotions to come along, that to me, it just makes so much sense because it makes sense because that's what I've been doing for so long. But to somebody new there, they're still worried about how they say something or what they say or what have they say, the wrong thing. And man, bless your heart, that is a hard place to be because that that alone takes up a lot of emotional energy and calories.

[00:33:59] And too often I feel like that's why your brain says I'll do it tomorrow, because it's scary and it's new. But ironically, when you get to that point where you are living more of an authentic life based on your values and your learning, that the more you turn toward those things that matter to you, the more confident that you become and the more confident you become, the more you're running in circles with people and ideas and things that matter to you, then it's a lot easier to sit with that and validation. If somebody is going to tell me that they disagree with one of my podcasts or one of my. He's one of those things, no problem. I'm grateful that they that they're thinking about whatever the topic is that I'm talking about. That's wonderful. Thank you. But if they're saying I think you are wrong, then, OK, that's great. Like, tell me more. But at the end of the day, I'm the only one driving my ship. And so in that scenario, I can take the information and I can do with it whatever it really whatever I want to do with that. And if I want to take a look at it and say, man, maybe, maybe they've got a good point, I think I'll take a look at that. That's awesome. But I don't have to feel like I should change what I'm saying. I shouldn't say these things because what if what if that makes me look bad? No, this is how I present.

[00:35:09] So I know I don't want this to go too long. I didn't get into a lot of the other. I didn't get into a lot of values. Maybe we'll carry this to a part two. Or maybe you've got enough information now that if you go get that values worksheet, that you'll see some of these other values, you know, a value of engagement to be fully engaged in what I'm doing, a value of fitness. I love this one. I do push ups now between every set that I can throughout the day. And because I have a value of fitness, you know, instead of saying I got to do two hundred pushups a day, I have a value of fitness in the vehicle that I use is push ups during the day. So then some days I might do 100, some days I might do 400. It doesn't it just I take action on my value or their values of, like I say, kindness. There's a value of order to be orderly and organized. I do not possess that value. And that's OK. When people have a value of order to be orderly and organized, that they may they may want to have a more clean work environment or more clean home. And if their spouse doesn't share that value, that's OK. But if it matters to you, take action on it.

[00:36:12] If you have a value of responsibility to be responsible and accountable for my actions, a value of supportiveness, to be supportive and helpful to others, I mean, there's so many of these values. None are wrong. None are right. They just are. And as you find out, the ones that matter to you and take action on them, it is going to raise your emotional baseline and you are going to start to have this energy in this connection with yourself, with your universe, with God, with other people. And that is going to then rub off, you know, that is going to let your light so shine again. Back to this Marianne Williamson poem. Who are you to to to shrink so that you will not so that others won't feel uncomfortable around you. You know, we're all children of God and we're meant to to shine so that then those around us will be lifted. And so find out what matters to you and take action and repeat that process. And on the road to taking action, remember, you are at point A or C or F or G, and we don't know what point Z looks like yet to get dizzy. He had to go from H to I and I to J and JDK, and that's a fantastic and an amazing experience to go along that journey and figure yourself out, even at the cost of feeling a bit invalidated by those around you.

[00:37:24] Bless their heart, they mean well, even when they're saying things that feel like they don't meanwell. But you are the ultimate ultimately the captain of your own ship and the one who is in charge of your life. And as you find out what matters to you and take action, I promise you that you will start to just radiate or eliminate this energy in this, you know, raising the waters around you. And I have said so many cliches right now. So I will end by saying find that values worksheet, reach out to me, I'll put the link in the show notes or go to and find out in the additional resources, the values worksheet. I am so grateful for every one of you that that listens where the downloads are millions and millions of downloads. That blows my mind every time across every country and every land. And it just it just makes me giddy. The feedback that I see, the emails that people send are phenomenal. I'm trying my best to get back to them. And I just think you spread the word share this episode. If if you really felt something here, if it mattered to you, follow me on Instagram, trying to do a few more quotes there. My magnetic marriage course, the next round is coming soon and it is amazing. And there are so many good things to come. And I'm grateful for each one of you. And taking us out, as per usual, is the wonderful, the talented Aurora Florence with her song.

[00:38:35] It's wonderful. Have a great day. Investor emotions flying past our heads and

[00:38:47] Out the other and the pressures of the daily grind it would have. Must have placed in rubber ghost voting past midnight, and they push aside things that matter most to. Sales of discount price opportunity, the chance to

[00:39:50] Take use that word.

[00:39:55] It's always on the back burner until the can afford to. I always pushed

[00:40:02] For the shot of. My. So. Face.

[00:40:43] Develop this stuff, don't explode and allow the.

Is self-care self-ish? Or is self-care an absolute necessity in order to put yourself in a position to succeed in any, and we’re talking ANYTHING you want to accomplish in life? Today Tony talks about the “Emotional Baseline” a concept he developed over a decade ago that has helped thousands of people make positive strides toward accomplishing THEIR goals...not the goals placed on this by those in their lives who, bless their hearts, mean well.  Tony discusses the origin of the Emotional Baseline theory, what role it plays in overcoming depression, addiction, anxiety, and how to establish self-care strategies based specifically on YOUR life experiences.


Please subscribe to The Virtual Couch YouTube channel at and sign up at to learn more about Tony’s upcoming “Magnetic Marriage” program!


Tony's FREE parenting course, “Tips For Parenting Positively Even In the Not So Positive Times” is available NOW. Just go to 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.


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


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.


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 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 And visit and sign up to receive updates on upcoming programs, and podcasts.

Transcript of Episode:

EP 224 Emotional Baseline-2020-09-23
[00:00:00] Coming up on today's episode of The Virtual Couch, we are talking about raising your emotional baseline. Just yesterday, I had a client in my office who said that self care just sounds selfish, but I'm going to lay out a pretty solid case today that raising your emotional baseline is a way to get your own head above water so that you're not only in a better position to take care of yourself, but then in turn to connect to others. That and so much more coming up on today's episode of The Virtual Couch.

[00:00:39] Hey, everybody, welcome to Episode 224 of The Virtual Couch. I am your host, Tony Overbay. I am a licensed marriage and family therapist, certified my Vltava coach, writer, speaker, husband, father of four, ultramarathon runner and creator of the Path Back and online pornography recovery program that is helping people reclaim their lives from the harmful effects of pornography. If you or anyone that you know is trying to put pornography behind you once and for all, and trust me, it can be done in a strength based hold the shame, become the kind of person you always wanted to be way, then head over to path back recovery dotcom. There you'll find a short ebook that describes five common mistakes that people make when trying to put pornography behind them once and for all. Again, that's path back recovery dotcom. And welcome to today's episode. I am I am grateful to be here. I am very distracted because I am doing another recording for YouTube and the music is continuing to go on. And I believe it might be too loud, but I will try to take care of that in post-production and killing a little time because I'm looking at the music as it is about to go away altogether. Let me let me hit the business things first.

[00:01:41] Of course, you can find me at Virtual Couch on Instagram or at Tony Overmanning Licensed Marriage and family therapist on Facebook and a big push to go to Tony Overbay dot com and sign up to find out more information about upcoming programs. If you do follow me on social media, you saw that I was actually in Idaho last week and that was to film. I was filming my magnetic marriage course with my friend Preston Buckmeier. And we will be introducing, launching, giving you so much more information about that course in the coming days, weeks. So watch out for that. It really was an incredible experience. And I can't even describe I will describe in so much detail in the coming weeks. But I think on one of the Instagram live videos that Prestons wife Corinne had talked about, I said we've cracked the code and really on communicating better in your marriage. But I also believe it's going to be communicating better with your family in your life. And that program is coming very soon. And I believe that is all of the business that I want to take care of. So let's oh, let me tell you this, too. If you do want to watch the video on YouTube, I would love it if you would hit the subscribe button. I know I'm now that guy subscribe like all those kind of things, but we're getting close to the number of subscribers where then YouTube will put the video out there a little bit more.

[00:03:02] So I would love it if you just happen to be a YouTube person, YouTube viewer dinge. And then if you would just go to the virtual couch, you can even search for it in the YouTube search panel and just hit subscribe. That would be wonderful. And I am so grateful for any reviews that people head to Apple podcast or any other podcast app and have a moment and can hit a rating and maybe take a couple of seconds to write the reviews. That would mean the world to me. So I really appreciate you doing that. So I have some amazing people that are beginning to help me behind the scenes. And one of those is a wonderful friend named Crystal, and she is starting to put pull quotes out of the transcripts of podcasts. And on one of our conversations online through a couple of weeks ago, I just said, hey, any suggestions on podcast topics? And I was grateful. She had mentioned more on the emotional base line. And this is something that I used to talk about often on my podcast. And I realized I mentioned it on other episodes of other people's podcast when I've been interviewed. But my initial emotional baseline episode was, I believe, episode 12, which is now about three years ago. And I don't even know how this all works, but I believe some of those old episodes of the virtual couch are no longer available on things like Apple podcasts. So I wanted to do another episode on the virtual couch on the concept of the emotional baseline, because this was really a game changer for me.

[00:04:32] And it is something that I, I don't know a better way than to say I made this up. I think a better strength based way would be to say that I created this emotional baseline concept over a decade ago when I was still just a shiny brand new therapist. I was a couple of years into my internship and this concept has moved forward. As a matter of fact, this is the next book that I am being blessed, fortunate to work on. And so I just wanted to go over the concept of the emotional baseline. Again, it's a way to really give yourself or allow yourself self care, the the permission for self care. Because as I said in the intro, I hear often that people put themselves last or they feel like self care is selfish. I work with a lot of people that feel like if they do anything for themselves that's prideful or that they're not doing something right. And so I want to address that today. But so first, let's take a trip back in the time machine. And I want to talk about the genesis or the origin of the emotional baseline. So long ago, again, this was over ten years ago. I was working with a client that was a doctor, a physician. And he at that time was in a pretty difficult marriage, as a matter of fact, when I remember this, we would talk about all kinds of new skills, things he had never been to therapy before, and it was well before I realized how difficult or challenging it can be if someone is coming in to work on the relationship.

[00:05:57] But only one person is interested in working on the relationship. And I remember back in that time I thought, OK, is once I can talk to maybe his wife one time, then she will want to come in and we'll work on this together. And that was again early on in my therapy career. And I had reached out to his wife and I wish I could tell you that. Then all of the sudden she said, Oh my gosh, I want to come in and work on our relationship. And they did. And they lived happily ever after. But that was not the case. She literally I didn't know the term back in the day ghosted me and I never had a conversation with her. So I would continue to work with this individual and try to help him stay as present as he could be. So it could be there to be able to provide for his family. So he was serving in a position in his church at that time that was really important to him. And he also loved his work, absolutely loved his work. And one of the difficult things in his marriage was his spouse didn't want to talk about his work at all.

[00:06:54] So he would come home and he would want to share some of the details of the day. I remember we worked on things like him going home and, hey, how can I help? And him listening to his wife talk about her day, he doubled down on empathy. Tell me more about that again. How can I help? And he did a nice job reframing that, but it was never reciprocated. And he loved talking about medicine. And so I would just say, how are you doing? And sometimes he would start talking about medicine. And I would have to say, hey, that is so amazing, but let's get to the therapy piece. But what we agreed to over time was that the last five to ten minutes of every session, he wanted me to ask him questions and he wanted to just talk about medicine. And I look back on that and I don't know if it was just I was able to offer something to him in therapy, so he wanted to offer something back. I'm not really sure what that was really about for him, but I know that he was passionate about medicine. And at that time I was pretty heavy into my ultra running career. And I was learning a lot about how the body works and how a lot about hydration and nutrition and the balance of electrolytes and your potassium and your sodium and just learning how the body really works as a machine. And he was he had done a lot of his early work in sports medicine.

[00:08:10] So he was very knowledgeable in this area and he really enjoyed talking about it. And I learned so much. That was at a time where I was running twenty four hours around a track to raise money for schools. And I was doing some of these 100k, which 62 miles or hundred mile endurance races and really learning about how much your how many calories an hour at your stomach can handle to produce energy and how you didn't want to go into too big of a calorie deficit or your body would start to burn muscle or fat, which wasn't a very efficient fuel source. And it was just incredible. And he knew so much. But there was a day where I was driving into work in this to show you how long ago it was. I used to listen to a thing called the radio for any of the kids that are tuning in. It was in my car and you could turn these dials and it would the people would talk out of this box. And now I think it's all podcast and everything's in coming from my phone, that sort of thing. So I'm driving in and I realize I really hadn't thought enough about what I wanted to talk to him about or what I wanted to ask him, the questions I wanted to ask him. And he I think he was my first client of the day, an early client.

[00:09:15] And I, I hear and an ad for an antidepressant. And again, it was on the radio. So I don't know if it's thirty seconds or a minute, but they talk about the antidepressant. And then at the end, if you listen to any kind of ad or even seen it on TV for some sort of medication, they come on. And here's the part where they say the I don't know, they say the side effects of the antidepressants may cause dry mouth, nausea, headache, diarrhea, nervousness, restless agitation, anxiety, increased weight loss, weight gain, insomnia, everything. And then one of those side effects they talked about may cause suicidal ideation. And I just remember I can right now, I remember I was exactly the exit where I was getting off. There's a golf course in front of me. I'm about to turn left and go back over the freeway. And I just remember that moment where I thought antidepressant and suicidal ideation, something doesn't add up. And so I thought, OK, I will ask the doctor this question. I at the end, I just said, hey, I what is that about? How can suicidal ideation be a part of taking an antidepressant? And he was a really good storyteller. And so he sat back and he said, OK, let me tell you a little bit of a story. And so he said he grew up in a very cold state. So let's just say for the sake of argument, Wyoming. So still keeping some anonymity here. And he said, all right, I grew up in Wyoming. And he said that it can actually get too cold to snow.

[00:10:37] And I had never heard that I grew up. In Utah, it snowed a lot, but I don't remember it ever being too cold to snow, and he said, yeah, it's a state called Anhedonia. And at the time I wasn't really familiar with the term. And since I've become a little more familiar, it's interesting because Anhedonia is actually something that comes into the therapy world as well. In my line of work, you know, anheDonia is the inability to feel pleasure and it can be a symptom of depression. And there are two main types of Anhedonia. There are social and donia where you don't want to spend time with other people. And then there's a physical and a donia where you just don't enjoy physical sensations. Even a hug can leave you feeling empty. Your favorite foods taste bland, even your even sexual experiences can lose their appeal. So he's talking about anhedonia of weather. And so he says again, it's so cold, it can't even snow. And I have given this emotional baseline talk speech, you name it, so many times that even as I was going back to record this episode, I wanted to look up. And again, I couldn't remember if this was an actual fact or if this was just a nice story. That does make sense the more that he lays out this concept of emotions. So I did go to and said that one of the questions people frequently ask about winter weather, can it ever be too cold to snow? And according to whether.come, they said, strictly speaking, the answer is no.

[00:11:56] Even during a cold spell in Antarctica, it's still possible to get snow. But they say what is true is that heavy snowfalls are much less likely to occur when the mercury drops well below freezing, especially below zero degrees Fahrenheit. And I love where they lay out what are the conditions needed for snow. You need cold temperature. The air near the ground needs to be below freezing or no more than a few degrees above. And then moisture, the air must have enough water vapor to generate precipitation and then rising air for the air to release its moisture in the form of rain or snow. It generally has to rise and cool. So says extremely cold weather obviously meets the first criteria, but the other two conditions become more difficult to achieve when the temperature drops and just gets into this concept of extremely cold Conditions are associated with air that are stable instead of rising, whereas warm air rises.

[00:12:42] So think of a hot air balloon. A cold air mass typically hugs the ground, so the lack of movement prevents it from releasing snow. And so a lot of meteorologists say that that's a bit of a misnomer to say that it's too cold to snow. But the more accurate expression would be that conditions are too stable for snow. So there you go. But anyway, back to the story. We're talking about this AnnaDonia that he talks about. So what he told me was he said, think of somebody with clinical depression and they are so depressed or so down that they just don't even want to get out of bed and they may not get out of bed for days. And he said, think of this as if you were just in bed. And every day somebody came and just pulled your lip and put an antidepressant and gave you some water. And it can take a few weeks for an antidepressant to truly kick in. And I even remember I still remember at the time one of the first clients I ever met with who told me about having a period like this that they had had for over six months, where they literally just remember staring at the clock and watching the second hand move. And that was his entire day. I remember him talking about people would come to visit and his wife just said that he didn't want to see anybody. And he talked about eventually getting out of this state or snapping out of it. But that's what we're talking about. So when somebody is in this state, he said, so you're pulling their lip out, you're putting the antidepressant in. And over the span of two, three, four weeks, when the antidepressant kicks in, it's as if the person lifts their head off the bed and then looks around and thinks, man, I am not in a good place, I'm not in a good state right now. And that's where they may even start to have these suicidal thoughts and just say, I don't know if I even want to do this. I don't know if things are worth living right now.

[00:14:21] And so he talked about how that is a key period to raise raise their mood or elevate their mood above or get through that to the point where, OK, life may not feel fantastic or great, but the I want to to kill myself is gone or it's muted or it's that thought. But then we can just put that thought aside and start working toward healthier activities, that sort of thing. So that's when I felt like I really did the Skies part, Rainbow Unicorn, Pot of Gold. And I had this epiphany that I now call the emotional baseline. So I saw things. I mean, I do this with my hands if you're watching this. But your emotional baseline, if things are going well in your life, if if you're feeling pretty content in your relationship, you enjoy your job, your kids are pretty good financially. Things are well, OK, your baseline of emotions is high. And so you are being met on a day to day basis with a variety of decisions, everything from what bills to pay, what events to go to, how to approach your boss at work. When your kids come to you, you're if you're emotional, baseline is high, you're maybe in a little bit better place to really be present and be there for them.

[00:15:32] But then I've worked with people who have maybe gone through a divorce. So they're in a difficult marriage or they are really struggling with an addiction or there's been a death in the family. They find out that there's been infidelity there. There's so many things that can lower one's emotional baseline. Someone gets sick, chronic illness, worldwide pandemic, that one sound familiar at all? But so their emotional baseline lowers and they still have all of the things, all of the things that are happening on a day to day basis that they have to deal with. They still have car repairs that happen. They still drop drop things when they get out of their car. They still have people that spill or ruin things or I'm trying to think of all the things over the last couple of weeks that I've had people talk about people throwing up in one's car, for example, and or people that break very valuable things, lose valuable things. And so these things happen in the lower your emotional baseline. And so when your baseline is low, you are in a not as good of a place to deal or handle with all of the things around you.

[00:16:35] And when your baselines low, it can often feel like everybody around you, they're they're almost talking down into you. If you are down in this pit of despair and I'm thinking almost literally of a pit that they're it's as if all they're saying is just, hey, come on up here, just get out of the pit. And you're thinking, you don't think I want to get out of the pit, but I can't even move. And so baseline of emotions are low. And so oftentimes things just seem so out of reach, are so insurmountable and that can just even cause one to feel lower and lower. So I was thinking about a story and I did share this way back in the day when when I did this initial episode, I remember when my son was in sixth grade. So now he's a junior in high school. So that was a long time ago. And he was playing some instrument. He was taken band.

[00:17:25] He was an honors program at the time. And at that time, the honors program everybody had to take band. And my son really did enjoy it. He's a very good athlete. But this wasn't something that he had planned on doing. And none of my girls had really done much. As far as with band, I think everybody had played an instrument. But on this particular night we had a band performance and it was heading into the Christmas season and and we were pretty excited to go watch Jake play an instrument and to set the stage. We at that time, boy, at that time, this isn't the case now. We were pretty good. Our kids are pretty small and we had healthy snack night where it was some fruit or yogurt or that sort of thing. And we had unhealthy snack night, which was all the other good things, cookies, cake, ice cream, that sort of thing. And so that night of this band performance was a night that was on the calendar. Technically, it was a healthy snack night. So we go out and we go to the performance. And we were watching my son and the band and the whole family's there. And it was just this blast and it was so much fun. And they were playing Christmas songs. And I still have video of this to this day. And we're watching the kids faces that they're making and they're getting excited and everybody is having an amazing time. You're just in the joy of the Christmas season. So we get done and I'm just riding high. My emotional baseline was through the roof. I'd most likely had a good day or a good few days at work. My relationships amazing. My kids were good. My girls were probably dressed up really cute and just being fun and everybody's there together.

[00:19:00] And so we went and we got ice cream with all kinds of toppings. And even though, remember, it was a healthy snack night, fast forward a couple of nights later and I think I probably maybe I'd seen a lot of clients that day and who knows what was going on, paying some bills, financial things. Who knows? I think we've had a little dogs at the time. Little dogs are notorious for not being very good at being housebroken. I don't know what was happening at the time, but a lot was going on. And so my son came to me and again, this was another healthy snack night. And it's like, Hey, Dad, can we get some ice cream? And I was like, Jake, it's a healthy snack night. Come on, we can't just do that stuff all the time. And and boy, I watch. I would do that so differently now. Thank you to the nurtured heart approach parenting. But I just remember just watching his face go and I thought, wow, look at that. So that was all on me when my emotional baseline was up and feeling good. Then everybody gets a pony and let's all get ice cream every night and everything is great. And then a few days later my emotional baseline is lower and now nobody gets a pony and you're not having ice cream. And just that vibe, that energy that I was putting out was just not good. And and so really, that's what we're going to go through, all kinds of those things like that. We're going to go through rough patches, rough periods, and our emotional baseline is going to be low over at times.

[00:20:28] And when our emotional baseline is low, we're going to respond differently. So when I start working with the client, whether it's for anxiety, whether it's for depression, even if it's couples therapy, I. Like to give this emotional baseline speech or concept because it is about self care and so an emotional baseline, what I love about it is all we're trying to do at times. If we don't feel like there's anything else that we have control over, then what is it that truly brings us joy? And and it really can be as simple as walking around the block. It can be about setting a timer and watching something that you enjoy intentionally. It can be about reading a book for fiction, for fun, for pleasure. And that leads me into one of my favorite stories about this as well. I was working with a guy a long time ago, and he had been through a very difficult divorce. He had been blindsided by some things that had led up to his divorce. And so he's working from home. Let's just say he's in the high tech industry, I think a computer programmer, that sort of thing. And he was really struggling. That was when I started to see him work with him. And so, you know, he was struggling to get projects done. He was just struggling for a lot of reasons. And so we identify these areas at first. And it's of course, you're going to feel this way.

[00:21:38] You're going through you just went through a divorce. This the circumstances around that were really bad, crazy, that sort of thing. And you're going to have all these feelings and emotions. And but now he has these work projects, these deadlines. I remember even had a dog that he needed to take out. He was starting to put on a little bit of weight and he just wasn't being very active. So his emotional baseline was just plummeting, which then just starts to pile on. So then he's feeling worse and worse. Now he feels like I have no control over anything. And I said, what do you like to do? And he said, I like to read. And I said, OK, when's the last time you read? And I thought this was even more fascinating. I remember this very well. He was a fairly religious person. And he said, when I started thinking about wanting to read, I really feel like the things I should read. And he listed off a lot of these very religious tomes, things like the Bible or books about Jesus and books from other religious leaders. And he felt like if I'm going to read, I must read these deep books about spirituality to get me out of this feeling bad feeling that I am. But he said if I'm going to if I start to read them, I'm really not into them.

[00:22:43] And I. Now, you don't realize this because his emotional baseline was so low. So he's really not into these books that he's trying to read. And what does that do? Makes him feel worse. So all of a sudden, this thing that was his passion reading is not as exciting for him anymore. So when we frame that in terms of this emotional baseline, then I said, OK, what do you really like to read? And it was still hard for him to say. I like to read John Grisham. I like to read legal thrillers. And I happen to very much love John Grisham books. And so I don't remember which one was out at the time, but I asked him if he had heard it or read of it, and he said, Oh, I see it at the bookstore all the time. And so I said, All right, here's what I want you to do. I want you when you leave today, every day for 15 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes, whatever that is. I want you to go home and read a John Grisham book. And he's thinking, is that all? And I would say just yeah, let's let's start from there. And so he reports back a week later. Sure enough, we're talking about reading the book. And he was very enthusiastic. And then I said, what's this experience been like? And he said, I'm reading fifteen to twenty minutes.

[00:23:50] And he said every now and again I might push it to thirty, but as soon as I put the book down, I feel better, I feel a little bit better. And then that was enough momentum. His baseline was raised just enough that then he I remember yeah. He then he grabbed the leash, he walked his dog. So now he's getting a little bit of sunshine, fresh air, and then that led to being able to sit down at his desk and do a little bit of coding and doing a little bit of programming. And so he just started to look at things a lot differently. He began to really embrace walking. He enjoyed walking with his dog. And then and here's what I love about the concept of the emotional baseline. He went through a little bit of a period where then he would sit down to code and then he thought, OK, now I should be able to sit in code for hours. But he realized, OK, I can't do that. So if I have to get up and take another walk or if I do another 15 minute break and read more for pleasure, I will do that because the net result is this emotional baseline was higher. He was getting back to more work. And then the more that he did in the way of self care, the more he was able to turn back to the things that were really important to him.

[00:24:55] And I have to tell you, this is a happy lives happily ever after story. I did see him many years later. He was remarried. He was serving in a really neat position with his church. I remember I was speaking at some regional event and he came up and he was just beaming and and he just said that emotional baseline concept was what really started him on this path of self care, which put him in a better position to be available for others, his kids, his eventually his new spouse. So it was there that the dawn the genesis of the emotional baseline and I realized that this self care can lead to these bigger changes. And I see this in the world of motherhood. My wife is a stay at home mom. And I my I my heart goes out to the plight of the stay at home mother. I know. There are some people that they really enjoy that there's some people that don't necessarily feel like that is something that they they are as good at. And so it can be a real struggle. And that is a really tough position to try and put self care into the picture because their little kids are needy. That's the way they come. They are they come from the factories, a factory setting. And unfortunately, you can't switch that so they can be needy.

[00:26:01] And so one of the powerful things I love when working with a woman who's maybe a stay at home mom or actually one of my early podcasts was that Eric Strand's a stay at home dad. But it is you need to take that time for yourself. So if you do need to get a babysitter for a couple of hours a week or a little bit every other day so that you can get your own exercise in, or if you need to ask your spouse or let your spouse know that I need to be able to go to the gym, I need to be able to do some self care things, because that is going to allow me to do a better job of parenting because my emotional baseline is going to be higher. And and if my emotional baseline is higher, then I will be a better husband, a better father, a better wife, a better mother, a better employee, a better servant. And so any of these self care items may feel selfish. They might even feel like in the case of this person I mentioned earlier, they might feel like really 30 minutes of a fiction novel is going to help me. And absolutely it is, because what people are typically doing is they may be wasting an entire day because they feel so down and in comes the acceptance and commitment therapy principle of experiential avoidance, the I'll do it tomorrow.

[00:27:12] And so if we have had a pretty bad day where we haven't gotten any of these deep things that we need to get done, we will feel bad about ourselves and say, OK, let's do it tomorrow. But if we allow ourselves some self care, some things that we actually enjoy, or then we're going to at least be doing something, there will be movement and then you are more likely to then carry that momentum into something more productive. Now you do. I'm a big fan of being able to write down or be very aware of what would be productive. So if he came off of that John Grisham book and didn't have the leash ready or didn't have his the computer ready for him to program, it can be easy to come off of doing something for yourself and then settle back into a little bit of this state of Annedona. So it is being a bit more intentional, but I would much rather have somebody have a day of self care and then moving on to things more productive than to have someone just beat themselves up all day. There's actually some I was, again in Idaho over the weekend and I was filming and I went out to dinner with two of my daughters and watched my daughter, my oldest daughter's husband, and my next daughter Downs boyfriend.

[00:28:21] And we were having some really good conversations. And I was talking about and this is something that I've been thinking about a lot lately. But I was talking about if you are a procrastinator and if you wait till the last minute to get things done, and that is just your pattern. And there's some pretty amazing data that kind of talks about if that's the way you do things right now, there's a good chance you've created a nice neural pathway of creating your own dopamine supply. And what I mean by that is you wait until the last minute, then your brain just floods you with dopamine. Is hyperfocus chemical? So then you are able to get things done, which then is this kind of loop. Now you've reinforced that procrastination works. So then when you try maybe the next assignment or to study for the next test and you try to study three or four days ahead, there is a good chance that you are going to say, OK, I really need to study. But then you find yourself distracted. You find yourself then starting to beat yourself up because you're not studying, you're not staying focused. You're going off on lots of little rabbit trails, maybe on YouTube and looking up Dogfail videos, or you start to sit down and do something in chemistry and then you have a thought pop up and then you're doing a Google search.

[00:29:32] And half an hour later, you've learned about I don't know if the Venus flytrap, where they do when they eat a fly, but that doesn't have anything to do with the homework or the assignment is in front of you. So we were talking about this concept of and I feel like this is a bit of an emotional baseline concept. The acceptance, if the acceptance is I am not being productive, then those two, three, four days leading up to the deadline of that project, in essence, you're going to create a bit of a negative effect to your overall emotional well-being, because every day that you are not as engaged, not getting things done again, you're beating yourself up. You're doing this experiential avoidance. You're saying I'll get to it tomorrow and then you wake up the next day and kind of feel like, man, I really better get on this today. So if you know that you are a procrastinator and you accept or embrace that you are a procrastinator, then those two or three days leading up to the deadline, if you are providing yourself with self care, if maybe you were going to make sure it's the self care, if you can exercise, hydration, eat a little bit better, get a little more sleep if you're doing those kind of. Things, those kind of self care activities and maybe reading something that you enjoy. There's a good chance that you are more willing or likely to spend a little bit of time on that homework leading up to the deadline.

[00:30:48] And then as the deadline grows closer, it's the acceptance of, OK, it's go time brain flood with dopamine and let's do this. So that whole concept of acceptance and emotional baseline will lead you to start to move that it's go time date forward. So let's say your deadline is Friday night at midnight and at Friday night at nine o'clock. You honestly know that's when I'm all of a sudden going to get I got to get this done. That's in your brains flooded with dopamine. But Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, you had tried to get the project done and you had sat there for three or four hours every night and just beat yourself up because you just couldn't muster the focus. So, again, productive self care on that Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and then just embracing that nine to 12. Let's get things done will lead to you starting to say, OK, I think I can probably get some things done beginning at 8:00 or I might be able to get some things done at 7:00, just a little bit better, a little bit more improvement. And then that those days leading up won't be this fear or dread. And so when you embrace this kind of a pattern, if this is your pattern, then you're more likely to start to move a little bit of that work in on Tuesday or Wednesday or Thursday when it is intermingled with self care.

[00:31:58] And that is because your emotional baseline will be raised. I also and I am letting you know, this is this is my theory. And I'm usually not a big fan of the gospel according to me, but I believe that this is a fairly solid principle. I'm going to share with you about the emotional baseline and medication. So a lot of times and I'll go back to the antidepressant example, when I became a new therapist and this is just my truth, when I went to grad school, I just thought I can be the therapist that says you don't need medication, you just need a positive attitude, which I now know is a pretty it is not a very effective thing to say to someone that's truly struggling with depression or anxiety. And I remember in a psychopharmacology class in grad school, just learning more about the what clinical depression can look like and what medications can do and even to increase serotonin levels and to and how people with ADHD have this dopamine deficiency. There was science coming out literally. I remember the class. OK, we'll see how that goes. My card was full on my camera, so that stopped. And now we've cut over to the high end 4K Logitech BREO webcam to record the rest of this for YouTube.

[00:33:12] So when I go in and edit that, we'll see what that camera angle difference looks like and what the quality looks like. But where was I. Oh yes, the emotional baseline. So where I'm in the psychopharmacology class and I really learn more about how medication works and I learned that it is a very effective treatment for a lot of people.

[00:33:32] And I'll even get to that more in a bit. But so here's my my thoughts on the emotional baseline of medication. Often when somebody's emotional baseline is low, I feel that they want to do the work. They want to turn to their values. They want to use mindfulness skills. They want to do all these things. But they just their baseline is so low, they feel they just can't muster up the strength or desire to really do the work that can help them. So I feel like a lot of times what meditation can do is it bumps up your emotional baseline high enough that then you can do the skills or use the tools that can help you.

[00:34:08] And so in doing so, you're then you raise your emotional baseline even higher. So let's say that baseline gets bumped up enough through nice antidepressant or antianxiety medication, or even I have clients right now that if they take something to relieve some of the OCD like symptoms and then they are in a better position to do the work, the mindfulness, the turning, the values that the self care, the productive self care, and then their baseline raises up high enough that if they decide at that point they no longer want to take medication, then we prepare them that your baseline may drop your emotional baseline may drop a little bit, but you still have this net increase over where it was. And now you really rely on those skills that you've been able to do thanks to the medication. And I really I put in my notes here, my Ritalin. So I have been very open a three part series on my podcast a year or two ago about what my add or ADHD inattentive type diagnosis has meant to me.

[00:35:04] And so taking my Ritalin has immediately raised my emotional baseline, flooded my brain with the dopamine that it so desperately craves because I have these stunted neurotransmitters from the factory. And so when that happens, it's this hyperfocus, it's this feeling of hope, as I've said. And when I got on my own medication, that's when I completed my podcast, the website, an online program, started writing a book. It was all of these things that were just every day where I felt like it was just I'm kicking the can down the road. I'm having this experiencial avoidance, so I really do. I believe that then that can the medication can raise one's baseline to put them in a position to be able to do the work they so desperately want or need to do in order to feel better. And I really feel like there is.

[00:35:51] There's a concept where people will do the work and raise their emotional baseline and at some point I call it this tipping point, there's a local sun splash. It's a water slide. And I remember being there with my kids. And you go under this one part of the at the water park and there's a giant bucket and it just slowly filling with water.

[00:36:11] And then you stand there with your kids. And when it gets to a tipping point, the bucket tips over and you get drenched. And sometimes I feel like I love this concept in my head of that tipping point, your emotional baseline, this raises and raises. And when it gets to a certain point, thank you. Self care, where I'm doing all of these things that I feel like are much more who I really am at my core, then this tipping point occurs and I just feel like that bucket of water tipping over is really your brain just flooding with all these wonderful, amazing feel good chemicals that say I can do this and that can lead to some very positive changes in your life. So I have my notes. In the original episode in Episode 12, I told a story that that was about my own emotional baseline moment, some of the things that I've done to raise my own emotional baseline. I did some volunteer counseling long ago with a very elderly woman who could not get out of her home. And I did some volunteer counseling from this wonderful elderly woman who could not get out of her home. And she told me that it would help a lot if if she could just cook me breakfast. And so I would go over to her house and she would make breakfast and we would talk this again long ago. And she was a very great cook. But as she got older, there were a couple of times where she would forget and she salted this food or not.

[00:37:27] And so she would salt it every time just to make sure. And there were times where I would go there in the salt was just so incredible of it was puckering my mouth. But man, just my feel good chemicals, the rays of my emotional baseline. And those mornings was just amazing because and those mornings, because I was about to eat all this greasy food, I at the time in the height of ultra running, I would make sure in that morning I needed to literally run at least a half marathons distance. So a good 13 miles so that I could then show up at this house and then eat this greasy food. And I just remember having this moment where I thought of emotional baseline where I was there. I was feeling so just happy, grateful to be there, grateful that I could serve. This woman is in this elderly old folks home and cooking me this breakfast that and it is as salty as anything I've ever tasted in my life. But just eating that salt and just being so present and thinking, man, if I was bummed right now, if I was thinking this food is just going to weigh me down, and if my life was not feeling very good and then I could just see that experience of being one where I'm like, I don't want to do this. This is horrible, but so emotional baseline high.

[00:38:35] It was a magical experience. There is. So I want to address and this is not something I talked about in my initial episode on emotional baseline, I was not in acceptance and commitment therapy therapist at the time. And so I really feel like acceptance and commitment therapy now plays a huge role. And the emotional baseline here's where I'm going with that, is that I go back to what someone wants to do for self care. So in the world of acceptance and commitment therapy, remember, you have the thoughts, the feelings, the emotions that you have because you are the only version of you that has ever walked the face of the earth. So the thoughts, feelings and emotions you have are not because you're broken, it's because you are you. So therefore, with those thoughts, feelings and emotions come your own sets of values that are based on your nature and your nurture and your birth order and your DNA and your abandonment and your rejection and all those wonderful things that make you who you are, all those experiences that you've been through. So along with that, you are going to have specific things that you enjoy to do for self care. Some people might like to read, some people might like to write, some people might want to journal, some people might want to craft, exercise all of these things. So you will have your own version of what raises your emotional baseline. And if you say to somebody I just heard this podcast about raising my emotional baseline, I think I want to go get a trike, an adult tricycle and ride it.

[00:39:54] If somebody says to you and you don't want to do that, they don't know. They don't bless their heart. But that is not you are the one who knows what you I ideally would enjoy from a self care standpoint. There's a client that I just love to death who loves to fly and is learning to fly. But a lot of times puts herself in last and so is there trying to serve other people, but raising her emotional baseline, if that is to get out and fly, get out and fly, do whatever you can to do that. Put yourself first, because then you will be in a better position for yourself. And then if you are going to in a position where you need to do things for others, then that's where that would come into play. So I think a little bit of homework, a little bit of practice work to do is sit down for a moment and just jot down, write down in your phone, write down by hand, whatever works for you based on your experiences, what are things that you would like to do from a self care standpoint? And I want you to try to step outside of that what you feel is expected or what you feel you should be doing. Remember, nobody likes to be put on, even our own brains. And what is it that you want to do? And if you want if you ideally would love to put more time into writing, exercise, whatever that looks like, whatever will raise your emotional baseline.

[00:41:12] And this isn't something to say to somebody, hey, what do you think would raise my emotional baseline? Because guess what they might say, I think doing our laundry would do that, or I think cooking me an amazing chocolate pie. Would you cook that? You have the crust you might cook, but that would raise your emotional baseline. This isn't that isn't what this is a time for. It's a time for what would help you raise your emotional baseline. What is your best self care experience to put you in a better position to be a better you. And that is the goal of the emotional baseline. Raise your emotional baseline and improve your life. Raise your emotional baseline and that will put you in a better place to be. Fill in the blank to be a better you, a better husband, a better father, mother, any of those things that comes with self care. Putting yourself first is perfectly OK. It's acceptable. And if someone is telling you that is not something that you can do, bless their heart, but that is their own experience, you only have your experience. And so let's raise that baseline. Let's get that self care flowing through your veins. And I promise you, that will lead to a much more fulfilling and happy life.

[00:42:19] All right. May you go and raise your emotional baseline like never before, and I will see you next time.

[00:42:26] Compressed emotions flying. Starting out the other end, the pressures of the daily grind is wonderful. Must have placed in Robert Ghost voting past midnight and they push aside things that matter most to.

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