Dr. Stephen Hayes, the founder of the groundbreaking therapy technique Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), says, “If you’re not willing to have it, then you will.” Have what, you might ask? Anything you are trying to get rid of, from anxiety and depression to fear and loss. So what if the key to overcoming your anxiety was to welcome your anxiety in with arms wide open? You might think to yourself, “I’m willing to do that if embracing anxiety will eventually help me get rid of it!” But if that is why you’re doing it, you will continue to be anxious. Tony shares his thoughts on one of the most important yet paradoxical parts of ACT, “Acceptance and Willingness,” from Dr. Hayes's book “Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life,” https://amzn.to/421Qssr

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So I recently found myself on a run and I was, I was cold. I was freezing and my wife was under the weather. We typically ran together on Saturday mornings back in my active ultra running days. I would spend a few hours early, really early on a Saturday morning, trying to get all my miles in, but now a couple, two or three years post meniscus tear, I'm giddy to be able to just bust out, I don't know, 8, 10, 12 miles for my long run on a Saturday, and especially when I can go with my wife, but on this particular day, she was not feeling up to it. And to be honest, I kind of wasn't feeling it either. So it doesn't surprise me that I neglected to check the weather before I headed out. And it was cold and it was windy and I was a few miles away from home and I hadn't really thought out my route. So instead of finishing with a strong wind against my back, I had opted for that strong wind to carry me as far away from my house as possible, which at this point only meant about three or four miles. 

But that absolutely meant that the run home was not going to be easy. It's one of the things that I'm truly grateful for as a mental health provider is continually trying to learn about things that I think can help my clients. And I have now been practicing long enough to know that if I'm being honest, everything, I find myself embracing and putting into my practice. I embrace and put into my practice because it truly resonates with me. And I've accepted the fact that I think kind of long ago that, yeah, in fact, I did become a therapist many, many years ago, apparently to deal with my own issues. So I found myself thinking about a phrase that I often say that I don't think people find as powerful as maybe I do. And I also realize thank you, therapy. That is an observation that I make. When I say this phrase people don't leap off my couch and say, oh, my gosh. That's the one. That's it. You, you did it. You just changed my life with that one phrase. If that is not what I observe, then I quickly make a judgment I make at that very moment. To maybe ease my own anxiety or to make sense of that moment for me is that person on my couch just really couldn't give two rips about this life-changing phrase that I'm actually about to share with you. And that phrase is coming up next on the Virtual Couch

Hey, everybody. Welcome to episode 365 of the Virtual Couch. I am your host, Tony Overbay, I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist, and it actually hit me today that if you truly wanted to lose your mind, you can now listen to an episode of the Virtual Couch each and every day for an entire year. And I will just let that sit there and I will actually let you observe and judge. Some of those judgements may include, is he serious? What an ego. Is he saying that people would really do that and I really am not, but I feel like I'm almost required, I don't know by the podcast gods, to say that I never honestly would have imagined in a million years when I started the podcast that I would have 365 episodes, not to mention that Waking Up to Narcissism, my other podcast is now on episode 60 something. And on that note actually just released a third podcast and that is Waking Up to Narcissism premium edition question and answer, that's over on the apple podcast app and episode one of that is now available. I have a Google document that has more questions about narcissism and emotional immaturity and what to do about it and how to live with it and why does it happen and who does it happen to and all of those questions. It's $4.99 a month and hopefully it will raise money that we'll be able to fund a nonprofit that has been set up to help people that are in these difficult relationships with truly narcissistic people or extremely emotionally immature people that are definitely opting for control over love. 

And while I'm talking about podcasts, I really do appreciate when somebody gets pretty real about the behind the scenes things, the numbers, or the reach of a particular podcast. And I just have to comment on the fact that while the Virtual Couch has 300 more episodes than Waking Up to Narcissism, and it is a given that I never anticipated that the Virtual Couch would have the reach that it does, Waking Up to Narcissism just this morning crossed over more average daily downloads than the Virtual Couch. So the Virtual Couch has a few million more downloads overall, but each now Waking Up to Narcissism episode is starting to approach and show more downloads per episode, which again, sharing numbers that I think is fun, it could be around 15 to 20,000 per episode, depending on the episode. So I just feel like that's mind blowing that that podcast really does resonate, but I think it's definitely a, if, you know, you know, so people that are in those relationships with emotionally immature individuals and it doesn't just have to be a spouse, we are interacting with emotionally immature or people with narcissistic traits and tendencies on a daily basis. So that could even be somebody in the workplace, a neighbor, it could even be an institution or an entity that you are working with, it can be an adult child, or it can be a sibling, an adult sibling. So there's just a lot of information there that I feel I can help people just stay more present, know that they're okay. 

Know that it is 100% and that's an all or nothing statement that I stand behind for you to have your own thoughts and feelings and emotions. And you are not crazy for having them. And if you are in a relationship where those are continually being challenged or you are made to feel less than, then I really would recommend that you check that podcast out. Just check out the show notes and click on there's a link tree link, and it will give you access to the newsletter, the latest podcast episodes, the trailer for Murder On the Couch, the upcoming true crime meets psychology with my daughter Sydney. And I think it will also link to the Virtual Couch accounts on TikTok and Instagram and Facebook and the Magnetic Marriage workshop, which is a 90 minute workshop. And the updated full marriage course is going to be released shortly and I'll make a lot of noise when that is ready. So, where were we? 

That phrase, the phrase that I was alluding to. Let me in almost like a true reality show TV format, where we ended the scene, let me come back to the show and I will set the stage. I'll read the last sentence or two from the transcript, and this is where we left off. When people do not leap off of my couch after I say this phrase, and when they do not say that's the, there it is, that's it. You did it. You just changed my life with that phrase. If that is not what I'm observing, then I make this judgment at that very moment again, to maybe ease my own anxiety or make sense of the moment for me, that the person on the couch can not give two rips about the life-changing phrase that I've just shared. And that phrase is, “acceptance does not mean apathy”. And I feel like if I had sound effects that might go, maybe not as exciting as you think. But let me break that down a little bit today because we're going to talk about acceptance and willingness in a way that I think is going to help. It's going to help in a lot of ways, it's going to help with anxiety. It's going to help with fear. It's going to help when trying to take on something new. So why don't we start with, what does apathy even mean? And then I'm going to spend some time in the book by Dr. Steven Hayes, the founder of acceptance and commitment therapy, his book called “Get out of your mind and into your life”, which being completely honest for some insane reason, queues me to sing in my head each and every time the Billy Ocean classic from 1988, “get out of my dreams and into my car”, which I shared with someone in a session last night and she is in her twenties and she said, that was literally, that was really a song title? And it was 1988. The year I graduated high school again, Billy Ocean “get out of my dreams and into my car” which must be some sort of cue or trigger because that is the year that I graduated high school. So on that note too, I just hit pause. I came back and I did Google top songs of 1988 to see why wasn't another song stuck in my head, more iconically than this Billy Ocean song that I was never a fan of. 

And ironically, that is also the year of Rick Astley's hit “never going to give you up”. So, I guess in essence, you were just verbally Rick rolled. So back to apathy. Apathy by definition is a lack of interest or concern especially regarding matters of general importance or appeal. It's a feeling of indifference, lack of emotion or feeling impassiveness, it's not having a, want a feeling it's an absence or suppression of passion, emotion, or excitement. Insensibility indifference. So when I give you that phrase, that acceptance does not mean apathy, that what I'm saying is that if we accept things, if we accept the fact that I am feeling anxious, if I accept the fact that I am afraid or scared, then that does not mean game over. So in this scenario where I was out on the run, I had to do some, some true acceptance of the fact that I was at that three and a half, four miles away from home. I was under dressed. I didn't have my beanie on, I have a giant bald head. I didn't have gloves on and my hands were feeling very numb and cold. 

I think I had a short sleeve shirt on and I was about to run headfirst into the wind for the next little while. So acceptance doesn't mean then at that point that I might as well give up because in a situation like that there really wasn't an option to give up, not to sound very dramatic, but I was a little bit off the beaten path. And there wasn't a, I couldn't just flag down a taxi or even know if attack, think I need to use Uber all the time now. But I didn't, I don't even think I probably had cell phone service where I was and I just had to accept the fact that this was going to be rough or difficult. Because that acceptance again, doesn't mean that I'm just throwing in the towel, and I think we fear so often that acceptance does absolutely mean apathy and this impassiveness, this hopelessness, this absolute suppression of passion or emotion or excitement. And this indifference. And let me, let me step back and we're going to talk about how that would still work, even in the context of that run. 

But when I first started using the phrase, this acceptance doesn't mean apathy phrase. It really was showing up in the context of helping people post-divorce. And I promise it really does require you the listener or a client in my office to stay really present here for a minute, because it's going to sound at first, I worry like the complete opposite of what I am intending a true paradox, which is going to be ironic because when we get into the book by Dr. Hayes, we are going to start talking about a paradox of just great proportion. So acceptance, acceptance, not meaning apathy in the context of helping someone post divorce. I remember the person that I was first talking to about this, and the concept that we were exploring was if you accept the fact that she was afraid that she was going to be alone for the rest of her life and be single. And I was really trying to understand this acceptance and willingness from acceptance and commitment therapy, because it can be such a powerful tool. But I think it's one that is so paradoxical that it feels, it feels like we are giving up. And then it shows that sometimes the, or oftentimes the thing that is going to help us the most will sound like the craziest thing we can think of. And I think that is so often because our brain is just so used to this pattern of stick behavior and the path of least resistance. That we are handing somebody this new tool and they are going to just say, okay, that is unknown and scary. So I'm going to double or triple down on the thing that I know in hopes that at some point something's going to change. 

And if you're like me, you've probably already thought now that the definition of insanity of doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result now to give us, give ourselves a little bit of credit. We are doing the same thing over and over often, but then we are hoping that things like time or being in a different location will be just the catalyst, enough so that it will not continue to be the same thing over and over, but it typically does end up netting the same results. So again, in this context, acceptance doesn't mean apathy. When this person is so worried about, I may be alone for the rest of my life, acceptance needs to look like, okay. I need to accept the fact that I may be alone for the rest of my life. And that's the part where the record scratch hits. And I believe I made the joke in that very moment of saying that does not mean that we need to back up the chocolate fountain truck and you just put your head underneath it and just hit the go button and then just indulge and do nothing and lay flat on your back for the rest of your life. 

It's actually the opposite. So if you accept the fact that you may be alone and that does feel scary and we want to get rid of scary and we want to get rid of discomfort. So we want to just get rid of it, we want to push that away. But if we accept that fact, then what she and I started working on was now she isn't going to try to become the person that someone else wants her to be in hopes that she will then find someone that will love her or find someone that will, will be willing to be with her because she will not be true to herself. But if she accepts that fact acceptance, not meaning apathy. But with that acceptance that I may not find someone. And again, how scary does that sound to somebody that's post divorce. But then I am not trying to figure out what I need to do to find someone. I am starting to figure out what to do to be the very best version of me. And then as you start to then uncouple, this needs to find the right thing to do. You start to find the things you like to do, and as you start to do those things and you realize that, okay, if I was in a relationship before where I didn't feel like I could be myself, and I did feel controlled or I felt like I didn't have a voice or I wasn't seen. And so if I really wanted to explore things that were, I really enjoy, let's say creativity or art or painting or I don't know, knife skills in a cooking class. And if you are with a spouse who says, okay, well, what about me? What am I supposed to watch the kids while you go do that? Or, do you know how much money it's going to cost? If you want to just all of a sudden paint another room and not even explore what that would feel like to really go after the things that you want in life. 

Now, those are real concepts around kids and finances, but when those conversations are shut down immediately, then you start to feel less than, and you start to feel like you lose your sense of self and as a marriage therapist, which I am, I know that then those conversations are had so quickly to just shut down some sort of feeling typically with that person who's more, a little bit reactive or emotionally immature as a way for them to get rid of their own discomfort. And so if we were sitting in front of a good marriage therapist and they were saying, okay we're understanding that this is something you want to do. You want to learn how to paint or you want to paint these rooms and you find that that would really scratch that creative itch and really help you feel alive so that you're showing up better as a better mom, as a better spouse, as a better fill in the blank because it raises your emotional baseline, then that is something worth fighting for. And if the husband then recognizes, okay, I immediately reacted because I just, all I thought about were finances and I worry that I'm not being the provider I need to be. So that makes me feel bad. So I looked at that as a threat. 

So when we can calm both people's amygdalas down and then have a productive conversation, of course, using my four pillars of a connected conversation, then we can start to say, what would it look like if we may be tightened up something over here, or, but because I want my spouse to thrive, I want them to be able to be the very best version that they can be of themselves. Because that does not mean that once they learn how to paint all the rooms and they feel confident, they will leave me. As a matter of fact, it means they're going to show up better in the relationship. So again, acceptance does not mean apathy. If I accept the fact in that scenario, post divorce, that I may end up single for the rest of my life. Now I'm not even fighting, I'm not even saying, oh my gosh, that's so bad. And it's horrible. And what if it's like, okay, I'm gonna sit with that, that is uncomfortable and now I'm going to step into things I like to do. And now all of a sudden, if I am taking a culinary class and I'm thriving and I have so much curiosity, and now I'm really connecting with the other people in my class, again, and we'll get to this in the, in the book, but I can't be doing it so that I will then, well, maybe that's how I'll find someone, but the chances of you finding someone with the shared experience or and mutual passion or some of the, you can really just bounce ideas off and they won't necessarily feel attacked or criticized may come from this place where you are operating as your very best self. 

So acceptance does not mean apathy. Let's go to the book. And this is the book, “Get out of your mind and into your life” by Dr. Steven Hayes. And I'm jumping over into chapter four and it's called “letting go”. And this is one of the key chapters to, I think that will really, it really helps you start to understand the things that we are not doing correctly in the mental health field. So Dr. Hayes talks about in the first couple of chapters, he really talked about your suffering. And your efforts to cope with it, because if you really look at the fact that life, yeah, life can be a real challenge. It can be difficult. And I feel like at any given moment, we can all identify areas of our life, where we are suffering and then he talked about this trap or this pitfall that is inherent to human thought because of the way that we try to handle the suffering. And he talks about experiential avoidance. That we try to find anything else to do to alleviate the suffering. So we turned to these experiential avoidance activities, which means our phones or unhealthy coping mechanisms or just tuning out of life because we want to feel better. And we are chasing this concept of just pure, euphoric joy and happiness, because we don't want to feel uncomfortable. We don't want to acknowledge this suffering. 

But I think it's safe to say that that's one of our go-to responses to try to get rid of discomfort or suffering. Is to tune out, to use this experiential avoidance to just, just watch shows and play games and just not do and not be, not be present. So Dr. Hayes says we've hinted at an alternative to experiential avoidance. And he said it has been variously described as willingness. Acceptance or letting go. And I really want to clarify what acceptance and willingness looks like, because I think this will really help move you forward. And being more present in being more present will move you forward and figuring out what really matters to you. And Dr. Hayes says that acceptance is a skill that you may have heard about or experimented with in the past. And it's certainly something that you can learn to do, but he said, unfortunately, it's not something that your mind can do. Your mind is trying desperately not to accept uncomfortable situations or feelings. So he said, that's why learning more skills will be required before you can implement these concepts of acceptance and willingness in your daily life, because he says even after all your mind is aware of what you're reading right now. And in this area, your mind is not your ally. So welcome to the first paradox. If you're not willing to have it, you will, and he said that that is one of these rules that applies to the things that are going on internally or what they call in ACT, your private experiences. That if you aren't willing to have it, you will. And he said that we've implied that this rule is important for dealing with your suffering. 

Although he said he didn't really exactly express where that importance lies. So he said, let's take a look at what the mind does with such an idea. Again, that idea of, if you're not willing to have it, you will. So he said, suppose that the rule is true, that if you aren't willing to have it, you will. So given that you've already suffered a great deal, what can you logically do that would apply that rule to your suffering? So when I go back to my running example, I would rather not be cold. And I would rather not feel pain when running home of fatigue. I would rather not feel all of the difficulties of running into the wind when I'm tired and cold or in the situation of this person that was divorced, she does not want to suffer in feeling alone. So he says, if you're like most people, you begin thinking about how you might be willing to have these negative private experiences, if that meant that those negative experiences would begin to diminish or even disappear. He gives a really good example. So he says, for example, suppose that your anxiety, that anxiety is your main issue. And he says, you really hate how anxious you are and you just write a sentence that purports to be a rule to help you deal with your problem. And that sentence that we just read states that if you aren't willing to have it, you will. So, what would that mean for your anxiety? He said, what follows is the kind of speculation that the word machine that we call our mind does best. So your mind is going to say something like, hmm, okay. So if I'm not willing to be anxious, then I will be anxious. So, and I think we can, I think we can accept that. If I am worrying about my worry, that is going to worry me. But he said, I suppose that means if we’re more willing to be anxious, then I might not be so anxious. And I hate being anxious. So I guess I'll give it a try. I will try to be more willing to feel my anxiety. So that I won't be so anxious. You can see what we just did there with the mind dead. He said with that, the thought trap slams down around you. Because if you are willing to be anxious only in order to become less anxious, then you're not really willing to be anxious and you will become even more anxious. Now I know that there are a lot of different ages that listen to the podcast. I want to talk a little bit for a second about what this concept even looks like with regard to intimacy within a relationship, a marriage. 

I often have this conversation with couples where, and I'm just going to go some real gender stereotypes here, and I'm going to own that, so one of the common things I find is if a guy comes into my office with his wife and the guy wants to more intimacy, he says that will solve all the world's problems. So he says, well, I'm happy then I would love to, I would love to celebrate with us being intimate, or if I'm sad, there is no greater pick me up than being intimate. Or if there's a headache, I don't know why there hasn't been more research on a cure for headaches in intimacy. And so he says this as if this is just the, this is facts. And so he looks at me and then often says, okay, you know, you get it. I'm sure you're a sex therapist. Can you tell my wife? And then I look over and then I see her withdrawn. And then this is, this conversations happened so many times. Where then if I say, okay, what are you hearing? And she says, all right. I am hearing that I am in charge of his emotions. I'm in charge of managing his anxiety, his depression, his happiness and sadness. And so that makes her start to feel more like an object. So fast forward, we have a conversation about maybe changing the relationship with intimacy so that the wife will feel safe to be able to be more physically intimate without it necessarily leading to sexual intercourse. 

And often this is why I bring this story up because I get such a good example of this, where I will almost in this scenario, have a guy look over at me and say, oh, okay. So if I change my relationship with intimacy and I don't make it that I need her to manage my emotions, my anxiety. And he said, I get it almost like with a week of saying. And that'll lead to more intimacy. And it's the exact opposite. So if you change your relationship with intimacy and focus more on the connection or the relationship and know that not all roads have to lead to the intercourse, then you start to learn to be more accepting of the moments of being physically intimate without that quite frankly. And then if the guy says, oh, go okay. I got you. And now that you laid out that way. Yeah, I would love more of that, but then it will also lead to more, more intercourse to, is that what you're saying? No, this is that person's missing the point. So we go back to that again. So if I'm not willing to be anxious, I will be anxious. And I suppose that means if I were more willing to be anxious, I might not be so anxious and I don't like being anxious. So I guess I'll give it a try. I'll try to be more willing to feel my anxiety so that eventually I won't be as anxious. 

So that thought trap slams down around you, because if you're willing to only be anxious in order to become less anxious or if you're willing to then deal with a less physical intimacy so that you will then eventually get more physical intimacy, then you're not really willing to be anxious or you're not really willing to be less physically intimate. And that will cause you to become even more anxious or frustrated. And Dr. Hayes says, this is absolutely not psychobabble. He said, read the sentence again. Yes, they are paradoxical. But the paradox seems to be true. Those census demonstrate the merry-go-round ride that can result from trying to force the mind to do something it can't do. If the only reason you're willing to allow yourself to feel anxiety today, is that the hope that feeling it today will free you from it. From the necessity of feeling it in the future, then that's not going to work. Because what your willingness here really means is you just don't want to feel any anxiety. And you'll try to jump through all kinds of mental hoops, not to feel it. And he says that's not the same as being willing to feel your anxiety. And quite frankly, that can cause more anxiety. So I said, this is why we've said that the approaches that might help with the causes of your pain are difficult to learn. Not in the sense that they are effortful, but because they are tricky. And he says for that reason, we're going to put the concept of willingness on the table here. But we will deal with quite a bit of other material before returning to this topic, then try to apply it to the core areas of the things that you struggle with in your life. 

So I think this next part is so key. It says, if I'm saying you may not be listening up until now, but now really listen. But this is key acceptance and willingness. So, accept, he says, comes from the Latin root cut Perry, or I don't know my Latin, but meaning to take. Acceptance is the act of receiving or taking what is offered. But sometimes in English, accept means to tolerate or resign yourself as in, okay. I guess I have to accept that. And that's where I go with the acceptance does not mean apathy. Or just, tolerate a resign yourself to and that is so key to understand that we're not saying, okay, accept and just tolerate and resign yourself to. Dr. Hayes says that is precisely not what is meant here by accept, we mean something more like taking completely in the moment without defense. So, if we are saying, accept your anxiety, then we're saying that, take it in and be in that moment. And try not to push it away. Just be in the moment. When I am taking in or accepting that I was three and a half, whatever miles away from my house and it was cold and I had to run, then I took that moment and completely, and I truly did without defense, it was happening there. I was now in the very present moment. And in that moment now I could feel, I could honestly feel the wind on my skin. I could feel the wind up against the cold of my shirt that had sweat. I could notice my feet pounding the ground. I could feel the contractions of the muscles in my legs. And if that sounds like mumbo jumbo or psychobabble, I understand because years ago, I would have thought there is no way I'm going to be recording a podcast and I'm going to be talking about notice, notice your labored breath. Ah, isn't that beautiful. Feel the air sucking into your lungs at a rapid rate as your heart rate increases. And, but that is exactly the thing that to do to be in that moment. And what am I not doing? I'm not being angry or beating myself up or. Or feeling this just hopelessness. I'm taking in that very moment, taking completely in the moment without defense. 

So then Dr. Hayes says we use the word willing then as a synonym for accepting. So staying true to that meaning of accept, willing, he said is one of the older words in the English language, and it comes from an ancient root meaning to choose. So thus acceptance is to take it in completely in the moment. And willingness can be understood as then, and then choosing what you do with that. So it can be understood as an answer to this question. Will you take me in as I am? And that is whatever that is. Will you take me in as I am? Will you take it well, will I allow this in anxiety and just like it is because there it is. Or will I allow this moment where I am far away from home and I am cold. Will I just take it in for what it is? It is what it is. I am there. What do I do now? So you said acceptance and willingness are the opposite. The opposite of effortful control. So Dr. Hayes shares a little bit more. He said, what follows is a description of what to take me in as I am really means. He said in our context, the words willingness and acceptance mean to respond actively to your feelings by feeling them literally. Much as you might reach out and literally feel the texture of a cashmere sweater. They mean to respond actively to your thoughts by thinking them. Much as you might read poetry, just to get the flow of the words. Or an actor might rehearse lines to get a feel for the playwright's intent. To be willing and accepting. It means to respond actively to memories by remembering them. Much as you might take a friend to see a movie you've already seen. 

They mean to respond actively to bodily sensations by syncing them. Much as you might take an all over stretch in the morning, just to feel your body all over. That willingness and acceptance mean adopting a gentle, loving posture toward yourself, toward your history, your past, your programming, so that it becomes more likely for you simply to be aware of your own experience much as you would hold a fragile object in your hand and contemplate it closely and dispassionately, he says the goal of willingness is not to feel better. Because if we are continually just chasing the feel good feeling. Then we are going to just be turning from one dopamine, hit to the next, and we're going to be missing out on so many of life's experiences. Because those experiences can come with a lot of emotion. They can come with some negativity, they can come with discomfort. So we need to be willing to embrace those moments and that discomfort. And what I truly wish people could get a glimpse of is that as you start to embrace these moments and sit with the discomfort, it really turns out to not be as scary as you think it would be things like anxiety are there for a reason, they're there to warn you, but we worry about 99% of the things that will never happen. And we even convince ourselves that we're just preparing or we're just making sure, or we're just a, what if, what if, and we're avoiding and we don't, but when we start to recognize that we're also in that same process, missing out on a lot of life and figuring out who we are and what we have to offer, and when we can really change that interior landscape of your mind or what it feels like to be you based on this slow residue of lived experience and those lived experiences are far greater teachers than that experiential avoidance. 

Mike Rucker was on my podcast. He has that book, “The fun habit”. And he was talking about a concept that I think about so often where I feel like when you are in the moment and having these experiences, even the ups, the downs, all of those experiences, and you allow yourself to feel them, those become really part of what it feels like to be you. And he talked about all of the other things that you do. All of the TV shows you watch and the games you play and the, the time spent ruminating and worrying and wondering, and getting that crystal ball out and just all those things, fortune telling. That those all just get lumped into just this kind of bucket of gray and our memories. Just, you know, what did you do over the weekend? Oh, you know, just a regular weekend. Just kind of got through it, here I am, versus the, oh man. I went on a run and I didn't dress as well as I should have. And it was freezing cold, but I made it and I got the, you know, interacted with a couple of people. I saw it. I saw these, I know this animal that I'd never seen before. That sounds crazy. What like an aardvark running around Lincoln. But you were having these experiences. So what it feels like to be you as somebody who does and somebody who is participating in life and in that participation, you are going to start to connect with new things and opportunities and feel feelings and sights and smells and sounds. And that is going to help you grow in that internal landscape of what it feels like to be you is going to be one that is feeling pretty, pretty content, or even dare I say overall happy with life because you're taking more charge or control of your life. 

So again, the goal of willingness he says is not to feel better. It's to open yourself up to the vitality of the moment to move more effectively toward what you value. Dr. Hayes said in another way, the goal willingness is to feel all the feelings that come up for you more completely even, or especially the bad feelings. So you can live your life more completely in essence, instead of trying to feel better. Willingness involves learning how to feel, to feel like, feel the feelings, feel better. And to be willing and accepting is to gently push your fingers into, if you've ever seen the Chinese finger trap, in order to make more room for yourself to live in, rather than mainly struggling against your experience by trying to pull your fingers out of the trap. So to be willing and accepting means to give yourself enough room to breathe. And by assuming this stance of willingness and acceptance, now you couldn't, all of a sudden, he says open up all the blinds of the windows in your house and allow life to flow through. You start to let fresh air and light enter into what was previously closed and dark at a fear and worry. So to be willing and accepting means to be able to walk through, he says, the swamps of your difficult history. When the swamps are directly on the path that goes in a direction that you really care about. To be willing and accepting means noticing that you are the sky, not the clouds, the ocean, not the waves. He said, it means noticing that you're large enough to contain all of your experiences just as a sky can contain any cloud in the ocean, any wave. He said we don't expect this foray into poetic metaphors to make any difference yet. But the sense conveyed may give you an idea of what we're aiming for in pursuing the acceptance, the acceptance, and the book that he's talking about, or the acceptance just in life in general. 

So I would really encourage you as you go forward after listening to this podcast to just really take a look again at that willingness and acceptance. That will you take me in, that acceptance to take me in. It's not, it does not mean to tolerate or resign yourself to, but accepting we are taking that moment in completely without defense. And then that willingness, accepting, willing. Meaning to choose. So acceptance and willingness can be understood as an answer to this question. Will you take me in as I am, anxiety? And acceptance and willingness then, are the opposite of effortful control. And when you can be willing and accepting to your feelings and your experiences and you experience all of them, you feel them, you are willing to take them in, then you can just experience every bit of that moment and that is going to drive you more toward this just sense of vitality and purpose. I would go on and on, but I think you get the point. If you have questions, let me know. Share this with somebody if you think that that would really help. And if you are listening to this for the first time, welcome aboard. And send me questions if you have them, I'd love to do a podcast about them, answer them. You can send them to contact@tonyoverbay.com and taking us out per usual, the wonderful, the talented, Aurora Florence with her song, “It's wonderful”. We'll see you next week on the Virtual Couch

Preston Pugmire is the host of the Next Level Life podcast, an award-winning life coach, and co-creator of The Magnetic Marriage couples communication course. Preston joins Tony to discuss the importance of discovering and living by your values. Preston shares his story of spending many years and tens of thousands of dollars taking in information from various courses, attending seminars, reading books, and meeting with experts to create his M.V.P. or "Mission, Values, Purpose" masterclass. In the class, you will learn your unique MISSION. Your chosen VALUES. Your identified PURPOSE. Your articulated SUPERPOWERS and GIFTS. And you will create your CUSTOMIZED plan for how to make decisions and be confident in any situation. Preston's MVP Contract Masterclass is available now, but space is limited. To learn more, visit http://tonyoverbay.com/contract

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

Go to http://tonyoverbay.com/workshop to sign up for Tony's "Magnetize Your Marriage" virtual workshop. The cost is only $19, and you'll learn the top 3 things you can do NOW to create a Magnetic Marriage. 

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

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


Tony: Preston Pugmire, welcome to the Virtual Couch. I think what's fun about this is we've recorded several episodes where we're talking about the magnetic marriage, and that is still the greatest marriage course known to man that you and I created. But today we are. Well, allow me to, well it's story time.

Preston, let me take my listeners on a train of thought. So, you and I talk often. We talk a lot and I love that. And we bounce ideas off each other. And, I've told Preston many times, I feel like, this is where you build this relationship with trust and Preston can say, Hey, wait, tell me more about what you're saying old man, and he doesn't always say old man. And I feel like I don't take offense. I trust Preston. I feel like he's very good at what he does. And so, I feel like, man, I want to understand or tell me more. Preston, I feel very safe and will explore these different things. Any virtual couch listener knows as I talk so often about the values.

And when I changed over from being this cognitive behavioral therapist, this acceptance and commitment therapy therapist, and hey, you're the only version of you and you're not broken, you're human. And now the next part of this is you're going to find your values and you're going to start taking action on things that matter and value-based goals.

And I get so passionate about that and then I tell people, Hey, email in and I've got the list of values you can work from, which is literally Preston, just a list of words. And so, then I feel like why can't people figure out what their values are? And so, Preston's telling me about this program he's been working on and he gets so excited about it and he's telling me about it, and I'm like, man, Preston, this is a great way to figure out your values.

And I think you were like, yeah, it is. And then suddenly it hits me, oh so, I just tell people, go find those values. It's so key, it's so important. Here's a list of words. And then I realized, oh my gosh, literally the guy that I talk to on a weekly basis that helped me create the world's greatest marriage course and literally has the keys to the values kingdom.

And so, that's what we're going to talk about today. So, I'm so excited.

Preston: Me too, man. The, the idea of like, oh, value-based goals, cool. What does that mean? And then, go find your values. How do I do that? It’s easy to get a Google search, but then okay, what do I do with this list? And what I've found is that you must have an intentional process to be able to figure out not only what your values are, but why those are your values. And, even more important, what order the values go in, because the hierarchy of how you approach those in your life will determine how you react to events, how you approach events, how you approach other people, what you're going to do, and we'll talk about that in just a minute, but it's not just go find your values, there's more. There's so much more to it because they align with your mission, your personal purpose, mission, values, and purpose. And then also what your gifts, talents, and abilities are that you bring to the table in your life. So, it just rolls together with who you are, what you want to do, why you want to do it, and how you're going to do it so that you can feel fulfilled.

Tony: And what I love about that is one of the stories that I run into people fusing to so often is the man, I still need to work on my values, or I haven't figured out my values yet, or I'm not sure where to start with my values. And it's funny because I would sit in my office and think, Okay, well, at least they're saying the word values.

So, I mean, they're on the right path, but then your own brain will get you stuck in that I still need to figure out my values story because then I don't have to take action on them because once I figure them out, I need to do something. And so, when we were talking about it, I like that it isn't just, I identify them, but then it is what do I do with them and not just what do I do? But I appreciate it when you are saying it really helps you understand who you are as a person, which puts you in a direction. So, I want to step back here. And I just want you to drive because I do trust you driving the car. You have the keys to my car. So, I would love for you to just take us on your train of thought and what this whole process looks like and maybe, how you came up with it and what do you do?

Preston: So, thanks so much, man. Working with you as you know, as a therapist and as a business partner, and just as a friend, all these different things, I've learned so much from you, and what I've done is I've taken what a lot of different people have taught me; you, Tony Robbins, James Wedmore, Garrett Whites, just like a lot of different teachers, just lively.

People that I've worked with personally, one on one, people that I've taken their courses, people that I've done their seminars, and books that I've read, and I've just searched, searched, searched, searched. And then I've created kind of like this Frankenstein's monster of what everything kind of builds towards, and I call it a personal MVP contract.

What I mean by that is MVP, mission, values, purpose, mission, values, purpose, and your contract. And it's like for me, it's my contract with my life, with my creator, with the world, with my relationships, with everything that I am. It's who I am. What I want, how I'm going to do it, why I'm going to do it, and my gifts and powers, my superpowers that I bring to the table and all of it together is this personal MVP contract.

And I was thinking about this. Honestly, it took me about three years to create because I was putting little pieces of it together, like my mission statement, my purpose of life, my values, the order of them. Another, like a primary question that I'm always asking myself. I call it a foundational filter.

We'll get into that. But I was thinking about it like all this stuff is out there. It's all out there. All you must do is go to six different seminars and hire four different personal coaches and do 10,000 hours of Google research and 40 hours of meditation. And you must fill up six journals and stuff like that.

It's all out there. You can just go do it

Tony: now that I have that info, yeah.

Preston: I mean, uh, it's all fair. But why do people hire personal trainers? Why do people buy like a workout program, right? Because every single fitness routine, every single workout program, every single nutrition plan or supplement plan or everything like that, it's on YouTube, it just is. Or at bodybuilding.com or something like that. It's just, it's all there. So why do people buy a program? I'll ask you why you think people buy a program?

Tony: Oh, okay. Well, it's funny because this is one of those things when we were putting our program together, and we would go over this, over and over cause I would just want to spout off this knowledge. And then, you would talk about, I mean, people buy a program because there's some accountability there. It's somebody that they trust. It's what the person is saying. Look, I've taken all this data and do you want these things? Because I can give you a very specific set of things and it's a kit. I want those things. And I like that a lot.

Preston: That's why I initially started working with you. You had basically a kit that you had all this experience and it was just really, cool. And that's why I work with other coaches and other people.

Tony: On that note, Preston, you're being too humble, and I feel like this is going to make your point even better. I had a kit. I was holding like a bunch of scraps of paper together and saying, Preston, here's the way. This is the key to marriage, right here. You know, and what Preston has a good ability to do is then put that into these tangible action steps. And I was pulling a very, very haughty therapist card and saying, oh no, they must find this journey on themselves. And here's these things that they could take along with them. And you were saying, no, we need to understand how to do it. And I fought on that for how long? I mean, it was a while, right?

It was just like a year. It was, right. And then, the best part though is now what do I talk about, the four pillars, the connected conversation scripts, the magnetic agreement plans, the tools, the steps, the acronyms, and they resonate, and they give you a framework to operate from.

Preston: That’s the cool part. It's a framework. And so, one of the things that I realized as I went through this whole process you're talking about. What I'm able to do. I had, man, I had a huge epiphany about one of the things that I'm honestly, that I'm really good at. And what it allowed me to do is it allowed me to really see how good other people are at specific things that are just, they're effortless to them, and so they just seem invisible. But I'm like, oh my gosh, you're so freaking good at that. An example of this is my brother. My brother is a wizard at Excel. Just the things he can whip up are just, it'll take me, you know, three days to figure all this out and how does this formula work on Excel? I can create this spreadsheet and my brother can just do it in five minutes. It's nothing to him. And. Another one of my friends, I talked to him about how I can structure this, like maybe this coaching program or this business. And I'm thinking about, okay, how should I do this? And I feel like I'm too close to it, right? But then he can just be like, oh, just do boom, boom, boom, boom. That right there. I can see that. And I was like, wow, how do you do that? And then I realized that one of the things that I'm really good at is I call it being a synthesizer.

I can connect the dots that other people can't connect. I can see things and combine things into a coherent hole. I'm a really agile decision maker and I can easily find solutions, strategy, scrutinize, assess, exam, and evaluate people, processes and plans and systems. I can do all that stuff effortlessly, and I used to not think that it was valuable because it came easily to me. And then I realized that my unique skills are valuable to other people who don't have them, and vice versa. There are people that I will pay a lot of money to help me out with something that will take them one hour to do. I'm like, dude I could never even figure that out. But it's just so easy for them.

And this is the thing that I help people discover, is once you know, like really who you are, your personal contract, your IM statement, your mission. Your purpose, your values, the hierarchy that they go in, and then your natural gift and superpowers, your talent, and abilities that you bring to the table, that are natural to you, and everybody has them. If you're listening to this right now and you think, oh man, I don't know if I'm good at anything, it's BS. The reason you don't see them is because they're invisible to you, and I can help people really understand how or why these things are invisible to them, what they're good at. And then the coolest part is you take it, and you say, okay, now what do I do with this? Then you take it, and you apply it to your goals and everything is just aligned. Rocket fuel. I started thinking like, what would it look like in my life if I knew what the purpose of my life was? Like I could just spout it off at any time if I really knew who I was as a human, as a soul, as a spirit. If I really knew that and I knew what was important to me, what was not important to me, why it was important to me, if I really understood what I was good at, so that I could lean into that, like double down on the things, like use leverage. Leverage the things that I'm really good at, and then take all of that and apply it to my specific goals.

Things become significantly easier when you have all those pieces, like literally written out in a document.

Tony: Yeah. And Preston, there's a couple things I think are so. You and I both had previous careers and we both love what we do now, and I feel like this is part of that when you start acting in alignment with your values and you take action on them and you find the things that you really feel passionate about, you're so right where you didn't know what you didn't know.

When I was in the computer industry, I didn't even realize how much I didn’t care about it or didn't like it until I found the thing that I actually like and enjoy. And then I wanted to read about it, watch shows about it, see YouTube videos about it, talk about it, talk to other people about it. And that raises your whole what? Energy and baseline. So, you just want more of that. So, I love what you're saying, and you said something smart there a minute ago where you said, I didn't value it because it came easy to me. And I'm telling you, and I was sitting in my office a couple years ago and somebody said, you know, well I don't want to do something that I really enjoy because then it will become a labor.

And I was like, yeah, that's right. And I sat there thinking, wait a minute, that's literally what I do every day for a living. And it just gets better and better. And I feel like those are stories that our brains try to hook us to. Well, if I just start doing the thing I like all the time, then all of a sudden, I probably won't like it.

Oh no let's kind of reel that back in. So, yeah, keep going.

Preston: Is that a story that people tell themselves?

Tony: I remember a guy that would say, I love fishing, you know, and I said, well, what would that look like if you, because he thought about it, I would love to maybe shoot a video or two about it or here's how I bait a hook, or whatever. But I don't want to start doing that, because then it won't be fun anymore. It'll be a job. That's the version that I get. Or if I'm doing this thing that I'm passionate about all the time, then it will become work and then it will no longer interest me and says the person who has never taken that leap or taken action on that thing.

Preston: I mean, that's a belief. That's just a belief. And I don't think that that belief serves you, but I don't care if you have it, honestly. Like if you don't want to do something, that's fine. But give it a go. I mean, you can always stop shooting videos about fishing. I did it all last month. I didn't make a single video about fishing. Like, seriously, it was so simple. No, I was just trying to make a joke. You can always stop doing that. I understand what you're saying, but one of the things that's important to understand about this is it's all kind of abstract. Cool. My mission, my values, my purpose, my gifts, all these things.

But how do you apply it? I'll tell you specifically how I apply it. I have a mission statement, a personal contract, and it's my “I am” statement. And I don't walk around with massive confidence 24 hours a day. Spoiler alert, I'm a human. But when I need to summon that, which is often, I do speaking engagements, I do coaching, I do performances, I will have sales calls, I'll have business meetings. I just, things that I need to be like, you know, I need to be in a good state right now. I used to just be like, okay, maybe I'll listen to some music, or I'll do this. It was just kind of a hodgepodge and now I have a very, very intentional, specific thing that I do.

I go to a room or a place where I'm by myself. I've done it in closets in the back of the performance halls. I've done it in a bathroom, I've done it in my office, I've done it in my car. I go somewhere where I'm by myself, take a couple breaths, center myself, and then I ask myself, who am I?

Because when I get into alignment with who I am and really tap into that, it gives me a sense of power and connection to my creator, to all the things around me, to the energy that is around me, to the energy in myself, like it gives me this confidence that really carries me into the situation. And so, here's mine. I say, who am I? I center myself. I say, I am a powerful, kind, joyful man of light. I body inspiration and creativity, and the purpose of my life is to be a magnetic light, to live an authentic, fulfilled life, and to inspire and guide others to do the same. And so, it is. So, I say that to myself and for me that resonates.

Because I took a long time to really come up with that. Specific words that meant a lot to me. Specific phrases, I'll say a phrase and it embodies a whole host of things that makes sense to me in my life with my kids, with my job, with my passions and stuff like that. I understand that, and it brings me back to, instead of saying, oh, can I do this? Should I do this? Is it okay if I try this? It's like, uh, no. Centered. This is who I am. Go and do it. And it completely changes the energy of how I approach things. And before I had this tool, I would just try to pump myself up. But it wasn't like something that was a protocol, right? And now it's so intentional.

Tony: And I know you'll get to this, but I think the depth of work that you've put in to get to that place, I don't think people understand that every word you're talking about, every phrase is intentional.

And so, the more that you say that, I can only imagine, I can watch you do it, if anybody's watching the video, but you feel you could almost watch you just start to fill your chest, right? And you can just feel that. Because I feel like maybe there's been many of us that have said, okay, I'm going to just tell myself, give some positive affirmations and go do this.

But, if it isn't who I am or doesn't resonate with me, or doesn't speak directly to my soul.

Preston: So, that’s the thing is I have a whole process that I take people. I've done this in big groups of people like with, a hundred people in the room, like a big coaching presentation. I've done it in small groups where it's just me and one person that's one on one. I've done it in business sessions and corporate, like I've gone into corporations and said, Okay, let's take your whole leadership team and we're going to say, let's get back to bare bones. We're going to talk about marketing later, but right now who are you? Why are you here? What's going on? Because each of you are individuals, and when you have this intentional way to approach the way that you live, it changes what you're doing. Because then instead of just drifting, you're following a specific path that you create. And that's the brilliant part about it.

Tony: What are some of the I don’t know, what are the biggest challenges, roadblocks, that sort of thing that you see when you're starting to help people dig into their values?

Preston: So yeah, we’ll move to values. One of the biggest roadblocks I see is people second guess themselves about what should I choose as a value.

Okay, here's a list of a hundred things, and I, again, I have a process that I take people through that makes it very, very simple. And the way that you approach it makes it obvious. And then it creates certainty around what you're doing and how you're doing it. So, the number one problem that I see that people have when they're trying to create their values is overwhelm around, should I put this one on my list?

What, if I want, you know, growth is my value, but I also want courage is my value and like, ah, should I just. And what they need as their number one value is to fricking relax. I have a whole process that includes comparing the different values to each other, creating a hierarchy of them, and then identifying and naming the value, instead of just saying, courage.

Okay, cool. What does courage mean? Courage means something different to you than it does to me, and so if you not only name it, but then I meant to say identify or define is a better word, define what that is. For me, courage means I am willing to face discomfort and lean into situations that stretch me.

Okay. That's what it means. So, when I come up against it, I want to make this sales call, but I'm feeling a little bit like anxiety or hesitation around it, I go back to who am I? Look at my list of values. Boom. Courage is number two on my list of values. I am willing to face discomfort, okay?

If I'm going to live in alignment. Or if I'm going to live on contract, I call it living on contract means I am going to face this discomfort. I'm not going to pretend that it's comfortable. I'm not going to say to myself, I can do hard things. No, it's not about that. I'm willing to face discomfort and I've defined that for me.

Another one of my values is allowance. Allowing, and for me, this is really important. I let go of control and other people might not have this as like a need, but for me, I let go of control and, this is going to sound really, prideful, but this is something I'm working on. I allow others to have their own ideas without controlling how they think and act for other people.

Tony: Oh yes, Preston. Yeah, go.

Preston: Yeah. They might be like, uh, why would you even need to put that on there? Because it's me. Okay, so maybe a value that you have on your list is something that I don't even have on my list, because it's my natural way of operating. It just is.

Tony: I would say what I like about that so much is when you were talking about, yeah, people need to relax, and I feel like people do this constantly, then I know I shouldn't care about this, or I should, should I have this value or am I supposed to do this one? And then that shows the tool that you're using gets the depth of something like giving up control. Because I feel like that's a whole other layer, you know, you must get to, to get to that realization of how much we do. We are trying to control others around us, bless our hearts, because it's scary sometimes when people have their own thoughts and opinions, because we immediately go to, oh my gosh, that means they think I'm bad or crazy. So that takes a lot, to get to that place of acceptance of having a value like that. Because that one can be scary.

Preston: And for me to define that and then put it on my list, I was like, oh shoot. If I put this on my list, I'm going to be held to it. And that's scary because it's something that I struggle with. Okay. That means that I need to put it on my list because it's going to guide me toward what I actually want to live, which is a fulfilled life. My wife does not need to put that on her values list. She's really good at just letting other people have their own ideas and not trying to control. She's so good at that. It's one of, it's one of her natural gifts and talents and superpowers that she brings to the table is this, genuine acceptance, and compassion for people.

And it's really inspiring to me, but I need to put it on my list because it's not something that comes innately to me. These are things that I'm being intentional about and that I want to use. So, when I find that people are like, oh what should I put? How should I put them? And then what order should I put them in? And the hesitation is based around, I don't know if I can do this. I don't know if I'm going to be held to this. What if I mess up? What if I, all this stuff. And again, like maybe you need to put forgiveness on your values list. Because you're going to mess up at it.

This is a map. This whole contract is a map and you're not always going be always on course. It's a way for you to redirect. It's kind of like a rumble strip when you're driving down the road and you hit the rumble strip. And then that doesn't mean that you're a bad driver, it just means, oh, I need to pull back onto the middle of the lane because this is where I'm headed. And so, people don't know exactly where they're going. I remember one time I was hiking down in the Grand Canyon at Havasupai. Have you ever been down there? No. No. Havasu Falls, I think. Beautiful. And when you hike back out, it's oh, like 10, 12-mile hike or something like that.

There's a specific part where you must turn and then you have to go up these switchbacks. And if you don't know where to turn, then you miss it and it's not marked because it's just in the Grand Canyon. And me and my wife and my stepbrother, we were walking together. We got separated from the group a little bit. We were just kind of walking. We didn't really know. Oh, we kind of want to go to the top of the rim. But we didn't have a specific plan. We didn't have a specific map. We were just walking and we're just one foot in front of the other. Cool, cool, cool.

Doing our thing. And then we looked up. And it started, it was starting to get dark. We looked up and we're like, none of this looks familiar. And we look up and, oh wait. Oh my gosh. The top is kind of behind us. I can see some lights up there in the parking lot, like, oh, where are we at? And we had just been walking and we passed the turnoff and we had gone three or four miles without even thinking. And then we had to end up turning around, walking all the way back to it, and we passed it a second time. Oh dang. Okay. Another mile down the road. So, we're walking an additional, six, eight miles than we should have been walking. Running out of water. We have no food. It's getting dark. We had passed another group of people a couple hours earlier who had seen a bobcat. It was not a good situation. Now I'm here today. We made it out. Made it, okay. Because my dad and the people that were with us on the crew, they hiked back down the whole freaking canyon down the switchbacks and they ended up finding us down below the turnoff.

But what I took away from that was if you're just walking and you're just walking, how many people just drift? Like, why are you doing the things that you're doing today? Are they just because they're the same things that you did yesterday? Are you living with intention? Are you being intentional? Are you being honest with who you are, what you are, what you're doing and why you're doing it? Do you have a personal, a roadmap? And if you don't, don't judge yourself. Just be intentional about doing that or else, five years down the road you're going to just realize, oh, I've just been walking.

Tony: I think what you're saying, is such an important part, I think, of becoming the best version of you that you can be is that I think a lot of people will even hear this and say, okay, no, great point. But right now, it's a busy time of life. Or I’m going to wait until the kids are older, or wait till the job is better, or wait till I, and it's that proverbial kicking that can down the road. And I think what you're saying is so true. This is a big old, you don't know what you don't know of what it feels like to know what those values are and to live with purpose and intention.

And then when people finally do it, and the joke I'm making in my office is where they may be a couple years into working with me, and all of a sudden, they say, why didn't you tell me this in the beginning? Now I did. I begged you to do this and which is why again, I'm so grateful that you have a program because I feel like it needs to be a part of if somebody's starting anything, therapy, or a new job, or a marriage or whatever, it would be ideal to go into it having an idea of who you are.

Preston: Dude, the time is never going to be ideal. It just never is. Like, when's the last time that you said, oh, I'll start that when and then something else comes up? Life. Here's the thing I know about life. Life is going to life at you. It's going to life all over you. It's just going to life. And you get to be either a reactor, or a creator. In your life, are you acting or are you being acted upon? Are you being intentional or are you being a victim? Here's the thing. The job, the kids, the crazy time. The stuff, all the things; It's happening. Do you really think that things are going to get easier or calm down six months from now?

Tony: Right. No, that's adorable.

Preston: I mean, in rare exceptions. Yeah, sure. But I'm not talking to you. Like maybe you're in the middle of your PhD, Dissertation. What's that called? Something like that? Maybe in the middle of that. Okay, cool. Yeah, things will slow down when you're done with that.

Not very many people are in the middle of that. So how about this? Would it be helpful for you to have a specific guide that you can look at as you're approaching your job, as you're approaching your kids, as you're growing up, as you're approaching your relationship, as you're approaching your new health and fitness goals, or a new move, a new relationship. As you're approaching these things, would it help you to have your own guide about who I am, what's important to me? What do I want? What am I good at? What do I want to avoid? What questions can I ask myself daily that will really serve me? So, I talked earlier about how I use my contract, my mission statement, before I go on stage or all those different things. But let's talk about how I use values.

Okay? Because say if like, this is why I'm talking about the energy of, or not the energy. This is the reason the hierarchy of values is really important because if somebody has adventure on their list, right? And then that same person has friendship on their list, and then that same person has health and safety on their list.

The order that they're going to get put in is going to determine how they're going to react to certain situations. Because what if adventure is at the top? One of the most important things to me. And what if friendship is at the bottom? Okay? And then, somebody says, hey, we're all going to go skydiving, and then everybody backs out and then they're going to go do something else. But you've already signed up for skydiving. If adventure is your number one goal and friendship is down here, where are you going to go? You're going to go skydiving, you're not going to go with your friends.

Now, that's not good or bad. It's neither, it's just, this is going to dictate what you do. Then take this, what if you have security and safety and health in your top, but then you also want to be adventurous. So, you put that down there seventh or something like that. Hey, we're all going skydiving. What are you going to do?

Tony: You are not going skydiving. Why not? Because that might not be safe Preston.

Preston: Because one of them is more important than another one. Yeah. Yeah. And so, you must figure out. Some of your values can be contradictory. Like I want to have love and connection with people, but I also want to have, that's not a very good example. Let's just take the adventure versus safety, those two things can be important. Those things are both important to me. I love those things. For me, adventure is a little bit higher on the list, and so it is going to beat safety. For my wife, she's also very adventurous. She also wants that security and safety, so for her it's going to beat the adventure. So, it's just going to determine how you react to things. And so, you must decide what are the things that I'm moving toward and what are the things that I'm moving away from. Because sometimes people will do anything to not experience, it's called an away value for me. Shame. Shame is one of my just away values. I will do almost anything to not experience shame or humiliation. And it will even beat out some of my toward values of courage. Because if I have this courage, like I'm willing to face discomfort, but then if I'm not being intentional about this, all of this is like things that we fall into when we're not intentional.

If I want to be courageous about something, but I also don't want to experience shame or humiliation, this courageous thing that I want to do has a pretty high potential of making me experience shame or humiliation. If I'm not being intentional and reading my contract and saying my mission statement and moving toward these things, then my away value is going to beat that out.

And then, I'm going to shrink. I'm going to shrink and I'm not going to do it. And so, we need to be aware of what our away values are, what our toward values are, and how they interact with our mission, how they interact with our purpose and how they interact with each other in the hierarchy.

And all of this can be overwhelming. That's why I created a process to take people through it. So that dude, it takes all the cloudiness of your life about why I am how I am, why I act this way, what's going on. And it just clears everything up and it just puts all the pieces into place, and it makes everything clear so that you can take the action that you want to take and understand the action that you have taken and be intentional instead of just drifting.

Tony: Preston every single, I mean, I dig this stuff so much and why? I just felt like, I can't believe, I didn't realize that the answers were literally with my friend Preston here. But also, and I know we've talked about this, what I think is amazing and I love that you're talking about being very intentional about this and I think we were talking as well, once you're aware of these, and let's say that you're just feeling disconnected or you're feeling down, and then it's like, what do I do? And, that can come into play here too. Okay. I'm going to take action on anything of value. So if I have that value of adventure, I'm going to go do something adventurous at that moment. You know, even if my brain's telling me I'd rather not. And I love that concept as well. Again, another reason why this is so important to just figure out, because it's not just when I get into this choice point of what to do and how to line them up, but if I don't even know what to do or I'm feeling down or I just don't want to get out of bed at times, this is where I say, okay, what are your values? And you do something of value. And it is going to be something that is going to be far more doable than when somebody's just saying, well, you just need to get up and just be happy or just take action or you got to know what to do in those scenarios.

Preston: And when you have a goal, like an intentional goal, all these things are easy to put together when you do have a goal, like some specific things that you're trying to accomplish and that leads me to the next point talking about natural superpowers, your gifts and talents and abilities. I'll call them your superpowers because it's fun to talk about it in that way. But the things that you uniquely bring to the table, your strengths, there's a way to approach this.

There's, some personality tests you can take. When I did this, I took these tests and I understood okay, this is how I can have somebody help me and walk through them like what they meant. And I put them into different hierarchies and how they related to stuff. It was really, really eye opening for me.

And then one of the cool things that I did is I sent a letter to, or an email or a text, whatever, to probably 25 people that are, clients. I think I probably sent one to you, family members, and friends, and people, and it was vulnerable. I asked them how they perceive me because we have this idea of how we are perceived and it's interesting to have that either confirmed or completely blown out of the water. And so, when I took these personality tests and then when I understood how these things worked together and then got feedback from people that I know and put them all together, I started to notice patterns. Patterns emerged and it was so clear. And again, I had coaches to help me work through this and kind of parse it so that I could understand and put it all together. But then I also recognized that I am a synthesizer. But for me, I found my top five. Number one, I'm an entertainer. I just am. I have always been since day one. I am a magnetic light. I bring joy to situations, and I'm a star, and I'm a leader. I love being in that role and it's so fun. It lights me up. I'm also an expander and a seeker. I'm relentless in my pursuit of growth and expansion.

I just, I love learning. I'm also an elite coach and I can explain complex concepts in concise and succinct ways, and that's again, one of my gifts and I didn't know that other people weren't able to do that, but then I take an hour to say something sometimes. So, maybe I'm not as good at that as I thought I was, but again, I'm a synthesizer.

I'm also a creator. I can activate things and when I line myself with all these things that I'm talking about, I can create things at will. It's nuts, like line everything up and just things happen and it's brilliant to understand this is what I bring to the table. And when I've helped other people create this. And then peers that I've gone through programs with, their lists are completely different. And you see it in them. I'm like, oh my gosh, you're so good at that. Can I pay you for that? Because you're so good at that. And I'm not good at that.

Tony: Well Preston, I had to tell you when that whole thing you just explained, when I first came out there and we hung out in your office for I think two, three days straight. And we mapped out the whole magnetic marriage course that was, I still look back on that as one of the most exhaustingly, wonderful moments of my life where I had no idea what we were doing and that dry erase board and the energy that you would bring and we'd go out and go on the electric skateboard for a minute, then we would get the amazing food and come back and it's like you're back on task and putting these pieces together and it was electric. And so, I know that you know what you can do and then you just do that, and you bring that energy. I was grinning when you were talking about who you are because it’s like, oh I have seen that.

Preston: And it's so fun. Here's a cool thing when people feel stuck. When you feel stuck, it is because you are not living in alignment with your mission, purpose, values, and your gifts. And it might just be because you don't know what they are because you haven't examined them. But that's what I call an MVP contract. Like your mission, values, purpose, your contract, your gifts, the things that you really just are and bring to the table and how you operate. Things can't just, seriously, things can become significantly easier when you have all this knowledge and then when you operate on it. And kind of the last little part of this that's so, so important is it's called a foundational filter. And what I mean by that is think about a filter. When you do a search, right? If you're doing a search for something inside of some data and then you say, exclude this word. Okay, I'm going to exclude this word.

That's a filter. And everything that has that word will not show up in the search, right? Everybody's had that experience. When you go through data, the foundation of how your mind operates moment to moment to moment. Tony Robbins calls it a primary question. It's the number one question that you're always asking.

And I call it a foundational filter because it filters your entire life through this. And for me it used to be because everybody has one and it's like a question. Mine used to be, how do I make this better? And I didn't even know that I was asking it because it was, I was asking it so often. In my mind subconsciously that it was the same thing as, what language are we speaking right now? Tony? English. Have you ever thought in the last 45 minutes about the fact that we're speaking English? I have not. No. Not once, because it's just what we're doing. So, what I realize is that I have this question that's always run into my mind. I walk into a room, look in the room, and the first thing that I don't even have to think about it, it just is. It's the water I'm swimming in. It's the language I'm speaking. How do I make this better? And that serves me a great deal when I walk into an event that I'm running. And then I can be like, oh, put the chairs here, put the speaker there, move that over here, do boom, boom. And then everything has a great experience.

How do I do it when I'm performing? How do I do it when I'm speaking? How do I do it when I'm putting together a business plan or a coaching program? Like how do I make this better? It's just, it makes everything amazing. When I get in, I get into my friend's car and he has a little graphic equalizer on his car, and I know a lot about sound and he has it set in a way that doesn't make the music sound very good.

And so, without thinking, without even asking him, I start messing with his graphic equalizer and changing the settings on it. So, this primary question, this foundational filter, it also gets me into trouble. Because we go back to one of my values is allowing. Okay, allowing people to have their own. I'm using the word allow. It seems, I understand that there's so much hubris involved in this. Like I have the ability to allow.

Tony: You’re stepping into a healthy ego.

Preston: What I mean is I need to chill out and just not try to control you, even though I think I can make it better. Okay, but what is “it”? So, I decided that I was going to not try to control things by trying to make them better, because it was always my idea of what was better, which is not necessarily their idea of what is better, which is so judgmental. And so, what I did is I went through this process that I take people through where they identify their old foundational filter and their old primary question.

And for some they'll walk into a room and they'll, without thinking, they'll be like, am I safe? What are the things that are not safe about this? They're always thinking that. Another one is to walk in and be like, how do I make other people happy? Another one is a walk in, say, what are people thinking about me?

So, it's a question that you're always asking that you get to the point. You don't even think about it. And if you can't ask that question, it really, really makes you uncomfortable.

Tony: Preston, can I tell you it makes so much sense too. When I think back, I remember when you talked about primary questions for me, and I really feel like I have such a value of curiosity and knowledge.

And so, I have this primary question constantly of what's this person about? Or what makes this person tick. And so, then when we would get in the room to then create a course and you're going to make this thing better, and I don't even know what it is. And so, I'm wanting to understand more about how this works?

And I remember we would have those conversations around, what we're selling and how we sell it and the way that we're going to connect and communicate. And I realized that I was kind of doing the, okay, I need to try to make sense of this, or I want to understand where you're coming from or how does this work? Or how do you tick and you're just making it better, man, you know.

Preston: But that question, if left unchecked will go and go and go and damage relationships. For me, I have one of my best friends. My best friend's primary question was, how do I make other people happy? Awesome. Lot of benefit to that question.

Also, when you take it to its natural conclusion, what happens? You lose yourself. Because you're always doing things for other people and you're selling out on what you want. And he experienced that. So, what I did is I created an intentionally new, foundational filter. My new primary question, and it is this, what else is going well for me right now?

Okay. That's what I ask when I'm intentional. So, what's the presupposition? So, what is the presupposition in the first question? How do I make this better?

Tony: That something's wrong.

Preston: That something is wrong, and we need to find out what's wrong with it. So, I'm always looking for problems. What's the presupposition in, “What else is going well for me?”

Tony: That something may not be going according to plan? No.

Preston: The presupposition that is, that something is already going well. What else is going well for me? I start by saying something's got to be going right.

Let's look for what else is going well for me. When I do that, here's the thing. I live, when I say my contract. I live in alignment with my mission, my values, and my purpose, my hierarchy. I'm intentionally acting on my natural gifts, talents, and superpowers. And then I'm asking my foundational filter question.

When I am conscious about these things, I'm on fricking fire. Because it's me. I'm in alignment and it's a completely different thing. Yours is different from mine. Your values are different. Mine, the hierarchy is different. The question is different. Your mission, your purpose, your contract, your gifts, all of them are completely different and they are unique.

And what I've done is I've put together a very specific process of helping people extract these things from their soul, from their experience, from their relationships, from their life, from their mind, from tests that you take. Just all these different things and it put them all together in your M V P contract, so you know your mission, your values, your purpose, and how you can go about creating a fulfilled life.

Tony: Man, Preston, and what we were saying earlier if your brain right now is like, that sounds amazing and I'll get to it later. I don't think you understand what it would feel like to live in alignment with your values now to deal with the things that are coming up later.

I feel, I feel it, man. I do. So where can people find you?

Preston: This is what we're going to do, okay? We're going to set up, so go to Tonyoverbay.com/contract. Okay? Cause this is your contract, Tonyoverbay.com/contract and it'll take you to a link. Because what I'm doing right now is I'm running a six week program.

We do it every single week. We're going to have coaching calls, there's going to be homework, it's a fun process. It's a fun process and you will be required to do some things. This is not going to be, it's very interactive and you're going to do some things in between the calls and take you like, you know, a couple hours a week.

But at the end of it, you come away with a specific document and right now I'm running a promotion. Like the price is going to, I'm going to, this is the only time it's ever, marketing, scarcity, whatever, whatever. Honestly, this is the only time it's ever going to be at this price because I'm running it right now and I'm going to limit it because I want to have a specific like small group of people.

Yeah, so only 20 spots in this, and it'll be double the price later on when I keep running this program. But right now, only 20 spots. And if you're feeling called to this, like, okay, I'll tell you right now. Right now, you're in one of three camps. You're like, dude, I'm a yes. I need this. I'm a yes.

Cool. In that case, go, just go to the thing. Go sign up. If you are a no, if you're like, you know what, this sounds great. Not for me. Trust yourself. That sounds freaking awesome to just know that this is not for you right now, cool. But maybe you're in the third camp, which is you're a yes, but. Like, yeah, I would love to have this.

I think it would be so valuable in my life, but I don't know if I have the time, but I don't know if I have the money, but I don't know all these different things. And I'll tell you this right now, how much longer are you going to use that excuse. Because if you're using that excuse here and you're like called to it, then you're using that excuse in other areas of your life as well.

I have put so many things off that I knew I needed to do. It’s ridiculous, and when I started proving to myself that I was willing to actually invest in myself, things changed. So if you're a “yes but”, then just allow yourself to get rid of that excuse and step into making a new decision and getting clear on who you are and what you're doing, because it changes how you approach everything.

Tony: Preston, I love it. I do. And again, what, this will be 340 something episodes of the Virtual Couch. I've only talked about values about 900,000 times, and this is the first time that it's saying, hey, and actually here's how you go figure that out. I'm grateful to you, my friend. I couldn't trust anybody else more with the keys to the car.

I mean, you, even if you're going to mess with the equalizer, I actually trust you there too. Cause I don't know enough about that.

Preston: Well, I don't do that anymore because I say, what else is going well for me, and I allow other people to have their own sound equalizing systems and I don’t need to, I don’t need to change things anymore for other people.

Tony: No, you're very kind. All right. So please go to Tonyoverbay.com/contract. And, then if you have questions, you can reach out through my website for Preston, or I'm sure you can go to Preston.

Preston: You can hit me up at Preston.Pugmire on Instagram. Or Preston Pugmire on Facebook. Like DM me. If you're listening to this episode, screenshot it and tag me and I'll send you a voice message. I send voice messages to everybody that tags me, that listens to these podcasts and tags me on those things.

And then if you have questions about it, yeah. Like if you have questions about it, send me a question, I'll talk to you about what's going on. You can email me.

Tony: Please talk to Preston if you want to feel good about yourself. Talk to Preston, please.

Preston: Tony's got too much going on. Don't email him.

Tony: That's right. Preston is my man. That's right. Okay. Preston Pugmire.

Preston: Thank you so much. Preston Pugmire. It's P U G M I R E.

Tony: Okay, Preston thank you for coming on. I want you to come back on and then talk about all the changes that the first 20 that run through this have had. And then, man, you're changing lives.

Preston: And we need to have you on my podcast. Next level life. Let's do this, a podcast called Next Level Life. And let's do an episode next week with you on it.

Tony: I would love it. Okay, Preston Pugmire, we'll talk to you later. Okay. Thanks for going on the Virtual Couch.

Preston: Bye.

Tony welcomes his daughter McKinley (Mackie) back to The Virtual Couch. Mackie talks about what it took for her to shed the “shoulds” in her life, “you should go to college, you should be a teacher, you should, you should, you should!” and how she ultimately took action on following a path she knew she secretly wanted since middle school. Mackie shares how her depression clouded her dreams even when her parents said that they supported whatever she wanted to do in life and what, if anything, they could have done differently to help her through some of her darkest days. You can find her at Ivory Salon Suites here https://www.ivorysalonandsuites.com/ or follow her professional page on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/beautybymackie/


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

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

[00:00:00] Hey, everybody, welcome to episode two hundred and eighty four. The virtual couch, I am your host, Tony Overbay. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist and author, speaker, husband. All those things. But I'm also the father of four amazing, wonderful children. And coming up on today's episode, I have interviewed my daughter McKinley, a.k.a. Mackey, a.k.a. Mack. She is twenty one, I believe, and I know that sounds like a joke. But holy cow, I have joked about the approximate ages of my kids and my wife are so long that I honestly question myself. But she was born in nineteen ninety nine, and so just to make sure that I got this right, I went and looked up her age on a birthday calendar on the internet because I was so in my head that I was going to get her age wrong. But that led me down a little bit of a rabbit trail. So Mackey has six hundred and eighty five million five hundred and eighty four thousand seconds old, or eleven million four hundred and twenty six thousand four hundred minutes, or one hundred and ninety thousand hours, almost 8000 days, eleven thousand weeks, two hundred and sixty months or twenty one years old. Eight months, twenty one days old, which makes me, by the way, I couldn't help myself. I am one point six billion seconds old or twenty seven million minutes. That is kind of mind blowing. That translates out to fifty one years, nine months in twenty one days old, which is insane.

[00:01:16] But I digress. So today's episode is so good. And yes, I am biased because I interview my daughter, but I have received plenty of amazing feedback from the episodes that Mackey has been on the past. She's come on openly, and she has talked about her struggles with anxiety and depression, and she was also on a panel of guests, which is one of my favorite episodes of all time where we were a few months into the pandemic, and she was there with my oldest daughter, Alex and Alex's husband, Mitch and my wife. Her lone appearance on the virtual couch and my nephew Connor, which was He's a hilarious individual. So today, though, I want you to know we go really, really deep. Mackie just graduated from cosmetology school, and she has taken a job at an absolutely incredible salon in South Jordan, Utah, that just opened up a new location. And it's called the Ivory Salon Suite, and I will have the link to the the location and how to book with my daughter in the show notes. And I would highly encourage you to go book with Mackie because she's honestly very, very good at what she does. You'll kind of get a feel for that in the interview today, but we often here's what I like that we talked about today is that, like so many of us often do, we take the job, we follow the career or we get the degree that we feel like we're expected to, because that is what our parents or our friends or our church or our community says that we should do.

[00:02:36] And I often say nobody likes to be should on. And when you're doing something because you think you're supposed to, that is called a socially compliant goal. It goes against who you are at your core because it just goes against your, your own sense of self or process of unfolding or all these other cool psychological terms. But when you are living your life by a socially compliant goal, then you are often just going to continue to kick the can down the road. You'll do things later, you will. You'll try to be happy or later. Right now, you just got to get the work, you got to plow through your job. There's this concept of where you, you go to work so that you can then come home and enjoy yourself or get to the weekend and have fun. And I don't talk about this often, but I'm kind of convinced that that might be just one of those stories that are own brain is telling us that we feel like we can't do what we really want to do at our core. Because what I often hear in my office is that people will say, Well, if I really did what I enjoy, then all of a sudden it would it would become a job and I wouldn't enjoy it anymore. And I would often say, I'm talking probably for years, or I would say, No, I hear you.

[00:03:39] That makes sense. And then one day it hits me that, Oh, I actually did 10 years in a career that I absolutely did not enjoy. And now I'm pushing 17 or 18 years in a career that I absolutely love and adore. And so when you love your job or when you're doing something you feel pretty passionate about, and that doesn't mean I love every minute of every day, but when this is something that really speaks to you, that you're passionate about. Then when you come home, you're still on fire. When you hit the weekend, you, you still you're just excited to do things. And I often find that people that are living these socially compliant lives, socially compliant goals and doing things because they just think they have to hit the end of the day, there's exhausted, you know, and they say, OK, you know, I'll do those things I always wanted to do later. I'll do them. When I get caught up on things, I'll do them. After I get a lot of sleep, I'll do them when I make a little bit more money or when I get married, or when the kids are older, or when the kids are out of the house, or when we get the new car or the nicer place. And that is just kicking the can down the road when there is so much life to be lived, right? This very second. So Mackey was just passionate about the the going to cosmetology school, but she was afraid to take action on it.

[00:04:49] We're going to talk a lot about that today, and I want you to know this is she. She would. She's going to talk openly about the fact that she knew that she had that support from her parents. But even when we support. Them early and often that they can literally still do and think and feel whatever they're going to do, think and feel because we're all our own unique individual people. So I could say all day long, Mac, I'm a therapist. Come on, do what you want to do. Find your dream and passion. And I love what she goes into today, where she talks a lot about saying, I mean, I heard you, but I still felt like I might disappoint you. So we need to understand that every one of our kids, our spouse that we are, all are own unique individuals going through this thing for the first time. This thing meaning life in the moment that you come upon today, you've never experienced that before based on all the situations that you bring to the table right now. So it becomes even more important that we are there for each other, that we hear each other, that we're not trying to control each other, that we're not trying to tell each other what they should do. Because how on earth do you really know what another person should do when you have never been that person? So we, you know, we talk about how teenagers, when they truly don't feel like their dreams or their goals or their hopes or their passions are even an option can often feel hopeless or stuck or helpless.

[00:06:01] So as parents, it is so important to know how to encourage your kids to find their path, but to know again that even when you do your best to be supportive that they all, they're going to have their own views of who, that they think that they're supposed to be. So I say so often that you can either have love or control in adult relationships, not both. And I feel like in today's episode, we really speak to the fact that you can even express love and somebody else can still push you away. And that isn't necessarily about you. Everybody is again, they're on their own path. They're trying to find themselves. But I guarantee you that the more time and energy you devote to showing your spouse or your kids or anybody that you care about, that really matters to you, that you love them, that you're there for them, and that when and if they do hit a breaking point or rock bottom or whatever that is, that they will know that they can come back to you because you hear them, because you see them, you love them and you are there for them in whatever capacity that they need. It does not mean OK. See, I knew you'd come crawling back to me looking for advice because I'm telling you if you put that energy into the people around you.

[00:07:08] Number one, they aren't going to come back looking for help. In fact, almost likely do the opposite. They'll probably try to do everything they can do to not come back. And here's where that here's where things get kind of interesting from a psychological perspective. We have that whole model backwards. We think that we have to push somebody out of the nest in order for them to fly. Now that might work with birds or in books, or maybe even written in stories by authors that are trying to process their own feelings of abandonment from their own parental figures. But we actually need to do the opposite the birds, so to speak under our care, need to know that they can be in the nest. Until that they believe that they are ready to fly. And they need to know that they can come back to the nest if they don't feel safe, or that if they're going to go through some rough patches in life that they know that they can come back to their secure base or their secure attachment and know that somebody has their back. And I often feel like when I start talking about things like this, a parent will say, Well, yeah, but if I just if I don't shove them out of the nest, they're going to sit here and stay at home and play video games forever. Well, here's here's the part that we're missing.

[00:08:09] The fact that they are afraid to go out and try to find themselves might be because you put so much pressure on them that they're going to do it wrong. You better not mess this up. You better, not let me down. You know, this is so important right now, what you do. And so no wonder if that person feels like I'm scared to death. I'm going to do it wrong. Then they're going to cope with things like video games, social media, pornography, alcohol, you name it, as an unhealthy coping mechanism because they feel like if I screw this up, my parents are going to abandon me forever. And so then eventually the parent does boot them out of the house, and then they have to go figure it out. And the parent says, See if I never would have booted you out of the house. This never would have worked. And that whole model is backwards. It's broken. If we've been nurturing a relationship with our kids where they know that they can come to us with anything, and I'm not talking about the hollow kind of, Hey Champ, you know, you can come to me with anything, but then they come to you and say, Wreck the car or I'm smoking pot, or I failed out of school. And then we say, Are you fucking kidding me? You know, is that the? So are we really? Can they really come to us with anything? So I feel like oftentimes when the kid is still in the basement playing video games, they're paralyzed because they're so afraid that they may go out and do it wrong, which then only frustrates the parent at that point.

[00:09:20] That's where I feel like the parent needs to say, Hey, I'm here, you know, I've got your back. What do you want to do? What can I help you figure out so that they know that they can go out there and try their best? And if they don't succeed, that's even a loaded word that they know they can come back and say, All right, well, that one didn't work. So what are we going to do next instead of us feeling like we have to just push them out of the nest? So remember, this isn't about you. It's about them. And if you feel like it's your job to throw your bird out of your nest or else all the other birds will think you're not a good bird parent, or if you feel like you have to throw the bird out of the nest because let's my parents threw me out of the nest, I seem to be OK. You're working from a flawed model, but I so digressed. But. I really felt good to get off my chest, so let's get to the today's episode with my daughter, Mackie, and please check out the links in the show notes and go by and say hi to her and get your herded as the kids say from my daughter, Maggie. All right, let's get to today's episode.

[00:10:28] Come on in and take a seat.

[00:10:35] So annunciate, hey, come from your diaphragm, I

[00:10:39] Don't know how to do that.

[00:10:40] Loud project your voice, Mackey. Ok, OK. Welcome back to the virtual couch. Thank you. You know that you now become the most interviewed guest in the history of the podcast. It's kind of fun for me. It is right. I was thinking about that. At first, I was going to say, You've tied my intern slash associate Nate Christianson and Dr. Jennifer Finlayson, five world renowned sex therapist and relationship coach with three times. But then you were also part of the covert kids I was. And that was, yeah, it was an ensemble cast, but you were a part of it. So technically, yeah. So this is your fourth episode. You feel like a big deal. I know, right? I've been looking forward to recording this one for a while. Yeah. And we were talking about things leading up to this and we could go a lot of different directions. And I think things could get really deep. They could get heavy. And I think that's that's we're going to keep it real. As the kids say, kids don't really say that anymore, do they? Do they sometimes sometimes. Oh, no. Ok. In your previous appearances, we've talked a little bit about anxiety and depression. And and so I get a lot of emails. I forward some of them to you. Those are fun, right? When people say that they really identified with things that you've said or I think in particular, I get ones from moms who have said that they believe and listen to our episodes with their daughters. What's that like, by the way, when you get that kind of feedback?

[00:11:59] It's nice because I like it's scary to be vulnerable and to put things out there, which I have done a decent amount at this point. And so it's just nice to feel like at least a couple of people have taken something from

[00:12:14] It more than a couple of people.

[00:12:16] But it's just it's nice. Yeah, and it's just nice because it just is reassuring that everyone is going through things and there's you can just be nice and helpful and all those good things.

[00:12:26] People really are too going through a lot of things and sometimes and this is going to sound silly, but I forget, and I really do at times if I bring on a new client, how much I need to validate and say, Oh, I have dealt with that before. And and I find myself not wanting to say that at times because I don't want the person to feel like I'm dismissing their experience, right? But then I remember that they're coming in here, sometimes feeling like they've never told anybody about their experiences.

[00:12:50] The only one that's felt it, and it's like, No, everybody goes through.

[00:12:53] Absolutely. Absolutely. And I still feel like I would say that I have this thing on my shoulder called Holy crap o meter. And I and I tell people, it's not going to move trust me because they will say, I bet you've never heard this or this is going to sound so crazy. And sometimes I think, huh? I wonder if this will be something that I've never heard. But no, not really. Yeah, but not even to dismiss them. But you're right. Everybody wants to feel like they're not alone or crazy or that sort of thing. All right. Well, the reason I was so excited about this is there are so many things that have gone on since we last spoke because we last spoke. I think you weren't in college yet. Yeah. Other than the COVID kids episode, yeah. But so when we last left, it was probably finishing up your senior year and you were trying to figure out what to do next and what do you remember about that? What do you remember about wanting to do or thinking you wanted to do as you were wrapping up?

[00:13:48] Honestly, I didn't think about it a lot. I didn't. I I knew growing up. I feel like from the time I was like 13 or 14, I wanted to do here, OK? And that was always like in the back of my head. And so I'd always say it was like my backup option because I didn't want to admit that it was what I actually wanted to do because I was scared of the stigma. Ok. Which is dumb.

[00:14:09] I even think as you're saying this right now, I didn't realize it was that early on that you wanted to.

[00:14:13] Oh yeah, it was. As soon it was like the first as soon as I like started looking into makeup and like getting into that stuff, I was like, Oh, I like this guy. Yeah, I care about this and I want to do this. And so I knew, like, pretty early on. But then, yeah, I got scared of the dumb hair school girl stigma thing, which is so stupid, OK, but I cared too much about that and then went through a lot of crap and then didn't really care about my future in general and then didn't think about it too much after that.

[00:14:40] Yeah.

[00:14:40] So, yeah, I wasn't really thinking about it.

[00:14:42] The hair school stigma? Yes. When did you start feeling that?

[00:14:46] I feel like in high school, people would talk about it and make assumptions about people and say things like, Oh, well, there's some hair school or there's going to do that, or I bet she just goes to hair school. I like stuff like that. And it was always just tied with like. That means you're dumb and you can't do other things and whatever. And so I totally let that get to me. Yeah, I was like, Well, I'm not dumb. Like, I'm not going to like I. And I totally listen to that, which is stupid because you actually you can't be dumb if you're going to go through hair school, it's not as easy as you think.

[00:15:11] I agree with what you say that and first of all, do you feel like you went to you went. How long was it two years a year and a half?

[00:15:19] With COVID, it was like a year and a half.

[00:15:20] Yeah, with COVID. That was a whole other experience.

[00:15:22] I on for a little bit. So it's like a year and a half six hundred

[00:15:25] Hours and you. And hours and you had to do a lot in the classroom as well as actual styling, hair

[00:15:33] Cutting in clients, yeah. Four of the five

[00:15:36] Days, yeah, which I didn't know. That's how it works. Maybe even for anybody that's listening to this, right?

[00:15:41] You OK? I thought it was going to be in a classroom the whole time, but you're taking clients more than you're not.

[00:15:46] I mean, how and how soon were you starting to see clients? This is what kind of blew my mind. So it

[00:15:51] Was eight

[00:15:51] Weeks, eight weeks in. And then you're cutting people's hair and it's more than just cutting people's hair.

[00:15:55] Yeah, yeah.

[00:15:56] Yeah, you were coloring hair, all of it. All of that. Do you remember your first experience with somebody?

[00:16:02] I don't remember my my first experience is mom.

[00:16:05] Oh, OK. Yeah.

[00:16:07] So it was like different than I don't remember my very first client. Yeah, but I remember like those early stages and just like trying to fake the confidence, you know?

[00:16:17] Yeah. And I even think about this. We'll probably talk about some of this to you. And I have had a lot of conversations around even the similarities, it seems like from therapist and cosmetologist. Yeah.

[00:16:26] How funny is it? It was surprising to me, like I knew people tell their hairstylist everything, but I didn't. That means everything, and I love it. I love that part of it.

[00:16:32] Like when you're talking everything you're talking about, they're feeling like they aren't a good parent or marriage issues or things about addiction.

[00:16:39] They told anyone else like. Yeah, I hear it all. Yeah, which is fun. Yeah. Yeah. Like, it's just, yeah.

[00:16:46] Would you ever feel, though, like you needed to give advice? Or what was that like for you?

[00:16:51] I don't know how to give advice. It's like, I'm not good at it, but I feel like people like they ask for it. But I think more than anything, everyone just wants to be listened to and to be heard. So I feel like for the most part, it's just like listening and validating and that aspect just building a connection there. That's more important than,

[00:17:08] Yeah,

[00:17:09] The advice that I potentially can try

[00:17:11] To give. No, I love it. And I love when you were just saying there that you were saying, I have to pretend to have the confidence, and I've talked on my podcast before about when I first started seeing clients. I would have this moment where I think what would a real therapist say? And then,

[00:17:23] Yeah, I feel like I'd be like, Yeah, I would like someone who actually knew what they were doing, say right now and then

[00:17:28] Over time, I would think, Wait, I am a real therapist. Do you remember having a moment where then you thought, OK, wait, no, I do know what I'm doing. Or did this happen over time?

[00:17:36] Yeah, I feel like it wasn't like a light bulb moment or anything, but just, Oh, OK,

[00:17:40] Ok, I'm doing this. I'm getting so far ahead. So if we go back to. So you always thought that that was your Plan B, but you were worried about it for the stigma of cosmetology.

[00:17:48] So I always said I'd always say this whole go be a teacher, I'm going to go do that. I always had this other like legit college thing that I had in mind. And then I would say, and then maybe I'll get my cosmetology license, like, maybe I'll do that, or maybe I'll think about that. Like, I never was like, Yes,

[00:18:02] I'm doing this, but you're telling me when we were even talking about before we hit record that you deep inside said, I'm going to do that.

[00:18:09] Yeah. It was like, I will. This will happen regardless, and that will be my primary, like my main thing that I'm going to do primarily always. But then I'll have this other cover

[00:18:20] Almost to be the teacher who can also cut hair. Exactly. We also in a little pre-interview we talked about, OK, how deep do we want to get and why not get deep right now? This is the funny part where I said, we can also edit it. So now the next part of I'm saying, and then you lived happily ever after, then you'll know that maybe we had a big, big part, right? But so deep where we were going with that was I said, Man, man, can you remember mom and I driving out to college with you? And I remember we were I felt, honestly, I felt like leading up to the days before you left. I feel like we registered knowing that you might not go and we even paid for your apartment and stuff, knowing you might not go right around and come back. And I remember being like an hour outside of of Rexburg. Yeah, and I remember because the freeway went a different way, and I remember having the conversation with you where you were even saying, and you know what? And I might we might get there and turn right around, and we were saying, Yeah, we might. Oh, man. So what do you remember about that summer leading up to leaving? And were you going to leave or you're not going to leave? And what led into that?

[00:19:23] I just remember, like, I was not in a good place. I was miserable. I basically my whole my senior year of high school was mentally was rough, like I one of the worst years I think I've ever had type thing. And so I was like, I remember that was really hard. And then I graduated thinking that that would solve all my problems and I'd feel great. And then I didn't like a week after graduation. I'm still sad and miserable and don't know what I'm doing and just, yeah, really had no idea what was next. And did you

[00:19:53] Feel because you didn't know what was next, that something was wrong with you?

[00:19:56] Oh, yeah, OK. I was like, everyone. Like all my friends know they're going to go do this and they're going to do this and they want to study this and they have these plans. And I was just like, I don't know. I don't know. I don't know what I'm going to do. And. So I remember, like towards the end of my senior year, finally just being like, OK, I like logically, the next step is college. Yeah. And I was like, I don't want to just sit at home, stare at my ceiling all day, every day.

[00:20:19] So which this is the part that I thought got deep was because that honestly and we haven't talked about this, I think directly. But mom and I, that's what we were worried about was if you stay here, you're going to stay inside and just stare at your ceiling.

[00:20:31] But then that's where I was. Mentally, that's what my life was.

[00:20:34] But then every time that we would say, but we don't want to go, do this and don't you want to go away and don't you want to?

[00:20:39] I didn't want to do anything, and I was telling you earlier like that was that was stemming from the fact that I genuinely didn't feel like I had a future and I didn't feel like there was a next step for me. And because of those previous years, I felt I was shocked that I made it to 18 and then 19 and then 20. And so every year is like, Oh my gosh, like, I actually am doing this, and I actually have to think about what's next because I didn't think I would make it that far. Yeah.

[00:21:03] And I was just so sad because and what I appreciated, what we were talking about earlier was it wasn't like you had a look at me. Am I just trying to seek my own validation? But you, you had you had opportunities. But then we were talking about, but there's so much more that goes into it. If there's some, there's there's some history of depression in our family. So if there's some good old chemical things going on, that's just and then and then it really is. I always say that it's nature and nurture and birth order and DNA and abandonment and rejection, right? Because then if you get in some relationships that aren't good and those

[00:21:36] Aren't right and those

[00:21:38] Are things that you signed up for and nobody gets into a relationship thinking, I think this is going to be pretty crummy. Maybe they start good, right?

[00:21:44] It's pretty bad. Ok. So, yeah, so it's like all of it was just a lot of crappy things. Yeah. Going on with that rude of just yeah. History of depression. Like knowing there's some chemical imbalance. Yeah, trying to figure that stuff out already, which is hard enough, like just trying to deal with that, but then having the crappy life things happening on top of it. Yeah. So then, yeah, I remember like that, especially that that summer before I left it, the guy was registered for school and whatever, but I didn't want to be and I didn't want to go and I didn't want to do anything. And I just remember because I was telling you, like just I remember lots of nights where it was just like, I was not OK. Yeah. And I was not like doing smart things to cope and turning to very unhealthy things. And then I vividly remember, just like pleading with God to just let me go just that. I felt like every night I'd fall asleep, just come on. Just let me go. And I've done that breaks my heart. Yeah. It was hard, and I know people feel that if people experience that, and so that was every single night. And so then it got to a point before I left for school so I can just sit here and and plead and be miserable and stare at my ceiling, or I can try to cling to this last resort potential thing that could kickstart my future a little bit. So then I embraced this. Ok, I'm going to go be a teacher and I'm going to go do that. And I held on to that. It was literally all I had left because I to some extent, I felt like it was all I had left. And so I just ran with it. I was like, OK, I'm just going to go, I'm just going to go. And I wasn't even thinking past that.

[00:23:09] But I think it's important. And I think that's where if somebody is saying, but what if this doesn't work out or what if and

[00:23:14] I didn't have it in me to even think that it was just, Hey, I'm just going to get there. I'm just going to get there. Yeah. And then I didn't know what was going to happen next, but I'm just going to go and

[00:23:22] Do you think and I know it's so hard to I think we were even talking earlier about when I was saying, when people say, man, I wonder what would have happened if and I would say, Well, yeah, who knows. But then not a productive thought. And I'm about to say, but let's go there for a minute. Right. So for the sake of other people, I wonder if when you're having these thoughts of, you know, it'd be nice to not even wake up. I mean, I'm in this where I say often that when people come and tell me that they don't, they've never thought of suicide or something. I think I don't know if that's even normal. And as a therapist, we talk about, but have you ever had the plan and it's going to happen this way at this time and this that's when things get a little more real. But when people have the, you know, if I got hit by a meteorite tonight, that's OK. Or if I just don't wake up, I think that's more normal than people people realize. Yeah, but then when you hear you and I love that you're laying out the part where you always had this Plan B. I wonder if you had really felt like that would have been plan a if that would have helped earlier.

[00:24:16] Yeah. Like it's that thing where no way to know. Yeah, because that wasn't the case, you know? But I feel like there's definitely a chance it would have just helped with motivation and hope and just knowing that I could potentially do something that I would like doing. I feel like that could have motivated me a little bit.

[00:24:34] Yeah. Well, and that's what I'm saying again, for the sake of those who are listening and who have teenagers or 20 somethings or whoever it is, that's where I feel like I just want to say, Yeah, it wouldn't necessarily if you're 16, 17 year old is really depressed and you just say, No, no, what do you really want to do? I know it's not that easy because I still feel like I know and I like what you're saying about you could even still say, Well, this is what I want to do, but you're still going to feel all that and validation from your peers, right?

[00:25:00] It doesn't just put everything else away. No, but I do definitely think that, yeah, it adds some hope. Into a life that feels like that's not anymore. Yes, I don't know. Yeah, it's definitely something to think about and that could be helpful, potentially.

[00:25:15] So for anyone listening, especially the parents, they just say No, really? Tell me more. Not what? I think you'd be happier, right?

[00:25:23] Ok. And then maybe just, yeah, anything you can do to head into that direction, I feel like couldn't hurt.

[00:25:27] Yeah, just even make it more.

[00:25:30] I feel like it seemed like it's achievable and it's realistic because in my head, it wasn't. Yeah, but that was my mind doing like I had made it this. We're not going to do that.

[00:25:38] Yeah, which is funny. So then because I don't know, do you remember when mom and I were? When do you when do you remember when we were really saying, no, really? If you want to go to cosmetology school, go.

[00:25:49] Yeah, no. So I remember. So I went to college. Yes, and I stuck it out for I ended up doing it being like a year and a half. Yeah, ish. But I I sucked at it. I didn't go to class. I was getting horrible grades, which isn't like, like in high school. I got good grades, like I was a good student and in college I was not like, I. I did the bare minimum. I hated every second of it. Like I remember,

[00:26:11] There were times where mom and I would think, Oh, OK, this sounds good because one of the times you took a class and was the elementary education and you really were going to be able to color and cut out things like construction paper. Yeah. And I thought, that's pretty cool.

[00:26:23] So I'd have moments where I was like, OK, like, I could get on board with this, like I can color. I can do those things. But I was just like, Yeah, I hated every second of it, wasn't doing a good job, and the whole time I feel like I was doing a little bit better. Mentally sure.

[00:26:37] Because you were staying out there.

[00:26:38] Yeah, I stuck it out. Like I, a few people like found a couple of people that I found, yeah, I found a couple of really good people that I didn't even know. People could be like that. Good of people didn't know the friends that existed like that. So it's like, I figured that out. Got those people. And so it's again, just that hope thing. I was OK. I wasn't perfect, but I was OK.

[00:26:57] And we still get calls sometimes.

[00:26:59] Yeah, yeah.

[00:27:01] I remember we went, Hey, Mac, and you're here waiting to hear if you're like, Hey, what's up? Like, Hey, hey, everything's great. Or if it was like a little pause, Mike Mackey, you're OK. It's like, Oh, no, we never said, Oh no, I'm there.

[00:27:14] You know, in your head would be a little bit,

[00:27:17] Oh, never, but.

[00:27:20] And so I was like, everything was OK. And then so then I was entertaining the idea of the cosmetology stuff more seriously to myself. Cool part

[00:27:29] Was that there was a really good school in your in

[00:27:32] Rexburg, and I know that I learned about it and I was like, OK.

[00:27:36] And then, you know, people that were already going there, or was it seriously just a whole other world? It was a

[00:27:41] Whole other thing. Yeah, but then I found out that it existed and I was like, Huh? Interesting. And then I remember I just been thinking, I just been thinking about it more seriously and from like I looked on their website and I looked into it and I was like reading into all this stuff, trying to figure out, like, Could I afford this? And could I like on my own? Could I just go? Ok, so do you want to say I didn't want to tell you guys I didn't want to make you like interesting?

[00:28:04] So even though we're saying we'll do whatever you want to do? You're thinking, I probably still need to do this

[00:28:08] On my own. I'm going, How can I make this work? Like looking into it, trying to figure it out because I had no hair. Probably I was like, he'd never supported me. No hair. No, no. So then I remember just I remember having just the worst day. I was like feeling ready, ready to give up again, like I was in that mindset. And I remember calling you guys and just kind of throwing it out there, entertaining the idea. I don't know if you remember this all, but I vividly remember.

[00:28:34] I think I know where we're going with this.

[00:28:36] I've been looking into this. I kind of, you know, I let you

[00:28:38] Finish this sentence before I was, Yes, please.

[00:28:40] No, you literally didn't. I was so surprised. Like, literally because I did the whole thing where I made it so dramatic and I was like, I've been thinking and I do like, what if I did all this stuff? And then I finally spit out, just like cosmetology school and you're like, Yep, let's do it. Like, literally, it's

[00:28:55] Probably like sitting there going,

[00:28:56] Yeah, and then and I'm like sobbing. Like, I end of the world to me,

[00:29:00] Like, Oh, I do remember this

[00:29:00] Man. And within the week, I think literally I was at this

[00:29:05] Like financial aid going

[00:29:07] Out, meeting with people, talking about

[00:29:09] It. Oh, I do remember mom and I were just pumped.

[00:29:12] Yeah. And but even then I signed up and I still felt there going to be so upset. They're going to be so disappointed because I'm not going to college. I'm not getting like,

[00:29:19] Ok, because, yeah, because you were still going to go to college. Oh, that's

[00:29:22] Right. Because then I stuck with the college, with the BYU-I stuff. I stuck with that for a few semesters. Waste of time, waste of money, again failing my classes.

[00:29:30] I do want to say that was funny because mom and I at that point were just saying, OK, we want to support her. But deep inside it was, you know, you quit right now. Mac, you know, money, college kids.

[00:29:39] I was like, No, I got this. I was like, I'm going to get my business degree.

[00:29:42] I'm like, You could be a more cosmopolitan.

[00:29:46] I don't know why I didn't want to do it. I don't know. I did. Sorry about that. Oh, it's OK. That's right. waste of money there,

[00:29:51] It was worth it, Maggie. Sure.

[00:29:53] Yeah. So I

[00:29:54] Mom and I love Top Ramen,

[00:29:56] So it was

[00:29:58] That

[00:30:00] Anyways. Yeah. And then finally. Eventually dropped all of the college stuff and then just stuck with the hair school and embraced that. Yeah, and ran with that.

[00:30:13] Do you remember ever did you ever feel like it was a mistake once you were there?

[00:30:17] Honestly, I didn't feel like it was a mistake, but I definitely had doubts and moments where I was. What if I can't do this? What if I suck at this? And what if I dropped out of college and I'm here and the money's already been paid and there's no going back? And what if I don't like it? What if it sucks? What if I just suck at it and was like, What if I can't, you know, like, I definitely

[00:30:35] Have moments that, yes, you set me up for my my acceptance and commitment therapy moment, where at that point I feel like you were pointed toward a pretty value based thing. It mattered to you. And even there, when we say, OK, I'm going for it, our brain will. One hundred percent say, What if I'm no good at it? What if I suck? What if I? And that's where

[00:30:52] You guys hate that I'm doing what you know, right?

[00:30:54] And then you probably get annoying when I drop in it, therapist Mode but I'm like, Oh yeah, Mac, maybe. But we're not even arguing that, but you just keep moving forward.

[00:31:01] And that was like, Oh, you know, that was always in the back of my head. And so I definitely panicked. I'd have a little bit of an off day or I'd slip back into a little depression type thing. And so suddenly I didn't want to be going to school. But that was because of,

[00:31:13] Like the other thing, your

[00:31:14] Baseline and other thing in life and things are just sucking. And so I'm like, Well, maybe it's maybe I did the wrong thing and it's like, No, you're in a crappy relationship and you don't know exactly what you're doing with your life. And things are just hard and

[00:31:25] Life is hard. See, that's what stuck is that you're right, because I always talk about these triggers hungry, angry, lonely, tired or whatever. But yeah, inter back in crappy relationship. In the middle of all, this

[00:31:34] Is the core of my being, which that's a whole other thing.

[00:31:37] But that would be episode five

[00:31:39] That covid, right into that. Yeah, but no, you're as I'm trying as Covid is going on, I'm trying to finish school crappy relationship that nobody knows is crappy. I'm keeping it to myself among anxiety and depression in life.

[00:31:50] So in general, it's so funny then. So at that point was work almost even an anchor? I mean, your school was at that

[00:31:56] Point and I and so then it's your

[00:31:58] Parents. Hey, they're

[00:32:00] Cool. Yeah. So then it's like just all these other factors, all these things, then. Yeah, trying to figure out, Okay, did I do the right thing here? Am I going to be OK? Am I going to be able to make this work? Just yeah, trying to figure all of that out.

[00:32:13] I remember you have you have a beauty by Mackie account, and then you would start posting pictures of things that you were actually doing. And I was blown away because that's where I started thinking, Holy cow, this is real. It's happening. I mean, you're doing it and then you're having. I don't know if you can even talk about these things, but you're starting to call and have these experiences where people had felt down because of their appearance or because of whatever. And you're and you're listening to them in your chair and then you're transforming them the way they look. And then they're saying, Oh my gosh, and they're crying and hugging you and not tipping you still.

[00:32:42] No, never

[00:32:44] Because that was here that will all come back to you will be blessed. Yeah, right? But what were those experiences like?

[00:32:49] Well, yeah, there's one like when you say that there's one specific one that, like, I feel like was honest to goodness, like life changing talk about me because I it happened in a perfect time to where I'm, you know, relationship is crappy. Life's crappy. I'm I'm like doubting myself, doubting everything. I'm like, you know, I'm not making a difference. I'm not doing anything, whatever feeling down. And then I'm just sitting there and one of my teachers is like, Hey, we have we have this 13 year old girl coming in and this student is going to be doing her hair. Can you help? Can you just jump on? And I'm like, Yeah, sure, like whatever. And then she gives me a little backstory and tells me that this 13 year old is like wanting to end her life. And she's miserable. And she never leaves the house and her mom is trying everything and just can't like. She's just so worried. So she's like going to just bring her in for a low like spa type day or whatever. And so I'm like, OK. So I remember in that moment like feeling like everything in my life was out of my control. I knew that in that moment, I could I could do something. Yeah. And so I am going by the end of this, this girl is going to be smiling.

[00:33:43] She's going to feel good about herself. And I made that my whole life that I needed that to happen for her, but also for me in my life because I'm going to make this happen. And so I remember she sits on the chair. She's looking down at the ground. She won't even say a word. She won't tell us her name. She won't talk nothing. And the girl I'm working with kind of tries for a little bit and then just gives up and it's like, OK, I'm just going to do her hair, and that means I have to do it. And so I jumped in and I started being. I felt so annoying, but I was just like, What's your name? What's your favorite color? I'm doing? I'm just asking questions. She's not really saying anything, so I'm just saying, Oh, my favorite color is just saying anything, just trying to do anything, and we're just flailing her hair. We're going through whatever. And eventually she starts saying a few words, nothing crazy. She's still looking down at the ground, but we just start talking and laughing a little bit like, I just throw in a few things. Whatever we end up full on talking. I get a kind of laugh.

[00:34:33] And we're talking, This was hours. This thing?

[00:34:35] Oh, yeah, this was. It ended up being six or seven hours,

[00:34:38] Which I never knew you did those kind of things. It's not uncommon.

[00:34:40] We did her hair and then I did her makeup, and it was a whole thing, just hours and hours. And I think the breakthrough moment, I literally I was like, So you got like a crush on anyone. And she she starts blushing and he's all nervous and then spilled. It just told me everything about it. And then from that moment on, we were just vibing and we were just talking whatever. But anyways, so I ended up being fine. She was a whole new person. When she left, her mom had his take picture with her. Do whatever, and then she left, and she had sent me the pictures that she took, so she had my number. The mom did, yeah. And a couple of hours later I get a text from the mom and she's I just can't thank you guys enough. I don't even recognize my daughter in the best way possible, all this stuff. She just keeps saying that she feels beautiful, she feels beautiful, she feels beautiful, and she feels like she looks like her sisters and she loves it. And oh, just the nicest message I've ever seen. I was just sobbing as I read it and just saying that, like the 13 year old literally told her mom, That changed my life. Like that.

[00:35:36] Just so saying,

[00:35:38] Oh, so I'm I'm sobbing. Oh my gosh. All I did was talk to the girl. We just talked and we just connected as human beings. But for her, that was that was enough to make a difference, give her that little bit of hope that a little bit of motivation to be OK. Well, it doesn't all suck. It's going to be OK and Ivan, because I was talking to her. I remember when I was doing her makeup, I was asking her if she wanted to do anything and what she was thinking for her future. And she was like, I don't know, but like, I really like makeup, and she was talking about that and I was like, Do it. Here's who was awesome. Just go do it. This is so fun. You'd be so good at it and which kind of goes back to what we were talking

[00:36:08] About, where it totally does.

[00:36:09] How much of that can play into making a dream? A little bit more realistic.

[00:36:13] And I love that. Make it a dream. Yes.

[00:36:15] Yeah. And then feeling a little bit better about yourself raising that emotional baseline and all of that stuff. So that was a moment for me that I was like, OK, I can do something here.

[00:36:25] And that girl. Yeah, her name was Estee Lauder, and she now runs a giant cosmetic line, right? This was like a year ago. Oh, OK. It's kind to come on. Is that somebody still? Or was that just back in the eighties?

[00:36:39] There's still that's a company. Ok? Yeah, you're not.

[00:36:42] I was going to go and say in that girl like Ariana Grande. But then I thought, but when you went to makeup around, I thought that would be better. Oh yeah, my bad. So and I remember we would come out and especially for graduation, I had my first facial there. That was, Oh my gosh, that was incredible. It really was. It was. And then you graduate. And at that point. Well, first of all, talk about COVID. I mean, that not a real bummer. It was. It was a bummer for everybody. I'm not saying that. I'm not dismissing you, but I thought, Holy cow, you don't think about all the different ways.

[00:37:13] It was affected to some extent because at one

[00:37:14] Point then they stopped and said, OK, just read a bunch of things about hair and then and then the whole school down. You came home and you had all these creepy dolls around the house. What was the one thing, Cassie, Cassie? And then we would come downstairs and Cassie's there on the table, and she's looking at us. But you just had to keep practicing, not doing real.

[00:37:32] Yeah, because it ended up being like five months for me. Yeah, because I didn't want to do the online stuff because I felt like I was going to Egypt. So I just waited until it was back in person. But yeah,

[00:37:42] Did you have you had doubts during that time during the five months?

[00:37:45] Yeah, OK. Yeah. Oh, for sure. Because I was sitting, I was back sitting at home like I was right back

[00:37:49] Where I was playing with a lot of wii. Yeah, oh my gosh, we got good at the we. Lots of tennis. Lots of tennis. Lots of Mario Kart.

[00:37:55] Yeah. So that definitely scared me a little bit. Yeah. And then I was like, Do I want to go back? Do I can't I go finish?

[00:38:02] Honestly, that's what I love about this being able to talk to you about it now. I remember, I can't remember if mom and I talked about it, but I remember starting to feel like, Oh, what if? Yeah, she just feels, you know what?

[00:38:12] I'm just going to be right where it was. Yeah, senior year. So it was scary. But obviously I went back and I finished and it was hard. The last little bit was hard.

[00:38:21] Yeah, but well, especially they ended up being a thing where because of COVID and because of how long you had been home, I remember I think this is one of those examples of stuff just keeps happening in our lives, period. And then it's what do we do with her because you're, Oh my gosh, now I'm even thinking of when you took your test, remember? Oh yeah, OK, so let's talk a couple of stories, story time. So what I'm talking about here is you found out that there was a certain amount of time and weeks and something and hours. And because of COVID, there was this limit that we weren't aware of. And so I don't remember the details, but

[00:38:51] For some reason I needed to finish and I needed to finish.

[00:38:53] And you had to do, what, eight to eight weeks in a row of forty hours a week, 50 hours a week with no breaks. Now, remember, that was another part where I thought, Oh, what if Mackie just says it doesn't matter and you get that close? How do you how did you get through that?

[00:39:07] It was hard. It was so hard because I had never had to. I'd never had that long of days before. And then a lot of it was. I was alone for it because my friends would be there for the normal hours and I would have to come. I'd be there before and after them, so I'd get there in the morning and I'd be all by myself with the barbers so uncomfortable. And then I'd go through the whole day taking clients and then I'd have to stay extra hours after. And so just long, lonely days. And I was living by myself at the time, and most of my friends from Rexburg had moved at that point. So I was just very lonely, very scary. Just OK. But I knew I had to get it done. So I don't even know I. I remember it's like my only option, really. I mean,

[00:39:47] I tried to do it and because I remember we that we were waiting to hear more of those, oh, you know, Maggie's in trouble things. We kind of, yeah, you kind of never really did that. And I was

[00:39:56] Surprised to do it. I'm going to do it. And it sucked. It was not easy, but I did it and I kept telling myself. The thing in eight weeks, it's not going to matter. I'm going to be done and it's not going to matter, so I just kept telling myself that constantly. And then a year from now, I'm going to be I don't

[00:40:12] Even remember that. See, I

[00:40:13] Kept telling myself that and it's true. I don't even I remember. It sucks. I know.

[00:40:16] I can't remember either, because I feel like we're about to try to go into the memory bank. So. So there was you had to take two exams. Yeah, to get your license and the one was written and the other was the practical and the practical. So I get here really early. You were leaving to go early. Do you remember this?

[00:40:32] Yes, I remember this.

[00:40:33] So you. What was it? You had car trouble.

[00:40:36] So a story. Well, OK. So the day before my test, I was going to go for a drive, clear my head, get a good whatever. I get stuck in the snow. Oh, that's right. Remember that? Yes. And that's what caused the car troubles. Yes, because then my car got stuck in for low and whatever. Yeah, so get stuck in the snow and freaking out. Great. This is good. This is what I needed. I'd been studying all day for my test and I'm like, Cool. And then I called you guys. I'm literally digging my car out with my hands and you're saying, No, I don't know what to do.

[00:41:03] And we're

[00:41:04] Like, I don't know, like,

[00:41:06] Oh, we said, Try

[00:41:07] This, you know? Yeah. And eventually get my car out and it just feeling funny. But it's fine. I'll deal with it later. And so then I wake up. I have to leave at four in the morning or something for my test.

[00:41:16] It's super hour or two away and you have to be a certain place.

[00:41:19] Yeah, super early can't be late. Paid for it had to be there. It's this five hour test on your feet doing things. So I'm freaking out and I'm on my way there and my car's just being weird

[00:41:31] From the start I'm getting. I feel weird talking about it

[00:41:33] And then it gets to a point where they won't even accelerate. I can't go.

[00:41:36] That's when you called me.

[00:41:36] Yeah. Can't go more than fifty five sixty on this one.

[00:41:39] It was like 5:00 in the morning and you call and I remember you were saying what I do, what I do, and then I could just keep going.

[00:41:44] Yeah, just keep going. You told me, you're like, just get there. Like, just get there

[00:41:47] Because part of me and then pull over and see. But no go. Just go.

[00:41:50] Yeah, yeah, just go. And I don't know if I'm going to make it. I don't know what's going on. I don't know the car's shaking. And then I finally, I'm pulling up around the corner. I get off the exit. Luckily, the place is right off the casino.

[00:42:02] Yeah, casino hotel right off the exit.

[00:42:04] And and I've been praying the whole time. Just get me there. Literally, I get there off the exit. My car just stop. Just shuts down, start smoking and I glide into the parking lot,

[00:42:16] But still far away from parking so

[00:42:18] Far away. But I glide in their car smoking. I'm yelling at you. I'm losing my mind. And what do I do? Like five minutes to be inside

[00:42:24] Told you that they would lock the doors?

[00:42:25] Literally. They literally lock the door. So I'm losing my mind. And then

[00:42:29] You just leave the

[00:42:30] Car. I'm being so mean to you. Like, I'm

[00:42:32] Definitely not for it

[00:42:34] And I have this big tub I have to carry with me right the door. Super, far away. I'm freaking out. Then this lady comes up to me and she says, What's going on? I don't know. I'm like freaking out. And anyways, some miracle security guy comes, we'll deal with your car. I get in the security car. He drives me up. I run in the building. I'm carrying my box. I don't even know where I'm going. I pull up. I walk in the guy at the at the door. He's ten more seconds and I was going to lock the door literally. So I'm cool. Thanks. Like, that's the last thing. I don't want my phone. I don't have my keys. I don't know anything, and I have to take this test. It's like super is, so I'm filled with anxiety. My heart's racing. I'm sweaty, I'm gross. I just it's 6:00 in the morning, but like, it's so early. I'm like dying and then take my test. Go out there. I've no idea where my phone is. No idea where my keys are. Nothing.

[00:43:17] Yeah, so meanwhile, from my angle, so it was so funny. And I think there's a cool thing for parents to hear where, yeah, you're saying now you're yelling at me, all that stuff, but I get it because you were freaking out and it was such a big thing. But but then it was so funny to hear from my angle as soon as the lady came up and the security guards and stuff, you're like, Hi, oh yeah, if you could help, that'd be great because I'm sitting there like people are coming up. What do they do? What do you like, Mackey? They can help you. They can't. They don't know what's going on. They don't know what I mean. And I loved it because the concept I'm talking about, though, is I often tell parents that that's OK. I mean, it's actually a good thing if you felt safe enough that you could express that to me. And so parents listening to this, the last thing that a parent needs to do is say, Look, I'm trying to help you. You need to calm down, because that would.

[00:44:00] I don't know that would have ruined it like you handled it. So. And just being nice and just listening, even though I was being, that's OK. I was being a jerk. That's all right. And you were just saying so then.

[00:44:10] So then you get into the test. And it's funny because for most of the day, I'm checking find my phone or whatever. And yeah, it's the phone's not exactly where you were taking the test. And then then I'm calling friends in Rexburg. I'm calling a friend of mine who owns like a big company and. And so by the time you got out, then you had these texts when you did get your phone. And I think one of my friends

[00:44:32] Was, You tell me, Yeah, your friend is on his way to pick me up.

[00:44:34] Yeah, did. Yeah, but she didn't really want Ben.

[00:44:37] Well, I had no idea. Yeah, I was two hours away and so I was OK. And then you had someone coming to get

[00:44:43] Me at the car and a lot of

[00:44:45] Time. Yeah, it was

[00:44:47] And Mackey passed.

[00:44:48] I did pass. I just

[00:44:50] Look at that doing hard things, continuing to move forward and then just making the most of that situation and

[00:44:56] Just be present like I be prepared for things and then be present because I had studied enough and gone over it enough that it was almost muscle

[00:45:01] Memory. Yeah, exactly.

[00:45:03] But yeah, then just dialing in and being like. Those things are out of my control, I can't do anything about that, I need to just be here, do this right now, which is really hard.

[00:45:10] It is not easy to do that. No, and especially with that kind of circumstance. And then so now let's let's fast forward to you graduate. You come home for a little bit and then you were looking at all right, what do I do next? And you were looking at, do I go back to Idaho because I know people there? Do I go to Utah because you've got a cousin there and you guys are looking at maybe rooming together? Do you try to get something here in California?

[00:45:32] I had no idea.

[00:45:33] Yeah, yeah. Did that start to feel? I would say, did that start to feel overwhelming or

[00:45:37] Yeah, because it was scary, too, because that was the moment where I then had to start a career. I'm starting a full on career, and so I felt like I had to do the right thing. Yeah, but I didn't know what the right thing was, and I didn't know it was really scary.

[00:45:52] And I bet. And so this is where I want to keep throwing good old therapy principles in there because you heard about this opportunity, I forget who even told you about the opportunity with Meg in

[00:46:01] Utah, the hairstylist I went to in high school. Ah, I went with mom. Yeah, to her hair

[00:46:06] Appointment, she had her out Caitlyn, Yeah, yeah. Right? So then she yeah. So she tells you this opportunity, and I remember

[00:46:13] Asking for her advice like on, you know, what do I do? You went through her school. You have a good successful career now. What do I do? And she was telling me how she got started and that she she was like, I wish that I had done this. I wish I gone to assisted somebody, which I didn't even know. That was a thing, and I didn't know you could get paid to assist. Yeah, in hair. So I was, Oh, I'm intrigued because I was like, I want to be ready. I want to be. I want to jump in and I want to be able to succeed and know what I'm doing. And I was assisting would be perfect. And she happened to know somebody or know of somebody in Utah who had a really good assisting program. So, OK, so I like followed that

[00:46:48] Person, right? And I love I get it to the dad therapist, whatever. Because then there were still those. Ok, that would be amazing. But then here come the yeah. But yeah,

[00:46:57] But yeah, and that's all it was about

[00:46:59] First, like it was. Yeah, but I don't even know what I would say. I don't even know if that's what I want to do. I don't know. I don't know.

[00:47:04] I want to go to Utah. I don't know if I can. I don't even know if it would work, and then I could get my license. Like there was just all these other things. And it was easy to lean into those things and just be like, Well, maybe I'll just stay home. And you know, and

[00:47:14] And we were, Boy, I'm telling you, acceptance doesn't mean apathy. We were saying, Hey, Mac, yeah, if you want to, but what would what would that look like?

[00:47:21] You know, you know, yeah, you just stare at your ceiling all day again. Are we going to start that?

[00:47:25] Never said that, for the record. But.

[00:47:27] And so I finally just OK. No harm will come from just messaging this.

[00:47:30] I just want to say, say that again, because right, nothing will. Nothing negative will come from just continuing to move forward. Yeah, you can always say no, or they may say no.

[00:47:39] And that was I think it was just accepting the fact that there might be some rejection, but that that wouldn't be the end of the world didn't mean anything. It wasn't anything to take personally. So I had to mentally prepare myself there and get that in my head and then decide I'm just going to reach out. Worst things you can do is say, No, I'm not looking, and then I'll reassess and I'll try to figure something out. And then it was just one of those things where she got right back to me. You did face time interviews. Suddenly, I have a job, but

[00:48:06] I love what she did. Talking about I want this isn't why you're on here, but I want everyone in the world to go find your salon and come see you because I obviously you're my daughter and I want them to come get their hair done by you. But what I thought was really cool was, you were saying to me, Hey, have you heard of the what was like the Innegram and have you heard of this? Have you heard of that and maybe put you through the paces from a

[00:48:26] Love language test? Yeah. Like just because her she is this whole thing where she's you can't be your best self if you don't know yourself like that whole thing. And it's so true because if you don't know how you function, how are you supposed to do anything? Yeah. And then if you're if the people you're working with don't know how you function, how are you supposed to run something together? How are you supposed to be successful? So she knows everything about me personality wise, like she knows

[00:48:51] A lot about yourself, too, because you were coming home and saying, Yeah, have you heard of these things? And that's where I love the fact that you can. Sometimes it literally does take somebody else to bring these things up because as a parent, I mean, I was screaming inside of. Yeah, we've talked about these things, but you know, no, no,

[00:49:06] No, no. And yeah, so it forced me to then understand myself a little bit better. And then it just helps. I think every employer in the world should do it because then you just know how to communicate. And you know, Meg knows. How to talk to me about things and how to confront me about things or how to deal with things without shutting me down or breaking me. So it's just it's really good.

[00:49:27] So then and then there were other things that were, I mean, I remember and this is again, it's still funny now what you said earlier. It was really hard to try to find a place for a while. But now you're in a place and I and I don't. Yeah, but we kept moving forward and there were a lot of these times where it felt like it's not going to work. Can't find a place or license.

[00:49:42] You're going to get everything was just stressful. And then all of a sudden they have this job. And I had a couple of weeks really to figure it out and get myself to Utah. So it was intense and it was scary, but we just kept doing. It was one thing. It was going to be me to see that whole thing. Yes, OK, just do this and then we'll do this. And then, you know, and it's going to be fine.

[00:50:01] But what if eight steps down? This doesn't work? I know, right? But what's in front of us?

[00:50:06] So we kept doing that whole thing. And then again, just telling myself, OK, a couple of months from now, somehow I'm going to be in Utah and I'm going to be at my job and everything's going to be fine and it's not going to matter. That's I always that's that's why I like everything. I like it. So I just did that whole thing. And then it's OK. Suddenly, this apartment looks promising and then it works. And then we get it. And then I have a job and I have a day that I'm going there and my license finally comes through. Everything just fell into place. And here we are, and here we are. Been there for a couple of months. Yeah, working, taking clients and loving it. Loving it.

[00:50:38] And do you feel do you still feel confident you've learned some crazy advanced stuff around extensions and things like that, right? Are those things that you didn't know that you would already be learning?

[00:50:47] Yeah, yeah. My boss, I mean, she wants me to be successful, which is really nice. Yeah. So she just we just got right into to think I just it was, OK, you're here. You're going to work. We're going to learn. It's all going to be good. And yes,

[00:50:57] It's moved to a new brand new

[00:50:59] Building, brand new building

[00:51:00] Where you OK now for real? Because one of my top ten is one of my top 10 metro areas is the Salt Lake Valley Pro Bowl.

[00:51:07] That's right in South Jordan, right off Redwood Road. If anyone's in Utah, they know exactly

[00:51:11] What that is. Yeah. Name the place

[00:51:13] Is. It's called ivory salon and suites.

[00:51:15] Ok? And I'll have links in the show notes. But your Instagram here is beauty by Mac, beauty by MacKie and McKee.

[00:51:23] Yeah. Has all the links there. All the

[00:51:25] Things you can literally go sign up and you can do

[00:51:28] Their stuff. You can damn me you can whatever. Yeah, I'm there. I'm working.

[00:51:32] And then so before we wrap things up too, then that concept of we've joked a little bit back east. So I love this too. You surprised us. You came home for the weekend and I just I love those things and I should have known when I walked in Friday. Then mom was sitting there with her phone on me and. And then you jumped out and surprise me. I love that stuff. That's so fun, right? Yeah. But so Mackie came home, and that's why we're recording right now. But we also talked a little bit about it is still, is it still weird to think this is I'm an adult, I'm an adult teen.

[00:52:01] It's really scary and I feel like I don't know. You don't hear a whole lot about being an adult when you're not an adult, you know? Yeah. And then all of a sudden you're an adult and everything's expensive and hard and

[00:52:12] And you got to just keep doing.

[00:52:13] It kind of sucks, but it's kind of fun and it's like, Yeah, and that's we're talking about that. You have to keep doing it. And that's really scary. And you were telling me some good stuff there where I was telling you, I kind of start to freak out sometimes where I go, this is my life. Now I have to show up to work or I can't function. I can't live, I can't OK.

[00:52:31] I'm like, Yeah, no, we're not about to wrap this up because what we were talking about was it kind of goes along to

[00:52:36] Really daunting to think this is this is the rest of my life. Yeah, which I think everyone at some point or another has those thoughts. And it's like just the the way life works and the way you need money and you need to. I don't know. It just it's scary.

[00:52:49] It was I was telling Becky that it really does at times, and I can be probably a little bit therapist, annoying and reframing things. But it really does. We'll people will feel oftentimes like, Yeah, it's going to suck, but what are you going to do? And sometimes I reframe it to try to say there's a book called The Road Less Traveled, where the guy says life is difficult, and once we accept it, it's difficult. Then the fact that it's difficult no longer matters. And now we're not arguing. I can't believe it's so difficult. Or why is it difficult or it's more difficult for me than other people. And and those are the things that get us bogged down in the we could worry and think about those things all day. But once we accept it, yeah, it's going to be pretty difficult. But what are we going to do? And then you start turning toward things that really matter to you? And then and then the more you do that, the more you raise your emotional baseline, the more you feel a sense of purpose and the more of those up up days you're going to have. And on the down days, you still feel like that you have a direction or a sense of purpose. But I think it's pretty cool. But then I also think

[00:53:41] I'm figuring that

[00:53:42] Well, and that's what I'm still trying. I mean, I feel like that becomes what you end up having to do for the rest of your life, right? But that sounds daunting saying that. But what I was telling you about is that when we go back to your senior year and go back to what you felt was an Option B and going to school, and I was telling Mackey, Yeah, I went 10 years in a career that I did not really enjoy, but I didn't even know how much I didn't enjoy it until I found the thing that I did enjoy. So that's where I feel like you were

[00:54:08] Just plugging away.

[00:54:08] Yeah, yeah. But now and I like what you're saying, I mean, yeah, there's still days and clients and things like that that I maybe not is excited about. But overall, I love what I do, which then sure helps which. Do you kind of found

[00:54:20] That, yeah. Yeah, I think,

[00:54:22] Yeah, well, right, because this might be you may go however long on this and then the fact that you did that will will give you the confidence to then say, OK, now I want to pivot it slightly or whatever I want to do.

[00:54:34] Yeah, I like what I'm doing. I'm happy to be doing it. She's crazy. It's crazy to have that sense of purpose and this life changing. It is. And to feel like, OK, even though I don't know all the other things in life is still hard and all but have thing that I'm OK. I'm doing this and I like it, and it's going to be OK and I can be successful if I want to be successful.

[00:54:53] And we were even talking about Your boss is doing an amazing job with her studio and setting up things and promoting everybody. And but we were even talking about everybody's different there, too. I think we were saying, you may not be the person who wants to have their own place. You may want to be a person that has a there, rent their chair within the place. Or you might want. I mean, you can do kind

[00:55:11] Of kinds of options.

[00:55:12] Yeah, based on what you enjoy or what makes it tick.

[00:55:16] Literally, yeah. So I'll figure that out eventually.

[00:55:18] You need to know right now. No, not at all. For anybody that is watching, we'll probably throw up. It's not the best camera angle, but check out your hands. So what are the things you what are the things you didn't anticipate about this work that

[00:55:28] Always have hair dye on them? Yeah, they always look really gross. Yeah, they're there. It's pretty bad right now and it won't come off.

[00:55:36] It will. The other thing I think was funny was you. I remember the first time you told me that you get little cuts from here or something like that. Your hair slivers, which sounds like a great name for an alternative band. Like I would go see, I would see the hair slivers like they opened up. They would probably open up for a bigger band.

[00:55:50] Yeah, no, for sure, right?

[00:55:52] Yeah. So here's the update Do you still get them? Do they hurt?

[00:55:55] It's more. That's more like a short haircut type thing. Typically, more men, which I don't do. I don't really cut guy here anymore unless it's like my cousins.

[00:56:05] If a guy came to your salon, though, and said I would like a fancy haircut, would you say, yes?

[00:56:10] My boss is a genius and her place is right next to a barbershop. Ok, so I don't have

[00:56:17] To know that's a good. That's good. I don't have to do that. That's good. What do you like doing the most of so far?

[00:56:22] I just anything color related. I've always liked that, but I really like extensions, which I'm surprised I didn't. Yeah, because it's tedious and it's a lot of work, but it's really

[00:56:32] These are game changers for people, right? Oh yeah, yeah. Oh, that's so cool.

[00:56:36] So that's been really fun.

[00:56:37] Yeah. So people can go find you and go say hi and literally book with you and any parting words of advice. Now for the here comes deep therapeutics therapeutics. That's not a word therapeutic person. So talking to that 16 17 year old Mackey, what do you what do you tell her so many things?

[00:56:58] No, but I feel like based off of the career stuff. Yeah. Do what you want to do. Yeah. I just so I know that it comes to a point where you need to be providing for yourself or your family, whatever it is, but you can't do those things if you're not somewhat happy and if you're not OK, so you need to do the things that you want to do and figure it out that way. And don't don't be scared of what other people are going to

[00:57:23] Think that's

[00:57:24] So big is that I let that get to me so bad and just it doesn't matter. It's you, and your life.

[00:57:29] It's so hard. I mean, that's the part where I feel like I still deal with that at times, you know? I mean, that's

[00:57:34] It's you and it's what you're going to be spending all your time doing. So you need to pick what you can be passionate about and what makes you feel that purpose and all of those things, which that's a whole other matter that could go

[00:57:45] Hours on that. And I have, yeah. Yeah.

[00:57:48] But then to a little 16 year old Mackie, I feel like it is just that. It's a combination of the A to B, B to C type thing or focus on the things that you can deal with right then and there in that moment, because you don't have control over all the other things and then understand the part where. Now, always using words, OK, a year from now, a year from now, is this thing really going to matter or is it going to be this this big of a deal? Whatever I do that all the time, it's calm down, it's OK. It's fine, everything's going to be fine. It's not that big of a deal. Feel the feelings, but it's OK. It's not that big of a deal. It's going to be fine. I don't know. Just know that there is hope. Even one doesn't feel like it. Yeah, it's all like it is there and it does. It comes and goes feelings wise, but it is there which I feel like I didn't know that. Yeah. And then I think the biggest thing is just. Help is there. Accept it, accept it, because I think that was I didn't want to. And it's good. I didn't want to lean into that and I didn't want to admit that I had anything wrong. Like mentally, I didn't want to admit that I was sad. I didn't want to, like, make it real. So I pushed away all the help, and I was just like, No.

[00:58:53] As a therapist, we suggested therapy. What were your thoughts?

[00:58:58] He it.

[00:58:58] Absolutely. The moment I want it.

[00:59:00] But then I wanted it so bad. I just it was just the I didn't find the right person for me. Like, I didn't find somebody that I could really click with. Yeah, and then I gave up.

[00:59:09] I know, right? And that's why I felt bad, because that we would say, OK, well, we can find somebody else. But at that point, was it.

[00:59:14] I just felt defeated, and I again, I felt like there was no hope. There was no motivation. I didn't feel purpose. I was just like, Why? I'm not going to go? Why does it matter? I don't want to deal with it. And so I pushed that away. But no, just do the things, do the little things. I went on medication like I did things and

[00:59:32] Do all the

[00:59:33] Things, do all the things because the things help. They really do.

[00:59:36] Maybe there's the title, do all the things because

[00:59:38] They will help all the things and things help.

[00:59:40] Mackie, thank you so much. This was really cool. I wanted to talk about this one all the time and go find Mackie and go get your hair cut by her because she's really good. Thank you. Yeah. Take us out with a whistle. You know, Wendy, Wendy Wendy is my wife and say for those listening, he struggle whistling. That's not bad.

[01:00:03] Then he goes, Yeah, that's so embarrassing.

[01:00:05] All right. Mckinley Overbay, thank you so much. We will see you the next time I see you. Well, I'll see you as soon as I hit. But then it would be the fifth time. That's crazy. I think you get a jacket.

[01:00:14] Oh, you're already getting that jacket? I'll tell you another one. Ok, we'll do that. Ok, love you, man. By everybody.

[01:00:21] Compressed emotions flying past our heads and out the other end, the pressures of the daily grind. It's wonderful. And plastic waste and rubber ghost are floating past the midnight hour. They push aside the things that matter most wonderful. May 12. News of discount price. A million opportunity, the chance is yours to

[01:01:28] Take or lose, it's one.

[01:01:33] Funds are always on the back burner until the opportune time always pushed

[01:01:40] To go further, shut up. It goes. And some of. And. To be.

[01:02:21] I've developed this does don't explode a lot of understanding through to heal the legs and hearts, you broke the pain. Oh, the ship girls just

[01:02:34] Might implode my mental strength and cause I'm trying hard to shut

[01:02:41] Them out.

[01:02:45] The Manchester bomb is dropped due to a. You. To take. Screen. Fancie's. It drowns dreams.

If you want to know what you need to do with your life, ask somebody close to you. Chances are they'll immediately have an opinion. But when they do share what they think YOU need to do with YOUR life, why do you immediately think of doing the opposite? Better yet, why can they come up with an answer and direction for YOUR life easier than YOU can...because it's YOUR life!


Tony starts with Fowler's Stages of Faith, applying them to life in general, touches the bases on attachment, values, and then slides into home in a made-up land where you can be your value-based, unique, one-of-a-kind version of you...the land tentatively called "Differentiation-ville!"


Sign up today to be the first to know when the next round of The Magnetic Marriage Course will launch http://tonyoverbay.com/magnetic

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

[00:00:15] Come on in. Take a seat couch.

[00:00:21] Hey, everybody, welcome to episode two hundred and eighty one of the virtual couch, and today I feel like I'm just going to riff a little bit because I have had something that has been on my mind. I already feel like I'm sounding very dramatic. I'm very, very dramatic. There's something that's been on my mind the last few weeks, and I'm going to go probably in a couple of different directions. I'll try to stay somewhat on topic, but I have had an opportunity to do a fair amount of training over the last few years of my career. And recently, I've been able to train a fair amount of ecclesiastical leaders, so leaders for religious congregations. And it's been a pretty cool process, because a lot of times in the in the context of someone's religious experience, there is an awful lot of people saying, here's what you need to do, here's how you do it and here's what you need to do. And a lot of this stems from the work that I've done with James Fowler stages of faith. And I even think it might not be a bad idea to just run over those real quick, because I feel like the stages of faith also apply to our stages of life. And I did a podcast a long time ago about that. And if you stay with me here, I really feel like I'm going to make a point, but let me do a little bit of set up first.

[00:01:32] So Fouler Stages of faith is a concept where psychologists stand. And religious pastor James Fowler back in, I believe the 80s, spent over a decade researching all encompassing belief systems. So there were a lot of different views or a lot of different religious groups that he studied. And he, in essence, broke down these stages of faith that went along with, I think it was Piaget and Colberg stages of development or stages of life and in stage one, stage one faith. This is typically preschool children. And this is where fantasy and reality gets mixed together. But but our ideas about God are formed by our parents. So it's also a project of faith. So I always look at this as the kids are playing on the ground and their parent comes in and says, hey, kids, there's a God. And the kid says, OK, great. And they continue to play with their toys. And this stage, too, that they often move on to. And this might be from three to 12 or that sort of timeframe is essentially they call it mythic and literal. And so this is where children become school age and they start to understand the world in more logical ways. But they generally accept the stories told to them by their faith community, but they tend to understand them in very literal ways. And what this can look like is I often say this is where then kids are being told about the tooth fairy, the Easter Bunny, Batman and Superman, but also the concept of Jesus or God or and so all of these things seem very mythic and very, very literal.

[00:03:07] And so a lot of people then move on to this stage three. And right now we're talking about it in a religious context. But I would love for you to think of it in terms of even life in general, that when we move up into this stage, three faiths, this is where people start to move on as teenagers and their life is and has grown to include several different social circles. And so they start to want to put these all together. And when that happens, a person will typically adopt some sort of what Balr calls an all encompassing belief system. And this is where I like to say that you can think of this concept of a box, and this isn't a negative thing at all. But all of your beliefs and all of the things that you are told that this is what you believe, this is where this will lead to the things that you should be doing. All of those things fit in this nice, tidy box. And so at this stage, people tend to have a hard time seeing outside of their box because they're starting to really get the vibe or or they're interacting with a lot of people within their box and the stories or leadership or that sort of thing.

[00:04:07] I thought those are groups that represent one's beliefs. And a lot of people remain in this stage three faith stage, three box, or even take a look at that stage in life for the rest of their entire life. And what that can mean is that they've been told, whether it's by their parents or grandparents or community or church group or any of those, that this is not only what you believe spiritually, but this is what you believe socially, and this is what you need to do with the rest of your life. So people can operate out of this stage three box, the stage three of faith or the stage three of life. But while that can work for a lot of people, for so many others, as they start to just experience life, they start to what I like to say, bump into the sides of the box. They start to look outside of the box, peek up over the box. And this can happen in so many different ways. And the religious context that can happen when people think life happens or if they've all of a sudden a spouse cheats on them. If they have a kid that comes out as gay or any LGBTQ. Or if they have someone pass away or if they have serious health issues, or if somebody in their family does something that is so devastating to them and it has a big impact on these things in life can happen.

[00:05:19] And all the. What used to make sense in this box may not make as much sense, and because of the way that we grow up and we grow up with our own abandonment kind of attachment issues, the way that we grow up as egocentric kids, because that's what we all start out, is that everything revolves around us, that then all the sudden we feel like if things are not going right in our lives, it must be me. But I must be doing something wrong and must be unlovable and must be broken. But so as things start to get a little bit more messy or there are a lot more variables that come into play, sometimes we start to feel like what's wrong with me inside of this box, whether that's a religious box or whether it's just a life box, or if somebody if we go back over to this life concept of stage three, that people may start to realize, man, I don't want to pursue the career that my parents have always told me that I needed to pursue. I don't want to stay with the family business or I don't want to live in the area or I want to marry someone that is completely different than somebody that has been suggested that this is this is somebody who I think you would like to marry.

[00:06:26] And so you can start to see that there are a lot of things that start to have people feel like they are not doing something right. Within this stage three box, whether it's stage three, again, religion or stage three of life, but the authority is placed in individuals or groups that represent one's beliefs. That's the the layout of stage three. Or if you put that in a non-religious context, the authority is placed in groups or individuals that in essence, represent one's life. This is what we do. This is where we live. This is who we marry. These are the shows we like. This is a religious affiliation. This is our political affiliation. So when people start to have their own experiences, because guess what? They're human and they are each one of us is the only version of us that's ever walked the face of the earth. So we have our own. And I go to this all the time. But our own nature and nurture and birth order and abandonment. Darney hopes, dreams, fears, rejection. Each one of us is a product of all of those experiences that are unique to you. So it's no wonder that we will run into the sides of this box, this stage three of our faith, or the stage three of our life. But where that leads us typically is Fowler lays out is stage four.

[00:07:41] He says this is a tough stage often begun in young adulthood when people start singing outside of the box and realizing that there are other boxes. And so oftentimes they'll critically examine their beliefs on their own and become disillusioned with their former faith. And again, if we look at this as either a faith concept or a life concept, when people start to have a lot of their own experiences, they get a lot of their own feels and a lot of their own things, then they may look critically at that stage, three box of their faith or that stage three box of their life, simply because they are having their own experience. But it's Fowler talks about there. Is that typically or ironically, stage three people often feel like stage four people have become backsliders when in reality they feel like they are finally starting to move forward. And then where I think it's fascinating as there becomes a little bit of a battle in this stage three versus stage four, whether it's in a faith community or even whether it's in a life community, when somebody finally feels a little bit more empowered in stage four. They often look at stage three and say, hey, I got to go be me. I got to do the things that make me happy. But the people in stage three will often feel like, no, no, no, you can't. You're doing the wrong things or reading the wrong things.

[00:08:53] You don't really want to go pursue that career. You don't really want to marry that person. You don't really want to move to that place or go to that. But there's a couple of things that are fascinating. And this is part of what I just wanted to talk about today is I've done so many various podcasts that talk about all of these concepts, because in this one, I talk often about you can have in adult relationships, you can have, you know, love or you can have control. But I really believe that they both don't go together. So here's where sometimes people in that stage three experience are. And bless their heart, they want to control those people that are starting to pull away from that stage of life or that stage three of faith. And this is where I start talking about my four pillars of a connected conversation, that the pillar one is assume good intentions. So sometimes it's hard. But when you step back and see that stage, three percent say, no, don't don't do that. Don't read that. You're not going to be happy that they're coming from a place of love, but they maybe are using the wrong tools. And so when they're telling people in stage four of life or of faith that they're doing something wrong, we got a couple of things happen, multiple things happening. Number one, we got good old psychological reactions or that instant negative reaction of telling somebody what to do.

[00:10:10] We don't like it until your brain don't think a chocolate cake. It probably just thought a chocolate cake right now. So tell somebody that they shouldn't be reading the things that they are reading or shouldn't be watching the shows they're watching or shouldn't be hanging. Out with the friends they're hanging out with. I shouldn't be dating the person that they're dating. And already we've got that psychological reactance. But we have to look at this on my four pillars of a connected conversation. The assuming of good intentions on both sides. The person that's saying, hey, I wouldn't do that. Sometimes it's hard for the person in that stage for of life or stage for faith to view their stage. Three person is coming with good intentions. And it's really hard for the stage three person to look over at the stage for a person and say that I am assuming good intentions of even what they are doing, what you know, who they are becoming. And so here comes that desire to control. And so I work so many I work with so many people that come to me in this stage four, whether it's stage four of faith. And that's where they almost what they do. Oftentimes, they are just coming into my office saying, man, just tell me to read a certain scripture or a talk or something and watch me walk out of here, because that's what people have done.

[00:11:18] People in that stage three box have said so many times. Hey, you need to double down on your prayers or your scripture reading, which is most likely something that person has done in stage three for who knows how long, which has caused them to start to feel like what's wrong with me. And again, nothing is wrong with them. They're human. But I work with so many people to get there in that stage four. And that's why I love being able to say, tell me more. Tell me about that. That sounds hard. Here comes empathy. And a lot of times they may talk about challenges or struggles they've had with their faith community or things that they've learned about their particular faith that they no longer agree with. And that's where you want to be a safe place for that person to be able to express themselves. When I go back to what I started with today, I did a training recently with a group of religious leaders. And one of them, we were talking about these four pillars of a connected conversation, because I was saying that in order for somebody to start having a conversation around helping someone through their their faith journey, that we first need to be able to listen. Because if we don't know how to listen and have empathy, then there is no way that someone is going to come to you and want help with anything.

[00:12:26] So I started this training by talking about my four pillars of a connected conversation. I said, when someone comes into your office, that's the assumption of good intentions. They're not trying to hurt you. And pillar two is you can't put out the message that you are that the other person is wrong or that you don't agree with them, even if you feel they're wrong or even if you don't agree with them. Because at any point when you violate one of these pillars, the conversation is going to go south. It's going to shut down, it's going to devolve, and we're going to get into this psychological reactance mode. We're going to get into the tit for tat. Somebody is going to just withdraw and the conversation will stop. So somebody comes into their office, the ecclesiastical leader's office, and says, I'm really struggling with my faith, the assumption of good intentions, or they say that I'm really straight. I don't believe this particular thing anymore, that the assumption of good intentions check pillar two, you can't tell miled don't think that or you shouldn't think that or well, you're wrong, because, again, that person is going to now be on the defensive. They're going to feel unheard and certainly unseen. And then that conversation is going to shut down. Pillar three, we can ask questions, ask questions before making comments.

[00:13:33] Tell me more about that. Tell me why you feel that way. Tell me what your struggles and your challenges are. And then that person listening a pillar for is they need to stay present. They can't just say, well, looks like you're going to do whatever the heck you want to do. So good luck on that, because oftentimes that pillar for we go and do what I just referred to as a victim mentality and then the person that's speaking to then come rescue us and say, no, you know what, you're right. I don't even know what I'm talking about. So we have to be able to have the conversation. We have people to have this framework to be able to have and have a difficult conversation. So I get the people in my office, OK, this is where I was going with that story. So there's one ecclesiastical leader after we laid out the four pillars, and I can understand what they were saying and they said, let me get this straight or let me check in that that obviously, if we're going to just listen to somebody for an hour, then we're just going to feel like we're condoning their bad behavior. And here's what started this whole desire to have this this podcast episode today. And I really hope that it's going to make sense. I appreciated what this person was asking me, this religious leader, but I felt like I had to just go back into this particular mindset that I had worked so hard to move away from, to be able to even engage or address that question, because here's why.

[00:14:51] The phrase was something like obviously and obviously is a I call it a reactance hook. When somebody says, well, obviously this is what this means or obviously this is what we all know, then even our own brains are thinking that it's not obvious because I may have a different view or I may have a different opinion. So I don't even think I address that when when the person asked me this question, but they said that listening for an hour is condoning their bad behavior. So as I moved back over into this this mindset. Where and I said, OK, first of all, and I thank them for their question, but I said listening for an hour is is absolutely not condoning anything. Listening for an hour's part of the human experience, listening for an hour is going under the premise that to be heard is to be healed. If someone's coming to you and they're saying, hey, I want to talk, then isn't it only natural that the next part of that would be, well, if they would like to talk, I would like to listen. Because if I immediately just start telling them what they need to do now, we're moving back into that. Do you want love or control in the relationship? Because if it's control, then I can already tell you where that's going to go over the long haul.

[00:16:01] If the person even maybe in that moment says, oh, OK, yeah, you're right, but they don't feel heard or they don't feel seen or understood, then they may be just giving you lip service. But that isn't what's going to drive change. So, again, listening for an hour is absolutely not condoning a behavior. And then I even took a little bit exception with the concept of bad behavior. And this one can be a little bit hard to wrap our heads around, but we have to stop judging. We do need to stop judging behavior as good or bad, black or white, all or nothing. Those are cognitive distortions. So I said it's behavior. And it may seem like to you that's bad behavior, but it's behavior. And if you're watching this on my YouTube channel on hold my hand up is I constantly am doing this with clients of helping them reframe when they say, what's wrong with me, I'm thinking this thing. Why do I think this thing? I want to say, no, no, no. We got to reframe it to say, check out what I'm thinking, because I have lots of thoughts. I can have all kinds of thoughts. And so bad behavior, its behavior. And then let's if we can just look at it like, man, check out this behavior that I'm doing.

[00:17:07] We're designed to deal with emotion in concert with another human being. We desperately want to be able to process things with somebody else when we leave things just running around, kicking around in our own brain because of the way our brain is evolved. Our brains evolved from a don't get killed device to basically try to look out and overthink things so that we'll be able to survive that if we just leave our brain to its own devices, it doesn't typically go to the end. And I lived happily ever after. It goes to that. And then eventually everyone leaves me and I die. So when somebody is saying, Chaille, this behavior and that's what we need to look at it as, it's just a behavior. And there are reasons why we do behaviors. Is that addictive behavior? Maybe, but then that one's probably a coping mechanism. That's probably something that somebody has done for a long time that they turn to and they don't feel connected. And my path back recovery program, I talk about this constantly, is that when I'm talking about somebody that's wanting to turn away from pornography, it's turn away from pornography is a coping mechanism because they feel like they have a lot of these voids in their lives. They might not feel connected to their spouse and marriage. And I feel connected in their parenting. They may not feel connected to their health or their faith or their career.

[00:18:16] So they turn to an unhealthy coping mechanism. So if somebody is bringing that into your office as an ecclesiastical leader or to you as a parent, or do you as a friend or to you as a spouse, think tell them thank you. Tell them tell me more. So if you look back into this, it's not obvious that listening is condoning a bad behavior. So I hope you can see that as we start to lay all of that out. We had to do a complete mindshift to be able to really be there and listen empathetically to somebody that might be moving on from this stage. Three feels like life made sense in this little box into the stage for where all of a sudden they don't know who they are. And then when they turn to those people, their community, their family are people that are potentially in the stage three of life. And it works for them. But then to that stage four person, they're frustrated. They feel unheard and unseen and unloved and broken. And what's wrong with them? But the answer is nothing. They're just doing life. So when I have a client in there, this is where I'm hoping to move them into a stage five. This is a stage five version of life or stage five version of faith. And I've had a couple of people bring up and I can appreciate this, where they may take exception because they feel like this is this linear progression.

[00:19:28] But just because numbers go one, two, three, four or five doesn't mean that you are trying to get to the end of that, trying to get to the end, because if somebody is happy where they are, I don't care if it's they're happy in stage two and they're like Lennie of Mice and Men and life is mythic and literal, then that is good for them. If they are finding peace and joy in stage three, then that's great. It doesn't mean that they need to try to tell everybody else what to do. But if you can move on from the stage for a faith or stage four of life, get out of this reactance mode and slip into this stage five, stage five. Fowler says that he says it's rare for people to reach the stage before midlife. This is the point when people begin to realize the limits of logic and they start to accept the paradoxes in life. They begin to see life as more of a mystery so they can return to sacred stories and symbols for this time without being stuck in a theological box. So the significance of that is that. Stage five starts to be this place where you feel like I am the only version of me and that I have been trained so hard to figure out how to let's jump into this religious context again, how to communicate with God, how to communicate with the divine.

[00:20:34] And I've been literally driving myself crazy because I feel like I'm not enough. I feel like everyone is telling me a different answer. I feel like I can find one scripture that says this or one talk that says that, or one leader tells me that this is what I need to do. And maybe my spouse tells me this is another thing I need to do. And sometimes when I go to pray, I don't feel anything. So what's wrong with me? Nothing. You are a going through the human experience and often you're using the wrong tool. Here's where here's the big crescendo of what I wanted to do this episode today. So I go back to a client I've been working with for a while, and they struggle with a tremendous amount of religious anxiety. And so they're in such a good place now. And we were talking before I did this training with this group of ecclesiastical or church leaders, and I just said, hey, I'm going to go start talking to these people. Tell me what to work for you, because this is a person that had religious leaders seeing them and tell them that they weren't good, that they were they didn't get certain things under control, that then they would not be happy and that could affect their family and their posterity and all of that.

[00:21:35] The religious leaders in his life were saying that they didn't know how else to try to motivate this person. When reality, motivation comes through, love, motivation comes through kindness, motivation comes through saying I'm here for you. So this person told me this is the significance. And he and I've been working together for a long time that he went from this insane amount of anxiety around how do I communicate with the divine? How do I communicate with God? And then setting up so many different arbitrary rules and ways to try to communicate. And so if he felt like he had a day or a moment or even an hour, a second, or he felt OK, I think I feel like I'm doing OK or I think I'm communicating with God or connecting with the divine, then how do I continue to replicate that? And so then oftentimes it would be, OK, I need to read longer or I need to pray more. And then if I all of the sudden thought a bad thought, which is human, then I didn't do it right. I'm going to go back and reassess. Maybe I need to start confessing to my ecclesiastical leader. And then so I'm texting him. I'm confessing to my religious leader. And if my religious leader tells me I'm OK. But I still maybe had a bad thought or I didn't do things perfectly, then maybe that's because I didn't confess everything.

[00:22:47] This is called scrupulously, by the way. I've never done a specific episode on it, but it's religious OCD, OCD of religious thought. And it is an anxiety mess because OCD attacks, what is important to you? And so when I'm working with somebody unscrupulously, you're fighting against, as you are even telling them, anything that maybe feels like it goes against their moral code or it goes against their religious beliefs or their scriptures that they read or that talks that they digest, then you may be representing the adversary, Satan, Beelzebub, the father of lies, the pawns, pitchfork, all of that sort of thing. But so this scrupulously causes this person to just overthinking, overthink religiosity, which is something that had been something so important to them. So as I'm talking with this person, he says he has to go from, do I communicate? How do I communicate with the divine to then for a while? And this is easy to talk about in my office, but sometimes people get really scared if I mention this out in the wild. But he had to go to this place where he had to say, OK, I had to accept that I may not communicate with the divine. I worry that there even is a divine. And that might be frightening. Sometimes I say that all of a sudden we're learning to do the trapeze training without the net underneath us. And that can be really, really scary.

[00:24:01] And if you are watching this on my YouTube channel, I'm going to go big with my hands here, because this makes so much sense to me now. So over here is where he's at. And I've got my hands are on the left. So this picture there on the left hand side, that is the place where you're trying to figure out how what are these rules, what are the ways that I communicate with God or what are the ways if I go back to these two stages of life, what are the ways where I just figure out life? Because I've got everybody telling me something different, my parents saying that you should marry this person or you should have this career or I'm seeing this on Instagram or I'm seeing this influencer say this or this product will make me happy or my friend is doing this and maybe I want to do that, too, or I see this guy that I run into and he makes a lot of money. So maybe I should do what he's doing. Or in that religious context, it's I should be reading my scriptures more. I should be praying more. I should do more service. I should be I should be showing any extra skin. I shouldn't be all these things that were just driving us crazy, making up all these rules in order. We're hoping that that will get us closer to God.

[00:24:58] But in reality, it's pushing us further away. Or, we're hoping in life that that's going to give us the answers. But in reality, it's making us more confused because we're doing this all wrong. We really are. So when I get people to this point where they can even accept this fact that they maybe are this this desire for control or this desire to figure things out is actually the very problem. That they are struggling with the most, that they drop the rope, that tug of war with trying to figure these things out. And at this point now I move over here to the right hand side of me. And so now is where whether we're talking in a religious context or we're just talking in a life context, this is where I say that the therapy model, I love acceptance and commitment therapy is in line with the religious teachings as well. So act and this I say act in the gospel in either of these. You are the only unique version of you that's ever walked the face of the earth. Whether that means that you are the child of God and you have divine purpose and heritage, and you've been given a certain set of beliefs or a certain set of talents and blessings, or in this acceptance and commitment therapy model. You are the only version of you with all of your thoughts and feelings and emotions and experiences.

[00:26:12] You can see that we're going to start building from the ground up over here. And as we do that, as you really start to find your sense of purpose, I did an episode a couple of weeks ago about values. And as you start to realize what really matters to me and it's unique to me and we may that's a journey in itself, we may not really have the same idea or a value around service as someone else or even honesty as someone else. And I use that example so often because it's so powerful, where someone grows up in a home where there was absolute chaos and no honesty. They may have a value of just absolute brutal honesty, even to the point where they may offend someone. But if you grew up in a home where you were just brutally raked through the coals with honesty, that honesty was used as a weapon. Well, I'm just being honest then you may not to value honesty in that same way you they value compassion or you may value connection. I give this example a couple of weeks ago. I have this value of curiosity and knowledge. So when I'm starting to feel down instead of trying to go, I don't feel this way. Why do I feel this way? What's wrong with me for feeling this way? I need to change the way I feel. All those are the wrong tools.

[00:27:19] They really are. It's oh, my gosh, I notice that I'm feeling that way. And now let me pull out my phone and turn to my value of curiosity and knowledge and start looking at things around me and finding out fun facts about them and then sharing with others and connecting. So we are all these these we're made up of our own experiences or were our children of God, whichever version of that you want to go with right now. But over here on this, as you're redefining or rebuilding who you are, the more you discover your own unique sense of self and sense of purpose and lean into that and start to just really work with that, the more authentic you can become, the more value based you can become. You're going to raise your emotional baseline and you're going to start to be more confident. And as you're more confident, you're going to start to find yourself around more like minded people. People are going to be driven to you or you're going to be moving toward people that you really feel a connection with. And here's the cool part that is going to be where people start to feel like they, oh, my gosh, this is the connection that I've always wanted with the divine, with God, with people. And so that's why I did this thing where I'm moving from this left side of me over to the right.

[00:28:27] When I go back to this client who was struggling with this religious OCD or this anxiety and trying to just figure all of these variables out that and then realize they're OK, they're a human being with all their own experiences, then they started to feel like maybe I am OK. And lo and behold, what breaks through from the clouds in the sky, a relationship with the divine or a confidence that they didn't feel before, or a lessening of that anxiety, because all of a sudden now they're starting to feel like, oh, my gosh, I think I think I'm starting to understand who I am now. Does that mean that then rainbows, unicorns, pots of gold and live happily ever after? No, but we're on our way because this is where I talked about a few weeks ago, this concept of differentiation. Doing it with my hands again. But picture your hands and together enmeshed. And so we are this enmeshed, codependent person with our spouse, with our church, with our parents, with our community. And so as we start to move toward a interdependent, differentiated feeling my sense of purpose self, as we break away from these these codependent investments, we're going to feel a tremendous amount of invalidation because the people around us go back to the stage Three view are going to say, no, no, no, don't do it. You shouldn't do that. I know what's best for you, even though you've been trying to to work under that under that set of circumstances for how? Well, this is the part where trusting that you're a child of God or trusting that you are the only version of you that's ever walked the face to the earth.

[00:29:59] And as you start to lean into that, you are going to start to feel more of a sense of purpose and confidence. And as you do that and as you learn this concept of differentiation. Now, when that invalidation comes, when somebody tells you, I think you should do this, it's no longer this battle of I, what do I do? I've tried that. It doesn't work. You don't understand me. And then. Feeling, Oh, but I don't want to let this person down. They might not like me before I know it, I'll be abandoned. But over in this other side, this differentiated world, then that's where when people are offering you the things that they think they think you should do, I look at it as if they are offering you now a platter of suggestions. Well, I think you should do this from a differentiated standpoint. It's OK. What I'm starting to really feel my sense of self and purpose, because I'm not trying to do what everybody else is telling me, because I'm not trying to do what everybody else thinks I should do. So I'm starting to try to lean into more of what I believe is right for me.

[00:30:54] But I will gladly take a look at your platter of suggestions. And if you're a safe person, if we've had some nice for pillared conversations and I trust you, then now all of a sudden I can think, OK, I think you might have a point there. I mean, I love when my wife will share with me in a very healthy, safe for pillared, productive way. Hey, I've noticed you've maybe been doing this lately. Tell me more about that. And that's the time where I might be able to say I did not really notice. Let me give you a concrete example. I sometimes give these generic examples and she always says be a little more specific with so many guys I work with. And maybe it's not just a guy thing, but I would realize that my wife stay at home mom four kids growing up. And there were days where my emotional baseline was flying high and I would come home and kids, let's go out to dinner and let's go buy all the things and let's get a toy in the store and let's plan a vacation. And then a couple of days later, I might have paid some bills or something. Maybe we might not have gotten some of this back in myself for days, but maybe we lost a deal or something didn't go right. And so then I come home and if the kids say, hey, dad, so do we go buy the toy and go out to lunch at the vacation, all a sudden I'm saying, geez, guys, come on.

[00:32:02] That's so we can't just do that all the time. You can't just spend all the money and that sort of thing. And so it was my wife at one time said, hey, sometimes we're not quite sure which version of you we're going to get when you walk in the door. That hurt. But I was so grateful because I was starting to find myself, my sense of purpose, starting to build up my emotional baseline. And she was a safe person. And she did that in a very safe, healthy, productive way. So I was able to take a look at her platter of suggestions and say, OK, man, that one hurts. So often, talk about were so afraid of contention that we avoid tension altogether. Tension is really where that growth hits. So I took a look at what she was sharing with me and I thought, man, I think you're on to something here. And that was years ago. Decade plus ago. And to this day, I still have to bring myself back to some awareness of when all of a sudden I'm coming home saying, let's go do all the things that other times where I come home. And I think I don't want to do any of the things we're doing, too many of the things.

[00:32:58] But I have to realize that's something that I need to come to terms with or I need to cope with or I need to get to presents with before I then just blurred that out to the family, because all of a sudden then they're feeling like what's wrong with them? Because sometimes they say, let's go to dinner and dad goes, woo. Sometimes they say, let's go to dinner dad says, bro come on. You can't believe you're saying that. So that's what that differentiation looks like. So when you're over here, there are side this other path. And I have to tell you, I was running this through a lot of clients the last two or three weeks, and I really wanted to name the place before I did this episode, because I wanted to say, as you get over to differentiation land, and I don't think that sounds very exciting place to go. But then over here, this is where you find your sense of self and purpose and your emotional baseline side and differentiation land. That's where you can say, OK, thank you for your opinion. Other people that have had your own experiences, that have not had my experiences, I'd love to process these things with you. But it's ultimately still my journey. And as you become more comfortable with that, then that becomes a place for you. I believe that you can be a bigger presence to be there, to lift up others around you, whether it's in your religious community where people will naturally gravitate to the person they feel like is living their authentic self and has this maybe deeper connection to God.

[00:34:18] And it's not that connection where they're afraid of what they will say because they're ecclesiastical leader may punish them. Just continuing on being a little bit here. There's an episode I did on Leading Saints a few years ago where I talked about in this religious context, again, that I really do feel at my core that when people are taking this the sacrament, the cracker and grape juice or the bread and water at their congregation to renew their covenant with God from baptism or whatever that process is for them, that in some religious organizations, they say, hey, if you haven't been if you haven't done things right, then don't take the bread and water for a couple of weeks. And I was on going to you is two or three years ago saying so I and my differentiated sense of self feel like that is not helpful. And I feel very confident with that. And helping 15, 16, maybe 17 hundred individuals start to put some distance between turning to porn as an unhealthy coping mechanism. Plug for my path back recovery program. Go, go find it, because it's just, gosh, we creating a cool community now. But I.

[00:35:19] Feel like people should have two pieces of bread. They should have a bigger cup of water. I really do, because I want them to have more hope. I want them to feel like there is more of a sense of purpose and self. And so I feel like that is such a big part of who I am as somebody that is in the helping and healing profession. Now, am I telling people who disagree that they're absolutely wrong? No. They can have their experience because that's their experience, because of the things that they've been through. But I can only be authentic. That's all I can do. And the reason I bring this part up is someone was asking me, actually, a lot of people have asked me from time to time. Well, what if then you saying that precludes you from getting a higher calling or higher office in your church? And that's where I go back over here in differentiation land over here. Well, OK. I'm not saying I don't care and I don't care like it's a bad thing way, but it's well, I don't even really I would have to go back over into this other land to then remember the times where I didn't feel like I could be authentic because I was afraid that someone would maybe not give me a new calling or somebody would not want me to be a part of their spiritual team. Where now I know that I am OK.

[00:36:31] I am enough. I am worthy. I am of worth. I am a child of God. I am the only version of me. And I have never felt more of a connection with the divine or with myself or with the people around me than as I have dropped that rope in a tug of war and trying to be the person that other people are telling me that I should probably maybe be sometimes, but sometimes not. And sometimes the rules change to this person that I am. And the more I lean into that, yes, it's going to come with some differentiation. I stand getting more and more people that will email me now and say, well, I disagree and that's OK, 100 percent. But the number of people that email me and say thank you for sharing this experience that I feel is similar to those are tenfold, because we want to be heard. We want to be understood. And so as you find your way over into this differentiation land, doggone it, I should come up with a cooler thing first. Be prepared to feel some of those pangs of invalidation. But it's OK. We need to get you finding out who you are, your sense of self, your sense of purpose into this stage, five of a life where life is more of a mystery and paradox. And now you can return to your faith community or you can return to your your family community without feeling stuck in a theological box or without feeling stuck in a life box, a familial box that you get to be you.

[00:37:54] Even if that version of you is someone that other people don't agree with, because bless their hearts, they aren't you. I have so much more to say on this, but I'm going to wrap it up right now because we're pushing 40 minutes. But thanks for taking the time to listen. I'm the world's worst promoter. I would have said at the beginning of this that my magnetic message course is coming soon. I probably. Stories or whatever. So go to Tony Overbay.com/magnetic if you want to be ready. I think it's launching in the second or third week of September. And my Pathbackrecovery.com first go there. I just launched a new podcast called Waking Up the Narcissism. Please go find and subscribe that. Subscribe to that. There's a trailer out. And my main man, my my guy, Nate Christianson, who's in the office now, just released the first episode of he and his wife's podcast called Working Change. They're talking about secondary emotions. It's amazing. So thank you so much for taking the time. I would love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to shoot them over to me at any point through my website. TonyBay.com and I look forward to maybe doing a part one and a half of this in the not too distant future. All right. Have an amazing day.

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 https://psychwire.com/harris/resources

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

[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 Wired.com. 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 Wired.com 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 Wired.com 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.

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