YOU are truly one-of-a-kind, the only version of YOU that ever walked the face of the earth. And because of that, you truly feel, think and behave the way you do because, well, you're YOU! So how did you get to be you, and how does being you cause you to show up in the world? And why do so many people try and tell you what you feel, think or how you should behave? Tony tackles what it means to be you from the book "Buddha's Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom" by Rick Hanson, Ph.D. https://read.amazon.com/kp/embed?asin=B003TU29WU&preview=newtab&linkCode=kpe&ref_=cm_sw_r_kb_dp_PT0G7S7YMYJMKH9MT3VW&tag=tonyoverbay-20
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[00:00:52] Hey, everybody, welcome to Episode 335 of the Virtual Couch. I am your host, Tony Overbay. I am a licensed marriage and family therapist, certified [00:01:00] mindful habit coach, writer, speaker, husband, father of four ultramarathon runner and creator of The Path Back and online pornography recovery program that is empowering people, helping people move away from unhealthy coping mechanisms and become the person that they always dreamed of being. And my weekly group calls that are a part of that path back community are growing by leaps and bounds. One of my favorite days of the week is a Wednesday afternoon when we can all get together on those path back calls. So if you are interested in learning more, go to Pathbackrecovery.com and you will find a a downloadable e-book that talks about five myths that people fall prey to and trying to turn away from pornography as a coping mechanism once and for all. And I have gotten away from talking about the path back a little bit. I'm talking about it more lately because I'm putting more into it. I'm putting more emotion into it, I'm putting more love into it. I'm putting my heart into it. And man, it's it's good and I really enjoy it. And while we're on the business end of things, I am still recording podcasts [00:02:00] with anonymous couples and doing some four pillars of connected conversation coaching. And the coaching is going amazing. It's so fun to take couples and then have them bring me a couple of things that they're struggling with and then work that into this four pillared framework.
[00:02:16] So if you've never been a part of couples therapy, couples coaching and you're interested and it is absolutely anonymous, we give you a fake names and profiles the whole thing. Then you can reach out to me at info at Tony over eBay.com and someone will contact you and set up a time that we can record and we will work through some of your problems and I'll give you some directions, some guidance. Most of the calls that I've been able to do, the coaching calls, have led to by the end. We say, well, you know, let's follow up. So I think we're going to end up doing maybe a second episode with some people, maybe a third, and I am looking for more couples. So we're starting to stack those up. And if you want to know more about that upcoming podcast, then just go subscribe to the newsletter that I put out far too infrequently. [00:03:00] And you can do that by signing up at Tony over eBay.com. And I think that is all of the business. I'm going to be doing a digital fireside with our Turtle House Productions. That's coming up pretty soon. So I'll talk about that soon. If you're familiar with the work of John, by the way, or Hank Smith, then you will know about our turtle house.
[00:03:20] And so that is coming up soon. And then I think I also mentioned that I'm going to be doing a keynote address at the Utah annual Utah Mental Health Association Conference down in Saint George, Utah, coming up later this year in October. And if you're interested in having come speak or that sort of thing, whether it's virtual or in person, just drop me a line as well. It's nice to see as the world continues to open back up after the pandemic, it's almost as if I'd forgotten that I was starting to do a lot more of the bigger events right before the entire world shut down. So let's get to today's topic. I'm giddy. I hope you can tell because we're going to talk today about what it feels like to be you. We're going to dig into the mechanism or mechanics [00:04:00] of memory, in essence, why you think and feel the way that you do. So where this started was I was reading some inspirational quotes. I like quotes. People will bring up quotes and sessions, and so I jot them down on a certain tab in my iPad while I'm in session. And I had a client recently say to me that somebody in her life said these profound words. They said, You deserve to be adored because you're adorable. And I got the chills. I just felt like that was such a beautiful quote and it meant so much to this person.
[00:04:32] And I jokingly said to them, I'm taking that one, I'm taking that one. I don't know if it's going to find its way on a T-shirt or what's going to happen with it. But I just felt like it was a really neat quote. I shared it with somebody. I think it was probably even later that same day, and they did not get giddy and did not want to know where they could buy that on a t shirt. And so I followed up a little bit with it and they felt like they wish that someone had said something like that to them. And I got thinking again about, Man, what does it feel like to be you or what does it feel like [00:05:00] to be me? And and then I was stumbling. I was reading some things, and I stumbled upon another quote. And this is by a 19 year old Australian poet named Aaron Hanson. And it simply says, What if I fall? And then Erin in the poem says, Oh, but my darling, what if you fly? And that one hit me as well. So here we've got a you deserve to be adored because you're adorable. Or then here's just another line of what if I fall? Oh, but my darling, what if you fly? Because I, as somebody myself who changed careers, put myself out there with the podcast book, that sort of thing, that man I had think of thinking, What if I fail in speaking? But I've thought so often, what if I fall? That imposter syndrome is there on a daily basis.
[00:05:46] I'm putting this podcast out a day or two past when I normally like to because I struggled with some of the notes and. Putting things together because I feel like even 300 and whatever I said at the beginning is throwing in 35 episodes in. There's still a fear at times [00:06:00] of what if everybody figures it out? What if they decide and this guy actually does not know what he's talking about? But what if you fly? What if you can change lives? What if you can figure out the way to be the best version of yourself? Then is it worth the effort or. While we're on this note from the Marianne Williamson poem that I so love our deepest fear, and I've edited out a few parts here. But she says you're playing small, does not serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine. And here's a did a bit of editing. But then she goes on to say, it's not just in some of us, it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. And as we're liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. And so that quote alone is something I think of almost on a daily basis, because it does take a lot to put yourself out there.
[00:06:59] And there [00:07:00] isn't anything enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. But if you are around insecure people, man, they for sure will put you down and you'll hear the. Well, who do you think you are to put yourself out there? Well, who are you? And in Marianne Williamson's poem, she says, You're a child of God, and you've got this light in you that you're born with, and it's your job to put that out to the world. So when I hear that Marianne Williamson poem, it just pumps me up as it does with this. What if I fall? Oh, but, my darling, what if you fly or you deserve to be adored because you're adorable? But yet I know that for some people they hear these quotes and they think that's ridiculous, or I disagree. And so it got me again thinking about today's theme, which is what does it feel like to be you? So I Googled the world's most inspirational quotes and I found several. And it is funny because some of them I'm not a big fan of. Why? Because that's what it feels like to be me. [00:08:00] I'm going to read a couple of these and tell me what you think. Anyone who has ever made anything of importance was disciplined.
[00:08:07] I'm going to take a hard pass on that one. Not I'm not the biggest fan of discipline. That's a really difficult thing for me. And so I like to think of finding myself more in the flow state once I've identified my core values. And now I like to live by my values. But there are other people who discipline is the key to their very existence and how they get things done. So it's not funny just in one of these that is part of this list of the world's most inspirational quotes, where in the past I might have felt like, Oh man, I lack discipline. What's wrong with me? Well, how about we start with nothing? It's where I'm operating from. Or here's another one. If the plan doesn't work, change the plan, but never the goal. Okay. Again, to me, I disagree and I've done a lot talking about acceptance and commitment therapy version of goals where well, is it a socially compliant goal? Is it a goal that you think you are supposed to care about [00:09:00] or do? Because if that's the case, then I would absolutely recommend changing the goal. So again, if I look at the if the plan doesn't work, change the plan but never the goal. Oh, no, we might absolutely need to change the goal if I don't even know what my values are in that goal is not in alignment with my values. But then to some they are so goal driven that then that is going to motivate them.
[00:09:22] Like, like no other quote could motivate. There's someone named Robin Sharma who said Don't live the same year 75 times and call it a life. Okay, I like that one. Why? Because of my own experience. Because I changed careers a decade into my adult life. And when I started even my second career as a therapist, I never anticipated podcasting or speaking as much as I do. I always wanted to write a book, but I certainly didn't think it was going to be a book about pornography recovering from pornography addiction with a person who was an addict. And I get to play the role of the expert. I never thought that never thought it would be a best seller, never thought I would be putting together a podcast where I'm talking about that book. My book was [00:10:00] supposed to be about how to be a cool dad, so I know that things will continue to change. So yeah, I like that quote. Here's another one. It wasn't raining when Noah built the ark. I love it. I often talk about change of when I'm going to say, quote, The waters are calm. But my experience, I have now worked with hundreds if not over 1000 people over the course of my career because the population I work with that are going through various faith transitions, journeys, or even a faith crisis.
[00:10:29] So the story of Noah alone and the Ark can bring up various thoughts or feelings for me based on my lived experiences in working with the clientele that I work with, because I'm talking with somebody about a faith journey or a faith crisis every day, where ten years ago it was maybe once or twice a week. Now it's it's absolutely once or twice a day during my practice, which just by the way, fun fact that there are over 350,000 different described and identified species of beetles alone. So I remember [00:11:00] one person saying, hey, put all those on an ark. So it's just funny to think about what something can mean to someone else. Or again, the theme of the day, what does it feel like to be you? Here's another quote. There is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way. Again, love it. But I even feel like I can start to break that one down. And I'm a big fan of happiness. But. What is your definition of happiness? Is it a feeling of euphoric goodness? Because if that's the case, we'll hit that and then that will disappear. That's the old will. I'll be happy when when I have a certain amount of money, when I have a certain car, when I have a certain physical status. But then we hit those. And are we truly happy? Or does our brain to say what's next? Where in the past I would have said, man, no, it is the way there is.
[00:11:45] That is what that is all that we need to focus on. Now I feel like, okay, how about focusing on living a purpose driven life based on values, your values, your unique individual values, and then absolutely you're going to have some happiness, but you're also going to have some downtimes. But overall, you're going to have this [00:12:00] net positive effect because you're living by your values, Gandhi said. You must be the change you wish to see in the world. All right. I love it. Where in my earlier years I would have passed on that one because I simply felt overwhelmed with being a young father of four or a sole provider. Now I'm an old father of four provider, but with a completely different perspective. So where am I heading? What was your inner dialog as I went through those quotes? Did you disagree? Did you think that I was dumb for liking or not liking certain quotes? Did you disagree with my comments or my thoughts? And if you did, I would expect that no problem, because that is what it feels like to be you and I would be an incredibly egotistical, emotionally immature, narcissistic trait and tendency person if I thought that I knew what it felt like to be you. But yet, why does so many people feel like they can tell somebody else what they don't even understand about themselves or what they don't even realize that they're thinking? So why do [00:13:00] we feel like we can project what we think is the right view of the world onto others? And if for some reason they don't agree that something is wrong with them? Because the truth is, I feel like for most of the people that I'm talking to on a day to day basis were barely hanging on.
[00:13:15] Most of the times when we're trying to figure out what we think or why we think, what we think or what we believe and why. So maybe it's a lot easier for us to put trying to figure out who we are on hold while then we can chime in on what all of those around us need to understand or what they need to know, because apparently I'm the oracle and that I can chime in on everybody else's life experience and therefore tell them what to do, what to think and what to feel. Kind of really does seem silly when I put it that way. And if you're thinking, okay, old man, but you're sitting here telling me what to do in this podcast episode or and the other 300 and however many episodes you've done, I would say no. I'm expressing the things that I feel like are helpful or the things that I've discovered along my journey. And they've changed. [00:14:00] They really have. I used to be a cognitive behavioral therapist for seven, eight years and then switched over to acceptance and commitment therapy.
[00:14:07] And it's been a game changer in my life and in my practice. But I also realize that there are plenty of cognitive behavioral therapists that are amazing therapists, and I can't look at them and say, Oh, but they aren't woke yet. They don't understand acceptance and commitment therapy. They don't know all the peer reviewed data that now shows the efficacy of acceptance and commitment therapy in a variety of these settings. No, they're doing them as I'm doing me. And there are even other therapeutic modalities that I'm learning about more and more that are pretty amazing and help because they help the people that they help based off of those people's experiences and the therapists that really vibe with a different kind of therapeutic modality do so because that's their experience. You know, recently I found myself around somebody who was talking about their pain tolerance and they claim that theirs was so much higher than others, which is somebody who again talks to people daily for a living. It's rare to find somebody who doesn't believe that their pain tolerance [00:15:00] is higher than others. And you can probably guess where I'm going to go with this next. Well, how do you know? How do you know what someone else's pain tolerance is? How do you know what someone else feels pain wise? So in essence, your pain tolerance is yours.
[00:15:14] And my pain tolerance is mine and never shall the two cross paths. Now, I did go on a bit of a tangent this morning before recording, trying to figure out, I assumed, and this is what's fun, I go back to my emotional, more emotionally immature or narcissistic days, and I'm pretty sure right now I would have said, you know, there's some studies out there that show that there's some work being done and trying to understand pain receptors in mice and how they compare. Because in my mind, that makes sense. Well, I gave it a I gave it a goog googled that a little bit this morning. Couldn't really come up with anything that jumped out at me that said, here's how much closer we're getting to letting you compare your pain to others. I don't know what someone else feels, and I don't know if we're going to get to that point in my lifetime. I will say that I found out some really interesting things on [00:16:00] a WebMD article about just pain in general, chronic pain, talking about pain receptors, pain signals. And the only thing that I could find that I thought was pretty fascinating about this. And so if you are someone who has red hair, hang on. Here's a really fun fact. Hair color may reflect pain tolerance in 2009, researchers reported in the Journal of the American Dental Association. It showed that redheads were more sensitive to pain and may need more anesthesia for dental procedures.
[00:16:28] Why redheads in particular? This is according to this WebMD article. Redheads, the researchers say, tend to have a mutation in a gene called Mel caught in one receptor or the MSI one R, which is what helps make their hair red. The MSI one R belongs to a group of receptors that include pain receptors in the brain. So the researcher suggests that a mutation in this particular gene appears to influence sensitivity to pain. Quote, We have different receptors for pain in our body, and those receptors respond differently, whether you're taking aspirin [00:17:00] or acetaminophen, says Stella Serban, MD, and director of acute and chronic inpatient pain service and an assistant professor of anesthesiology at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York. And that's what this doctor told WebMD. So how fascinating is that? Even as we learn about pain tolerance, it might be something that we see that is has to do with hair color. And I truly do believe that if you are human, you've probably wondered what others felt, unless maybe they're going through something incredibly difficult. As I mentioned on here, my daughter Alex and I know I've talked about her often. She was on the podcast a few months ago, literally had the top half of her body separated from her lower half. Her sacrum was crushed and she still carries these large tennent's ten inch bolts in her hips and pelvis and will most likely be dealing with nerve pain for the foreseeable future.
[00:17:49] So that absolutely still breaks my heart. And while I wish I could take her pain, I don't for a second think that my pain tolerance for some reason would be higher because she's continuing to try [00:18:00] and do and just be despite this pain that I can't even imagine as a constant. You know, I remember hearing about the concept of migraine headaches, ophthalmic, migraines, to be specific. And they can. I've had some pretty bad headaches, but do you really need to retreat to a dark room and sleep it off? Until I very clearly had one of the most intense headaches I had ever experienced in my life. And the pressure and pain of it resided somewhere behind my right eyeball. And it felt like it was deep, deep in my brain. And sure enough, the only thing I could do was go into a dark room and sleep it off. So knock on wood or I think this might be particle board of what my desk is made of. I would rather not have one of those moments again any time soon. And I know that people have very fascinating relationships with pain. And my wife maybe won't be a huge fan of me throwing this out there, but she's openly said that she actually enjoyed the birth process because it just made her feel so alive. And I know a lot of that [00:19:00] was even alive in the pain that she felt throughout that experience.
[00:19:04] And when people hear that I've run a lot of races in my day and if I've been asked what it feels like after running 100 miles straight with in the case of this Western states endurance run, which I've had the privilege of doing three different times, I think it has over 40,000 feet of combined uphill and downhill. And I sometimes try and describe the physical pain of just these absolutely trashed quads that feel like ice picks or jam and throw them when you're running down this hill at mile number 96. But the euphoria of that with all of the brain chemicals happening when the sun rises for the second day and you're with someone you care about, my wife has often paced me the last 15 miles or so of this 100 mile race. But there is nothing like crossing that finish line after 100 miles. There's nothing like the nap later that afternoon. There's nothing like waking up the next day and just feeling the [00:20:00] soreness of your entire body, but yet also feeling this amazing satisfaction of all of your hard work poured into this event and then having it done and behind you. So I can't describe what that's like until somebody actually goes through it themselves. And even then, now we're trying to be on the same page, but yet describe what it feels like to be us or what it feels like to be me versus what it feels like to be you.
[00:20:25] And they can be two. Absolutely. And will be two completely different experiences. You know, on that note, the first time that I ran around a high school track for 24 hours to raise money for local schools, a fundraiser that I was fortunate enough to do for six years in a row here in my area. I came into contact with somebody who had done it at their kid's school a couple of years earlier and actually went back this morning and found and reread the email exchange that he and I had before my first fundraiser after I think he'd had one or two under his belt, and he talked about having the media there throughout the day and night and having kids running with him all day and night and how that just got him absolutely charged [00:21:00] until and here was the quote he said. He said, I actually had people running with me late into the night until I got to the point where things started getting tough. And I asked that I could run alone so I wouldn't have the distractions. And then he said, time actually flew by and it was pretty enjoyable. So going into my first run, my first 24 hour run around a track, I kept anticipating that time when things would get tough and I would need to run alone and clear the track.
[00:21:22] And I had told all of the volunteers and people that were there with me that we had to be ready. I don't know if it was going to be one in the morning, three in the morning, if I was going to win, I hit 100 miles or 110 miles or whenever that was going to be. But when I hit that pain cave, you guys forgive me, I can't promise you what it's going to be like. I hope I'm nice still. And then it never happened. And I had one of the most amazing experiences throughout the night and running with a group of people. And people would come and go and it just continued to be a blast. And why? Because I'm the only version of me. I never had that time where I wanted to be alone. For me, it was the opposite. I enjoyed having people around with me that entire time. So again, where do I keep going with this? [00:22:00] All of this being able to handle pain at various levels as an individual thing? You know, I had severe stomach pain in my late teens and then it would come and go throughout my twenties and thirties and forties. And now a couple of years into my fifties, it's pretty rare that I feel it. But there were times where I would seek medical assistance and times where I felt like nothing would help.
[00:22:18] And so you just keep dealing with it. And I have no idea if that pain was more or less than some of the clients that I've worked with who talk about severe stomach pain. One more running story back to running. I remember my very first 100 mile race. It was called Rio Del Lago, and it was in my back yard of sorts, all my home trails. And no, I didn't win the race by any stretch of the imagination, but I had an enjoyable time throughout the entire what turned out to be 104 miles, because, yes, I got lost for a while around mile 70 and wanted to quit and give up. But then I've run another half a dozen or so, 100 mile races, and each one went pretty well. I finished every one that I started and I have ultrarunning friends who have started and dropped out of the majority of the 100 milers that they run. But when they [00:23:00] complete one, they do it so much faster and feel better than I do. So my experience is my experience. Or more specifically, what it feels like to be me is just that what it feels like to be me. Based on all of my unique life experiences, all of my nature, my nurture, my birth order, my DNA, my abandonment, my rejection, my hopes, my dreams, my successes, my losses. What impacts and affects many of those things in my life, whether it's the people around me where I live, the foods I eat.
[00:23:31] Do I get enough sleep? What do I do with my time or what do I do with my mind? A couple of weeks ago, I talked about implicit versus explicit memory from Rick Hansen's phenomenal book, Buddha's Brain The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love and Wisdom, and specifically what I found in Chapter four. So I'm going to read that again because it's going to set the table for where we're going to go for the rest of this episode. Rick says, Much as your body is built from the foods you eat, your mind is built from the experiences [00:24:00] that you have. The flow of experience gradually sculpts your brain, thus shaping your mind. Some of the results can be explicitly recalled like This is what I did last summer, or This is how I felt when I was in love. But most of the shaping of your mind remains forever unconscious. And this is called implicit memory. And he said, it includes your expectations, your models of relationships, your emotional tendencies, and your general outlook. So I feel like I could dig down a little bit deeper and go into what it feels like to be you, your nature, nurture, birth, order, DNA, abandonment, rejection, all of those things. Because he said that implicit memory establishes the interior landscape of your mind or literally he says what it feels like to be you, which is based on the slowly accumulating residue of your lived experience.
[00:24:47] So again, what your experience is is based off of all of the things that you bring to the table in that very moment, all of the goodness and the sorrows and the joy and the hope and the fears and the things that we know, we know and that we can't do and the things [00:25:00] that we don't even know that we don't know. So he says that in a sense, those residues then can be sorted into two piles, those that benefit you and others and those that cause harm, he said. To paraphrase the Wise Effort section of Buddhism's Noble Eightfold Path, you should create, preserve and increase beneficial implicit memories and then prevent, eliminate or decrease harmful ones. And so that got me thinking a lot after that episode about the creation, the preservation and the increase of beneficial implicit memories. And so this isn't, again, just something where I look in the mirror and say, you are an attractive man if I don't believe that I am. But if part of my implicit memory or what it feels like to be me can be, I'm starting to accept the fact that there are things I like and there are things I know, which then also means there are going to be things that I'm not as big of a fan of, and certainly things that I don't know.
[00:25:57] That can be a liberating feeling to feel like [00:26:00] I'm actually okay. So then he does talk about the negativity bias of memory. He says, Here's the problem, though your brain preferentially scans for registers, stores, recalls and reacts to unpleasant experiences, he says. The brain, it's like Velcro for negative experiences and Teflon for the positive ones. So consequently, even when positive experiences outnumber the negative ones, the pile of negative implicit memories naturally grows faster. So again, if we look at implicit memory, is this subconscious thing that's happening that is affecting the interior landscape of your mind or what it feels like to be you based on the slow residue of lived experience. And if your brain is continually holding on to these negative experiences, then he says this pile of negative implicit memories naturally grows faster. And then the background feeling of what it feels like to be you can become undeservedly glum and pessimistic now, he says, that negative experiences have benefits, loss opens the heart, remorse provides a [00:27:00] moral compass, anxiety alerts you to threats, and anger can spotlight wrongs that should be righted. And I've done an entire episode on what to do with those feelings and welcome them. And your body is trying to tell you something. And thank you, buddy. And I love my feelings, even though sometimes they don't feel so good. But he said, Do you really think that you're not having enough negative experiences? Emotional pain with no benefit to yourself or others is pointless suffering.
[00:27:23] And he said Pain today breeds more pain tomorrow. And he quotes a study by I think it's Malartic in 2007 that says pain today breeds more pain tomorrow, even in a single episode of major depression that can reshape circuitry of the brain to make future episodes more likely. So the remedy is not to suppress these negative experiences. When they happen, they happen acceptance, radical acceptance, psychological flexibility, but rather it's to foster the positive experiences, in particular to take them in, be present, give yourself grace. What are the things that matter to you? Take them in so they become more of a permanent part [00:28:00] of you. They become part of the slow residue of your lived experience or what it feels like to be you. And he goes in and talks about. Internalizing the positive. He talks about turning positive facts and a positive experiences and just really goes into how what it feels like to be more present. But here's where I wanted to go today as he talks about the machinery of memory. So now we've laid out that we all have these different thoughts and feelings and experiences, and who are we to think that we know what someone else's experience is? Now, I would love to. I want to empathize more. I want to know what it feels like to be with that person so that they feel heard and understood again, their sympathy, which is, man, I'm sorry you're going through that.
[00:28:38] And there's empathy, which is tell me what you're going through. Help me understand what you're going through. And if you're trying to be empathetic towards someone, know that you're still viewing it through your lens or you're still viewing everything through what it feels like to be you. So you have to intentionally step outside of your ego or what it feels like to be you to try and be there and understand what's going on for somebody. And this is why I just love talking [00:29:00] about this stuff so much, because are you even aware that is you're hearing someone else's experience, that you're still viewing this from your lens or your ego or your implicit memory or what it feels like to be you. Because if you are not, if you are aware, I feel like for the most part we're not aware and that's why we just subconsciously even react. Instead of just respond, instead of be there, we react. And then that's why we say, But don't think that or don't do that, or I wouldn't do that. Or, Well, here's what it's like for me. And that's when we feel unheard or we feel unseen in a relationship. Or if you're trying to talk to your teenager and you're starting to wax on philosophic about what it was like for you to not have a phone and they glaze over.
[00:29:40] It's because that's your implicit memory or what it feels like to be you. So you feel this need to relate that to your kid, which I get. But we all just want to be heard. We all just want to be understood. We want to know where we fit in the world. And a lot of that is based off of, for better or worse, until you're aware of it, the need for external validation, which I think part of the time that we're just [00:30:00] expressing ourselves or sharing what what life is like to be us when we're sharing that, rather than internalizing or trying to figure out who we are to begin with when we're looking for somebody else to validate us, a lot of times that can feel invalidating to the other person. So in this book, Rick Hanson talks about using the machine, using the machinery of memory. And I was teaching a Sunday school class this last weekend, and I laid this stuff out in the context, in a religious context, and I jokingly told this 16 to 18 year olds, Hey, you're about to get a minor in psychology, so hang tight. And I really felt like I sold all this stuff, but I started to watch as faces tended to seem to gloss over. So I'm aware of that. So so stick with me because this stuff, hopefully we've laid a landscape of where we're going with here, of what it feels like to be you based off of your implicit memory, and that it is in those very moments that you're going through where then you can have this opportunity to try and be present, try and take in the good.
[00:30:58] Don't just let the good experiences [00:31:00] slide like Teflon off your brain. Don't just have those negative experiences Velcro to your brain. So using the machinery of memory, Rick Hanson says these mental mingling things draw on the neural machinery of memory. So he said that when a memory, whether it's implicit or explicit, again, implicit is the just feelings of what it feels like to be you explicit is I remember what I did. I remember how this felt. So when a memory, whether implicit or explicit, is made, only its key features are stored, not every single detail. Otherwise your brain would be so crowded that it wouldn't have space to learn anything new, he said. For example, remember an experience, even a recent one, and notice how schematic your recollection is with the main features sketched in. But so many of the details are left out. So when your brain retrieves a memory, when it pulls a memory in to conscious, it doesn't do it like a computer, which calls up a complete record of what's on its hard drive, like a document or a picture or a [00:32:00] song. Your brain then starts to rebuild implicit and explicit memories from their key features.
[00:32:06] So your brain takes an image or it takes a quick thought or a feeling, and now it fills in all the details. So he says, Your brain rebuilds these implicit and explicit memories from their key features, drawing on its simulating capacities to fill in missing details. So your brain has a mechanism to do this. It calls upon the energy that it needs and says, okay, let's fill in the details. It's running a simulation, basically. And he says, while this is more work, it's also a more efficient use of your neural real estate. So this way, complete records don't need to be stored and your brain is so fast that you don't even notice the regeneration of each memory. And this rebuilding process gives you the opportunity. Here comes the good part right down to the micro circuitry of your brain to gradually shift the emotional shading of your interior landscape [00:33:00] or what it feels like to be you. So when a memory is activated, a large scale assembly of neurons and synaptic. This is form an emergent pattern and other if there are other things in your mind at the time, if you are hungry, angry, lonely, tired, overwhelmed, stressed, and he says, particularly if they're strongly pleasant or unpleasant, then these parts of your brain, your amygdala and your hippocampus will automatically associate them with that neural pattern. So the simulation that your brain does when it takes an image or a thought or a feeling and recalls it and then brings it on to the stage of your mind.
[00:33:38] Then it also says, Well, let's do a little check in. How you feeling right now? Because we'll associate that with this memory. And that's according to Pair Collins and Peltier from a study back in 2002. So then when the memory then leaves awareness, now it's going to be consolidated in storage in your brain along with all of those other associations. So if the internal landscape [00:34:00] of what it feels like to be you is overall negative because you just continue to ruminate and worry and you keep going into this imposter syndrome and not putting yourself out there. If the quotes that you were drawn to earlier or ones that seem to be more pessimistic or you like to say that you're more of a realist and you don't want to put yourself out there and fear or hopes that you may be hurt, then what is your internal makeup of your brain? What does it feel like to be you? Because then when you pull out a memory, are you one that says, Man, that was a good time? Or I remember how connected we were, or I remember when we played this game and it was so much fun. Or do you say, Yeah. Remember how we all argued and fought that night about a particular game? Or I remember how nobody was ready on time, or I remember how I never got to do the things that I wanted to do.
[00:34:49] And you can start to see where then every time you bring up that memory. And now if you associate these negative emotions and feelings with the memory, then when you put that memory back away, now it's re consolidated in [00:35:00] the storage of your brain along with all those other associations. So over time and again, this is this concept called confabulation. Over time, you've congratulated this memory to be incredibly negative. You can sometimes. I had an interaction with someone recently and they were talking about an experience of maybe ten years ago that I was a part of. And boy, that was a completely different story or version that I remember. And I thought about this concept of not that I think often about what this experience was, but when it does come to mind, I think there were some that it was a pretty good time and we were all trying our best. But then this other person had created such a a specific, vivid memory where they were absolutely the victim in that scenario and nobody understood and everybody was out to get them. And I just thought, oh, man, every time they pulled this memory out and they've thought about it and they they don't feel good about themselves. They don't feel good about where they're at in life now. Then that becomes a part of the the reconsolidation of this memory. [00:36:00]
[00:36:00] So then you put these memories back away in storage. The next time the memory is activated, it'll tend to bring those associations with it. So he says, if you repeatedly bring to mind negative feelings and thoughts while the memory is active, then that memory will be increasingly shaded in a negative direction. He gives the example of recalling an old failure while simultaneously lambasting yourself will make that failure seem increasingly awful. But, he says. On the other hand, if you call it positive emotions and perspectives, while implicit or explicit memories are active, then those wholesome influences will slowly be woven into the fabric of those memories. Let me give you a real life example that I've never talked about out loud. So there was a time where I was teaching an early morning, in essence, an early morning religious class with the seniors of the high schools in my area. I did it for seven years and I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed the interaction with the students. I was starting to teach some of my nieces and nephews and my own. I got to teach one of my daughters when she was a senior and I just assumed [00:37:00] I would be teaching in that capacity for years until all of my kids had worked through this program. And my youngest kid is now a freshman in college. So this would have literally been going on until last year.
[00:37:12] The person who was in the position of authority, who made the call of who got to be in these positions, called me in after the first year of my daughter of me getting a chance to teach my daughter and said, Hey, how do you like the position that you're in? And I said, I love it. I do. I absolutely love it. And I just look forward to being there for years and years. At this point. I'd already been there for seven years and the person said, You know, I think that we're going to ask somebody else to do that instead. And I just remember being devastated. I really did. And it still, even as I'm bringing this up right now, it does bring up a lot of emotion. But what I've had to do over time is when I bring that up, yeah, it has a lot of negative emotion because they you go on to find out that they tried to get other people in this position and somebody might be there for a year [00:38:00] and then they don't want to be in that position or they move or they change careers and they don't have the opportunity or the ability to. Be there that early in the morning. So I'm watching all this happen and I would still feel like, man, I literally am missing this time that I got to do something I love and be around my kids and this crucial period of time.
[00:38:17] And so it was really easy for me to taint some of those memories with some real negativity. But what I also did during that time was I started working on a podcast and I started finalizing a website. And so it's so funny. I find myself not wanting to give anyone credit, but I wanted to say, okay, I made the most of that time or that opportunity, and now it has led to five years later having the virtual couch and leading on to waking up the narcissism and these opportunities to do these digital fireside and speak as keynote speakers and have a couple more books in the hopper. And this opportunity to interview people that I can consider now, friends that I can, other professionals I can shoot a text to. And it's a part where [00:39:00] I just feel like, Man, this is amazing. So now when I bring that memory up of in essence being fired from this volunteer position that I in, I almost begged for so that I could be there with my kids and have this experience that that kind of kept me spiritually grounded. Now, I could take that and say, Oh my gosh, that makes me so mad. But I say, okay, I notice all the emotions. But you know what? It gave me an opportunity to do this, what I'm doing now, and create and raise my emotional baseline.
[00:39:29] So I feel like that's a real a very real example of what happens when you bring that memory into awareness. And then how do I feel about it? Because for a number of years it was not this. Well, you know, I'm in a better spot now because of all of these things that I was able to do and create. And all these things have been for my good. But boy, that wasn't the neural landscape or my implicit memory or what it felt like to be me for a long period of time. So I then I go back to that if I call it these positive emotions and perspectives while these implicit or explicit memories are active, then Rick [00:40:00] Hansen said these wholesome influences will slowly, slowly be woven into the fabric of those memories, which is what has happened over time. Slowly it becomes this internal landscape of what it feels like to be me, of somebody who I hope makes the best of these situations. So he says, Every time you do this, every time you sift positive feelings and views into painful, limiting states of mind, you build a little bit of neural structure. And then over time then he says the accumulating impact of this positive material will literally synapse by synapse change your brain? And then what does it feel like to be you? Well, it feels like somebody who is adapts, somebody who grows, somebody with radical acceptance, somebody with psychological flexibility, somebody that figures out what matters to them and starts to live by their values.
[00:40:48] Even when other people are telling you, I wouldn't do that, or I didn't know you thought that, or I didn't know you felt that way, that those opportunities are such growth opportunities, which [00:41:00] is why I go back to some of the quotes that I really enjoy. Who am I to play small or I don't want to repeat the same year over and over for 75 years and say, Well, we'll call it a life? I mean, that's just not something that I really want to do. So wrapping this up, he does talk a little bit about this concept of lifelong learning, which I think is so important to to give some air time to that, he says. These neural circuits started forming before you were born, when you were in the womb, and your brain will keep learning and changing up to your very last breath. And I thought this was interesting, he said. Humans have the longest childbirth of any animal on the planet. And since children are very vulnerable in the wild, there must have been a large evolutionary payoff in giving the brain this extended period of intense development. So, he says, of course, learning continues. After childhood, we continually acquire new skills and knowledge all the way into old age. And he tells the story that after he turned 90, he said his dad made his jaw drop with an article in which he calculated the best odds for different bids and bridge. [00:42:00]
[00:42:00] And he says he just has so many other similar experiences. And I do too. Of working with clients who have done some pretty significant things or some significant change in their lives, even after fill in the blank of an age. So the concept of you can't teach an old dog new tricks. You absolutely can. But sometimes I do wonder. I was going to say worry that this whole thing that we're talking about today, what it feels like to be you, is it needs to be developed sooner than later. If you're listening to this podcast and you made it this long, you're probably curious to know how to make a change in your life. And so in order to do that, you have to be aware. There are so many people that I work with that are unaware that they're unaware, and then all of a sudden they're coming in here and all of a sudden they're aware. They're aware. Whoa. Okay, well, maybe things are a little different than I thought they were in my life and my relationship with my faith, with my job, my career. And so now I'm aware. Now what? And so you go from being unaware to aware, but not doing much about it. And that's a stage that people [00:43:00] stay in for a long period of time to until the point where now, okay, I'm starting to take action or do things now that I'm aware, do things that are really more important or matter to me, or taking action on the things that I'm learning at podcast books, going to a therapy.
[00:43:13] And then over time, then that starts to just be who you are. That's the ultimate goal. That's part of why I wanted to talk about this today, that what it feels like to be you. Unfortunately, it takes a little bit of time. It takes a lot of time. But what a wonderful investment that you're making in this creating or changing the internal neural landscape of what it means to be you. So when I talk so often about the your nature nurture, birth order, DNA, abandonment, rejection, all those things that make you, you, and that's why you think, feel and do the things you do. Well, lo and behold, now we're learning over time, here's how you slowly start to shift that. And so this is where you can. It doesn't matter what age you're doing this, but you can start to change that internal landscape of what it feels like to be you. And it can be pretty darn amazing. [00:44:00] And and I feel like so many people don't even know what that would look like because they don't know what they don't know. And what it feels like to be them right now might be pretty anxious or pretty miserable or pretty depressed.
[00:44:09] And so I'm not trying to just say, just think your way through it or just change your mind or just decide to wake up one day and say, I'm happy. I've talked about that so many times, but hopefully you can start to see the pattern of what can happen when you are start to slowly but surely become aware and you can start to slowly change that internal landscape of what it feels like to be you. And it can be an amazing, incredible experience. You still have the highs and the lows that life gives you, but your default mode network, the default, your baseline, what your return to of what it feels like to be you as somebody that's pretty hopeful, is pretty positive. And so you return to that person that you are and that person starts to feel a greater sense of purpose and starts to put themselves out there and let their light so shine and not be afraid and not shrink so that others around them won't feel small. And then that becomes just an invigorating and empowering way to live. And that is my hope, [00:45:00] my goal for each and every one of you. Thank you again for joining me on the virtual couch. If you have thoughts, quotes or quotes, anything you want to share, feel free to shoot me a comment. And thanks for taking the time and I'll see you next time on the virtual couch taking us away as per usual, the wonderful, the talented, the now on TikTok, Aurora, Florence with her song. It's wonderful because it is.
[00:45:25] Compressed emotions flying past our heads and out the other end, the pressures of the daily grind. It's wonderful. And plastic waste and rubble ghost floating past the midnight hour. They push aside the things that matter most.
[00:45:46] The world. Takes [00:46:00] up all my time. If.
[00:46:25] Citing news of discount price a million opportunities. The chance is yours to take or lose. It's worth. Phones are always on the back burner until the opportune time. You're always pushed to go farther or shut up.
[00:46:55] It's my fault. And so I'll take. [00:47:00] To. It rounds up.
[00:47:25] Develop distance don't explode allow the understanding through to heal the legs and hearts. You broke the pain. She just might. My mental strengths and Paul's. I'm trying hard to shut them out.
[00:47:46] It's one. The grant is dropped.
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