In this session, we talk about habits and awareness for a better understanding of ourselves.
Dr. A: Well, welcome everybody. We’ll get started in about a minute or so, give a chance for everybody to kind of get on and very excited today, being with you. We’re gonna have a lot of fun and explore a little bit about ourselves, and so this is gonna be a great hour and, you know, one of the cool things about this is an opportunity for you to ask questions and things that relate to yourself or to people you relate to and also it’s a great opportunity for you to bring like-minded people that are looking for an opportunity to explore themselves and explore why they think the way they do, and why they do the things they do, and we’re going to spend a lot of time on that today.
Okay, so as I always like to start off and I like to explain what a forum is, you know, I facilitate this forum and as, you know, I have a great proclivity to working on consciousness I think it’s actually the part of us that’s probably more important than anything else, that building health and well-being into our lives and very excited about this exploration. I do it first to help myself understand the world and then to help others as well and so the idea I talk about a lot is Internal Stability and External Equilibrium, the ability— lots of stuff happens in the world. All we have to do is look back at the last month or so, what’s happening in the chaotic nature of what’s going on in the world and, you know, how we respond to that will determine literally how we move forward as a person, individually, and collectively. Working with the people we love and care about and the people we lead and our friends, our family, our community and the people we work with.
So, start off today basically, let me just define that for you, you know, the forum basically means a place, meeting, or medium where ideas and views on a particular issue can exchange and that’s the nature of this hour Zoom. So, today we’re going to talk about getting to know yourself and why we act the way we do. You know, it’s a curious thing if you ever wonder why your day’s going so well and all of a sudden you just get sideways and you don’t even know what happened and so we’re going to talk a little bit about that, how we’re designed, and how we show up, and what we can do to maybe help us respond in a way that will move our world to more of thriving and less stress, and new stress versus distress. So, with that, consciousness basically refers to the state of being aware of one’s thoughts and feelings the more we’re self-aware, the more we can consciously influence our thoughts and feelings and respond in a resourceful way to help others.
So, today I’m going to shake it up a little bit and many of you, not all of you, will have the LifeBook, but this is a book I wrote that’s used as part of our core program in the Habits of Health to help people take control of their health and their life. It’s an interactive, basically journaling, really, a place where you can progress over time. Learn new habits and spend time working on those habits and so I’ve taken a lot of today’s thoughts out of that because I think it’s a great reference you can go back to and if you’ve read this element before, you can go back to it now, maybe with a little more understanding because I think it’s a key element and people that literally use the LifeBook say this is one of their favorite chapters.
It makes them start to understand a lot more about themselves and really, the key thing, the thing that all my work now moving forward is about— is my goal, is for you to become the dominant force in your life and for that to happen, based on how we’re programmed in our our ten thousand year old design which I like to refer to where we came from and the way we were, kind of our blueprint or our operating manual, basically, was very different from back then than it is for now and so I’m really serious about this goal. I know that if you can create, as I mentioned earlier, internal stability and external equilibrium each day of your life, your life will become all that magical.
It’s amazing. Yes, bad stuff will happen, but your ability to respond to it will change dramatically and with that your ability to move forward and really kind of moving from the present forward you’ll be able to modify and change your life to be everything you want it to be. So, with that, you know, I want to ask you a series of questions. If you’ve answered these before just to answer them again, but I’ll just put them up here.
Who is responsible for your current health and well-being? Is it your parents, your spouse, your friends, your environment, your genetics, or you? [reading question with options on slide]
You may have a tendency to want to point to someone else, but basically, what you’ve got to do is point right back here [gestures to self]. You’re the one that’s committed to the current choices you make and you’re committed to your current health and well-being by your actions, by your daily choices, and it makes all the difference. So, the other questions are:
[00:04:49] Your intelligence is: something very basic about you that can’t be changed. You can learn new things, you can’t really change how intelligent you are. Fixed by age of five and cannot be changed beyond then, and last, no matter how much intelligence you have, you can always change it a lot [reading a question with options on slide].
So I want you to answer those. So, it’d be one through four. A through D. A,B,C,D. Second one,
Your character as a person is: set and there’s not much you can do to change that. Flexible so you can do things differently, but important parts can’t really be changed. Determined by your family and cannot be really altered. Is changeable and you can always modify basic things about the kind of person you are [reading a question with options on slide].
Three, when presented with a challenge I: find myself getting upset most of the time. Usually shy away from it hoping someone else will take care of it. Find myself making excuses. Look to find what I can learn [reading a question with options on slide].
Next, when presented with a challenge I: find myself getting upset most of the time. Usually shy away from it hoping someone else will take care of it. Finding myself making excuses. Look to find out what I can learn [reading a question with options on slide].
When I’m in an argument I: find it important to be right above everything else. Find myself quick to point the blame. Feel sorry for myself. Seek to understand what the other person is saying [reading a question with options on slide].
And, when something bad happens in the world— we can certainly, you know, basically identify with that right now— Find myself focusing on whose fault it was. Find wondering why the world is not different. Find myself blaming people with other beliefs. Seek to understand what can be done to learn from it [reading a question with options on slide].
When I find myself overeating: I blame it on someone else. I blame it on something else. I blame it on myself, or I look to understand why [reading a question with options on slide].
And, when I find myself getting upset because someone makes me look stupid: I find myself unable to think straight. Look to blame it on someone else. Feel very angry, or realize only I can upset myself [reading a question with options on slide].
So, as we look at those and understand, basically, the correct answer to all those is D, or four, and so, you know, as you go through those and listen there’s some times when you think, “Well,” that’s your ego speaking, and you know what we know and we’ve basically incorporated this concept of above or below the line and it simply means at any given time responding to any stimulus will either be open, curious and want to grow or will be closed, defensive and want to be right, and basically nobody will be above the line all the time and no one will be below the line all the time.
The point is to really, not necessarily whether you’re there, but recognize that you’re there. That you’re below the line, and recognizing that allows you to make a change and the whole idea of conscious leadership and consciousness is to be able to identify, be fully aware, and present and be able to modify. Now, the question I get asked a lot: is it normal to go below the line? Hell yes, it’s normal to go below the line, that’s how we were designed ten thousand years ago. Our world was full of all kinds of threats, saber-toothed tigers, poisonous insects, things that could eat us, kill us, all kinds of things could happen that were bad, and as a result your brain is designed moving from the brainstem up through the limbic system, up to the cortex, the prefrontal cortex is the thinking part of our brain. That’s the area we want to keep alive and awake and that’s what awareness, that’s what fully present is all about.
It’s being fully aware of what’s going on and not being hijacked by the amygdala, which is basically in the middle part of our brain back in here [gestures head], there’s two of them and what they do is they’re neural trip wires and they were designed. So, 10,000 years ago when something bad happened, you would respond to it, you know, I like to use the analogy of a snake, you know, a rattlesnake is rattling. If we used our prefrontal cortex then and look and we were curious and looked at and said, “Wow, what is that thing rattling?” And we looked at the coloration of it and the variations in the color of the skin, of the snake, or scales of the snake, we would be dead. So, we didn’t even really see the snake, our body responded so rapidly, went right from the visual into the limbic area and— boom— we jumped, we ran, we froze, we fainted, whatever we thought was most appropriate and that served us very well. So that stimulus response was key for us ten thousand years ago.
Well basically today, it’s very different. Most of the threats are perceived threats. They’re thoughts we’re having inside and we’re going to discuss that. So there’s consciousness of our outside world, it’s being fully conscious and, you know, sometimes when you’re driving your car home you’ll get all the way to the garage and you’ve been on the phone or you’re thinking about something, something’s got you concerned. You’ll get all the way home and you’ll look and say, “Wow, I’m home. I didn’t even realize it,” right? Or, you’d be on a conversation. It’s because you’re so aware of something else, either your thoughts, your feelings, or if you’re talking that you’re not even aware and you’re operating at a subconscious level. At a lower conscious level. Where you’re actually driving the car automatically and not thinking about it.
[00:10:00] So, basically one of the key things about being present and fully aware is when we can quiet that inner voice, that inner mind, that mind that’s creating all these scenarios of bad things that can happen to us, or threats that we have. Bottom line is if we’re fully aware, we’re really enjoying, we’re more fully present and we’re not filtering nature. We’re more present for conversations and all the things are important, but on the other side, basically, conscious of our inner world is really critical because events, people, something happens, and what happens is it comes into us and our emotions, and feelings, come from our ego and our ego wants to protect us. It doesn’t want us to be threatened. It wants to make the world a certain way, the way we want it to be.
We kind of create that inner reality, which is basically almost always reactive and as a result of that it creates these feelings inside and what we do is we go into the drama triangle and we’re going to talk more about that. The drama triangle is where 95 percent of people spend 98 percent of their time and so what in essence they do, they either repress those emotions or they project them out. So, you know Sally. Sally, you said, “Hi” to her and you were at work and she went by and she didn’t say anything. She may not have heard you. That may have been the reality, or probably was the reality, but in a moment or two you’re saying, “How dare her not think about me,” and pretty soon you’re consumed with that and you either may project and go to her desk and say, “Sally, why didn’t you say ‘Hi’ to me?” And now you’re getting into her stuff and now you got the drama trial going on, right?
Or you repress it and say, “You know what?” and pretty soon you’re really upset with Sally and she may have done nothing. So, really important to understand the difference between our thoughts and what we make up inside versus the reality of what’s really happening. So that’s what we call the drama triangle. The drama triangle is a state that most people find themselves in, where someone’s the victim, someone’s the hero, and someone’s the villain. You know if you’re the victim it’s not fair, something happened to you, somebody cut you off in traffic and it’s not fair or you didn’t get the raise and someone else got the raise and something’s being done to you. By the way, as soon as you give up responsibility and blame it on somebody else, what happens if you’re the victim? You lose all power. You lose all control. So, it’s so critical not to do that.
Second is the villain who’s at fault? Someone’s got to be blamed for this. “I either blame someone else or I blame myself,” and the third is, “I don’t like dealing with stress. I’m gonna be the hero and come here and save the day. I’m gonna do it for them so they’re not stressed out and then I’m not stressed out.” So, what we do is we enable people. We enable victims and we rotate throughout these over time and the reality is what we’re doing is that the way we were designed ten thousand years ago. There’s a stimulus and we respond to it at a subconscious level, we don’t even think about it.
Let’s just say when you’re in high school you went out with a guy or a girl and they drove a yellow Camaro and 15 years later you’re married, you’re walking down the street with your husband, you just had a wonderful lunch, or your wife and you just had a wonderful— spouse— and you had a wonderful lunch, and all of a sudden a yellow Mustang, or a yellow Camaro, goes by and all of a sudden in a moment you’re sideways again and your husband or spouse looks at you and says, “What’s going on?” You go, “I don’t, I just don’t feel good,” or, “I’m upset,” or, “That food wasn’t good,” and all of a sudden everything changes because we let the ego and those thoughts and feelings churn inside us in this triangle and in essence what we do is we actually bypass our human thinking.
We don’t even know why we’re doing it. We simply react immediately through that emotional part and this part of our brain that chooses the outcomes we want, that chooses that we want to be healthy, chooses that we want to have a great relationship, never even knows what happened. It happens that quick. So, it matters what we think and I talk a lot about this idea of human transformational technology and one of the simplest things that I basically created, you know, way over a decade, almost two decades ago, is Stop. Challenge. and Choose. It’s actually, if you look at this diagram [refers to slide] it’s creating a gap between stimulus and response. So if we start feeling that icky sauce inside us, we can Stop. Challenge., “Why am I feeling this way?” And then Choose., the outcome we want and it takes about 90 seconds up to two minutes for that feeling inside, whatever it is, to kind of just go away.
If you repress it and say, “I’m not going to be angry here,” it’s still inside of you. You’re still mad at Sally. Bottom line is the second part, if you basically yell at Sally, you’re not helping that relationship either. The idea is to Stop. Challenge., and say, “You know, what? She probably didn’t hear me,” and it’s as simple as that and Choose., “Next time I see her I’ll see how she’s doing and see if there’s anything going on with her because maybe something happened to her,” and then we’re actually doing the things that are relationally healthy for us and creating great relational health and so we’re engaging our thinking part of our brain.
[00:14:47] This is the part that’s critical in our health and our well-being is to understand that response. So that we’re— the bottom line is the survival contracted state, where most people are and certainly, you know, where most of the world is, is in this place of surviving. It’s the victim, the hero, or the villain. What we want to do, and the goal of all of this work we’re doing and learning, is to get to the spot where we’re now in a creative expansive state. A state where, rather than being the victim, we’re the creator. “I’m in charge of what happens.” The world is going to happen. We have very little control over what happens in the outside world, but we have complete control of how we process it and the outcome we create inside, which is really important.
“I’m creating my new story,” that’s what the LifeBook, by the way, is about. It’s about, here’s your story. We do an evaluation to see where your current reality is in terms of your health and your well-being and then we basically start on a journey of over a year of working on, creating a new story. One where, “I’m creating and becoming the dominant force in my life.” The second, moving from being the hero to being a coach. Many of the people on this line have decided, as they’ve helped their own health and well-being, they decided to coach others, which is a beautiful ritual or passage, which allows transformation and transcendence because when you start helping someone else then it puts you in a much better position to help yourself and those that are important around you, and then the third is rather being the villain, and be a challenger, “I’m open and curious. I want to learn from what’s happening and obstacles help me get better,” that’s a very different way of looking at that.
Most people look at themselves as a victim and they’re looking to blame somebody when something doesn’t go exactly right. These are all things that you have control over. You have complete control over your inner mind. So, let me show you how this works. Normally, I think it said we’re fully present for about five seconds and then something happens, a phone call, a Zoom, something I’m saying something, someone else is saying something, you read something, you saw on TV, something you saw on the internet, and all of a sudden— boom— we are starting to drift and we’re getting emotional about something and if we drift and allow ourselves to go down in the drama triangle and get into that, it is very difficult to recover.
Once you’re in the rapids and you’re moving through the rapids it is very difficult for you to get out and you can’t see straight because your limbic area, your emotions are going and it’s hard to see straight. That’s why it’s important to catch that, but if we’re willing to catch it, when something happens we stop as soon as we feel that icky sauce in our belly, or in our heart area, in our throat, or in our jaws, or whatever as soon as we sense it, Stop. Challenge., and what we can do is we can move ourselves back above the line so that we’re now present and we’re making choices based on this part of our brain [gestures to head] this is the thinking brain, which is so critical.
What we want to do is we want to empower each other and empower ourselves to start thinking in this new way. Creating our new story. Now here’s the deal, you’ve been to the day you’ve gotten right here from the time you were born you have been programmed to be protective, to be protected or be a protector and so you’ve gotten, however many years you’ve been on the earth. You’ve had all that time to really use that traditional programming that was designed for 10,000 years ago. You are not going to learn to do this perfectly overnight. You need to go to the mental gym, it’s a bunch of little baby steps in correcting but pretty soon you’ll start to notice that things that used to upset you don’t upset you anymore.
You’re curious and you want to learn and you want to grow. It’s key to understand how this works. Your journey moving forward in the journey that we’re on together is about helping people start to understand why we think and behave the way we do. So you are not your thoughts, you are not your emotions, and you certainly aren’t the forms around you. As I look at this computer screen, I know very well I’m not the screen, but I also know that even the thoughts I’m making are thoughts that I have that I’ve created and my awareness of talking about them are there, but they’re not me. They don’t define self. They are simply things that I’m thinking based on the way I’ve been programmed in the past and I have the full opportunity to glean control and be able to move forward and make a difference.
So, hopefully this has been helpful. I’m going to open it up for Q&A now and I’ll take it off of share. Rach, we got some people asking questions?
Rachel: Yes, we do. Shawna, can you turn your camera on?
Shawna: Good morning, Dr. Andersen.
Dr. A: Morning, Shawna. How are you?
Shawna: Good, how are you?
Dr. A: Great.
Shawna: So, I put my question out there and I guess that what it comes from is through the process of, you know, Optavia and TLDP, I’m in my second year. I’m learning a lot about myself and that conditioning you’re in programming, you’re talking about and one thing that really came clear for me is there’s a lot of programming as a child. Where there were times in life where I wasn’t scared and was told I should be, or I was scared and was told I shouldn’t be. So, then turning as a child to the adults in my life and finding their frequency and energy and to guide me and how I should be responding.
[00:20:20] So visiting that now, when triggers happen and like, “Where is this coming from? What am I feeling?” And trying to get through that surrender part of it. I’m also learning when I’m coaching clients. I’m wanting to find more on how to help them with their limiting beliefs that may be a programmed or a condition.
Dr. A: Yeah, those are good. Those are great questions and, by the way, it’s not about fixing yourself, you know, it’s really important to understand that difference, okay? Because we’re very hard on ourselves. In fact, you know, that’s why I like to talk about the inner roommate, right? And the inner roommate, bottom line, is if that was a real person that was with you, you would kick them out of your house. Like today, right? You wouldn’t put up with that— boom— out the door. So it’s important to understand that most of what we think and feel is based on precondition, as you mentioned, and your parents, or your whoever, your caregivers were. or your teachers, they were doing the best they could, right?
First of all, we didn’t know a lot about this stuff and technology, really. If you have to really say technology, and I talk about human transnational technology, which is stuff like the Stop. Challenge. and Choose., where we can use technology to help us improve and become more of what we want, the dominant force in our life, but technology as a whole hasn’t helped. For instance, you know, go back a hundred years, what’s going on in the Ukraine, we wouldn’t see. We wouldn’t know about it. We wouldn’t have any idea and it would be just some isolated thing over there and now it’s in our face, right?
So, technology has dramatically sensitized us or desensitized us to pretty much everything, you know, I mean it’s like if you— addictions are all about if we like something, we alert the nucleus accumbens in our brain and we literally like, for sweets, like sweets, and what happens is the dopamine receptors over time get flatter, and flatter, and flatter, so it takes a whole bunch to get the same feeling that just a little bit did. In fact, it’s one of the things that’s pretty clear in our Optavia clients is that when they go on the program, within a week their cravings for sugar goes away. Why? Because we’re not using very much sugar. There’s a small amount and what’s happening over a month or so their receptors actually regrow and so they’re more sensitive to that and so we become more aware.
Same thing with all those things when we’re a kid. Up to the year, about five years of age, our prefrontal cortex is not developed yet. We are an emotional creature, which is how we are designed. When you’re a little kid, you’re in survival mode and so that limbic area, the autonomic nervous system, the limbic area, is the predominant area in your brain. It’s what protects you and allows you when you’re still dependent on someone else to be protected. We don’t really know how to develop the rational or prefrontal cortex. So things that happen to us when we’re young, our parents can tell us we’re stupid and we think we’re stupid, you know, I mean, obviously, we don’t do that anymore because we’ve learned that, but we didn’t know that, you know, used to do something stupid and it’d be like “Forrest Gump,” you know, “Stupid is, as stupid does,” right?
We didn’t understand that. So you have all this stuff inside of you, that part of you now that you’re an adult and you’re now working— congratulations on taking this journey because I know your life has changed already because of it and in the middle of it, it’s important for not to be— our inner critic to take over. For us to be fully aware that you’re doing this from— and by the way, there were certain things in the socialization process that were necessary, you know, don’t stick forks or knives into the outlets on the wall. I mean there were things that we had to learn and we learned them and our parents may have been not that subtle about how they taught us, they could ended up with your rear getting spanked, or getting yelled at and scared the heck out of you about something and that was done because they were trying to do the best they could.
Now fast forward to today. As you’re learning these things and you are triggered because you’re still going to be triggered, the idea is most of those things have been suppressed. You probably wanted more explanation than you got, but you learned a hard “No,” right? We’re told five thousand times, fifty thousand times, by the time we’re five, “No. No. No. No. No.” So this creative expansive infant and young child is now put in a box. The socialization process, right? And there are some things that are important there. Yeah, you don’t go 100 miles an hour in a 35 mile an hour lane, but there’s a bunch of other things that we have in there that we need to have it come up.
[00:24:50] The process— kind of getting that stuff so it doesn’t continue, as you mentioned, the word surrender, you are simply saying is it— I’ve got however old you are, you’ve got that many years of experience with these things going into your subconscious and you’re not going to ever get rid of all of it. You’re never going to— but there’s certain thematic things that were threats, or you thought were dangerous, or could hurt you, those things are critical and so for those things, bottom line, is when one comes up you just simply want to be aware of it, and process it, and feel whatever the basic feeling is. So if it’s fear, feel the fear. Have it come up and then kind of process, okay? I was fearful of snakes, right? You know that’s a common one. Yeah, and when I was really young and I’d go out and— are you afraid of snakes?
Shawna: I don’t like them.
Dr. A: Okay, yeah and you don’t like them, but the bottom line is, it doesn’t keep you now from going out in your backyard, right? You know in the rationale that you probably don’t, unless you live out somewhere in the desert or up in the mountains somewhere, but the bottom line is, you know and you don’t, and if you do see a snake like at a— you’re at a— taking the kids to a zoo and you see a snake you look at it and say, “You know, I don’t particularly care for those,” but I don’t leave there and all day think about, “Oh, there’s going to be a snake when I get home,” right? That’s the neurosis that occurs.
Shawna: So, can I ask another question on that? I think one thing, piece, that I missed is that, you know, that the energy frequency as a kid. So we feel the energy of our surroundings and we kind of fall in line with it so that conditioning, even after five, continues to grow and so even as an adult, right now, in an environment you feel that you know, when we’re coaching clients, you can— that energy is there and so that fear, or that, you know, frontal lobe, comes back open. So, how to coach a client through that emotion that we’re feeling from their frequency and energy on their own limiting belief.
Dr. A: Yeah, okay, so that’s a really great question and in that question it’s really questions. It’s just questions.
Shawna: More questions.
Dr. A: What you don’t want to do, and this is the— you have a tendency to want to maybe be protective of them, right? And so you kind of have the tendency to be the hero. You don’t want to do that. You want to address it head-on and do it and that’s where you’re building your resources, you’re building your ability, and if someone has a really strong feeling of, let’s just take snakes since we’re on that subject, a really strong feeling about snakes, you don’t say, “No, snakes aren’t dangerous,” you simply say, “Okay, you know, when in the last year have you been threatened by a snake?” Just ask questions, simple questions like that, right?
I’m using that because it’s so obvious and even if you don’t like— so yeah if you don’t like snakes, I mean I can tell you that, you know, I— my daughter loves snakes. She grew up loving snakes. She was in Portland, Oregon, she played with them. We knew the difference between bad ones and good ones and so she doesn’t, she never developed, she never had an incident, and by the way, here’s the thing, depending on the degree of the stimulus that occurred, that will affect how long it takes someone to get over something, right? So, if it was repetitive, like trauma, or abuse, or something or if it was startling where they did get bit, like my younger daughter, and actually at a convention, was in a five-star hotel and was bit by a scorpion that came out of the the thing, and she doesn’t like scorpions, and she— I carried her to the hospital, she thought she was gonna die.
So, that’s normal. So basically that’s okay, but knowing that scorpions aren’t everywhere and you don’t ruminate about scorpions, you simply avoid going out in the desert by yourself and putting your hands up under dark shady or wet spaces, you know, you just have to understand the difference. So, what you’re looking to do is desensitize someone and that’s really important and how that happens is they become aware and see a snake on TV or somewhere where they just actually see it, and they see that it’s not creating any danger and it starts to lower— the most important thing for your clients is the idea that there’s certain stimuli that usually create feelings inside and they usually feel deflated, and so they try to make up by stimulating their nucleus accumbens.
[00:20:10] Whether it’s getting on the internet or eating chocolate or whatever it is they’re looking to self-soothe themselves and what you’re looking to do is open them up so they can actually address that and understand and what happens is, they’re like these things that are insiders, are like coiled springs, and if we repress them, continue to repress them, they stay there and they’ll repeat and actually get worse and that’s where neurosis has come from but the bottom line, is when they have that feeling, to be able to talk to you. Just talk through it and release to it. It’ll start to have its effect on them.
Shawna: So, just keep practicing the questions. Yeah, even if it’s hard and [crosstalk 00:29:49]
Dr. A: And don’t forget, let’s say it’s a snake and the next time you talk to them, you haven’t talked to them in a few weeks like, “Well, how are you doing with snakes?” No you, don’t do that.
Shawna: No [laughing].
Dr. A: Basically starting a regular conversation and you see if they go to you, “Oh yeah, I’m still having problems with snakes,” “Let’s talk about it,” you know, because here’s the thing, what we’re looking at is reality. External reality is filtered by our thoughts, feelings, and our subconscious and so it’s being comparative reality. So, what we’re trying to do is decouple and create a new reality, you know, one of my good friends, Robert Fritz, who I wrote “Identity” with, used to say, “Reality is an acquired taste,” it is, but the more you can really look at things from reality or being fully present without filtering it and that’s what you’re actually doing, you’re not fixing them, you’re not having them so they’re not scared of snakes. You’re simply allowing them to move beyond so that doesn’t become a recurrent cognitive emotive loop that derails them continuously.
Shawana: Thank you so much.
Dr. A: Is that helpful?
Shawana: So helpful. Thank you, so I appreciate it.
Dr. A: Yeah. Good. Awesome. Who’s next?
Rachel: All right, next up we have Craig. Hi Craig.
Dr. A: Where’s Craig?
Craig: Craig’s here.
Dr. A: I don’t see, oh there you are. Hey buddy.
Craig: Hey, what’s up? Let me adjust my camera here. Real quick. Can you see that?
Dr. A: Yeah.
Craig: All right.
Dr. A: Like superheroes.
Craig: Yes. I do— I believe in the power of humankind to evolve and do better. As I have pursued this in my own life. My question is basically about any insights that you have about emotional management. I’ve noticed that a lot of that comes back down and no matter how many layers I strip off there seems to be another layer underneath, which is good news because that means that I’m making progress, but I am open to your input on emotional management strategies.
Dr. A: So, okay, well first of all, you know, don’t be so hard on yourself and it’s not about you, I’m going to make a little change in maybe the way you said it because I know what you’re talking about with superheroes, but it’s not about becoming better, it’s about becoming more complete, right? I truly believe that we’re born with unlimited potential and what happens, just like, you know, with the questions we just went through. We are limited usually by others when we’re young and so that it creates an impression on us. We start having a deflated self or some people actually haven’t inflated selves, they actually are exaggerated self, and what we’re looking for is balance. Knowing there’s always going to be good and bad, but the bottom line is, as we become more conscious, I would say rather than peeling up layers, you’re advancing yourself.
You’re now more. You know, a goldfish lives its whole life in water and doesn’t even know it, right? We live our whole life and most people by the time they’re 14 they think they’ve developed all the skills they need for the rest of their life and so they kind of stay in, “this is the way the life is,” and that those are the people that are stuck, you know, listening to the 50s music or 60s music, or wearing the same clothes they did 20 years ago and they’re not open, curious and want to grow. So I think it’s really important to really look at our orientation.
It’s not about fixing or discovering how messed up we are. We’re all messed up, you know? And it’s basically about going fishing. You’re fishing for that big fish and the big fish usually is your ego. It’s some part of your ego that’s interpreted the world differently and now the world needs to be that way and when the world is that way, according to your ego, it’s got to comply to that, right? We don’t know what’s going on in the Ukraine, we have indications but we don’t know and so what ends up happening is it’s colorized by whoever the commentator is, right? What their beliefs are, what their thoughts are, and depending on which channel you go on, you’re going to get a very big contrast in what is actually going on.
So, our biggest gift we can give ourselves in building internal stability is to be open, curious and want to grow. As long as you stay in that state, I mean, I love you know— I have to tell you that I think some of the best, I mean, I don’t watch much, I don’t watch TV but I do like to occasionally watch a movie in the evening to relax and I love the superhero movies. I think they’re some of the best movies. They’re great and I’m open, curious and want to learn from them, right? And you can learn from them, you can learn the messages and the underlying themes and usually it comes down to what we value, right? And the superheroes, the one thing they have, is they have high values. They apply whatever they value most at the top of the list and they stay true to those. So, everything in life is a choice. So if you have a high value, a very principled base high value, something you really value a lot, it will take precedence over something you don’t value as much, right? And as long as we have that hierarchy and we make the choices based on what we value most we’ll continue to progress and grow and we’ll become more.
[00:34:59] We’ll become better parents, we’ll become better citizens, will become better and better in the sense that we’re more malleable, we’re more— you know, the word the superpower, if you want to know really the superpower that I would like to bequeath to everyone is psychological flexibility. That is the most powerful. If you become psychologically flexible and you’re able to take in whatever the world gives and be able to create that calm and I like to use the analogy of, like water on a duck’s back, whatever happens, you can let that water just roll off you. Then you’re in a place where you can fully engage the rational part, the brilliant part of your brain that will make the decision.
We know we need to eat better, we know we need to exercise, we know we need to be less stressed, we know we need to get out in nature. We know we need to sleep, but we know all these things intellectually but because of the processing that occurs in the limbic part of our brain, the amygdala, it short-circuits us and our ego is having us do stuff and respond to stuff that just isn’t true and, you know, I like to talk about the inner roommate is basically 99 percent full of crap. It is made— makes up stuff about everything and most of it isn’t true but yet the next morning you get up and you’re listening to your inner voice again, you know, it just absolutely derailed you. Told you all the right information, wrong information, on something and then basically the next morning you get up and you’re listening to it again.
So that’s really the job, the work, the inner work. The real deep work is building emotional stability, literacy and agility, being able to respond, process, whatever comes in. Really look at it as your thoughts and your feelings. Look at those. Just like you look at it at a coffee table. As you look back at your superheroes and process it from that way. Make sense?
Craig: It does. What I hear you saying is there’s no tropical island where these problems don’t exist so it really is up to us to mature and learn how to handle it in the moment. In a more mature way, by understanding ourselves and letting a lot of it go and just realizing that it’s [crosstalk 00:37:09]
Dr. A: Yes, actually, you used a great analogy. Now listen, I spent a lot of time sailing and in the islands, right? And I go to the out islands. I love them because in their beauty, the reefs aren’t spoiled, there’s tropical fish, you know, you can catch your food and pick what you want and spear a grouper or catch a lobster. You can sit in the beautiful tranquil water but I can tell you and I always have this thought, you know, “This is beautiful,” yeah, because I’m there on an ultra, ultra-modern boat. I have air conditioning, I have all the water I want, and I have all the supplies and condiments and everything to enjoy it. If I was there, on that island, this beautiful escape, the dream fantasy, 100 years ago or stranded in the middle of the pacific or somewhere where I had to— and I actually had drank coconut milk, right? Which is really basically, was the source of water for Tom Hanks, right? On “Castaway.” It’s fantasy. It’s fantasy.
Reality. Our lives are intrinsically unstable. If we think we’re supposed to be a certain way, we are going to be sorely, sorely unhappy for most of our life. That’s why external measures whether, it’s wealth, fame or looks, if you’re basing your life on your looks, you are going to be sorely disappointed in the second half of your life, right? So the whole point is it’s inside, what determines what will bring fulfillment and internal stability. Cool. Great talking to you.
Craig: Thank you.
Dr. A: All right. You’re welcome, Craig. All right, who else we got?
Rachel: All right, we have Dawn. You’re next.
Dr. A: Hey, Dawn.
Dawn: Hi. Thanks so much and I just want to, I would just want to say you’ve changed my life. This whole program. All of it, so thank you. Thank you and what I’m discovering, listening to these other questions, they’re actually very closely related to what my original question was and so I have some answers, but I’ve been able to very effectively apply this to myself coming up above the line, getting out of the drama triangle, based off of excellent questions from my mentors. They really knew how to dig deep and peel back some of those layers and quite honestly bring me to tears to kind of come to the end of myself. To unbecome, so I can become. I’m finding that I’m really struggling with people that I have longer term relationships with, who are also now clients, to help them and I don’t know what that’s about, but I have a harder time. People that I know deeply and intimately, knowing what questions to really ask them to help them come out of admitted spaces of, “Hey, I know I’m below the line. I don’t like that this happened and I’m going to just retreat to my bubble because that’s where I’m safe, and want to stay,” and that’s what I have a couple of people saying and I just— any advice.
Dr. A: Yeah, well it they— it’s you have to have a desire. There has to be desire to grow and the best way— oh, first of all that’s one of the— what we’re talking about— the language we’re using here. The things Stop. Challenging. Choose., above the line, understanding our thoughts are not who we are, your inner roommate, those are all conceptual things that most people don’t know. Most people are being driven and controlled by their ego. You got to know that and that’s because that’s our normal design, that’s our default. That’s just the way we came out of the box and it was reinforced during our life by other people because, you know, there’s a negative bias and with that negative bias what ends up happening is most people will share some— 33 people as a whole will share something negative, only three people will share something positive.
[00:41:04] So, there is a negative bias to get in that triangle, be down in the triangle. That’s where they’ve lived and you’ve been on a journey, how long have you been working on this would you say?
Dawn: Just about three years.
Dr. A: Three years, okay. So, three, if you went— okay so if you, let’s just say you were, well I’m not going to say, “you,” but let’s just say you were 50 pounds overweight three years ago. You went on the program, you learned the Habits of Health, you’re now using all six Macro Habits and you’ve now gotten down to a healthy weight and now you’ve learned, because you’ve learned the six Macro Habits, you’re practicing all of them, right? Three years. If you took a telescope and looked back to you three years ago, before you started, you were just like they were.
Dawn: Yeah, absolutely.
Dr. A: So, here’s the thing, the difference is you can look in the mirror and see you’re overweight. You don’t look in the mirror and see your ego. Your ego is in charge and it’s designed to be in charge and so every excuse in the world will do. So, until they become aware, and it is in their best interest, and they now see why it’s important, they aren’t going to change. It’s easier to stay in our comforts. I always like to say, “Get your blankie and suck your thumb,” right? And it’s easy. It’s easy, it’s the way— it’s the comfortable part. There’s some days when, listen— someone will say something to me and I would like to just take out my scalpel and rearrange and take out their limbic area of their brain because they’re so inappropriate, but I realize that all you do, is if you interact with them in a reactive way you’re not helping. You’re actually adding fuel to that drama triangle.
So, what I always do is just ask curious questions and again the orientation that you have be open, curious, and want to grow. So, you know, if you— especially the people you’re close to because you’ve got to remember something, you interacted before this time in the same way. You were in the drama triangle together. You were talking about how Will Smith, you know, went up there in cold clocked Chris, right? And you were. That’s just how we are. That’s— we’re humans. We’re humans. As you become a leader and you’re helping lead yourself and others it requires you to have the resources, the discipline, the time in order to spend the time to work on it and to do it in a way where you’re helping them become self-aware.
The progression to higher consciousness starts with self-awareness. The person needs to be aware that their current behavior, or their current thinking, or their current feelings are not serving them and they want to do something about it. Until that point, that’s why I start with Stop. Challenge. and Choose., because we all know that the easy way is one of the quickest ways we self-soothe ourselves, is with food, right? And certainly as we start people and help them start losing weight and starting to gain health, what we do is we— they deal with food and food is so prevalent. Ten thousand years ago the reason why we would eat a whole berry bush and why we have 40 billion fat cells is because energy dense food was very rare back then. It’s— you have a 100 percent chance of bagging something to eat when you go open your refrigerator. Ten thousand years ago it wasn’t. So, everything in our condition is counter to that, right?
So food’s a good one to start with because basically there’s things that, “Why am I eating? Why am I self-sabotaging?” It’s a great way to start and you can start the discussion there. That’s an easy way and you’re not trying to— remember you’re not trying to fix them, you’re trying to help them be able to fulfill the things that are important to them. Becoming the dominant person in your life, dominant force in your life, requires us to be able to handle things when everything isn’t perfect. Yeah, you know, every— two times a day a broken clock is correct, right?
Dr. A: Right, but most of the time it’s not and so for most people— and what you did is you were operating on the same operating platform as them before. Now they’ve come to you, they’ve seen your growth and you’re coming to them and you’re recalcitrant from trying to help them because you don’t want to damage your friendship and you don’t want to hurt that friendship, but that friendship, basically, if it’s really on what you value— so here’s the thing, if you— that, and this is not you, but in general, if you value going to the bar after work on Friday night, and that’s what you value most, or going to the Ravens football game on Sunday and sitting out with the boys having three kegs of beer and eating, you know, ribs til you can’t think, then those things, if that’s what you value most, you’re not ready to create health and well-being, but if you are ready, helping them organize their thoughts around what they value most and if their health is a priority, it’s really important to know between stress, you stress and distress.
[00:45:46] There’s a huge difference in your health, your proclivity to eat bad things is dramatically elevated when you’re in distress. If you’re emotionally dealing with emotional mismanagement it is harder to do the things that support health and so that’s really what your journey is. Your journey is through questions having them come to the realization. Remember that ego is standing front and center at their front door not wanting you to come into those spaces with them and so their normal thing is, it’s easy to say, “Oh right, now, you know, I’m not gonna— yeah, I’m gonna work— I’m gonna do the five and one but I’m not really gonna work on that,” the reality is, Stop. Challenge. and Choos., can help everybody.
I can’t tell you how many parents have told me it’s dramatically altered their relationship with their kids. It alters our relationship with everything. Just creating that, you know, that’s why I wanted to go back to that today and revisit that because basically, creating a gap between stillness and response, which occurs at the subconscious level is most of the reason why we’re in the pickle we are in most of the areas of our life. So, is that helpful?
Dawn: It is. Thanks so much. I just need to fine-tune the skill set of questions.
Dr. A: Yeah. [unintelligible 00:46:58], The best question is the question that came out of the work on Upset Technology, right? Is: What happened? What’s missing? What’s next? You know?
Dr. A: And then for you. Yeah, I mean, what you’re doing is, you’re actually re-engaging their prefrontal cortex. You’re actually taking it away. You’re not adding any fuel to the limbic area, you’re putting in the prefrontal cortex and having them start to think about it and, something that really bothered someone today, tomorrow they’ve forgotten about it, right? So, that really lets, you know, that a lot of that emotional stuff is just our voice and our inner roommate messing with us.
Dawn: Wonderful. Thank you so much.
Dr. A: You’re welcome. You’re welcome. Okay, who’s next?
Rachel: All right. We have Lisa up next.
Dr. A: There you are.
Lisa: Hey, Dr. Andersen. Thank you so much for doing all of these questions. They’ve been great and kind of have, you know, answered mine a little bit and I’m very thankful from this program and my son lost 150 pounds at 21 years old. So, probably changed his life forever, but my question is around hero coaching and actually having a comfort level with that and— but also it’s a draining type thing. So just tips on getting out of that. I think it revolves around my full-time profession as a nurse and so I wanted to just kind of, you know, hear some thoughts on what you thought about that.
Dr. A: Yeah. I mean, I think you already know the answer actually. It sounds like it, but the bottom line is you know you have great empathy. You went into nursing to help people. People that are in the hospital or in the care usually have something wrong with them. You know how to take care of that and so the relationship is, that’s something you value. You want to help them. The journey to health, see it’s, you know, I went through the same thing. I mean, I literally would stay at the bedside sometimes, not go home to my family, for a couple days sometimes. If I had a critically ill patient and I needed to be there, you know, I mean obviously I trained the nurses, they were really great, but some things required, you know, my level of training to keep them alive, and so I understand that.
I also understand that there was a good feeling inside. That I was helping a human live. That is an up and down one. I’m using my skills, you’re using your skill as a nurse to convey something and give them something that they really need, that you can give that they don’t understand or how to do. In this, it is very, very different. This is about awakening someone. That’s why this conscious work is so important, to be able to make the decision that they want to do it for themselves. We’re not for everybody. We’re for those that raise their hand and say, “I want to be healthier and I want to have greater well-being,” because without that shift, it can’t be done externally. There’s nothing you can do to help another human being be healthy if they don’t want to be healthy. It’s kind of like the, you know, the diffusion law, which is about early innovators and then the laggards. The laggards are the people that don’t give up the rotary phone until they couldn’t get one anymore, right? They’re the last ones.
There’s people that aren’t ready and in those people you want to expose them and bathe them and give them little glimpses where they can be helped, but not do it for them, because anything you do for someone else— now I’m not saying that so the role is rather than teach here, or nurse here, you’re guiding. You’re guiding and the most important thing, like we’ve been talking about all day today, is about asking questions. It’s about finding out what’s important and what they value and again connecting what they value most. If they value their grandkids and they’re 150 pounds overweight basically, they’re not going to be here as long as they can and, you know, just the reality of it. They’re going to go to the next world sooner than they would want to. So, in something like that you build the desire. You awaken them to the possibilities. If they don’t make a choice that their chances of living as long aren’t as great, not in a threatening way, but just in a reality, and then say— or and I wouldn’t even say it in that way, I would say in the way that, “You want to be here for your grandkids. To see them go to college. Don’t you? Don’t you want to see them raise their family? And be there, and then have your great grandkids,” and so whatever they value, that’s what you want to focus on and have them take ownership.
[00:51:31] Remember, commitment is the results you get. It’s not something, “I’m committed to do it.” If you’re 50 pounds overweight, you’re committed to being 50 pounds overweight. If you’re committed to going in the drama triangle every time something happens in your family, then that’s what you’re committed to and so your role is to awaken them and help them and if you really do care, and you’re empathetic, and compassionate, bottom line, you want to be too compassionate. you want to be in the middle, right?
There’s a— if someone is dying, I can tell you that in my training, I had to work in the pediatric oncology unit during my training and I could never do that. You know, it was— it just broke my heart and some people at that time, maybe I could do it now, maybe because I’ve grown and I’m more, much more, conscious, but there’s certain things that you— understand if you really care about them and that’s what you do. You are wanting to empower them, we want to empower them, to take control of their own health and well-being and to be their guide. To support them. Be their cheerleader or their drill sergeant, whatever they need, but do it in a way that’s supporting what they need, not what we want and so our response is that you’re helping. If you have them, by the way, if you observe that you’ve helped improve them and they’re getting better, that is your feedback mechanism. That you’re doing your best and you’re adding great value to them.
Not that you’re going and running across town to give them their fuelings because they ran out of something. Yeah? Okay. So, does that make sense? Because you’re not— you’re in the drama triangle, even though it— you think you’re being a good hero down there. You don’t want to address the reality of what they really need and that if you look down there you’re a coach. Coach guides them to be able to do more for themselves and to look at life differently and be open, curious, and want to grow. Cool?
Dr. A: Okay, awesome. We got room for one more question.
Rachel: All right, we have Elizabeth.
Dr. A: Hey, Elizabeth, how are you?
Elizabeth: Hey, Dr. A! I’m doing fantastic. How are you? Gosh, we’ve come a long way from 75 people at the yacht club in Annapolis, super Saturday. My first ever event. My question is this, would you talk just briefly about practice makes permanent, and why it is that we can sometimes really be making progress and then we just cycle back to those habits again.
Dr. A: Yeah. Yeah, I mean, you know, the things that come to mind is, if you “fire together, it wires together,” right? And versus— and, “you got to name it to tame it.” I mean, those are two little, cute little things that I love because your brain and the way our habits don’t go away, they just— you just don’t use them anymore, and so the key part is, if we’ve had something, we’ve done a certain way, and now we break that and for whatever reason there’s something that triggers us something that is still— we’re working on. Kind of like I talked about early on in the call, if there’s something you’re working on, you just have to keep going back to it until you’ve removed it.
So, you’ve got stuff inside that for whatever reason, something triggered it and you haven’t either figured it out yet or you haven’t fully released it and one thing I didn’t talk a lot about in the earlier question about energy when we’re kids is our energy. If there’s energy inside of you that’s been repressed and coiled in there that was painful, you’ve gotta— when it comes up, it has to be addressed. You have to go through it. if you don’t go through it then basically it’s going to come back and so those are the kind of things, especially if they’re traumatic, that come back and come back.
So, the idea is, though when something does happen and you make— we’re human, we’re not perfect and so no one’s going to be perfect, but if you have spent the time and you’ve studied this, when one of those things happens you now know, “Okay,” and you look back at it, you know what the trigger was. Then you say, “Okay, how can I let this bubble up in a healthy way so that I get this— move beyond this,” and then the second part is how to engrain through neuroplasticity. You know, firing these new pathways that build and wire, and wire strong neural pathways, and neuroplasticity so that I can stay in this new state and be able to release it and that’s really and it’s the most important thing, just like you would with your clients, is don’t beat yourself up, you know, stop deflating ourselves and realize that life is life and it’s going to happen, and some things we’re more sensitive to.
[00:56:08] It’s just like an alcoholic, you know, an alcoholic, the farther out they get in abstinence the easier it is not to drink, but if they drink it’s so easy to take that second drink, right? They’re there. The idea is you’re not fixing them, you’re simply discarding them as not being what you choose. So the idea is for your prefrontal cortex to be in charge and so that’s why this work on Stop. Challenge. and Choose., is so critical. When we make them, those guys on murderers row, right? That did the horrific crimes, there was a moment of lucidity before they actually enacted that where they could have stopped, but they didn’t have the discipline.
They didn’t have the Stop. Challenge. and Choose., they didn’t have that moment where they could take it back, refocus, and the consequences of it, and they did something based on emotion versus on logic and that’s really it, and when it does happen, don’t say, “Oh, see I can’t do this.” No, you can do it. You’ve just done it for 90 days in a row, or done it for six hours in a row, whatever it is, you can do it, and you can do it the way you want. The one that supports your health and well-being more then— the more it becomes compelling to you that’s what you want.
Dr. A: Make sense?
Rachel: Yes, absolutely. Thank you so much.
Dr. A: You’re so welcome. Great to see you.
Rachel: Good to see you. See you in Dallas.
Dr. A: All right! So, that’s it guys. That’s an hour. That’s all we got. Hopefully this was helpful. Please respond in the chat if there’s other things you’d like me to talk about. If there’s areas, anything I can do to help and more resources. We’re here to help change the world and help you take control. To build in and become the dominant force in your own life. God Bless. See you guys. Bye.