In this episode, I’m speaking with Dr. Joan Rosenberg about why emotional resilience, confidence, and managing negative emotions are the secret to an amazing life.
Table of Contents
- What is confidence?
- The 6 steps to develop confidence
- How to accept and lean into unpleasant feelings
- The 8 unpleasant feelings – and learn how they affect your body
- What is emotional strength and how to achieve it?
- How to learn to ask for help
- The power of speaking your truth
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Ari: Hey, everyone. Welcome back to the Energy Blueprint Podcast. I’m your host, Ari Whitten. And today, I have with me, my good friend, Dr. Joan Rosenberg, who I am very excited to have on, I think in this crazy time of fear of the coronavirus—of COVID-19. People really need the info that she’s going to share here. So, a little bit about her. She’s a cutting-edge psychologist who is known as an innovative thinker, acclaimed speaker, and trainer. She’s a two-time TEDx speaker and member of the Association of Transformational Leaders.
She’s been recognized for her thought leadership and influence in personal development. And she’s been featured in the documentaries: I Am, The Miracle Mindset, Pursuing Happiness, and The Hidden Epidemic. She’s been on CNN’s American Morning and on ABC, CBS Fox, PBS, and OWN networks, as well as appearances and radio interviews in major metropolitan markets. I will mention, most notably, she’s been a guest on The Energy Blueprint Podcast hosted by the amazing Ari Whitten, which is her most prestigious of all.
Dr. Rosenberg: I totally agree.
Ari: And she’s a California licensed psychologist. She speaks on how to build confidence, emotional strength, and resilience, how to achieve emotional, conversational, and relationship mastery, how to integrate neuroscience and psychotherapy, and suicide prevention. She’s an Air Force veteran, a professor of graduate psychology at Pepperdine University, and her latest book—which I’m a huge fan of, and I highly recommend everybody go on Amazon and purchase—is called 90 Seconds to a Life You Love: How to Master Your Difficult Feelings to Cultivate Lasting Confidence, Resilience, and Authenticity. So welcome, such a pleasure to have you, Joan.
Dr. Rosenberg: Oh, it’s a treat, and thank you for including me. And yes, you’re one of my most luminous and prestigious conversations that I’ve had.
Ari: I have as many viewers as CBS and ABC and all those good stuff—PBS.
Dr. Rosenberg: No. You ask very in-depth questions, and I love the interview that I did with you earlier. So again, I’m very grateful to be part of this. And today, what I want to talk about and share with those who are attending is how to master your emotions for superhuman energy. And the material is drawn actually from the book that Ari mentioned, 90 Seconds to a Life You Love. But also, you’ll get kind of a quick overview into that material. And you’ll get a nice exposure. You’ll get a lot of deep concepts that are part of that.
How do you respond to unpleasant feelings?
But what I want to actually just start with is to have you do a little bit of a self-survey. So as I run through the questions, just kind of know what you do. And so think about this. Do you avoid uncomfortable or unpleasant feelings? Do you often feel anxious? Do you worry about what others think of you? Do you engage in harsh self-criticism or negative self-talk? Do you hate asking for help? Do you diminish your hard work or your accomplishments?
Those questions actually or the answers to those questions typically are yes, for those people who struggle with losing energy and not having that experience of superhuman energy and instead drained energy because they don’t feel confident. And so, that’s what I want to speak to today. So think about what you answer to those questions and the beautiful part of your answer. And that question is that if you follow that question, then you actually have the prescription for what you need to do to actually change up your experience with confidence. So the path is actually embedded in the question itself. So let’s start then because so many people have definitions of confidence, but what is confidence? Well, I tend to look at it as that it’s the deep sense that you can handle the emotional outcome of whatever you face or whatever you pursue.
So it’s kind of an embodied sense of can-do-it-veness. And the element that I want to highlight the most here is the focus is on the emotional outcome. This idea that no matter what you face, you’ll be able to handle the emotional outcome of it. And that’s, again, what I want to deepen our conversation with about today. So then how do you develop confidence? Well, there’s about six to eight different ways. There’s the six that I’m going to, again, mention as we go down our conversation today.
The first has to do with being valued early in life. Now, the hard part here is that there’s a good many of us that are not valued early in life. We struggle. And we actually are hurt in life as opposed to being valued. And I know that is the basis of many people’s experience, but even people who’ve been through very difficult childhood experiences can grow into people who have high and rock-solid confidence. So what I want you to know is that you don’t have to start that way. It’s a great start. It’s a great foundation for those of us who have it, but even if you don’t start with that, you can achieve high confidence. And ultimately then the superhuman energy that we’re talking about.
Ari: I want you to connect the dots here for a minute. So confidence is a key component of your work. Emotional mastery, emotional resilience is a key component of your work. And energy is something that is very much related to both of those two things. So connect the dots for people between these three different areas.
Dr. Rosenberg: That’s a great question. So this is what I was talking about earlier in terms of the depth of your questions. So the way to think about it is when someone is not confident, and when someone does not handle their emotions as well, what ends up happening is that they cut off—— They actually have an experience of being cut off from themselves. I would describe it as they’re very disconnected from themselves. And what I watch happen, Ari, is that it more people because they stayed out so distracted from their emotional state, and as a result, they cannot develop that high confidence.
What ends up happening is that they drift into what I call soulful depression. And so, that depressed state actually is one of lost energy. And any time that we shut down on feelings that we’re actually truly feeling, we’re compromising our energy state. So to shut down feelings, to actually not express feelings, to stay distracted from and disconnected from what’s going on in one’s life—the truth of what’s going on—all of that compromises energy, and it drifts right into that soulful depression.
Ari: Beautifully stated. Simple and quick, connecting the dots in a very profound way. And I think this is huge. I mean, it’s such a big energy drain for so many people.
Dr. Rosenberg: Yes. And again, I wanted to start a little bit more broadly and then kind of deepen our conversation about the energy. I mean, why this is so important, but we’ve landed early on it, so that’s awesome. So again, being valued early in life. The second is developing an area of expertise, and this is actually an area of expertise you just develop and never share. You can actually have a sense of confidence and feeling better about yourself because of that. When you feel better about yourself as I already just was helping point out, we actually have way more energy. Experiencing and moving through unpleasant feelings, and that was what I was tying it into when we shut down on that lost energy—same thing in terms of expressing oneself.
The whole idea here has to do with speaking your truth. And when you don’t speak your truth, and you don’t express yourself, you compromise yourself, and you actually then compromise your deepest energy source. The engaged boldly has to do with taking action. So taking risks and taking action. This is an area that is not as critical in terms of the lost energy, but it can make a difference. When you don’t take risks, you shut down on perhaps your passion, which is a shutdown on energy as well. And the last is accepting compliments, which has to do with again, just acknowledging the truth of who you are. And the more you can be in the truth and express the truth of who you are, the more, not only have you mastered your emotional state, but the more energy you will have.
And this is the interesting thing because living in the truth of who you are is actually the most— I’m trying to think of the right word I want to express here. It’s the deepest pool. It’s the deepest resource you have kind of access for ongoing energy, almost like the energy is endless because you’re living in truth. So how do I take you to live in truth then? Well, for me, believe it or not, has to do with leaning into unpleasant feelings. And this is again, unpleasant feelings— These feelings are what people disconnect and distract from. So the more I can actually help you lean into those feelings, the more you will access the energy. Why again? Because you’re living the truth of who you are as opposed to trying to cut off 50% or more of your experience.
So most of us do pleasant feelings well. We just don’t happen to do the unpleasant ones. And it just turns out that became the focus of my work. And what I know is that it leads—when you can do this—to a great sense of inner peace. Again, frees up your energy. So how do we lean into unpleasant feelings? Well, for me, it’s through what a friend of mine called the Rosenberg Reset. I had it as a formula; he named it, but the formula is one choice, eight feelings, 90 seconds. So let’s dig right into that. What is that?
Well, the one choice has to do with your willingness and your openness to be as aware of and in touch with as much of your moment to moment experience as possible. So you’re choosing into being aware of what’s actually going on for you in the moment as opposed to doing things to distract, and there’s at least 35 different varieties of distraction that I’m aware of like drugs, alcohol, sex, pornography, shopping to just to name a few. Social media as much as we need it, it can get in our way. But the idea here is that many people stay in avoidance as opposed to awareness. And my invitation to you is to choose into awareness because that’s going to, again, allow you to access the full truth of who you are. So what will you choose?
Ari: There’s a book I’m curious if you saw it. It was, I think, by Nea Aisle called Indestructible. Did you see that book that came out maybe——
Dr. Rosenberg: I have not seen that no.
Ari: One of the things he talks about, obviously, it’s on the subject of how distracted we are now, but a big part of that is just this constant escape from paying attention to what’s going on internally. And that every time we feel even the slightest discomfort, we are compulsively turning to our phones and our computers to check our email and check our social media 500 times a day. And that is constantly taking us out of this awareness of what’s going on internally, which is what you’re talking about here.
Dr. Rosenberg: Absolutely true. A 100% true. Yes, so if that’s the thesis of the book, I’m in full agreement with that author. Yes, absolutely. And again, the interesting thing for me, Ari, and you understand that very well, I’m always so struck by the simplicity of dealing with unpleasant feelings to really free up energy and what a difference it actually makes the help us feel our best and truest selves.
Ari: Yeah, 100%. It was huge for me when I read your book, and we did this first interview with you. And I really thought about it, and I challenged myself, and I’ve done a Ph.D. program in clinical psychology. So I have some history in this area, and I challenged myself to come up with other unpleasant feelings that couldn’t be lumped into these eight categories that you’ve outlined. And I really can’t think of much of anything.
Dr. Rosenberg: Well, good. And again, I’ve parsed out some of the other stuff, but then let’s continue. So we have the one choice and my invitation, as I said earlier, is that I want you to choose into awareness. That is your key. So I’m giving you the key to the kingdom, and awareness is the first key to mastering your emotions and to freeing up that energy.
Ari: Yeah. And you mentioned the key to the kingdom here. I just want to emphasize for everybody listening. This is a very simple process that Dr. Rosenberg is outlining here. But it is extremely powerful if you actually implement this on a daily basis. So don’t be fooled by the simplicity of this. It’s one thing to understand things intellectually. It’s another thing to actually put them into practice. And I’m telling you from personal experience that this very simple practice, this Rosenberg Reset that she’s developed is extremely powerful if you actually pay attention to how this is done and implement it in your life.
Dr. Rosenberg: Awesome. Thank you, Ari. I’m honored by your kind words. So then what are the eight feelings? So we’ve got the one choice. Now, let’s go to the eight feelings. And the eight feelings are sadness, shame, helplessness, anger, vulnerability, embarrassment, disappointment, and frustration. So why these eight? Because they’re the most common everyday spontaneous reactions to things not turning out the way we believe we need or the way we want. So it’s the everyday-ness of these reactions.
I think of them almost kind of like the equivalent of stabbing our toe physically. We have them. We experience them, and then the pain stops. And I know we can get onto the conversation about lingering feelings, too. I haven’t included in this, but we can talk about that if you want. But the most important point I want you to understand as you think about these eight feelings again is that they’re like most common, everyday reactions to things not going the way we want.
Ari: Yeah. And right now, with the coronavirus issue, there’s a lot of people, I think, feeling helplessness, feeling vulnerability.
Dr. Rosenberg: Absolutely. And certainly, sadness and disappointment because the whole experience, this unprecedented experience that we’re all going through, it all involves loss. And we’re not talking about just one loss. We’re talking about multiple losses. So loss of income, loss of work, loss of social connection, loss of the world the way we knew it. I mean, it’s just an endless array of losses, and the oddest part of it is that every one of us is experiencing it. So the beautiful part of that is that none of us are alone in it. All of us will understand the common experience that we’re sharing.
Ari: We’re all alone, but not alone in our aloneness.
Dr. Rosenberg: Right, that’s true. So, yeah, the important point here is to stay socially connected. So then what’s the 90 seconds? So we have the one choice awareness. The second are the eight feelings; the third are the 90 seconds. So again, I spent much of my professional life trying to understand what made it so difficult for people to handle unpleasant feelings? And it wasn’t until the neuroscience findings came out in the early 2000s when that information or that research was flourishing that I was able to kind of put together my own understanding of it and it has really helped. So the idea is that from what we know from those findings, and that research is that most of us tend to experience our emotional feelings—what we feel emotionally—in our body first. So think redness of like the neck or chest or even into the face.
So someone else might see the redness. You might feel the heat—the heat is a sensation. Or heat in your arms or the back of your neck for anger or a dropdown experience in your chest for sadness or for disappointment. And now it’s going to be different for every person. But the idea that I really want you to grab hold of here is that it’s in our body first. That’s how we come to know our emotional reaction. And it was Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, who talked about—— She’s a Harvard-trained neuroscientist. And in her book, My Stroke of Insight, she talked about that when a feeling gets triggered or when a feeling is triggered, there’s a rush of biochemicals that rush into our bloodstream that activate those bodily sensations I was just mentioning. And then what happens is that those same biochemicals flush out of our bloodstream in roughly a 90-second period.
So here’s the key to the whole thing or a second key. So we gave you the first key is awareness. The second key now to your energy and to being able to handle the unpleasant feelings is to understand that it’s not that we don’t want to feel the whole range of what we feel—I really believe we do—it’s that we don’t want to feel the bodily sensations that help us know what we feel. That’s what we find so uncomfortable. And that’s what we want to disconnect and distract from. So what I want you to do here is to understand that if you can ride one or more bodily sensation waves—so short-lived, bodily sensation waves—again, ride one or more short-lived bodily sensation waves of one or more of eight unpleasant feelings, then you can handle the emotional outcome of whatever you face or whatever you pursue. And that really is the kind of hidden secret or the hidden key to the whole thing.
Ari: Yeah, beautiful. Let me ask you. So just for people who might be wondering, so what’s the difference between, let’s say somebody is totally unaware, totally unconscious of these processes. They have these feelings arise in their body. Jill Bolte Taylor is saying these feelings arise. They’re 90 seconds. They may be sort of go away on their own. What is the difference between just not paying any attention to them, or even like distracting ourselves with Netflix or social media or compulsively checking our email versus using the process that you’re describing?
Dr. Rosenberg: Well, again, on my end, disconnection and distraction, there’s so many different things that happen with that. That leads to us living inauthentically. And we know when we’re living inauthentically. We know when we’re not telling someone the truth of what’s going on. Somebody says that it seems like something’s wrong. Oh, no, I’m fine. That’s a disconnected moment, Ari. And that’s an energy compromiser right there. That one statement is compromising the energy that someone has because now they’re shutting down. Now they’re walking down that path or drifting down that path to soulful depression. And they’re going to feel more anxious because they’re not telling the truth. So the effect is inauthenticity, increased anxiety, a greater sense of loneliness, headed towards depression, shut off from one’s own body. I mean, the list is pretty long—compromised confidence.
So it’s like my goal, and this is why the emphasis is on awareness is because staying in touch with what’s happening within ourselves is super important to staying in a match. That’s what I’ll call it. So the idea is you want to be congruent where what happens is in order to have that pool of energy, that resource of energy I was talking about earlier, what needs to happen is that we have a match, and we have a match between our actions and our words. And we have a match between our actions, our words, our thoughts, and our feelings. When we are lined up across those four—— And actually, I can add a couple more. Beliefs and values would add another couple. When we are lined up, and we match across all six of those things, we have the greatest pool of energy available to us.
The benefits of having confidence and emotional resilience
Ari: What you’re saying makes me think—this is a bit myopic and reductionistic—but it makes me think of narcissism in particular. It makes me think of the personas in the concept of kind of the idea that this social mask that we’re wearing, the person that we are presenting to the world versus what’s actually happening internally. It seems to me almost—and this is kind of how I’m interpreting what you’re saying—it’s like the greater the gap between who we actually are and the persona we are presenting to the world, the more that there’s lost energy, the more that there’s anxiety, the more that there’s all these mental tabs open that we have to constantly kind of keep track of and consume lots of our mental energy with to keep maintaining this gap between what’s going on internally and the version of ourselves we’re presenting to the world.
It sounds like—And first of all, I’m curious if you agree, but then I also am interested. It sounds like the answer is to have the confidence and emotional resilience to present yourself authentically and transparently to the world.
Dr. Rosenberg: Yes, to the first part. The second part happens in reverse order. So the way that we actually develop the confidence then, and the way that we achieve the match, interestingly enough, is to be it. So most of us think that I need to be confident, and then I will speak up, or I need to be confident, and then I’ll go take this risk or action that I’ve been waiting to take. And you know what? I’ll give you a perfect example. My intention is to start to go on social media daily, like Twitter or Instagram, or something like that to offer people tips, especially in this time of coronavirus and what we’re facing, and is video my favorite mode? No.
So the risk-taking here, the action taking, has to do with me developing greater confidence, but it’s not that I’m confident that I’m going to go do it. The reality is it’s the other way around. So that when I speak and through speaking, I gain confidence. When I go take the risk, and I engage in the practice of doing the video or something like that, then I gain confidence, but it is not the other way around. And why is it that I’m gaining confidence? Because I’m willing to handle the emotional outcome of it not turning out well—the eight feelings, one or more of the eight feelings. So it’s going to be messy as I practice and develop. So it’s the combination of the two of those. So it’s actually in the reverse order. So we have to be the thing to actually achieve the authenticity. We have to be the thing in order to achieve the confidence.
Ari: Yeah. As you are talking there, and as one of your slides earlier said, engage boldly. And a couple of the things that I really love to do, one is rock climbing, one is surfing. And for me, this idea of engage boldly it’s been a big thing for me for many years because surfing big waves scares me; rock climbing scares me. I’ve been afraid of heights since I was a little kid, so it’s a weird thing to do. Rock climbing is a weird thing to do for somebody who’s got a fear of heights.
But that’s part of the fun for me is that it is a playground for me to directly engage with this thing that sometimes in certain situations when I’m really high up and outdoor climbing has paralyzed me with fear, and to be able to be aware of that and choose to engage boldly rather than saying, hey, take me back down. This is freaking me out to make the decision to choose to go for that next move even though I might fall and maybe might slam against the wall if I fall.
But you know what? This relates to energy in a big way for me because whenever I don’t engage boldly in those circumstances, I feel depressed and like drained afterward. And when I engage boldly, when I paddle for a wave that scares me where I would normally want to avoid it or go for that next move when I’m up on the wall, even if I don’t get it, even if I fall, I still feel good that I went for it. And I’m content with myself and energized by the act of engaging boldly.
Dr. Rosenberg: Exactly, yes. So it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t work out. It matters that you do it, and you be it. And be willing to handle the emotional outcome if it doesn’t turn out. That’s why it becomes successful for you because you went for it, and you gained the confidence simply because you went for it. You gain the energy simply because you went for it. And now, the desired self is starting to match up with the aspired self.
Ari: Yeah, 100%. Yeah, that’s such a good way of phrasing that. I love that.
Dr. Rosenberg: So who you want to be on the rocks is who you imagine yourself to be, right? And when you take that leap, when you engage boldly, even if it doesn’t work out, now your desired is matching the aspired.
Ari: Yeah, 100%.
Dr. Rosenberg: So again, let me go ahead and then move on. And so, what I asked you to do then is just what you can do if you want is to take the eight feelings and just observe yourself. So take a few moments after the presentation is through and write down those eight feelings and then walk yourself through how, what, and where you experience those in your body. So take a deep breath between each one. So you kind of clear it, and then go for the next one. And then I would say end up with three positive ones. So it’s like a sense of pride, sense of accomplishment, and love. What love feels like. So that you also notice the positive or pleasant feelings as well.
Exercise – learn to recognize unpleasant feelings
Ari: Joan, I’m thinking maybe let’s just make this really practical. Maybe you can guide me through how I would practice it, and people who are listening or watching can follow along with that. Would that work?
Dr. Rosenberg: Sure, absolutely. So then what I would say is find a comfortable position, and the idea is you’re leaning back against your chair, and you’ve got your feet kind of flat on the floor. Then what you would do is you would close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. So just take a couple of deep breaths in or deep breath in, and go ahead and exhale. Take another deep breath in, go ahead and exhale. And then I would have you take a third deep breath in and exhale. And then what I want you to do is to notice how, what, and where you feel the experience of sadness. It might involve recalling a memory. You might be able to access the experience itself but just notice it, take a deep breath, and let that clear.
And then notice how, what, and where you experience the experience of anger or being angry. Same thing, notice how, what, and where. Take a deep breath, let that clear, and then notice how, what, and where you have experienced a sense of accomplishment. Something you knew that you did well, and you feel really good about it. Notice how, what, and where that is in your body. Take a deep breath and let that clear. And then the same with love.
Let yourself experience being in love or giving love, sharing love, and notice how, what, and where you experience that. And then take a deep breath. Return to a great sense of alertness. And hopefully, one will have noticed some distinctions in that. Some people don’t. So when you’re ready, come back and join. So that’s how you can do it. That’s using just a couple—— That’s how I would then have everybody kind of walk themselves through it practically.
Ari: And it really does reset. I mean, it’s like just using your awareness to pay attention to those moments and to consciously with intent be aware of them, consciously release them, and then move to the next thing. And then in 90 seconds of that, now you can engage with the world again, fresh. How often do you think someone should be doing this?
Dr. Rosenberg: Well, I don’t know that I would necessarily have them do what we just did over and over. What I would have them do is do this until they can experience the distinctions between the feelings. Some of them feel like they blend together a bit for people. So broadly speaking again, the thing is that it’s going to be different for every person. And we’re just unique beings. So it’s going to be different for each one of us and that people who have a hard time accessing the locations often have try to not be aware of their body. So it may take some time for people to start to notice where in their body certain feelings land. And so, the key is that they just have to—— I would have them repeat this exercise until they can have the distinctions between the variety of different feelings, both unpleasant as well as pleasant.
Ari: Got it.
Dr. Rosenberg: And unpleasant tend to be more constrictive and pleasant tend to be more expansive and more whole body and lighter.
Ari: Now, I know the next section we’re going to get into is emotional strength, emotional resilience, which is another huge part of your work. So talk to me about that.
Dr. Rosenberg: So yes, again, it dawned on me in the book I have it as redefining emotional strength. Then it dawned on me that nobody’s defined it. So now, this is a definition of emotional strength, and I put two major elements in here. One is the idea of feeling capable. And the second is this idea of being resourceful. So what do I mean by being capable? It’s actually experiencing and moving through the eight unpleasant feelings I’ve just been talking about. And what I realized over time working in decades with clients is that someone did not feel capable of handling life or the vicissitudes of life, like what we’re going through currently if they didn’t handle the unpleasant feelings well. So how do you feel capable in life? You have the sense that you can handle unpleasant feelings.
The second part of it is actually this idea of being resourceful. And so, in this regard, you’re open to and comfortable with leaning on others. It’s actually allowing the —— We’re social beings, and we have both dependent and independent sides of our nature. In this case, it’s the deep inside of our nature. And it’s the idea that we can feel more comfortable leaning on others, which means that when that happens, you can acknowledge you need a limit. And the beauty of it is it sets you up for asking for help. And so what I want people to understand is that asking for help is part of our—— It’s a natural, organic part of our human experience. And when you can ask for help, you’re being resourceful, and it falls squarely under being emotionally strong. So I don’t want you to ever think again that asking for help means you’re weak. It’s not. It actually is the opposite. You’re emotionally strong when you can ask for help.
Reframing asking for help resistance
Ari: This has been an issue for me historically. I mean, I’ve always—— No issue like helping others when they ask me for help. It’s always yes, of course, but I always feel like I’m burdening others if I ask them for help.
Dr. Rosenberg: Well, can I respond to that one?
Ari: Yes, absolutely.
Dr. Rosenberg: The way to think about that is that if you think about how it makes you feel when others ask you for help, what ends up happening is that we’re respected, we’re valued. People trust us, and it’s all affirmations of those experiences. So the truth is asking for help is a compliment typically to the person who’s asked for the help. So the bottom line is you’re actually kind of cheating somebody or robbing somebody of that valuing, respecting, trusting experience from you to them when you don’t turn to them and ask for help. So my encouragement is understand that it’s actually a compliment. It’s not a burden. It’s a compliment to others when you ask for help.
Ari: That’s a really good reframe. I like that.
Dr. Rosenberg: So that’s kind of how I think through that one. And then there’s thinking that also gets in our way. The three biggest that I think about are what I call thought hijacks. They are anxiety, worry about what others think of you, and harsh self-criticism. Now, anxiety, again, this is a shorter experience. So I can just kind of highlight a couple of things. They’re discussed more thoroughly certainly in the book. Think of anxiety—Psychology talks about it as diffuse apprehension of the future and really anticipating a negative event. Again, we’re in that kind of world right now where we don’t know what the future will bring, but if you actually frame it a little bit differently, it changes your experience somewhat.
And I tend to think of anxiety actually, as people feeling vulnerable. And so, what’s vulnerability? It’s this idea that we could get hurt. And so, we’re living in a much more vulnerable time, and it’s not only that in reality, things are more vulnerable, but that we have a heightened sense of awareness of our own vulnerability. Those are two very different things, but if you actually wrap your head around both, and you acknowledge that what’s going on is not anxiety, but instead that you’re feeling vulnerable, I think it actually helps you modulate that feeling a little bit better if that makes sense. It’s actually wrapping your head around both distinctions. The other, worry about what others think of you, again, these are energy robbers, by the way—massive energy robbers because when you worry about what other people think of you, you’re not centered in your own being. You’re putting all of your energy and the source of your energy outside into others.
Well, there’s no way for us to have that deep pool of energy available to us, that unlimited energy source available to us when we’re like that. So my suggestion there is to bring yourself back into the present, and ask yourself what do I think, feel, need, or know right now, so that what you’re doing is you’re bringing yourself into the present and bringing yourself back into yourself. So you’re looking through your own eyes as opposed to trying to look through somebody else’s. Again, a major compromise to energy when you just worry about what others think. And then the last one that robs more than anything else is you beating up on yourself—harsh self-criticism, negative selftalk, whatever you want to call it, the more you do it, it’s not equivalent to the unpleasant feelings. It’s exponentially worse. And I don’t even know the number of the exponent put on that. That’s how bad it is
Ari: There’s actually research—I don’t know if you’ve seen this—but there’s research on what’s called, in the literature, self-critical perfectionism relationship to burnout syndrome and stress-related exhaustion disorder and chronic fatigue syndrome. And that specifically, that personality characteristic is linked with a much higher risk of getting one of those fatigues—There is a correlation there with energy that’s already kind of built-in the literature that I want people to be aware of.
Dr. Rosenberg: Right. Now, I guess I am aware of the literature. And so what do you do then if you engage in harsh self-criticism and negative self-talk? And I’ll give you a very quick example of what it sounds like. I was on an interview similar to this one, not as good as this one, but similar to this one.
Ari: Well done.
Dr. Rosenberg: Quick learner. And somebody was fumbling. I couldn’t hear him. He couldn’t hear me. And I could hear him say, oh, I’m so embarrassed. And then the next thing out of his mouth was, I’m such an idiot. I’m so stupid. That’s how quickly it happens. But that’s how I want you to hear the difference. One was embarrassment, which I totally get. Totally fine. Who cares? He’s embarrassed. Okay, so what? It goes away, but I’m such an idiot. I’m so stupid does not—self-attack, damage, damage, damage, highly toxic.
So the thing for you to think here is that it’s a thought hijack. And when you go to harsh self-criticism or negative self-talk, which robs you of immense energy, then what ends up happening is that you are hijacking unpleasant feelings. Just walk it back and ask what unpleasant feeling proceeded the selfcriticism. And then the last thing that I want to talk about really is the importance of speaking your truth. That when you tell the truth of what you think, what you feel, and what you observe, and you do it from a positive kind and well-intentioned place, then it becomes the superglue to confidence.
Ari: So profound.
Dr. Rosenberg: Thank you. The thing, as Ari and I were talking about earlier, for you to understand is that it’s counter-intuitive. It is not that you’re confident, and then you speak. It is as you speak, and through speaking, you develop the confidence. Why? Because as we said earlier, you’re willing to tolerate the discomfort, the emotional discomfort that comes with this speaking up, and now you’re handling two things. You’re handling the speaking as well as the emotional outcome of the speaking.
And both of those help make you stronger. So the truth behind speaking up is not to get what you want. That’s the goal that most people see, but getting what you want is actually the benefit. What you want to do to speak up and to have your greatest amount of energy is to understand that speaking up is intended to grow you. It’s intended to evolve you. And again, when you can get all those different pieces to match your thoughts, your feelings, your words, your actions, your values, and your beliefs, you will have that deep pool of energy available to you. And that is what makes you superhuman.
Ari: Beautiful. Joan, this has been awesome. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom with everybody listening to this summit. This is such a powerful and important message, especially during these times. And I really thank you so much for sharing it. I’m a huge fan of your work personally, and I love what you’re doing, and thank you for coming on.
For everybody who is interested in following you, please let them know where they can do that. I also want to mention for everybody listening, go to Amazon, get the book 90 Seconds to a Life You Love. I highly recommend it. It’s just so important—these practices that Dr. Rosenberg has shared with us in this interview. So thank you so much. And where can people follow you if they want to learn more about your work?
Dr. Rosenberg: Thank you, Ari, again for your kind words and your support. The Drjoanrosenberg.com has kind of a coalescing of many different things. So that’s probably the central source. There’s a couple of TED Talks out there. Again, if you just punch in my name, then you will probably find a variety of excellent interviews like Ari’s. That’s the best place to go. And then there’s many others. I’m on all the social media——
Ari: Beautiful. Thank you again, my friend. I really enjoyed this.
Dr. Rosenberg: Likewise, I’m honored. Thank you.
How do you respond to unpleasant feelings? (02:45)
The benefits of having confidence and emotional resilience (23:43)
Exercise – learn to recognize unpleasant feelings (30:30)
Reframing asking for help resistance (36:44)