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Your Anxiety Toolkit - It's a Beautiful Day to Do Hard Things

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Your Anxiety Toolkit - It's a Beautiful Day to Do Hard Things
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Now displaying: February, 2022
Feb 25, 2022

SUMMARY:

We all know that self-compassion is am important tool for anxiety recovery.  In this weeks episode of Your Anxiety Toolkit podcast, I address a common concern; “What if I dont deserve self-compassion?”  This is such a common reason people do not provide themselves with compassion.  In this episode, review the reasons YOU DO DESERVE SELF-COMPASSION and some key concepts and self-compassion mediations to help you practice self-compassion.

In This Episode, we cover:

  • Self-Compassion Definition
  • Reasons people feel they do not deserve self-compassion
  • Ways to manage feeling unworthy of self-compassion
  • How to practice Mindful Self-Compassion

Links To Things I Talk About:

Self-compassion Mediation: Here is a link to several self-compassion meditations from previous episodes.
https://kimberleyquinlan-lmft.com/episode-2-lovingkindness-meditation/
https://kimberleyquinlan-lmft.com/ep-134-giving-and-receiving-meditation/
https://kimberleyquinlan-lmft.com/ep-110-this-compassion-practice-tonglen-meditation-for-anxiety-will-change-your-life/

Episode Sponsor:

This episode of Your Anxiety Toolkit is brought to you by CBTschool.com.  CBTschool.com is a psychoeducation platform that provides courses and other online resources for people with anxiety, OCD, and Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors.  Go to cbtschool.com to learn more.

Spread the love! Everyone needs tools for anxiety...

If you like Your Anxiety Toolkit Podcast, visit YOUR ANXIETY TOOLKIT PODCAST to subscribe free and you'll never miss an episode. And if you really like Your Anxiety Toolkit, I'd appreciate you telling a friend (maybe even two).

What if I don't deserve Self-Compassion Your anxiety toolkit

EPISODE TRANSCRIPTION

This is Your Anxiety Toolkit - Episode 223.

Welcome back, everybody. It is a joy to be with you again. Thank you so much for being here with me. Thank you so much for putting aside your valuable time to spend it with me. I feel so honored.

Today, we are talking about a question. And in effort for us to respond to this question, we’re actually going to ask ourselves some questions and I’m going to have some questions for you, and you’re going to think about them, hopefully, and then make some changes if you think that is what you need.

The big question of the week is: What if I do not deserve self-compassion? Now, one of the most common questions I get is this question, particularly when I’m with patients and we’re discussing the idea of practicing self-compassion or kindness towards themselves. Often, that is a question they ask, what if I don’t deserve it, or they may even make a statement like, “I don’t deserve self-compassion.”

Now, this is particularly true for those who are very self-critical and blame themselves for certain things that have happened either to them or that they have done. Like I’m saying, it’s like things that were accidental, things that they didn’t have control over, or maybe some things and mistakes that they did make. This is a really important question for us to explore. I’m going to hopefully get to explore it with you.

Before we do that, I would like to do the “I did a hard thing” for the week. This one is from Sophia. Thank you, Sophia, for writing in and telling us your hard thing. Sophia said:

“I suffered from OCD starting when I was 19. My hard thing I did was I reported my stepfather in for sexual abuse that occurred when I was nine when I found out I wasn’t the last victim. It took me 28 years to get to this place. And let me tell you, OCD really played into my intrusive thoughts. It made the process so much harder. But I did it and I feel like I’m out of the web of manipulation from my stepdad. This podcast helps so much and the book for self-compassion and fear workbook my OCD therapist recommended to me. I saw your podcast listed in the first few pages. Thank you for being a part of my support system without even knowing.”

Wow, that was an amazing “I did a hard thing.” Thank you so much, Sophia, for sharing that amazing hard thing. You are showing up and facing fear and pulling your shoulders back and living your life according to your values. That is impressive. I’m so honored to have you share that with us and really do wish you the best. You are doing amazing things.

Okay. So, let’s move into the bulk of the podcast in terms of let’s talk about what if I don’t deserve self-compassion. This is so important. I’m going to first pose to you the first question I have for you, which is, who actually deserves self-compassion?

If someone says to me, “Well, I don’t deserve it.” I’ll say, “Well, who does? What do you have to do to be warranted of compassion? Who does deserve it?” I really pose this question. I really hope you answer it. I would like actually you to sit down and ask yourself, “Well, then who does?” And you will begin to see very quickly, I’m guessing, the rules in which you have for yourself that keep you stuck.

Oh, the people who don’t have these thoughts, the people who don’t make mistakes, the people who are perfect, the people who look like they’re happy and are doing well. Or often people will say, “Everybody else is off the hook. It’s just, I’m not off the hook. Everyone else can be imperfect, mistake makers, but not me.” You’ll quickly learn the rules of your life.

I want to ask you, do you want to live by those rules anymore? Because this is not playing games. This is your life. Do you want to keep holding yourself to those rules that you just listed off? How does it benefit you to continue to hold yourself to that high, high standard? Often, we say, “I shouldn’t have these feelings. I don’t deserve it because I’m weak. I don’t deserve self-compassion because I’m not valuable. I don’t deserve self-compassion because of the content of my thoughts. The content of my thoughts is too heinous.” Okay. So, there you might want to look at, again, what are the rules and do you want to live by those rules? Because the truth is, you can’t control your thoughts and you can’t control your feelings and you can’t control life a lot of the time, almost all of the time. And so, again, do you want to live by those rules?

Next question: Are you beating yourself up for something that’s not your fault? Meaning can you control your thoughts? Because my thoughts aren’t my fault. I know my feelings aren’t my fault. I know how I interpret things aren’t my fault. That’s usually coming from years and years of being trained to think that way. I know my beliefs aren’t even my fault. I actually think we’re just creatures of habit and we were raised to believe certain things and we are going to make mistakes. I’m going to say this again: What would you have to do to warrant deserving self-compassion?

Often when we actually explore this, I really, really hope you start and actually write your answers down to these questions because when we stop and we look at like, okay, so if you don’t deserve self-compassion, we really know the benefit of you practicing self-compassion so much so that I am in the process of creating a course that will teach you. I’ve already written a book for people with OCD, but I’m creating a minicourse on how to practice self-compassion. It’s that important. I want everybody to have access to it, not just those who have OCD. That is a big part of my mission, is to get everybody to be practicing self-compassion.

Let’s say we really understand the benefits of it. We know it’s important. We know it can increase motivation, make you more successful, decrease procrastination, make you feel like a better sense of self. It can help you achieve your goals. So many benefits. It actually reduces inflammation. It gives you better wellness and health. It increases life satisfaction. So many benefits. Let’s say we want you to do it because it’s healthy, just like you would exercise because it’s healthy, or you would go get it to the dentist because it’s healthy. What would you have to do then to be warranted and deserving? And often then, again, you’re going to be very clear in terms of this list of things.

I’m going to ask you, are the list of things even realistic? Really, if you said, “Okay, I’d need to no longer have these thoughts and I would have to have changed the past and done something different. I’d have to regulate my emotions all the time. Never snap at my children and never say something silly at a party.” Is that even possible for any human? Really for any human, is that realistic? Do you actually think you can actually achieve that really honestly? This is a question. This is not rhetorical. This is an actual question.

The chances are, when you really answer it, the truth is, you’re not giving yourself self-compassion because you don’t feel like you deserve it. But the truth is, you will never be able to meet these rules that you’ve created for yourself. I don’t want to say that as if I’m blaming you. We’ve all done this. But I want you to be really honest with yourself in regards to, you’re never going to get to the place where you practice self-compassion if you keep those high level of rules, those perfectionistic rules. And then you miss out on this wonderful opportunity for your mental health and for your physical health, and for your wellbeing.

Here is another question: What would you have to feel in order to offer yourself self-compassion? Meaning how would you need to feel about yourself? What emotion would you need to feel in order to feel like you deserve it? What would you have to experience about yourself? Not the rules, but like would you have to. Some people say, “I don’t feel like I deserve it.” It’s a feeling.

The reason I ask this question is because often people will say, “It’s just a feeling I get. Sometimes I feel like I do and sometimes I feel like I don’t, usually depending on whether I’ve checked off all of these boxes.” But it’s still a feeling that you’re going off because it’s different. It’s not like you get your notepad out and you check the boxes. It’s a feeling.

I might pose to them, could you actually offer yourself self-compassion without the feeling and just do it anyway? It’s a very, very radical thought. What a radical idea that you might offer it to yourself even though you don’t feel like you deserve it. Could you offer it because of what you’ve been through or because of the checkboxes that you haven’t checked? Meaning I believe, and I’ve said this on the podcast before, and I’m going to say it very, very clearly here for you, I believe the more that you suffer, the more you are deserving of self-compassion. It’s not the more mistakes you’ve made and the more you’ve suffered, the less you deserve it. It’s actually the more you deserve it. “Oh, I’ve made a lot of mistakes today.” Oh, you’re even more deserving of self-compassion. We want to offer more to you. Oh, you are having a really hard day with some really hard emotions and some strong emotions. Oh, even more of a reason to offer compassion.

Now, usually when we talk about this, clients will say, “No, that’s just letting yourself off. That’s just getting out of jail free card.” I’m going to offer to you, like let’s trick this belief and check made it a little bit if we were talking chess, is self-compassion is not a get-out-of-jail-free card. It doesn’t mean you stop holding yourself accountable. It’s actually what helps you towards change. You are saying, “I don’t deserve self-compassion. I need to suffer and be criticized and punished because of something that happened.” Does that actually move you towards perfection? No, it doesn’t. It doesn’t create any change. In fact, it keeps you now doing behaviors, like I said, self-criticism, self-punishment, which keeps you stuck in a cycle of feeling bad and negative thoughts and feeling depressed and feeling hate towards yourself. Very little good comes from that. That is not getting you out of any problem. It doesn’t lead you towards being the best version of yourself. In fact, it leads you towards more and more suffering.

Mindful Self-Compassion

Offering mindful self-compassion doesn’t absolve you from what happened in the past. Ideally one day you will forgive yourself, but that’s a different topic. Forgiveness is not self-compassion. You can do both. You could forgive yourself as a form of self-compassion and you could be self-compassionate, which could lead you towards forgiveness. But here, what I don’t want you to think of is that people who are self-compassionate are just like, “Oh no big deal. I just totally did a terrible thing, and it’s not a big deal. I don’t have to beat myself up because that would be unkind.” No, that’s not what we’re talking about. And no one does that. If that’s the case, you’re not practicing self-compassion at all.

Self-compassion is just simply offering kindness towards suffering. That’s it. It’s not ranking you higher or lower and the good or bad person. It doesn’t mean that you don’t matter. It doesn’t mean that your pain doesn’t matter. It doesn’t mean that you can’t hold yourself accountable and take responsibility. It just means the absence of beating yourself up and meeting your pain with kindness and compassion instead of criticism and punishment.

The thing you’ve got to run mind yourself, and this is a huge thing I’m doing this year, is really trying to identify what’s working and what’s not. I do a lot of therapy. I think a lot. It’s one of my best skills and one of my biggest flaws, is I think a lot, I feel a lot. And it’s not a bad thing, but I’m really trying to be more efficient and effective. Meaning, okay, what’s the right amount of being responsible and taking responsibility? Because you could do a little bit, which is really responsible and very helpful. But then if you do too much of that, that doesn’t make you a super responsible person. It means now you’re moving into self-punishment. So, too much of one thing can be good and too much of one thing can also be bad. It gets you into trouble.

So, how can you be effective with the behaviors that you engage in, is the amount of criticism or self-punishment or deprivation of compassion, which is what we’re doing here and talking about, does that bring you benefits to your life? It’s an important concept for you to think about. Whether you think you deserve it or not, or whether you feel you deserve it or not, is it effective? We’ll come right back to one of the first concepts, which is, just because you think it, still doesn’t make it true. So, just because you think you don’t deserve it doesn’t mean you don’t deserve it. It just means you’re having thoughts that you don’t deserve it and thoughts aren’t always right.

We recently did a whole episode on guilt, quite a few months ago, but the whole concept was just because you feel guilty doesn’t mean you’ve done something wrong. Our brains make mistakes all the time. So, just because you think you don’t deserve it doesn’t mean you don’t deserve it. We think messed up, scary, wrong things all the time, and the truth is, anxiety lies. Depression lies. OCD lies. Panic lies. Chances are, a lot of these beliefs you have around self-compassion are also just lies. We want to move you towards recognizing that everyone deserves compassion. So, that’s the final where we land here, which is everyone deserves it. Everyone.

Really to be honest, even when I say the more you suffer, the more you deserve it, that’s actually not completely correct too, because that would still be buying into this idea that certain people deserve it more than others. Everyone deserves it equally every day, 24 hours. It’s just a done deal. You don’t have to give yourself self-compassion. But what are the negative impacts of your life, if you don’t, and what are the positive impacts in your life if you do? Think about how much good you can do in the world if you did. That’s the point I want to make.

Keep an eye out. We have a whole course on self-compassion coming. It will be for everyone. It will be $27. I’m in the process of making it. It will probably be available when this comes out, but just in case it’s not, keep an eye out in future podcasts. I will have a link on CBT School. You can go there and check it out. I cannot wait to share that with you. It’ll be a lot of these concepts, but actually more applicable skills for you to practice. Head on over to CBTSchool/self-compassion. I’m sure it’ll be there by the time we get to this episode and I am so excited to share it with you.

Before we finish up, let’s do the review of the week. This one is from Kanji96 and it says:

“This podcast is very helpful for me, especially when I’m going through hard times. Right now happens to be one of those hard times and here I am back listening to Kimberley. Thank you.”

Thank you so much, Kanji. Your reviews mean the world to me. Please, please, please go and leave a review. I mean it. If you get any benefit from the podcast, this is one way that if you feel at all so inspired to leave a review, it really helps me. It helps me to reach more people. It helps people to feel like they can trust the information here. I would love your honest review. So, go over to podcast app or wherever you listen and leave a review there. I am so grateful.

Have a wonderful day, everybody, and I will see you next week.

Feb 18, 2022

SUMMARY:

This week’s episode is incredibly inspiring, with Lora Dudek talking all about getting real about OCD recovery.  Lora shares her experience of having harm obsessions and harm OCD and how she managed being a mom during ERP. Lora also shared some wonderful ERP activities she did to help her keep track of her exposures.

In This Episode:

  • What OCD Recovery looks like for Lora
  • Her experience with Harm OCD
  • What kind of Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) Lora used for harm OCD
  • How she used ERP and recovery to decide what her values were (starting a career in ERP)

Links To Things I Talk About:

Episode Sponsor:

This episode of Your Anxiety Toolkit is brought to you by CBTschool.com.  CBTschool.com is a psychoeducation platform that provides courses and other online resources for people with anxiety, OCD, and Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors.  Go to cbtschool.com to learn more.

Spread the love! Everyone needs tools for anxiety...

If you like Your Anxiety Toolkit Podcast, visit YOUR ANXIETY TOOLKIT PODCAST to subscribe free and you'll never miss an episode. And if you really like Your Anxiety Toolkit, I'd appreciate you telling a friend (maybe even two).

EPISODE TRANSCRIPTION

This is Your Anxiety Toolkit - Episode 222. 

Welcome back, everybody. I am so happy to be with you today. Oh my goodness, I’m going to tell you a story, totally off-topic. But today’s episode is number 222, and coincidentally, it’s coming out just by coincidence the week of February 22, 2022. The reason that that is special for me isn’t because I have any kind of affiliation with numbers, it’s that I have this amazing memory of when I was very young. It was the 9th of the 9th, 1999. My mom, who is the most amazing human being in the whole world, had a 9/9/99 party, and everyone had to bring nine of something, nine flowers, nine chocolates. You could bring whatever you wanted. Nine of... We had nine of everything – nine shrimp on the plate, nine prawns. In Australia, we call them prawns. It was such an amazing memory. 

I told my children that we were going to do something similar because I just feel like that was such a beautiful memory. And so, I feel like I’m beginning that whole celebration with you because coincidentally, it’s episode 222 on the week of 2/22/2022. Oh my goodness. I’m sorry. I know that has nothing to do with the episode, but it is a story that is so near and dear to my heart and I just wanted to share it. It isn’t actually an off-talk topic because I really do want to bring some more joy to this episode and I really do want to slow down and enjoy with you all. It is a huge part of my goal for this year. So, thank you for sitting in that joyful story with me.

If you would like, I hope you do something with twos, if you can, on that day, something fun. Buy yourself 22 flowers, say 22 nice things to yourself, whatever it may be, because these are very much once in a lifetime experiences and memories. 

Today, we have Lora Dudek with us on the podcast. Now, to say that I am a Lora Dudek fan is an understatement. I love this human being. She is such a shining light, especially for people who have OCD and want to feel like there is hope. She has such a beautiful story, such a hard, but beautiful story, and a real authentic, genuine story to share. I am honored to have her on the show like I am to have so many people come on who have a recovery story to tell. I particularly love when I can be a part of it and I was a part of their story, or CBT School was a part of their story or ERP School was a part of their story. And so, it is just such an honor to have Lora on here. She’s talking about what recovery looks like for her. The reason I love this idea is, recovery is different for everybody. I really wanted you to get an experience of what it looks like for someone who has really done the work. Like I said, so many of our podcast guests have done the work and Lora is no exception. So, I’m going to head over and let you guys listen to that. 

Before we do that, I first want to do the “I did a hard thing.” This week’s “I did a hard thing” is from Fabian, and they said:

“Hi, Kimberley. First of all, thanks for creating the room to write about my anxiety. I am recovering from OCD, and today I was at the dentist for a tooth filling. I don’t like it because my mouth is blocked and I’m scared of getting enough air. And moreover, I do not like to get injections.” Oh my goodness, Fabian, I feel you on this one. “I was able to face both and stay very present with the body sensations like cold hands, many, many thoughts, high heartbeats. It was a hard thing to finish the week and I’m happy that I did it. I will have to face it again in February 🙂. All the best to you and your team.”

Amazing, Fabian. I feel you on so many levels. The dentist is so hard for me. No matter how many tools I use, it’s always going to be hard, but you did the hard thing. And that is what I love. So, thank you so much for contributing your “I did a hard thing.” I am honored and major props to you. 

Okay. Let’s get over to the show.

Getting Real about OCD Recovery (with Lora Dudek) Your anxiety toolkit

Kimberley: Welcome, everybody. I am so excited about this episode today. We have Lora Dudek. She is now a Licensed Professional Counselor, but when I first met her, she was going through her own journey, and I wanted her to share her journey with you today. Welcome, Lora.

Lora: Thank you so much. I’m so excited to be here. 

Kimberley: Oh my gosh. Okay. So, we’ve already pretty much cried before we even got on today together, which is beautiful. And so, I can’t wait to get into this whole conversation together. You and I met online many years ago, and now you’re a therapist, which just blows my mind, helping people. Can’t believe that. So, that’s amazing. Do you want to share with us your full-circle story?

Lora: Yeah, absolutely. So, one of the things that we were just talking about was that I started listening to Kimberley’s podcast back in 2017, somewhere around then, when I had been newly diagnosed with OCD. This is a total full-circle moment for me because she was such a-- I just called her a ‘lighthouse’ back in the day. 

My own story really started when I was just a kid. I mean, I was a little girl and was having intrusive thoughts. My intrusive thoughts have always been harm-related. As a kid, I didn’t obviously really didn’t know what that meant. I had a big obsession with death. I was very, very scared to die and other people around me dying or me somehow hurting them. But when I was little, it always just manifested as telling someone I was scared that they were going to die, and then them reassuring me that they weren’t going to die, which is such an interesting thing to look back on. No one ever knew that. But that’s where the reassurance started. 

I was looking back. I can see these areas of my life that were impacted from the get-go really. And then when I had my daughter in 2014, the anxiety just became absolutely overwhelming. From the moment that I knew that I was pregnant, there were just basically constant thoughts about something bad happening. I felt the entire time that I was pregnant like, I don’t know how to describe it really. Maybe nine months of almost getting ready to attend a funeral truly is how I felt, because it just seemed so heavy, already knowing I was going to be really responsible for this life. 

While I was pregnant, I even got one of those sonogram machines or the fetal heartbeat machines. I would be sitting at the office and have an intrusive thought that something had happened to her, and I would rush home and I’d make sure that her heart was still beating. My doctor knew me very well because I was basically calling every other week with something that might be wrong, that never was. And then once she was born, it really manifested as just constantly checking on her. These intrusive thoughts that something really bad was going to happen to her, that I wasn’t going to be able to take care of her, and constantly asking my husband at the time that I’m an okay mom. I can do this. I’m able to do this. 

Those went on really. These thoughts and that heightened anxiety went on for-- she was 16 months old at her first Christmas or her second Christmas, sorry. We traveled with family to go see family, and I was putting her down for her nap and ended up laying down beside her. She fell asleep and I fell asleep next to her. It was in a bed. When I woke up, my first thought was, oh my God, is she breathing? I thought I had smothered her. And so, I put my hand on her chest and I could feel that she was breathing and I went to get up and walk away. I had the thought, what if she’s not? I was like, “Okay, let me check one more time.”

That is where I say the walls came down, because from that moment on, it was like, there wasn’t any-- the checking just got out of control and it flipped. It got into this area where I was scared that something bad was going to happen to her, but now, I was going to do something bad to her. It just changed flavors really quickly. 

We got home from that trip and I told my husband. He had to go on a business trip for two days. I basically didn’t sleep for two days. “I thought I’m going to hurt her. Something awful is going to happen to her. I can’t take care of her.” Just going out of my mind. I used to get up and check on her, probably 10 times a night, to make sure she was still breathing. At this point, I became so scared of myself that I would block my bedroom door at night with my dresser to make sure that I wasn’t going to get up and do something to her. I was like, “Whoa, something’s really wrong here.”

So, I looked up an Anxiety Specialist and went and saw her. It took me about a couple of months seeing her and building rapport with her to actually let her in on some of the thoughts that I was having. I remember very vividly. It was an early morning appointment. It was a 7:00 AM appointment. The night before I barely slept, because I really did think like, this is it. I’m going to get hauled away tomorrow. I’m going to tell her these thoughts I’m having, and this is going to be the end of me. And so, that morning, I kissed my daughter, I kissed my husband. I walked out the door and got in my car and I was like, “All right, that’s the last time I see him for a while.” 

But I got into my therapist’s office and I broke down. I’m like, “I have these thoughts that I’m going to hurt my daughter. It’s the worst thing in the world.” She was like, “Do you want to?” I was like, “Oh my God, how could you even ask me that? She’s the most important thing in my life.” She asked me a couple of other questions. But then she said, “Do you know anything about OCD?” Through my tears, I was like, “Yeah, I do. I know OCD. I’m not clean. In fact, I’m really messy. I don’t even know why you’re asking that.” I was frustrated. 

And then she told me about intrusive thoughts and compulsions, and it was the biggest light bulb moment of my life. Everything just started making sense really from some of my earliest thoughts. I do have to say it was a bit of a relief at the beginning. So, that’s the story. That’s how I got diagnosed, and it started a whole new part of my journey.

Kimberley: Yeah. So you had relief. 

Lora: Yeah. 

Kimberley: And then what was your emotion?

Lora: Yeah, I mean, the relief was like, I’m not crazy, that it was so like something has got to be really wrong with me. And then it was just like, whoa, I checked the box for everything she just talked about with this disorder. And then the emotion, after a little bit, the emotion became like, this is going to take a lot of work. This is going to be a level of acceptance that was like, I started getting acclimated to what exposure therapy was. She didn’t practice exposure therapy, but she was amazing in the sense that she was like, “I have the person for you.” She knew enough, which is so important--

Kimberley: Yeah. Thanks for that.

Lora: Yes. To send me to an OCD Specialist. That therapist was amazing. She laid out for me how this was going to work, what we are going to do. It was a relief at first. And then there was a lot of grief. There was a lot of heartache, realizing how much this disorder had taken from my life. Ignorance can be bliss sometimes. I think that I dismantled that notion through doing ERP and exposures, and it became a very interesting part of the journey.

Kimberley: I know, I was thinking about you. You were saying you got in your car, you said goodbye. And then you had to walk back to your car and drive back to your house, right? How is that?

Lora: It’s like, I mean, I have some health anxiety too, so I always liken it too. I walk into a doctor’s office thinking this is going to be cancer. And then I walk back like, “Okay, now I just go back to life.” 

Kimberley: Right. I can just have this image of you, walking back to your car, going, “I guess I’m going home now.”

Lora: Yes. And I got back. My husband was like, “Hey, you doing okay?” I was like, “I got to tell you what just happened. This is what they said. Did you know that obsessive-compulsive disorder is like this?” And he is like, “No, but I mean, makes a lot of sense.”

Kimberley: Yeah. How crazy. It’s so amazing that you had that opportunity. Again, we know that that’s not a lot of people’s stories, so I’m so happy that you had that experience.

Lora: The thing, Kimberley, is that I do want to point out that I had been seeing someone for anxiety almost my entire adult, different therapists. This is the first time. Like, I said, I would have these harm thoughts, but I was just like, push them away, get rid of them. This was the first time I’d ever come head to head with being actually like, “I’m responsible for a little life. This is all on me.” It felt like I wasn’t going to be able to live the life I truly wanted to live. Other times, it was just like, okay, I can walk away from it. I can find some way to not be around it. Now I’m talking about my daughter who means more to me than anything in the world. Something has got to give.

Kimberley: Yeah. That’s really helpful to know that you have been in therapy. 

Lora: Yeah.

Kimberley: When I had previously done a presentation with you through the International OCD Foundation, and you shared about your exposure board, this whole idea blew my mind. The reason I really want the listeners to understand, when I teach ERP, I’m literally just teaching my way of doing it and I love hearing other people’s way of doing it. It’s the same, but it’s different. And so, I’d love for you to share about that as an idea for people. 

Lora: Yeah. Well, what started as one of the biggest, I felt like, almost hindrances of my pregnancy was that at the time I was pregnant, there were seven other women at my work that were also pregnant. I remember seeing them all being so happy. And then they had their babies and they were so happy, and they were-- obviously, it wasn’t like, we’re not going to blow this up like some kind of blissful totally time. They were new moms too, but they were going out and doing stuff. And that’s all I wanted. That’s what I wanted so badly, was to have those experiences with my daughter. 

So, my therapist and I started with imaginals and started with some really small things. I mean, I laugh about it now, small. Back then, it was like, no way. I did one where I was going crazy, where this wasn’t really OCD, the timeless tale of it’s not OCD. Such a classic. So, we started with imaginals and then even imaginals into sleepwalking at night, hurting my daughter, things like that. So, we worked our way up then to one day I was sitting in her office and she said, “What do you want to do?” I was like, “I just want to do normal stuff. I want to go to the zoo.” And she’s like, “All right, we’re going to the zoo.” And I was like, “What?”

Kimberley: You’re like, “Take it back.”

Lora: “I don’t say zoo.”

Kimberley: “I meant Zoom.”

Lora: “I want to have a video conference in the safety of my own home.” So, we started putting together this hierarchy based off things that I wanted to do with my daughter. And then she said, “I think a really good idea would be to take some pictures while you’re doing these and we’ll see what happens.” And I was like, “I’m absolutely not doing that.” There’s no way I’m taking pictures, because as I’m sitting there and having this conversation with this OCD on my shoulder, telling me, “You’re going to bring pictures back in here of you dumping your daughter into a tiger cage. Great. Let’s do that.” But we talked about it and I was like, “Okay, I’m going to do it.” So, that was the first real exposure I did when I went out on my own.

We start actually-- I should back up, we did start with driving, because I had this thing with my daughter not actually being in the car. I had left her somewhere. So, we drive and I wouldn’t look in the rear view. That was a whole exposure. When we got past that, then we went to the zoo. We went to the mall to have lunch. We went to the swimming pool, which was just like the death pool as far as I was concerned. Let’s see, I have the whole exposure board still on the side of my wall. I mean, we went and got pedicures and manicures. We did things that I wanted to do with my daughter. We got flu shots. That I wanted to do with my daughter that OCD told me was absolutely not possible, without having someone to tell me the whole time what I was doing. 

My reassurance came in the form of calling my husband, texting my sister pictures because then everything’s okay. They can see what I’m doing. And so, doing these exposures without engaging in calling anybody the entire time, without texting anybody the entire time. Just me and OCD and my daughter and here with the three Amigos. Here we go.

Kimberley: Mom and daughter and the third wheel, right?

Lora: Yeah. So, that’s how they looked. It was like, I really, really hit it hard over a summer, the summer of 2018. I called it my summer of ERP. Once I got going, I just wanted to keep going. It was terrible at the beginning, terrible because I would complete an exposure and I’d get home and then the rumination would want to start. It was difficult not to engage in that. It was difficult to just watch it. But through the exposures, I said at one point that the butterflies were my yellow brick road. Whenever I’d think about something and I got that feeling like, oh, it was OCD being like, “Really, are we?” And then I was like, “Ah, okay, here we go. Follow, follow, follow, follow.”

Kimberley: Isn’t it that in and of itself is beautiful? I always say with my staff, is you follow the smell. Meaning wherever it’s smelly and you don’t want to go, you go there. And that’s what you were doing, is just wherever you felt butterflies, if I’m right, you would go and do that thing. 

Lora: Yeah, absolutely. Because it became that-- my therapist phrased it in a way where she was like, “We’re going to play scientist.” That’s what she’d tell me. “We’re going to go try this out. Let’s just bring back what we find.” It was such a compassionate way to do that. It wasn’t like, “Here’s your exposure, do it. Go. Boom,” which sometimes I think can be a little helpful. But for me, it worked to be like, “Let’s go see about this.”

Kimberley: Yeah. “Let’s be curious.” I love it. Now I’ve seen this exposure board and it is so beautiful. You would have no idea you’re doing exposures. You look delighted most of the time. I wonder if you could even send me a photo and maybe we could show that in the show note, that would be wonderful.

Lora: I would love to. 

Kimberley: Yeah. I’d love to be able for people to click and actually see what it looks like. Maybe we could even say-- I try to give homework during the podcast. We could even say, “If you have anxiety, you could create your own.”

Lora: Yes. That would be awesome, because I’m telling you, whoever’s listening to this right now, you’re going to see that I look back on this board and it’s us smiling. There is one picture where my daughter is screaming, but that was the flu shot picture, and we did a hard thing. It was a beautiful day to do a hard thing, and I put it on that board, man.

Kimberley: Good for you. She deserved to cry. I think that you’re making a good point here, and I’ve had this conversation with some of my clients, is exposure is even if you don’t smile for the photos, still put it up because you did it, right?

Lora: Right. You did it. And that’s a thing. Along the way, those victories, I really don’t believe that there’s such thing as small victories. I know we say it a lot. A victory is a victory is a victory. Take it, hold onto it, and know that’s the fuel that you’re putting in this device right now that is getting you through this.

Kimberley: Yeah. I love it. Are there any other exposures that you did that you want to share that people may find different or creative? I love the creative ones.

Lora: Well, I just think that the exposures started to become organic. When I was first diagnosed with OCD, I did not know OCD’s voice at all. I was like, “No, no, no, that’s the voice that’s kept me safe my whole life.” And so, along the way, the more I started to do some of the work, I started to realize that that what-if voice, that’s when I’m like, “Ah, if I’m going along and doing something, what-if pops up.” That’s my voice of OCD. I’ve learned that. And so, for me, a lot of my exposures, even to this day, have to do with when the what-if pops up. How can I look the what-if in the eye? I left out obviously in a place where my daughter couldn’t get them, but I’ve left out kitchen utensils before. Just last night, I mean, I mentioned how I’m doing some OCD work again right now because it continues. The what-if popped up and my daughter hadn’t drained the bathtub. I was going to drain it right away. Now it’s not even like what-if. It’s OCD being like, “Whew, way to think of that one.” That was it really. And then I stopped myself from draining the bathtub and it’s like, “No, no, no.” And so then, I left the bathroom and I’m like, “We’re just going to leave that tonight.” 

Kimberley: That’s so cool. 

Lora: Really anywhere that I can poke the bear, I guess me and my daughter doing things out in public, then that just confronting that fear of me that I’m going to lose control, not be able to help her if she needs it. All those things, wherever the what-if pops up, that’s where I knew my work was. And it still is to this day.

Kimberley: Yeah. I love that you share that too. So, it sounds like some people, when we’re hearing this amazing story, they think it’s just, you’re done. Your exposure is done. Is that the case for you?

Lora: Yeah. I was one of those people, I’m going to get through this summer of ERP, which is why I still call it summer of ERP. It was the one summer. I had these high hopes that then once I get into grad school and once I really start working with people with OCD and helping people that the OCD just fizzles. I have recently just come into this space of understanding and ultimately, some acceptance of like, this is kind of a way that I live right now. I don’t know what five or 10 years down the road looks like. And I’m really, as far as OCD is concerned, not too focused on it. I’m focused right now on, how’s it showing up and are the things that I’m doing helpful? Are they getting me to where I want to be or am I staying in the same spot? That’s my litmus test, is am I living the life according to my values that I want to live?

So, recovery for me right now looks like I do exposures still, and I have even after the 20 months of COVID. I thought, man, I bet it could be really helpful to speak with an OCD Specialist again to get a little bit of guidance, get some creativity because that can help sometimes. So, I’m doing that right now even, and it’s been amazing. I think it’s just a process of building the muscle, of keeping the muscle and I think I’m gaining more acceptance by the year. 

Kimberley: Yeah. I mean, that’s a piece of it. You had said before, as we talked like mindfulness and self-compassion and act was such an important piece of your work and acceptance is such a core part of all of that, because there is so much grief. We don’t talk about it enough, right?

Lora: Yeah. There is though.

Kimberley: What was it like for you-- let me rephrase that. Was mindfulness and self-compassion a part of this process for you? 

Lora: Yeah, absolutely. So, my amazing therapist knew about Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and she had mentioned it to me. There was a program that was going on. I lived in Dallas at the time, at the Dallas Yoga Center. It was an eight-week MBSR program and I signed up for it. We did a body scan, a 40-minute body scan, the first class, and everybody woke up and they were like, “That was so relaxing. That was so awesome.” I raised my hand, I literally raised my hand and I was like, “I don’t think I did that right. I just had a 40-minute panic attack.” It was awful. 

But I should say too, that shortly after I got diagnosed with OCD, I realized I had become incredibly dependent on alcohol, especially being a new mom. So, I had completely quit drinking. I was like, “All right, if I’m going to do this, I’m going to do this. Let’s go.” I quit drinking. I didn’t want to have that crutch. I was in the MBSR program. I talked to the teacher. She convinced me to come back the next week. And then the next week, we did another meditation. Towards the end of it, she read a Mary Oliver poem that ends with “Tell me what you plan to do with your one wild and precious life.” It felt like a dam burst open in me at that moment. I was like, it is so precious and it is so amazing, and like, “Lora, you can do this. Let’s give this everything we’ve got, the exposures.” Learning to sit with myself through mindfulness was huge because OCD and anxiety do not like that. We need to be moving. 

So, mindfulness was so huge for me to be able to just breathe and be in a moment and watch my thoughts instead of engage with them. Mindfulness then I say was the gateway to self-compassion because I’m not sure-- maybe I would’ve gotten there, but it wouldn’t be as soon to be able to be with myself and to hold myself and that loving-kindness. When you don’t even want to sit with yourself, it’s really hard to be able to look at yourself and be like, “I’m here.” You want to be like, “Let’s go.” So, yeah, self-compassion then was huge, because that voice of OCD is so nasty. I worked on a self-compassion journal for about six months straight, every day, really journaling.

Kimberley: What would you write? What would that look like? 

Lora: Yeah. So, I read and worked through with my therapist the Kristin Neff’s first book. And so, each day I would pick something that had happened, that was a little difficult and I would break it down into the three components of self-compassion. I would be mindful about what happened. Didn’t need any of my judgment in there. Let’s just lay it out there, what happened. Then the common humanity of it. Who else do you think in the world might have experienced this, or that feeling of not being alone. Man, probably a lot of people ran into something like this today. And then self-kindness. A lot of times, my self-kindness sounded like, “I’m really proud of you. That was really hard.” I don’t know how many entries I had over those months of being in a grocery store. Like a toddler going nuts in a grocery store and then just the flare-up of like, “Ah!” At the end of the day, that’s what I choose. 

I remember a couple of months, maybe three or four months in, where I was sitting down to write and I couldn’t think of something really hard that had happened that day. And I was like, “What?” It was such a weird feeling. After months and months and months of really intense therapy and some difficult things I was working with, I was like, “Today, I’m just going to be compassionate then about how much work I’ve been doing.”

Kimberley: Wow. I love that you’re sharing that because I’ve found even since-- I mean, I wrote a book on self-compassion, but since I wrote the book, I’m even pushing my clients to do it even more. The journaling and the writing to themselves seem to be the most powerful part of the work, the writing to themselves.

Lora: Yes. And I think that the writing to myself and the speaking to myself was the most powerful part of it. In the beginning, it was absolutely the hardest, especially with the voice of OCD. When I would look in the mirror and I would say, “You’re doing the best you can, Lora. You’re really doing this,” OCD would be right there to be like, “Are you?” It’s so egotistical. It just wants all the attention. “Maybe you’re not.” I sat down with my therapist a couple months into really keeping that journaling and I was just exhausted, just so tired from some of the work. I don’t know if you can see it. Can you see on my back wall “As long as it takes”?

Kimberley: Yeah.

Lora: I sat down and I just started crying one day and telling her this has just been so hard that sometimes I feel like I haven’t made any progress. I feel like I take two steps forward and five steps back, and was just really down about stuff. She sat there, just really holding some amazing space for me, but I said, “How long is this going to take?” She just looked at me and she just put her head to the side. Really, she’s such a sweet person, and she said, “As long as it takes.” She said it just like that, “As long as it takes.” And I was like, “Okay. As long as it takes. Throw out the timeline then. Let’s just keep going.”

Kimberley: Yeah. I love that I got goosebumps hearing you say it. All the hairs in my arms are standing up. And I love that you have it on the wall, because I read it as we were starting. I was like, “You know what? We’re good.” It shakes off all the rules and stories we tell ourselves.

Lora: Yes. My mom actually, she made that for me, for my graduation from grad school. She made that and framed it for me. 

Kimberley: I love it. Yeah. You are so inspiring really.

Lora: Thank you so much.

Kimberley: Yeah. Number one, I’m so grateful that you’re here and you’re sharing this, and number two, I’m so excited that you’re going to change lives for people, being a therapist and so forth. I’m just so grateful that I got to see some of it.

Lora: Yes. Because before we even started recording, we were talking about how on the Mondays-- what were they? Magic Mondays?

Kimberley: Magic Mondays.

Lora: Magic Monday. I’d be like, “All right, it’s magic Monday.” I’d log on and I’d ask questions and I was really inquisitive and you were so sweet. You answered all the questions and you were just so-- it was like this feeling of it’s going to be alright. It is. I think when we can cultivate that and know the sky sometimes can feel like it’s falling, we do really have the power to look around and say like, “Here I am.” Here I am, put our hand on our heart and say, “This is what I can do in this moment. I can at least show up for me at the very least.” And that’s not the least thing at all.

Kimberley: No, no. Like I said, you’re so inspiring. I’ve written so many notes, which is so fun. I don’t usually get that many notes down. So, I’m just so grateful for you for coming on and sharing your story. I loved presenting with you. That’s where I felt like I got to know you, so I’m so grateful. Where can people find you?

Lora: I am on Instagram and the account that I share a lot of my OCD journey with and things that I have learned along the way is Judgment-Free Anxiety, but it’s judgment_free_anxiety.

Kimberley: I love that. What’s for you in the future? Tell us about what’s popping out for you.

Lora: Oh man. Well, right now, I hope to be employed somewhat soon. It’s a new life now after grad school and after becoming licensed, and just hopefully a lot more adventures with my daughter, going to do that. And man, that’s it. I did actually recently become certified to teach mindfulness, so I’m also looking at doing something with that as well, but I’m not sure exactly what.

Kimberley: Yeah. Such good skills to have in your toolbelt.

Lora: Yes, absolutely.

Kimberley: Well, thank you so much. You filled my heart up today. Thank you. 

Lora: Thank you so much, Kim. Thank you.

-----

Thank you so much for coming and listening to our podcast. Before we finish up, let’s do the review of the week. This is from nmduncan827, and they said:

“Compassion, comfort, and wisdom. I’ve been following Kimberley Quinlan for years now and I can’t say enough wonderful things about her and her work. As someone who has had OCD their entire life, I feel like finally at the age of 33 I’m beginning to find helpful resources to really push me along in my road to recovery. Between Kim’s Instagram page and her podcast and her new book— there’s little nuggets of compassion, comfort, and wisdom. I found this no matter where I am on my journey. I couldn’t recommend this more for my fellow OCD and anxiety-disorder community! So grateful for Kim.”

Thank you, nmduncan827. Thank you so, so, so much. I am so honored. And of course, you can find me at Your Anxiety Toolkit on Instagram. You can get my book anywhere where you buy books, specifically on Amazon and barnesandnoble.com called The Self-Compassion Workbook for OCD. And of course, the podcast is here. Any time you like, go back, listen to old episodes. Sometimes they’re the best ones. I will see you guys next week.

Feb 11, 2022

SUMMARY:

Today, we are going to talk with you about the 7 common struggle you have with time management.  Do you find yourself constantly looking at the clock? Or, wishing time would go faster?  Do you feel like your to-do list is so long that you will never get them done? Or, do you feel like you never have time to prioritize yourself?  In today's, podcast, we talk all about your relationship with time and why it is a HUGE part of managing anxiety, depression, and stress.

In This Episode, we address the 7 common struggles you have with time management.

  • “I don't have enough time”
  • “I have so much to do”
  • “I have so much I want to do”
  • “I struggle to start and stop activities”
  • “I don't a good understanding of how long things take”
  • “I don't like structure”
  • “I hate being told what to do with my time”

Links To Things I Talk About:

ONLINE COURSE Time Management for Optimum Mental Health
https://www.cbtschool.com/timemanagement


Episode Sponsor:

This episode of Your Anxiety Toolkit is brought to you by CBTschool.com.  CBTschool.com is a psychoeducation platform that provides courses and other online resources for people with anxiety, OCD, and Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors.  Go to cbtschool.com to learn more.
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EPISODE TRANSCRIPTION

This is Your Anxiety Toolkit - Episode 221.

Welcome back, everybody. I am so thrilled to have you here with me today for Episode 221. Oh my, how is that possible?

We are getting so much feedback, such amazing feedback from last week’s episode. I wanted to additionally offer you one more bonus piece of content from our new course, which is called Time Management for Optimum Mental Health. You can check it out at CBTSchool.com/TimeManagement. It is a course. We have it for $27. It’s a mini-course, so it shouldn’t take up a ton of your time, and it’s me showing you exactly how I manage time.

Now, the reason I created that course was because so many people were reporting to me – clients, followers, listeners – that COVID has destroyed the rhythm and the routines that they had, and that they really want to find a way to implement during their day time to do their therapy homework, do get exercise, maybe have more pleasure in your life, maybe reduce overwhelm, a lot of overwhelm because the to-do list is always so long. Am I right? The to-do lists are always so long. There seems to be a never-ending list of things to do. So, I added all that in, showed you exactly how I did that. Again, you can go and check that, or you can click the link below in the show notes.

But as a bonus to that course, I did a Q and A where people submitted their questions. I have addressed that in that bonus, and I’m today giving it to you free in today’s podcast episode. If you want to get a feel for what we’re covering, you will have some reference to the course throughout, but you don’t need to purchase the course to get benefit out of this episode today. However, together they would be really beneficial, I’m sure.

Today, we’re going to cover a couple of main topics. Here I’m going to give you some overview. Some of the questions people or the concerns or roadblocks they had around time management were things like, “I don’t have enough time. I have so much to do on my to-do list.” Another question we will cover in today’s episode is, “I have so much I want to do. I just can’t, again, find time.”

Someone brought up-- multiple people, forgive me, brought up that they struggle to start and stop activities. They struggle to get the motivation to get going. And then once they’re going, they have a hard time transitioning into other activities. We address that as well.

Someone posted in that they struggle with having a good understanding of how long things take. This is one of the reasons I have myself had to use a lot of time management, is I was underestimating how long things were taking and I was leading to a lot of anxiety and overwhelm.

We also address people who don’t like a lot of structure in their life and we also address people who don’t like scheduling and don’t like time management because they don’t like being told what to do with their time. We’re going to address all of that today, but we also go much deeper into that in the time management course. You can run over there if you want to take a look at that.

Before we get into the show, let’s do today’s review of the week. This one is from Sheffie, and they said:

“Wonderful resource! You can’t help but love Kimberley.” Oh, that’s so kind. Thank you, Sheffie. “She has such warmth and sincerity, is positive and funny, and spreads so much good into the world. On top of all that, she’s a gifted clinician who does a great job sharing her knowledge with others. And she does all this with a lovely Australian accent.” Oh my goodness, this is so kind. “All of her content is fantastic, but I especially love the podcast because each episode is packed with so many nuggets of wisdom that are applicable to so many situations. They’re thought provoking and I find myself pondering them for a long while after. They’re also a good length - great content without going on for hours, very digestible.”

Thank you so much, Sheffie. That is so kind. Actually, one thing, as I’m really listening and reading that off, sometimes I know I’ve mentioned this before, but creating a podcast can feel really lonely because I’m talking into a microphone. Sometimes I don’t know if things land for everybody. I’m talking about what resonates for me and what I know has resonated from my clients, but it’s never really sure, like how is anyone feeling about this? So, just getting your reviews actually is very heartwarming to me. So, thank you. It actually helps me to feel like I’m on the right track and I’m helping and I’m bringing value to your life. Thank you so much, Sheffie. Please do go and leave a review. It does help me so much in my heart, but so helps me just to get more followers and listeners.

All right, let’s get over to it. Let’s talk today about your relationship with time. Let’s address some of these common roadblocks to time management, and I hope you find it incredibly helpful. Have a wonderful day, everybody.

Do you have a good relationship with time Your anxiety toolkit

Welcome, everybody. I am so excited to be here with you to talk about your relationship with time. Now, this is an interesting topic, I think, and one that very much relates to our mental health. I personally find a lot of my thoughts are around time and about my belief that I don’t have enough of it. This has probably been a very big part of my own experience of suffering because I keep telling myself, “I don’t have enough of it.” I really want to see whether this is true for you.

Now, I did a poll on Instagram and asked my friends there to give me their biggest struggles with time management. As you may know, I have a full course on time management specifically related to managing mental health, how you can make time for your recovery, how you can make time for things that really benefit your mental health. A lot of the times we end up getting our to-do list done instead of scheduling in pleasure and downtime and rest, and we don’t rest and have pleasure until we’ve got our list of to-dos done. But the problem is, the to-do list is always longer than the day. Am I right?

We cut all of these submissions of things that people struggle with, a lot of the topics we discuss directly in the course, but a lot of them I wanted to discuss today specifically related to these struggles and the relationship people have with time. The first one here is, “I don’t have enough time.” Now I have two answers to this concern. number one, chances are, you are right. You don’t have enough time to do the things that you are pressuring yourself to do.

Now, I understand that many of you have jobs and you’re going to school and you have children or you have loved ones and you have your own chronic illnesses or mental illness. So I agree. The list of things to do is very, very long. But I’ve wanted to first just ask you, is all the things on your to-do list being demanded of you, or are you demanding them of you? It could be one or the other. I just wanted to ask you, because I know for me, there are lots of things that I get demanded to do. I have to work. I have to make money. I have to be a mom. These are things that I really value and I want to take care of. But in addition to that, there’s a lot of things on my to-do list that I actually don’t have to do. I place those stresses on myself right.

Now we’re not here to blame. I never want this to be about blaming ourselves, but it’s helpful to inquire. What things on your list do you have that actually create more stress? Is it helpful to add those things on your list? Is there a way you could maybe give yourself a break from the long things of all the things you have to do? Assess for yourself what’s important. Is it important to me to get this done?

But here is the thing. As we talk about in time management, the online course, is I have so many things that I value. I have so many things I want to do. I have so many ways I want to show up for people and friends and family. At the end of the day, it’s unrealistic. Even though I want to do it, I don’t have the time. To reflect, I don’t have the time. Yeah, that’s true. Sometimes the most compassionate thing I can do is to acknowledge that and be more realistic with the projects I put on my to-do list.

Often I’ll speak with clients about, are you taking too many courses? And they’ll say, “No, I have to. Everybody is taking this many.” And I’ll go, “But is it working for you?” If you’re really honest with yourself, does taking that many courses benefit you and give you time to recover from your mental illness? Does saying yes to volunteer, while volunteering is an incredibly valuable and helpful thing, are you in a place in your life right now or a season in your life where you can do that in a healthy way that still prioritizes your mental health? Just questions to think about. You may have some strong reactions to these, and I would inquire if you do. I’m not suggesting anything here, except I want you to inquire what is best for you.

Now on the flip side of this, I can also say, even on the days when I’ve managed my time and my to-do list, I still just have the thought. “I don’t have enough time. I don’t have enough time. I don’t have enough time.” And that’s my relationship with time. It’s not great. My personal relationship with time, I have a long way to go. My relationship with time, as if it’s a thing, is when I look at it, I say to it, “There’s not enough of you.” But I only have 24 hours. You only have 24 hours and we have to negotiate with what we want to cram into that 24 hours. It can be whatever you like really. You can sleep for as long as you think you need to sleep. You can work, you can go to school, you can take up whatever hobbies. Your job is to decide what’s best for you based on your values and your family and your needs.

The next one is, “I have so much to do.” Again, we have a relationship with time. When it’s not about time, it’s about our to-do list. I really want this time management course that I’ve created. You can go to https://www.cbtschool.com/timemanagement. If you haven’t already, if you’re listening to the course right now, I want you to really, really think about the to-do list and reassess the to-do list. If it doesn’t need to be done, I would encourage you to consider taking it off.

Now, I understand, a lot of things on the list have to be done and I want them to be done, which is why you should, if you need, take a look at the procrastination episode and module, and you can maybe look at that as well. But like I said always, a lot of the thoughts we have about time are either facts or the mindsets that we have. So, we may need to think about how much pressure we’re putting on ourselves.

Another very small shift to that thought is, “There’s so much I want to do.” Now, here is another, this is very important. I personally, as a human being, there is so much I want to do. I have such passion to do this project and write that book and to create that podcast. I have all these things and hobbies I want to do. It’s a wonderful thing. Some of you may not have that experience right now and that’s okay. Sometimes depression and anxiety can take the passion out of things. But a lot of you, I hear because you want to get things done and you can’t find a way to put it into your schedule. I really want to encourage you to start to do these things you want to do, but you have to be realistic about time.

A part of the reason I made this course and not other courses is that this course could be a very quick make. Meaning it didn’t take me six months to make some of my courses. The Time Management course is-- what is it? Almost 100 minutes or 120 minutes. It’s easier for me to do this than to create a six-month-long course. I did it in small 20-minute increments. I want to encourage you that if your relationship with time is saying, “I have so much I want to do, I don’t have enough time,” find in your schedule 10 minutes to start, because 10 minutes today and 10 minutes next week and 10 minutes the week after that, before you know it, you will start to have some momentum, even if it’s 10 minutes a week. A lot of times we don’t do things because we tell ourselves that there’s not enough time and there’s too much to do. Instead of just giving yourself permission to just do little baby steps, create what you can in small amounts of time.

Somebody had written, “I struggle to start and stop activities.” This is very, very important. A lot of people struggle with time because getting going needs a lot of created momentum. The thing to remember is that motivation, and I will create a full mini-course on this very soon as well, is motivation is not something you just get. It’s not inherent. You don’t wake up with it. Motivation is something that you have to really create of your own. You have to cultivate motivation. You have to harvest motivation. It’s something that you generate on your own.

So to start an activity, usually, you will need to look at first what’s getting in the way. We talked about procrastination in last week’s episode and in other modules of this course. That’s a big one. Starting usually means you have to generate motivation based on willingness to be uncomfortable, cleaning up any negative thoughts you have or critical thoughts you have about doing the activity. Setting time and reminders to remind you, because sometimes really honestly, you’re busy. You’re a busy person or you’re an overwhelmed person. So, you will need timers and reminders and calendars, but it’s really generating that activity.

One of the best things to do is to keep in mind or to draw on a piece of paper or write it down, how you will feel when it’s done, what it will look like when it’s done, like a vision board almost, but it’s okay. Put some time into it, like what emotions will I feel when I’ve completed this email? Or what will be the result if I create this course 20 minutes at a time? Little baby steps.

When it comes to stopping, it’s probably going to be much of the same tools. Schedule your time to do things, set an alarm or a reminder if you’re someone who gets stuck in it. So set a time or a reminder, put up sticky notes, and then also be willing to be uncomfortable. When I let my kids have tech time, we schedule tech time every day. When I say, “Turn it off,” they don’t like it. They’re in this mode of playing their game. They’re watching the thing they want to watch. Moving out of that can feel very jarring and uncomfortable.

And so, we have planned ahead for that. We know that when tech time is over, my husband and I, we may want to implement some family time or snack time, something that can help move us onto the next activity. Something motivating and pleasurable is often very helpful when moving from some kind of either uncomfortable experience to a different experience or you’re in a pleasurable experience. You’ve got to move into something uncomfortable. There are some tips that may help that you may want to experiment with.

The next one is, “I don’t have a good understanding of how long things take.” Now, this is huge. Again, if you’re listening to this on the podcast, this is another reason where I stress the importance of you. If you want to take the course, I stress how helpful it can be.

I write down how long things take often. Probably once a month, I do an inventory of my day. How long does it take to get my emails done? How long does it take to get the kids to school? How long? While this may seem like a lot of work, it pays off because I will then realize I only scheduled 30 minutes for emails, but to be honest, emails are taking me 45 minutes. Helpful data. Important data to help me then renegotiate my schedule so that it is kind, or to really work at not spending as much time on emails, or to be less perfectionistic about emails, or to delegate emails or whatever project it is that you’re doing to somebody else.

It may be that there are multiple solutions to this problem of not understanding how long things take. But I think the first thing is, you’ve got to have data. You can’t assume a solution if you don’t know what the problem is. Please, I encourage you. It doesn’t take long. Just have a little notepad, scratchpad, how long things take, particularly the things you’re having trouble in the day. It doesn’t have to be the whole day.

The next one is, this was very cool, “I don’t like structure.” Now, if this is you, I am so with you. I was and have been in my life someone who doesn’t like structure. It stresses me out, makes me anxious. The pressure is overwhelming. I don’t like structure. However, as someone who was forced to practice these skills, because life was so chaotic and unmanageable, I have found now I have a much better life with structure. I have found I’m more creative and spontaneous now that I have structure in my life because I know the things I need to get done are done. So then I feel free to go and do spontaneous things, take a drive, go on a vacation, and so forth, because I know. Or in this case, during COVID, because everything is so uncertain, I know how long things take, the structure of days. If there were, let’s say someone in my family gets COVID – my children, myself, my husband – I know how to renegotiate the day really quickly because I have a really good understanding of the structure. It helps me to recalibrate if there is a major change in the day, because I’m used to that structure. I know how long things take. I know the practice of things. It’s been overwhelmingly beneficial in my life.

If you don’t like too much structure, it doesn’t matter. You can actually just block schedule. I like to really be specific, but I know a lot of my colleagues and clients that I’ve taught this to, they just like blocks, like bigger blocks, like four-hour blocks. From 10:00 to 2:00 is work, from 2:00 to 5:00 is this. And those blocks can actually just create a little bit of structure for them. And then they can slice in new projects if they have them. Homework for therapy, if they need it.

A lot of my patients, I see they’re professional successful people who are now I’m giving them additional 45 to 90 minutes of homework a day, and they say, “How am I ever going to fit this in? I’m already overwhelmed.” We go through this process and we look at where they could slide in, 10 minutes here and 15 minutes here. Can you do some of your homework on your way to work and so forth? That can be really beneficial. That way, even though they don’t like structure, they’ve found a way to prioritize what they need to get done so that they can get the benefits that they wanted.

Last one, this is a big one, “I hate being told what to do with my time.” This is actually, I think, sponsored by my husband, but this was actually given to me from many social media people who have submitted their questions about time management. But I agree. I think my husband would very much agree with this – I hate being told what to do with my time.

There is, when it comes to time management, a-- I wouldn’t say it’s a humbling, but it’s a letting go, a letting go of control, because when you don’t want to be told what to do with your time, it feels like you’re being controlled. Again, I don’t think you have to do any of this if you don’t want to. I wouldn’t encourage you to make any of these changes if you really, really disagree with them. However, I would encourage you to consider at least giving it 30 days, because what you will find is, when you schedule things, it might feel like you’re being told to do something with your time. You’re doing it.

I don’t want you to have anybody else telling you what to do, but if you’re putting down on your schedule what you want to do, I want you to remind yourself why. Why are you doing this? Often it’s because the chaotic and unplanned day only creates more suffering. Chances are, you already have a lot of suffering. I’m guessing because you know about me, you have some kind of anxiety or depression or medical or mental struggle. So, even though this scheduling and this time management practices can feel like you’re using your freedom, I personally think it’s gaining freedom. It’s taking back control over the chaos in your mind – the running list, the mental rumination, the anxiety of all the things, and having it to be where it’s all there and it’s done.

Now, it doesn’t have to be for you. I want you to find specifically, and you will see, remember we talk about in the course, we have a whole module on considering your specific set of circumstances. I want you to consider what’s good for you and make plans and adjustments, but keep my voice in your mind. Sometimes the more you plan it, the more freedom and free space you have in your mind to do the things you want, because you’re not constantly carrying around the to-do list. It’s there anyway, you might as well handle it efficiently.

So, that’s my real encouragement. Again, I’m really for it. You may not be for it. I’m not going to harass you and make you agree with my view on it. But I know the science here and I have seen it benefit so many people, and I really hope that you can give it a go and let your guard down and let go of your need to have that control and honor what’s important to you and follow through with what’s important to you so that you get the things that you want and you get the mastery of the things in your life that are important to you.

I hope that’s helpful. I’m so grateful to have you here with me today to talk about your relationship with time. There may be many other things I haven’t addressed. If I haven’t addressed your specific struggle with relationship with time, I encourage you to journal down and explore how you might manage that because we do only have 24 hours and I want you to really find some peace in some of those parts of your day instead of carrying around the to-do list.

Have a wonderful day and I will talk to you very, very soon.

Feb 4, 2022

SUMMARY: In this episode, we review how important it is to address procrastination, as it impacts so many people in so many ways.   We also will review how procrastination is the same thing as avoidance and how people can work towards implementing time management skills to help them build a routine that helps them get the things they want to get done.

In This Episode:

  • We outline procrastination definition and procrastination pros and cons.
  • How procrastination is simply an avoidance safety behavior.
  • How to manage procrastination in , Anxiety, OCD and OCD recovery
  • Our new course called Time Management for Optimum Mental Health

Links To Things I Talk About:

  • ONLINE COURSE Time Management for Optimum Mental Health

https://www.cbtschool.com/timemanagement

Episode Sponsor:

This episode of Your Anxiety Toolkit is brought to you by CBTschool.com.  CBTschool.com is a psychoeducation platform that provides courses and other online resources for people with anxiety, OCD, and Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors.  Go to cbtschool.com to learn more.

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EPISODE TRANSCRIPTION

This is Your Anxiety Toolkit - Episode 220.

Welcome back, everybody. How are you? Really, really, how are you? How is your heart? How is your mind? What’s showing up for you? How are you? I really want you to check in, in case you haven’t checked in for a while. How are you doing? It’s important. Let’s make sure we check in.

Today, we’re talking about procrastination. It’s one of the most common questions I get when I’m doing live calls on Instagram and Facebook, like how do I manage procrastination? A lot of you are also managing perfectionism and it’s getting in the way of you doing the things you want to do or doing the things you have to do.

Because I get asked this so much, I actually wanted to show people how I do it. So what I did is I created a whole mini-course, it’s called Time Management For Optimum Mental Health. You can get it if you go to CBTSchool.com/TimeManagement, or you can click the link in the show notes below. It’s a full course of showing you how I manage time and why I manage my time to help manage my mental health and my medical health. A lot of you know I have struggled with a chronic illness. Time management has been huge in me staying functioning and managing mental overwhelm and a lot of procrastination. In the course, it’s only $27, it’s a mini-course and it shows you exactly-- I have recorded the screen as I’m showing you exactly how I do it. If you’re interested, go over and check it out. I’d love to have you take the course and put it into practice.

Now, one of the things about this episode is this is actually me giving you a sneak peek into the course because it’s one of the bonuses of the course to talk about procrastination. So I wanted to share it with you here on the podcast as well. You will hear me refer to the other parts of the course as you listen. That doesn’t matter. You’ll still get everything you need to know about procrastination and how to manage it today. But yes, if you’ve already taken the course, you probably have already listened to this bonus. But for today, let’s talk about procrastination.

Before we head over into the episode, I wanted to do the review of the week. This is a review from Sadbing, and they’ve said:

“Desperately needed. I am an LICSW that has searched high & low for a podcast that delivers quality content. I felt relieved to finally find one! This podcast provides an honest depiction of how anxiety shows up in people’s lives & gives you effective feedback on how to live with it. Thank you!”

Thank you, Sadbing. Thank you so much for that amazing review. I do ask that anyone who’s listening, please, the one thing you can do, this is what I offer freely to you all. If you get a second, just click below, in whatever app you’re listening to, and leave a review. It helps me so much reach all the people. The more reviews we have, the more people will trust the podcast and continue listening to this free resource. So, yay.

All right. Let’s get over to this episode about managing procrastination. I hope you find it helpful. If you want to learn more about time management, head on over to CBTSchool.com/TimeManagement, and you can get a mini-course for 27 bucks. It’s amazing value for a short period of time and a short amount of money. So, yeah. All right. So happy to have you here with me today. Thank you for giving your time to me and trusting me with your precious time. I will see you after the show.

Managing Procrastination Your anxiety toolkit

Welcome. You wouldn’t have a time management course without really addressing procrastination. Procrastination is, number one, the biggest question I get, which is another reason why I wanted to make this course, is because it’s so common. It’s such an easy trap to fall into. It’s such a human trap to fall into to procrastinate. But I wanted to take a deep dive into procrastination today and talk about some skills that you can practice to manage procrastination.

Let me really just dive into, first, what is procrastination? Now simply put, procrastination is an avoidant safety behavior. What does that mean? When human beings assume or see or assign things as a threat, our mind does that. So our mind will assign something as threatening, whether it be, “I have to write this email.” It could be as simple as writing an email. It could be, “I have to present something. I have to get a project done. I have to go and exercise.” Our brain will present that as some kind of danger or challenge or threat.

Now you might be thinking to yourself, there’s nothing dangerous about exercise or writing an email, but there may be for you because doing that means you have to have some uncomfortable feelings. Maybe shame, maybe anxiety, maybe irritability. Anger might show up. Guilt might show up. Because those emotions are uncomfortable and maybe if we haven’t developed skills on mastering those emotions, events like writing an email or exercising or doing a project may be experienced as dangerous or a threat.

When our brain interprets things as a threat, naturally, it is going to set off the alarm and try to either get you to run away from it, to fight it, or to freeze. That’s how fight, flight, and freeze response. And the most common as humans is avoidance. We avoid the thing that will create discomfort for us, and simply put, that is what procrastination is.

Now, why do we call it a safety behavior? We could call it a compulsion. But we call it a safety behavior because not everybody does it compulsively, but they may do it to create a false sense of security, a false sense of safety. As human beings, we want safety. It feels good to feel safe. It feels good to feel like, “Oh, I don’t have to face that hard thing.” So, yes, we consider it a safety behavior.

Now, does that mean that you’re bad and lazy or not good? Absolutely not. Everybody engages in safety behaviors. It’s a human part of life. But what we want to look at here is, is it creating trends in your life? Is it creating impact or consequences to your life that create more discomfort and more distress later? Most of the time people say, “Yeah, I avoid,” and it’s getting to be a problem. If that’s for you and that’s happening to you, you’re definitely not alone.

Now, how do we manage procrastination? The first thing is identify what it is you are avoiding specifically. Don’t just say, “I’m avoiding the email.” Don’t just say, “I’m avoiding exercise,” or “I procrastinate.” Don’t say those things. I mean, you can, but ideally, you will stop and go, “Okay, what is it about the email that I don’t want to tolerate? Ah, writing an email brings up social anxiety for me,” or “Ah, writing the email reminds me that I’m really behind on that project. Writing that email brings up shame because last time I spoke to them, I said something silly or something like that,” or “I don’t want to exercise because, ah, every time I exercise, it creates discomfort in my chest and it makes me feel like I’m panicking.”

So you’ll identify the specific thing that is causing you to avoid specific. You might even get a specific like I did. It’s the physical sensations I don’t want to feel. Or it’s the thought that this was my fault that I don’t want to think. You may get to the bottom of that. Now, of course, if you guys know anything about me, I’m always going to say, it’s a beautiful day to do hard things.

The only way we can overcome these strong emotions, particularly fear and guilt and shame, is to stare them in the face. Our job, and this is what I’m going to encourage you to think about, is to really look at, yes, avoiding. What is the pros of avoiding this? And then on the right-hand side, you could write this on a piece of paper, what are the cons? What are the consequences of me continuing to avoid this thing?

Now often when you write that down, that in and of itself is a motivator because you’re going, “Oh my goodness, writing the email is uncomfortable for the duration that I write the email, not writing it is uncomfortable, even when I’m not working on it, because I’m constantly nagged by the fact that I have to write it, or it’s constantly sitting on my list or I constantly see it in the schedule.” A lot of you in, and we’re in the Time Management course – a lot of you have avoided managing time because putting this in the calendar makes you face the fact that you’ve got something scary to do.

Now, you will see me, I’m holding my hand on my chest right now and I’m sending you much compassion because these are really difficult things. These may seem easy for other people, but they’re hard for you and me. And so we must be compassionate with the fact that they’re hard. Here is what I’m going to say: Being compassionate can actually take some of that pain away. It won’t take it all. You still have to do it. You have to ride the wave of discomfort. It will rise in full as you go. But you can also be gentle with yourself and reduce your suffering instead of criticizing yourself or how hard it is for you. Don’t compare how it is for you compared to your friend or your seatmate or your neighbor.

This is what you do. You practice compassion before you do the activity first. I’m sorry. You commit to doing the activity. You put it in your schedule. You write down when you’re going to do it and how long you think it’s going to take. And then you practice compassion. “Wow, I’m going to be really gentle with myself as I ride out the emotions and the experience of doing that thing.” You may want to get a partner, an accountability partner, who can help remind you and support you as you do the thing. A lot of my patients have an accountability partner. They’re like, “It’s three o’clock.” They’re texting, “It’s three o’clock. I know you’re about to do a scary thing. Good job. Keep going. Don’t stop. Don’t back out. I’ll be right here. You text me as soon as you’re done.” See if you can do that. If you don’t have someone to do that, be that for yourself. So it’s in your calendar. You’re going, you’re gentle. You’re going to do the thing.

What I personally like to do is keep a notepad down next to me as I’m writing an email or recording a podcast or doing something that creates anxiety for me. I jot down the thoughts and feelings I’m having. Not a lot, bullet points. Like, “Oh, I’m having the thought that this is not helpful. I’m having the thought that this is not good enough. I’m having the thought that this should be better. I’m having the thought that I made a mistake. I’m having the thought that this should be going fast or better.”

Like I said, and you may start to notice – and this is true, I’ve seen a lot of patients say – as you write it down, it’s the same five thoughts over and over and over. When you’re not aware of that, it feels like 55 thoughts or 55,000 thoughts. But once you have it on paper, you will see, often our brain is just repeating the same thing. When you can see that, you can go, “Oh, brain, I’m sorry that you’re sending those messages. Thank you for showing up. Thank you for trying to alert me to the possible dangers, but I have avoided this for so long, and it avoiding it and it procrastinating only delays and continues my suffering.” And you feel your emotions. You ride them out. You tender with yourself as you do the thing. And that’s how you get through it. Once you’re done, you must celebrate and say kind things and congratulate yourself. Don’t forget that stage because that’s so, so important.

But the main point to remember here is that avoidance keeps you stuck. Avoiding the thing you’re afraid of is actually what then creates some depressive thinking, some hopeless thinking, or helpless thinking. “I’ll never be able to... I won’t be able to... I can’t...” We really want to be careful of that type of thinking, because that is the thinking where depression lives. Again, the more you face the things that are uncomfortable, you will build a sense of mastery of that.

It won’t go well the first time, I promise you. Most of life is trial and error. I have found the only way to move forward is to practice failing. Here is what I’m going to ask of you. As you practice this activity or practice of not procrastinating, of facing the thing you’re afraid of, of doing the thing you’ve been avoiding, I want you to practice or remind yourself that you are really not growing if you’re not failing. I’m going to say that again. You’re really not growing if you’re not failing, because if you’re only doing things that go well, chances are, you’re avoiding a lot of things. If you’re only doing things that are going well, the chances are, you’re not building mastery with the hard things in life, and life is 50/50. We know this, that life comes with 50% good and 50% hard. We have to practice failing so we can learn how to be better.

This whole course is about that. You’re going to practice not procrastinating. You may or may not succeed. That’s not really the important part. The important part is that you look at the data, the data being, how did it go, like that reassess stage, which we have as one of the steps in the course. Look at the data, what worked, what didn’t and what do I need to change? This is not a perfect practice. It’s going to be changing as you change. And so having the ability to adapt and having the humility to say, “All right, it’s not working. What do I need to do?”

This has been probably my biggest struggle in my entire life, is I avoid looking at the data of what’s not going well. If someone tells me what’s not going well, I get offended instead of going, “Okay, this is not personal. It’s just data. How can I use this data to help me not make the same mistake over and over again?”  Often what I’m doing, I’m churning out a lot of content and I’m not looking at the data when the data could help me to say, what is the most effective? What is the most helpful to other people? How can this be as jam-packed helpful as possible? I have to look at the data, and in order to do that, I have to be willing to fail. It’s okay to fail. This is a practice. It’s not perfection.

But when it comes to procrastination, you have to be willing to be uncomfortable. You have to be willing to do hard things. This is why we keep saying, it’s a beautiful day to do hard things. Now, of course, go back, follow the steps of the whole course. You’ve gotta get it in the schedule before you can really do that. But then I want you to even get very microscopic and look at when you’re scheduling. Let’s say there’s something you’re avoiding and procrastinating on. Schedule small activities so that you don’t procrastinate.

One of the best lessons I’ve learned when it came to me, recovering from my medical struggles, is I have to get a lot of exercise. Not running exercise, a lot of personal training, physical therapy type of exercises, and I hate them. They’re the most boring, annoying, monotonous things on the planet. However, I have found that if I schedule, “Kimberley, at this time, you’re going to put your shoes on. Kimberley, at this time, you’re going to fill up your drink bottle,” I am more likely to do it. I get very microscopic in my planning.

Now, again, you won’t want to do this with all the things in your life. Pick one thing if that’s what you want to work on, and work at creating a system that gets you to do the thing that you continue to procrastinate on. I would not probably do my physical therapy and my training, these annoying, repetitive activities, if I hadn’t created a system that makes it doable. I have a Bluetooth speaker, I put very loud music on. It’s usually reggae or something very hippy, so I feel like at least I’m chilling out as I do it. I marry the thing that’s uncomfortable with something that’s tolerable.

Now, you won’t always be able to do this, and that is fine. Sometimes you just got to ride the wave and face your fear. That’s okay. But that is an idea if it’s for things like daily activities and routines in your life. If it’s facing fears and exposure work, well, no, we don’t want to marry it with these things because that can work as a neutralizing compulsion. If you’re someone who is in treatment for an anxiety disorder and you’ve been given an exposure, well, no, you’re just going to have to practice riding the wave of discomfort, but do not forget that self-compassion piece. It is crucial. Do not forget using your mindfulness skills where you allow your discomfort. You’re non-judgmental about your discomfort. You’re willing to allow it to be there. These are all crucial practices.

I would even consider writing down all the things where you struggle with procrastination and work through them, practice them, just like you would be lifting a weight, just like you would practice if you were learning French or piano. Pick up the basic things and practice the basics first and go through all of them. Try to get yourself through as many as you can so that you build a sense of mastery like, “I can do that. Even if I don’t want to, I can. I could if I had to,” which I think is a really great way of thinking about things that are uncomfortable in your life. “I don’t want to do them, but I could if I had to.” It’s better than “I can’t” and “I don’t want to.”

All right. That is procrastination. I hope that has been helpful. I really want to stress to you that procrastination is a thing that everybody does. Again, it’s not personal, but I really, really encourage you to master doing the things that you avoid. Avoidance keeps anxiety strong. Avoidance keeps you in the cycle of anxiety, and we want to break that cycle.

I hope that is helpful. I am really excited to see you go out and do those things. If you want to, you can share them with me on social media or things that you’re doing. It’s a beautiful day to do hard things. I love when people tag me with that.

Have a wonderful day, everybody, and I will see you in the next module.

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