This is What Matters is a series of questions and prompts to help people with post-traumatic growth in identifying on an individual level, well, what matters to you.
We also discuss:
- Sleeping like a lion
- Embracing free unscheduled time
- Cognitive Photoshop
- Identifying the life one wants and starting to build it now
- When was the last time your heart really sang?
If you’re someone who keeps a journal, this episode will give you a lot to think about.I love books that encourage people to identify their individual desires and goals and enable them to practice the life they want to lead.
Thank you to Maria Orlandi from Adams Media.
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Here are the books we discuss in this podcast:
You can find This is What Matters wherever books are sold. You can find Dr. Perpetua Neo on her website, PerpetuaNeo.com.
You can also find Dr. P’s work at MindBodyGreen.com.
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Sarah Wendell: Hello there and welcome to episode number 516 of Smart Podcast, Trashy Books. I’m Sarah Wendell; my guest this week is Dr. Perpetua Neo. Dr. P. is a psychologist and the author of the new workbook This Is What Matters. This Is What Matters is a series of questions and prompts to help people with post-traumatic growth in identifying on an individual level, well, what matters to you. If you’re someone who keeps a journal, this episode will give you a lot to think about. Her workbook is part of my morning ritual now as I answer one or two questions in my journal before I go start my day. I love books that encourage people to identify their individual goals and desires.
I also want to thank Maria Orlandi from Adams Media for helping me set up this interview.
I also want to thank our Patreon community. Hello, folks! Thank you for supporting the show. You help me keep going every week, and you make sure every episode has a transcript. If you would like to support the show, have a look at our Patreon community: patreon.com/SmartBitches.
And speaking of the podcast, I have been moving the show over to a dedicated podcast host, and that caused a bunch of problems with the feed. I’m so sorry! Podcast feeds are really tricky, and they don’t always get along with me, so if you’ve been having problems, I’m so sorry. I’m hoping they will all work out this week or next, but thank you for your patience, and thank you for listening so very, very much.
I have a special treat for you in this episode: this episode’s transcript is being brought to you by the audiobook release of Foundation by Lainey Davis. Narrated by Tom Taylorson and Carly Robins, this is – hold onto your earbuds – a grouchy geek romance. Zack Brady doesn’t do relationships. He does calculations. When his family engineering firm sends him to investigate a sinkhole at a client’s house, Zack feels a tremor in the foundation of his very carefully calculated world. Her name is Nicole Kennedy. She’s loud and crass, and has no time for nonsense. She certainly doesn’t have time for a mysterious trench swallowing her yard. To make matters worse, the grouchy engineer who shows up to fix it is the same jerk she’s forced to run beside during the corporate relay race her boss insisted that she run. Somewhere between jogging and poring over geotechnical engineering plans, Nicole and Zack feel the earth move. Can they overcome their past to build something more meaningful? Foundation is book one of the Brady Family series. If you like nerdy, grumpy heroes; bossy, nosy extended families; feisty heroines who take no crap, the Brady Family series is for you. One reader said, it’s like This Is Us, but they do it! [Laughs] It all starts with Foundation, now on audio, and stay tuned at the end of the podcast because I have a sample of the audiobook for you. Thank you to Lainey Davis for underwriting this week’s transcript. [Thank you from the transcriptionist, too! – gk]
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All right, are you ready to discuss what matters? On with my conversation with Dr. P.
Dr. Perpetua Neo: Hi there, everybody! My name is Perpetua; my clients call me Dr. P; you can call me P as well. So I’m a psychologist, and I coach overachievers around the world to be in charge of their heads, their time, and their relationships in a way that’s quick and deep, so they build systems that help them, help that lasts, and help them to grow.
Sarah: And I, I imagine working with people who were probably labeled as gifted as children or have always been high achievers, that comes with a lot of internal pressure, and undoing that, that pressure is, is really important, but I imagine it’s really difficult to realize, wait a minute, my systems aren’t working.
Dr. P: Yeah! Definitely. I mean, a lot of people will be thinking – I mean, we’re not just talking about overachievers, right, but a lot of people will be thinking at a certain point, what got me here is not going to get me there, because the cost to which I’ve gotten to this point is all, like, there’s no control in my mind. My mind’s a tornado; I don’t have enough sleep; I am exhausted all the time; my life is a house of cards because if something goes wrong everything is going to fall apart. So, you know, this is not sustainable at all.
Sarah: Yes, and I think especially right now we, we have internalized this message that you must grind! You must go! You must always be giving a hundred and ten percent! And I’m like – [laughs] – I don’t think that’s mathematically possible!
Dr. P: [Laughs] Hopefully not, not mathematically possible, physically, or not laws of physics, full stop.
Sarah: So I am so excited about your workbook and journal, This Is What Matters. What inspired this book, and what will people find inside it?
Dr. P: So this book really is about life. You know, life is, to live is to grow, and life will force you to evolve. Life has plenty of waves. Sometimes it’s just placid waters; sometimes it looks placid but it’s not really quite placid; and sometimes you’ve got big waves or small waves, so you’ve got to collaborate with reality. In plenty of areas we are very good at telling ourselves it’s okay; it’s normal to, you know, not feel, it’s normal to feel regret at lying to ourselves. And then, you know, we also ask ourselves, you know, are you okay? Am, am I okay? You know, but then at some point you’ve got to ask yourself: when is it just all right to only aim to be okay?
Dr. P: So what has inspired this book is that, you know, like, things happen to people, right? Things happened to me, and I’m a really stubborn person, not in a sense that if something’s really, really not working I’m just going to, you know, like, give my all and martyr myself, but rather I’m stubborn in the fact that I like to tell people that, you know, you may kill me, but only I decide when I’m going to die forever.
Dr. P: So in our life you’ll be thrown across a paddock here and there, but only we can decide what’s going to happen next, or, you know, in the field of psychology we call that post-traumatic growth, and here I want to say that trauma isn’t just necessarily something, you know, like watching yourself almost lose your life or watching somebody lose their lives or, you know, witness something like that almost happen to them. You know, trauma also happens to us in what we call the small t traumas, so the day-to-day stuff. Things that would even be technically great for us, like promotions, emigration can also lead to traumatic symptoms, and by saying this is small t, we are not trying to denigrate that. There’s no comparison; it’s not like you are bigger than mine, whatever. Your reality is real for you. And so when I thought about this as well, I also want to think about, you know, want to think about how I always, you know, like, commit to walking my talk or what I call everyday awesome. So many of us often think about how, you know, we’re going to wait till we’re retired, wait till the holiday to be happy and peaceful, wait till we’re retired to learn how to spend money, but news flash: you’re not going to suddenly become that person at all. You haven’t practiced becoming the person you want to be, and, you know, like, the bigger the gulf between your everyday life, you know, like the house you’re living in and you’re pretty unhappy and that imaginary one day, the more ill at ease and un-peaceful you’re going to be. So essentially, you know, why not start building this life that you’re proud of every day? Cartograph the map to get you there.
Sarah: And this workbook will help you figure out what has happened and where you are and where you want to go.
Dr. P: Yes, and of course what is standing in the way as well.
Sarah: Yes. Often I am in my own way, so I’m pretty sure it’s me that’s in the way? I mean, just, just as a random guess in any problem. I always have to ask myself, all right, am I in my own way? Probably.
Now, in the introduction, you really emphasize – I love this part – you emphasize accepting what is without romanticizing the past, and I love this, and it particularly resonated because I think with COVID there’s this incredible amount of messaging that we have to go back to the way it was before COVID; we have to go back to how it was. And that erases the idea of accepting what is. Okay, but there’s a global respiratory virus that we give each other by breathing, and we’re not going to stop breathing –
Dr. P: Yeah.
Sarah: – so we can’t just pretend like this didn’t happen.
Dr. P: [Laughs] Yeah. We can’t whitewash that, you know.
Dr. P: It’s not like, it’s not like what happened is you’re, something happened and you’re supposed to be erased from history and someone’s reprinting out your yearbook from twenty years ago. No such thing.
Dr. P: But the thing is that, you know, it’s always easier to pretend something didn’t happen. We lie to ourselves; it’s really –
Dr. P: It’s like, you know, think about mantras: people tell you to talk to yourselves, I am confident, I am great, when you’re actually a pile of nerves inside and are totally shattered. So, you know, like, it’s really important to emphasize and accept what is going on for you, but many of us think that this means that we are losing our ability to make things happen, losing our sense of power. But actually, no: when we’re able to acknowledge what’s going on we name it and, contrastingly, we actually feel a lot more powerful because we are containing what is going on for us, because something that we pretend doesn’t exist will grow into a life of its own. Like, while it’s not nice to say that, hey, you know what, like, I’m feeling not comfortable now; hey, you know what, I’m feeling a bit anxious now; it makes us feel weak, but actually just the act of naming it can actually help you a lot if you decide what you would like that to do for you.
Sarah: Yeah. I once read that if you keep pushing your anxieties away, they go in the other room and they do pushups and they lift weights, and then they come back, and I was like, you know what, that is absolutely true? If I try to push away my anxiety it comes back, and I’m like, well now I’m really beefy, and I’m really big, and I’m hard to ignore! Let’s go!
Dr. P: Yep, yep. Don’t feed them steroids.
Sarah: Exactly! And in the introduction you talk about how what you want to do is help people build habits and form a life that identifies what each individual person wants for themselves. Now – and, and I realize this might seem like a, a very obtuse question, and I don’t mean it to be, but why is that so hard? Is, is – my, my theory is that because I personally love my own human autopilot, and when my autopilot is, is disrupted I get really mad about it, like I get really angry, and I think for me that’s one of the reasons why I struggle, but I’m curious: why is it so difficult for us to be like, okay, what kind of life do I want? And then think of the things that we want?
Dr. P: Well, kind of think about that like driving a manual car, right? It’s not easy.
Dr. P: If you, you know, have a car that parks by itself, oh God, it’s easy! But then if anything happens in an emergency, I’m not going to know what’s going to happen, so I’m not saying go be an expert in every single area of your life, but at least have a little understanding so, you know, you are not completely clueless, and because this is you, this is your life, this is your mind, this is your body that houses you, so that’s, it’s really important to have some understanding.
But of course, you know, what somebody prescribes to you is really easy! It’s easy to just follow! Also it’s very easy to outsource our authority, because that’s what happens as kids, right? I mean, like, rightly so, because that’s how we learn, we grow, and if we’re given the right instructions that are helpful for us to grow, great, but sometimes we are not. And of course, you know, like, the darker side of this is that when we outsource our authority and listen to somebody else’s prescriptions, it’s very easy to say, hey, I followed you and it went wrong, so it’s not my fault! So that’s a sort of kind of safety is a comfort, but it’s a comfortable kind of quicksand that sucks you all the way in. So basically what happens is over time we’re just not used to trusting our wisdom. If anything, we react. For instance, when anxiety builds all the way up into a sense of panic, and then we say, oh, I cannot trust my feelings, but actually it’s not your feelings you cannot trust; it’s the way you react to those feelings that you cannot trust. So it’s about what you want to front load in your life, and I understand how tiring it can be, so you have to look at the long term: what is the future you’re building? Who is the person you’re becoming?
Sarah: Yeah. And what are the choices that you’re making now, and how are they going to affect the, the life that you want to have now or in the future?
One of the things I love about this book is the fact that you, you emphasize the, the big three: time, mind, and sleep. I love sleep. I love sleep so much. Sleep is a big thing. How can this book help people master the, the big three, the time, the mind, and the sleep?
Dr. P: So the first thing is time. I mean, let’s look at what’s not really going right with our time for most of us: we are frazzled, we run from one thing to another thing, we’re overbooked, and we think that the more meetings and interactions mean we are busy and, you know, it’s like taking some kind of rest may not even really count? And so people always say it’s, I don’t have time; I wish I had the time. Those are really big key words, and when you actually start to think about how you want to wisely spend your time and build those boundaries and containers around it, and even learn that, actually, it’s great to have free time because there’s a lot of good things that can happen out of it, you know, and part of it can be spent nurturing yourself; part of it can just, just be spent sleeping and growing. You know, most of us are actually scared of having free time, because what on earth are we going to do with that? But if you have a plan around that and you’re able to regulate the next part, your mind, around that, you know, around some times when you get boredom, when you’re questioning yourself, is this right at time, do I deserve this time? And when you are in control of your mind during all those moments of doubt or extended periods of doubt, when you’re able to control your mind during the frazzled times of overwhelm and nerves and anxiety, when life always happens, or when you’re able to control your mind when you’re happy, because some of us, when we get happy or when good things happen, we sabotage ourselves!
Dr. P: So when you do that, then you are able to again, you know, ride the waves of life, you know, so like whether it is a good time, a neutral time, or a not-so-good time, you’re able to make this time work for you.
Dr. P: Now for sleep: you know, everybody’s brain needs sleep. Sleep is like this ultimate, amazing thing that clears away the crap and junk in your brain and your body every night when you sleep. The memories that you don’t need, it just goes away. It’s like a curator! So instead of having like a hoarder’s hellhole, you have this beautiful gallery in your mind.
Dr. P: So this is so, so, so important. You know, in this book I also talk about why it’s really important to be able to plan your time and your mind well so that you can actually have time to sleep peacefully or like what I call sleep like a cat, because you know, I like, I see cats sleep eighteen hours a day, or at least that’s what the science, the science says, and I think it’s amazing. Then recently I learnt that lions sleep twenty hours a day, so – [laughs] – I say now that I’ve given up on cats as my idols. My new idols are lions.
Sarah: [Laughs] I aspire!
I love your workbook, the way that it divides up into sections, but I have to ask a question. Maybe, maybe you can help me answer this: why is it that when I –
Dr. P: Yeah.
Sarah: – encounter a question like, what makes you feel joyful or delighted? my mind goes entirely blank. Is that a normal thing? Is it, is it, is it not a normal question to, that your brain encounters?
Dr. P: I love that, Sarah, because for me as well, when I was, you know, in the past, I would also say, what on earth are you talking about? You know, am I allowed to even feel joyful or delighted? Because that’s, again, you’re back to prescriptions. There are a lot of prescriptions on how we should be happy. You know, think about even self-care, and everybody says, I need to do my self-care today, and fine, you know, if your self-care happens to coincide as an, you know, if unicorn lattes are really, do make you happy – they do make me happy – again, then great, do that! But you know, there’s a lot of things that we are just, we just think that we’ve got to do it because something says it’s good for us, or we think that it’s got to do with spending, and sometimes, for some of us, we’re thinking, oh my God, one more expenditure? You sure I can afford that? When it comes to something like what makes you joyful or delighted, think about the last time your heart sang. Okay, it doesn’t necessarily have to do with spending any money or intentionally being busy or productive or learning. It could be the last time you connected really well with somebody you love, or even like when a stranger complimented you, or when you complimented a stranger and they gave you this big smile! ‘Kay, something like, you know, going out and suddenly you are surprised by a beautiful sunset, or when you saw this cute dog at a park. [Laughs] You know, little things like that, or when you see your cat just sleeping really contentedly. Notice how little things that give that sense of either peace or expansion in you, so you’re either grounded or you feel connected to something bigger than yourself –
Dr. P: – other than yourself, and actually, that is all that you need. Sometimes all we need is to just, you know, let ourselves be present to that and open to that.
Sarah: That makes a lot of sense! So please tell me about the cognitive Photoshop filter and how we use them in our lives. This is such a great framing device! I love this!
Dr. P: [Laughs] So you know, like, obviously now, you know, we have a lot of things like Snapseed and Instagram filters and –
Dr. P: – what else, right? So, you know, back in the day all you had was Photoshop. You still do have Photoshop! So this is what inspired my, this term cognitive Photoshop, which I think I came out with in 2017? Or 2016? When I first wrote about it.
Dr. P: And so I thought, you know what, who are the best Photoshoppers in the world? It isn’t your geniuses in Vogue or Harper’s Bazaar or Victoria’s Secret. It’s actually every single one of us, because we love to lie to ourselves! You know, this isn’t even about us being, you know, deliberately obtuse or, or, you know, or mean or horrible; it’s just an autopilot response where it helps us to cope with the onslaught of stimulus in our daily lives. A Photoshop filter could be something like, hurt people hurt people. So, and this is a great one that a lot of us use when we want to justify somebody else’s bad behavior and why we need to go back for more. Another one would be, it happened so long ago. So just suck it up, pull up your socks, and forget about it.
Dr. P: But the thing is that – I call it time travel – but the thing is that trauma doesn’t just, you know, is not just logical; otherwise, we could all talk it away. We could mantra it away in front of the mirror. ‘Kay, trauma actually stays in your body. It’s basically how your body keeps living it over and over again, and every time you live it, you’re paying a certain kind of compound interest that works against you, because, you know, like, if I’m carrying a bag of stones for five minutes here it kind of sucks, but carrying it for five years or fifty years, that’s going to really, really, really suck, without putting it down at all. Essentially, the sort of Photoshop filters that we tend to use or we compare our problems, so that would be that a lot of my clients have, so a lot of my clients are, yes, they’re very privileged. And there’s actually, they built their own privilege, so they worked really, really hard. And this is not, you know, about us having to disentangle or, you know, throw away all the things or all the advantages that we’ve had, because most of us, we do have some advantages, right? Or what, you know, the things that, a lot of them, they get a bit ashamed about what’s going on in their lives, so they’ll be like, you know, I’m in a very good position, but I am caged in this position, and I’m not supposed to complain, and, you know, like, I understand as to what we’re talking about to different extents, right? And so, you know, it’s just because you’ve got a first world problem that isn’t as bad as somebody else in another country far, far away who is having real, like, maybe physical challenges because of their socioeconomic situation doesn’t take away your suffering. You could have trauma, chronic pain in a first-world country with a lot of privilege and finances, but your pain is still real.
Sarah: Yeah! And so by using these cognitive Photoshop filters, we’re either demeaning our own trauma or trying to minimize it or trying to guilt or pressure ourselves into feeling a different way, rather than dealing with the immediate problem that is a real problem, no matter how it looks when you compare it to something else.
Dr. P: Totally.
Sarah: Wow. One of my favorite sections of this book is the part where you talk about naming your craft, and you write –
Dr. P: Mm-hmm.
Sarah: – you have only about four hours of peak productive time every day if you have optimum energy levels. And I, I don’t know if I can tell you how much I needed to read that, but I really needed to read that, so thank you for that. That really – [laughs] – that really reminded me like, oh yes, I’m not a machine! I have to remind myself. I love the question, what chews my energy? That is another good framing device: what eats away at my energy when I’m working? So can you tell me more –
Dr. P: Yes.
Sarah: – about your, the four hours of peak productive time?
Dr. P: Okay, so, you know, to contextualize it, in a perfect world many of us will think that, okay, I can finish this task, I can write this, or, you know, I can craft this email, duh-duh-duh-duh-duh, in this amount of time. Yeah, in a perfect world when you’ve got great energy and when you are a cyborg.
Dr. P: But we’re not cyborgs!
Dr. P: We’re not on Star Trek, we’re not Data on Star Trek, and sometimes I wish I were. Life would be so much easier to get everything done, but things that, you know, like, things happen! You know, in the background, for instance, we got COVID. Seems like okay, but maybe we’re just desensitized; we’re just tired, right? And then, you know, there are demands on your daily life. For instance, like you said, you have a son, right? So you’ve got kids, you’ve got a cat! That’s also takes your energy, even if that also gives you energy. So a lot of us forget about that, so we think that in a perfect world it’s because we are saying, you know, I work from nine to five or eight to eight, that whole chunk of time, minus the lunch break or the tea break, has to be hundred and fifty percent, not just hundred percent. So we have a lot of unrealistic expectations on ourselves, and, but actually the human brain is not wired that way.
Understanding this from a neuroscience perspective helps us to forgive ourselves, and then, you know, if I only have these four hours, then I am going to basically optimize it, because, you know, like, you think about your toothpaste, right? Initially, when you’ve got a lot of toothpaste, you just use it when you need it, but when you’ve got so little left, you’re going to make that last bit stretch like crazy. I think that’s the Pareto principle in economics. So you think about it that way: when you have four hours, how are you going to stretch that time? So that becomes super precious, and so you’re going to guard it like your firstborn. You know, ideally you should be able to identify the four hours in a day; maybe there are two times, or maybe there’s just one good time when you are the most energized, and this is the time when you should not be distracted or, you know, like, just always task switching and multitasking and all and, you know, answering a zillion emails. This is time, for instance, if your job is strategizing or doing something creative or, you know, just really important stuff, whatever it is, you know, honor, respect your job, whatever it is, okay? You know, whether it is a career job or your family job or your personal, personal thing, ‘kay, devote that time to that. So, you know, like, the world is not going to end if you don’t answer all your emails during that time. You focus on that, and that will pay you a lot more dividends than if you are just scattered. So understanding that helps as you organize all day a lot more wisely, and then, you know, if you know you have just four hours a day and you planned it well, you have maximized that, with tiny breaks in between as well. Then what happens is the rest of your day is reward. [Laughs]
Dr. P: If you finish on time, you get, you get a treat! You know, and nobody asks you to raise your hand and take on the tasks of five thousand more people! ‘Kay, and we can use it, the other time when you have less energy to do the easier things, you know, like admin or, or just rest, or just have a bit of fun, because if you can recharge yourself, fill up your batteries, then the next time when you are doing work again, whatever it is, you go in filled up. You go in rejuvenated, and I think that’s a win-win.
Sarah: And it’s, it’s really nice to be reminded, no, you’re not a cyborg; no, you’re not a machine; and even if our work hour, work day is eight or nine or ten hours, that’s not a non-stop peak performance expectation, and that’s not sustainable. I like how you frame it is as pressing Play and pressing Pause –
Dr. P: Yeah.
Sarah: – and that the pause is also important too.
Dr. P: Mm-hmm!
Dr. P: Actually, pauses are productive. If you think about it as, you know, like, if you want to think about it logically, because a lot of us, we are trying to be pragmatic, so if your pause or your sleep or your nap pragmatically gives your brain a lot more juice, makes you a lot more creative, makes you wiser, if spending that three seconds to reset your brain helps you to make wiser decisions so you don’t have new messes to clean up, then actually you’re spending time to buy exponentially more time and sanity –
Dr. P: – so amazing thing.
Sarah: I have often asked myself, and then asked my children, to think about, like, okay, what is, what are the things that I do that make me feel as if I have just plugged myself into a recharger? Like I plug my phone in to recharge?
Dr. P: Yes!
Sarah: What are the tasks or the activities – or the complete lack of activities – that I do that make me feel like I’m plugging myself into a charger?
Dr. P: Yeah.
Sarah: And it’s different for everybody, right?
Dr. P: Yeah! And, you know, this is not about, you know, again, you know, self-care stuff like, yes, you know, like, it’s really important at this stage we understand or we, we are a lot more aware but saying the word self-care, but self-care isn’t just about, oh, you know, this unicorn latte whenever we think we are tired. Self-care is really about the un-sexiest things that are the foundation of your life, the ritual and the routine. Self-care is making sure that your finances are in good shape so they’re sustainable. Okay, self-care is making sure that your brain is in good shape to make wise decisions –
Dr. P: – so that you can actually enjoy yourself.
Dr. P: And so, you know, like, you know, being able to recharge yourself, you know, I think that’s also, I use the three Ls as one of my assignments in the book. You know, like, everybody is different so, you know, like, it’s about helping people to explore what rejuvenates, recharges, and replenishes them.
Sarah: Yes. Absolutely. I always think of myself as Past Sarah and Present Sarah have to work together for Future Sarah.
Dr. P: Totally; I love that. So, you know, like, you’re looking way beyond just the present moment, which is so important and is something that a lot of people don’t do.
Sarah: Yes. And, I mean, we’re, it can be very easy to be overwhelmed by all of the things that are in front of us right now. I, I get that, but I absolutely love it when I arrive at a, at a, at a situation and I’m like, wow! Past Sarah is the best! She handled this! And I don’t even remember doing it! But I, I love being able to think of myself as Past, Present, and Future, because I’m still all three of those people –
Dr. P: Yeah.
Sarah: – and I have, like you said, I have a, an idea of what I’d like Future Sarah’s life to be like, so I do little things to make that happen now!
Dr. P: Yeah. So important. You know, like, in a lot of my workshops that I ran or with my clients, you know, one thing I’ll be like, okay, let’s have a word to anchor you. Okay, so in every action that you do, all you have to ask yourself is, is this bringing me closer to what is the self? Or is this taking me further away from being this self? And that will guide your decision really simply.
Sarah: And it’s, it’s really a difficult thing, isn’t it, to accept what is and accept the ways that you’re in your own way and get out of your own way, but then also –
Dr. P: Yeah.
Sarah: – recognize, oh, I have been told or taught that this is what I should want, but I don’t want that, and I don’t know what I do want.
Dr. P: Yeah.
Sarah: Even just thinking to question what you’ve been told you ought to be is a very scary prospect. I imagine with client work it comes down to the, oh, I can’t do that, and then working up to the, oh, wait, yes, I can!
Dr. P: Yeah! Of course! You know, like, being, you know, like, not having someone prescribe something to you –
Dr. P: – is so scary. So, you know, like, a lot of times when I say, okay, only you know this, like, even how to recharge yourself. No, tell me how! Nope! Only you know! I can sit down here and guide you, so you find the answers. You know, I’m not going to be here with you forever – [laughs] –
Dr. P: – full stop. So I don’t want you to be dependent on me forever!
Dr. P: So, you know, let’s help you guide yourself, be this mentor, be this champion your younger self never had, and when, when you think about it that way then, you know, like, a lot of people start to calm down and ground themselves, and they start realizing that this unknown isn’t so scary after all if you’re just, you know, asking yourself, like, how to make little steps. Let’s build your foundations –
Dr. P: – you know, because a lot of them, a lot of people, you know, like, who come to me, they’ve got most of their life intact, intact. A lot of things are going really, really well. It’s actually the simplest things like, you know, like sleep, they’re not sure about –
Dr. P: – or how to talk to people and all, things like Impostor Syndrome that they’re not sure about, and so, you know, like, it’s basically helping them to recalibrate and find a happy, the happy rhythm. How are they going to recalibrate that rhythm again so that it will serve them?
Sarah: So I always ask this question: what books are you reading that you would like to tell people about?
Dr. P: So this book I’m really loving right now is Arthur Brooks’ From Strength to Strength. So it’s a book on how to find fulfillment and, and basically grow past your midlife, and I really love it because it teaches us a lot about, you know, like, what I just said, you know, like, instead of just adding and hoarding, what can we let go of? So he likens that to, as you grow older, you have to be like a sculptor. You learn to chip away, and it’s this, you know, analogy that I tell my clients: you know, we, we are all full of prescriptions for other people. We are like, this marble that’s been totally warped and even corroded on the outside, but you think about what Michelangelo said: the sculpture’s already in the marble –
Dr. P: – I just had to free it. So let’s help you find who you are, you know. Who you are really is the – you’ve always had answers, like how to recharge, how to take care of your brain, the things that make your heart sing, and let’s have you live with that and build that life that you want with leveraging on what you already have.
Sarah: Absolutely. That, and, and it’s so – I love the idea that as you are a sculpture you’re, you’re shedding things, because I notice, for example, as I age, I look back on things that I cared so much about, and I’m like, wow, I could not care less about that now.
Dr. P: [Laughs] Yeah.
Sarah: I just let it go. I – somebody asked me, like, what do you like about aging? And I said, I like that there are things that I used to stress about that I put down, and I never picked them back up.
Dr. P: Yeah. So important. Can you give us one example of that?
Sarah: Oh my gosh. The older I get, the less I care about people’s negative opinions about what I do, because my life is not their life, and they don’t live in my life, and I don’t have to care. Like, I finally understood the idea that other people’s opinions of me are not my business.
Dr. P: So, so important for people to hear this. You know, like, the more people can actually talk about this and the more others can hear about this, the more we realize that we have permission –
Dr. P: – not to listen.
Sarah: Yeah, and giving yourself permission is so scary!
Dr. P: Oh yeah, totally.
Sarah: Oh, absolutely. Where can people find you if they are looking for you?
Dr. P: So they can find me on my website, perpetuaneo.com. That can also find me on my mindbodygreen column – I can send you that link – and of course they can find me on my book This Is What Matters!
Sarah: Yes! I will link to all of this in my show notes. Dr. P, thank you so much for your time today. I really, really appreciate it, and I’ve had such a good time talking to you. And most of all, thank you for this journal; I, I’m actually really excited to send it to people who I think will really value it.
Dr. P: I’m so glad. Thank you so much, Sarah, for having me here and for those amazing questions.
Sarah: And that brings us to the end of this week’s episode. Thank you to Dr. P for connecting with me over many, many time zones, and thank you to Maria Orlandi from Adams Media for helping me set this interview up, and thank you, of course, for tuning in to listen.
I, like I said, love books that encourage you to think about what matters to you, so if you have a favorite journal or journal prompt, I would really love to hear about it? You can email me at [email protected], or you can leave me a message at 201-371-3272. You can also tell me a joke because you know I love those, but I love hearing from you, and if you enjoyed this interview I would love to know what you thought!
Before I get to the terrible joke, and I have – [rustling noises] – a whole page of them – you can hear the sound effects – I have a whole page – I want to remind you that I have a sample of the audiobook of Foundation by Lainey Davis coming up after the end of this part, which is actually called the outro and, yes, that is a word. We have been cleaning out one of my teenagers’ rooms, and I found an entire page – [rustling] – sound effects! – of jokes from, I think he was five? So get ready; these are high quality. Are you ready for our joke of the week?
Why did the golfer wear two pair of pants?
Why did the golfer wear two pair of pants?
In case he got a hole in one!
[Laughs] These are so cheesy, I love them so much! I can’t believe I kept a page of jokes. It’s like Past Sarah knew that Future Sarah would need ridiculous jokes.
On behalf of everyone here, we wish you the very best of reading. Thank you so much for listening and keeping me company each week. I’m honored to be in your eardrums.
Smart Podcast, Trashy Books is part of the Frolic Podcast Network. You can find more outstanding podcasts to subscribe to at frolic.media/podcasts.
[end of mellow music]
[sample of audiobook of Foundation by Lainey Davis]
This podcast transcript was handcrafted with meticulous skill by Garlic Knitter. Many thanks.
This episode’s transcript is brought to you by the audiobook release of Foundation by Lainey Davis!
Narrated by Tom Taylorson and Carly Robins, this is, hold on to your earbuds, a grouchy geek romance.
Meet the Brady family. They’re brooding, brilliant, and barreling into relationships they weren’t expecting.
Zack Brady doesn’t do relationships. He does calculations.
When his family engineering firm sends him to investigate a sinkhole at a client’s house, Zack feels a tremor in the foundation of his carefully calculated world.
Her name is Nicole Kennedy. She’s loud and crass, and has no time for nonsense. She certainly doesn’t have time for a mysterious trench swallowing her yard. To make matters worse, the grouchy engineer who shows up to fix it is the same jerk she’s forced to run beside during the corporate relay race her boss insisted she run.
Somewhere between jogging and poring over geotechnical engineering plans, Nicole and Zack feel the earth move. Can they overcome their past to build something meaningful?
Foundation is book one of the Brady Family series. If you love messy family dynamics, unforgettable characters and sizzling chemistry, you’ll devour this new series by Lainey Davis, creator of the Stag Brothers series.
Do you like nerdy, grumpy heroes? Bossy, nosy extended families? Feisty heroines who take no crap? The Brady Family series is for you! One reader said “It’s like This is Us, but they do it.”
It all starts with Foundation… Now on audio!
Stay tuned for the end of the podcast – I’ve got a sample of the audio for you!
Add Your Comment →
Well, I’d say that my priorities in crisis are stability and security. Like I hate my day job, but it’s a reliable paycheck and health insurance and I’m not likely to be considered expendable, the way I was in my previous profession.
Don’t really know how to resolve that when my soul is sick of my day job, but my interests are useless and expendable, though. Like “never going to have another job I’m interested in again because all I care about the arts.”
This was really interesting and appropriate because my kids’ summer break starts on Monday and I have a tradition of reflecting on these type of questions at that time and making life tweaks so I can make the most of summer. I often like to change things up so summer can feel “special” and I can feel more present for my kids.
Sometimes summer habits become permanent and sometimes they don’t, but it’s always an understanding interesting practice.
@Jennifer: I have similar priorities so I understand. But why do you think your interests are useless and expendable? Interests and things you do in addition to the work just need to bring you joy, I think.
@Jill: I do the same at the start of summer. And at the New Year. And the Jewish New Year. Wow I navel gaze a lot. 😀
I definitely understand the idea of wanting summer to feel special, and to feel present, which often requires my slowing down! It’s too hot to move quickly!
This sounds so interesting! Unfortunately something is wonky with the iTunes podcast. The latest episode listed is 495 so I don’t know what is going on. Drat! Maybe it’s just me? Any advice?
@Sita: Thank you for letting me know! I had to move the podcast to a dedicated server and the forwarding was not as smooth as it should have been! If you unsubscribe and resubscribe, it should populate with all the newest episodes.
please let me know if it does not? I’m sorry for the extra work on your part.
Thank you SB Sarah! I could have sworn I tried that (but it is Friday and my brain needs a break, so who knows?), so I just unsubscribed and resubscribed and it fixed it! Many thanks. 🙂
Yes! Thank you for letting me know. I’m so sorry about the trouble.
I went out and bought this book yesterday even before the podcast was done. Like Jennifer above, I hate my job but several attempts to change careers have failed and with all the losses and upheavals of the past few years, I don’t even know what I want anymore. (Except a firepit. I’d really like to live in a home with a firepit.)