Transcript: Practicing Despair
Hello there. I hope you're having a wonderful day wherever you are. Maybe this week you are walking around your house with your ear buds in trying to handle five things at once while you get ready for a conference call. That really seems to be the norm right now and what I wanted to do is create a few podcasts to help you not just get through the current normal, but to set you up for what's next.
Because no matter what I talk about right now on this podcast, you can't help but think about how the current state of affairs has impacted your life. But why stop all the progress you've worked towards in your practice where your personal life, why let that be stunted by this? If you have a few spare moments and I know they're hard to come by right now, I just did an Instagram poll recently and people seem to feel that there is less time now than there was before all the COBIT craziness happened. But if you do have that spare moment, I would love to hear from you on Instagram. DM me at Dina. Dot. Cataldo and tell me one thing that is going right in your life. How has this shelter in place order impacted your day to day but maybe in a really good way because we seem to be focusing on all the negatives, which is really easy to do with everything that's in front of us on the news and social media.
But we can choose to focus on what we want to focus on and where our focus goes. That is where our energy is going to flow. This is the perfect time to rethink what you want and how you are approaching, how you make it happen. With every decision you make, with every decision you make about where you are focusing your attention. And if you're listening to this episode after the coven 19 pandemic passes, this is the perfect podcast for you to start with me. I'm going to cover some of the basics on how our brains are wired and how we teach our brain to do what we want it to do. And I titled this podcast practicing despair and do not worry that it is not going to be a big downer and I've even put in some episodes that are going to come up that are super cheerful, so just know that it is not going to be a super downer.
This is something that we do anyway and it is gonna be of benefit, I think, to look at our thoughts in a brand new way and understand that we are choosing and practicing these thoughts on a regular basis. If they are popping up in our day right now, we're just putting a different code on them, right? Like we're dressing them up in different clothes with this whole covert 19 thing. I want you to keep in mind that when we are rewiring our brain, it's not a one and done fix. It's a practice. As the title of this podcast suggests, and in this moment our habits have been flipped upside down, right? Like our whole world is being switched around on us. We have to start navigating things differently and it's going to bring up a lot of emotions. And while some people are saying that they can't go to the gym and they're really upset about that, I have other people who are telling me that they're making more yoga practices now that they're online and more convenient for them to attend while still other people are telling me that they've taken up a whole new hobby called running.
So I want you to know that there are different ways to think about the exact same circumstances, but wherever we are in our brain, we are going to make those interpretations. As we see fit. We're going to be using those same thoughts that we have practiced over and over again. Now they're just dressed up in a different way because we're thinking about a new thing in a different way. So some people are loving working from home and other people are struggling working from home. And if you're one of the people struggling, working from home, you are probably thinking, how is it possible that there are some people who are loving it, working from home and vice versa. So what I'm offering is that everything that comes up in your life, the feelings and reactions that you have right now are ones that you have practiced over and over again.
They're just being highlighted with bright pink neon lights right now in this moment. So if you're listening to this podcast during the pandemic, you have the extra opportunity to see how your mind is working either for you or against you depending on how you have trained it over the years. So there are going to be three podcasts in this series. The first one is this one practicing despair. Sounds fun, right? Despair is really the stand in for all the feelings we believe our negative feelings, whether it's fear, anxiety, stress, hopelessness, all of those feelings that prevent us from acting on our own behalf. The next one in the series is going to be practicing confusion. Confusion is a stand in for all those feelings we believe are harmless but are really stunting our growth and our thoughts are what are creating our feelings. So we're going to be looking at some of those sneaky thoughts that we think are really pretty but are really self-sabotaging.
We're also gonna do a podcast or I'm going to do the podcast. You're just going to sit back and listen and hopefully implement practicing joy. Joy is going to be a stand in for all those emotions we enjoy, right? Like, love, excitement, certainty, confidence, all of those feelings that help us move closer to what we want and what thoughts are going to trigger that feeling in us and that we can practice no matter what circumstances we are faced with. All right, so let's talk about despair. Fun title, right? All right. So although I'm an overall optimistic person and that's optimistic, not like positive, right? Like the superficial positive, it's optimistic. The case, everything's going to be fine. It might take some time, it may take some work, some effort on our part, but overall everything's going to be fine. Everything is always going to be fine.
It doesn't matter what in the world we're talking about, right? Because it's always going to be okay. Have you ever noticed that? It always ends up being okay? I mean, no matter what you knew you were gonna sign up for two things, right? You were going to have the opportunity to live and you were going to have the opportunity to die. Okay? Those are two certainties in our world. You don't even get to choose how long you live. You don't even get to choose how you die. All you know is that you get to live for as long as you get to live and then one day you're going to die. Okay? Sounds cheery, right? But that, those are the only things that we have with certainty and those things that we think are out of our control. Well most things are out of our control.
And so what we are doing here is focusing on what we can control, which are our thoughts. Everything else in the world is a circumstance. It's something that is just going to happen. It's going to be in the world. And then what we do is make interpretations of what exists in the world. And we can either cause our own suffering with the way that we think about the world or we can practice other thoughts that will bring us the feelings that we want to feel. It's totally up to us. And I'm going to give you some examples today with some coaching clients and kind of give you some idea of how this might be showing up in your life and how you might be able to, if you choose and some suffering in your life. How does that sound? Okay. So I know that I have spent a lot of my life in the emotion of despair, right?
So that's one of the words that I chose to locate that feeling in my body is despair. Okay. And for me, the feeling of despair feels a lot like shame and it all comes down to me feeling or that I wasn't good enough. And we can trace all these feelings back to our childhood and how we were never good enough to win our parents' approval. But for our purposes, that's not going to be helpful. So most people think the point of coaching is to learn how to stop thinking, quote unquote bad thoughts and start thinking good thoughts so that you can be on your Merry way and just make whatever you want to align with yourself and you can reach all your goals. And you know that's all it is. You're just going to snap your fingers and you're going to get a brand new thought and everything's going to be fine.
No. The truth is coaching is about seeing that we're causing our own suffering with how we think and understanding that suffering is not bad. It's part of life. It's part of all the circumstances, all of the, the feelings of life that we, we put our thoughts upon circumstances and that's a feeling that we have. Okay? It's just part of our body. It's part of our body chemistry from the thoughts that we create in our brain, trickling down the chemicals into our body to create a feeling in our body. It's just the way it is. We learn to not be afraid of the suffering. When we coach and we learned to practice rewiring our brain so we can have more productive thoughts that create better feelings and also create better results because when you're working out of shame or these negative feelings, the problem with that right is that we are going to act in ways that do not meet our highest needs, our highest desires.
When we are acting out of stress, out of hopelessness, out of fear, we are going to react in ways that are not going to help the situation. So that's, you know why there are riots that's often out of anger and fear. Those kinds of behaviors come out of those types of emotions. When we are scared, oftentimes we go into the kitchen so that we don't have to feel the fear or feel the anxiety and we snack on potato chips and we snack on cookies rather than feeling those emotions. So we are doing things either out of, we're always doing things that are coming from those emotions. So coaching is really about understanding how we think, right? That's the whole point of causal coaching, which is what I practice is understanding your thoughts and understanding that they are causing your feelings and that you really are learning how to feel your feelings, which so many of us have been taught to ignore our feelings, push through them.
And a lot of us, I know I did for a long time. We actually believe that the negative feelings fuel our successes. One example of our belief that negative emotions fuel our wins is this one that I hear all the time. So we believe when I say we and some people, some people believe that when they feel stressed out and they're given that rush of adrenaline, that that is going to push them to the finish line. And we know inherently that our feelings fuel our actions when we think about this this way, right? What's happening when we use stress to take action is that we're draining our battery and we're working from an unproductive place. When we learn what's causing us to be stressed, our thoughts about a situation and we begin practicing thoughts that put us in a better place and then act from that, we can be more productive and not exhausted.
So think of it this way. You probably know that our bodies perform differently depending on the fuel we give it. We can give it sugar, sodas, flour fats, and we're going to feel sluggish. We're still running, we're still getting things done, but we don't have the energy or the stamina of someone who fuels their body with fresh veggies. Lots of water and proteins, and the same thing goes for our mental stamina. We can fuel our actions with feelings like stress or anxiety and get things done, but we burn out much more quickly when we fuel our actions with feelings like excitement, joy, certainty, confidence, love. We have more energy to do what needs to be done, and that's why so many lawyers burn out. It's because we weren't taught how to manage our mind and our emotions under the pressures in the legal world and what we do when we fall into the habit of using stress and anxiety to fuel our actions, we're waiting until the last minute to file a brief, for instance.
It's practicing that negative emotion and that's what a habit is. We've practiced that behavior again and again. We've practiced the same thought again and again and now it's our default mode. Every time we have something, do we wait until the last minute because it worked last time. We never make the breakthrough that we can do it in a different way. Why should we? It seems to be working just fine. And what we don't see when we practice stress or despair or anxiety is that we're harming our body's mind and potentially these are going to have longterm effects on us. We're harming our bodies because chronic stress can lead to heart disease and a myriad of other conditions including breast cancer, which is why I'm such a big proponent of mental health personally, it's harming our mind because we remained closed off to feeling better. And when we feel better, that spills over to our relationships and our work and at our home, and it's potentially longterm going to be difficult for us because we're wasting energy and spinning in negative thoughts that prevent us from achieving our goals.
And here's another common example of practicing a negative emotion. So I coached a client this week and she recognized that she had this persistent thought. It just seemed to keep popping up, which means she is ahead of the game because most people don't recognize their thoughts. They recognize their feelings first. A thought that she couldn't make money. And she was really clear about this when she said this in terms of the pandemic right now. She said, things are not great in the world economically right now. It's easy to take that as a fact now. Yes, the words things are not great in the world economically right now. The problem is she added her interpretation from her brain onto the world. The world exists. There is an economy. That's it. When you start saying things like not great right now, you are adding you your interpretation. She was adding her interpretation onto the world and the economy.
So there's a lot of different thoughts available to us about the economy in the world and it might feel really true for you right now. It may be that you have facts in front of you that make that thought seem really true. Like it's a fact. But I want you to understand that when there are a lot of different thoughts available about the exact same facts, the world and the economy, that it is not a truism that you were taking your interpretations of the world and putting them on to the world. And you are making it a fact in your brain. Not true. You're just having a thought. So I coached her around this because there are a lot of people making money right now. There are people selling furniture online using FaceTime, making $3,000 each day. There are people who've just thrown up a website really quick so that they could sell things.
There's people who are on Instagram right now who are making a business for their restaurant so that they, you know, can still be of service to people and they can still make money and pay their employees. So there's a lot of different ways other people are making money. Now, the thought she had that kept popping up over and over again after she had had a meeting in her business was it's, it's going to be really hard to make money. That's another thought that she had. It's going to be really hard to make money. And this thought led her to feeling hopeless. So both of these two, these two thoughts that I'm, I mentioned to you, they both led her to feel hopeless, right? She was finding different thoughts. Her brain was finding different thoughts to bring her the same feeling because those, she's familiar with that feeling.
That was a, a negative feeling that her body was accustomed to because she thinks different thoughts that lead her to the same feeling, the same conclusions. She's practiced it over and over again. So part of what coaching is, is helping her recognize, Hey, this is a persistent thought. And she recognized that it was persistent thought and she wanted to change it. And so because our feelings lead us to take actions, how productive and focused do you think you would be if you felt hopeless all the time? So she recognized that she was currently practicing a scarcity mindset. She's ahead of the game there. She knows it's her thoughts causing her feelings. And if she wants to stop suffering, she needs to begin practicing other thoughts. But practicing a thought is not just switching over to a new thought. Like, Hey, everything's great. Everything's PG. That is not how it's done because you're just going to have cognitive dissonance.
You're not going to believe it. So your brain is never going to make that full leap in logic, right? Like you've actually got to believe it. But how do you do that? So the first step is asking yourself, Hey, well what might other people think about those same words? Let's take the thought that she had. She had the thought it's going to be really hard to make money. And that was based on a meeting that she had where they said they were losing a client because they were going out of business and they were going to have to cut salaries. Right? So those were the facts that they were dealing with. It was a meeting, they were going to cut salaries and one of their clients was going out of business. Those were the facts. Her thought about those facts were that it's going to be really hard to make money.
The feeling that she had was hopelessness. So I want you, after having that bought. So I want you to think about what other thoughts would be available to you in those same circumstances. Available to anyone is a really good place to start. Cause sometimes it's really hard when you're coming from that place of believing that thought to see that there are other thoughts available to you that other people might have or different interpretations. So in this case, here are some examples of other thoughts available to her. One is not everyone is losing money right now. Okay. That's right. The second one is this is the perfect time to make money. Another one is, some people are making money right now and still, there's another one and this is from Frank Kern who I just love. He would say something like, let's talk to the client who shutting down and see if we can help them.
We're, we're going to let them know that we're there for them. Free of charge to help them brainstorm. Because when they make money, we make money. That was inspired by Frank Kern. He didn't say that himself, but he is somebody who would go out and help someone else make money so that they could keep paying him. So I want you to see that there are numerous different ways to think about the same facts. And she was having a really tough time with it though, seeing that there were these other interpretations available, hurt to her because that takes practice. We don't just switch thoughts to feel better. We have to see the same thought over and over again and keep taking a pause when we notice it. And usually we feel it in our body first. Like you'd actually feel the hopelessness first in your gut and you'd be like, Oh, this feels awful.
And then you'd stop yourself and then you'd say, Hey, what am I thinking right now? What just happened that occurred right before I started feeling this way. So I want you to think about this. We have to see the same thought over and over again. And when we see that thought, or when we feel that feeling, we have to take a pause and we notice it will think something like, I want to believe that I can make money right now instead of running to, I can make money right now. When you believe you can't make any money, if you believe you can't make any money. Then trying to switch to a thought. Like I can make a ton of money right now is going to feel like a lie. Your brain is just going to shut down on you. But if you just gently say, Hey, you know, I want to believe that I can make money right now.
Eventually your brain is going to start looking for evidence in your world to support that fact. So what if you're like, I used to be? And you have created the habit where you put tasks off until the last minute because you know that boost of adrenaline is going to push you through, right? So let's go back to that. Do the exact same thing. Just notice that you're doing it. You're going to notice the feeling first. So get familiar with that icky feeling, whatever it is, name it. Maybe it's in your stomach or your jaw or your shoulders, wherever else you might feel it in your body. And once you recognize that you're having that feeling, then ask yourself why you're choosing to feel that way. It's a choice to think that way. It doesn't seem like an option, right? And that's because you've practiced this thought, these feelings over and over again.
So why do you keep choosing them? If you say it's because you're being realistic, right? So let's take the example of a, I can't make money right now. That is not a reason to think a thought. Why would you choose a thought that seems realistic to you? You know how people create what they want to create in the world. They think unrealistically. If you want to think you can't make money or you have to wait until the last minute and feel stressed to get something done, you are welcome to think that way. You are totally allowed to have your own choice. Just know that you're causing your own suffering. You get to make the decision. Do you want to suffer or do you want to feel better? And also create what you want in the world. It's your choice. Now, if you want to begin practicing a new thought and practicing a thought you want to have so that you can create what you want to create.
Show compassion towards yourself. Notice what you're feeling, what you're thinking and recognize. And tell yourself that it's okay. You're just learning. There's nothing to fix right now. It is what it is. That's really where we have to start because we react when we're first starting to recognize what we're thinking and what we're feeling. We react. That's just how we are because we've trained our brains, we've practiced these same thoughts and feelings over and over again. Our brain has made it into a habit, so if you want to change a habit, you have to recognize, okay, this is the habit that I have. Let me take a step back. All right. I realize that I am acting in a certain way, so let's say I am a not taking action on what I want to do, like the business I want to create and recognize that the reason you're not doing that is because you feel hopeless and then understanding and feeling that feeling of hopelessness in your body.
Say, what am I thinking that leads me to feel hopeless? And if it's a money, if it's a thought like I can't make money right now, then you know, you will know that that is the thought to start working on. Did it start looking for in different places in your life? So I want you to know that this is fixable, that this is, there's nothing wrong with you. The reason I say it's fixable is because if you want to create something in the world, we all have thoughts that get in the way. These are thoughts that started off when we were kids and when we have no we are now excavating those thoughts for ourselves to figure out how we can grow as a human. So I don't want you to feel like there's anything wrong with you. I want you to recognize though, that we're here to do the work.
So if you're listening to this right now, you're here to do the work. You're not here just to kind of passively sit back. You're here to do the journaling, to figure out, okay, these are the thoughts that I'm having. These are the thoughts that are coming up. How can I learn to start moving away from the thoughts that are not serving me and get to the ones that are going to serve me and help me create what I want in this world? Okay, so in the next episode we're going to talk about a few thoughts that undermine how successful we are, and they're the sister feelings really to these negative feelings that we talked about today. And they're created by thoughts that we believe are harmless. We think that they are pretty thoughts, but they're not so pretty when you look at what they create in our lives. Does that sound like fun? Okay, well, if that sounds like fun to you, I will talk to you soon. I hope you have a great rest of your day. Bye. Hey, if you enjoy this podcast, I offer one on one coaching using my be a better lawyer framework. That's where we rewire your brain to help you create the life and the practice that you want. Go to Dina cataldo.com to schedule a strategy session.