E22: Developing True Emotional Strength

I Hear You
I Hear You
E22: Developing True Emotional Strength

Show Notes

Related Episode: E21: Faulty Core Beliefs

Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Today’s episode of the I Hear You podcast is going to be a bit shorter, and it’s not because the subject matter isn’t any less important than simply because the subject matter doesn’t require thirty to forty five minutes to discuss. And I’m all about keeping things short, sweet and to the point. It’s one of the main things people appreciate about my books, and it’s what I hear many of you appreciate about this podcast series. So today we’re talking about developing emotional health and strength, which is something we’ve technically been talking about on every episode of the show. But today I want to talk at a bit of a higher level. Speaking specifically to how true lasting power and connection is really a two step method. In other words, it’s not quite as simple as just learning new truth and applying it. It requires a little extra work in two key areas to have lasting, meaningful change. So without further ado, let’s dove in.

[00:01:17] All right. This show is focused on building strong, healthy relationships. Right. And by now, you know that the majority of work gives me the rigidity of relationship. Work is actually self work. It’s working on ourselves. And in many ways, I should say, that goes a long way toward improving all of our interpersonal relationships. And I have really one objective with this podcast, with my coaching, my books, all of the work that I do, and that’s ultimately to help people live powerful, connected lives. So what I want to do today is take a little bit of time to set the stage for this and perhaps provide perspective on why everything we’re talking about here and why the invitations I extend at the end of each episode are so important.

The Pinched Nerve

So a couple of years ago, I was at the gym and I was doing a pretty simple lift. It was a dumbbell overhead press, you know, sitting on the bench, 90 degree angle. I got two dumbbells. Put them at the side of my head, either side of my head next to my ears and just pressed up. And I wasn’t even moving a ton of weight, but I was straining a bit. And I pushed up on one of my reps and I felt a little pop in my neck and all my muscles tensed up and I pulled the weights back down pretty quickly and I set them on the ground.

[00:02:38] I thought, oh, shoot. I tweaked something pinched nerve.

[00:02:42] I don’t didn’t know what it was or it wasn’t dramatic, but I definitely did something that my body did not like. And I stopped lifting immediately. You know, I sat around for a minute or two to see if my muscles would loosen up and they didn’t. And so I called it a day and I went home. And sure enough, that night my neck got super tight and I just thought, oh, shoot. OK. And I had to go to the gym for a few days. I’m going to let this thing heal. Well, I didn’t go for a few days, and then when I did go back after about a week, I just did lower body because my neck wasn’t loosening. And it was rough because I you know, I’ve had minor injuries similar to this before and they usually heal themselves. You know, I have lower back pain and sometimes I tweak my lower back and all the muscles tighten up. And eventually when the muscles release and I’m careful and how I’m moving, everything’s back to normal again. Well, that wasn’t the case for my neck, and unfortunately I went weeks and then months, ultimately over a year before I went to get any kind of professional help. Now, I did go to a chiropractor about a month or so after because I thought, K, something must be misaligned. I don’t know what’s going on.

[00:03:57] Then, you know, plenty was misaligned with my job as working at a computer all day. And so, you know, the chiropractor popped me back into place and it all felt good at the moment, but not pulled.

[00:04:08] Hours later, the pain was back in. I just couldn’t figure out how to get it to go away. And so ultimately, I started going to a physical therapist. You know, I tried to get X-rays, I tried to figure out what was wrong. And after everybody that I talked to, they basically all said, well, no, we like everything seems to be more or less than alignment. There isn’t any major issue. But you have a couple of issues at play here. A couple of problems at play. The first is your lifestyle, the weight, your posture with the way that you work on the computer all day. It is not helping. It’s pulling on these muscles. Your body is trying to compensate for your posture. And that’s what lets in large part what’s causing a lot of this residual pain. So the second part is that I didn’t do anything about it right after the injury. And so my body learned this is now Michael’s theory, Michael’s hypothesis. My my muscles learned to stay type intense. They basically reacted to that initial pinched nerve is probably what it was or something. And so they tense up to protect me, but they never really let up. And eventually that became the new norm. And my body just thought, these muscles are supposed to be tight almost no matter what I do. So we’re just gonna stay tight. And that obviously is not helping me.

[00:05:24] That’s hurting me, even though the biological function of that is supposed to be for protection and support.

The Emotional Parallel

Now, as I’m talking, can you draw some parallels or some connection to your life or to emotional health in general? Oftentimes things happen to us and a defense mechanism kicks into play, right? If we go through a traumatic event to survive that event, to make it through emotionally, if not even physically, we have to shut down certain parts down. We need to develop certain walls, if you will. You know, as a child perhaps that say certain people can’t be trusted. So I won’t trust people. I’ll be careful around adults. So be careful around men or women or whatever it is, you know, and we start to our muscles are figurative muscles start to tighten up to try to protect ourselves. And what happens, though, is that’s not always helpful in the moment. And even if it is helpful in the moment, it’s not always helpful in the long run. Then over time, if we don’t learn to relax those muscles again and go, OK. That was a threat back then. I did pinch nerve back then. So thank you for tightening up in that moment. I need you to release now. I want to connect with others. I need I need these walls to go down. I need my fear to go away. We have to do some work.

[00:06:50] So some physical therapy, some changing there. If we’re going to see results, if we’re going to be able to once again let go of that pain and now live life the way we’re supposed to. Now, it’s interesting to me because the more work I do and emotional health, the more I realize how many parallels there are with our physical health. And oftentimes we can learn a lot because things that we can see, things that we can physically feel are easier to grasp oftentimes. And so it’s convenient that the squishier, the harder to understand principles of emotional health. It’s nice when those two overlap because looking at the physical can help us understand the emotional then there. And there’s no it’s no it’s no exception here. Right. Most sports injuries require two phases to heal completely. Right. You have to first heal the wound if you have a broken leg. No amount of physical therapy is going to heal that leg or really give you any sort of relief. If you’re still bending and moving and all of that, if you don’t first fix the alignment, brace it and let that bone heal. Right. So the first step is healing and then the second step is strengthening. So if we’re looking at the physical, you’ve got it, you’ve got to brace it. You’ve got to heal. You’ve got to give the bone time to heal. And then you need to go and start strengthening the muscles.

[00:08:18] You need to get it moving so that you reintroduce that range of motion. Then if you skip any one of those two, you end up with problems like me and my neck. You know, it healed. The issue healed. The pensioner wasn’t pinched. You know, two seconds after I changed what I was doing. But because I didn’t then start strengthening the supporting muscles because I didn’t actually change my posture and because I wasn’t changing what I did day in and day out, the pain continued even though the initial issue was no longer present. Does it make sense? And so if we take this into the emotional health realm, if we’re experiencing emotional pain. Whether that’s in our marriage or our family, our professional lives, our friendships, etc., we will heal the quickest if we take a similar two pronged approach. To those issues and others saying it’s the same. The first step is healing any underlying emotional issues or beliefs or trauma that might be at play there. And the second step is strengthening our abilities with new, healthier ways of living to prevent regression or to prevent new issues from forming. So just as doing physical therapy exercises with a broken leg is going to do more harm than good if you feel completely and utterly unlovable at your core. No amount of boundary setting or relationship advice or personal wardrobe styling, whatever, will suddenly turn that all around.

[00:09:54] You must first work with a qualified professional therapist. What have you to get some help. Digging deeper into the root cause and fix that. You know, that’s what we talked about in a recent episode, faulty core beliefs. Right. Those need to be healed or at least recognized and a plan put in place before we really can start working on the physical therapy side of things, before we can start working on the words to say, you know, how to set boundaries, those types of things. Most of the time, if we haven’t first identified and started healing the underlying issues, all the rest of that work is just an exercise in frustration. And on the flip side. Going to therapy twice a month, but they’re not actually changing your actions or setting or holding boundaries or asking for what you need. That’s like going to a chiropractor twice a month and then immediately going back to our unhealthy habits and postures like Michael’s been doing with his neck. So both parts are critical, the healing and the strengthening. All right. The digging into the past and figuring out what beliefs we’re holding onto that are no longer serving us. And figuring out what habits we have now that we can change so that if we have healed the past, we’re not continually adding more issues in the pipeline as we go through our life.

Focus on Healing *and* Strengthening

[00:11:23] Now, the key point I’m trying to make here is that you need them both. I’m not necessarily saying you must have a therapist and do some form of coaching. I’m not saying that. But you do need to look at the underlying trauma and beliefs, et cetera. Everything we just talked about and you need to work on those techniques for some of you like me. That does mean getting a really good therapist, somebody that you can trust, somebody that does hold you accountable and teaches truth and working on applying them. For others, it might simply be doing what you’re doing now. Listen to this podcast, reading good books and then doing some self-discovery. You know, maybe you can work with friends or family members and maybe that is good enough for you to get to the depths that you need. And then you can start practicing the techniques and the related principles. So however it works for you, it’s intensely personal. It’s unique in every situation. But what I wanted. I wanted to dedicate a whole episode to this principle because it’s critical. And I do hear from time to time with clients or with readers, people who write it and they say, I don’t get it. I’m doing everything you told me to. And it’s not changing. You know, he’s not changing. She’s not changing. Or I don’t feel like I’m changing.

[00:12:36] And there are certain instances when I’m working with somebody that I said, you know what? My opinion, I think you’d benefit a lot from finding a therapist. And I always tell everybody who starts working with me as a coaching client that my work is not a replacement for therapy. In fact, it benefits a lot if if I have clients who are going through therapy. We can work together and adds new layers on top of it. Right. They work. They get they work on it from multiple angles. So that’s the first and key point that I wanted to make as we talk about developing emotional strength. The second point relates, and I’m going to stick with my same physical health analogies here, and that’s to make sure that you properly diagnosed your situations before treating them. Not with as well as with any medical treatment. You have to take care to properly diagnose the situation first before prescribing medication or remedies. Antibiotics won’t fix a dislocated shoulder. And you certainly can’t cure the flu with surgery, though, if you could. That may be kind of cool. At certain certain people would certainly opt in for that. But nevertheless, that’s true. That’s just the way it goes. There are certain you can’t just do a one size fits all blanket approach. And hey, we’re fixed. We’re good. Moving on with life. And again, it’s no different with our emotional health.

[00:14:02] Remember how I set a boundary I talked to a couple of episodes ago about how I set a boundary with my wife that I later realized didn’t need to be set. It turns out in that situation, I made an assumption, I jumped to conclusions and it could have caused a lot more harm than good. Thankfully, my wife held it well. She was forgiving, but it just as easily could have blown up into something much larger. All because I jumped the gun and I applied the wrong medicine, quote unquote, to the situation. So all of this everything we talk about on this podcast is a measure twice cut, once scenario or it requires that at least I recommend that because we’ve talked a lot in this series so far about setting boundaries, that sticking up for yourself, about asserting yourself and taking responsibility for your own happiness. You just want to make sure that you’re seeing things clearly before you act. You know, really, it’s it’s learning to discern between truth and distortion that’s essential. And you’re not gonna be perfect at it. That’s just the nature of life. Right here I am teaching these principles. Here I am writing books on the topics that I jump in and I do the you know, I don’t want to say wrong thing, but, you know, I try certain things or I say certain things that in hindsight go up.

[00:15:25] Yeah, I kind of regret that. That wasn’t probably wasn’t the best medicine, the best solution there. That’s just being human and that’s fine. But I would be remiss if I didn’t point that out. And, you know, especially if you’re feeling like you’re on the outset of this journey and emotional health and developing this strengthen this power, it’s something I want you to be aware of that with as passionate as I get about certain principles and certain techniques, I hope you never take it as. Oh, well, Michael told me, I have to say it this way or do it this way. So here I go. I hope that you’ll trust me in certain instances to try things, but I hope that at the end of the day, you’ll look at a certain situation and you’ll go. Does this feel right or could there be a different approach here? And at the end of the day, trust your gut. Because I’m some dude sitting here in a recording studio. I don’t know you. I don’t know your specific situations. So when you’re looking when you’re trying to figure out, OK, what’s the right medicine here? Am I seeing this clearly? How do you get clarity around that? How do you know or have confidence that the solution you have in mind is the best one? Well, short of having a therapist just tagging along or sitting on your shoulder, developing a network of other healthy people you can talk to is huge.

[00:16:45] I’m a big proponent of connection, obviously, and I recognize that not everybody in your family or in your immediate social circle is somebody you can confide in. But all you need is one other person if you can get more, great. But if not, focus this week, this month, this year, whatever it is on finding somebody who you feel is emotionally healthy, someone who is validating, somebody who is good at listening and somebody who’s not afraid to tell you when new from somebody who’s not afraid to point out how you might not be seeing things clearly that’s a good person to have in your corner and there are plenty of them to go around. You might need to dig a little bit. If you’ve grown up in a pretty emotionally unhealthy family, or maybe if you haven’t had the best taste in friends in the past, we all we all go through phases or ups and downs like that. But you can find someone, and if you can’t ask around, talk to people, search online, try to find a therapist right when they get off a therapist bandwagon here in a second. But that’s what I recommend you do, is try to find somebody that you can confide in to help you when things are getting a little hazy and when you’re not quite sure what the next move is.


[00:18:01] My invitation to you today is twofold.

[00:18:05] First, take a closer look at something in your life that you may be applying bandages to that might actually need some deeper healing. Are there relationships in your life where you’ve tried the techniques I’ve shared on here or in my book that simply didn’t change anything? Are there certain principles I tout on here, such as we’re all responsible for our own happiness that you just can’t help but disagree with? If you’re able to identify anything like that. Take a second to look a little deeper. Consider setting up a meeting with a therapist or SARINO a psychologist or some other professional that you trust or that you think you might be able to learn to trust. See if you might have a broken or misaligned bone underneath all those emotional bandages. The second part to this is if you are going to therapy or if you are seeing some some form of a professional in this regard, but you’re not acting on the recommendations, commit to do so now. Or ask yourself why you’re even going. It’s a waste of your time and your money. If you’re gonna go see a therapist, but you’re not doing anything, you’re not opening up fully. You’re not being truthful. It’s just a waste of time. Change takes action. It takes work. And if you’re listening to this podcast here, you clearly get that, especially if you’ve made it to the end of this episode. So stop putting it off and start making the changes. You are absolutely worth it.

[00:19:38] That’s going to do it for today. Short and to the point, right?

[00:19:42] Thank you again to those of you who have left a review on the show. You are truly the greatest people on this planet. And thank you to those of you who have reached out to me and written me. I appreciate your questions and success stories. And they all inform the direction and content of this show. Now, with that, we wrap up. I wish you the absolute very best this next week. I’ll talk to you again soon.

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

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