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This week, my guest and I discuss the powers of positive thinking, the dangers of toxic positivity, and why we should all embrace uncertainty.
Dr. Gina Simmons Schneider is a licensed psychotherapist, executive coach, and corporate trainer. She serves as co-director of Schneider Counseling and Corporate Solutions. She is the author of Frazzlebrain: Break Free from Anxiety, Anger, and Stress Using Advanced Discoveries in Neuropsychology (Central Recovery Press, April 2022). Dr. Schneider is a coping skills expert with more than 25 years of experience helping people regulate difficult emotions and conflicts. Dr. Schneider is certified in Neuroscience for Clinicians through PESI and Critical Incident Stress Debriefing through National Trauma Services. She has been quoted in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and the San Diego Union-Tribune. Laurence Knight interviewed her for the BBC World Service program, “How to Be Angry.” Dr. Schneider blogs for Psychology Today and writes the award-winning Manage Anger Daily blog. She has blogged for Forbes and Women in Crime Ink which the Wall Street Journal named a “blog worth reading.” Dr. Schneider provides training for Fortune 500 companies and other organizations. Contact Dr. Schneider for speaking engagements or additional information at Frazzlebrain.com.
Think meditation is hard? Do me a favor, take a slow deep breath in and now breathe out. Congratulations, you just meditated. Hi, I’m Krystal Jakosky, and this is Breathe In, Breathe Out: a Weekly Mindfulness and Meditation podcast for anyone ready to own their own shit and find a little peace while doing it.
Krystal Jakosky: Hey, it’s Krystal and I am excited about this week. As always, I’m excited. Today I am speaking with Dr. Gina Simmons Schneider, and we talk about the neuroscience behind positive thinking and how it’s more than just a platitude that whether you think you can or think you cannot, you are right that there are literally changes in the body when you choose to think positively. So I really hope that you enjoy this. Just a little bit about Dr. Gina. She’s a licensed psychotherapist, executive coach, and corporate trainer. She serves as a co-director of Schneider Counseling and Corporate Solutions. She’s the author of Frazzle Brain Break Free from Anxiety, Anger, and Stress, using Advanced Discoveries in Neuropsychology, and that’s printed by Central Recovery Press in eight April of 2022. Dr. Snyder is a coping skills expert with more than 25 years of experience helping people regulate different emotions and conflicts.
She is certified in neuroscience for clinicians through P E S I and Critical Incident Stress Debriefing through National Trauma Services. She’s been quoted in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the San Diego Union Tribune. Lawrence Knight interviewed her for the BBC World Service Program. How to Be Angry. Dr. Snyder blogs for Psychology Today and writes the award-Winning Manage Anger Daily blog. She’s blogged for Forbes and Women in Crime, Inc. which the Wall Street Journal named a blog worth reading. Dr. Snyder provides training for Fortune 500 companies and other organizations. Contact her for speaking arrangements or additional email@example.com. Hello and welcome back to Breathe In, Breathe Out. I’m Krystal Jakosky, your host, and I am thrilled to have you here yet again. I am so grateful for all of those who choose to keep coming back and learning more and diving into your own self-care. This week I get to have an amazing conversation with Dr. Gina Simmons Snyder. So welcome.Read More
Krystal Jakosky: I’m thrilled about the content and the ideas that we have to talk about today, and I really hope that everybody else is as excited and interested as I am. So tell me a little bit about how you became Dr. Gina.
Gina Schneider: Well, I had a bumpy journey, I think like a lot of us do. I grew up in poverty and dropped out of high school to go to work and support the family, and initially wanted to go into show business and be a singer songwriter, entertainer. And I sort of went that pathway, and then of course my first professional gig singing jobs and nightclubs really turned me off to singing in front of a bunch of drunks and getting stalked by strange men and getting threatened. I thought this isn’t glamorous. This isn’t fun. I was really interested in psychology. I was always reading, you know, psychology, self-help stuff, very interested in it and how people work and personality theories, and I was always really interested in other human beings.
The idea of helping people became really fascinating. So I finally had this crisis. I was unemployed and I had quit my singing job and hated it and thought, gosh, you know, what do I do with my life? And I took a walk and I found this wall that was covered with a bunch of flyers. I I was really in a dark, depressed place at that time, and I saw this flyer, it was green, and it said, crisis volunteers needed for suicide hotline, no experience necessary, will train. And of course, at that time I needed a paying job. But but the idea of just learning how to help people who were in a suicidal place fascinated me. So I took the number. It was a completely impractical decision. Iit changed my life because from there, I got every Sunday I would volunteer, I’d do my four hour shift, and we saved lives.
We talked people off of bridges. We fed people who were poor from our food bank, and even rescued a woman from her homicidal husband who ran into our clinic and prevented a homicide basically. So it was very, very thrilling and invigorating and meaningful work. And I realized I needed something more meaningful than just singing on stage to a bunch of drunks. So I really reapplied myself to college. I had been going to college, but I really made a commitment to go into psychology as a career. And eventually, you know, I had to work myself through school and, got married, had children, and developed a private practice. But my first work was really with juvenile diversion programs where we had a lot of kids who were incarcerated youth and who were trying not to embark on their first crimes.
And we would be called in to try to divert them from a path of crime. And that was really meaningful work. And we did, we had some really successful programs that we developed that diverted youth from and reduced the recidivism rate.They were in much better shape. So from there we started a private practice and developed the first anger management programs in San Diego for both adults and teens. And then we went from there also into workplace violence prevention and helping people with conflict management in the workplace. So we have a really diverse career pathway. We still do training for corporations. We do executive coaching, mostly helping people with the really difficult emotions and conflicts that occur at work, and then the regular mixed bag of marital and family therapy that we typically see in people dealing with relationship issues and stuff like that.
So, here at the end of all this experience, I’ve really dug into neuroscience research because it’s so exciting what’s been happening in the field of neuroscience, because we can actually watch the human brain with functional magnetic resonance images. We can see how the brain responds in real time. And it totally lit me up and excited me to realize how powerful our brain is. I know you teach a lot about the power of mind, the mind to shape your sense of wellbeing and neuroscience is bearing that out, that what we focus on increases. What we pay attention to has effects and consequences in our bloodstream and in our nervous system and in our digestion and in our immune system. And so that, if we think about it, if we can intentionally aim our brain in the direction we want to go physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, we have great power to influence our performance in life, our performance in work, our healing. If we’re struggling with illnesses, our ability to accomplish any goal, whether it’s weight loss or a career goal. Our ability to resolve interpersonal conflicts and cope with deep emotions. It’s all around really being able to successfully aim our mind in the direction we want it to go.
Krystal Jakosky: So you’re literally saying positive thinking and literally changing our neural path passageways, which completely changes our physiology.
Gina Schneider: Yes. And it’s a bit more complicated than that because obviously we don’t want to live in denial, right? We don’t want to pretend like trauma doesn’t exist, pain doesn’t exist, or bad people are still doing bad things. We don’t want to pretend, because now we’re into something that can be harmful, right? As denial can be harmful, denial of the negative things in the world can be very harmful. I think what we’re talking about more is not denying that we struggle or denying that people who are among us can be doing evil things, or that we can be suffering from a really severe trauma and need to process that trauma and really talk about the pain, and feel the pain. So we don’t get to escape from pain. Any sentient being on the planet is going to experience pain. Pain is there as a very important signal
Krystal Jakosky: Yeah.
Gina Schneider: That something’s wrong, and it’s necessary for us to attend that pain. Yeah. So I think what I think about more than just the idea of positive thinking is the idea of hopefulness because hope is healthy and hope also allows for the recognition that sometimes we do live through periods of time like Covid and many other hardships in our life where it does seem like we’re overwhelmed.
Krystal Jakosky: Yeah.
Gina Schneider: And if we can aim our mind towards hope and not. There’s this talk about toxic positivity, and I think that it’s toxic when it’s not acknowledging reality. When we’re just so focused on thinking positively that we don’t even acknowledge the festering wound on our legs. Right? So it’s important to acknowledge that life can be hard and we can feel the pain and aim towards hopefulness Yeah. When we’re in that place. And that means that we also can see that there is so much good around us, even if we’re suffering, there’s beauty around us. Where there is cruelty, there is kindness, right? Where there is fear, there can be hope, and there can be safety. So I like the idea of aiming towards hopefulness and amplifying the good in our life, rather than denying the painful parts.
Krystal Jakosky: Yeah. I think you have to look at those painful parts so that if there’s healing to be done you can do the healing and the understanding and, I want to say acceptance, but not in the way that you say, this is good. I’m glad that this happened to me, but in the acceptance of Yes, that happened and now we’re moving forward. That doesn’t mean that you approve of what happened, it just means that you acknowledge that it was there. And now what are you going to do with that? How do you want to move forward? There are plenty of people that get stuck in that and cannot move past it. And that absolutely can manifest physically, emotionally, mentally. That’s why I’m excited about this conversation today, because it’s one of the topics that we really haven’t had. I tell people, let’s think positive and let’s see how we can affect our own lives and change our own lives by the choices that we make.
But we haven’t fully divided DNA, we haven’t gone deeper on the positive thinking manifesting type stuff and how it really can benefit us in a different way. Sometimes people are annoyed. There have been people annoyed with me because I have that Pollyanna attitude, right? Something happens and it’s rough, and I’m like, okay, yeah, but let’s look at this and maybe that can help. Okay. And how can we balance both of them? And they’re like, no, let’s just sit in the crap that just happened right now. And like you’re saying, I think there is absolutely the time to sit in that and honor that and respect that, and then there’s this time to add some hope and rise above and say, okay, now.
Gina Schneider: Yeah. And I think you’re. I mean, it can feel insensitive if we jump too quickly too, there’s a way on the other side of this and, look on the bright side and stuff like that. Because I think sometimes what things can happen to us that are so traumatic are a sense of reality and they can shake our identity. Yeah. And we need time, a bit more time to steep in it and understand it. And even name it, you know, what is this thing that I’m feeling? Oh, I’m feeling abandoned, or I’m feeling rejected, or I’m feeling like my life is over because I was training to be a professional athlete, and now my injuries are so severe, I can’t do that anymore. So my identity, my whole purpose, everything I thought I was going to be in my life is gone.
You know? And so those moments require harder effort at first acknowledging the trauma, acknowledging the change, acknowledging the dramatic, and upsetting one’s sense of self. Yeah. And sense of direction in life. And that sometimes takes some time, but I think if we can lean into people like yourself or therapists or support groups where we can feel safe to talk about our pain, then the healing can come when we’re able to accept it. This really did happen and now I’m in a new reality. Like, you know, I found out that my husband, who I thought was the most loyal person in the world, has been lying to me, my whole marriage. And he’s been a whole different person than I thought he was, and I can’t live with him anymore, and I have to leave him.
You know, that kind of devastation to the foundation of your life and what you thought was true can happen to a lot of people. And so what gets them through it is sometimes having a hand hold, someone to hold their hand, literally throw it and listen to the pain and help them process the pain, and then see the hope on the other side. And that’s what neuroscience research shows in terms of healing from trauma. Like the trauma of a betrayal from a spouse or a loved one, or a family member. A parent can betray their children. And, you know, I’ve worked with people whose father was catfishing using their son’s identity online, in other words, pretending to be a teenage boy. Right. And exploiting young girls and what a betrayal of your son’s trust.
To be used in that way. In a crime, commit the commission of a crime. So that kind of betrayal just shatters your sense of self. And so there are things that are so big that they go beyond our ability to cope all by ourselves. And that’s why we need therapists. We need support groups, we need other places to go and somebody who can be a witness to our pain and trauma does register in the brain so that we never forget it. Right. It’s part of us, it’s wired into our survival. We don’t, we can’t forget it. So how do you heal from it? Well, you have new experiences, right? And that’s where your work comes in, where you encourage somebody, Hey, let’s take a risk. This workplace was a really hostile workplace. Not all workplaces are hostile.
Let’s have a new experience in a workplace where you feel welcomed, you know? Yeah. And this place was great. They were racist and they excluded you. And you know, this place values diversity and they might respect you and treat you like you deserve to be treated. You know, those sorts of experiences help us heal. Because what it does is it overlays new learning on top of the old learning. And that’s the way that we recover from trauma. Like other kinds of things. Other kinds of problems really can be easily addressed with just thinking positively or revamping your thinking a little bit. Maybe trying a new behavioral strategy like weight loss, for example. You know, you can think a little bit differently.
You can try a new behavioral strategy and you can lose that five, 10 pounds or whatever. But other things, and so you know, thinking and behavior do change our neurochemistry and do help us, we can set those positive goals and get encouragement from a coach and really accomplish a lot. Trauma is the one thing though, that we can’t talk our way out of with words. We recover from trauma with new experiences. And the amygdala is the threat sensing threat. It’s basically our threat signaling part of our brain. And it is so important, we’ve got a little amygdala on each side, each hemisphere of our brain, and it responds about five times faster than our logical thoughts. And the reason for that is, if somebody throws something at your head, you duck, and then you think, what was that thing flying at my head?
And why did that person throw that thing at my head? Right? So, we want to respond to life very quickly and then think about why we did it later. Because you know, that’s an important survival skill. If we always had to sort of define everything that was going on in words in our head first, we might not make it through childhood. So once somebody has been really traumatized with violence or other kinds of experiences, that’s pretty hardwired into the brain now. And that is a good thing because you can defend yourself, right? But what you don’t want to have happen is that your trauma then runs your life and you’re not able to enjoy life. You’re not able to trust anyone ever again. You’re not able to go out in public because you’re waiting for an i e d to explode, you know, those sorts of things. So, that’s where the healing comes in from helping people to make their world a little bigger by trying a new experience. And new experiences can be very healing.
Krystal Jakosky: Yeah. Last time you walked down the street and something horrible happened, but today you’ll walk down and it’ll be okay. Tomorrow you’ll walk down and it’ll be okay. And reaffirming that it’s alright.
Gina Schneider: Yes. That not everyone is a predator or not every day is going to be one of pain. And that you can also, when you open yourself to a new experience, like I did when I took that walk and I was in despair and I saw this flyer that was a new experience, right? I saw an opportunity that I would not have seen had I not taken that walk. And I had not tried to do something different to help, to help myself feel better. So I think this is where coaches can be very helpful and therapists aim people in the direction of something different and new that maybe they haven’t tried before. Yeah. And that can give them a new healing experience.
Krystal Jakosky: What a surprise gift that was. You, yourself are depressed, you yourself are struggling. You yourself could be actually looking for assistance from that hotline, and instead you become the giver giving exactly that which you needed and finding your own new. What a gift was that?
Gina Schneider: Yeah. It was really me seeking too. I mean, I think that I was seeking relief when I took that walk, right? So there is something about pain that’s motivating. Like if you have the pain of loneliness, it motivates you to go through the hell of dating, you know, the hell of swiping left, and you know, having the disappointments and the let downs and the ghosting and all the things we go through, why do we do that? Well, we’re motivated because we don’t want to feel lonely. We’re motivated by an uncomfortable emotion that’s painful. So our emotions are not the enemy. They can be motivators, but they’re not going to be motivators if you just sit there and feel lonely and do nothing, right? So we have to get ourselves motivated enough to try something new.
And so that’s where hopefulness comes in too. And we know that hopefulness helps with dopamine, which is the motivating neurochemical neurotransmitter in our brain and dopamine motivates us to want to do something. It’s not always, I think we hear people talk about dopamine high or dopamine hit. It’s not always pleasant. It can be associated with pleasure, but it’s mostly like, I have to do something. Right? I feel blue. I have to do something. And if you’re choosing to do something rather than nothing, that’s usually always the best choice, obviously, unless the something you’re doing is incredibly self-destructive like drugs. Exacting revenge on your mean boss or something. Those things tend to spiral you down. But if you’re doing something to uplift yourself, with that intention and that goal, you’re usually going to shake up things enough that you’ll find your mood will shift again. And now it’ll shift and you’re not going to be stuck there.
Krystal Jakosky: Yeah. I say that discomfort is actually a gift and a blessing because it means that a change is available and it can be so inspiring and moving. It’s this gift of, okay, so now what do you want to do? You got uncomfortable. You were so comfortable for so very long, and now it’s time to learn and grow in some way, shape, or form. So what are you going to choose? It’s this unbelievable opportunity. I’m so uncomfortable. Okay, now what? Now where do you go? Because you get to create something different, a new way of being in whatever state that is. You know, you’re either reaching out to a friend to hang out because you’re lonely or you’re swiping left to try to find something else. But you are making an effort to, I’m really uncomfortable being so alone, so I’m going to choose to change this. To have that shift in the brain as well, to have that knowledge that the synapses and stuff is going differently and it’s creating something differently. Can you explain something that you said was that it changes the blood? Can you explain how it changes the blood? I don’t know why this fascinates me. I don’t know why that statement really clung to me.
Gina Schneider: Well, our bloodstream, our thoughts impact our neurochemicals, which impact our bloodstream, and you can think about, and it happens very fast, very quickly. So you can, for example, I could talk to you about going for a walk in an orchard, a citrus orchard, and it’s a nice warm spring day, and there’s plump lemons on the tree. And we get thirsty and we take a lemon off the tree and we dig our thumb into the peel and, and peel it, you know, and we can smell the tart citrus thing, and we get a little squirt of it in our eye, and it stings and we peel a small piece of that fruit off the lemon, and we place it in our mouth. And, you know, if you think about that, what’s happening right now in your body, in your mouth, are you salivating.
If we’re really thinking about that, instantly, our brain is going, I’m eating a lemon. And it’s all based on our imagination that now our gut is all prepared to receive this fruit, and our mouth is ready to digest it, and there’s no fruit in sight. You know, it’s all in our mind. There’s an interesting study that was done, I think in 2008 by Aaliyah Krom at Stanford, and she’s done a whole bunch of research that’s really fascinating. They did this famous milkshake study where they had the same group of subjects come in on two different occasions to the lab, and their task was to drink a milkshake and just write their evaluation about it. And each time they received a milkshake that had a fake label on it and a fake nutritional label.
It told the calories and what the nut nutrients were on the milkshake. And then they drank the milkshake, and they were measured. Their blood levels and so forth were measured before and after they drank the milkshake. Well, in both cases though, in both situations, they got the exact same milkshake that was 380 calories. But the first time they drank the milkshake, they got a label that said it. And the experimenter said, this is an indulgent milkshake of 620 calories. And, so they drank the milkshake and then they measured their levels of growlin, which is a hormone that goes up and down throughout the day based on how hungry we are. So if we’ve eaten a lot, our growlin levels kind of peak and it tells us we’re full.
So they tell us we’re full. So then the second time they came into the lab, they were given a fake label on the same milkshake. And it said, you know, this 140 calorie sensible shake, right? So similar to the amount of calories in a small snack. So the first time they’re believing that they’re taking in enough calories that it almost might be like a real hardy meal, like a full meal, 620 calories, that’s a good meal, right? Amount of calories. And then the second time they think they’re getting kind of a light snack, right? Well, what they found out is the goin levels just stayed really flat when they were thinking it was a snack. It’s like, you might eat a piece of cheese, and you don’t really feel full, but you don’t really feel hungry either, right?
So their beliefs changed their hormones. So what we believe that we’re doing has an impact. So there’s another study they did, which I think was really fascinating with a langer. Alia Kram was part of this study too, there’s a lot of studies on placebo effects, right? Or what we believe taking medication can have, for a lot of people, it has a healing effect. Now, for some people, they have a placebo effect, which means that they take a sugar pill and they think it’s harmful, and they get headaches and diarrhea and negative symptoms as if they were taking something that was bad for them. So if you believe you’re taking something that’s bad for you, that has some physiological effects, even if what you’re taking is a sugar pill, that has no effect at all.
So they’ve done all this really interesting research on placebo effects, not just placebo pills, but the effect of a belief on our behavior. And so they look for a group of people who get a lot of physical activity, but they don’t think they get any exercise. And they settled on a group of hotel maids because they realized that hotel, motel maids work really hard all day long. Right. They’re doing a lot of physical labor. Walking on their feet, picking up things, pushing heavy carts around. And they, yet, they work so hard, they don’t have time for or energy for exercise, so they don’t think they get enough exercise, right? So they took a group and randomly assigned them to two different conditions. One group was told that they got the exact amount of exercise as determined by the surgeon general for a healthy lifestyle.
And the other group was told that they were just going to be participating in this study. And you know, given some neutral kind of comment. They measured all different kinds of measures, body mass index, measurements, weight, all kinds of motor dexterity and all these different measures before and after. After one month, the group that was told that they got the right amount of exercise for a good, healthy lifestyle as determined by the GE Surgeon General, that they had lost weight, their BMIs and their health measures improved, and the other group had maintained the same as they were before and after the study. So there’s something really powerful about the mind body effect. I believe that I’m getting enough exercise, so therefore all of a sudden my body is going, I’m healthy, I’m doing a lot.
I’m more physically fit. Exercise physiologists have known this for a long time, that if you focus on the muscle that you’re working, even if you do the exact same amount of reps, but you’re paying attention to a book, like I like to do, I like to read when I’m on the bike, bicycle and stuff, you get more muscle mass buildup from FOC having your brain focus on the muscle group that you’re working. And so that is a mind body effect that’s really pervasive and powerful, and it’s working all the time. So I’ve become very careful about how I characterize things in my life, how I’m talking about my inner dialogue, right? And if I’m taking medication, I say to it, thank you for helping me.
And I picture it helping me, you know, this ibuprofen is going to get rid me of my headache and I’m going to feel better, or whatever the thing is, right? So I recommend that because we can aid and abet our own healing by adapting our beliefs to where we want to be going in terms of our health and wellbeing. So there’s a whole body of studies on this that’s absolutely astounding and affects our aging as well. You’ll see people, I see people half my age going, God, I’m getting old, and I can’t hike, you know, or I went out and walked around the block and I’m all winded. I’m like, that’s not an age thing. That’s a habit thing. That’s not an age thing, you know? And you’ll see people who are out there 90 years old, they’re just living life and, why are they doing that? Because they’re not, they don’t have a preconceived attitude that 90 years old means that I have to be frail and immobile.
Krystal Jakosky: Yeah. It’s the, whether you think you can or think you cannot, you are right. If you think so, it really bothers me. I am like you. It really bothers me when somebody my age says, oh, man, I was told when I turned 40, I was really going to have some problems. And boy, were they right? And shudder.
That is not true. That is not true. Because I’m in my forties and I’m doing great. I am not failing. I am not going down hill. No, not going to happen. Because it is in so many ways, a mindset of I plan to be healthy and strong and able to hold my great, great grandchildren. You know, I am going to be that. That grandma, that people are like, let her hold it because we are not worried. She is so with it, she’s strong, she’s able, and then there are other people that are, so absolutely that mindset, and I love that you brought that whole aging thing up, because it is, I mean, there are physiological things that happen, and we have to deal with those, and we have to work through them and find the right medication and the right doctors to help us address the issues that come up. And yet there is also this mental component to it that is like, Hey, no, no, no, no. I can fix this. I can work through it. I can improve. I am improving right now, being aware of the words that you use, right? Instead of I can, that means sure you can, but I am improving is a completely different statement. I can.
Gina Schneider: It is. And I think that is interesting. Dr. Wendy Suzuki, who’s an expert on aging and memory, she’s got an inspiring Ted talk. She’s got a good book out on, the incredible effects that exercise has on aging and on our brain. And, she talks about the fact that, you know, a lot of older people will like to trip and fall. Then she says, well, didn’t you fall when you were two? Didn’t you fall when you were 10? Didn’t you trip and fall when you were 13? You know? Why do we have to attribute that to aging? Or I have a muscle cramp, or I sprained my ankle.
Well, you can sprain your ankle at any age, right. Depending on what you’re doing. So if you do have something that is a strength-based issue, like you’re having trouble with balance and stuff, then if you call it that, if you say, oh, I have a balance issue. Maybe I need to get some physical therapy, or I need to do some strength training so that I have better symmetry in my movement and I can recover more quickly, if you think about it that way, as opposed to, oh, downhill from here. This is just what happens when… Well, no, it isn’t. You don’t have to lose your sense of balance. You don’t have to lose muscle. You will lose some muscle mass if you’re not trying to rebuild it. But we can build muscle mass at any age. We’re able to do that. So, why not think about it that way and not limit yourself, you know? So I’m learning more and more to remove the limiting language in my internal dialogue with myself. You know the internal conversation needs to remove the limiting self-limiting beliefs and just go, well, maybe that’s not necessarily the case. What do I want to improve? You know, what do I want to do better at?
Krystal Jakosky: What do I want it to be? This is a great conversation and I am so glad that you are so open and willing to talk about it and share one of your passions. And I am so grateful that you went for a walk and saw that flyer. I am so grateful that you were able to trip into something so beautiful that was so transformative for your life, and now you get to share that and help so many more people. And it, I pray that it’s the most fulfilling thing that you’ve ever done. I’m sure that it is.
Gina Schneider: Well, you know, I think having children and raising a family is incredibly fulfilling. I do think I’m very suited to my career. And that’s one of my side coaching gigs, career guidance too, because I meet a lot of young people and people in career transition who are like me, who had to do a career change just because they found that it wasn’t right for them. So I do like helping people discover what they really are suited for. And there’s, you have to be a little bit of a weirdo to be a therapist because you have to have empathy, but you have to also be able to be detached at the same time because people aren’t helped if I’m sitting there blubbering with them going, oh my God, that’s terrible.
If I have too much empathy, I’m not able to help lead them through the woods, you know? Yeah. But if I don’t have enough empathy, people don’t feel heard or understood. So therapists have this really interesting sort of combination of empathy and a detachment that helps helps us kind of be in there in the pain with people, but also then be able to cleanse ourselves between sessions. You know, just sort of do this thought cleanse and be fresh and open for the next person that comes in. And not everybody could do that. And there’s all different kinds of therapists. I remember meeting the Death and dying expert, Elizabeth Kuer Ross, who gave us the five stages of grief.
And she was a real pioneer in death and dying. I saw her and I thought, gosh, I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t work with dying people every day, every minute of the day. I just don’t have it in me. But you could see how she was just charged up by people who needed her, and people who were on the edge of dying. She just could tune into them and just be right there. So I think we’re all different types of people, and that’s a good thing, right? We’re suited for all different kinds of work. If you get a chance to identify what is truly right for you and do it, that’s a real blessing.
Krystal Jakoskt: Amen. We’re all parts of the tapestry and it’s a beautiful tapestry. And without those added threads, it would be very bland. So I encourage everyone to find that thing that really lights them up and helps them shine in life. Now I want to know a little bit about your book. You wrote a book called Frazzle Brain.
Gina Schneider: Yes. It’s this frazzled brain. The subtitle is Break Free from Anxiety, Anger and Stress, using Advanced Discoveries in Neuropsychology. I wrote this book to be a calming experience for people to read. Especially what we’ve gone through with the pandemic and economic upheavals and those sorts of things. The families are still reeling from what we’ve been through and what we continue to be going through. We need antidotes. We need solutions. We need coping skills. So it’s broken up into three different parts. It’s focused intent, focused thoughts, intentional behaviors and healing experiences. So it’s designed to teach you ways to focus your thoughts in ways that are going to help you access happiness a lot more readily. And what intentional behaviors you can choose to do.
Like when I took that walk, which by the way, taking a walk is a really good option. Whether you find a flyer on a wall or not, it’s not necessary, but walking is good. Intentional behaviors that you’re saying, I’m going to do this behavior right in an effort to accomplish a particular goal. And that changes our biochemistry as well. And then the healing experiences piece is really to touch on those things that are related to trauma so that we can have more layers of experiences on top of that trauma that can help us recover and heal so that we don’t feel like the trauma is the thing in our life that can kind of get smaller in its port because we’ve had these new layers of experience on top of it. So I point people into what the neuropsychology says about these types of experiences like accessing awe and wonder, like the feeling of awe you might have at a spectacular waterfall or the birth of a grandchild or, a great sporting event or musical concert or, this opening ourselves up and being able to amplify those moments of awe.
It has an anti-inflammatory effect on our bodies and it improves our immune system and so on. So it’s kind of cool to know that it doesn’t just feel good. It actually is good for us. And so I wrote the book to have these little calming things that you can do throughout that I call frazzle hacks. They’re little calming exercises. I’m getting really great feedback on that because when I refer people to self-help books. I’ve been a reader of self-help books and psychology books my whole life. I’ve always found them interesting. And, uh, you know, people will need books, and books will be good to read and they can help. But sometimes you’ll read one of these anxiety books and it just makes you more anxious. Checklists of anxiety symptoms and things like that. It just makes you feel worse. So I wrote my book in such a way that I don’t shy away from hard things. I talk about the hard things, but you get a little relief and most people talk about the experience of reading the book as being very healing.
Krystal Jakosky: That’s really cool. And I highly encourage everyone to get it and I might have to get it myself as well because it’s just good information, and I love calming things. And I was actually recently talking to another friend and we were talking about finding those all-fill moments and you just reiterated and reminded me. Yet again, look for those all-fill moments. Look for that sunrise or that sunset. Look for what it is that makes you go. That was really cool. You know, it’s really a gift. Is there anything else on this podcast that we have this time together? Is there anything else that you want to mention or bring to light for our audience?
Gina Schneider: I think that I would encourage people to cultivate a flexible curiosity about how you feel as opposed to a sense of certainty. I think sometimes in times of uncertainty we want to cling to, well this is true and I know this is true and this is the way to go. And we get very rigid.
And that closes doors as soon as we’ve decided this is what’s true, there is no other, then we stop looking for anything else to contradict that. And so we can do that with our emotions. We can just say, well, this person hurt my feelings, so that person is a terrible person.
I’m a terrible person for letting that person treat me so badly. I would like people to be flexible with the internal language that we use and just say, well, is that really necessarily true? You know? And maybe the words I’m using to describe this aren’t really the reality. The reality is I’m just hurt and I’m embarrassed, I’m stung and I’m wounded right now. Well, what is it that I’m really feeling? And then what is it that I really need right now? Be curious and flexible about it because in our curiosity and our flexibility, there is room for growth in our rigidity and our certainty. There’s no more room for growth. We’re just done.
You know, sometimes people want to just cling to what happened and I know it’s true and it’s just the way things are and we just get so rigid with it. Thinking that’s going to make us feel better and it actually doesn’t really improve anything. So we can care for ourselves more compassionately. I think if we just say, I’m hurting and what do I need? What am I feeling right now? What do I need? What can I do about it right now? Because it’s all temporary. And if we have a rigid way of describing it to ourselves, we’re making it permanent.
And then we can cultivate a permanent resentment and then we can cultivate a permanent state of anger and frustration. And we never get off of it. So flexible curiosity is our friend.
Krystal Jakosky: I want to write that in a quote and I think everybody should write it down. Flexibility gives us room to grow. Yes. And rigidity closes that door. Yes, indeed. It’s our room for growth. And I love that. That is a beautiful statement. I have two questions for you. What is your personal favorite type of self-care?
Gina Schneider: I love to meditate every day. I have cultivated a morning ritual where I start my day meditating. I make myself a really good breakfast. I look forward to a really colorful scrambled egg and vegetable fruit thing. That’s delicious for me. And I have wonderful coffee and I do crossword puzzles and read, and I give to myself first every day and I feel filled up by myself. I’ll probably do a 30 minute exercise. Either walk outside depending on the weather or stationary bike or a video workout or yoga stretches. So I alternate depending on how I’m feeling. So I take care of my body. I’m stimulating my mind with some reading. I’m eating well, I’m meditating. I’ll start the day, giving to myself first. And I think when we do that, we are less likely to collect resentment.
I work with a lot of women in particular who are caregivers who are thinking about everybody else first and everybody else is on their mind the first thing in the morning. And then at the end of the day, they’re resentful and tired and cranky. I recommend to them to switch it up and give to yourself first. Give to yourself. Make it the first thing you do in the day. Something that feeds your soul. Something that feeds your body and feeds your spirit. Exercise is always a good thing to do in the morning. It floods us with dopamine and increases our motivation. It clears our head, it helps with concentration. We grow the brain. We grow better and we learn better. So it’s always a good thing to do that. But I think that when I started that sort of idea, because I used to be kind of a night owl and I would leave all my self-care stuff for the end of the day, you know? And that’s okay. I realized that if I start my day that way, then I’m ready for whatever the day gives me, you know?
Krystal Jakosky: Yeah. I absolutely love that. I’m me. I may be buying pajamas and doing that now.
Meaning that there’s something about the matching cute pajamas and, instead of staying in bed and whatnot, you get up and you get in your pajamas and then you go make coffee and whatnot, and then you get ready to go for the day because my brain isn’t fully awake until nine o’clock. Right. But I’m awake at 7:30, so what do I want to fill that hour and a half with and do it for myself instead of automatically getting out of bed, taking a shower and getting dressed and all that stuff, and then going to work and you’re at work before you’re even fully awake. It means that you’re just kind of trudging through it. So I think I just might be shifting that. My other question for you, too much information I know, that’s my other question. If you had a journaling prompt were huge on journaling prompts and self introspection and stuff. So what would you encourage people to write about their dreams?
Gina Schneider: My dream for today is let your imagination go wild. We inhibit our thinking so much. So my dream for today is, and let yourself be outlandish, you know? Yeah. Because when Einstein said, imagination is more important to know knowledge. Because if we allow ourselves to have vision and to dream and to write about our biggest hopes and dreams for the world, for our family, for ourselves, and break out of the idea this is realistic or not realistic, because by the way, no one knows, no one actually knows the answer to whether or not something’s realistic. I can pretty much state with certainty that I won’t play for the N B A. I’m not qualified for that job, but I could get better at basketball.
I love basketball. I’m short, I’m a tiny five foot two person, but I love basketball. I could probably improve my basketball skills. I probably could be a contender in my age group if I really wanted that dream to be fulfilled. So why limit ourselves, right? So I think that giving your mind a little oasis of dreaming, my dream for today is, or my dream for the world is, my dream for my family is, my dream for myself. Let yourself go with that dream and see where it takes you.
Krystal Jakosky: Yeah. I love it. How do people find you?
Gina Schneider: You can find firstname.lastname@example.org and I get back to everybody. I have all my social media links there. I’m still on Twitter as long as I guess Twitter still exists and on LinkedIn and Facebook and Instagram. You can message me at frail brain.com and I’d love to get anybody’s feedback and be happy to talk to anyone that wants to talk to me.
Krystal Jakosky: Beautiful. Thank you again so much, Gina, for being here and spending this time with me. I sincerely appreciate it.
Gina Schneider: Thank you, Krystal. It’s been a pleasure and a joy meeting you and I admire your work. You do a great job.
Krystal Jakosky: Thank you. I’m very honored. Hey guys, check her out. Get her book, learn how to let go or embrace anxiety, how to work with it. She’s just fantastic and very sweet and gentle and I just encourage you all to seek her out. So until next time.
I hope this moment of self-care and healing brought you some hope and peace. I’m @krystaljakosky on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube and I hope you check us out and follow along for more content coming soon. I look forward to being with you again here on Breathe In, Breathe Out. Until next time, take care.