MGU 229 | Anxiety Muppets

 

Do you have a hard time sleeping? Do anxiety muppets keep you up at night? Jason Wrobel and Whitney Lauristen engage in a wonderful conversation regarding anxiety and other factors that contribute to sleeping problems. Physical and mental exhaustion play an important role in shutting down our brain when it’s time for a good night’s sleep. When our brain is continuously perceiving different things and we can’t control our emotional processing, it cons us to believe that we should be doing those things and triggers our mind to stay awake when we’re supposed to be sleeping. Jason and Whitney share their own personal anxieties and how they deal with these to fight sleep deprivation.

Listen to the podcast here:


Anxiety Muppets + What Keeps Us Up At Night

One of the cool things about doing this show and putting out the messages, perspectives, pontifications and explorations we do here is we’ve noticed we have people who are longtime fans of the show. If it’s your first time, welcome to the show. If you’ve been with us for episodes in the past, we often ask you to email us or direct message us with any suggestions about burning topics that you feel you want to have us cover here on the show. We received an email from a longtime follower who has emailed us before with his feedback, praise and perspectives on the show.

Ryan responded with a great email with probably about six interesting topic suggestions. When Whitney and I were looking at these suggestions and deciding what to do, all of them are compelling but one, in particular, hit me in a visceral way. Here on the show, having that an emotional response to a topic or a subject matter is something we like to follow. One of Ryan’s suggestions that he emailed us is he wanted to have us do an episode about what keeps us up at night. This idea of what keeps us up at night is interesting to me for several reasons.

MGU 229 | Anxiety Muppets

Anxiety Muppets: Hypnagogia occurs during that transitional period of wakefulness and sleep when the alpha waves are decreasing but having yet reach the first stage.

 

Number one, I have had an ongoing struggle with insomnia and sleep issues for years for different reasons. I tend to be a human being who will go through my day and not necessarily process all of my emotions during daylight hours. It seems that for some reason when I start winding down for my night routine, preparing my body and my mind for sleep, that’s when everything comes up and wants to be processed. That’s like, “That thing that pissed you off, aggravated you and you didn’t communicate the way you want it to.” For me, it always seems to happen at night.

The other thing is not just from a physical perspective but certainly an emotional perspective, some things tend to hang out in our consciousness. Things that we’re worried about or we want to spend more focus and energy on or things we want to change. When I hear this phrase, “What keeps you up at night?” It’s something I haven’t thought about in this context before. If I meditate on it, there are probably recurring specific things that I sit and ruminate on at nighttime.

I’ve had to rely on a variety of rotating sleep remedies to try and get me to sleep all the way through the night. Yet, the same concern seems to rear their head over and over again. I know, Whitney, you’ve talked extensively in previous episodes about some of the very unique sleep issues that you’ve dealt with, but what Ryan is alluding to here is maybe much more of an emotional or psychic type of concern rather than a physical one. In your struggles with finding a good sleep routine or get to the bottom of your sleep issues, other than Clubhouse which since we’ve taken a break from the Clubhouse, is there anything else that you find a recurring theme that keeps you up at night or things that maybe plague you? Things that seem to harangue you or nag at your consciousness in the middle of the night?

It’s remarkable when you really stop and think about what happens in your body. Click To Tweet

Not that I’m very aware of. I had an experience where I took a nap. I was tired. I’ve been tuning into my physical sensations throughout the day a lot. We talk so much on the show about hustle culture. I have a very structured day for the most part. I have a to-do list. Most days before I go to bed, I look at the to-do list and I set an ideal schedule about what I’m going to get things done. I rank things versus importance. That helps me stay on track. That way, I’m not sitting there going, “I feel like I should be doing something but I don’t know what it is.”

Something that I’ve been reflecting a lot on is how can I minimize the to-do list because generally, I have around twenty or so tasks for each day. It doesn’t sound like a lot but it can be very draining. On certain days, if I have meetings, I get drained fast. If I have the training and something where I’m using my brain in a specific way, I don’t have a ton of energy left over. For example, I felt very drained by 3:00 PM. In my head, I’m thinking that it’s too early to stop working. Even though it was a Friday and I had been doing work for about six hours, I still felt like I should keep going because there were things on my to-do list. If my to-do list had been empty, I probably wouldn’t have felt that way. I was reflecting and I have done this regularly. Why do I feel like I need to keep working? Why can’t I bump those things to a different day? Certainly, I can because I run my own businesses. I work for myself. I’m a freelancer and a consultant.

Generally speaking, I don’t have a ton of deadlines. That gives me anxiety and keeps me up at night. It’s the looming energy of things that I could be doing or the perceived shoulds. I want to get them done so I stopped thinking about them. I was too tired to work that day. I recognize it wasn’t just emotional and mental exhaustion. It was physical exhaustion. I thought, “I’m going to sleep. That way, I can wake up and do more,” because I had a number of things. At least two things felt very time-sensitive. I wanted to make sure I had the energy to get up and finish them before the end of the day. I could not fall asleep during my nap. Even though I was physically exhausted, my brain kept going and going. I’ve noticed it doesn’t usually happen when I go to bed at night.

For some reason, with naps, my brain doesn’t want to turn off and I sit there in this stew of anxiety. Even though I was on that borderline of sleep, I felt like I was so close to falling asleep but I couldn’t quite get there because my brain was so active. I was feeling the physical sensation of anxiety in my body. I thought, “I’m not going to fall asleep in this current state. The next best thing for me is to reflect and do a meditation on how I was feeling.” By doing that, I did get a little bit of sleep but not deep sleep. It felt on edge. Even describing it now, I feel frustrated. I feel tension talking about this. It was fascinating because I don’t know if you experienced this, but there are these different levels of consciousness. I have my wide-awake consciousness. Right now is my normal state of being is when I’m not sleeping. I know what it feels like to sleep because I remember what it feels like before I slept and after. I know on some level, what it’s like to be asleep.

MGU 229 | Anxiety Muppets

Anxiety Muppets: Instead of fighting against what we don’t agree on, and what triggers us. We all have that within us to feel that fear, ultimately is what the root of all this.

 

I know what it’s like to wake up in the middle of the night. In my case, I sleep talk and sleepwalk. Usually, the sleep talking, I’m not that conscious but I have a certain level of consciousness when I sleepwalk and I know what that feels like too because I’ve experienced it often enough. There’s this in-between stage of being awake and falling asleep. Sometimes, it happens quickly. Most times for me, it’s fast. I don’t know how long the period of time is. I’ve tried to calculate how long it takes me to fall asleep. I would guess 5 to 10 minutes. At a certain time, I know when my body is tired. I don’t have an exact time that I go to bed every night. I generally fall asleep in this time range. I wait until I’m tired and then I go to bed. I wake up and that’s like the rhythm that I’m having. Because of that schedule, I feel like I can fall asleep faster because I’ve tuned in to the intuition of my body.

That anxiety was interesting because it was like this prolonged, extended feeling of not being awake and not being asleep. It’s almost like purgatory. It felt so unpleasant and frustrating. I was like, “I don’t want to wake up. I don’t want to open my eyes.” You must know this because you struggle with insomnia. I feel like that must be what insomnia is like, which I haven’t experienced a ton of wanting so badly to fall asleep and your eyes are closed. I’m wearing an eye mask as I was during my nap because it was still daylight hours. I set up everything, my noise machine, my fan. I didn’t even set the alarm. Oftentimes, an alarm gives me anxiety, knowing I have to wake up at a certain time. I said, “Nope. I’m going to sleep until I’m done sleeping. If that’s hours, that’s fine because I want to wake up from this nap feeling rested.” I probably laid there for about an hour in that weird purgatory state. I felt like I was swimming in anxiety. That was so unpleasant.

The reason I was sitting and reflecting on it at the moment was this weird level of consciousness that I’m not normally aware of. It was like I literally sunk down into a different part of my being in a different state, where all my underlying anxiety lives. My conscious state is generally pretty light and happy. In my normal days, I feel content, at least at this period of my life. I felt like I sunk down into another level of myself where all my hidden anxiety is. That reminds me of something I’ve been wanting to explore more. It’s high-functioning anxiety that I have. It’s a term I’ve seen thrown around and I haven’t dug into enough. It sounds about right because a number of things about me feel like I’m probably experiencing anxiety all the time but I’m not aware of it. There’s probably a lot more anxiety within myself that I don’t even realize because I’m so good at functioning and masking it from others and myself.

You can use sleep deprivation or the hallucination of certain states of being for creativity. Click To Tweet

I also believe it’s possible that I trained myself as a coping mechanism to not acknowledge the anxiety. I felt like if I acknowledged it, that was a weakness, that I wasn’t allowed to acknowledge it, that there was something wrong with me, that there was shame within it. I buried it and pushed it away. That might be at the root of my sleep disorder of sleepwalking and sleep talking. I don’t often have the conscious ability to address because I don’t get into that sunken level that I’m describing that I often experienced during naps, which makes me want to put myself in a nap state more often. It’s like that Christopher Nolan movie, Inception. Can we put ourselves in a trance state in order to address some of these things that people either never addressed or only address on drugs?

This is the appeal of something like ayahuasca. It’s like you’re forcing yourself into a state. I believe it must be possible like lucid dreaming. We’ve talked about this in the show a long time ago. If we can put ourselves into that mental state where we’re aware and in our dreams’ awareness, which is cool, what about that in-between state of that purgatory feeling that I’m describing? I could purposely put myself in that unpleasant state and almost look at myself as two separate people. Can the anxious Whitney and the unanxious Whitney co-exist and heal each other?

It’s super interesting because what you’re talking about is different aspects of the psyche. What is that place? Some people call the veil, the world between worlds or that this place that you’re describing in between sleep and wake is another dimension of consciousness altogether. There are benefits to this particular thing that’s keeping me up. You accurately described how I feel about it, which is I feel tired, my eyes are closed, the room is dark, I’ve got my white noise on, my diffuser going, and all the things that I would anticipate would make me sleepy, yet I am not sleeping.

In that foggy, strange world between worlds, sometimes cool things come through. Full disclosure, I do keep my phone in my bedroom as an alarm clock even though there’s a lot of advice saying we ought not to do that. It is on airplane mode and 5 feet away from the foot of the bed. It’s far enough away from me and I’m not concerned about it. The trouble is in this world between worlds and this insomniac, murky, dream-state, great creative ideas will come through.

Inevitably, I need to get up and record the idea in a voice memo on my phone which makes it even more difficult to sleep. Usually, it’s a song idea, a vocal melody, lyrics or poetry. I’ll lay back down and thinking about whatever that thing was that came through which makes it even more difficult to sleep. It’s a blessing and a curse because cool stuff comes through the portal. I’m then ruminating on whatever that thing is and then can’t sleep even more. My insomnia then gets worse. It’s tough because it’s like, “I like this” but then also, “I don’t like it.”

Behind the scenes, I’m doing my research, which for those that don’t know is common. I like to dig into these subject matters as we’re discussing them. There is a name for this that I am not familiar with. It’s hypnagogia. This is the state between wakefulness and sleep. That word gives you the creeps. When I read it. I don’t even like saying it. There’s something creepy as I was saying it. I don’t like even thinking about that state because that to me is where the anxiety lives for me as far as I’m aware now.

It’s pretty nuts, this subject matter. I don’t stop to think that much about consciousness. Aside from light thoughts about meditation, I don’t think about how we function. It’s pretty fascinating. When you stop and think about what happens in our body, it is remarkable. Also, it blows my mind how most of us don’t even seem that interested in how our bodies function. I felt like in school, I could care less. I was passionate about Psychology so I studied Brain Psychology one semester of school. I did find it generally boring but simultaneously, slightly interesting to know what was going on in the brain. For the most part, I have this surface-level understanding. When you dig into things like our brain waves, it’s deeply fascinating because here we are living with this and not fully understanding what’s happening within ourselves until we dive in further.

Stage one is the latest form of sleep. That lasts for 1 to 5 minutes. During this stage, your alpha waves drop to less than 50% of your total brainwaves. Hypnagogia occurs during that transitional period of wakefulness and sleeps when the alpha waves are decreasing but haven’t yet reached the first stage. I love the visuals of the levels of like dropping down deeper. If you’ve ever done a type of meditation where you lay down, and then countdown, you can feel yourself sinking lower and lower. You can also imagine different body parts falling asleep. That is a great way to get into meditation and to fall asleep. What is that form of yoga where it’s more meditative where you just lay down?

It’s Yoga Nidra.

I feel like that’s something they don’t do in Yoga Nidra which also crosses over to the meditation world. This state that I’m describing is often where people experience hallucinations which makes it fascinating too. This could be visual hallucinations, auditory, tactile. This might be the state where I’m more prone to sleepwalking. Although, I found through my research and timing because I’ve used sleep recorders. I’ve used cameras and all these different tracking mechanisms to track my sleep. It usually happens about 1 hour to 90 minutes. That’s a different state than what is describing here.

This is where people will often experience the jerks, where someone’s laying down and their whole body jerks. The muscle contractions that people will experience when they’re falling asleep. Some people experienced sleep paralysis. This is also a time where you can lucid dream. It does tie into what I was describing that awareness. This is an article from Healthline.com. There are sweeping generalizations around all of this. There’s even a section here where it’s like, “Is it possible to induce hypnagogia?” It says that it can be a gateway for creativity. A writer, Franz Kafka, experienced dreamlike hypnagogic hallucination while writing in a sleep-deprived state.

That also ties back to what you were saying. You can use sleep deprivation or the hallucinations of certain states of being for creativity, including Thomas Edison, Edgar Allan Poe and Dolly who used to nap with a steel ball in their hands. They would wake up when the ball hits the floor. Apparently, there’s a device called the Dormio. People can still hear sounds in this state even though they’re not entirely conscious. The Dormio will track the sleep state to decipher when people are in that state. It then provides audio stimulus to keep them from falling into a deeper sleep.

A lot of people are into this state of being and it’s fascinating. The first question you asked is, “What keeps you up? What makes it hard to sleep? What do you think about?” For me, it’s the anxiety that I’m not even trying to think about. It’s just there. I feel like, when I hit that state, my anxiety is like, “It’s time to party. It’s our time to shine.” I imagine my anxiety coming up like, “She’s falling asleep. Get up. Cause a ruckus because she won’t let us do our yoga time.”

I imagined some gangly, scraggly-looking, muppet-like creatures in your mind. They need a theme song. They’re like, “We’re the anxiety A team. Hello, everyone. Anxiety, it’s you and me. I’ll make sure that you never get sleepy. All those things from your childhood that you never dealt with adequately.”

MGU 229 | Anxiety Muppets

Anxiety Muppets: The idea of continuing to fight against something, pushing it away or we can acknowledge it and deal with it is one of the things we can do with our mental health.

 

I feel like you need to riff on the Muppet theme song or the Fraggle Rock. That would be good.

I can’t remember the actual verses of the Fraggle Rock.

Ironically, it does start off with, “Dance your cares away, worries for another day.” It’s like my anxiety Muppets will be the opposite.

Instead of, “Dance your cares away,” you’d be like, “Your cares are here to stay. We’re never going away. You can’t get rid of us. We’re here to cause a fuss.” It’s funny how you anthropomorphize your anxiety. It’s also a super interesting technique because there’s value in taking parts of our consciousness and almost giving them an identity or even giving them a name. I was talking about this with Katy Dolle who does the Crying Behind Sunglasses Podcast. She’s going to be a future guest of ours. I told Katy that I find that part of my consciousness that is critical is trying to protect me. I need to speak to it in a very particular way. I’m curious, have you tried to talk to the muppets? Have you had a conversation with them?

Honestly, talking it through here is giving me these ideas on top of what I was experiencing. It’s this idea of I can continue fighting against something or pushing it away, trying not to acknowledge it, minimize it or I can acknowledge it and deal with it which is one of the most healing things that we can do for our mental health. What if instead of being angry, frustrated or scared, I said, “This is part of me?” That’s a healing thing that we can do for ourselves and others. It’s about acceptance. We talked about that here. Instead of fighting against what we don’t agree on, what frustrates us, what makes us angry and what triggers us. We all have that within us to feel that fear. Ultimately, the root of all this is a fear of something. If we stop and examine it, it’s not that scary or threatening. Maybe that’s why those anxiety muppets are there is because maybe they want to have fun. They want to go dance their cares away. What if I join them and dance my cares away with them, then they can transform into happy muppets? I feel like you’ve got anger muppets.

I feel like I have a lot of muppets. There are some anger, anxiety and some nihilistic ones in there. It’s a motley crew in my brain. If I realize that at the core that the angry muppets, nihilistic muppets, anxiety muppets and all the people living in my head on some level are trying to keep me safe and protect me. Their methodologies are suspect. They’re trying to push people away or, “You should get out of that relationship. You should end this thing. You should get out of that.” It’s at the core, this subconscious desire to protect me from pain, failure or something that’s going to hurt. If I look at their methods as bizarre, cruel, anger-filled and anxiety-filled as they may be, these aspects of my psyche that we’re talking about are trying to protect and shield me in some way.

If I know that that’s their intent and that’s what they’re trying to do, I can speak to them almost like a parent, “I know you’re trying your best to keep me safe because you think, if I do this thing, it’s going to result in pain, failure, suffering or something bad. Don’t do it because something bad is going to happen. You’re not saying that. Your actions and what you’re suggesting I do indicates a lot of worry, fear and protection.” If I can communicate on a level, and I’ve been trying to do better at that like, “I know what you’re trying to do. I don’t need your protection. I don’t need you to tell me, ‘You’re going to suck. You’re going to fail. This is going to go horribly. Don’t even do it,’ because I know at some, at some point, you’re trying to protect me.” Talking to these aspects of our psyche is important. I’m trying to do it in a way before I emotionally react.

I also think that it’s healthier to do this because then I feel like I’m not fighting myself. A lot of times, I feel like if I don’t talk to them in this way or acknowledge what they’re trying to do as the fragments of my psyche or these different personas in my brain, they will wreak havoc. It’s almost like children, “Look what I did. Look at this art project. Jason Don’t Take A Risk is the title of this art project. Jason, stay at home where it’s safe and don’t try anything.” It’s like they need to be acknowledged and talked to. It doesn’t mean they go away. It doesn’t mean they’re trying to sabotage my life like little gremlins to keep me safe.

Having a deeper level of communication and recognition of these things, I find them to be beneficial. I do talk to myself a lot. Also, I wanted to talk a little bit about another layer to what Ryan was intending when he requested what keeps us up at night. There are some high-level existential things that always seem to come up for me at night. When I’m in this state of hypnagogia, I think a lot about the end of the world, my fears and my feelings of helplessness of being in a world that seems to be going up in flames.

Between COVID, what’s happening in India and Brazil, what is occurring between Israel and Palestine, the madness of the financial markets and the housing markets, my own mental health issues, unemployment, homelessness, climate change. A big one for me that I think about a lot is where do I feel safe on the planet anymore? Here on the West Coast, we have wildfires, earthquakes, pretty extreme signs of climate-changing. A lot of these high-level concerns of humanity, I’m not sure I can do much about them.

It’s like, “There’s climate change. There’s war in the Middle East. There’s this pandemic.” I sometimes feel crushed under the weight of these existential worries. I was talking to my girlfriend, Laura, about why I don’t want to have children. One of the biggest reasons isn’t necessarily like my fear of not being a good parent. I’d be a pretty good dad. It’d be fun, make a lot of jokes, do a lot of fun voices. I’d be very nurturing. It’s not the lack of “You wouldn’t be a good father.” The real thing that’s tied to this is I dread bringing a child into the world because of the state of the world.

In some ways, our consciousness is expanding and there’s a lot more talk about inclusivity and acceptance of people who have different skin color, religious preferences, sexual preferences and identifications. There’s good in the world. I feel crushed under the psychic weight of a lot of destructiveness, divisiveness, war, violence and climate change. All the things I’m talking about. These are the things that come up at 3:00 AM. It’s a cauldron of anxiety and calamity in my brain. I struggle and I feel like a lot of this stuff. It’s like, “I can’t do much about what’s going on in the Middle East directly. I can’t do much about climate change. I can reduce, reuse, recycle, eat less meat, get an electric car.”

There’s value in taking parts of our consciousness and giving them an identity and a name. Click To Tweet

On the highest level, I feel like there’s a dramatic level of powerlessness around all this. On one side, my brain is like, “Let it go. The world’s always been a mess.” There have always been concerns about wars, and humanity has never had it “easy.” There’s that side but there’s a part of me where I’m like, “I can do something.” I need to figure this out at 3:30 AM. I’m giving you a glimpse into how bad insomnia is for me sometimes and why I’ve had to try and shut off my brain. If I don’t try to shut off my brain and manage these things, I will not sleep. It’s that bad for me.

I will stay up all night worrying about the state of the world and how powerless I feel in the face of everything that’s going on. I have to force myself to sleep through a variety of remedies. If I don’t, I’ll be up most nights worrying about these things. Maybe that’s what Ryan was trying to elicit. Those are the big things. It’s not worrying about leftovers or what I’m going to make for dinner tomorrow. It’s what is going on with the world and why is it so fucked up.

That’s very common. It also makes me reflect a lot on these different levels of consciousness. I experienced that too, but at a hidden level. That’s going back to this high-functioning anxiety, the state that I was describing. My normal daily state of being is generally very content and relaxed. I feel in control. That level or state of perhaps hypnagogia is where those feelings that you’re describing exist within me. I’ve pushed push them down. I don’t know if that’s a good or a bad thing. The fact that I’m high-functioning means that I can get through my days feeling very happy on the surface.

I do feel a deeper sense of contentment and peace for the most part but I also can sense anxiety if I reflect on it long enough. I feel like it triggered up to the surface. There are certain things and I get scared, basically. That’s a lot of what you’re describing from my perspective. It’s a lack of security. I also feel a general sense of ease and control which is interesting to examine. That might be a privilege. The more I examine the privilege of being white and living in America, getting the education I had and having the job opportunities and what led to those things. My sense of ease can be very different from somebody who right now or in the past hasn’t had those things or doesn’t have those things. To your point, looking at the struggles that people are having, based on where they live, the color of their skin or whatever other factors is all incredibly relative.

The sense of control that I feel or the optimism is believing that there are enough people doing good in the world and that we can make a shift. It is sad that we see some of the horrible things that people are doing to one another, the war and the destruction. You could also look at the whole COVID situation as fascinating. For the most part, I feel like we’re going to make it through. There’s a lot of positivity and progress. We keep going through these different states of experiences. A lot of people are thinking like, “The pandemic is almost over.” That’s part of my anxiety. I don’t feel comfortable trusting that it’s almost over. I feel like people get a little too optimistic in that sense.

Generally, I feel optimistic. I’m not like, “This is the end of humanity,” but I also didn’t lose anyone close to me. Some people did. I know a number of people who have lost family members from COVID and it’s sad. I know people that have had COVID and had bad symptoms might be affected by COVID for the rest of their lives. I didn’t have those firsthand experiences, which gives me a very different perspective on all of this. We talked about compassion fade too. There are a lot of psychological reasons why we feel certain ways, optimistic and pessimistic. I feel both at the same time with COVID. I noticed that one of my pessimistic characteristics is I generally have trouble trusting myself and other people.

One of my big words for 2021 is working on being more trusting and at least acknowledging. With the pandemic, for example, here we are in mid-May 2021, the CDC said that the people who are fully vaccinated don’t have to wear masks. I’m not vaccinated yet. I’m planning on it. We’ve talked about the vaccines. I did a lot of research and reflection. I decided that based on what I’ve learned and what I’m planning to do in 2021, it makes the most sense for me to get the vaccine and the pros greatly outweighed the cons for me. I’ve scheduled my appointment. I’m planning on it and I feel good about it after lots of questioning and reflecting. I have heard from people that they feel very different after they’re fully vaccinated.

I feel vulnerable because I don’t trust the average person to keep my safety in mind. I have realized through the pandemic that even though I feel optimistic, I don’t trust the average person to be great with their health. If they’re not good with their health, do they care to be mindful of mine? That’s the big thing with the pandemic. I have noticed that I don’t trust most people when it comes to COVID. It’s not about right or wrong. It’s just my perspective. I don’t trust that people are being mindful enough to protect themselves and thus to protect me. There’s so much ignorance around COVID. I’ve been very cautious about it. That’s part of the reason for getting the vaccine. I still believe that’s cautious because I’m doing something to protect myself and others. It’s like, “Maybe this will relieve some of my anxiety, getting the vaccine.”

That’s why a lot of people have gotten the vaccine without even questioning it. We’ve talked about the vaccine over the past few months. A lot of people wanted to get the vaccine as soon as possible because it was a sense of security for them. Part of the reason I was hesitant about the vaccine for a while is, first of all, it hasn’t been out long enough. I needed to research more and I wanted to wait to see what was going on with variants. There are many unknowns. I didn’t feel secure getting the vaccine. In fact, getting the vaccine made me feel insecure about what was going to happen to my body. I didn’t want to trust it. Trust was a big thing. Over time, I started to feel more and more trusting of it and that started to shift.

The mass thing as of May 15, 2021. I’m curious about your perspective but it makes me very uncomfortable hearing that. From what I understand, the CDC is saying if you’re fully vaccinated, you don’t have to wear a mask. You also don’t have to prove that you’re fully vaccinated which means that anybody who’s anti-mask could walk around without a mask. People will assume they’re vaccinated but they might not be. We’re going to have a mix of people not wearing masks and someone like me who’s cautious about COVID would feel vulnerable.

I don’t know if these people are not wearing a mask because they’re anti-masks or because they’re fully vaccinated. It means someone like me would feel more comfortable asking but I feel uncomfortable asking because people’s perspectives on COVID can trigger uncomfortable conversation. That situation of the CDC saying that you don’t have to wear a mask if you were vaccinated makes someone like me more anxious. That’s part of the reason why I’m like, “I better get the vaccine then because I don’t want to be at risk not knowing why somebody is not wearing their mask.” That’s indicating to me that I don’t have a lot of trust in other human beings which is pessimistic.

I vacillate between having my faith restored in humanity and having it completely stripped away. I feel like that nearly every single day. I will read a story about something wonderful which is important to find in a lot of the devastation that’s taking place on the planet. Finding stories of kindness, compassion, generosity because those elements of the human spirit and interactions with other sentient beings are not gone. There’s an incredible amount of love, compassion and generosity. Inevitably, I’ll see another story about someone at a gas station spitting on people and causing fights because they cut in line to get gas because of all the fear of gas shortages.

It’s tough because on the one hand, if we don’t have some level of trust in society, then we’re floating in the abyss. Maybe one of the reasons that if we’re talking about trust as an offshoot of psychosis is we have a massive amount of distrust in government, politics, foreign policy and financial policy, how certain political figures, states or governors have handled the vaccine rollout and the pandemic. If you think about it, there’s a lot of mistrust on the planet.

The thing that I wonder about is as the world transitions, whenever that’s going to be to a post-pandemic world or whatever new version of human society we’re going into. I noticed this when I’m in a grocery store as an example. I don’t go to the grocery store that often but I go when I need things like toilet paper. Part of it is the conditioning of a 6-foot distance, but I find that if people get “too close” to me, I walk around people. My curiosity is about how is my behavior going to continue around other groups of humans?

MGU 229 | Anxiety Muppets

Anxiety Muppets: Instead of being angry and frustrated or scared, we can accept that this is part of us. It’s a healing thing we can do for ourselves.

 

Especially thinking about something like a trade show, a concert or playing a show or a birthday gathering. I was thinking about my birthday. You’ve thrown me some of the most incredible parties ever over the years. You’ve been to many of them. I don’t feel like doing anything this year. Being around people makes me nervous. I don’t like that feeling. I joke about this, but I’m also serious, I’m worried I’m becoming a misanthrope. That part of me is like, “Humans, get away from me.” It’s not that I’m being anti-human. Misanthropic in the sense of not wanting to be around people, not wanting to hang out with people, being averse to human and being around people.

That’s weird. I haven’t felt this level of misanthropy my entire life. It’s a weird feeling. Maybe that’s extreme but I don’t think it is. As an example, I’ll see certain neighbors on my block. I know if I walk by, they would want to talk to me. I take Bella in the opposite direction because I don’t even want to see them or speak to them. I’m worried that I’m becoming averse to humans. I feel weird about being around people. I don’t think on some level that’s healthy. Do you feel like that at all? Is this extreme? I feel like my level of trust is probably part of this. I find myself not wanting to be around people and it scares me.

I completely relate. There are different levels to it. I’m hoping that it’s going to pass because before COVID, I didn’t mind being in crowds. I like being lost in crowds. I don’t like having to interact. I like to choose whether or not I get to say something. I think about going to concerts. Being there with a group of people didn’t bother me. In fact, it was fine. You can feed off the energy and being at the trade shows, which I plan to go to later in 2021. That’s another reason why I’m going to get the vaccine. I want to be around that energy, that buzz other people have. I also need to set my own boundaries.

Part of my trust with other people, a lot of it’s coming out of my judgments around other people’s intelligence, not from this hierarchy. I tend to trust people less when I feel like they have not done their research, for example. It bothers me when people make statements that aren’t backed in research or statements that are reinforced by their biases. I try to check my own biases, stay open-minded, do research and admit when I don’t know about things and explore with other people.

There are two types of people that I don’t trust. One is when they aren’t open-minded. They state something and say it’s absolute. It’s triggering for me, especially if I have information that says otherwise. When somebody says always, never, this is the best way, this is the only way. Occasionally, I use them but I try not to. When I hear people saying that, especially if they’re questioned, and they still don’t shift or they don’t have a way to back it up, I’m the person that will question it. I’ll be like, “Can you show me where did you learn that?” I’ll challenge it. It’s uncomfortable for me to challenge. The times where I get the confidence to challenge somebody is when I have information or found information and I want to clarify it. It makes me uncomfortable when somebody won’t flow with it.

Also, ignorance, when somebody doesn’t know something but they do it anyway. That’s been the most triggering for me with COVID. People who will say or do things without using research to back up those decisions. That I feel is dangerous. It’s like, “I’m going to go with my gut feeling or go with whatever I want to do or what I feel is right to do.” It’s not the way that I personally operate. It makes me uncomfortable seeing other people operate that way. I try not to necessarily judge it. I’m just admitting that it triggers my trust issues.

Having a deeper level of communication and recognition of the things in our head can be beneficial. Click To Tweet

This came up in a conversation with somebody who was trying to decide about interacting socially. I was like, “Do you trust all the other people that you’re interacting with?” Through the conversation, I recognize I don’t have a lot of trust in other people or being in a group of people until I’m vaccinated. I’m going to avoid that because I don’t trust that the other people in the group have the same perspectives on COVID or similar enough for me to feel comfortable with them. I personally don’t want to be around people without masks on. I don’t want to get close to them. Maybe you could see it as paranoid but my health is important to me.

I don’t want to be stuck inside because I don’t know if I have COVID or not. You then have to go get a test. All the stuff I went through in 2020. It was much work and exhausting. That in itself caused me to lay a lot of trust issues come to the surface during my travels. At the end of the day, I feel insecure and not insecure at a superficial level. I’m feeling like my security with my health and my responsibility with my health in terms of spreading it to others, I value both of those so much. I take other people’s health and my health seriously that I wanted to guard it. Those are part of my core values. I’m going back to something that we’ve discussed before. What do you deeply value? You and I both value our health. I felt like COVID was an emotional attack on our mental health. It was this creepy, “I could get COVID by walking outside my home.” That’s sad insecurity.

A lot of people are like, “COVID is not real. The chances of getting COVID are so slim. I’m comfortable going out and risking it.” My risk tolerance is very different from others. That what it comes down to. It’s not feeling like a match. It’s almost nice if you could wear a badge that I could see like, “You have the same risk tolerance as me. I feel more comfortable with you.” That would help me trust others, but because there were so many nuances in people’s decisions, actions and risks that they were taking and all of those things during COVID, that is what led me to feel less trusting. I feel like it’s similar in the sense of the environment which you brought up.

I do have this optimism and hope that not enough people are doing work on the environment but sometimes, I get pessimistic when I see what people I know are doing and how casually people buy and throw away things. Also, how many people participate in fast fashion, fast food, gas, cars and even learning more about cryptocurrency and seeing how harsh Bitcoin is on the environment, the amount of money that’s in Bitcoin. It’s all these little things that add up and most people seem like don’t think about it and they don’t care enough. That will cause me to feel pessimistic. At the same time, I have this optimism that somehow enough people will make up for that.

I feel that way about COVID as well. The herd immunity concept of like, “I believe in May 2021 that enough people will either get the vaccine or take care of themselves.” I’m honestly in between that state of pro and anti-vax. I swing more towards the pro because I decided to get it but I’m not at that pressure point or that judgment of people being one way or the other. I’m like, “Take care of yourself. Please be responsible and know that you have an impact on other people.” I hope that enough people will do whatever it takes for their health, for the environment and these global issues that we face, and Enough people just take care of themselves in a deep, thoughtful way that was for them. That would be enough to make a change.

One of the biggest concerns I have is that a lot of human beings want the quick fix, the band-aid. It’s like, “Give me the thing so I can move on with my life.” When I see all the memes floating around and the TikTok videos about people making fun of the fact that in a lot of states now, they’ll buy you a fast-food meal if you get vaccinated. Have you seen this? They’re like, “You get a Big Mac. You get a whopper. You get this. You get that.” That’s exactly what we need for our immunity. “Here, get a vaccine and here’s a combo meal from McDonald’s to wash it down.” I’m going to speak freely. Could we have any more of a diametrically opposed set of messaging than that? “Here’s the thing to boost your immunity. Here’s a whole bunch of chemicals, GMOs and processed food to help suppress it again.” It makes absolutely no sense.

I’m not anti-vax. Before you send the hate messages, I’m just saying this is a very confusing, perplexing set of actions and principles. If you care about people’s immunity, why are you putting this chemical food in their bodies? If we were concerned about our immunity, we wouldn’t be eating those things. I’m going to say it. I’m not shaming anyone. If you were concerned about your health, you wouldn’t be having a combo meal. That’s my thing. I have to laugh at it because it’s like, “I got the job. I’m going to go get the McRib.” I don’t get this.

MGU 229 | Anxiety Muppets

Anxiety Muppets: If we can realize that at the core, the angry muppets, on some level, are trying to keep us safe and protected.

 

When you say, “Take care of yourself,” Whitney, my concern is that the vaccine is giving people a false sense of security in the sense that they can keep on doing things that are suspect for their health. I’m not even going to say, suspect. Eating fast food and combo meals is bad for your health. I know I don’t like to get into binary judgments of right-wrong. Eating a combo meal and a fast-food meal is not doing great things for your immune system. It’s inflammatory. It’s putting chemicals in your body and your body has to fight it off. If your body is already building an immune tolerance to COVID through the vaccine, then you’re dumping all this crappy food on top of that, your body has got to deal with the inflammation. It’s maddening to me. It makes no sense.

I’m saying that because we veered off into trust and that’s when I’m like, “I don’t know that we’re all that concerned with people’s long-term health for real.” Are we? Maybe instead of the value meal, we could give people a smoothie after their vax, some chia pudding or something good for them. On a different note, I saw a tweet that the governor of Ohio was doing a lottery that some random person is going to get $1 million after they get vaccinated. Is vaccine hesitancy that huge that we have to be giving away $1 million, for real? Also, do you have to be a resident of Ohio? I might move there for my chance to win $1 million. It’s not worth it. Sorry, Ohio.

All of this is a complicated, evolving thing and I wish that we could take away more of the stigma of having these conversations because maybe that would help us have more compassion and less judgment knowing that a lot of these are tying us together. That’s why I’m trying not to take sides. I don’t like taking sides in general. The trust trigger is a big thing. Trust is rooted in our ability to feel secure. When somebody does something that we perceive as unsafe, we can be judgmental and untrusting of them. I try to stop myself and examine it. I ask myself why? That doesn’t make this person bad. That means they have different values or perspectives, education or belief systems.

All of that adds up and it’s easy to become pessimistic and want to perceive humanity as a whole to be a certain way and untrustworthy. If you have enough experience of people that you don’t trust or you lost trust in them, you can start to lump everybody into those categories. Thus, it feels hard to operate in your life, let alone sleep. Sleep is a huge issue for people in general. The number of products that exist to help people sleep indicates that a lot, if not most people struggle with sleep in one way or another. Even someone like me. I can easily fall asleep and wake up. I get 8 or 9 hours consistently. It sounds like I have great sleep health but why do I talk in my sleep? Why do I walk in my sleep sometimes? Why do I sit in that anxious hypnagogia state? I don’t know. What’s with that? There’s something there and it’s worth examining.

Optimism is just believing that there’s enough people doing good in the world that we can make a shift. Click To Tweet

There’s also the flip side of it. That’s another takeaway. Maybe you can be simultaneously anxious and happy, fearful and trusting, trusting and untrusting, optimistic and pessimistic. That’s not everything I’m recognizing. If you were to straight-up ask me or people that know me, optimism would be a word that I would use for myself and others would use about me. Clearly, I have pessimism and trust issues that may be part of what I pushed down. They’re part of the anxiety crew, the Muppets down there. Dancing around in there are the pessimistic Muppets as well shaking their tambourines. What are those other rattle-type instruments?

Maracas.

What other instruments would the Muppets be playing down there? What do you envision? I don’t know why. I imagine them shaking things in their hands. One would be playing the drums like the Muppet that plays the drums.

Animals would be there on the skins. One of the Muppets would be playing that instrument. It’s a percussion instrument that sounds like a frog. I heard this years ago and I completely forgot. There’s an actual name for that thing. It’s usually shaped like a frog. What’s the name of it?

A lot of people call them percussion frogs but guiro.

One of them would probably be a frog-shaped Muppet playing itself.

What if the Muppet had that built into it and somehow was able to play its own spine? They didn’t need an instrument.

That’s a long stick, “I am my own instrument.” That’s funny. That’s who’s living in your mind, Whitney. That’s interesting.

Ryan, I hope that satisfied your desire. A good segue, something that looks like one of those instruments is the product that I’m going to shout out. It also ties into the environmental optimism I have because of products like this. It’s called the LastSwab. You can go to our YouTube channel and see the visuals behind the products we are going to talk about. It pops open and similar to the instrument that Jason was referring to, inside, you will find a ribbed Q-tips alternative. The LastSwab is designed to be an alternative to Q-tips. Q-tips is the name brand. What is it called?

A cotton swab.

You use this in any way that you would use a cotton swab. A lot of people associate that with cleaning out their ears. You can use this for that. The brands are not allowed to encourage you to clean out your ears with the swab because it can be dangerous but you certainly could use it for that. Some people use these for makeup, cleaning various things or whatever you want to do, and then you clean this with water and soap and then put it back in its little case. It’s satisfying how it snaps in.

I got this through the Goddess Provisions box which is something I get every month and they are often brilliant in their curation. This was the Earth Magic Box. Do you know what was in there that I also love? I kept this on my desk. The candle is also satisfying and it smells incredible. It’s got a chunk of rose quartz in it. They sent a lovely gemstone-infused, roll-on essential oil combo which I have on my desk, and nice socks. This is a good box. It’s a 4 in 1 shout-out. I got all this in Goddess Provisions box. I’m shouting out the LastSwab and also giving a shout out to this lovely candle which is made by a company called Insight Editions. This gemstone roll-on is from a company called Gemstone Organic. It smells so good. I like Goddess Provisions. They’re all vegan products and usually ego-conscious products. It’s a nice little gift that I get every month and it’s nice for my mental health.

Speaking of Hypno Goji Berties, I’m super excited. Shout out to any longtime Facebook fans here who remember that one on a live stream from years ago. This is from a brand called Sunwink. I was first introduced Sunwink with you, Whitney, when we were on a trip to the fancy food show in San Francisco. A few years ago, we went to a great restaurant and they had these sparkling beverages from Sunwink. I’ve been enjoying their beverages. These are their superfood powder mixes and they have a Beauty Fruit Punch with raspberry, pineapple, acai, goji berry and amla. All organic, zero fat, only one gram of sugar.

MGU 229 | Anxiety Muppets

Anxiety Muppets: There’s a lot of psychological reasons why we feel certain ways – optimistic and pessimistic.

 

The cool thing is they’re donating 2% of their sales going back to organizations that are changing the world. I’m going to try this out for the first time with the Sunwink beverage and put them together. They also have a second superfood powder which is a Digestion Lemonade. This is lemon, pineapple, amla berry, chicory and dandelion which is great for detox. It’s fully organic. It’s an on-the-go powder that you can take wherever you want. I love how clean Sunwink’s products are. Even their sparkling beverages, the label is clean.

You used two words that can be triggering for people in the wellness world, clean and detox. Can you use some synonyms for those? Clean implies that food is dirty and people get triggered by detox because do you need to detox? Beyond the branding of the wellness world, how else would you describe those?

Instead of detox, I would use cleansing. It has a cleansing effect. Dandelion does. They’re fully certified organic with no fillers, no preservatives and no artificial ingredients.

Eco-friendly and unprocessed or less processed?

Correct. I’m going to do a little test with both of these, the lemonade and the fruit punch, and add them to the Sunwink beverages, do a little alchemy and see how they taste. I’m excited because I got these in the mail. They’ve only been out for a few days so they’re brand new. I’m excited about Sunwink because I dig the company and I’m excited to try these out. That’s my shout-out. With that, Ryan, thank you for the amazing suggestion of talking about what keeps us up at night because that veered into all kinds of wonderful directions here on the episode. Thank you for that suggestion. For you, dear reader, if you have anything that is burning in your soul that you want us to discuss, explore, research and pontificate upon, you can shoot us a direct email at [email protected].

There is also our website, Wellevatr.com, where you will find amazing free resources, video training and our courses like Wellness Warrior Training and The Consistency Code. Mark your calendar, subscribe to the show, review us on Apple Podcasts, and share it with your friends. When you do, we will hook you up with a value meal. I’m kidding. We won’t give you a value meal. We won’t do that. We will let you decide what’s good for your own body and not try and force food that you may not like upon you as a bribe. We’re not going to bribe you.

When I heard that Shake Shack was giving away French fries, I was intrigued. That’s why I signed up to get the vaccine. I’m kidding. Certainly, if I’m going to get the vaccine, I’ll get some French fries. I probably want some comfort food after the second dose feeling like crap as I’ve heard. Although I also have heard plenty of people get the second dose and don’t feel that bad. I’ll be sure to share my experience when it happens.

I’m sure that will be a future episode. Stay tuned for everything because we have some incredible human beings coming on this show. We always have great guests with a lot of interesting perspectives on money, rest, health, doing nothing, doing something, spirituality, life purpose and mental health. We’re covering a lot of ground here on this show. Stick with us. Stay tuned for more amazingness. Thanks to all of our longtime fans for all your great suggestions, sharing this, your feedback and all the good mojo. We love and appreciate you. Until next time, thanks for getting uncomfortable with us and we’ll see you soon with another episode. Bye!

Important Links:

*We use affiliate links in our show notes. This means we receive a small sales commission if you purchase an item based on our recommendation.

Love the show? Subscribe, rate, review, and share!

Join the This Might Get Uncomfortable community today: