MGU 402 | Automatic Pilot

 

Do you feel like you’re so overbooked that taking time to breathe feels too much? Does life feel like one big to-do list? These may be the effects of the hustle culture we currently live in, and we just can’t help but feel the pressure and fall into “comparisonitis.” Diving deep into the various conversations surrounding mental health today, Whitney Lauritsen sits down with Shonda Moralis, MSW, LCSW—a Life Balance Coach, Therapreneur, Author, and Podcast Host. In this episode, they talk about the stigma around men’s mental health and how the culture that perpetuates it connects with the nature/nurture discussion. They also talk about the importance of mindfulness, savoring moments, handling negative self-talk, and distinguishing between guilt and shame. Guiding you further to learn how to prioritize yourself, Shonda and Whitney then discuss the growth mindset, therapy and coaching, and being assertive. This conversation is packed with great wisdom and more, all to help you step out of automatic pilot and into a different way of being.

DON’T FORGET TO BREATHE: 5-Minute Mindfulness for Busy Women – Beat Stress and Find Calm Anytime, Anywhere: https://bookshop.org/a/17878/9781615199075

Listen to the podcast here

 

Stepping Out Of Automatic Pilot And Into A Different Way Of Being With Shonda Moralis, MSW, LCSW

I am looking forward to talking about the subject matter of staying calm and addressing feelings of overwhelm, stress, and burnout. The emotions that seem to be common. In the last few years, people seem much more comfortable admitting that they feel these tough emotions. With my guest Shonda, this is her specialty. I would love to begin the conversation by asking you if you observe this a lot. Have you seen a shift in the way that people talk about challenging emotions and discuss them more openly than they used to?

I have been immersed in this world for a couple of decades. I probably don’t see the dramatic shift in the talk about stress, overwhelm, or busyness. I see more shifts in talking about mental health. Destigmatizing mental health is amazing and wonderful. It is a part of that, and maybe being more explicit that it is mental health versus simply talking about stress or overwhelm. That is something that I have noticed.

That is a great distinction between stress and overwhelm versus mental health. I see them all on the same spectrum. I’m curious, are you saying that people are pivoting from talking about those emotions to acknowledging that this is part of mental health?

Yes, they are all intertwined. Stress and overwhelm can exacerbate mental health issues and vice versa. They are not separate entities. However, destigmatizing the fact that therapy is helpful and people have clinical depression, clinical anxiety disorders, and things like that. They are not secretive about it. We could have years ago masked it under, “I’m stressed. I’m overwhelmed,” versus now. It is okay to say, “I struggle with depression or anxiety.” It is getting to be okay.

MGU 402 | Automatic Pilot

Automatic Pilot: It’s okay to say, “I struggle with depression and anxiety.”

 

It is helpful when people say those things. It has been the case for me. Reducing shame still seems to linger, especially on social media. There has been a shift that I have noticed on platforms like Instagram. I felt like it started there but on TikTok, where I have shifted to as my primary social media platform and how openly many people discuss their struggles. Not in the sense that I used to feel an Instagram where perhaps it was a little performative or trendy to talk about those emotions.

On TikTok, I mostly feel like people are talking about these things because it helps them feel closer to one another. They feel like they have permission to do it because other people have done it, and there is this building upon momentum. I’m curious if you felt a ripple effect from what you have noticed on social media. Does this impact you?

I suppose I see it a little bit in my practice, but I have been in that world of therapy in psychotherapy for so long. People are coming to me at that point where they are knowledge that they need help. By that point, I don’t see it dramatically in my work, in particular. I’m older. I’m not on TikTok yet. I have resisted TikTok. I can’t speak to that.

Across the media, in general, it has been heartening to see celebrities and influencers come out. Even famous names in sports will come out and own it, especially men, because there is still such a stigma around men. I work primarily with women, and that has always been my specialty for a number of years. Once in a while, I will have a man come to me.

Now I do more coaching than I do therapy or take new clients, but I will have somebody, and they will be like, “Do you work with men?” I’m like, “The men who come to me are the most amazing men.” I work with women. I get the coolest, most amazing men who aren’t afraid of their masculinity. There are many out there who still have bought into the culture that it is not okay for men to go to therapy and for men to struggle and admit that they are dealing with any of these things.

I find that interesting that there is still that stigma and resistance there. As a woman, I can’t relate to that. I can’t relate to what it is like to grow up in that culture of masculinity or the pressures that come from families, different backgrounds, and places you are at. There are many nuances that impact how we relate to other people, how we feel about ourselves, and what we are expressing.

I had a guest on the show who brought up how we look at life through many different perspectives based on our childhoods. That is an interesting subject matter to talk with you about because you focus a lot on mothers. They are not only caring for their own mental health but their children as well. I love to hear some of your perspectives on that.

It is the whole nature-nurture discussion, and we can’t completely take the nurturing piece out. How are we nurtured? What did we get? What did we not get? What were our influences growing up? It is ingrained in us, and often we don’t recognize it until we are full-blown adults ourselves, and sometimes we still don’t.

It is all about awareness, and the more awareness we have in general, the more choice we have with what we want to change, what we appreciate and like about where we are going, how we’re parenting, and what we would like to change and do differently. It is hugely influential on how we are raised. Sometimes we can automatically repeat the same patterns, and we are hellbent on not repeating the same patterns that we swing way over to the other side. We overcorrect sometimes. There is a whole lot of room in there.

The more awareness we have, the more choices we have. Click To Tweet

When I work with moms and parents, there is the pressure we put on ourselves to do it perfectly to do it well because it matters so much. That is a beautiful thing, yet I always say, “Good enough is great.” When we are holding ourselves to that perfectionistic standard, it can paralyze us and get in our way. To know that our intentions are good and that we are doing the best we can is pretty great often.

Good enough is great. Click To Tweet

Those statements are true and relatable. Part of what I was excited to chat with you about is this burnout that many people are feeling. I wonder if the pressure of being perfect, of being good enough even are leading people in mass to feel burnt out because they are pushing themselves beyond a limit or maybe carrying a big mental burden.

It is perfectionism, hustle culture, and comparisonitis in terms of us comparing our insides to people’s outsides, what it looks like and what we think their lives look like. As a psychotherapist, I have had the inside scoop for a long time to know that these amazing successful people can walk into my office. I show up on a call, and I’m like, “I know they are struggling with as many things as the rest of us, even though it looks amazing from the outside.” I can recognize that and still can get caught up in seeing when I go on social media, for instance, what it looks like, why I am not there, or why I am not able to do all of this all the time. There are many factors that go into it.

It is helpful every time you hear someone say, “I go through this too.” Even though it seems obvious, people are talking about these things, and yet there is something going on with our brains where we can simultaneously know something to be true, such as, “I’m not the only one who feels this.” There is a little voice saying, “Yes, you are. You are the only one, and you should be ashamed about this.” What are some practices that can work for people to handle those multiple voices and experiences in their brains?

I kept coming back to awareness and mindfulness if we were going to talk about what mindfulness is. It is being aware of what is happening at the moment with an attitude of kindness and curiosity. The opposite of mindfulness is when we run on automatic pilot in our minds. We are either in the future. We’re what-iffing. We are running through our to-do list, imagining the worst, or we are in the past, rehashing a conversation or a memory.

Mindfulness is being in the moment as the best we can, accepting it with an attitude of kindness. That is the part that often gets missed. When we can have an awareness of what we are feeling and experiencing, that is where the power lies. What happens is if we are not aware, I can be scrolling through not TikTok but Instagram. I will notice somebody, and I’m thinking, “Look what she is doing. I’m not doing that. How does she land that deal or that collaboration, whatever it is?” I might automatically in my body, if I’m aware, feel a sinking in my stomach or maybe pressure in my chest.

Mindfulness is being in the moment as best we can and accepting it with kindness. Click To Tweet

My thought is, “What’s wrong with me? I’m not doing that.” I might feel some jealousy. That is the emotion. My next thought is, “I’m a horrible person. I know this person. She is a nice person. What is wrong with me that I’m judgy and jealous?” I can feel all kinds of emotions, body sensations, and thoughts. Anytime I can recognize what is going on, that is power because I can name it. I can say, “There is a little bit of envy. There is some comparison going on. There is jealousy. I can have a choice about what to do with it.

MGU 402 | Automatic Pilot

Automatic Pilot: Anytime I can recognize what is going on, there is power because I can name it and make a choice.

 

I often can give myself a little bit of compassion. I talk to people about putting our hands to our hearts, on our chest space, and taking a couple of deep breaths. Some people I have talked to are like, “I’m not doing that. That is cheesy.” I’m like, “It is cheesy, but I invite you to try it.” First of all, it releases a little bit of oxytocin, which is that connecting hormone.

It also reminds us, “Try to be a little kind to myself here as if I were to someone else.” It is awareness. It is naming it. We say name it to tame it. We have a little bit of distance from it. What can I offer myself a little compassion? How do I talk to myself as I would my best friend or someone I care about? How do I shift that narrative? How do I change that script and that self-talk? It is those sorts of steps.

What I’m talking about, part of what I want to mention, if it is okay, is this triangle of awareness that I use a lot. We can use it as a mindful break called a Triangle Tune-In. If you imagine, the three points of a triangle correspond to our thoughts, body sensations, and emotions. They impact each other quickly. I can see an image, and I am off and running. I am shameful. I am jealous. I’m feeling terrible. That keeps going. If I interrupt it by noticing one point in that triangle, I feel that pressure in my chest or in my stomach. What is here? What am I saying to myself?

I have the power to say, “What do I want to do with this? What happens if I don’t have any awareness of that? Is my next interaction with my kid, husband, or colleague snarky? I’m like, “Whatever. On we go.” It can interrupt all of this unpleasant stuff that shows up. On the other side of that coin, the triangle of awareness also can help us notice and savor beautiful and pleasant moments that we are having.

I can walk outside to my car after a meeting. I look up, and I see the sun shining. I hear the birds chirping. I feel the warmth of the sun on my face, and I feel a cool breeze. I hear the leaves rusting. I’m in the Northeast. If I pay attention to what is happening in my triangle briefly, I am locked in that memory and moment. I savored that. I can think about it later. I still can feel that relaxation in my body and a little bit of happiness going on. It helps us survive, recognize getting through, and cope with those unpleasant moments. It can help us notice and savor beautiful moments.

Shonda, I’m grateful that you pointed out savoring and coping together. I don’t think I have ever thought about it that way. Another thing you said earlier that I want to circle back to is about people having some resistance to doing a breathing exercise. I found myself oddly in that place of resistance, looking at the title of your book, Don’t Forget to Breathe, which is odd for me and has nothing to do with your book, but something for me to notice.

I sometimes feel annoyed when I have to focus on my breath. It is the last thing I want to do. I’m curious. I can’t be alone in that because you mentioned another example. Why is it that something basic like, “Don’t forget to breathe,” can feel frustrating, triggering, and irritating to somebody in a moment of tension?

It could be a couple of things. Number one is if somebody was like, “Calm down.” That is the last thing you want to say to someone. That is the opposite of getting them to calm down. Trust me. It is not about calming down. Sometimes too, it is like, “Are you kidding me? One more thing to add to my to-do list. Now you want me to breathe?” The whole point of all of the work I do, and I teach a lot of mindful breaks, are these pauses and reminders in the midst of our day. That is hence the title, Don’t Forget to Breathe.

It is when we pause, stop what we are doing, and take three deep breaths. It is radical, and it feels hard. It is like, “Are you kidding me?” Otherwise, we are breathing shallowly in our chests all day long. We’re in this low-level fight or flight, which exhausts us, causes us more stress, and we don’t think as clearly and creatively. We tire out more easily. It causes inflammation and disease over time in our bodies. It is a phenomenon.

By pausing, which feels like, “You are going to tell me to remind me to do this?” Yes, I am because we don’t do this. Take those full breaths. We calm down our physiology and nervous system. We send a signal to our brain that there is no need for fight or flight and everything’s okay. It will be okay. Most of the time that is the truth. Even though in our crazy busy world, it feels like everything is urgent and it is nonstop.

Sometimes being told to do something that is good for you can feel frustrating because it is another thing, and it is laughable to me because we are breathing anyways. My breath changes as soon as you say, “Don’t forget to breathe.” I’m going to do it even if I don’t want to. My brain associates that with, like, “Not another thing.”

There were a couple of phrases in your work that I thought was important to touch upon of this being overbooked and overburdened. I like those phrases because I use overwhelmed, stressed, and burnt out. Focusing on being overbooked can be interesting, and that ties into a reaction like I had of I’m overbooked, and adding something as simple as breathing intentionally into my moment feels frustrating. Is that because I already feel like I have taken on too much?

It is quite a statement in our lives if we feel like, “Are you kidding me? You want me to stop and take a few breaths. I don’t have time for that.” We often feel that way. I am there too sometimes. I get it. I’m wondering, some people are rebels by nature, and they’re like, “Don’t tell me what to do.” It’s knowing that about yourself too. We all have to have our reasons as to why we want to do this. For some of us, it is, “I want to notice my life. I want to not just be because I know how I operate. I am on the to-do list all the time. I like to get things done. I’m onto the next. I want to slow down a little bit. I am aware of my life.“

Some people want to speed up a little bit. They need a push and some nudges. They need to be like going. It is all-knowing where we fall in these different continuums of all areas. It can be doing versus non-doing. It can be risk averse and risk takers. Some of us fall on those different ends of the continuums. Knowing which way, how do we get ourselves a little bit more in balance? That is what a lot of this is about. I forgot what your initial question was that I started to answer.

You answered it. It led me to something else related, to-do lists because, like you, I love to-do lists. It helps me with managing my day. I’m fully in charge of my day because I work for myself. I have clients. I am setting my own schedule every day. I created that lifestyle because that works better for me than being on somebody else’s schedule. I still thrive with that to-do list because without it, I feel a bit out of sorts.

Even though I’m designing my own to-do list, I’m creating my own schedule. Sometimes, I look at my own list and think, “I don’t want to do these things. Why are they there?” I feel this simultaneous emotion of like, “I can move it. This is up completely up to me.” Shame at the same time of, “You should get this done. You put this on your list. You can’t be a procrastinator.” All of these mentalities that many of us feel around laziness. Perhaps, those are leading us to add more to our plates than we can handle. Do you find that to be true?

I want to pull out a few things that you were saying, terms that are important to talk about and distinguish, which are self-talk or judging. “What is wrong with you? Suck it up, buttercup. You are the one who put this on your own list.” That is judging and negative self-talk. The difference between guilt and shame, and it is important to distinguish, is that guilt is about behavior. I’m embarrassed, or I wish I hadn’t put that on my list. I feel guilty because I don’t want to do it. I don’t want to meet with this person, even though I’m the one who reached out. Whatever that is, that is guilt. The shame is, “I am a bad person, a bad mom, and a bad entrepreneur. I am disorganized in general.”

Whenever I say that to teach it, I feel uncomfortable in my body. It is toxic. We have to be careful that we are shifting from shame to guilt. It is not I am, but rather this behavior is, or sometimes I act in this way because we are not acting in that way all the time. When we start to believe, when we fall into the shame, I am this or that, that is negative, we give up. It is like, “If I am awful, why would I even bother trying? There is no point.” It is unmotivating versus, “This is an issue. I can act this way sometimes. I don’t like it. What can I do about it?” It is that growth mindset versus a fixed mindset of, “There are things I can do to shift that behavior in the future. How can I go about it differently?”

I love that you touched upon a growth mindset versus a fixed mindset because I just completed training. I’m working towards becoming a board-certified well-being coach. That was a big part of our initial training. I was looking over in preparation for my exam and thinking, “There is such a big difference between those two.” I love for you to share in your own words. What is the difference between someone who is in that fixed mindset versus a growth mindset?

It is huge. It is about the agency. It is one of those things Marie Forleo talks about, Everything is Figureoutable, which I love. It is like, “I can be in a mess of a situation. I could have gotten myself into a massive situation or felt like things were not going well. Can I acknowledge that? What is one action step I can take towards shifting out of this one thing at a time?”

Knowing that I can have some agency and make things different by acting, it is never going to turn out always the way we want it to. This is life. Things show up all the time. We are not always in control of everything, but we have a large piece of control over a lot of things in our lives versus somebody who feels helpless. It turns into learned helplessness, “Nothing I can do about it. I’m stuck. This is the way it is. This is the way I am. That breaks my heart.”

It is heartbreaking. I feel that too. It is common. I would also love to hear from you since you do both therapy and coaching. What are the differences between the two? That is something I’m still working on articulating because there seem to be a lot of crossovers, maybe gray areas. Since I’m now trained as a coach, I want to be mindful of what I’m not trained in because I’m not a therapist. How do you clarify that with people when they are determining how they are going to work with you?

In therapy, we use coaching techniques, or I do. Therapy is often about disorders. It is about whether you have an anxiety disorder, a panic disorder, or OCD. I treat a lot of stress-related disorders and anxiety-related disorders. That is different than, “I’m stuck.” I see coaching as you have some basic tools, you are stuck at a point, you are feeling unfulfilled, but you are not clinically depressed or dealing with clinical anxiety.

Thank you for articulating that because I feel like maybe clients are unsure about the difference, and sometimes it seems coaches might be unsure. I was before I went through my program of training because there were a lot of things that I was doing that were outside my scope of practice. Until you are trained in that and you become more aware, you can walk a fine line that can be a bit dangerous.

Mental health is such an important fragile thing that you could easily fall into the wrong hands if you don’t understand the difference. The responsibility as a coach is to understand the difference and where you are best to refer someone out to a therapist or another specialist. I want to go back to another definition unless you want to add something else to that.

For coaches, therapists, or anybody who is reading who might be in the helping profession in that way, ultimately, it is knowing what we don’t know and knowing when we feel uncomfortable. Checking in with our own awareness of, “This is feeling out of my comfort zone or my realm of understanding or expertise.” Therefore, that is a pretty good sign. You need to refer someone.

As we brought up the terms overbooked and overburdened, and we touched upon the overbook side, I’m curious, is overburdened different from being overbooked in your eyes?

There is a nuance to that. That is different. Overbooked to me is about my schedule. I have put too much on my plate. Overburdened is that feeling and perception because overburdened to you and to me is going to feel different pieces to what that looks like. Being overburdened, to me, might be caregiving. Somebody else might be fine. I might be overburdened with sleep deprivation. I’m the worst with sleep deprivation. Other people, that I marvel at like, “How do you function like that?” We all want to sleep, but sometimes it is not under our control. Overburdened is that perception. If we are not feeling validated or in control to some degree, resentment can breed resentment.

Some people struggle to set boundaries, and it seems like that can lead to being overbooked and overburdened. That could also be the reason why you continue to feel those ways. Is that true?

I teach a mindful break about Benevolent Badass Boundaries because women especially tend to be conditioned from a young age that we need to take care of everyone else at the expense of ourselves. We come last. After everyone else is taken care of and we get everything ticked off the list, if I have a little energy or time for myself, I will get to that, which often, we don’t if we’re not more intentional about it. A lot of my work comes to how we take that power for ourselves. That is why I teach a lot of five-minute mindful breaks because everybody can carve out five minutes somewhere in their day. We have to give ourselves permission and prioritize ourselves.

Knowing a boundary is being crossed. This is all about awareness and about teaching us to start to pay attention to our bodies because our body sensations clue us into so much information about emotions and thoughts. When I feel uncomfortable in my body, when I feel tight, and when I feel something in my stomach that is unpleasant, it is like, “What’s up here?” That could be a boundary being crossed, and I have completely allowed it my whole life. I have not been aware of it. It is not the other person’s fault that I have allowed them to step over a boundary because I have allowed it.

MGU 402 | Automatic Pilot

Automatic Pilot: Our body sensations clue us into so much information about our thoughts.

 

When I start to notice, “I don’t think I like this. I want to shift this boundary.” It is recognizing it. It is giving ourselves permission to say, “It is okay that I don’t like this, and change something.” How do we do that in an assertive way versus an aggressive or passive, which is how we tend to communicate? We are not taught this a lot of times, coming back to childhood things. I can’t tell you how many people I talk with who will be like, “I didn’t learn this in my family.” I’m like, “99% of us do not. Trust me.” People go through their whole lives not knowing how to communicate assertively or mindfully.

When we are learning a new skill, we often overcorrect. I was more passive as a teenager or young adult. I had to learn how to be assertive. It felt super aggressive when I was standing up for myself a little bit. I always say that, especially to women, “If you are more passive, it is going to feel aggressive.” Likewise, some people are a little bit more aggressive, but they need to tone it down a little bit.

Being assertive is like, “I’m taking care of me, and I care about you.” It is almost like, “Can we get a win-win?” I’m going to know that it is okay to take care of myself and ask for what I need or set a boundary. People aren’t always going to like that. Sometimes, they are going to be explicit about not liking it. They are going to bump up against it. You are going to get resistance because you are setting a new boundary. People sometimes will adjust. If there are people that we have in our lives on a regular basis, they will adjust. That was a lot about boundaries, but it is important, especially with women.

When something comes up, or we are offered something, we are conditioned to say, “Yes, I will help you. I will do that.” It feels pretty bad to say no. I can still struggle with that too. For speaking engagements, I have people who will come to me about doing free speaking engagements a lot of the time, and I will be like, “I love to help you out.”

If I said yes to everybody who doesn’t want to pay me to do a speaking engagement, often, I will say, “It depends on the organization. I have to love the organization. I might do one free speaking engagement a quarter. That is my limit, and I can’t do more than that.” I feel resentful. It feels like they have crossed a boundary with me that does not feel good for me. That is a hard one.

Thank you for providing that example because it’s making this big shift in society has often taught women not to be assertive. There are a lot of steps that you can take to change that about yourself, yourself. It is still challenging, and sometimes not even having an example. Going back to what I was saying earlier about how much of a shift is made through social media, people talking openly about their struggles, the same can be true about people sharing specific examples about how to do things.

Certainly, for me, I get stuck when I don’t have an example, and I feel like I’m the only one making a change. I don’t know whom to turn to figure out how to do it. Even hearing something like, “Once a quarter, that is my boundary. That is the maximum I will do. This is what I will offer. I’m going to stand firm in that.”

How else do people learn how to make these big shifts when perhaps they feel like they have been conditioned to do things a certain way, and it is hard to break free of that? There is this looming feeling of societal pressure that may be fake because a lot of times, once you can break through, you will see many examples like you gave and realize not everybody acts this way, and you don’t have to. There are still those voices we were talking about before. It is almost like a fake layer in our society of what we should be doing versus what is good for us and finding that confidence to cross that barrier. How do you do that?

Incrementally slowly and with pits, stops, starts, and feeling like we do it well sometimes and not well other times. As I have come to this with my example of speaking engagements, there are times when I felt like, “That felt bad. I did not handle and said that well.” We learn, make mistakes, and figure them out. It is to know that, but ultimately, to trust ourselves. Most of us are good people trying to do the best we can. We want to help, and we want to do things for others. If we start to feel this is too much, it is probably for a good reason. We need to pay attention to and honor that.

Most of us are really good people trying to do the best we can. Click To Tweet

Find role models of people who are talking about this. You can look at them and say, “She is amazing. She is a helping person.” If that is what you like or whatever that is that you aspire to. What comes to mind when I’m talking about this is Michelle Obama. I don’t know her personally, but I have this sense that she likes to do good and has some strong boundaries of what she will tolerate and not tolerate. I respect that. How can you find those role models that you could say, “How do I be a little bit more like her in that way?”

Since we talked about the power of working with a coach or a therapist, I love to know what you advise for somebody if they are experiencing some of the challenges that we have talked about, which most people are. How does somebody decide whether a coach would be a good fit for them versus therapy?

You can always have conversations. You can always reach out to different therapists or coaches and book a discovery call. Ask those basic questions in an email. Often, if you are feeling it is impacting your functioning, it is likely that you need some therapy. If you feel like, “I got this life thing. I’m okay. Things are pretty good. It is just something is missing, or I’m stuck.” That feels more like a coach. It is a good question because it is an individual that you have to assess. If you are unsure, have a conversation with someone.

Some people get stuck even trying to make a decision. They get in their head all the barriers, like, “How much is this going to cost? Is this going to be accessible? Is it going to take a lot of time?” Even getting to that stage of support can be a big challenge. That is why I’m grateful for people like yourself who have podcasts and you are sharing the message based on your expertise. You have these wonderful books that you have created.

MGU 402 | Automatic Pilot

If this feels too much, it’s probably for a good reason.

I love to wrap up our conversation with maybe a final tip or a group of tips about these five-minute mindfulness breaks that you are bringing up. Something that someone can leave this conversation with that makes it feel like it is doable and they can do something in a small amount but have a big ripple effect from them starting five minutes from now.

The mindful breaks are all about how we step out of automatic pilot, the opposite of being mindful, and come back into the moment so that we are more aware of our lives and we are more in control of where we place our attention, how we respond to situations and where we are going. It can be as simple as taking a mindful coffee break every morning.

You have your coffee, tea, or whatever you are drinking in the morning. Often, we are multitasking, and we sug it back. We were like, “Did I even drink that at all?” until you look and see it is gone. This is radical, and I’m going to tell you to stop and feel the mug. Feel the warmth. Smell the aroma. Use your senses. Take that first sip, drink that cup of coffee, and feel the warmth through your body. You can do it for 20 seconds, or you can do it for 5 minutes. You can stretch it out, but It is a different way of being.

All this is about is interrupting that fight or flight and automatic pilot, stepping off that hamster wheel on a regular basis that we are on all day long, and being here for our lives. Start with one mindful break and do it every day for a couple of weeks. It starts to become a habit. That is what I do every morning when I drink my coffee or whatever that is. I don’t have to remember. I can stack on another mindful break for a couple of weeks. Before I knew it, my day was sprinkled with these mindful breaks, and I am more aware. Nobody has to tell you to don’t forget to breathe. You don’t have to feel rebellious or resistant to it.

I’m grateful for the way that you share this information. It has brought me peace of mind. You have reminded me to breathe despite my resistance to say, “No, I don’t want to remember to breathe.” It is funny to share that out loud, to laugh at it because that helps someone like me to let go of resistance. It is to acknowledge that I feel resistant to something basic as breathing. Now that I acknowledge it as funny, I am more open to doing it. Sometimes you need to go through those barriers.

What I say to women or people that I teach is to have a sense of amusement with this. We take ourselves. I am speaking for myself. I can take myself seriously. Let it be fun. Let it be experimental and playful, and see what happens. That is it. Investigate. Don’t take my word for it. Try it out and see. I guarantee pretty much that in a couple of weeks, you will notice a little bit of a difference.

Have a sense of amusement with mindfulness. Let it be fun, and see what happens. Click To Tweet

What a wonderful note to end on and something important this time of year. We are in the month of December 2022 with the holidays. We are coming up in January and February. It feels like the next few months can be a big challenge, but we face life challenges throughout the year. Thank you so much for sharing something with us in a way that feels like a place of ease and simplicity.

That fun is important as experimenting, knowing that you can do something in a short amount of time and examine it from many different perspectives. I loved your triangle piece of advice too. That was lovely. You shared so much. You have even more in the book that came out, Don’t forget to Breathe, and your other book, which targets mothers specifically. It is Breathe Mama Breathe.

It was great to be with you, Whitney.

I will link to the books, podcast, and Shonda’s website, where you can get in touch and learn more. Thanks again for reading, and thank you, Shonda, for being with us.

Thanks, Whitney. It was fun to chat with you.

 

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About Shonda Moralis

MGU 402 | Automatic PilotShonda Moralis, MSW, LCSW is on a mission to help women play big without burning out. She is a Life Balance Coach, Therapreneur, Author, and Podcast Host. Shonda serves on the board of Shanthi Project, an education nonprofit providing evidence-based mindfulness services to children and adults. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two kids, loves to play outside, endeavors to practice what she preaches, and is perennially fascinated by what makes people tick.

 

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