It’s okay to have a temper tantrum every once in a while. By having a temper tantrum, you’re releasing all of your pent-up emotions. These are the negative thoughts and anger that could potentially eat you up from the inside. Learn how to fight your inner critic with self-trust and self-acceptance. Join your hosts, Jason Wrobel and Whitney Lauritsen, as they talk to Andrea Hanson on temper tantrums and invisible illnesses like MS. Andrea is an author and a master certified mindset coach. Learn from her personal experience how to deal with judgment and vulnerability. Discover how she fought through MS and how she releases her anger through temper tantrums. Learn how to accept yourself for who you are today.
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Temper Tantrums And Invisible Illness With Andrea Hanson
I want to start this episode with our guest, Andrea Hanson, by admitting something to you, Andrea and Whitney. I feel a little bit of shame in admitting this because I don’t think that I’ve necessarily understood fully or forgiven myself for doing this. I have been observing myself through a lot of the demands of work, clients, pressure and feeling like I’m stuck in a survival mode.
We’re recording this episode near the end of August 2021. I’ve talked to a lot of people who feel like they’re frayed at both ends, they’re in survival mode and they feel constantly stressed, confused and uncertain about the future. There’s a lot of commonalities in the emotional experience happening with a lot of humans on this planet.
That being said, I have been losing my temper a lot. I’ve been doing some things when I lose my temper that I’m not proud of like destroying things in the house. As I’m saying this, I already start to feel a little bit of tightness in my chest and my stomach even saying this out loud. There’s a fear that in admitting this, people are going to go, “Jason is this positive guy. We have this idea of who Jason is. Jason has this idea of who Jason is.”
I’m not physically hurting myself or anyone else. I’ve observed myself destroying physical objects. It’s weird. I don’t necessarily have a track record of this or a history of it. I have picked up things in the house when I’ve lost my temper and destroyed them and went, “I hope I didn’t need that thing because now it’s shattered or broken.”
Andrea, I’m glad that you’re here with us. The reason I’m bringing this up is I was researching a lot of the wonderful content, your podcast, your blog and I came across some of your work talking about adult temper tantrums. I thought the timing of my discovery of that was perfect. Sometimes in life, we find things and we didn’t know we needed to read them. I was reading your blog post called The Storm Before The Calm – Clarity Through Adult Temper Tantrums. I’m starting to feel a little bit of lightness as I’m reading it because I’ve been judging and being angry at myself for breaking things in the house when I lose my temper.
I want to start that with you, Andrea, here on the podcast of talking about or maybe looking at the positive benefits of an adult temper tantrum. If I’m in a situation where I’m beating myself up for losing my temper, how can I understand what the benefits of these are and how to forgive myself when I do have these temper tantrums? Thanks for being here, Andrea. Tell us about adult temper tantrums because I need some help with this.I don't think anyone needs to be fixed. It's just a matter of looking at what you want to change. Click To Tweet
First of all, thank you so much for having me. I was telling you before we started the show how much I truly do love this show. It’s a perfect example right here. It’s authentic and down-to-Earth. Let’s take a good and honest look at what’s going on and not even for the purpose of fixing things. I am a life coach and a mindset coach but I don’t think anybody needs to be fixed. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with any of us. It’s a matter of taking a look and seeing what you want to change or what you want to do differently in growth.
I love adult temper tantrums. I think they’re amazing. I have been doing them for a while. Before I realized how to describe them or to use them as a tool like, “This is something that I’ve done.” Like you, the first couple of times, I was like, “Did I lose it? Did I have a total meltdown? If I did, is that okay?” There are all of these questions and judgments. You’re right, we feel like we should have things together.
I look at myself as a generally positive person but I have an inner critic that’s not-so. Nobod is 100% positive. Generally, it’s going to be 50/50. The way I see it and where these adult temper tantrums come into play is how are you allowing the “negative” emotions? For example, for me, if I look at one of my first temper tantrums, it was epic. It was an ugly cry, crazy and glad that nobody was there to witness. I don’t think I would have fully had one if I had witnessed there. You have to let yourself go.
I had so much fear, shame and unknowing around my diagnosis. I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. This was years ago. On the one hand, I was positive about this. From the get-go, I was like, “This is not going to define me.” I rejected a lot of what doctors said because I was like, “You don’t even know me. How are you even saying these things?”
I also had this pretty thick layer underneath of terror, fear and shame because I was afraid of what the future was going to look like. Even though I was rebelling against what these doctors told me, in the back of my mind, I was like, “What if they’re right?” Outwardly, I was like, “You don’t know me? You don’t know what’s going to happen to me. Nobody does.” When I was quiet with my own mind, sometimes at 3:00 AM, it would be like, “What if this is happening? What if this is going to happen?” I had a tremendous amount of these negative emotions.
You’re right. It’s easy to push against it. Generally, I’m a positive person. Other people would call me a positive person. Other people were saying, “You’re doing so well with this. You’re such an example.” When you have almost this public persona that is somehow shaping your own identity even though we know it’s not. That’s not necessarily how our own identity should be shaped through what other people see us as but it does.
When I had this temper tantrum, the best way I can describe it is surrender. There are two sides to energy, resistance and allowing. A lot of times, when we have these negative emotions, it’s like, “That’s not me. Other people see me as positive. I shouldn’t be thinking this. What if I do entertain this? What if I make it happen? What if somehow, it’s this self-fulfilling prophecy?” We don’t even want to entertain these negative thoughts that are causing all of this negative emotion to bubble up. Because we don’t do this, they repeat in our heads.
It’s like ticker tape. In finance, if you see the ticker tape of all the stocks, that’s what thoughts are like in our heads if we don’t address them. You have these negative thoughts that are causing all these negative emotions. You’re getting upset because you’re having these thoughts that cause more negative emotion. At the same time, you’re almost not letting yourself look at it. It’s like the boogeyman in the closet. You don’t look at it because it’ll become real and it’ll happen.
I had all of these thoughts about, “What happens if I do wake up paralyzed?” By the way, it’s not something that happens but what I was receiving when I was first diagnosed before I lived with it, before I did a lot of research, when it was slapped in my lap, I was like, “This can happen.” I was desperately afraid. It was almost like coming to this precipice where it’s like, “I cannot take this anymore.” Often, that’s when you pick up the keyboard, you pick up yourself, whatever it is because that’s a release.
When we do things especially when we take emotions like that, sometimes people go for a run. Sometimes they’ll go and do crazy weightlifting or something like that. That movement is closely tied to that emotional center that can give us some release. For a temper tantrum, truly releasing means releasing that emotion and getting to the core. To do that, the best way I can describe it is laying your soul bare, like, “It’s okay if this happens.” It’s not like, “It is what it is. There’s nothing I can do.” It’s not that. It’s a much more loving acceptance of the fact that I had these thoughts, I felt this way and that I was scared.
Instead of being in that space of saying, “I don’t want to look at it. I don’t want to entertain it. I’m afraid that it’s never going to stop. I’m going to start crying and I’m never going to stop crying.” I allowed myself to open that door and look at everything. Turn the light on, allow myself to feel it all and allow myself to acknowledge all of what I was thinking and what I was afraid of. It can look like a lot of things. That moment was a long, visceral reaction. It was an ugly cry for a while. I don’t mean a while like it was days. It was a fifteen-minute situation.
I don’t know if you guys have read Jill Bolte Taylor’s My Stroke of Insight. She talks about truly releasing emotion. When you’re truly releasing your emotion, it doesn’t take that long. What happens when we feel like emotions keep going, it’s because we haven’t fully released them. It’s because we’re resisting it in some way or we’re still resisting that thought. We’re still perpetuating the thought that’s making us feel bad. If there’s an emotion in our body, we’re not fully allowing ourselves. If you fully allow yourself to have that emotion without fear, without any worry about how long it’s going to last, without any judgment about why it’s there and if you let yourself feel that, that is the ultimate release.There are two sides to energy: there's resistance, and there's allowing. Click To Tweet
I call it a temper tantrum because that’s what it feels like in your head. Your head is like Animal from The Muppets. Your head is screaming. That’s what it is. The thing is because it is such an honest, open and allowing look at what ideas you’re afraid of and feeling that emotion, that is the release. That’s why on the other side of it, you get such clarity. I’m not saying that you’re negative all the time. When there’s enough of it there that it’s this underlying layer, your brain doesn’t have full access. Your brain is in that fight or flight mode or freeze or fawn. You don’t have full access to creativity. You don’t have full access to problem-solving.
When you’re in fight or flight, you don’t need it. We don’t need creativity when we’re running from a bear. We don’t need to sit and be like, “What would MacGyver do?” We don’t need it. We need snap decisions. When you put that into our everyday lives, when we’re not running from a bear, we’re still activating our brain on a little bit of that fight or flight, which means we don’t have that full clarity and we don’t have that solution. We’re still in that tunnel vision that happens when your brain is in fight or flight.
That’s why I say once you go through this release, you are kicked out of that fight or flight. All of a sudden, it’s like, “It’s not 1 of 2 choices. I have ten choices here.” All of a sudden, this yes or no becomes a nuanced answer. That’s where all that clarity comes from because you’ve swept all of what’s holding you back. It’s one clean sweep out of your brain. In a nutshell, that is the anatomy of the adult temper tantrum. I love them.
Andrea, the thing that comes up for me as you describe the process of the adult temper tantrum is I’m curious if people get stuck. If you’ve observed with your clients, yourself, people you work with, where do people get stuck on this? For me, in my experience, it’s almost been giving myself a feeling of safety, permission and space to have these experiences.
As a child, if I look back to holding myself back from certain emotional experiences, it was because when I did have tantrums as a child, I observed how uncomfortable it made people and how it felt like a burden when I would have emotional outbursts. I’ve always been an extremely sensitive, extremely empathic human being ever since I was a tiny child, feeling a lot of things, intense emotions all the time. I started to observe that people would not react well when I would display some of those emotions.
As an adult, I’ve had to learn how to trust that I can give myself a feeling of safety to express those things, try to find a way not to judge them and allow them. I’m wondering, in your experience with your life with these tantrums and the people you work with, what’s that interconnection? What have you noticed between acceptance, permission and safety around these temper tantrums? I still struggle to give myself permission to do this. It’s hard to let myself have that release.
To be completely clear, these are tantrums that don’t need to have any witnesses. You don’t need to do these in front of anybody. There’s no reason to. Once you include somebody else then it’s no longer about you. It’s about them. One of the keys to the temper tantrum is that it’s all about you. One of the things that make it so loving is because you are holding your own attention. It’s not about, “She made me do it,” or, “She blew up or whatever was going on and that’s why I’m angry,” or, “They did something. It’s this circumstance.”
When I was having my temper tantrum, I wasn’t even saying, “It’s the MS that’s doing this.” I wasn’t bringing any of that in there. It was all about me. It wasn’t about, “What is somebody else going to think?” That’s deflecting away from you. The first thing is it’s a loving holding of attention on yourself and on what’s going on. It does take a certain amount of self-trust to be able to do this 100%.
A lot of times, the reason why we don’t do things is not necessarily because we’re afraid of what other people are going to say or what other people are going to do but we’re afraid of what we’re going to tell ourselves. We’re afraid of our own inner critic and nothing is meaner to us than what we say to ourselves. A lot of times, we are, at that point, afraid of how we’re going to judge ourselves and what we’re going to tell ourselves because it can be mean.
When I am working with clients, we don’t go into this. It’s not like, “Session one, let’s have a tantrum.” There’s got to be a certain amount of work done with their own judgment and how they talk to themselves. People call it different things. People call it the negative voice in their heads or critical voice in their heads. I call it my inner mean girl because that’s always aligned with me. When you do that work, it starts to build back up that self-trust. It starts to build back up what you refer to earlier as that observer state where you are noticing like, “I’m saying this to myself.” Instead of taking in the message and believing it and crumbling underneath it.
There does need to be a certain amount. If this is something that you want to do, take an honest look at how much you trust yourself to go through it. It’s not like you have to fully trust, accept and love yourself unconditionally before you can do this. That is not at all what it is. It’s trusting yourself at that moment that you can handle it.
When I first did it with my MS, I wasn’t a life coach. I didn’t know any of this stuff. What’s weird is I didn’t even know what my emotions were. I needed this on such a visceral level. I did it because I was just at wit’s end. I was like, “I don’t know what else to do. I have to open up and give myself over to this.” You have to trust that you can go through this and come out on the other end. It sounds silly but it’s a worry.If you fully allow yourself to experience an emotion without judgment about why it's there, that is the ultimate release. Click To Tweet
For me, before I did a lot of emotional work and understood emotions, you can get scared that this is never going to go away. If you go into anger, anger is never going to stop. If you go into shame, shame is never going to stop. It’s a certain amount of trust in yourself that you can handle letting go and feeling your emotions. You can handle looking and seeing what those thoughts are.
This leads me to some questions I have about your experience with MS because, from my perception and correct me if I’m wrong, it adds another layer of complexity like anything where you’re having chronic symptoms. Also, the what-ifs. First, I’m curious about your personal journey also because if I didn’t know that you had MS, I don’t think I would have suspected it because I’ve known at least one person with MS. Also, Parkinson’s, which is similar in some ways to MS, has been something that a few of my family members have had.
Also, in the news, we’ve seen Selma Blair, an actress, talk about her MS a lot, which I thought was important for awareness because it still seems rare but maybe it’s not as rare as I think it is because of people like yourself who don’t exert the symptoms that we might associate it with. For me, both Parkinson’s and MS, I associate it with a body that’s shaking a lot or someone needing to walk with a cane to stabilize themselves. I’m not sure because you’re sitting down if you have that. I’m curious about what that experience has been like for you especially given that some of them can be progressive.
One of my uncles has it and I’ve been watching for years that progress through his life, how he has tried a lot of different things and gone on with his life as best that he can without, to your point from earlier, fully knowing what’s going to happen and when. I also found out while looking this up that in mid-August 2021, Selma Blair reported that she’s in remission, which I didn’t know that you could be in MS. I would love to hear you speak more about that because it ties into a lot of the things that you’re sharing in your emotional journey.
In that same vein, Christina Applegate said that she was diagnosed. It was quick. It’s like, “I’m diagnosed. Please respect me and let me process.” I wish I knew the actual numbers. I don’t have those at my fingertips. It’s not super rare. From the beginning, there are different forms of MS. For instance, Selma Blair was saying, “I’m in remission.” You can have what’s called relapsing-remitting MS, which is what I have. It means that you will have an exacerbation.
MS is when your immune system is crazy. My immune system on its own is super high. It’s so high that it’s attacking me. MS attacks the central nervous system, which is a lot of stuff. There are a lot of different things that can happen. Some people have symptoms that another person will never have. It’s unique to the individual that has it.
There’s relapsing-remitting where you’ll have an exacerbation for a month or so but then it might go away a little bit, which is one of the drawbacks of it. A lot of times, when you have relapsing-remitting, it takes a long time to get diagnosed. You could have something and you’re like, “What is that? That’s weird. I don’t know what’s going on.” For me, I had tingling. It felt like extreme pins and needles in your leg. I was like, “This is weird.”
I went to the doctor and the doctor misdiagnosed. He was like, “You’re overweight. It’s probably something in your disc in your back and whatever.” I’m like, “Okay.” It went away and I was like, “I’m all right.” It’s quiet for a little bit and then it comes back as something else. For me, it came back to my eye. I went blind in one eye and that’s when they caught it. A lot of people get diagnosed is when it’s something like that.
With that, it can go back into remission. With treatments, with a whole bunch of stuff, there’s a whole host of things that you can do. There are also progressive forms of MS to where there is no remission. It’s slowly marching towards more and more exacerbations or heavier exacerbations and things like that. There are two different forms of MS. You can but you don’t. It’s not necessarily a given that you can transfer at some point from relapsing-remitting to a progressive form. Some people do and some people don’t. There’s still so much that they don’t know.
Along those same lines, you look at me, I run and I hike every day. There’s a part of it that is an invisible disease. The classic symptoms and what everybody thinks about it is I need a cane, I’m in a wheelchair, that certainly was what I was afraid of because that’s what was told to me years ago but that’s not necessarily going to happen.
You don’t know if somebody is looking at you with both eyes. You don’t know if I can see you with both my eyes or not. I can but there are certainly times when I couldn’t have. That’s along the lines of what can happen and what different things can be affected by MS. You can see someone and you don’t see chronic pain. You would never notice that I had pins and needles or if part of my skin was numb. There are a whole lot of things that you would never see.
What’s that like to go through life with something that’s perceived as an invisible illness? Does it cause you to feel resentful, angry, misunderstood? How do you move through those emotions if and when you do experience them?You don't need creativity when you're running from a bear. Click To Tweet
That’s a great question because it’s something that I had to deal with and had to go through. I speak from the experience of MS. I’m sure other diagnoses are the same thing. Something surprising to me was I expected people to say things that weren’t sensitive or whatever. I expected that honestly from doctors or from people who don’t know but I didn’t expect it from within the MS community. I certainly got it from there, too.
There are many different types of ways the MS presents itself. There are some people that are far more progressed. There are people like me that you can’t even tell. You don’t know what’s going on with me if I don’t talk about it. It’s not that I don’t want to talk about it but it’s not part of my everyday thing. It can be interesting. If I saw the family or people who haven’t seen me for a long time, they would say, “You look so good.” I’m like, “I know what that means.” They’re saying, “How are you? You’re not in a wheelchair? That’s great.” I had to reconcile that because I would look at that and it was such a patronizing, pitying thing. I did have to reconcile that.
I write about this on my blog. This happened a while ago. I did a lot of workshops and things for the MS society. I remember at the end, I was getting my things. It was after the workshop and people were trickling out and saying, “Thank you.” One woman walked up and she goes, “Are you in any pain?” I looked at her and I was like, “No.” She looked at me and she goes, “You will be,” and then she bolted. It was like a drive-by. I do not have a good poker face so I cannot imagine what I looked like at that moment. All of a sudden, I was like, “Holy cow.”
At that point, maybe I’d had it for five years or so. This woman had it for a long time. All of a sudden, I was like, “Is that where I’m going? Am I going to gradually have more pain and go into this chronic pain territory?” I wouldn’t know that it was touching a nerve until they were said and then I was like, “What was that?” I would spiral based on where I was in my diagnosis and where I was in my journey.
I would use it as an invitation to be like, “What is this? What has this kicked off at me? Why am I afraid? Why am I feeling this way towards this person?” What other people are saying has nothing to do with me. Even the family that I haven’t seen in forever, the Southern family that’s like, “You look good.” That’s based on their own thoughts, fears, emotions and probably a certain amount of like, “I’m glad I don’t have what you have.”
I had to take an honest look and be like, “Let’s separate things out. Number one, they’re saying what they’re saying because of them. They’re not saying it based on me because they don’t know me especially these people who don’t know me.” I then have to say, “What part of that am I believing because it is touching a nerve in me because these do affect me? What is it inside of me that this is touching?” It’s through a series of that that you start to reconcile things because so much of it is, “Are things going to go off the rails at some point? Does this other person know something that I don’t know?”
In the first years of my coaching, I worked a lot with people who are newly diagnosed with multiple sclerosis or other conditions. I would hear a lot of people’s own stories with their diagnosis or somebody else would meet me and find out I had MS and be like, “My aunt died of MS.” I invited people to share their stories but it was this constant invitation to look at it like, “What is this touching within me?”
Part of it was immersing myself in working with people that have MS to the point where I took myself out of their story. I was like, “That’s not awesome to say, ‘You have this. I know someone who died of that.’” In any situation, it’s not a great thing to say. I had to get to the point where I didn’t take that on and I didn’t absorb it. I could listen to their stories, hear their pain, confusion, genuine wanting to learn and I wouldn’t make it about me, which was a freeing place to be.
I imagine. It’s wonderful that you had the tools to get to that point because it is tough. Sometimes that’s a way of people trying to connect. This is something that I’ve had to examine when I get triggered or hurt by something that someone says. Deep down, a lot of people are trying to connect and relate to one another but they don’t always have the grace to do it. If my mom says something hurtful to me, I know deep down she loves me and she means the best. She’s saying it in a way that she hasn’t realized triggers me. To your point, I have to do the work and examine why this is bothering me.
What you said also reminded me of something Jason said at the beginning when he was talking about how people perceive him. Mental health is an invisible illness too if you’re struggling with depression or anxiety. People say this to me too when I express how I struggle with anxiety or I struggle in general. It’s common for people to say, “You have everything together. You’re organized.” They list out all of these things about me that contradict what I’m expressing about experiencing internally. In a way, that can be frustrating.
You hear people also do these comparisons. It’s a classic thing that I’m learning not to do. When you express yourself to somebody and then they come back, “Me too.” They get into their story and it almost becomes a one-up thing or they’re busy telling their own story that they don’t even give you the space to finish telling yours. It’s not a collaborative conversation. It’s like each person taking turns sharing or comparing, “You don’t have it as bad as so and so.”
These insensitive things are important to talk about because it’s a great reminder to step back and examine what our agenda is in conversations, how they might be perceived, asking more questions of people before making statements could be helpful, dropping more assumptions about how someone’s feeling based on how they look and how they’re showing up. Recognize that many people are walking around with some mask that covers up how they are feeling or who they are because they feel like they have to do that socially. Jason, I’m curious how much this is resonating with you especially given what you were expressing at the beginning.
I have a similar version, Andrea, to what you expressed of being a live speaker and with me talking about my struggles with clinical depression, suicidal ideation and anxiety. A lot of the things that I’ve been dealing with, researching and all of the different modalities and life experiments that I’ve used in years of dealing with this mental health condition. At conferences, trade shows, wherever I’m speaking about this, I will have a lot of people come up wanting to share their story. I often think about this. Do they want my empathy? Do they want to connect with me on a deeper level? Are they trying to say, “I don’t have it that bad?”We don't do things because we're afraid of our own inner critic because nothing is meaner than what we say to ourselves. Click To Tweet
Whitney, it is an interesting thing when you share your struggles vulnerably with the world how people respond and react to what you’re sharing. It’s fascinating. The other thing too that I’ve had to sit with and this is a bit tangential here is wanting to support people in a responsible way and not overreaching my abilities. I’ll get emails sometimes or direct messages from people saying, “My nephew is 21 years old. He tried to commit suicide. What supplements would you recommend?” I’m like, “I don’t think that this needs to be a conversation about supplements if your 21-year-old nephew is trying to take his own life.” I’ll get messages like that sometimes.
I have to be delicate with how to connect with this human being that is scared or confused and wants to help themselves or their loved ones. Sometimes I have to tell them, “I’m not the resource for this. There’s someone who I can recommend who’s a psychotherapist, someone who is a brain doctor.” I have to tell the line sometimes in these conversations of not overreaching my abilities. People can be in dire situations and they’re terribly afraid of what to do.
For me, I still have to work on setting proper boundaries with people. Also, realizing that if I tell people I’m suicidal and depressed, that may shatter the public image of who is Jason Wrobel. I’m an angry, negative and depressed person sometimes. Whitney knows this. There are times when I’m not this happy-go-lucky guy. The internet thinks I’m this happy-go-lucky guy. I’m multitudes. I have dimensions of my personality. I’m becoming more comfortable with saying that I’m a depressed, angry person sometimes and that’s okay. I don’t have to be like, “I’m the happy guy who’s going to cheer everyone up all the time.” Even the happy guy gets down on himself a lot.
Much that you said in there is amazing. Coming to that realization, “I’m not happy all the time even though this is what people perceive me as.” Number one, it’s acceptance. When we talk about self-acceptance, it’s accepting all of you and not the pretty bits, not the bits that you feel like you need to fix but accepting it as it is right here. It might be like, “Sometimes, I get anxious, angry or ashamed.”
Loving and accepting that part of you is one of the first steps to moving between being meshed in it, believing it, not seeing it any other way and having judgments about it. That’s when we’re in that fight or flight mode. We don’t have clarity about it. We have this all-or-nothing thinking. When you start to realize, “This is a part of me. This is something that’s happening now.” I’m not saying it’s going to happen again or you’re not doing anything about it. “This is how I am right here and right now.” You’re then moving into that observer mode where it’s like, “Sometimes, this is going to be an emotion that I have, I’m going to feel this way or I’m going to have these thoughts.” That’s when you start to move.
It’s a separation that’s necessary to go into the tantrum, have that full release or move into that observer mode. It’s knowing, “This is not something that is 100% true. This is a thought that I am thinking.” That is that slow walk away from those parts of you feeling like they’re consuming you sometimes. Sometimes, it feels like that’s the only thing that’s going on in your brain and it can get frustrating when other people are like, “That’s not who you are.” You’re like, “Yeah but it is.”
We’re 50/50 with positive and negative emotions. We have all emotions. Honestly, I call them positive and negative because I know that’s how people refer to them and that’s how I refer them. They’re all emotions. They’re not necessarily positive or negative. All these vibrations that are running through our body and brain are what connect a negative or positive thought to them. Other people’s view of us has nothing to do with us at all.
Have you ever had someone tell you their impression of you and it completely floors you? You’re like, “What? Where did you even get that?” It’s almost like they’re describing a completely different person but they swear that’s how you are. In their mind, it is. How they interpret you, what they hear from you, what they see from you and the vibe that they’re picking up from you is 100% run by who they are, what they think and what they believe. It’s all about that confirmation bias. We look for stuff that confirms what we’re believing such as we’re looking for stuff that confirms how we’re feeling inside.
Going back to that woman, I’m sure she was in a bad place and hurting both emotionally and physically. My heart, 100%, goes after her especially at that moment because I haven’t talked to her since. She was reflecting to me when she was saying, “You will feel pain.” That was 100% based on her experience and what she’s going and she was reflecting that on me.
The other thing that I thought was interesting that you were talking about was how people connect with each other. Sometimes, it feels like they’re trying to one-up each other, like, “You got that. Let me tell you about my pain and my situation.” They’re like these toppers. I’m sure that through your work, you hear the difference too. There’s a nuance to how people say things even if you’ve never heard them before or you’ve never met them before and they’re coming up to you after a talk, a speech or whatever. You can tell if somebody is truly authentically connecting with you and maybe even saying something for the first time because something you have said has sparked this in them or made them understand this part of themselves.
They want to share with you because it might be a new revelation or it might be something that they’ve been internally thinking about. Now they’re voicing and they see you as a safe space. You can feel that versus someone saying something about how horrible something is and they are saying it in the same energy of, “I need to go to the store and buy some lettuce.” It’s that same thing. No matter what it is, they can say something that truly pulls at your heartstrings and you think, “Oh my gosh,” but you realize that this is probably the 100th time they’ve said it, “I’m probably the 50th person that they’ve said this to.”
That’s when you can tell that question of like, “How do I know if they are truly trying to connect with me even though they’re saying this is also my experience?” Are they talking because they want your attention and empathy? Chances are, they think you can give them something to make them feel better, feel important or whatever way that they want to feel. I’m the same way in that empathic feeling of other people’s energy, not what they say but how they deliver and the energy around it. You can tell that there’s a difference there for sure.Self-acceptance is accepting all of you as you are right now here today. Click To Tweet
This is a challenge I find in being a sensitive, empathic person. Andrea, you talked about you working on not taking on other people’s energy. In general, if we blow this out to what is happening in the world, I still am trying my best. I’m curious if you have any resources for me, for Whitney, for any of the other sensitive souls following this show. I’m thinking of several people I know who are reading this who are loving, compassionate, sensitive people.
Whether it’s working with a client, someone we know personally in our lives or observing the world. The wildfires, the climate change, the sheer amount of people, animals, plant life that is perishing, things that are happening in international affairs and the Coronavirus pandemic that changed the world. There are so many things either on a personal level or a massive global level that I feel ripped apart emotionally all of the time.
Some days, I feel like I’m able to handle those emotions better certain days. If I’m honest about it, I still struggle on a near-daily basis with managing the amount of despair, pain and suffering I see in others and taking that on. Andrea, how have you done that for yourself? What’s that process been like as an empathic, sensitive person? What do you recommend for other sensitive souls on their journey if they’re feeling overwhelmed by all of this like I am?
Every single thing that you said is well put. I was nodding, like, “Yes.” I want to preface this by saying that I do not have this all figured out. I have not arrived. There is no arriving. You try something, you see if it works, it does or it doesn’t and then you try something else. It’s a series of trying things out, experimenting and seeing because there are a lot of different things that you can use. I’ll start with what I do. What I found works for me is knowing when I need a temper tantrum. Quite often, that is when it builds and builds. It’s like, “I got to release the dam.” That does it.
You talked about resilience. There’s a lot that goes into resilience, one of which is willpower. A lot of times, we forget about willpower. Willpower should not be used for things like, “I don’t want to eat ice cream. I don’t want to eat that cake. I want to be good in my diet.” People think of willpower for that. To me, that is not the best use of willpower. Willpower is this muscle and you use it up every single day. Things like restorative sleep and good sleep can fill that tank back up for the next day of using willpower.
As we either go throughout the day and we hear more and more, towards the end of the day and even in the middle of the night is when we’re at this breaking point of like, “This is overwhelming.” It’s because that willpower is down. You use it for a lot of different things during the day. If you’re not getting good sleep, it’s not going to be filling back up so you’re not working with that full tank of willpower on a daily basis. Sometimes, it’s that your willpower has taken such a hit. Other things are going to affect you in a bigger way. When you are already keyed into a lot of this energy, not just the news but the energy of the news, it can affect you that much more.
One thing I found to temper tantrums is to make sure I am taking care of myself as much as I can. God bless them, the biohackers. For me, I need to make sure I’m eating well, I’m not eating processed foods, drinking my kombucha and trying to sleep a lot. That’s where I am. Make sure you do that as much as you can because your body needs to heal as much as it can and help you with that resilience. Resilience is not just in your mind, it’s in your body as well.
The things that have helped me, people have thoughts about it. Things like meditation have helped, anything to clear my brain. I feel like my table gets so full of different stuff. Sometimes you want to do a clean sweep and get to that point where I find that connecting with myself. I talked about it before. It’s not thinking about other people, not thinking about other things, not even thinking about the future. To me, when you’re thinking about what’s happening in the future, even if it’s about what’s happening to you in the future, you’re still deflecting away from yourself right here.
Connecting with yourself at that moment and feeling yourself as an observer. Letting yourself observe like, “I’m feeling like crap and overwhelm.” Maybe you have a good adjective for it but I feel this where I’m super tired but I’m not tired. It’s not like I’m going to go to bed but I’m physically tired and watching like, “This is how I’m feeling. My brain is a tornado.” Watching it and connecting with myself. In doing that, I also connect with my trust. Much of it is that self-trust that you have your own back. For me, connecting back with that when it comes to things like, “I don’t know what’s happening with this world.”
There was that super scary report that was like, “We’ve known this since the ‘70s. Everything is going to end in 2030.” Did you read that? It was like, “What the hell?” I had to connect back and be like, “No matter what happens, this is who I am and this is what I can handle. I know I will look after myself and not ask any more of myself.” I’m not asking for myself to be Wonder Woman. I’m not asking for anything other than, “I will take care of me. I can trust myself to make the best decisions.” That helps for those spiraling thoughts.
It almost gives me permission to let that go. I realized at that moment that I’m giving myself this impossible task and that’s part of it. It also helps to clear that energy. Even though we have these thoughts that we’re taking on or these worries about what’s going to happen in the future, what’s going on with all the other people, animals and our beautiful planet. Even with all of those worries, they’re still that energy that we take on. Bring it back home, that’s how I think about it.
It’s a breath and a release. I’m observing like, “There’s that energy. I’m feeling this angst. I’m feeling this fear. Is it mine? Is it what I anticipate someone is feeling over in Afghanistan? Am I anticipating it? Is it the pain that’s felt by animals? Is this something that I could truly own?” At that moment, it’s almost like breathing through it. That is what has worked for me. I’m not saying that’s what’s going to work for other people. There are a lot of different things like meditation and becoming that observer.When you're thinking about what's happening in the future, you're deflecting away from what's happening at the moment. Click To Tweet
I started coaching not because I wanted to become a coach but because I wanted help with this stuff. My first teacher was Martha Beck. I don’t know if you know her but she’s very much into this energy. She was exactly what I needed. That’s where I learned a lot of these tools. By that, I was like, “This helped me so much. I have to teach this.” Those are the things that have helped me. I know that various things help other people. Exercise is great. I know it sounds rudimentary but moving your body can move that energy. It’s about not getting stuck. You want to move your body through stretching, working out, dancing or however you love to work out, whatever that looks like. Moving your body is one.
Breathing and paying attention to your breath. Sometimes we hold our breath without realizing it sitting there and doing our work. Working on that. It can be working through coaching or therapy or whatever modality you need. You can work with Reiki. I have a good friend who does emotional release, which I don’t know what it is. That’s all I can tell you about it. I know that when she does it, I am super tired for the rest of the day. I know it’s something but I don’t know what it is. There’s a lot of different people and different healers that you can seek out. Know that it’s not one size fits all. It’s a matter of trying and seeing if it works for you. If it doesn’t, fine, move on and figure something else out.
That’s the thing that we try and emphasize here, Andrea, with our teachings in the show are relentless, curiosity and experimentation. There have been many practitioners, therapists, coaches and healers that I’ll go to or one of our friends or colleagues will go to and they’ll say, “I had this tremendous experience.” Perhaps I’ll try it and not have the same experience because there are so many variables in our psyche, life story, belief systems and limiting beliefs.
We’re such complex beings. One of the big keys here is when we’re facing the opportunity to address something within ourselves, understand it, heal it, accept it and acknowledge it. There are so many layers to this. I was joking with Whitney. It might have been on the show or it might have been in conversation. This is a little bit of a tangent. We’ve done many episodes at this point that I forget whether or not it was a personal conversation with Whitney or whether we addressed it on the show.
It was about people having different experiences than one another. I was thinking about when I was raving this bodyworker that I went to see who was transformative. I immediately texted Jason and I was like, “You’ve got to try this woman. She’s amazing.” It’s also an ongoing conversation we have about how some people online feel that temptation to say, “If something works for them, that’s the way and it’s going to work for everyone.” Is that what you were going to touch on, Jason?
It was something similar. It was in that vein where people are like, “You got to go see this speaker. You got to buy this book. This is the thing that is going to be the key that unlocks the whole thing for you.” In marketing, putting products out and putting out creative things, I’m mindful of trying never to phrase anything that I offer with, “This is going to fix you. This is the thing that’s going to heal you.”I'm not asking for myself to be Wonder Woman. I'm trusting myself to make the best decisions. Click To Tweet
Someone told me years ago that the responsibility or the mission of a healer or a guru is not to heal you or fix you but to show you the places within yourself that you need to love, address and understand more. They’re not going to do it for you. There’s a lot in our culture especially Western culture where we’re like, “Fix it for me. Make it go away. This is uncomfortable. Give me the pill, the course, the book or the thing.” That’s dangerous in a way.
We’re constantly evolving beings and shedding. Every seven years, on a biological level, we’re completely different on a cellular level. I think about that all the time. I’ll sit and go, “What was I doing seven years ago? I feel like a different human being. Seven years ago, I felt like a different person.” It’s like, “Biologically, you were a different person, Jason.”
With that, Andrea, I want to dig so much deeper into all of the resources you have to share. You have this wonderful podcast. You have books. You have these great blog posts. Your website is full of wonderful useful content and I want to direct everyone there. If you’re digging Andrea as much as we are, we will have all of her resources, her podcast, her books. Her website is AndreaHansonCoaching.com if you want to coach one on one with her and understand and give yourself permission to have more tantrums.
I may be pinging you after this through email, Andrea, to get a little more insight into my tantrums. Everything you shared is coming from such a place of love and allowing. I feel that and I know our readers felt that. Your presence is one of deep love and acceptance. We can feel that even though we’re on this digital screen and we’re not in the room with you. I can only imagine what it would be like in the room with you. Hopefully, we get that chance someday. We want to celebrate you, acknowledge you and thank you for being a wonderful guest and sharing many resources with us. Thank you.
Thank you so much for saying that. I was sharing earlier that I love the vibe of this show. I love that it invites this radical acceptance of ourselves. We’re messy, nuanced beings in a world that doesn’t necessarily accept messy, nuanced beings. It’s fascinating and maybe meta if you think about it. We’re surrounded by people who aren’t comfortable with that part of themselves. They’re reflecting to us that they’re not comfortable with us saying the same thing.
I love having a place where I can share about having that acceptance of yourself and that love for yourself. Something we’ve talked about is that trust. Much of what we are doing, want to do or wish to do, the entry point is how we talk to ourselves. To me, how we connect with ourselves is the door. If we’re not accepting, if we’re judging, if we’re anything, it’s going to affect everything from setting boundaries to how we’re accepting of ourselves.We're messy, nuanced beings in a world that doesn't necessarily accept messy, nuanced beings. Click To Tweet
I love that you start this show with acceptance and showing all the bits of ourselves including the ugly ones and accepting it and knowing that it’s okay. Something that I always say as a coach is that there’s nothing wrong with you. You might want to change, to do something different, you might have a goal or want to get better health but the starting point is never that you need to fix yourself or there’s something wrong or something that you have to change because you’re afraid of where it’s going to go if you don’t. The starting point is always loving, accepting and treating yourself with the utmost kindness and gentleness. That’s where everything starts.
It’s such beautiful and sagacious advice. Andrea, it’s been a godsend and a pleasure to have you here. Thanks for sharing your work, some beautiful chunks of your life story and your process with us. It’s been a pleasure.The starting point is never that you have to fix yourself. It's loving, accepting, and treating yourself with the utmost kindness. Click To Tweet
Thank you as well. I’ve enjoyed this. I love it when I get to sit down with like-minded people. It’s nice. Thank you so much for having me!
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- Andrea Hanson
- The Storm Before The Calm – Clarity Through Adult Temper Tantrums
- My Stroke of Insight
- Martha Beck
- @andreawhanson – Instagram
- Stop Carrying The Weight of Your MS
- Take Control of Your Inner Critic – The Masterclass
About Andrea Hanson
Andrea is an author of two books on mindset and chronic illness- “Live Your Life, Not Your Diagnosis”, and “Stop Carrying the Weight of Your MS”. She’s also a master certified life & mindset coach who helps people with what she calls their inner mean girl. She helps them get out of their own way and develop self-trust and confidence in pursuing their goals. Andrea has lived with multiple sclerosis for 21 years and, through her own health journey and coaching others, has seen how people’s inner critic and impostor syndrome can drastically affect their health, business, and overall happiness. It’s her mission to help people overcome their inner critic so they can feel confident in their ability to make changes and see the success they long for.
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