Hello guys. Welcome back to our podcast. I'm your host, Amanda. I’m Laura. I’m Kendra. And I want to say thank you. Some of you have already reviewed our podcast and left us messages. Please keep doing that. That helps other doctors find our podcast, and we've gotten some feedback that I wanted to share with you. You do need some background information for this one. This is from Dr. Janet Jordan, Kendra and I actually know Dr. Jordan. The information you need to know is that she's an artist and I'm going to link her website because she does incredible sculptures, but it makes sense for what she says. She has transitioned out of working in the ER, and now she works at an ortho hospital, like as a hospitalist, I guess. But anyway, it won't make sense unless I tell you that. So here's what she wrote:
“I'm sitting here at Ortho, gold leafing a baby giraffe and I just completed your first six podcasts. I feel like I've just had a long conversation with you ladies…it was so refreshing and unbelievable to learn that somebody else is feeling exactly how I have felt through the years. I sure could have used such a supportive, funny and enlightened group of friends. I love your CBT…One story. Your example of the lady with chronic abdominal pain coming back to the ER twenty times reminds me of one of my most important patient contacts through the years. It's 3:00 AM. I'm helping her lay down for the pelvic in a snippy aggravated way, no nurse there to help. I've just completed the exasperating H&P on her and in the middle of it all…she gets big tears in her eyes and says, “Dr. Jordan, why are you being so mean to me?” It stops me in my tracks. Being kind is something that is highest on my list of values…Needless to say, I got big tears, apologized, and explained how frustrating it is to know I was not going to be able to help or fix her. I love it that she called me out on it. I think I was at that time at the height of my burnout…I had lots of cognitive distortions to deal with…the beginning of seeing all patients as the same little beings with the same little problems as the rest of us…all God's children. Thanks for the podcast. You ladies are a gift to women in medicine.”
Thank you, Janet Jordan. That, like, makes my heart so happy. I am going to link to her website because her sculptures are unbelievable. You guys, we are talented and we don't even know until we free up some time to do our arts and crafts.
Thank you, Dr. Jordan. That was awesome. Yes. But please, please leave us those messages. That's encouraging to us. We'll keep going. And then we'd love to share your little stories online too. But today we are going to start a series that is very important and that is the relationships with ourselves. Today, we are going to tackle our self-talk. First up is Kendra.
So, starting with self-talk, we, by default, seemed to be on the more negative side. It is impressive how we find ourselves encouraging patients on a daily basis. If we have to break some bad news, we tend to really have that empathy and also we choose to look with more of a gracious heart. But when it comes to ourselves, oh boy, we can really have some crushing defeat in our words that we would honestly never say, even to a close friend. I know one of my close friends has been going through something and I find myself very easily encouraging her. Using words like, “We got this,” and “We are going to get through this.” And, you know, creating a sense of community. That she is not going through it alone or just encouraging her that, you know, she is amazing just like she is. But I tell you even little things like when you get out of the shower in the morning, or whenever you shower, and looking in the mirror, what do you say? When you have, you know, kids and you're a parent and you mess up like we all do, or even not mess up, but just feel the mom guilt or something. What do you say? And, you know, I think one of the things that hits home with me is the idea of humility. I received the Physician of the Year award and as lovely as that sounds it was very difficult for me to deal with, actually. The talk that I found myself saying to myself was more dismissive. And that is what I thought humility was, but there is no where in the definition of humility. As a matter of fact, I'll read you the definition of humility. It is basically not being proud or haughty, not being arrogant or assertive. It's offering a spirit of submissability or coachability. Not any of that says to be dismissive or discouraging. And that's exactly what my self-talk was, especially about that. Also knowing that I had very close friends that wanted to celebrate that accomplishment. And I actually said, “No way, we're not doing that”. That is not something I need or deserve or anything. I'm thinking that that was me being humble. Obviously, I was dismissing a very, very major accomplishment in my life. I've never received any type of award like that and it was a very incredible time to grow through very much so.
Yeah, I think our negative self-talk can be even deeper than just dismissing our accomplishments. Sometimes we're just flat out mean to ourselves and pick ourselves apart. Like, we would never talk to anyone else the way we might talk to ourselves.
Yeah. I have an example. Like, when I watch my kids running around on the beach, in their bathing suits, not having a single thought about what they look like in their bathing suits. It makes me sad for myself, the things that I say to myself in the bathing suit. It's something that I'm working on. I'm not there yet. But like, I would never say the things in my head that I say to myself. I would never, I would never say those things to a friend. In fact, I'd fight somebody that says it to a friend. So, speaking to ourselves like we speak to our friends is tip number one for repairing that relationship with our own self-talk. It's not easy for sure. Just like you said, Kendra, it's not easy. I don't know where we picked up this idea that talking ourselves up is forbidden or something, but it's not, and it's so important.
Yeah, and it doesn't mean that we're unrealistic or that we, you know, just blow off things that we should have done. But we can approach ourselves like we would any other friend and we really do need to be our own best friend because when it comes down to it, that's the only thing we're guaranteed. We're guaranteed to have ourselves.
That was a huge realization for me with coaching. It's a beautiful thing to be your own best friend. Because everyone on the planet is human, which means everyone is going to let you down at some point. But if you have your own back, that is an incredible gift that I'm not used to, I'm not used to that at all.
It's very interesting because I had this very conversation with my daughter at home when she was going through a time where she felt a very negative time with a group of friends. I sat there, you know, had the discussion and lectured her on, “You are amazing. You do not have to receive that, look at yourself, you know, be your own best friend”. Just constantly, you know, feeding into her life in a positive manner. I was almost, my goal was to dismiss or object to all the negative that she was hearing. How easy it is for us to do that as moms to our children or moms to our daughters or whatever. I was doing the very thing to myself, you know, in the background, unbeknownst to anyone of course. But you know, our mind, that's real, right? The mind is truth and that's what we think our truth is and our realism is.
Right. It's so funny how uncomfortable that feels. But now that you're talking about your child, the second point, so let's speak to ourselves like we speak to our friends. The second point is let's speak to ourselves like we would speak to a child. This is something I've never, this was a lot more sneaky. I mean, I could realize when I was saying scathing things to myself. Laura and I went to a conference and listened to a speaker, Rachel Hart, who actually is a coach on over-drinking. She gave this beautiful example. She has pictures of herself at like eight or ten years old, several of them on her desk so she can look at them. This is so much more sneaky for me. I tend to dismiss my accomplishments. But if a ten-year-old did that, say for instance, I graduated med school. I frequently am like, well, anybody can do it. You just, you know, have to use your time wisely. It's just a large amount of information that you have to memorize. It's not particularly hard. That's crazy. If I heard a 10-year-old who had done something like that accomplishment, like graduating from med school, and then was dismissing her own accomplishment. That would break my heart. So that is something, it really opened my eyes when she said that, like, I dismiss all kinds of things as if it's not that big of a deal instead of celebrating. It would be so much more fun to celebrate my accomplishments. And that's what I would want for a child. So, not only speak to yourself like you would for a friend, let's speak to how you would speak to a 10-year-old who did an accomplishment. I would celebrate the bejesus out of it. I would not let her forget it. You know what I mean? I would want her to keep that with her every day.
Right? You would never tell that little kid, even if it just was a hundred on her spelling test, you would never say, “Oh, well that wasn't that hard” or, “Oh, well, dad helped you study for it.” You would never say that.
Right. Oh, and so that's a big thing with, like imposter syndrome, they tend to dismiss their objective accomplishments, you know? Yeah. Like you know, I'm only here because I, you know, a glitch in the admissions policy or I'm only here because somebody helped me do something else. You would never want a child to say that to themselves.
No. And you would never as an adult say that to them. So, don't say it to yourself. Because in reality, we are in a way we're all kids still inside. We're all still growing. We're all still learning. And we deserve that kind of grace and compassion and love.
Right. And expecting somebody else to do that for us is expecting a human being to know what we need. We know best the messages that we need to hear for ourselves. It's just so strange that we tend not to, we tend to be our own worst enemy sometimes. But man, what a difference if we were our own best friend and cheered ourselves along like we would a child or a best friend. Like, what could you accomplish? I don't even know.
Well, there's no limits, is the answer to that. You can accomplish anything that you put your mind to. And so often our voices in our heads may be coming from adults talking to us as kids. Yeah. My parents were not perfect, but I will say that they were very good at telling me often and all the time that I could do anything I put my mind to. And so that is one of my inner voices that I have now and I'm very grateful for that. But if we don't have a good parental voice in our head, or we have developed a negative one of our own, we can create the voice that we need.
Do you know what too though? Is that not only what they say, but how they speak to themselves teaches your children? So,like, my mom was always very, very encouraging, but she was not encouraging to herself at all. And I do think that I picked some of that up. Like, you learn by example much more so, you know, than what somebody says sometimes. So that's just something to, if you had needed a reason to start hyping yourself up, do it for everyone else that you impact. So that they can also do that for themselves.
Yes. That is, that is exactly right. Our kids do and they see us, they see how we talk to ourselves. They see, they see the belief or non-belief we have in our own ability.
Right. And it just falls flat sometimes when it's words and you won't do it for yourself.
Yeah. You're exactly right. And I did see my parents play that out there. They overcame very, very difficult circumstances to do a lot of amazing things. And so that's probably why I believed them when they said that because they believed it themselves.
Yeah. I love it. So how do we change this?
Okay. So the last little point we're going to talk about here is how do we stop saying horrible things to ourselves? There are so many different approaches that we can take and you will be able to find your own best way. The first step is to recognize them. The first step is to get outside of our brain and look down and observe our thoughts. When something is being offered up by our brains that is not helpful to us, our brain is saying something like, “You can't do that,” or “That's too hard,” or “Why don't you just go lay on the couch and watch Netflix”. When your brain is offering you destructive information, recognizing it and just saying, “Brain, I hear you. I see what you're trying to do, but no, thank you.” Or even just, I'm not thinking about that right now. Or, I understand where you're coming from, brain, but that's not where we're going. Just being able to recognize it and talk back to your brain as if, and it may be helpful for you to think of another person in your head as a child and say that, you know, I can understand why you want to think that, but here's the truth about yourself is that you can overcome this. The truth is you don't need to watch Netflix for five hours today. That will not make you happy. So a lot of times that is all it takes. It's just being able to recognize and address those thoughts in a way that you would address a child. Now, sometimes we'll have a thought that creates so much self doubt in us that it's hard to overcome it and hard to fight that thought. And that's where developing curiosity is super helpful. So, instead of judging ourselves for not doing something we said we were going to do. Instead of getting, just get curious. So why, why am I responding this way? What is the, what is the motivation? Why is my brain trying to do this to me? And the reality is that everything we do, we do because it makes us feel a certain way. We do, we are driven by wanting to feel certain ways. And so we have to unfortunately endure some unpleasant feelings to get to wherever we want. Any kind of goal that we set is going to involve stepping across some unpleasant feelings. Sometimes our brain is just trying to help us avoid unpleasant feelings. So if we can identify that and get curious about it and then have compassion for ourselves when that's all that's happening. Then we can make progress. But if we are always spiraling in a vortex of negative thoughts about ourselves that are creating negative emotions for ourselves, we really do just get stuck. And so this is super important for us to nurture this relationship with ourselves.
Yeah. It may very well be that, for the rest of my life, every time I get out of the shower, my automatic thought might not be that complimentary. However, I'm not criticizing my brain for offering it up. It's a habit. It's okay. Nothing has gone wrong. And, I'm going to choose a new thought. One that's much more encouraging, one that has a lot more compassion for the one and only body I get on this planet. It's healthy and it gets me around and I'm not going to be berating that or myself anymore. Such, such a healthier practice.
Yes. And the good news is that our brains, while we may have established patterns of talking unkindly to ourselves and we have developed those neural loops that make it almost a reflex that we're doing. Our brains are plastic and meaning they can change. So, as we intentionally exercise that muscle of our brain to create a new neural pathway to intentionally find things that are good to say about ourselves and replace those negative comments that can become our default. That we may still have the negative ones pop in periodically, but we can definitely strengthen those positive thoughts and make them more natural by practicing them. So even just, you know, saying them several times a day or putting little post-it notes to yourself on your mirror that say kind things about yourself or set reminders on your phone that will pop up an affirmation for you. All of those things will help train your brain to get out of that pattern of negative thinking.
I like Mel Robbins' book, “The High Five Habit”, where she just, every morning when she is brushing her teeth she literally gives herself a high five in the mirror to get out of the negative self-talk and into the positive. I think, I think some people feel like if you hype yourself up too much, like maybe you'll just settle. I don't know. I'm sure we feel like it's useful to speak negatively to ourselves. We probably think that that's how we've gotten to where we are. It's a mistake though. Positive reinforcement is far more motivating. It's why it works for dog training. It's motivating.
Yes. That makes me think of so many things, but I love that book as well. And I love the image of the high five. Because you cannot, she says you cannot have a negative thought while you're giving someone a high five. And it's true because the high five, we just associate it with just sheer awesomeness. It's always associated with something excellent happening. So, when we give, we give ourselves a high five, we are feeling positively about ourselves. And I was thinking too about that, “What Shamu Taught Me About Marriage” article? Are you familiar with that one? Oh, I think, didn’t you post something on social media about it once?
Yes. Yes. We will have to talk about that one another time too. When you talk about dog training, talking about training animals, and obviously there's a whole bunch of controversy about that and I think all the orcas need to be free. But just to illustrate, it is done with positive, positive reinforcement, not punishment. Punishment is not as effective as positive reinforcement. So that's what we need to do. We need to cheer ourselves on. We need to give ourselves positive reinforcement and even, even a little thing that you do that may have been a little hard for you. Tell yourself, “Good job!”
Celebrate it. I know my own work is if somebody gives me a compliment, I'm going to start owning it. I'm owning it from now on like, let's just do this for each other. Let's make it, let's make it the thing.
Yes, yes. And just say, thank you. Thank you. I worked really hard on that and I'm happy with the way it turned out. We can just do that.
Alright so wrapping up, we want to speak to ourselves, encourage ourselves in the same way that we encourage our friends. We want to speak about ourselves, not dismiss things. If it wouldn't be appropriate to dismiss it for a child, we're not going to dismiss it for ourselves. And then some tips on how to change it.
So, gosh, we have had such a great conversation today. We have identified maybe some old habits of the negative self-talk, but we are going forward with more positive and encouraging and uplifting. We're going to give ourselves a high five. We're going to do all the things to celebrate our awesomeness. And we think that y'all are awesome. We think you're amazing and brilliant and have so much to offer to medicine. So you can start there if you need ideas, or if you need a starter, there you go. I just gave it to you. So, until next time, you are whole, you are a gift to medicine and the work you do matters.