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Insecurity Episode 9


· 57:50


[00:00:00] Mark: I had a conversation yesterday with, uh, with a lady in a dating context, and she said, and I, I, I will censor some of this, but she was very concerned or expressed concern that I might not want to be seen with her because of aspects of her physical appearance. And that felt apt for today's discussion, which is going to be a little bit on the chunky side.

[00:00:40] Anya: Yes. I, I don't wanna stay, say, strap yourself in, folks, but, but we are gonna be talking about I for insecurity,


[00:00:51] Mark: Welcome to the ETAs ed of happiness. With Anya Pearse and me. Mark Steadman. Join us as we unpack the science of happiness, one letter at a time. This week it's I for insecurity.

[00:01:06] Anya: I found it. Pretty hard to encounter someone who doesn't experience this on some level, in some part of their life, whether it's about our appearance, our successfulness successfulness a thing.

[00:01:23] Anya: No success. Oh, success . Yeah. So it, it's a thing now. I've decreed it. I, I have no insecurity about making new words, obviously. But yeah, it's something which, you know, I talk about in, you know, in in act or we talk about, in act of, you know, wanting to defend ourselves from certain things. And I think, you know, wanting to defend ourselves from feelings of insecurity, you know, that's, that that's a big part of being human.

[00:01:52] Anya: That's a big chunk of energy taken for many of us. And, um, It's something which I've actually been battling with myself for the last few weeks, stroke months. Particularly the last, the last week. I, there's a joke that Vicky at the Museum of Happiness talks about whenever she has to give her a talk on a subject, the universe really tests her.

[00:02:15] Anya: The universe really says, okay, so you think you know about equanimity or peace of mind, or mindfulness or gratitude. Let's, let's fuck everything up right now so that you are taken to, you know, like the edge. Yeah. We're gonna do like the road runner, um, thing of you go beyond the edge, Wiley Coyote style.

[00:02:37] Mark: are gonna long for the edge.

[00:02:38] Anya: You're gonna be, yeah.

[00:02:39] Mark: is gonna be a distant memory that you will yearn for.

[00:02:44] Anya: Oh, do you remember the edge mark? It was so nice. It was so comfy.

[00:02:47] Mark: such a lovely sense of boundaries and, and limitations.

[00:02:52] Anya: I know. Oh, those days. And yeah, so she will be, yeah, the universe will, will come up with things and go, okay, so you've done the study. Let's now do the practical. And I have been failing the practical on this, like a absolute trooper And the only reason that I can be, I can have some kind of levity now is one good fats like your good self, um, who have, have given me space to process things this week.

[00:03:23] Anya: But also one of the resources I'll be talking about later on in the podcast I have discovered. To both my , it was one of those things like the home in Simpson Face, palming. I've been like, I know this shit, and yet I have still been doing this shit. And, and so yeah, I, this is of insecurity is a very live topic for me, and I think it's really interesting that you pick up on, you know, your, your, your opening piece is about, you know, in a dating context, you know, someone doubting that they, that, that you would want to be seen out with them.

[00:04:08] Anya: You know, I'm lucky in that respect in that the person who I'm seeing has offered just, just last weekend to take me outta my wheelchair.

[00:04:19] Mark: Which is, which is I, I imagine, um, pimped out and uh, and you know,

[00:04:25] Anya: sad

[00:04:26] Mark: bedazzled or whatever

[00:04:28] Anya: It's, it's, it's not, it's not because it, it, cuz one of the, the downside of a wheelchair, of a manual wheelchair if you don't have much op upper body strength is you actually need someone to push you. . And so it doesn't get an awful lot of use. If it did, then I'd be out all the time, you know, and then

[00:04:44] Mark: be blinged to high heaven

[00:04:46] Anya: oh,

[00:04:47] Mark: or Blu perhaps.

[00:04:48] Anya: Well, well, I mean, you can already hear me from quite a distance. You'll do it then, but also be able to see me love

[00:04:54] Mark: Listeners will not be surprised. There it

[00:04:58] Anya: There it is. . Yeah, it, it's, it is a cross between Sid James and Dynamo. Um, and, and by which, I mean, not the magician, I mean the thing, the clothes, I mean the one that clears your drains. Um, but, but yeah, you know, being in my wheelchair is, can be, you know, particularly in the kind of dating context is a really vulnerable thing for me now.

[00:05:21] Anya: I was sharing with this person that, you know, in my last long-term relationship, my very long, long-term relationship I could feel the difference. When a friend pushed me and when he pushed me, when a friend pushed me, we went to see something, uh, at Cover Garden in, in, in London, and the friend was being very careful to navigate the cobble stones. Whereas my partner at the time, who was somewhat resentful, I think, of my illness and the impact it had on his life pushed me like I was, uh, a soon to be abandoned shopping trolley. And so, you know, having an insecurity about other people, you know, in a dating context wanting to be seen out with me, you know, even when I'm not in the wheelchair, I still have a walking stick, which.

[00:06:18] Anya: Not common , you know, we tend to associate it with people of a certain age and hey, you know, I'm let my hair go gray. I'm, I'm fitting in beautifully, but if these all things really do trigger my insecurity, you know, which is, you know, an, an uncertainty of anxiety about oneself, one's self, a lack of confidence

[00:06:42] Mark: good definition. How is it, um, how has it been manifesting for you?

[00:06:47] Mark: Because for me, I, I, you know, it's a, it's a, it's a, it's an embodied pit of the stomach kind of feeling a lot of the time, or it's a, uh, an inability to, sometimes it's even the inability to communicate that particular insecurity sort of is, is, is bundled up in it as well. But you know, there could be all sorts of ways that, I guess, insecurity shows up in.

[00:07:10] Mark: in ourselves. Our bodies are yeah. In our minds.

[00:07:13] Anya: and our behaviors. Yeah. I mean, for, yeah, for me, there've been kind of, I would say three main things. One of them is, uh, insomnia. You know, not being able to sleep well at night. Um, I've noticed that my, yeah, the, the amount of sleep I'm getting has been reduced and plus, you know, I am a woman of a certain age

[00:07:38] Anya: It's like, okay, so is it perimenopause, actual menopause, hot flash, just regular hormones, insecurity, , you know, it's like,

[00:07:47] Mark: the wheel.

[00:07:48] Anya: I, I know also I have chronic fatigue. You know, it's kind of like, it's like just I, no, no, no, no. It's, it's who, who, who knows. It's like may, maybe it's all of them. Maybe it's, maybe it's f all of the above.

[00:08:00] Anya: And I could like to quite tell all the above to F off , Hey there's, and there's also rumination, you know, and this is what's fueling the insomnia. You know, having conversations with people in my head analyzing processing being hit by parallels with past events and experiences. Which, you know, with, you know, the mind are designed to keep us safe, not make us happy.

[00:08:29] Anya: So my mind has been heading, you know, the, the, the negativity bias. , you know, you know, this is, this is confirmed, you know, the rumination is confirming all of the previous negative thoughts and, and fears and beliefs I've had about myself. And then actually you said, you know, you're talking about, you know, you feel it in the pit of your stomach.

[00:08:50] Anya: My digestion has been shocked a bit,

[00:08:52] Mark: Mm-hmm.

[00:08:53] Anya: And yeah, I mean, at, at, at the moment it's quite good. Cause I got quite a nice flat stomach, after, you know, but

[00:09:01] Mark: Christmas.

[00:09:02] Anya: yeah, yeah. But I, I, I, I, I'd quite like to not feel sick and, and nauseous, you know, a, a lot of the time. And, and actually, you know, it was really interesting, you know, last, last weekend I had a day where the insecurity, the, the, the ruminative thoughts and the lack of sleep absolutely.

[00:09:27] Anya: Nobbled me until I was kind of like doubled over in pain and died, you know, in stomach pains. And it was all, and I, and I was very aware that I was, I was amplifying it, um, which I'll talk about, you know, later on. And yeah, so insecurity, we think it's quite ah, you know, maybe like a heady thing, but it's, it's, it's, it grips us, it grips a whole nervous system.

[00:09:55] Anya: You know, because there's, you know, there's, there's no. Exact reason or cause for insecurity. You know, for some of us it comes from a traumatic event. Other people, you know, might be a crisis such as losing a job or a relationship or a loss. And you know, we are, and we are loss averse. You know, even if I'm not losing something in the moment, the prospect of losing something can have this very bodily effect.

[00:10:24] Anya: You know, and I always, you know, and this maybe even like our environment or our circumstances, you know, I think for a lot of people, financial insecurity, you know, being precarious financially, you know, that can be such a huge source of anxiety about oneself and a lack of confidence. And I often, you know, one of the few things I say as a quote, which I think is actually mine , is that uncertainty is the wellspring of anxiety.

[00:10:56] Anya: You know, and I think, you know, f.

[00:10:58] Mark: trademark, trademark.

[00:10:59] Anya: Treat my take mark. Yes. And you know, this, having this anxiety about one's self inferring, one's self worth from the experiences or the container that you're in at the time, you know, it's, it's, it's hardly surprising that, yeah, we feel anxious, insecure, and lacking in self-belief.

[00:11:29] Mark: I've done a little bit of work over the, uh, last couple of months that has involved talking about attachment styles,

[00:11:40] Anya: Mm-hmm.

[00:11:40] Mark: and that feels like, uh, something we could, we could dig into because it, I think in some ways it's, if you know, I guess if anyone's done any, any therapy this is something that can often come up quite early on because it's, it feels really fundamental to your sense of self.

[00:11:59] Mark: I, I guess,

[00:12:01] Anya: Yeah, absolutely. I am, you know, quite a fan of, or becoming a fan of something called Nam Neuro Effective Relational Model. Well, basically it's, it's bringing like a whole bunch of things together and going Yeah. Attachment that thing's important, , um, cuz we have like wounds at certain stages of childhood.

[00:12:24] Anya: And, you know, research suggests off the top of my head that, you know, even in things like treating addiction, actually without having a secure sense of attachment first, a lot of things. Aren't going to stick. And so, yeah, I'll, I'll do a very quick overview of attachment styles and most people talk of them being three, but there is a fourth one, which I do want to mention as well.

[00:12:54] Anya: And so the obvious one, the one we all would, we tend to aspire to be, and, you know, bearing in mind that you can have a little bit of all of these, it's not yours, they're just one or the other. And, you know, they can be quite responsive and they can change over time. But the secure one, you know, this is where you have a fundamental sense that you are okay, you are lovable, you are enough.

[00:13:19] Anya: Um, you had tend to have good enough parenting and good enough mirroring of your experience and your emotions so that you didn't have to make the choice of detaching from yourself to connect to your, your caregiver, your parents, so that they would stay so that you would stay, stay safe and they would still love you.

[00:13:39] Anya: You have a general, kind of like a healthy sense of entitlement to people being okay with you. You are not anticipating rejection or anger or threat. There's a general sense of safety, I think, in the world and with other people. And I think around if, if, if my memory serves around 50% of the population have a stable, secure, or secure enough attachment style but if your parents weren't attentive, if you didn't receive the level of modeling that you need, and some of us, you know, we all have different nervous systems.

[00:14:24] Anya: Some of us are dandelions. We will thrive no matter what environment we're in. You know, we can take neglect. We have a nervous system, which will just brush it off. You know, some of us are orchids and I'm, and I'm one of them, you know, my nervous system is very responsive. We can, I know I'm very good at responding very positively to positive things, you know, give me a bit of sunshine, a little bit of water, and I will blossom.

[00:14:51] Anya: But I also am more likely to be negatively impacted by, quote unquote, bad things, difficult things, painful things. And so, you know, we can go one of two ways. We can either be anxious and preoccupied, which is wanting, you know, not getting, when we don't get the attention that we require to feel good about ourselves.

[00:15:14] Anya: We become very focused on getting it, we become very aware of its absence and we will want to reach out. I, I, I've read a lovely thing ages ago about talking about, you know, in a relationship dynamics between like a fern and a cactus. A fern is like, you think a fern leaves like curling, uh, reaching out, constantly wanting to reach out for that reassurance that one is lovable and being, being preoccupied by receiving it.

[00:15:44] Anya: But of course, the opposite of that fern is actually a cactus . And that can be someone who's avoidant and maybe even dismissive. You know, someone who wants to pull away, be an island to ignore requests for connection. And this is a really interesting thing. This is all based on, obviously, you know, originally John Bobbi's work.

[00:16:11] Anya: and doing in the stranger test experiment, you know, where a caregiver would leave the room and a secured child to be kinda like, check where they was. We'll still, or we'll start, start to do things. But can I always be wanting to know the safety part is knowing that the anchor is there, knowing that the safe person is there.

[00:16:29] Anya: Whereas an anxious child would be become very agitated if the caregiver left, you know, would cry sob clinging and their on their return and an avoidant dismissive one would appear to have, it would make any difference if their caregiver was there or not. But the interesting thing was if he monitored their nervous system, their physiological response, they were as activated as the child who was crying and sobbing and clinging.

[00:16:57] Anya: They had just shut down the obvious communication of it because it either wasn't safe or. There was an assumption already at that small age that there's no point in communicating my distress. It will not be met. And so, you know, I've mentioned, you know, so we've got secure, which is okay, the world is safe, we've got insecure, which is, the world isn't safe. Please reassure me. We've got the avoidance, which is the world isn't safe, so I'm not engaging with it.

[00:17:30] Anya: But then we also have this fourth one, which particularly comes in, in for people who have experiences of trauma. And unfortunately a lot of people's trauma experience before the age of 16 is from a family member or someone who they love and trust. And so we end up with a disorganized attachment. , and this is the one which always breaks my heart because the desire there is to be comforted by the person who is causing you pain.

[00:18:03] Anya: And it can be ex and very conflicting, very you know, this, this is why it's called disorganized. You know, there will be times when the person will be very preoccupied and even if they do receive the care that they require, that, that they need, that they're seeking will then become avoidant because it's actually too frightening to receive it.

[00:18:31] Anya: I think I've spoken to you before about, you know, trauma survivors being actually afraid of people who were smiling, you know, and trying to help them because their abusers were smiling and caring and friendly when they assaulted them. And so, you know, it depends on what kind of associations we have. . But yeah, there's, it's, and then we all have, you know, elements of all of these, depending on our upbringing, depending on our response to our upbringing, you know, people can do their absolute best and we can still carry through, you know, ancestral trauma.

[00:19:10] Anya: You know, my, my maternal line is Chinese and you know, I was reading, um, young Chang's Wild Swans, you know, this time last year as my mother was dying. And the way family families treat each other in, in China is freaking ridiculous.

[00:19:33] Anya: you know, and I was reading it and kind of going, you know, this is kind of comparable in, in age to my grandmother's generations, you know? And so there's always gonna be, uh, We are doing the best we can, not only with the thinking that we're experiencing, but also with the genetic predisposition that we inherited when we came onto this earth.

[00:20:03] Anya: And it's, you know, unsurprising really that, you know, we experience at least one of these kinds of types of failure, you know, or, or types of insecurity being attuned to a recent failure or failure or rejection. You know, because new experiences reignite all negative beliefs about our self-worth. You know, this is what I've been going through.

[00:20:29] Anya: having something which is reigniting my insecurities about being enough, being lovable. Being a burden, which as, as someone with a disability is very li still is always very live for me, it's very rare, I'm actually able to say that word now without bursting into tears. Or we can have social anxiety, you know, that kind of insecurity, which is very much about comparing ourselves to others and finding ourselves lacking.

[00:20:57] Anya: And we spoke about the fear of not belonging in our, in our second episode. You know, and, you know, I can feel very insecure at times that I'm, that I'm, that I'm not important to people, you know, that I'm, that I'm not interesting enough. For people. I, I remember talking about this with a friend years ago, , and he said to me, you're one of the most interesting people I know.

[00:21:25] Anya: And I was like, I, like, I don't do anything.

[00:21:35] Anya: Interestingly, dude, this makes no fucking sense. But, you know, feeling not important. You know, again, that is a huge one that I've been going through recently and it's, you know, and I can trace this exactly back to my childhood if I want, where, you know, I had, but two, I grew up in a household, not a family.

[00:21:54] Anya: I had two parents who were both so caught up in their own mental health issues that they didn't notice mine, you know? And so not feeling important is a huge trigger for me for, for feeling an, uh, insecure. And then of course, you know, I would like to get shit right.

[00:22:14] Mark: Hmm.

[00:22:15] Anya: You know, the level of perfectionism that we can have, which is, you know, this idea of conditional self worth.

[00:22:23] Anya: I am worthy of the things that I need and want if,

[00:22:30] Mark: Mm-hmm.

[00:22:30] Anya: I do this, if I achieve that, if I get this or that. Right. And this whole thing with perfectionism, you know, some of it can be in particular, and I've spotted this in a couple of my friends, you know, if, if their parents have pushed them excessively in childhood and that was the only way to get validation is through good grades, is through being the, the perfect model student.

[00:22:57] Anya: And, you know, subsuming all, you know, one's personality basically. Um, in the effort to be that which others will accept and you'd hope, love, but if that's what they love rather than the real you, that's an incredibly lonely place to be.

[00:23:21] Mark: So we, uh, well say we, um, you have, uh, lovingly prepared as you do three prompts for us. And the first is, what are you feeling insecure about?

[00:23:38] Anya: Yeah. And I'm gonna be really nice and say, you don't have to answer that. Mark

[00:23:48] Anya: Um,

[00:23:48] Mark: haven't got all day Anya.

[00:23:52] Anya: I know I've been trying to work out whether this podcast is for my therapy or yours. It's just like, like, like mutual, like, uh, a peer support group. Um, pretty much. But you know, what I really want to state with this is I would imagine if you just heard that question, your heart is just dropped into your stomach , because as you say, you know, the thing is when you're feeling insecure about something, we're insecure about telling people that are insecure about it because that might trigger further rejection.

[00:24:23] Anya: That might, we might have those fears confirmed. You know, I don't want to ask the question because I don't want to know the answer. I would rather fear the answer than know the answer.

[00:24:39] Mark: Yes. And speaking, flipping that, uh, point, pointing the camera in the opposite direction, I also know as someone who has, you know, who might have conversations with someone who has insecurities, how can I put this? I'm, I, I'm a bad liar in social situations. I'm not very good at saying, you know, I'm not mean.

[00:25:11] Mark: You, you know that, but like, I'm not very good at the default response of, you know, someone says I look fat or whatever. I'm certainly not gonna go. Yeah, you do. But I'm much more inclined to be silent than I am to, to,

[00:25:33] Anya: outright lie

[00:25:34] Mark: to out, to, to the, the default thing, which so many people do very naturally just go, no, you are not. If I honestly think that I will say, and I will say it with the incredulity that it, that it warrants,

[00:25:47] Anya: Yeah. This, this is why I'm looking forward to going dress shopping with you, darling, because I know I'll try something on and, and if I do think I look fat in something, you'll go, no, you fucking don't. You idiot.

[00:25:56] Mark: Yeah. If I do, I'll just go, ah,

[00:26:01] Anya: Yeah. And, and, and then I'll go, yeah, you're right. It does look like a maternity stock. I'll put it back on the rack bait. It's fine.

[00:26:07] Mark: So yeah, it's, it's, it's one of those things, it's like, and, and it, and it isn't because I want that other person to feel bad. It's because I can't, I, I feel like I can't do that convincingly and therefore it's just going to signpost, You know what I mean? It's, yeah. So, uh, yeah, speaking from the other side of that, as someone who has insecurities and fears, the, the confirmation of those insecurities, but it's also the kind of person who can confirm the insecurities.

[00:26:38] Anya: God is like a, like, like, uh, a clip from inception at the moment.

[00:26:42] Mark: I was gonna say I'm like an Mc Escher painting, but in human form.

[00:26:46] Anya: yeah, absolutely. Um, and I'm sure it won't be the last. So yeah, we all have things that anxious about and so, you know, I, I I mention a lot about common humanity, you know, a key pillar of self-compassion.

[00:27:01] Anya: And I think it is, you know, I will mention this again towards the end, but, you know, just taking a moment to just recognize that this is suffering. You know, this is, this is painful to feel that, that the we're not worthy of love and care and affection. That we are not worthy of the things that we want, need, desire, crave this, this hurts.

[00:27:32] Anya: And we can meet that, that insecurity, that pain with some. Some presence and just even just noticing it in ourselves. You know, I think this has been the big thing for me is just going, oof. Yeah, I'm, I'm going through it right now. This, I'm going through something. This is tough. And then just trying to, you know, work out what's the kindest thing I can do for myself in and this week, you know, to give a very, you know, give an example.

[00:28:07] Anya: I actually reached out to you and a, and another mutual friend. I mean, it turned out to be a really long emotional session, but it was originally conceived to be just half an hour to help me open some envelopes, like literal, physical post things, because I hadn't had the, the confidence to do that. And knowing, I know the, and the kindest thing I could do for myself at the time was to reframe it rather than as adulting and.

[00:28:36] Anya: Not being able to do that. Reframing it as self-care made me go, oh, if it's an act of self-care, what, how can I, how can I make this easier for myself? What can I do? And actually, no, reaching out to others was really helpful. But I would love to take you on a little exercise from acceptance and commitment training

[00:29:00] Mark: I would like to do that, but before we. I would just like to tell you about Squarespace. No. Before we do, I, something, something that you, that you said triggered a conversation I had with, with my, uh, therapist last week, which was, he said, cuz we've talking about self-compassion and yeah, it's great and all, but he, and he sort of just tossed this off and just said, yeah, but sometimes I get bored of my own self-compassion.

[00:29:36] Anya: Mm.

[00:29:36] Mark: And I thought that was worth, that was a scab that was worth picking at if you pardon the, the imagery. But I, I think it's worth something that we can, that we can sort of get into that because I think as, as much as I, that the Kristin Neff book, self-Compassion. Changed my thinking on a lot of things, and it's a book that I've sent to other people because I think it, it's really powerful. What do you do in those moments where you just go, yeah, fine , but you know, I, you know, may, maybe it's not in the tank, or maybe you don't, maybe it's not resonating.

[00:30:14] Anya: The line that comes to my mind is from Lambdas. We are all walking each other home.

[00:30:20] Mark: Hmm

[00:30:21] Anya: Um, I'm still trying to find the piece of research which backs this up, but. Someone on a webinar as attending, said that there are three ways that we can regulate our nervous system. The hardest one is to regulate ourselves, and that's what you're doing with self-compassion.

[00:30:40] Anya: You know, it takes a certain amount of presence really, of, of being able to regulate oneself, to be able to access even that thinking. You know, I've, I've been suffering for, you know, acutely for the last week or so, but less acutely for, for, you know, a few weeks now within security. And it wasn't until I managed to get to a certain point where I was able to actually, for preparing for this podcast, I picked up a couple of books and went, oh, okay, I'm doing that thing. Which means that I'm able to talk about, I've been able to talk about this, this, this topic and what has been going on for me, albeit, you know, obliquely without crying. I brought, I even brought like the, the, the, the bulk box of tissues over beside me. I always have like a small fancy box near my ti my laptop, but I brought over the

[00:31:30] Mark: those are for crying on

[00:31:31] Anya: There's a

[00:31:32] Mark: got the, then you've got the the Poundland specials that are for crying off camera.

[00:31:36] Anya: Absolutely, absolutely. You know, one another way of regulating our nervous system is going out into nature. You know, there is something we are designed to respond to the natural environment. It's, you know, be it the, the, the phytochemicals, be it the bird song, you know, which actually says, you know, if there's a variety of birds, gives you a, uh, an ancient sense that where you are is safe because they're not.

[00:32:08] Anya: Not afraid of predators. You know, the, the, the soothing effects of the colors on, you know, on the brain.

[00:32:16] Mark: Might I say the babbling of a brook

[00:32:18] Anya: oh God, you gotta love a book, a book that babbles.

[00:32:23] Mark: Yeah.

[00:32:23] Anya: and then, and one of the most effective ways is to be regulated by someone else, is to be in the company of someone whose nervous system you can piggyback on.

[00:32:38] Anya: This actually happened to me at the weekend. I, you know, if, if you've heard my, you know, well you've heard my trailer Mark and you, you are the one who put it together and, you know, you used a very striking excerpt to, to launch it with where I talk about, you know, sobbing with despair in the shower. . And yeah, the despair took me out of the knees On Sunday night, I actually collapsed in, in my kitchen and luckily I actually had someone with me whose nervous system was calm in that situation, who has seen me have physical difficulties before.

[00:33:22] Anya: And so, yeah, wasn't phased by it. And being regulated just enough by him meant that I could remember things like the havening technique. I asked him to stroke down my upper arms, you know, just slowly, which changed my brainwaves. It actually stopped me from howling. I was, you know, I wasn't even like, you know, I wasn't like pretty crying.

[00:33:46] Anya: I, it was like, um, almost a primordial prim. Kind of anguish that was being emitted from me, but actually being able to be regulated by this person enough so that I could just go, okay, there's this thing that helps. Can you just do that? And then getting enough regulation from that and going, ah, there's this thing.

[00:34:10] Anya: Can you do that? You know, this is, we are a social species. We are designed to be in connection with each other, to influence each other, to impact each other's biology in a myriad of ways, but in particular in the ways of caring, of soothing, of returning us to homeostasis. And I think, you know, that's no wonder, and I get very bored of my self-compassion too, because if it's the only compassion you're receiving on a regular basis, Your biology.

[00:34:54] Anya: My biology isn't designed for that.

[00:34:56] Mark: Yeah, it's like, it's like chewing the curd. It's like it's already pre-digested, you know, you just, you're just sort of, you're not getting any new nutrients cuz it's already been used up.

[00:35:06] Anya: Well, yeah, but actually I'm thinking it's actually goes back to the attachment stuff because part of it is about having your experience mirrored by others, you know, and being that small child, and actually, no, we all, you know, the cliche we haven't in a child, you know, but we still, there is still an aspect of us that is always gonna be young and that needs, that needs people to mirror back to us our experience so that we understand our experience better.

[00:35:34] Mark: So with that then exercise me.

[00:35:38] Anya: Oh, of course. So, if it is possible to do so, grab a pen and a piece of paper on which you can write on both sides.

[00:35:47] Mark: Uh, remember if you are driving, um, then, uh, simply use your knees to steer. I've, I'm doing this. This is becoming a thing now of giving intentionally bad advice to drivers in podcasts that I do. It's becoming a meme for me.

[00:36:05] Anya: Well, I actually do know someone who listens to the podcast driving to and from work. So if you're, yeah, if you, yeah. So this is this Excellent, uh, excellent advice.

[00:36:14] Mark: Mm-hmm.

[00:36:16] Anya: Mm. And so, and I'm gonna, for, for brevity's sake, I'm gonna keep it to five. But

[00:36:27] Anya: when you think about feeling insecure, when I think about feeling insecure, there are certain phases which keep coming up. Things, things that I feel insecure about, you know? Yeah, I'm getting old, I'm getting fat. I'm a loser. I'm not good enough, et cetera, et cetera, on

[00:36:45] Mark: Would you stop reading my diary?

[00:36:51] Anya: Well, you shouldn't leave it open for everyone to look at. Um, . And so for the purpose of this exercise, just right, mark is literally picking up his diary and looking at it and giving me a face, um, . But that's the thing. You know, we all have these things, you know, I'm, you know, I'm not a good enough partner.

[00:37:11] Anya: I'm not a good enough parent. I'm not a good enough, you know, son or daughter, whatever it is, you know. I can't make it. I'm too old. I'm too young. You know, we all have all of these things. Just write down five of them. Like I say, for brevity's sake. Now, and I'm actually going to be really you, you don't have to read yours out, mark, but I'm actually gonna read mine out as I write them so that, uh, it's cuz cuz otherwise it's gonna make really dull radio while it's like we go silent.

[00:37:41] Anya: I'll be like And so I'm gonna write down for this. I am, I'm a failure. Um, I'm gonna write down I am not good enough. I am, uh, uh, crap at this. Um, I am not lovable and this is the one which even as I'm, I, I've written this down a few times, so, which is why I'm laughing. It's kinda like I'm going to die.

[00:38:26] Anya: Alone. Um, so pretty much so, you know, and if you have a piece of paper, I'm sure that you'll have lots of other things. O obviously, you know, I'm trying to tread the fine line. The, these are things that I do think about myself. There are other things as well, which is why I've kept it to a list of five, um, for the purposes of this exercise.

[00:38:54] Anya: And I'm just waiting for Mark to give me the thumbs up when he has completed. It's like, dude, I said far, well, four, do we don't have to go five. It's far. Like just, you know, and if you're listening to this, if you can only come up with one or two, that's great. If you need like an extra piece of larger piece of paper so you can write 40 things down, Thich and go for it.

[00:39:16] Anya: You know, this is, this is your time. So, and I know when I'm looking at this list, I, I, I know I'm a failure. I'm not good enough. I'm crap at this. I'm not lovable, and I'm gonna die alone.

[00:39:31] Anya: I feel a bit shit, actually reading that list.

[00:39:35] Mark: I, I, I'm in this, I'm in this foxhole with you. Um,

[00:39:38] Anya: know, I know. But I, well, I've got, but I've got a ladder

[00:39:40] Mark: No, no, but, but by which I mean, I'm not simply saying it's okay. I'm also here. I'm saying that I'm, I'm, you know, going to read mine out as well.

[00:39:48] Anya: whoa. This. Thank you. That's very kind of you, mark. Go for it.

[00:39:53] Mark: So the ones that sort of, uh, uh, you know, uh, came to mind, not sexy. I'm not sexy. I am, okay, let's just do it. Uh,

[00:40:06] Anya: Oh, you don't have to.

[00:40:08] Mark: I'm, let's just be honest. I have difficulty being physically close to, uh, a person in a, in a, in a, in a cap, in a romantic capacity.

[00:40:18] Anya: Mm.

[00:40:19] Mark: I thought I'd Nick yours. Um, I'm gonna die.

[00:40:23] Anya: Yeah.

[00:40:23] Mark: this one I've, I, I come back to, but I've largely dealt with. But, uh, I think it's important and I will write it. Uh, I have written it down, which is, uh, creepy slash unsafe.

[00:40:34] Mark: And then the last one, I, which is sort of tied to that, but uh, possibly distinct is abnormal, which is a, uh, discussion I had with my therapist this week. Okay.

[00:40:46] Anya: sharing those. Thank you, mark. And so don't put the pen

[00:40:50] Mark: No, no,

[00:40:51] Anya: because I

[00:40:52] Mark: feel good.

[00:40:53] Anya: Yeah, yeah, I

[00:40:53] Mark: don't feel real bad.

[00:40:55] Anya: Yeah. So turn the piece of paper over and if you had to give a story, if it, if that was like a film or a book or whatever, what title would you give?

[00:41:07] Anya: So just . So I'm not good. I'm not, not good enough. Uh, I'm gonna die alone. Uh, I'm, well, I'm, I'm, I'm gonna be brave. I'm gonna go, I'm shit at relationships. I'm, I'm gonna bite that bullet.

[00:41:27] Mark: That's the title of your movie.

[00:41:29] Anya: Yeah. Or movie or book or whatever. Cuz that's, if I could summarize all those statements, you know, what kind of, what, how would I title them?

[00:41:40] Mark: Okay. Mine is two letters. Ew.

[00:41:47] Anya: And so I wanted you to put you at the front of that statement, the, those two words. There were two letters. The, so I'm putting the in front of mine and then behind after it. The word. So, and I'm gonna put my original phrasing in inverted commas as well, in quotes. So I've gone from, I'm shit at relationships to the I'm shit at relationship story.

[00:42:16] Mark: Mm-hmm.

[00:42:18] Anya: And then at the top of the page. Cause isn't it, we, we can, we can stop there, but I think we can add a little extra sugar to this.

[00:42:27] Mark: some sugar

[00:42:27] Anya: gonna mm-hmm. . So I'm gonna, cuz these are, these are habitual thoughts that we have. This isn't like new sh new information. This is stuff which comes up for us and influences us.

[00:42:40] Anya: So at the top of the page, I'd love, love you to write aha, exclamation mark. I know this one,

[00:42:51] Anya: this one full stop. And then this is, oh. And so we've gone from, for me that I'm shit at relationships to the, I'm shit at relationship story to aha. I know this one. This is the I'm shit at relationship story. And what, how, how does that read for you now? Read the whole thing out for you.

[00:43:20] Mark: yeah, I think it, it, it helps give a sense of, we've been here before and we've played this movie out and we've watched it a lot of times and we know all of the words. Doesn't mean that we, like, there are some episodes of some TV shows. I dunno why, but I've seen them so many times. For some reason it always seems to be those, those episodes, it's like the third episode of Justified For some reason. It's whenever anyone's watching Justified, it's always that episode. And so I've seen it so many times that I'm like, I don't really like it anymore, but I know it off by heart kind of thing.

[00:43:59] Mark: And uh, yeah, that's sort of what it, what it makes me think.

[00:44:02] Anya: Yeah, cuz that's the whole thing of this is, uh, an act of diffusion. So, you know, if I turn my list over and I'm gonna read it out, you know, so I read, oh, you know, I'm a failure. I'm not good enough. I'm crap at this. I'm not lovable, I'm gonna die alone. Aha. I know this one. This is the, I'm shit relationship story kind of. It's a con, it's recontextualizing. I can't change the thinking of it. I can't change, stop myself thinking these sorts. But what I can do is change my relationships with them. . And I think the thing which, you know, this is gonna work really well on, on, on, on radio, but you know, so often, you know, I'm just gonna hold this piece of paper in front of my eyes, you know, this is the, this is the filter.

[00:44:51] Anya: These phases are the filter through which I see most of the world. You know, this is, and this when I'm looking, you know, I, I'm literally , I'm literally doing this right now, but you can't see, and I can't see you, mark, because I've got this piece. I can't connect with you right now. I dunno what face you're pulling, because all I can see are these statements, you know?

[00:45:13] Anya: But if I'm able just to lower them a little, you know, just even just like holding them further down, you know, if there's information there, you know, I can still see it, but it's still kind of like preoccupying me a bit. But if I can just pop this piece of paper down on the desk in front of. , you know, it's this information, this data is still there, still easily accessible, but, you know, I've got, I'm not, because I'm not holding it like literally metaphorically, I can experience the present moment more.

[00:45:41] Anya: I can hold things . I can hold other things beside those thoughts, you know, and which is, you know, and I think that really takes us onto the second prompt, which is what else is true? You know? Um, I'm not gonna dwell on this one, but, you know, the, the Pippa children question, you know, inviting me to, and I've had to use this a few times this week.

[00:46:06] Anya: You know what else is true? And I think it's very much reminiscent of, you know, I'm just keeping an eye on the time, so maybe we won't go into improv too much, but it is very much the yes and question, you know, yes. This, you know, I have this, all this information and you know what else is true. Mm-hmm.

[00:46:26] Mark: So how can we apply that when we take one of our insecurities, which is a negative thing because I'm assuming what we don't want to do here is say, well, what else is true? Uh, I'm gonna, I'm, I'm gonna die alone. What else is true? I'm fat, uh, or I'm whatever. So what can we, what might we, what would you invite us to, to, to do that, to, to, you know, what else could be true in this world?

[00:46:54] Anya: Well, I think, you know, this is the most provocative of the prompt and maybe the most provocative prompt I've ever done so far on this podcast. And it's comes from a school of thought called the Three Principals, and it's this idea. Let me still tell the story of Sid Banks. Sid Banks is an enlightened welder, Scottish welder who had a lot of mental health issues, and he was at a couple's retreat with his wife because his relationship was also in the, in, in the cho, in the toilet.

[00:47:32] Anya: And he was talking to a psychotherapist and they, they were basically trying to outdo each other on how shit they, they were, how shit their mental health was, how shit their relationships

[00:47:43] Mark: There were four Yorkshire Yorkshireman, it

[00:47:46] Anya: Yeah, they were, they were. And this guy said to Sid, you know, you don't think you are in, no, you are not insecure.

[00:47:54] Anya: You just think you are. But Sid heard it on a level and actually had an enlightenment experience because, you know, there's a lot of stuff in spirituality about, you know, the formless coming into the form. He suddenly realized, That thought was the missing link between those things, and that in a moment he realized he had innate mental good health, but all his negative thinking was actually the cause of his suffering.

[00:48:36] Anya: And when he had in a relatively quiet mind and a relatively good feeling,

[00:48:46] Anya: life seemed to unfold. You know, there's this idea of, you know, it's called the three principles because these are things which cannot be reduced any further. Mind, consciousness, and thought and mind is this idea of the, of, of, of life, of aliveness, of the, the ability for an acorn to become an oak. There is an intelligence behind things.

[00:49:15] Anya: It's non-personal. It's not a guard, but it is, you know, the genetic coding, it is the way that things unfold. You know, a cut will heal if you know the circumstances are correct. You know, if we have a, a snow globe shook up, left in one place, inevitably it will clear and the flakes will reveal, you know, the little toy town or image that's held within it.

[00:49:43] Anya: And then consciousness, you know, we are aware, you know, this is what means that we can experience that aliveness, that, that, that intelligence, you know, and I, consciousness goes up and down and according to our thinking, you know, I have been, there's a lovely book, two lovely books, but the first one I'll mention is The Inside Out Revolution by Michael Neal, which talks about being in a glass elevator and then they're at the bottom, you know?

[00:50:10] Anya: Reality. You know, we think that we see the world recording the world as if we are using a video camera, you know, but it's actually much more. And so what we see is real. But as I just said, with my little thing, with a piece of paper, we're looking through a perception and actually we're much more like projectors.

[00:50:36] Anya: And we have this, this light of intelligence shining, you know, onto this screen of consciousness. But what's playing is, is thought. You know, these, big thoughts and little thoughts, thoughts with small teas and, and, and big teas. You know, we have our own little ego things running through on the.

[00:51:00] Anya: Which means that when we are at the bottom of this elevator, what everything seems real and true and things are happening to us, but as we start to raise our level of consciousness, we can actually, it's like being in a movie in the cinema. When you're engrossed in a really good film, it feels like you're completely there.

[00:51:17] Anya: It's completely real, it's all really happening. And then someone coughs and you suddenly realize, oh no, I'm in an auditorium.

[00:51:25] Mark: Hmm.

[00:51:26] Anya: wait. And so, you know, we go into the cinema, we watch movies to, to be excited, to feel sad, to feel thrilled, to feel terrified. And we know that it's in a container so that when we leave, we can step out of that, you know?

[00:51:44] Anya: And that's what this level of consciousness can do when we realize, oh, okay, I'm, I can see that the way I'm looking at this is having an influence, but there's like another level. Beyond that, which is recognizing that our thoughts are creative. So that's still kind of like an outside in approach at the moment of all these things are affecting me, but I can change the way I look at them.

[00:52:15] Anya: Whereas if we can get, keep la, you know, raising our consciousness, going up on this elevator, we get a different perspective on things and recognize that they are not happening to us, but happening for us. Happening that we are, this is the thing which I have really been having to notice this week, that I have been living in the feeling of my thinking.

[00:52:47] Anya: I've been responding to my thoughts, not to my actual circumstances. I have been watching the Korean drama on Netflix, extraordinary attorney, woo. And I noticed the difference between becoming really agitated and being caught up in my thinking, you know, thinking that, oh, I've, I've screwed something up, gonna end.

[00:53:15] Anya: And I watched that program and I didn't think about the situation during it. And afterwards I felt different about it, which shows to me that it was not the situation that's causing me the suffering. It's the thinking about it. You know, by Katie has this thing called the work. You know, she says, you know, four Quest, uh uh, judge a neighbor, write it down, ask four questions, turn it around.

[00:53:42] Anya: And it is this thing of, is it true? Is it really true? What happens when you think that thought? And I think the last one is, what happens when you don't think that thought? Just to clarify, you know, where our experience is coming from, you know, and, and I love that, you know, Michael Neal, who I've mentioned before, has this wonderful question, you know, a wonderful Ted Talk called, why aren't we Awesome?

[00:54:08] Anya: You know, and this is from a guy who, you know, a bit of a trigger warning. He had suicidal ideation as a kid, you know, he went to a Holocaust museum afterward. Uh, and, and, and after that he had post-traumatic experiences actually, you know, thinking about it. And he, you know, even had like a psychotic break, um, at university in his dorm room which happened to snap him out of it because he was a giant cosmic, vacuum cleaner, was trying to suck him out of the room and he was clinging onto deal onto his bed not to be sucked out.

[00:54:46] Anya: Rang the suicide hotline, whose number he knew off by heart and got an engaged signal . And he said that was the best thing that could have happened to him because it showed him that actually he, despite the cosmic vacuum cleaner, trying to pull him outta the window, he did actually want to live

[00:55:07] Mark: And I think the, yeah, the, the, the important piece here is, is the moment what snapped him out was the, the, the brutal, hilarious irony of, of, of that situation. Uh, that was enough for him to, like Wylie Coyote running off the edge. That was enough for him to go, hang on, look down, and then realize what was going on.

[00:55:32] Mark: It was, it was that sort of snap, you know, moment to that that was, uh, enabled him to sort of snap out of it or into it.

[00:55:42] Anya: Indeed, indeed. He has a lovely line in his talk, which says, you know, because this idea of thoughts are not facts, which, which, you know, c b t has tried to, to, to, to beat us over the head for years, but, but it is, you know, just, and this is the quote, just because you have a thought on your head doesn't mean it's your thought.

[00:56:01] Anya: Doesn't mean it's true, doesn't mean it actually is what you think. It just means there's a thought in your head and whatever is going on for us, however, our insecurity can trigger us to act. My final pieces here about the self-compassion again. To being kind to ourself, you know, cuz we are all doing our best at the level of thinking that seems real to us at the time.

[00:56:34] Anya: And that's, there's also an innocence in that as well. We are innocent underneath all our insecurities. And with that thought, I would love, you know, a, as we close to invite, invite you to think just what might be the kindest thing you can do for yourself after this conversation, even just a little, because you have been doing the best you can and that's all we can never do.

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Creators and Guests

Anya Pearse
Anya Pearse
Intuitive adviser, facilitator, and positive psychology practitioner.
Mark Steadman
Mark Steadman
Coach helping digital creatives with big feelings


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