Decision-Making Strategies to Get
You Through Tough Choices
Decision-Making Strategies to Get You Through Tough Choices
November 25, 2020
Ever felt stuck when deciding? The strategies we discuss in this episode should get you out of a bad case of decision paralysis!
Listen to the episode
It's normal to feel nervous and hesitant when making an important decision, but you shouldn't let decision paralysis get in the way all the time! With my guest, former professional poker player, speaker and decision strategist, Annie Duke, we discuss different decision-making methods to help you finalize your decisions.
We also talk a bit about Annie’s book, How to Decide: Simple Tools for Making Better Choices, how she got into professional poker playing, and how she’s combined her learnings on cognitive psychology and poker playing experiences to deliver amazing talks on decision-making.
Dr. Chloe [00:00:07] Hello, and welcome to the high functioning hotspot with me, Dr. Chloe Carmichael. I'm a clinical psychologist in New York City, and I started this podcast, the High Functioning Hotspot, just pleased to talk to interesting high functioning people. That's my area of specialty as a psychologist. So I often will have high functioning guests on the show and just talk to them and learn a little bit about their path, what today's episode, however, is a little bit different.
Dr. Chloe[00:00:34] It's the audio of a free life stream that I did called On The Horizon, getting ready to transition from quarantine, just because I know a lot of us have been shut in our homes for so long. And as everybody keeps saying, it's the new normal. But now that things are changing again and we're starting to get out a little bit, some people are having issues with social anxiety cause they just haven't been around people a lot.
Dr. Chloe[00:00:58] They're wondering how to put boundaries around their anxiety and some of the uncertainty and things like that. So that's why I made this free live stream, which is called on the horizon. And there'll be a link in the show notes if you want to watch it as well. But this is the audio, so I hope that you listen and enjoy.
Dr. Chloe[00:01:18] And if you do hear tips that you like, I'd love it. If you'd let me know. And social media yeah. On Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, everywhere. Share with friends or whatever else you can because it's free information and I hope that you'll find it helpful. I enjoyed it, sharing it, and I hope that you'll enjoy listening to it.
Dr. Chloe[00:01:39] So without further ado, here it is. Thanks then have a good one.
Dr. Chloe[00:01:41]Hi everyone. I'm Dr. Chloe Carmichael. Thank you so much for joining me. I'm really excited to share with you some free tips about transitioning from quarantine. And I know some of us have already fully transitioned. And that's great.
Dr. Chloe[00:02:02] Some of us may be in a little bit of an in between space. And the first thing I wanted to do is actually to normalize the idea that stepping out of quarantine may not 100% feel like a picnic, and that can almost need to actually be understood because otherwise we have all this pressure on ourselves to be feeling and acting like, Oh, I'm so glad quarantine is over as if it's nothing but just pure positives.
Dr. Chloe[00:02:33] Whereas the truth is that it is actually while it's good and, you know, has its positives. It's also a big change for us in terms of our routine. It can stir up a lot of uncertainty and there can be some stress associated with it. So the first thing to do is actually just to give yourself permission to have the whole story, be there for you. . So the first thing to do is actually just to give yourself permission to have the whole story, be there for you.
Dr. Chloe[00:02:57] And the whole story may be that maybe there were parts of staying at home, you know, that were kind of nice or, you know, maybe figuring out exactly how things are going to look. Post quarantine does have a little bit of burden associated with it. And so the first thing that we want to do is just make room for that and recognize it that it's okay to acknowledge it.
Dr. Chloe [00:03:20] The nice thing of course, about acknowledging these things as well is that then we can start to practice really good self care around the factors that are actually feeling a little bit stressed by. So you might be wondering why I have here a picture of a woman on a couch wearing a cast with a big smile on her face with crutches.
Dr. Chloe[00:03:40] The reason is because I want to talk about secondary gains for a moment, secondary gains as a psychology term that refers to the benefits that we got. From challenging situations, the classic example in psychology textbooks, it's usually, a child that breaks their leg and then they just get so into all the special attention and not having to go to school and all this other stuff that when it's time to take off their
Dr. Chloe[00:04:10] Cast, they actually. insist, you know, that their leg is still broken. And the child oftentimes actually really believes that and the way that we actually get around secondary and make sure that we don't have secondary gains, actually stop us from really putting our whole heart into moving forward.
Dr. Chloe[00:04:30] When it's time to move forward from quarantine is to stop and actually notice what the secondary gains are for us. And then we can really think about ways that we can retain some of those secondary gains, even after quarantine is over. So we can really have the best of all worlds. Each person is different
Dr. Chloe[00:04:52] But some of the benefits that people in my office have been talking about would be things like having more time at home, obviously, maybe more closeness with family. Um, certainly less commute time perhaps spending less money on things like shopping. And also having to spend less energy on making sure we, you know, look exactly perfect before we get into the office and things like that.
Dr. Chloe[00:05:18] It's just important to be in touch with what your secondary gains are, because if we're not conscious of those things and really thinking about how we can keep those benefits, even after quarantine, then sometimes,we can end up like that little child that it doesn't feel ready to go back to school because they're actually so attached to some of the benefits of their, you know, broken leg.
Dr. Chloe[00:05:42] It's also important. And to understand that many of us might have even tuned out some of the negatives and actually deliberately really focused on the positives of those secondary gains that we were just talking about. We might have done that as a healthy coping strategy during quarantine because when we had no choice, but to just be in quarantine, the most productive thing to do might have been to actually just focus on the positives about it.
Dr. Chloe[00:06:12] Okay. And so now we might be in a little bit of a cognitive habit of just constantly only thinking about the positives without really thinking so much about the negative so it's actually what was, what maybe a very healthy strategy of just only thinking about those secondary gains. Now that we're starting to think about transitioning from quarantine, we want to transition our thinking style a little bit as well, and start thinking about how we can keep those secondary gains even after quarantine.
Dr. Chloe[00:06:44] So for example, clients have been talking about learning to have family dinners at least twice a week, or learning how to say no to extraneous activities like that. They just used to find themselves running around town all the time and they don't want to get back into that space. So they just want to learn how to be a little bit more discriminating about which events they'll say yes to, for example, or even just thinking about budgeting and monitoring spending so that, the pre COVID
Dr. Chloe[00:07:16] Time doesn't start to look exactly like the post COVID time and in a good way. So another thing that we can think about is our, what I call her our key takeaways, so what are those positive things that you got from quarantine and how can you take them with you? So I would encourage you to think about just actually really listing those things out for yourself.
Dr. Chloe[00:07:43] Whether it be more time with your family or finally having your shopping budget under control or even just the, the idea of having a little bit more downtime in your calendar. But if you go ahead and you list out what are the things that you definitely want to continue even
Dr. Chloe[00:08:03] After quarantine, that should actually make the process of saying goodbye to quarantine easier because you know, you're not going to also be saying goodbye to the secondary gains. Another thing about quarantine that might help us to. How a smoother transition is to think a little bit about the process of closure.
Dr. Chloe[00:08:26] And ironically to think about closing, we sometimes actually have to go back to the beginning. And for many of us, when quarantine started in March. There was a lot of fear. There were death projections in the millions, there were shortages of hand sanitizer and other things at grocery stores that people need.
Dr. Chloe[00:08:50] And that provoked a lot of fear and anxiety for people. Understandably as they just kind of shut themselves into their home. And so now that we're starting to open the door again, literally and figuratively, we might need to actually go back and process some of those old feelings from March, because the good news is, is that we're now in a very different situation than we were in March.
Dr. Chloe[00:09:13] We have a lot more knowledge and information about the way the virus works. We have ventilators and all of our hospitals are really much more prepared now. So that's great, but there's a part of still might need to come to terms with some of the initial feelings that we felt when this whole process began.
Dr. Chloe[00:09:32] So there's a couple of ways that you can do that, that you can achieve that closure you might be saying, well, Chloe. Closure sounds nice, but really how do I get it? There's two ways I'm going to share with you. So one way would just be the, to actually write what I call your quarantine story.
Dr. Chloe[00:09:53] It would just even be as simple as one page. But noting down thinking back to March where were you when you first learned about this Coronavirus and about quarantine? And what was it like for you when you were told that you couldn't go back into the office and what were some of the feelings that you felt and what were some of the shortages that you encountered as you were maybe trying to get things that you needed and going through some of those memories and some of those feelings, and then also, including in your story a little bit about some of the secondary gains that you started to discover, and then if you wanted to, you could even also include in your story.
Dr. Chloe[00:10:36] That part of your quarantine closure experience with actually to watch this webinar, this live stream. Yeah. And to say and then I learned about that the idea of actually writing a story about my experience as I'm preparing to move forward and so that's what I'm doing now. And. You know, these are my reflections on my quarantine experience, you know, as I'm moving forward.
Dr. Chloe[00:10:59] It might sound silly, but there's actually something we call in psychology, which is called narrative building. And as people are able to build their personal narrative, they do feel more in control, they feel less stress and they feel more strategic. And so just taking a moment to even write like a one page summary of your.
Dr. Chloe[00:11:19] Quarantine experience as an including the part of moving towards closure could help you to feel a little bit more resolved about the issue. One other technique that might help you to have closure is to do a little bit of a guided imagery exercise. And so what you would do there, if you've ever done any kind of guidance imagery before, that's great.
Dr. Chloe[00:11:41] If not, this is a fine time to try it. It's pretty simple. If you've ever, even really had a daydream before then you've had some experience with guided imagery. And so what you would do is you would just imagine yourself say what, and you're into the future in June of 2021. And do you imagine yourself
Dr. Chloe[00:12:01] Talking with a friend, clinking glasses, maybe as you cheers or have a dinner or lunch together, and picture yourself both talking and laughing and reflecting back on this spring, summer of 2020, when quarantine was a thing and ust remembering together what it was like and what that activity can do is it can help to kind of nudge your mind a little bit.
Dr. Chloe[00:12:27] Into a different place of perspective about quarantine. I kind of compare it for example, when I have a client who's going through a really bad breakup and they feel like they're, you're never going to live again or love again. I'll sometimes ask them them to think about a previous breakup with a different person that maybe they felt the same way about.
Dr. Chloe[00:12:49] And then reflecting back on that experience and realizing that in fact, now they felt quite over that person from the past. And so then I'll ask them to imagine themselves in the future feeling same way about the current breakup so that's one way that you can actually use a little bit of guided imagery to nudge yourself forward into remind your mind that you do have the ability to move forward and have a little bit more perspective.
Dr. Chloe[00:13:13] Now another thing. That is obviously going to be coming up for many of us is the topic of uncertainty, you know, we can say, okay, well, closure is fine, but you know what, what comes next after that? And I'm going to be going into that now, but I'll just share with you that the bottom line. Is that certainly we always want to focus on what we can control rather than the things that we cannot control.
Dr. Chloe[00:13:40] And you may have heard that before, but we're going to be going a little bit deeper into what are some of the things that you can control and how can you keep your focus on those things. And also we want to increase our self care and we also want to remember that this is actually an opportunity.
Dr. Chloe[00:13:58] For growth to increase our ability to rely on ourselves during challenging times when this is all over one day, we're going to be able to say, wow, I lived through quarantine and during difficult times sometimes relationships tend to either get a lot better or they really go sideways.
Dr. Chloe[00:14:19] And that's true of your relationship with yourself as well. So this is definitely a time when we want to increase our self care. Now. Again, about uncertainty I work with high functioning people, which I'm guessing probably most people watching this live stream or would be considered high functioning people, you know, and high functioning people sometimes with uncertainty, because they're afraid that it means that they haven't really done their due diligence that maybe they're missing something.
Dr. Chloe[00:14:49] And so they can get a little bit critical or antsy when there's uncertainty. And sometimes that's actually a good thing that stimulates them to go seek information and get clarity. That's a healthy strategy. If clarity is right actually available, but it's really not the best strategy if clarity is not available.
Dr. Chloe[00:15:10] And of course, clarity is really not available. And exactly what the reopening and everything is going to look like. So what I would encourage you to do is to recognize that, you know, nobody knows what's going to happen next. You're definitely not alone in that and so you might also want to recognize that in fact, awareness of certainty, the ability to articulate and name it.
Dr. Chloe[00:15:36] That's actually a gift. That's a sign of maturity. People who are unable or unwilling to tolerate or acknowledge uncertainty are vulnerable to creating narratives as if uncertainty exists. When it actually doesn't, or they might start to micromanage or try to control things that actually cannot be controlled.
Dr. Chloe[00:15:58] Just as a way to take out their anxiety over having to deal with uncertainty in some other area of life. So we also want to maybe welcome uncertainty as a sign that we're learning some new skills here that some new things are happening. We're all in this together. And again, the idea that you notice the uncertainty is actually a positive thing.
Dr. Chloe[00:16:22] So now that we've said to ourselves, okay, we're, we're going to definitely acknowledge the fact that it's here, we're going to accept it and maybe even learn to embrace it and grow from it. Here are some tips about that. We want to think about the things that we can control. One of those things is going to be, for example, exposure to the news.
Dr. Chloe[00:16:44] Choosing to practice self care, maybe choosing whether or not to do some of the closure exercises that I've talked about already, as well as some of the other exercises and things that are coming up here. Now I mentioned limiting your exposure to the, which is I think a good idea, especially in this time, because you have to remember of course that the news media they get paid by the more eyeballs that they can get on their screen.
Dr. Chloe[00:17:11] Right. So they have a real incentive to keep you guessing to keep you in a place of uncertainty to make you feel like you really need me to know the next step date. I'm certainly not discouraging anyone from watching the news or from getting important information, but you do just want to make sure that you're not just allowing yourself to be totally in constantly assaulted with whatever the news media happens to put on.
Dr. Chloe[00:17:35] You can also control yourself, talk. So just like we were just discussing that learning how to understand that your uncertainty is actually a gift and that nobody knows what's going on right now. You might think about self-talk like uncertainty is appropriate right now. Uncertainty is actually appropriate.
Dr. Chloe[00:17:55] Response for me to have to the situation that can help to normalize it a little bit. And it can be kind of grounding for you to have that another piece of self-talk that might be helpful would be something like, no matter what happens, I will take care of myself and my loved ones, because that also puts some boundaries around the uncertainty.
Dr. Chloe[00:18:17] There may be a lot of things that we don't know. But one of the things that we do know is that we can count on ourselves. Certainly another thing that's within your control is the ability to ask for help and to talk to somebody. So whether it be a friend or a therapist, or someone at your place of worship it certainly was then you're controlled to talk through things and that can be helpful in times of uncertainty.
Dr. Chloe[00:18:43] Sometimes feelings just actually really need attention. An as a psychologist that always gets me when I hear people say, Oh, they just want attention. Like it's a bad thing. Right? Wanting attention is not a bad thing. And if you have feelings of uncertainty that want attention, Give it to them.
Dr. Chloe[00:19:00] And you do that by talking them through with a trusted friend or writing about them or journaling about them. Because when we don't listen to feelings or stress, when it's at lower levels, that doesn't make it go away. It just actually oftentimes makes the feelings become louder because they feel like they need to get louder.
Dr. Chloe[00:19:20] And more rambunctious in order to get our attention. Another important thing to remember about uncertainty and challenging times in general is that this is the time when we increase our relationship with yourself. Our ability to know that you are there for yourself and that you can count on yourself that you'll take good care of yourself.
Dr. Chloe[00:19:42] It's also a good time to maybe review. Some past successes that you've had during times of uncertainty . So for example, when you finish school and you were fresh on the job, that was a very uncertain time, but you managed to get through it, or if you've ever been through a divorce or like mentioned a breakup there's a lot of times in your life, if you think back where you've had to deal with a lot of uncertainty and unknowns, but you've been able to get through it again, whether it become, you know, being a parent or.
Dr. Chloe[00:20:13] Quitting smoking. You've probably done a lot of hard things in your life. And if you actually just make a list of them, then that can help to remind you who you are. Another thing that I want to talk about, just shifting gears a little bit, as we think about reopening is the differences and the similarities between anxiety and excitement.
Dr. Chloe[00:20:34] So as you can see from this rollercoaster here sometimes we actually love a thrill, a little bit of a scary thrill even can be quite energizing for us. And so as we start thinking about the reopening, you know, going out, interacting with people that we haven't seen in a long time and putting ourselves out there literally in a new way.
Dr. Chloe[00:20:55] That can actually be kind of exciting. And we might be prone to actually read signs of excitement, physiological signs of excitement, like a little bit of adrenaline or a little bit of butterflies in our stomach. We might be prone to read that as anxiety when in fact it might even be the excitement.
Dr. Chloe[00:21:16] That's why whether it be rollercoasters or scary movies or whatever else can give us that thrill. Now one way that you can start to influence the way that we read our own signals as excitement, potentially rather than anxiety. We'd be to ask yourself when you are feeling those sensations of the jitters, as you think about reopening is to ask yourself, is there something I can do right now or some plan I can make in order to protect myself?
Dr. Chloe[00:21:50] Because certainly I'm not trying to get you to just start mislabeling anxiety is excitement. The healthy function of anxiety is to stimulate. Self care, preparatory behaviors. So the first thing we want to do when we feel those feelings is to ask, you know, is there something I should be doing to take care of myself right now?
Dr. Chloe[00:22:09] And if the answer is no, you've really already done all the things that you need to do to prepare, then ask yourself, is there something I might be excited about right now? And start thinking about those potential things as well. Now another thing that I want to talk a little bit about is the difference between healthy vigilance and ruminating.
Dr. Chloe[00:22:31] Vigilance again, is that ability to be looking and scanning and thinking and planning carefully, but ruminating is when you're just. It's spinning your wheels. You're just sitting there going over the same material and there's nothing that you can necessarily even do about it. And then you start becoming anxious about being anxious and that can actually almost become a little bit of an addictive cycle.
Dr. Chloe[00:22:56] We can start to become almost addicted to the adrenaline, or we can have a cognitive habit that whenever we have a little bit of downtime, we go into this place of fear and of thinking about all of the catastrophic thinking about reopening that might happen. and so if you feel like that's something that you might have been doing, then I would encourage you to think about a technique that I call the mental shortlist that I created.
Dr. Chloe[00:23:24] And it's in my book, which is Nervous Energy. And you can see in drchloe.com/hello, you can link up with me on social media if you're not already. And there's a link about the book as well, but with the mental shortlist technique, what you would do. Two is you would think of safe, five things in advance that would be much better for you to spend your mental energy on rather than running through over and over all these doomsday scenarios about the reopening.
Dr. Chloe[00:23:55] And so your mental shortlist could include anything from maybe having a list of birthday and holiday gifts. That you want to be brainstorming and staying on top of too, um, you know, some weekend plans that you think you want to make, maybe a work project or to maybe a list of friends, creating a list of friends that you need to call and say hello to. I like the number five for a mental shortlist, because it's big enough that you can have a little bit of variety, but it.
Dr. Chloe[00:24:24] It's not overwhelming because the idea is that you actually do want to be able to have your mental shortlist memorized. So that way no matter where you are, no matter what's going on, if the old kind of thought monster strikes and you find yourself in that ruminating space, you can immediately pivot onto your mental shortlist instead.
Dr. Chloe[00:24:44] This technique will help you with stuff even besides COVID the idea is that when there's something that you're thinking about maybe a little bit too much, you don't want to just tell yourself not to think about it. That's like telling yourself not to think about pink, elephants. It just reinforces the topic in your mind.
Dr. Chloe[00:25:01] So what you do is you have five really good topics that you have ready for yourself. Instead. I sometimes also compare this to like with emotional eaters. If they just have a fridge full of really good, healthy precut snacks, they'll go and eat those. But if they don't have them ready, then it's a lot harder for them in the middle of a snack attack to think of what would be a good healthy meal.
Dr. Chloe[00:25:24] So the mental shortlist is the same. You come up with five, really good productive, Purposeful topics, enjoyable topics to think about. And that way you can deliberately pivot easily onto those. If you find yourself going into a place of rumination. So another thing I want to talk a little bit about is social anxiety.
Dr. Chloe[00:25:47] So many of us haven't necessarily spent a lot of time around people because of quarantine, we haven't been spending time, certainly around as many people. And so we can get a little anxious thinking about, you know, going back yeah. Into in-person groups. And it's easy to actually. Confuse that with thinking that you don't want to go and be with people.
Dr. Chloe[00:26:10] And I just want to let you know that in fact, it's often the opposite. Sometimes we actually have social anxiety because we specifically really want the interactions to go well. So if you're feeling a little bit of anxiety about, you know, reconnecting with them, People you know, please don't necessarily just interpret that automatically as a negative.
Dr. Chloe[00:26:31] It could actually be that you're really excited about getting together with people and you just want to make sure that it's going to go well. Now it is a little bit, unfortunately, of. Of like a perfect storm because when, when we do get together, people are keeping social distance still.
Dr. Chloe[00:26:49] They might be wearing masks, et cetera. And there's something called rejection, sensitivity, rejection, sensitivity, where. Even though we intellectually know why people are doing this in the back of our minds, we could feel like, Oh, you know how come nobody's smiling at me? Right. Because we just can't see them smiling behind their masks.
Dr. Chloe[00:27:08] But just in that kind of back of our brain, we might just be like, Hmm, nobody's smiling at me. Everybody's standing far away from me, you know, why is that happening? And so it can be really important. To, you know, use thought replacement to deal with that or to get yourself an ally and, or to get yourself an ally.
Dr. Chloe[00:27:28] So yeah, with thought replacement, you might want to create self statements. Like, you know, we're actually distant from each other. Because we care about each other. We're keeping our distance because we care about each other we're all in this together. And I know we all can't wait for this to be over.
Dr. Chloe[00:27:48] Those types of statements might sound really simple and almost like platitudes when you're sitting here in your calm state of mind. But if you really memorize them then. And they will be handy potentially for you to use when your mind starts spinning out. And you're a little bit beside yourself and a little bit scattered and a little bit nervous because you're in a socially anxious space.
Dr. Chloe[00:28:12] To coming up with those thought replacements in advance can be helpful. Another thing that can be helpful is to think of an ally to find an ally. So these two guys on screen, I realized that many of us won't actually be having physical contact and fist bumps at the office. But you know, you got the idea that if you're going back to the office and you're a little nervous about seeing everybody again, you might want to just.
Dr. Chloe[00:28:38] Text or email one or two of your friends and say, Hey, I'm, you know, a little nervous slash excited about going back into the office. It'd be nice if we might plan to take a little walk at lunchtime together, touch base, that kind of thing. Sometimes just having an ally is, is really all that you need.
Dr. Chloe[00:28:59] So Maura, my wonderful assistant here is going to come on and share a couple of words. And then I'm going to go ahead and talk about some new habits and things like that, that we're going to be trying to build more.
Maura[00:29:16] Thank you, Dr. Chloe. I just want to say thank you again to everyone for joining us.
Maura[00:29:19] And remind everyone that I am monitoring the comments on every platform. So if you have questions, something you're interested, any comments to share with dr. Chloe? Feel free to comment them below, um, and I'll be able to see them. And if we don't get to answering any of your questions today, don't worry.
Maura[00:29:35] It's good to know what you, what questions you have when planning future live streams. If you are watching this and you will, are not on our mailing list as well, you can absolutely DM us your email and we'll keep you up to date with future events as well. As Dr. mentioned the length of drchloe.com/hello, which is onscreen, is where you can connect with her on her social medias.
Maura[00:29:59] They are always there as well as the link to preorder her new book, nervous energy. So it's super exciting that it's up for preorder. We've gotten great feedback so far. So if you'd like to preorder her book, the link is right there on dr. chloe.com/hello. So thank you again. I'm really excited to hear the rest of the presentation.
Dr. Chloe[00:30:18] Thanks Maura. Yes, I'm really excited to share. So we've got only about 15 minutes left and then we'll be all back to the back to our days. So I'm just going to jump right in. So with new habits, I just want to highlight that it does take about 66 days to build a habit. And now we're like 80 plus days into quarantine.
Dr. Chloe[00:30:39] So we definitely now do have a habit of staying in. So just simply going outside is going to start to feel, um, a little bit awkward and new because it is new but the good news is, is that psychology studies show that when we are relearning an old habit, we actually learn it a lot faster than when we have to learn a new habit.
Dr. Chloe[00:31:04] Right. So the process of flipping the switch and getting back out there is actually likely to be easy than the original process building the quarantine habit, what in the first place. And we're going to talk about a little bit about some ways that we can make it you know, a little bit more normal for ourselves.
Dr. Chloe[00:31:25] First they just want to know that it can absolutely feel a little bit awkward when you're. Back out there in the world. And you're dealing with, you know, maybe a mask or maybe there's a new organization or call it your office and everything can seem a little bit different.
Dr. Chloe[00:31:43] And so I would just urge you not to get anxious about that. I just want to normalize. That and I want to discourage you from comparing yourself and your sense of ease with how you felt shortly before quarantine started. It's not really a fair comparison for you to give yourself, to compare the first.
Dr. Chloe[00:32:06] Few weeks of being back out there in the world, comparing that to what it felt like the first when you were in your normal life, I'll see, you have to remember that other people are going through their own awkward phases as well. So if other people seem a little bit off or a little bit distant, especially for the first few weeks, it can be helpful to just try not to read too much into it.
Dr. Chloe[00:32:30] And just normalize the fact that it's actually almost supposed to feel a little bit awkward at first. The more patient you are with yourself, ironically, the easier it will go . Another thing that can help with the relearning process is we're starting to relearn our old habits of being out there is to increase our motivation to be out there.
Dr. Chloe[00:32:53] So for another Quarantine activity to get yourself excited and motivated around the process of getting out there is to start focusing on the benefits of the transition. So earlier, when we talked about secondary gains, we were talking about getting in touch with the gains and the benefits of quarantine and that at one point in time, it was probably really helpful for you to really focus on those benefits.
Dr. Chloe[00:33:22] And not focus very much on what you were missing because there was nothing you could do about it anyway, but now it's changing at this point in time. Now it's going to start to help you to reconnect with your desire, your life outside of your house. Right. So here, we've got a picture of a man at a spin class and we've got, you know, friends or coworkers chatting in the past, you know, pining for these types of activities, there was no real benefit to you in doing that.
Dr. Chloe[00:33:54] Whereas now it actually can help you to start reconnecting with your desire for your previous life. So what you might want to do is actually make a list. Of all of the people and places and things that you're excited to see again whether it be your barista at Starbucks or friends or your favorite spinning instructor really make a list for yourself.
Dr. Chloe[00:34:20] And if you really are, you know, a little nervous about transitioning from quarantine and you want to pull out all the stops. What you could even do is start to actually get some pictures or images of some of the people in places that you will be encountering again and start putting them up around your house.
Dr. Chloe[00:34:39] I know it might sound kind of silly, but your unconscious brain actually thinks in what we call pre-verbal terms. It doesn't always actually. Think in language. And so starting to have some pictures and images around your house, that some of the people in places that you are at least in theory, excited to reconnect with will start to socialize your brain, to the idea of being around those people and start to awaken your sense of relationship with those people.
Dr. Chloe[00:35:10] And that will start to increase your motive, innovation. And when we have motivation and to learn to transition. Then we, then the transition process is easier when we have a motivation to learn something. Then the learning process is always easier. So we want to get in touch now with our motivation and our reasons for wanting to transition.
Dr. Chloe[00:35:31] Another thing that I just want to share a little bit about is the topic of defense pessimism. So defensive pessimism is kind of, as the name says, when we think a little bit about the downsides or the problems about things as a way to protect ourselves against disappointment and. To a certain degree, this is actually really healthy and helpful thing to do.
Dr. Chloe[00:36:02] I'm a person with no defensive pessimism skills would just be constantly disappointed. You know, they, they would just always expect everything to go a hundred percent their way. And you know, they'd be shocked and blindsided when that didn't happen. Right. So a certain amount of defensive pessimism, I just want to say is actually great.
Dr. Chloe[00:36:21]But we do want to learn how to keep it in check so we don't want to, you know, go into catastrophic thinking or not really allow ourselves to get excited and to think about how it could potentially be nice to connect with some people, places and things that we haven't seen in a long time. So we want to allow ourselves to do that.
Dr. Chloe[00:36:45] So we want to ease up on the defensive pessimist. But, but not trying to get rid of it all together. And the same thing is actually true of anxiety in general, by the way, a lot of times clients will come to me and they'll say, you know, Chloe, how could I just get rid of anxiety? I'm so sick of being plagued by anxiety.
Dr. Chloe[00:37:03] I just want to get rid of it. And I always want to let them know that in fact, anxiety is actually an important. Thing that we need, we wouldn't want to get rid of anxiety, anxiety stimulates preparatory behaviors, just like to a certain degree, defensive pessimism can as well. You don't want to get so good at it that we end up actually drowning out our awareness of the possibility for positive things as well.
Dr. Chloe[00:37:30] So if you think you might be someone that is a little bit too prone to defensive pessimism, then. Challenge yourself to just spend five minutes only thinking about some of the excitement and the possibilities and things that you feel hopeful about. Um, even just for five minutes that can help to kind of nudge your mind into a little bit of a deal different perspective.
Dr. Chloe[00:37:52] Another thing I want to talk about as we start to think about wrapping up, I can't believe how quickly time flies here is the topic of behavioral activation. So behavioral activation is another one psychology term where when we start to take on the behaviors of a person in a certain mindset, we actually start to take that mindset.
Dr. Chloe[00:38:17] The typical example of this in psychology textbooks is often that with a very depressed person, Sometimes their hygiene will start to go and they'll not be taking showers and things or practicing literal physical self care is often, and I've witnessed it firsthand as a psychologist. When I was training, working in inpatient units and hospitals, sometimes for a very depressed person, what would help more than any medication or therapy was simply to be forced into a shower.
Dr. Chloe[00:38:50] They didn't want to do it, but once they got in there and had a shower. They would actually end up feeling a lot better. How does that pertain to quarantine? Many of us have taken on a behavioral activation potentially of a socially anxious person of a depressed person or of a socially avoidant person.
Dr. Chloe[00:39:11] And we may have almost. Behaviorally activated ourselves into a place of, you know, becoming a little bit socially avoidant or socially disconnected or socially anxious. The good news is that behavioral activation works in a positive way as well. Right? So, if you were to even just take the plunge, force yourself, to text a friend and say, look, I feel like I need, you know, a dry run of getting together with another person before I can step foot in the office, you know, could we just get together and.
Dr. Chloe[00:39:47] Have a, have a drink, have a cup of coffee, whatever. If you just start taking those little behaviors to start activating the part of yourself that is connected with other people and with the world outside of your home, a lot of times just that will nudge your mind to follow. So people sometimes think that it's our thing.
Dr. Chloe[00:40:07] Thoughts that lead to our behavior to a certain degree. That's true. But a lot of times our behavior can actually also influence our thoughts. So that's just a good thing to think about as well. Now, another thing you could do is to talk to a therapist, obviously this, um, Live stream is not therapy.
Dr. Chloe[00:40:29] It's not a replacement for therapy by any stretch. But sometimes some of the activities that we've discussed here, like making a story or talking things through or getting some support, those things can be done by yourself or with a friend or they can also be done with a therapist.
Dr. Chloe[00:40:47] Or also if you're feeling like maybe there's like a little bit more to this for you. Maybe this has touched off some deeper feelings about survival or connection, and you want to take the opportunity actually, while you're still feeling a little vulnerable and really in touch with some of these feelings, sometimes that can actually be a perfect window of opportunity to go and talk to a therapist.
Dr. Chloe[00:41:12] No, I'll admit I almost. Almost as a joke made this person look like he's having a really great time as he's talking to a video therapist. And I did that on purpose just because I want everyone to know that actually talking to a therapist can be kind of fun. We're nice people we don't bite. Certainly we do talk about.
Dr. Chloe[00:41:34] Sometimes heavy topics, but the idea is oftentimes these topics are more manageable than the person might've thought. And the act of going through and talking and getting some support usually actually does feel pretty good at the end of the day. As we start to think about our conclusion here, I really liked this picture of a woman.
Dr. Chloe[00:41:57] Looking outside of her window and you can see a new day is dawning. And I want us to start to think about that a little bit without frame of mind, as we start to think about transitioning from quarantine. So just to review some of the things that we've talked about here today we want to think about.
Dr. Chloe[00:42:16] Listing our motivations for why we want to transition from quarantine, potentially doing a little one pager of our quarantine story, to get some closure, remembering to focus on what we can control, potentially finding an ally at the office, or creating some thought replacements that we can say to ourselves about where we're distant from each other, because we care about each other.
Dr. Chloe[00:42:43] To help to keep ourselves on track. If we think we may otherwise be prone to kind of spinning out into a rejection sensitive socially anxious monologue, and also creating that mental shortlist of good, healthy, fun, productive topics to think about. If you think you might be prone to just, you know, ruminating and kind of a.
Dr. Chloe[00:43:05] Negative way or catastrophic thinking about the reopening. When you've already done everything that you can to help yourself then, and you're just ruminating, then that would be the time to think about that mental shortlist technique from my book, nervous energy, and also to remember to manage your defensive pessimism and to be patient with yourself as you relearn these things and to understand and normalize the fact that it can be a little bit awkward at first, but.
Dr. Chloe[00:43:34] It's okay. That's the way it's supposed to be. Nobody actually really has this figured out yet. And you know, one of those self-taught pieces, again, to remember that uncertainty is actually the appropriate thing to feel right now. And this is an opportunity to build some skills and deepen your relationship with yourself.
Dr. Chloe[00:43:54] Um, but. I just want to emphasize again, that everything I talked about here today, these are just ideas. These are not obligations. Obviously you should take what works and sounds like it may be good for you. Um, and whatever, it doesn't seem like it's going to apply to you, you know, no problem at all. I'm just here to offer.
Dr. Chloe[00:44:12] Some support and some potential ideas. Now these are all of my social media handles here. And also you should see on screen drchloe.com/hello, where you can please, you know, sign up for my newsletter so I can stay in touch with you. And if you feel like you want to hit the share button on this presentation to anybody that you think might want it, I would certainly appreciate it.
Dr. Chloe[00:44:36] I'm always excited to get my message out there and it could also potentially be very helpful. For the people in your community, if you feel like these tips would be helpful for them. So I'm certainly open to doing more live streams in the future. So if you want to DMS with your email address, we'll add you to our newsletter.
Dr. Chloe[00:44:56] If you want to DMS with questions or ideas for future live streams, it doesn't have to be COVID related, by all means where we're here and we're interested and we're listening. So, thank you again so much everyone for coming. And I'm going to go ahead now and see if I can figure out how to, how to end the livestream.
Dr. Chloe[00:45:16] That's the one thing I didn't figure out, but thanks everybody. Have a great day.
Dr. Chloe[00:45:27] Well, thanks so much for listening to that unique episode of the high functioning hotspot, just the audio of the free live stream that I did on the horizon. So, as I mentioned earlier in the show notes here, we will have a link to the full episode. I'm on video. If you want to watch the original. And if you do feel like you heard some tips, there's some fresh ideas that you like by all means.
Dr. Chloe[00:45:48] Communicate with me, share them with me on social media. Or, you know, share a link or whatever on social media. I do always appreciate if I'm able to help spread the word and if you're able to help me do that, that's fantastic. But either way, thank you so much again for listening and I'm looking forward to connecting again up in the next episode.