484: Relisten: Stop Self Sabotage - Dr. Judy Ho (244)

Dr. Judy Ho

Have you ever missed out because of procrastination or that thought, “I can never do _____.”

Self-sabotage is a universal behavior, even for those of us who are high achievers in some areas. In this episode, I talk to neuropsychologist Dr. Judy Ho about why we do this, and how to stop.

Relisten: Stop Self Sabotage - Dr. Judy Ho (244) [484]

Read the Transcript 🡮

*This is an auto-generated transcript*

[00:00:00] Hunter: Hey there, it's Hunter, and welcome to Throwback Thursday. Most Thursdays, we are going to re release one of my favorite episodes from the archives. So unless you're a longtime listener of the show, there's a good chance you haven't heard this one yet. And even if you had, chances are that you are going to get something new listening to it this time around.

[00:00:17] Dr Judy Ho: All of us have these types of themes and patterns to our thoughts. And the minute that you start to identify them and know what they are, it's actually really powerful because then you say, Hey, wow, well, I now know the types of thoughts that tend to hold me back. And now I can do something about that.

[00:00:37] Hunter: You're listening to the Mindful Mama podcast, episode number 244. Today we're talking about stopping self sabotage with Dr. Judy Ho.

Welcome to the Mindful Parenting podcast. Here it's about becoming a less irritable, more joyful parent. At Mindful Parenting, we know that you cannot give what you do not have, and when you have calm and peace within, then you can give it to your children. I'm your host, Hunter Clarkfields. I help smart, thoughtful parents stay calm so they can have strong, connected relationships with their children.

I've been practicing mindfulness for over 25 years. I'm the creator of the Mindful Parenting course, and I'm the author of the international bestseller, Raising Good Humans, and now, Raising Good Humans Every Day, 50 Simple Ways to Rest, Pause, Stay Present, and Connect with Your Kids. Welcome back to the podcast, my friend.

I hope that you are doing okay, and There are so many things going on in the world, in real time, 2020, fall of 2020, oy vey, like pandemic crisis, climate crisis, election crisis. So if you're listening in the future, I invite you to be happy that you are not in fall of 2020 anymore. There's like this underlying level of anxiety for all of us.

And I just, I think it's important to acknowledge this sometimes, like, we're going through our normal things and doing what we do, but There's a lot going on and it's, there's a lot to walk through. And so I, I just want to acknowledge that for you. If you're listening to this in this fall of 2020, there's a lot, even though a lot of things in life may feel normal, it is not so normal going on right now.

Hey, if you're new to the podcast, welcome to. In just a moment, I am going to be sitting down. With Dr. Judy Ho, a Triple Board Certified Clinical and Forensic Neuropsychologist with a private practice, a tenured professor at Pepperdine University, an author, and co host of The Doctors, and host of the Supercharged Life podcast.

And we're going to talk about this idea of self sabotage. And I think this could be something that, you know, that happens when we're in moments with so much happening, you know, there's sort of extra pressure on us, but you know, this whole idea, right? Like, okay, so I'll ask the question, have you ever missed out because of procrastination or the thought, I can never do blank?

And I have. If you're like me, you probably have. Self sabotage is this universal behavior. Even for those of us who are high achievers in some areas. So this is really fascinating. And in this episode, I talked to Dr. Judy Ho about why we do this and how to stop. And I want you to listen for some important takeaways.

How self sabotage happens when are a natural, when we have this natural drive, this avoidance of threat drive, when that's kind of out of balance. It happens, um, if we've never learned healthy coping skills from our parents, stress can hamstring us, and that the path away from self sabotaging behavior starts with awareness of our thoughts.

So it really does start with mindfulness. All things come back to mindfulness. It's true. Foundation. It's foundation. So I can't wait for you to dive into this episode. Join me at the table as I talk to Dr. Judy Ho.

Judy, thank you so much for coming on the Mindful Mama podcast.

[00:04:39] Dr Judy Ho: I'm so excited to talk to you, Hunter. Thank you for having me.

[00:04:42] Hunter: Well, I'm excited to talk to you too and your, your book, Stop Self Sabotage, because I feel like it is something I see, um, when I'm coaching and working with the women and, and, but you also, before we dive into that.

I want to find out, so you're a neuropsychologist. What is that?

[00:05:05] Dr Judy Ho: Well, neuropsychology is a specialized branch of clinical psychology that's really focused on how the brain and the rest of the nervous system influences people's cognitions and feelings and behaviors. And, uh, What I love about this field is that it is both an experimental and clinical field of psychology, meaning that a little bit of research comes into it and also a lot of clinical work.

And that really speaks to my personality. You know, I love evidence based information. I love science. Um, but I also love doing clinical work with patients and helping them on a very real level on a day to day basis. And so what neuropsychology enables me to do is To really be able to get that scientific basis and the clinical work in at the same time.

Every single patient is like a mini case study. We're trying to find out exactly what's going on with this individual, what's making them tick, how their brain works, how that affects their psychological factors, and then coming up with a great treatment plan for them in a way forward. And so I really love my work.

I'm super excited about it and happy that this is my specialty.

[00:06:11] Hunter: This sounds like a, a, a great combination of like science and in a way, like there's like some art, like, you know, interpersonal, you know, all that stuff. It's like a, it's like a realist, true left. Left plus right brain, uh, thing all together.

So, so what, what got you interested in that? Like it was, was there, what, what in your life made you interested in pursuing that?

[00:06:34] Dr Judy Ho: Well, generally in my life, why I decided to pursue psychology was a very, uh, Very important series of experience I had as a teenager when I became a mentor in the Big Brother, Big Sister program.

And I was only 15 years old. They assigned me to a kid who was 10. And this kid had been in and out of the foster system at least a dozen times by the time I met her. And I didn't know what I was doing. I was a 15 year old kid. What did I know? But I was just so struck by the fact that. Just by showing up every week, like I said I would, every Wednesday to take her to ice cream or to go to a movie, that that actually had a really profound effect on her because she didn't have any stability in her life.

And it just really got me thinking about the power of one person and how much of a difference it can make in a person's life. And it really made me very interested in psychology and wanted to pursue that as a career. And so I'm very lucky in that I'm actually living the career. That I wanted to live since I was 15 years old.

And then the branch of neuropsychology came a little bit later when I realized that my personality is like, I'm a scientist, but I'm also a people person. Like some people who are scientists, they just go into research and they're so delighted and happy. Some people who are people persons, they don't love to dig into the science because it feels very sterile.

But there's a part of me that has that duality of wanting to embrace both. And that's what neuropsychology is for me.

[00:07:56] Hunter: You, you sound like someone who's like a major achiever, like you were a person who's been working hard for a long time. I know that you're the, um, a child of immigrants and that there were, there were times I imagine when it was really tough kind of growing up.

Did they, do you think that growing up with, you know, with your particular circumstances really helped you get that drive?

[00:08:20] Dr Judy Ho: I think so. I'm an immigrant too because I came over when I was nine years old and so my sister was I was five and I was nine and we, we came over with nothing to our names. My parents had maybe 200 US dollars with them and there was a short period of time when we lived in the car for a little bit because we didn't have a place to live.

And then we got a place to live, but we were basically all holed up in one tiny little room, all four of us and taking turns sleeping on the bed versus on the floor and that lasted at least another year. So, I do think that I don't take my circumstances now for granted. I feel so blessed that I'm able to provide a living for myself, um, being able to basically live out my dream and, and hopefully honoring my parents and everything they went through to come here.

I, I couldn't do what they did. They moved to the United States without knowing how to speak the language, not understanding the culture, not really having a lot of family here. And starting completely over in their thirties. I couldn't do that. I mean, there is no way I, I would just, you know, I would just get used to where I was and I would just, you know, I don't think I'm that adventurous to be honest with you.

So I really appreciate them for taking that step because if I stayed in Taiwan, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have become a psychologist because mental health is still very highly stigmatized there. And so I think that that is a direction that I would have gone in. If I continue to live in Taiwan, I'm sure that I would be doing some income.


[00:09:48] Hunter: tuned for more Mindful Mama podcasts right after this break.

Wow. Yeah, I mean, I guess that that would make you just appreciate sort of every, everything, you know, when you get your own room, you're just like ecstatically dancing for joy, right? Like , when you know, when you're earning your first paycheck, when whatever's happening, right? Like when you're earning your grades and you know, maybe getting.

Um, Mindful Friends, Mindful Family. Um, Mindful Group. And so I would say that we're going to go to a couple of different questions. I know that we're going to be doing a couple of questions with different topics. Um, so, wh what's the theme for the program this week? I'm I'm hearing a lot of with burning coals.

Um, and I was wondering, like, what is the theme of this week's program? some links.

[00:10:47] Dr Judy Ho: Absolutely. And I think that really for me, it's because every single experience feels a lot more profound when you know that it's not a given. And so the first time, as you mentioned, that I earned my first paycheck, it was a really big deal.

But I actually also started working when I was 15 years old, so it was kind of cool to get paid at 15. Um, and my parents always worked for me. two jobs. They were both so hardworking, especially when we were younger and they're trying to really make a name for themselves and provide for us. So it never dawned on me that I shouldn't be working 60 to 70 hours a week or times, you know, cause they did.

And so I think there's certain things that they definitely instilled in me, this value of hard work for sure. And I also think that what's really lovely about my upbringing is that, you know, no parents are perfect. You know, But they were very, in many ways, hands off about what career, um, I could pursue.

So even though my parents have a family business, they are in real estate. And a lot of times families, they get very inundated in this idea of their children taking over their business because that's their legacy. I literally have never gotten pressure from my parents to take over their business. When I told them that I wanted to pursue psychology, they didn't question it.

They said, go for it. They were happy for me, even if they didn't fully understand what it meant to be a psychologist, maybe, you know, like, I think they were very curious about psychology and philosophy as topics, but again, in Taiwan, it's not as such a, Uh, common career. I don't think they really knew what that path was going to look like for me or what my everyday was going to be like, but they said, if that's what you want to do, go for it.

They supported me. Um, I always had them as a safety net. So even though I made my own money, um, even as a student and I also had scholarships, whenever something happened that I couldn't afford, you know, just your car breaks down and now all of a sudden the tires are 2, 000. I just don't have that around in my bank.

My parents always had my back. I could always go to them, and I think that that is also a huge blessing that I'm grateful for because I know that that's not a given for a lot of people. And so I always knew that if something happened, they would still be there for me financially, emotionally, whatever.

They would be there to support me, and I think that that actually allows me to take more risks in my life and to be able to say, and even if I make a mistake, My private practice blows up and actually nobody comes and now I owe money. They'd be there. Um, and it, it did allow me to, I think, progress a bit further in my career than otherwise I would have.

[00:13:10] Hunter: Yeah, that, that secure confidence. I can relate a lot. Like I, I started my first job when I was 12 years old, like cleaning at this bed and breakfast on the weekends. And, um, you know, bought my first car, which is like, had, For 500 bucks and, you know, 1990, uh, anyway, and, um, yeah, I can relate a lot to like, like now when we, when we can, can buy a brand new car, you know, it's like, oh my gosh, just so much gratitude for, for, for that every step of the way.

[00:13:43] Dr Judy Ho: I agree. And that's so cool that you had those experiences too, because I remember my first car I bought when I was going to college and, uh, I was buying a used Geo Prism. Do they still have those around? I think 3, 000. It was definitely a junkie car, but my parents at that point, you know, cause now they're well established, they're doing well, they're financially secure.

They actually offered to buy me a nicer car for college. And I was very insistent that I bought a car that I could actually afford. Because I really wanted that feeling of I own this car and it's not because my parents just bought it for me, but that car broke down so many times. Uh, I, you know, I was living in Berkeley and it wasn't the best neighborhood in terms of the part of the city I was living in and my car got broken into like five times.

I mean, it was just crazy. But it was still my car. Like I feel good about that memory, even though that car was destroyed, people were just like ransacked it. I mean, it was bad. I mean, I mean, when you think about the people who were basically stealing from my car, I'm like, I guess you were desperate because I had no money in there.

And they just took my entire coin, uh, the little coin, uh, reservoir. It's like an actual heart. You know, phone in a car and I guess they were just like, well, this girl doesn't have any money. I'm just going to take her entire coin purse out. It was probably a dollar and 80 cents in there. It was my laundry money.

It was very frustrating. Um, so anyway, I, but I still have such fond memories of that car, even though it broke down all the time and was You know, broken into so many times too.

[00:15:13] Hunter: Oh my God. Oh my God. Yeah. Mine, mine had rust spots on the outside that I spray painted, uh, flowers to just cover up the rust spots.

And it was, it was great. It had a sunroof that you like, physically like popped up yourself. Two super gl rose, you know, I mean. I have great memories about those, too. Alright, so, I love, I've, as I was telling you, like, I kind of, I wasn't sure, I was like, I'm not sure how much I'll enjoy reading a book called The Stop Self Sabotage, and I've been really, really enjoying it.

It's a great book, and it's really well written, and it's really interesting. I mean, I think this is so interesting, you know, to talk about how, We have, you know, the, we have these thoughts, I can never do whatever, right? And this is so common. It's just such a common way that we talk to ourselves. And how did you, how did you decide to kind of hone in on this and, and talking about how to, how to stop these, these, uh, negative, you know, cycles?

Well, I

[00:16:18] Dr Judy Ho: think self sabotage is so universal. Every human being has done it at some point. Um, you certainly know people in your life who are maybe still doing it if it's not you. And I think it's also something that can just creep up on us without us recognizing sometimes. And the things that we tell ourselves, it's really, really important because your thoughts do dictate how you feel and how you behave.

And we are sometimes the meanest to ourselves. We would never talk to a loved one the way that we talk to ourselves in our head. And yet, the more you do it, the more your brain recognizes it as a pattern. And because your brain is trying to conserve energy, It stops consciously recognizing that it's a negative thought that might not bear reality, but it still impacts how you feel about yourself and how you behave and how you go after goals.

And so self sabotage, very simply put, it's just when we get in our own way, despite our own intentions, who hasn't done that? And it can be in different areas of life. It can be in the pursuit of a healthy habit or trying to break a bad one. It could be how you deal with relationships in your life, how you deal with your family and friends, how you approach your career.

So, I think it has a lot of different implications for the different areas of a person's life. And for most people, they don't self sabotage everything. They just have maybe one or two areas in their life that need a little fine tuning.

[00:17:39] Hunter: Yeah, that was pretty interesting to me to think about that. Like how you could be, you know, super financially successful and have great relationships, but maybe you're sabotaging, like in your example in the book, maybe with your, your body or your weight, right?

Or you could have these other areas. I, and some, me, that. really run true, you know, seeing like, you know, certain areas of my life where I like, rocking it, it's great, it's amazing. And then there's some, a few other areas where it's either like some inherent weaknesses of mine, hem, admin, or, um, or maybe there's, there may be some self tab, sabotage going on there.

And you talk about, it's really interesting, this idea of how it's really this, this, um, convergence of two biological drives, the drive for reward plus the drive to avoid threats and kind of an imbalance in these two drives. So can you tell us a little bit more about that?

[00:18:34] Dr Judy Ho: Yes. So every human being has two primary drives.

I mean, it's universal for us, it's evolutionary, and that is to Avoid threat and attain rewards. That's how we thrive as a species and how we thrive as individuals. And attaining rewards, rewards can be things like physical rewards, you know, food, shelter, sex, but it could also be. emotional or social rewards like being welcomed into a community, getting accolades, feeling good about yourself.

And then threats, on the other hand, also have both more of a physical leaning and also more of an emotional leaning. So there's obviously the physical threats that might pose you danger to your body and your actual physical survival. But then there's also threats that are more on the emotional and psychological level, being rejected, um, having imposter syndrome.

Uh, having fears that you can't conquer or phobias. And in essence, our minds and our bodies have not evolved to really differentiate between those two types of threads. Our minds and bodies really see physical and social or psychological threads as one and the same and the fight or flight. Uh, response can be amped up as a result.

[00:19:40] Hunter: And that is, is it pretty much, it's pretty much like fight or flight is pretty much like on or it's off, right? It's basically like an on off system. Like it's either going towards fight or flight, or it's going towards rest and relax. And, and there's not a lot of differentiation that's really happening.

[00:19:54] Dr Judy Ho: No, it is definitely two opposing systems. You can't really be in fight or flight and be relaxed at the same time. And so to your point, when our, um, systems get triggered and when the threats come up, the reason why I think our minds have not. evolved to differentiate between physical and psychological threats is because actually we need both, uh, and being able to avoid both to survive.

And, you know, there's a lot of research lately now that shows that if you feel lonely, if you are depressed and you're not getting treated, that it actually influences your physical conditions, that it can actually increase your risk of heart disease and chronic illnesses like diabetes and even lead to premature death.

And so that's probably why you're Mind and body don't care about the difference because really it's just survival period. And unfortunately what happens with self sabotage is sometimes that threat gets peaked and then it releases that fight or flight sort of response when it probably doesn't need to.

It's not a threat that's actually going to hurt you, but it's more just an emotional threat that you can't process. But when the fight or flight response is triggered, you really only have these And it's either stay and fight or it's run away. And sometimes we end up running away and avoiding the things that we say we want.

[00:21:10] Hunter: Or freeze. Right. Cause I see this in my daughter constantly. Like I see this like drive for, for comfort where she, and I can see her, like she can, she says out loud, like, I want to do this, but this is going to happen. And she like, she, she. She talks about, I want to do this thing, which will give me a reward, but this threat, like, might happen, and I might have this discomfort thing happen.

She says this stuff out loud, and then she ends up, like, paralyzed, kind of, on the couch, right? So, so yeah, so we're, we're kind of going it, so it's like that threat response is a little in overdrive, and that's what's sabotaging us.

[00:21:49] Dr Judy Ho: Yes. And so, yes, I definitely want to speak to that third response of freeze, which is, you know, you either fight and stay fighting if you think that you can beat whatever threat that is, or you run away when you don't think you can.

So your best chance for survival is to run. But also there is that third response of freeze that we don't talk about as much, but that's also a type of survival. And you can imagine it in the animal world as an animal rolling over and playing dead because they can't run that fast, but they can't really fight.

So they just decide to do nothing, pretty much. Do nothing and hope that the threat passes. And that's what sometimes we do when we get trapped in these negative emotions. You know, if we're not actively trying to push it away, sometimes we just do nothing. It paralyzes us. It's almost like you don't know how to solve the problem because your emotions are so heightened.

And so then you kind of stay in one place. And that's exactly when the self sabotage switch gets turned on too, is when instead of saying, okay, this is a threat, but I'm going to try to stay and conquer it and work through it. It's, I'm going to freeze or I'm going to run.

[00:22:49] Hunter: And then we're just reaching for serb comfort, right?

For, we're taking, we're taking refuge in, in something that's comforting.

[00:22:57] Dr Judy Ho: Yes. And I think that that's something that our society and our culture really has. Um, touted as kind of a good thing. Something good to aim for is like the absence of negative emotions. If you look at our media, if you look at advertising and marketing, it's all about everything's wonderful, everything's great, be happy, have positive feelings, but feelings are there for a reason.

They're adaptive, and we need those negative emotions because they tell us something important about what's going on. And oftentimes, negative emotions are what is, uh, something that actually triggers things like intuition, right? Like, oh, I just don't feel good about this. Intuition is actually not just a feeling.

Intuition actually is a brain function that happens. It's more of like at the base of your brain, though. It's not, it's kind of pre verbal and it's not about language. But that feeling, that gut feeling that you have that maybe I shouldn't do this. It actually does come from a combination of experiences and your brain trying to solve the problem.

But it's not in the prefrontal cortex where like all language is living. And so you can't verbalize it. You just have that nagging feeling that this might not be the right thing to do. And your negative emotions have a huge role in that because your negative emotion is alerting you to saying, Hey, pay attention to this feeling, pay attention to this intuition.

This might not be the best way to go.

[00:24:13] Hunter: So, so this idea of like, but, but when we're sabotaging, we're like overestimating these threats, basically. We're saying like, you know, we're, we're kind of putting more weight on those threats rather than, you know, whatever it is, you know, if it, what, the risk to speak in public at that, in this location, you know, we're, we're kind of overestimating those threats.

And you talk about the, you have the acronym LIFE, right? Like they're the reasons why we overestimate these threats. So maybe you could tell us about this, because I think this is really fascinating how we, how we, fall into these different, these different reasons for, for just getting, you know, over, overly, um, avoidant, I guess, uh, of things that might give us some reward.

[00:24:57] Dr Judy Ho: Absolutely. You know, I came up with the acronym LIFE because I saw the same patterns over and over again in the people that I was working with, that really it's one or more of these four drivers that then leads you to, um, Overestimate threat in your life and L stands for low or shaky self esteem. So if you don't have that belief in yourself that you can enact positive outcomes.

then that rest switch is going to get triggered a bit more easily. And for some people, their self esteem really obviously can consist of a number of things. And so you might have really high self esteem with relationships and with healthy physical and body habits, but you don't have a good self esteem when it comes to work.

Right? And so you can see how that then leads that person to more likely self sabotage more with career than they do with like their own physical exercise and maintenance of their body and their relationships in their life.

[00:25:49] Hunter: Can I, can I just ask in here because like, so we talk about self sabotage, like what are, maybe, maybe I think it might be important to like delineate, like what does, what, what really does it look like?

Right? Like what, what are some ways that people do self sabotage? Before we talk about the other ones.

[00:26:08] Dr Judy Ho: Oh yeah, that's great. We can talk about some concrete examples of self sabotage. So, you know, it could be a person who says, I really want a trusting and lovely long term relationship, but every time they get close to somebody, they start destroying it and they start self sabotaging it by pushing the person away.

It could be somebody who says, I really want to get further in my career, but every time they had an opportunity, they either don't show up for it or they procrastinate and don't do their work. And then of course, and they don't get put up for the promotion because they actually didn't produce the product.

It could be somebody who says, you know, my health is very, very important to me. You know, I really need to get healthier. And my doctor has been saying I have to eat healthy. So I need to make these choices. And they do pretty well for a while, but then, you know, they go on vacation. They're like, okay, well, I can just do whatever on vacation.

Then they come back from vacation. They feel so ashamed and guilty about what they did that they end up throwing out the entire goal. Instead of saying, let's just start over. No problem. They just say, you know what? I can't do it. You know, this is just something that I can't overcome. And so those are just some simple examples of how self sabotage can be in our lives and sometimes not even recognizing for ourselves, oh, that's.

[00:27:17] Hunter: Okay. All right. And that makes sense. So if, and then if we have low or shaky self esteem, we're saying like, Oh, I can't do this. I can't go and do that talk. I'll be, I'll be crap. And so I'm just not going to do it. I'm going to say no. Or for me, I could see that in my life when pre pre meditation, a long time ago, I was a high school art teacher.

And I would, I would have, I would get, you know, I, I felt things really deeply, highly sensitive person. And I would get into this, you know, I, I may, it was almost like a panic attack in the, in the parking lot of the high school. And there were times I actually threw out sort of my whole life when I was younger where I'd be like, Oh my God, I can't even deal with this.

Like insecurities would plague me. And I would like. You know, I remember like pretending I was sick going to school or like calling in sick for that teaching job because it was just too overwhelming for me. Like that threat felt too much. So that, that would be like that example of that L, right? Like low or shaky self esteem.

[00:28:21] Dr Judy Ho: Yeah, definitely. And it's great that you are reflecting on that and saying, Oh, this is how, that's what it looked like in my life at a certain time, you know? And I think that sometimes When we do that, again, it's coming from a protective place. You know, you're, you're saying, I don't, I don't wanna show up today because I'm not sure how I'm gonna deal with this.

You know? Um, but I think obviously that then takes away the opportunity of you actually getting, um, disconfirming evidence, right? Like, oh, actually you showed up and everything went amazing. So then you end up actually being in that narrative longer because you didn't get evidence to the contrary.

[00:28:54] Hunter: Oh, yeah.

So it reinforces, reinforces that belief. Mm-Hmm. , yes,

[00:28:58] Dr Judy Ho: exactly. And so I stands for internalized beliefs. And these are the things that we learned from childhood. You know, we learned some positive beliefs from childhood, mostly from parents and other important adults. And sometimes we learn some not so helpful ones.

So one example would be if you had parents who were very anxious themselves and they were very afraid of their environment and they would always tell you, well, don't go outside, don't do this, don't do that. Something might happen to you. You might get hurt. And that was annoying to you as a kid, but now as an adult, you realize that you've adopted some of those beliefs too.

And you've become this person who might be a bit overly cautious and that stops you from maybe doing things that you know would be better, you know, would be in your better interest. And I think I see that a lot when I think about people who, um, don't approach relationships, um, you know, they, they say that they want to, but then they're like, oh, but, I don't want to go out on a blind date, or I don't want to put myself on match.

com, even though they, they have not given themselves any other opportunities to meet people otherwise. But it's just, it holds them back because they don't want to go into this territory, um, that might hurt them. And it actually comes from a place where when they reflect back, they think about their parents and their parents were always very risked at birth.

And so they are now risked themselves.

[00:30:15] Hunter: Yeah, yeah. It's so interesting, and it really ties back to like, uh, we interviewed Mark Wolin, I interviewed him a while back, talking about, you know, how trauma gets passed on biologically, right? We have these, we have these beliefs and we have these sort of reactions and some of them are even physical, like, responses that get, that, you know, get passed on, but these sort of unquestioned beliefs about the world or, uh, for parents about parenting, you know, my child should be like X, Y, or Z, right?

Like these internalized beliefs that if we're not questioning them, they can, they can really like amp up that, that stress response, basically.

[00:30:56] Dr Judy Ho: Absolutely. And also you're thinking about the fact that if the adults in your life, the important adults in your life acted that way, then they didn't develop healthy coping strategies to deal with their fears.

And so they haven't taught that to you. And as children, you know, we learn so much by soaking up our environment and we learn so much by observation. And so if you never had that experience of, Oh, like. This is how you cope when you have fear or when you deal with risks. And how would you know how to navigate that when you have the same problem?

[00:31:25] Hunter: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. And so we have to practice to live what we want our kids to learn. Alright, awesome. So, low or shaky self esteem, internalized beliefs. What, what comes after that?

[00:31:36] Dr Judy Ho: So F is fear of the unknown or fear of change. And as human beings, we all don't love the unknown. I mean, that's actually very much against our DNA because if we, if we can't control our environment, then, you know, we'll have less chance of survival.

And so unknowns are always going to peak that fight or flight response. For some individuals, and it might be a personality or a temperament. Um, they just fear the unknown more than other people, you know, like they just have a propensity to, to deal with that fear and feel it on a much more visceral level than the average person.

And if that sounds like you, then that probably means that when there is too many unknowns or there's too many changes, it actually activates your nervous system too much. And then it feels overwhelming. So a friend who is like this, he is one of the most brilliant people I know. But he has difficulty with anything that's changed or anything that's unknown to the point where I think that he has not taken the necessary risks in his career to be able to be what I personally believe knowing him for 25 years.

Um, whenever there is a promotion, he doesn't go up, uh, because he says that's, that's too much. I don't know what that's going to look like when I get the promotion. What does that mean? What will people expect of me? It's like, well, you don't know until you get this job. That's how it is, you know, but he would just stop himself short of actually going for advancement when I think that he is so brilliant and he should.

And because this is a childhood friend of mine, um, we met in college. I. I've seen him all throughout his life, and really, as he's gotten older, it's gotten worse, which kind of makes sense, right, because as you get older, you become a bit more conscientious, and you become a bit more risk averse, you know, you're maybe not the daredevil you were when you were younger, and since he already had this propensity, it's getting way worse in life, and I just, You know, it's something that I think about all the time.

I adore my friend and I'm just like, you got to go for it. But I also know that that's my own stuff. And you know, if he says he's fine and content, that'll be okay. But he doesn't seem that happy. And so that's where I feel like, try not to be the therapist, but that's, well, somebody like that.

[00:33:48] Hunter: Stay tuned for more Mindful Mama podcasts right after this break.

I hear you. Yeah. There are some times where I'm like, I want to step in with some, uh, Advice here, and I am trying not to. I

[00:34:04] Dr Judy Ho: know, I do feel myself from doing that because I think then if I sound like I'm being critical, it might actually make him feel worse. And so, yes, I've had to hold my tongue, but I really hope he resolves it.

[00:34:18] Hunter: Well, I was super thrilled, Judy, because I did your test on which of the life, uh, self sabotage dominates those, and, uh, Fear of the Unknown happens to be a strength of mine that helps me do a bunch of different things, so I actually am, like, pretty good on Fear of the Unknown, and it does help me overcome other obstacles, so, yay!

[00:34:41] Dr Judy Ho: It helps you to take chances and it helps you to kind of just do things that maybe other people just don't find as easy to do. And I do think that a lot of that is your temperament and personality, but you can still work on it, right? You can, even if you know that about yourself, whether that's a strength or a weakness, there's always ways to bolster it.

There's always ways to make it. And so for those people who are like, Oh my God, I took this test and My F is very, very bad. It's like, it's okay. Like just work on it. That's the whole point is the acknowledgement and that knowledge is going to help you to get to that next level.

[00:35:11] Hunter: Yeah. Yeah. And what you practice grows stronger for sure.

And then the last one is pretty, you know, it's pretty interesting. The, and, and we see this a lot when people are fearful, right? The excessive need for control. So talk to us a little bit about that one.

[00:35:28] Dr Judy Ho: Yeah. Excessive need for control. I mean, uh, ironically this. Uh, happens to trap a lot of people who are overachievers, super motivated, people who I lovingly call type A people.

I actually love type A people. Um, my life is filled with type A people. So I don't have any problems with type A people. I really get along with all type A people. But I think sometimes when you need control of everything, sometimes you won't do anything unless you know that you're going to be in full control.

And so then it actually ends up stopping you in many ways from doing things that actually would help you to grow as a person or maybe would give you more opportunities for other positive outcomes. And the best example I have for this is, you know, people that I've worked with, successful CEOs, you know, multi millionaires.

People who obviously have seen so much in life in their career, but in their romantic life, it's like they just keep falling flat. And it's, why is this happening? Because you're somebody who's a go getter and you know what you want. You say, you know what you want, and then you get into a dating relationship and you always end up calling it off or you end up saying something and the person gets fed up with you and says, you're not the partner for me.

But really it's because you're trying too hard to control. a relationship and you can't because it's like a whole other human being in there with their complex processes, thoughts, experiences, and wants. And no matter what you do, you can't control their reaction to you. And sometimes I've had these people who again, ultra successful in their careers, you don't know their health is on point, whatever.

And it's like, they just can't let go of that control of like this unknown factor of, Another human being. And sometimes I get upset when they say, well, I've done everything right. And she still isn't giving me the time of day. And it's like, well, again, you can't control her reactions. You might be the perfect gentleman and design the perfect for second and third day.

And guess what? She's just not feeling it. What are you going to do? You know? Um, so I think that that excessive need for control can sometimes hold people back because then what I see. Is that a lot of these individuals will then back away and say, well, I don't really want a relationship anyway. It's easier with my life without one.

It's like, okay, but is that true? If that's truly your reality, then fine. But I think you're saying it because It's getting hard for you.

[00:37:36] Hunter: Mm. Mm hmm. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I could, I see this a lot with parents, right? Like where kids are, you know, kids have a mind of their own. They do, they want to do what they want to do.

And that, and we really can't control kids. Like, you know, we can't make them do things, uh, in, in large part. And it's a really hard to understand that we, we can't make our kids do things because we feel. Responsible for them, right? We're, we're really, we want to think, I, I love that, the shift of thinking of, like, we can be responsible to them, um, but, but yeah, this excessive need for control, this is kind of, and it's interesting, too, because so much in life is uncontrollable, like, we really have control of all, like, Extra very, very little in a lot of sense.

You know, it, it's even sometimes, you know, as you were saying, like some of the thoughts we think like we, they arise and they, they come unbidden, right? They may be from our, our family of origin and, and our conditioning and all of those things. So we, we really do have control over very little, but we need to have, like you said, like a, a sense of control.

But it has to be like in moderation, right? It's like the middle path.

[00:38:51] Dr Judy Ho: Yes, and I think that that is exactly right. It's all about the perception of control, but actual control, we have very little. And. I really feel like the COVID pandemic has shown that, you know, it's like, forward, like, you know what? You want to make plans?

You can't make plans. Like, so for people who are used to having their calendar a specific way and they have plans three months out, can't make those plans. I don't know what's going to, I don't know what's going to look like in three months. I don't know if it's going to be opportune at that time to take a vacation.

You know, you can't do those things anymore. And so I do think that the sooner you release yourself of that trap, the better it's going to be. But It's, it's totally innate in human beings to want to control things. And for some people that drive for control is stronger. And it may be that you grew up with very controlling parents.

So then like that becomes one of your values, or it could be that you actually grew up with a lot of chaos. And if that happens, then of course, as an adult, you're thinking, I don't want that to happen to me ever again. And then so then you become very inundated with this need for control.

[00:39:53] Hunter: And, and so, and part of it is really, really recognizing it.

I'm sure I want to talk, of course, about how, how we can kind of address some of these things. But I'm curious about you, Judy, like, You know, you talk about these healthy coping skills that we are, we observe in our parents, right, that if they didn't have these helping coping, healthy coping skills, we're not going to really have them.

And a lot of these things are sort of, sort of internalized. When you, when you started to identify sort of these different areas, did you see, what did you see for yourself, you know, considering that we all have these self sabotages somewhere?

[00:40:27] Dr Judy Ho: Absolutely. I mean, for me, it's probably excessive need for control.

That's probably why I get along so well with type A, because I am type A myself. Um, and I think it's, it's that need for control that has led me into my primary trap of self sabotage, which has always been, um, when in my younger years, procrastination. I used to think that by procrastinating, I was putting out my best work.

So these are kind of the lies that you tell yourself. And I think part of it was that I was too afraid to get started. You know? Um, thinking that I wasn't going to do a good job. And in my mind I was thinking, oh, but if I only have 24 hours left, I'm going to be so motivated that I'm going to put out my best work, right?

And yeah, that works a couple of times. And you remember those times, but then all of a sudden it doesn't work and you get into huge trouble. And remember a couple of times when in grad school, I mean, I really fell on my face and got into big trouble with the university professors. Um, and. Luckily, I learned that lesson a bit earlier.

It's always a challenge though. I, it's always something I have to keep an eye on because I know that I have a propensity for that. But I think that, that procrastination comes oftentimes from a place of, like, perfectionism. Like, you're thinking, okay, I just don't want to get started unless I can do it right.

And before you know it, you've left yourself enough time to do anything. And then you become more overwhelmed and that makes you feel bad about yourself. So you can see how that cycle then kind of keeps going. And so, you know, I think for me, that's probably the biggest thing. I also noticed that, you know, my need for control must still be something that I struggle with because.

You know, when people change things on me last minute, my first response is still irritability, like, uh, no, we, we had this in the schedule for days. Like, why are, and I'm just like, you know what, like, you've got to be a bit more, you know, just open minded, like, and there's different reasons for why different people do things in different ways.

And it's not because it's just trying to make you annoyed today. Right. But so I think that that's something that I'm always constantly dealing with as part of my self improvement to like, let go of that control and also to work on. You know, again, just, you know, not thinking that, um, procrastination is actually the way to put out best work.

It's, it's really not, you know, you should be able to get motivation in a different way. Right. And that was something that I really struggled with.

[00:42:44] Hunter: Well, you have a bunch of, a bunch of different exercises for people to kind of like uncover their triggers and help bust their, um, bust their self sabotaging behaviors.

One which I was super happy to see the, um, the, uh, it's kind of a, basically a mindfulness uh, tool of saying, I'm having the thought that, and putting that in front of our thoughts is something I, I teach a lot, so I find that real, really valuable. Um, Thinking about, um, thinking, thinking about some of these ways to, as you, as I know we don't have a lot of time left, but thinking about how, how do we start this process of uncovering where we self sabotage and what are some of the, what are some of the things we can do to, to move through that, move past it and to, and to stop?

Well, it all starts

[00:43:35] Dr Judy Ho: with your thoughts because, um, no matter what happens, any kind of event that happens to you, we as human beings. Have an interpretation about that event. And that interpretation, or that thought, is what leads us down a path of certain emotions and certain actions. And so in the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy model, when an event happens, it triggers an interpretation.

And that leads you to have certain experiences that can then either turn your cycle positively, or it can actually go down this negative spiral. And so really, it starts with being more attentive to your thoughts. We have on average like 50, 000 plus thought fragments in a day. And so you're obviously not processing all of those.

We need to start really examining our thoughts and realizing that not every single thought you have holds water and is actually, um, rooted in reality. I think a lot of times when we're stressed out, we go to these thought patterns that are very, um, habitual, you know, and they can have A lot of flaws, meaning that they're not taking into account everything that's happening.

And so, for example, somebody could have thoughts that are very catastrophic. You know, something bad happens immediately. It's like the worst is somebody could have thoughts that is very judgy, like, well, I should have done this. I should have done that. They should have done this, all of these arbitrary rules that makes you feel bad about yourself and also the people around you, or somebody's thoughts could actually take on the character of a lot of comparisons.

You know, every time looking at people who have succeeded before you and thinking, well. I'm never going to get there. Right. And all of us have these types of themes and patterns to our thoughts. And the minute that you start to identify them and know what they are, it's actually really powerful because then you say, wow, well, I now know the types of thoughts that tend to hold me back and now I can do something about them.

And so in my book, I then talk about the different strategies to deal with your thoughts, everything from examining them under the microscope, you know, really checking them out to make sure that they represent reality. If they don't coming up with a more balanced interpretation of what happened. And then as you were just mentioning, if those two types of techniques don't do it for you, then it's the idea of distancing yourself from a thought so that it doesn't then impact your feelings and your behaviors and ruins your day.

And so you could have a very negative thought and you're thinking, I can't change it today. I just don't feel good. And I just don't, I just don't feel like I can achieve whatever goal I set out for myself today. Well, if you actually nurture that thought and live with that thought, then you're going to create a self fulfilling prophecy.

But if you just say, I'm having the thought that I'm not going to reach my goals today, then you can still have that original thought be there. But just recognizing that as a thought helps you to distance yourself from it a bit more. It takes it away from an absolute reality. And then hopefully you can still go on to do the meaningful things that you want to do that day.

[00:46:28] Hunter: Yeah, you can, you can see this as a fiction, right, that you're telling yourself, and then you can begin anew, right? It's like a freedom, like rather than being identified with that thing, then you're, it's a freedom to, to make a new choice. So, yes, we're really looking at our, our thoughts and, um, and understanding and kind of interrupting those thoughts.

If you, if what, I mean, I know that, you know, I know what in the, in the mindfulness world what we might think about doing for like ruminating thoughts or things that are sort of like coming back and plaguing us. But I think you have some other sort of. ways to kind of bust through those, um, those, those, uh, ruminating negative thoughts.

What are some of those places that, what are some of those ways that you, you talk about?

[00:47:21] Dr Judy Ho: Well, I think sometimes the rumination just feels amorphous and like it's going to go on forever because it's internal to us. And anything that's internal just feels like you can't get ahold of it. And also you over identify with them.

You alluded this, uh, you alluded to this a little earlier. And so the idea is to try to make that thought concrete and, and also to de identify it from yourself. So one of my favorite techniques is to physicalize the feeling or physicalize the thought. So if you're having a tough thought, Imagine taking it outside of you.

Like imagine you reaching into yourself, taking out that disturbing thought and putting it in front of you on your table and describe it with your five senses. You know, what does that thought look like? If it was a physical thing, what material is that made up? How heavy is it? What color is it? What texture does it, does it have a smell?

Is it making a noise? Physicalizing the thought or the emotion is really powerful because sometimes we over identify with our thoughts. You know, we think. I'll never amount to anything. And that all of a sudden becomes your narrative, right? But if you can take that thought outside of your body and see it as a separate entity from you, then you don't over identify with it.

This is me. And this is the thought that I'm dealing with. But also, when something is outside of our bodies and in the physical and material world, there is an actual beginning and an end to everything. Even the Grand Canyon has a beginning and an end. Even the planet Earth has a beginning and an end.

There's a demarcation of where something starts and where something ends. And that also is a very powerful image because again, when something is internal to us, it just feels like it could just keep going and going and going. And that's what ruminations feel like. So if you can actually put a finite boundary around it, it actually makes it a lot easier to see.

[00:49:09] Hunter: I love that. You know, that reminds me of, um, uh, my teacher, uh, the Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, he would say when we have a difficult emotion to imagine yourself holding it in your arms like a baby and take care of that feeling and, you know, tell the feeling that I'm going to take care of you, you know, and I, I always love that imagery.

I think it's so helpful, but now I know why it's so helpful. It's like putting it outside our bodies. It's making it separate from us. We're, you know, You know, we're, we're physicalizing it and, and, um, and, you know, not identifying with it so much.

[00:49:45] Dr Judy Ho: And that technique is beautiful because it also is in the spirit of acceptance, right?

So you can have a negative emotion and you can still care for it and be good to it instead of saying, I hate to go away. You're saying, let me nurture you. Or even just, if you can't do that, then just letting it be, you know, like, I just accept that you're here and maybe I don't have to do anything one way or another, like you're just here.

And that's why another exercise that I really love is writing down a disturbing emotion that you're feeling or a stressful thought on a piece of paper, and then just putting it in your pocket, like sticking it in your pocket and just walking around all day, still do everything that you have to do. You physicalize what it is.

And in fact, you're keeping it on you, so you're acknowledging that it exists, but you're still going about your day. And that, I think, is another powerful analogy for acceptance. Like, this is an experience I'm having, and instead of having to do anything to manipulate it, or to change it, or to pretend it doesn't exist, I'm literally putting it in my pocket.

It's going to be with me all day. I'm not going to let it change my plans for what I have. I

[00:50:50] Hunter: love that as a coping skill. I think that is so cool. I think maybe I want to try that myself, but I think I'd also love to try that with my kids to be like, okay, let's write this down. This is what's bothering you.

Here it is, you know, and, and. Um, maybe I'm going to see how that goes. That's such a cool, cool idea. Well, you have so much more in your book and you have lots of like amazing exercises and it really provides like an incredible understanding, um, of, you know, oneself, I think, to, to kind of go through this.

So, I really want to thank you for, for doing this work and taking the step to put this out there in the world in such a, such a wonderful, readable format and, and, and doing the work to help. You know, get these ideas out there that were, will really ripple out and help so, so many people. So, thank you for that.

And thank you for coming on the podcast. Where can people find out more about you and everything you're doing?

[00:51:46] Dr Judy Ho: Well, thank you, Hunter, for having me on. It was a pleasure getting to know you a little bit. Um, people can find out more about me. They can follow me on Instagram at drjudyho, D R J U D Y H O. Or they can go to my website.

I have a lot of free resources related to my book at drjudyho. com. And you can pick up a copy of Stop Cell Sabotage anywhere. It's on sale at Amazon. So, you know, Amazon is where everybody buys everything these days. And, um I, that's where I get all my books. So please do check it out and let me know what you think.

Thanks again

[00:52:19] Hunter: for coming on.

[00:52:20] Dr Judy Ho: Thank you.

[00:52:27] Hunter: I love how Dr. Judy Ho explains it so easily and carefully. Like, you know, this is natural avoidance of threat. And it's just out of balance, and those healthy coping skills and mindfulness all being at the root. Of course, mindfulness is always at the root, man, always, always. Well, if you got a lot out of this podcast, I would love to know.

Take a screenshot of whatever you're listening on, tag me in your, in, in a post. I'm, I'm on the Instagram pretty often, so I'm at mindfulmamamentor. com. Yeah, let me know. I love, I love seeing. When you're listening and what your takeaways are, it really means a lot to me. So, and it helps you to solidify, you know, to bring it deeper into your heart when you take some action from it.

So, I invite you to do that. That'd be great. That's it for now. I have some amazing guests coming up. I have Craig and Devin Hayes. Rick Hansen is coming on the podcast. He's an amazing figure in the mindfulness world and, uh, and so many others. Um, I hope you're doing well. I hope you're hanging in there through all the things that are happening right now.

I applaud you for taking this time to connect with something that's meaningful to you right now and right here, because I can, I can feel that. Connection, and I know that it's, um, it's there, it's powerful, and I'm, I'm honored that you're here. I'm honored that I'm in your ears, honored that you're listening.

So thank you, thank you, and I wish you peace and ease and joy moving forward, and I will be back in Your World next Tuesday. So tune in and, and take care of yourself, Mama. Okay. Namaste. I'd

say definitely do it. It's really helpful. It will change your relationship with your kids for the better. It will help you communicate better and just, I'd say, communicate better as a person, as a wife, as a spouse. It's been really a positive influence in our lives. So definitely do it. I'd say definitely do it.

It's so worth it. The money really is inconsequential. It's so consequential when you get so much benefit from being a better parent to your children and feeling like you're connecting more with them and not feeling like you're yelling all the time or you're like, why isn't this working? I would say definitely do it.

It's so, so worth it. It'll change you. No matter what age someone's child is, it's a great opportunity for personal growth and it's a great investment in someone's family. I'm very thankful I have this. You can continue in your old habits. Or you can learn some new tools and gain some perspective to shift everything in your parenting.

Are you frustrated by parenting? Do you listen to the experts and try all the tips and strategies, but you're just not seeing the results that you want? Or are you lost as to where to start? Does it all seem so overwhelming with too much to learn? Are you yearning for community people who get it, who also don't want to threaten and punish to create cooperation?

Hi, I'm Hunter Clark Fields, and if you answered yes to any of these questions, I want you to seriously consider the Mindful Parenting Membership. You'll be joining Hundreds of members who have discovered the path of mindful parenting and now have confidence and clarity in their parenting. This isn't just another parenting class.

This is an opportunity to really discover your unique, lasting relationship, not only with your children, but with yourself. It will translate into lasting, connected relationships, not only with your children, but your partner too. Let me change your life. Go to mindfulparentingcourses. com MindfulParentingCourse.

com to add your name to the waitlist so you will be the first to be notified when I open the membership for enrollment. I look forward to seeing you on the inside. MindfulParentingCourse. com

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