The Think Act Be podcast features conversations about thriving through stress and anxiety. Each week we’ll explore effective ways to face life’s challenges: What thoughts serve us well? What actions promote well-being? How can we practice mindful presence? Guests from a wide range of backgrounds share their expertise on ways to nourish our minds, bodies, and spirits.
Ep. 152: Dr. Kristin Kobes Du Mez — God, the Flag, and Sex Manuals in White Evangelical Christianity
1:15:41My guest this week is Dr. Kristin Kobes Du Mez, author of a recent book called Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation. We explored the definition of an “evangelical,” which apparently I was for the first half of my life (without realizing it), and themes of a patriarchal, male-centered, even toxic masculinity that pervades many evangelical circles. We also considered how it is that evangelical Christianity became so wrapped up in notions of patriotism, military strength, and other things that don’t necessarily come from the life and message of Jesus Christ. Even if a person comes to reject the teachings from their evangelical upbringing, it can be a real challenge to let go of the attitudes and assumptions that have been instilled in us from a young age, as I know from personal experience. Kristin and I shared openly about our understanding of Christ, and the sadness that I certainly feel from the realization that we so often miss the central message of the Gospel—like somehow we just lost our way. And there’s a lot to grieve when we realize how much we squander when we pattern our identity as religious followers after the worldly way of doing things, and how it doesn’t seem to lead to something transcendent, like it could.
Ep. 151: Amanda Gilbert — How to Find Deep Peace and Contentment Here and Now
1:05:47My guest this week is Amanda Gilbert, author of the recent book, Kindness Now: A 28-Day Guide to Living with Authenticity, Intention, and Compassion. As Amanda and I discussed, we could all do with a little more kindness right now—for ourselves, for others, for the world. She introduces the traditional Buddhist heart practices known as the brahma-viharas: loving-kindness, compassion, appreciative joy, and equanimity. The practices she offers will help you to be more resilient in the face of common stressors and triggers in everyday life, including anxiety, feelings of depression, imposter syndrome, and social media comparison effects—and can inspire you to make meditation an essential part of your daily life and self-care practice.
Ep. 150: Kristen Manieri — Trading Safety and Comfort for Being Fully Alive
53:49My guest this week is Kristen Manieri, author of the new book Better Daily Mindfulness Habits: Simple Changes with Lifelong Impact. This was a really interesting conversation that went some directions I hadn’t expected—especially on the topic of mindfulness—that I found really clarifying. One intriguing question we considered together: Should it be relaxing to practice mindfulness and meditation? As Kristen described, it’s not necessarily a comfortable or safe process to fully wake up, and yet it’s the only way to be fully alive. We also explored the importance of connecting with ourselves and our bodies, and how we can use physical symptoms as signals for things we need to attend to.
Ep. 149: Dr. Ilyse Dobrow DiMarco — How to Deal with Mom Brain and the Overwhelming Emotions of Motherhood
1:03:24My guest this week is Dr. Ilyse Dobrow DiMarco. She’s a clinical psychologist and she has a new book called Mom Brain: Proven Strategies to Fight the Anxiety, Guilt, and Overwhelming Emotions of Motherhood—And Relax Into Your New Self. We talked about what mom brain actually is—which is very different from the pop culture ideas about it. She also shares about how to deal with the resentment that many moms feel about all the invisible work they do for the family, and how to manage the common thought processes that contribute to mothers’ stress and anxiety. Ilyse does a lot to validate moms, which is especially important in a society that too often shames mothers for somehow not measuring up to unrealistic standards. Toward the end of our conversation I asked Ilyse how long mom brain lasts, and it turns out it’s probably a lot longer than we might think. If you’re a mother, I think you’ll get a lot out of this discussion, and please share it with other moms you know.
Ep. 148: Dr. Karen Saporito — How to Find Help for ADHD That Doesn't Fit the Stereotypes
48:30My guest this week is clinical psychologist Dr. Karen Saporito. Karen has a particular interest and specialty in diagnosing and treating kids and adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, and autism spectrum disorder. We focused in this conversation on ADHD. I know from my own clinical work that this is a really important topic that doesn’t get enough attention. There are so many people who are struggling to finish assignments in school, or organize their home lives, or meet the deadlines and demands of work, or get places on time, and they don’t realize that they might have undiagnosed ADHD. And sadly the person who’s struggling can assume that it’s their fault, and that they’re just lazy or incapable, when in fact it’s just the way their brain works. Karen does an excellent job explaining why the diagnosis is often missed, especially among girls and women, and the signs and symptoms to look for.
Ep. 147: Dr. Carmen McLean — How Does Effective Trauma Treatment Heal the Body and Brain?
59:54My guest this week is Dr. Carmen McLean, who specializes in treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder or PTSD. She recently co-authored a book called Retraining the Brain: Applied Neuroscience in Exposure Therapy for PTSD. It was great to get Carmen’s take on how effective treatment works and how we can support the body and brain’s natural ability to heal following a trauma. I shared some about my own experience recovering from a traumatic assault, and we explored how powerful it can be to face our trauma-related fears and memories systematically, as we do in cognitive behavioral therapy. Toward the end of our discussion we also talked about a free app that can help with recovery from trauma, which I provide a link to in the show notes.
Ep. 146: Dr. Kathryn Gordon — How to Save a Life by Meeting Despair with Love and Connection
56:17My guest this week is Dr. Kathryn Gordon. Katie’s a clinical psychologist and she recently wrote The Suicidal Thoughts Workbook, so our discussion centered around suicide. This is a painful topic that touches so many of us, and it leaves such a hole in our lives when we lose someone to suicide. A friend of mine took his own life a few years ago, and I still think about it nearly every day, and wonder what was going on in his mind and in his heart that led him to that place of desperation. I’ve also had my own battles with wanting to end my life, when I was in the depths of a chronic illness and depression and started to believe it’d be better for everyone if I just went away. As you’ll hear in our discussion, I really appreciate how Katie approaches the issue of suicide. It’s a scary thing when we know someone is thinking about ending their life, and it’s easy to go into crisis-management mode, and really lose sight of the person in front of us. Katie’s focus is on staying really close to the person, and inviting them to tell her more—really sending the message that there’s nothing defective about us when we’re feeling suicidal, and this is exactly the response that’s missing so often in discussions of suicide. I think the mental health world by and large has made the mistake of emphasizing safety over humanity when suicide is in the room. I’ve heard this from many of my patients and in response to blog posts I’ve written about suicide—that nobody wants to bring it up because they’re afraid they’re going to be treated as a risk to be managed, and that they’re going to be locked up against their will, instead of being treated as a person in pain who needs more connection in that moment. Now, of course safety is important, and we want to do everything we can to help ourselves or our loved one or our patient to stay alive. But we might need to remind ourselves not to lose sight of the bigger picture, that someone who’s suicidal doesn’t want to live because they’re in pain. So it’s not just a question of “what can we do to keep you alive?” We have to ask how we can help someone to move through the pain and find the connection that makes life worth living. And that’s exactly what Katie’s book is all about, so I’m really pleased to share this conversation with you.
Ep. 145: Regina Louise — Finding the Strength and the Will to Live Life on Your Own Terms
57:21My guest this week is Regina Louise, author of a new book called Permission Granted: Kick-Ass Strategies to Bootstrap Your Way to Unconditional Self-Love. I know I’ve often tended to seek permission from other people to do the things I want to do. The first time I had a book contract, for example, I felt like colleagues and past supervisors were looking over my shoulder, and like I had to clear everything I wanted to say with them in my head before I wrote it. But obviously that’s not a great place to write from, and we end up really limiting ourselves when we look to others for permission that isn’t theirs to give. So as you’ll hear Regina describe, we can liberate ourselves from the false stories we carry about what we’re allowed to do and who gets to decide who we are and what we’re capable of. I think you’ll find her message very uplifting and inspiring.
Ep. 144: Dr. Regine Galanti — Empowering Kids to Overcome Anxiety Through the Skills of CBT
43:36My guest this week is Dr. Regine Galanti, a clinical psychologist and author of the recent book, When Harley Has Anxiety. (As you’ll hear in this episode, I somehow thought the name was “Harlan” instead of “Harley,” but we got that straightened out.) If you’re a parent of an anxious child, or you’re wondering if your child might need to see a therapist, or even if you’re dealing with anxiety yourself, there’s a lot to take from this discussion. A central message in Regine’s work is that difficult emotions aren’t dangerous—and that bravery is a decision. So a lot of what CBT for anxiety is about is finding techniques that give us more leverage to act bravely. And when we do, we’ll find that difficult emotions either go away, or we get better at tolerating them. So this is a really key lesson to learn at any age. I’ll look forward to your feedback on this episode.
Ep. 143: Dr. Judith Ruskay Rabinor — How to Make Peace with Our Mothers
49:37My guest this week is Dr. Judith Ruskay Rabinor, a psychologist who recently wrote a memoir about making peace with her mother. We talked primarily about the mother-daughter relationship, but these are issues that are relevant for all parents, and for both daughters and sons. Judy has a wealth of knowledge and experience that she shares in this episode, including specific techniques for healing our relationships. And she’s confident that it’s never too late to make peace with our mothers.