Ep. 123: How To React To The World Around You

    We've arrived at Election Day. And since this day is highly emotional for some people, I wanted to talk a little bit about mindset and how to react to the world around you. Pivotal moments like this can make us feel out of control. In this episode, I want to help you see what you control and what you don't. Focusing on your own thoughts, feelings, and actions is the only way to be able to show up the way you want. So let's start there.
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    Show Transcript:
    Hello, my friends. Welcome to another episode. I'm so excited to have you here. How are you all today is a big day in the United States. If you're listening to this from somewhere else, or if you're not listening on the day that it gets released today is November 3rd, which is our election day feels like a very big election for our country. And actually it caused me to change my idea for the podcast. I actually had a kind of follow-up to the podcast episode I recorded last week. Last week, we talked all about how the sunk cost fallacy is keeping you stuck. And I was going to follow that up with a podcast about opportunity costs, but I figured since today is going to be a very highly emotional day for a lot of people. I wanted to talk about it a little bit, because as you guys have noticed, if you've been listening to the podcast, I've been doing a lot on mindset.
    The reason I'm so obsessed with this mindset work is because it affects every aspect of your life. It's not just obviously for career, but really everything and who doesn't need some help with their mindset when it comes to politics. So I figured we should talk about it. And before I'm going to start into my thoughts about the election and today, and how to kind of take care of yourself today. I want to give you a little story about myself. If you've been listening for a while, you may or may not know that I used to be a federal public defender. What that means for people that might not know or don't live in the United States. When in our justice system, somebody is appointed an attorney when they are either accused of a crime or convicted of a crime and are appealing. They have the right to an attorney and if they can't afford it, either the federal government or the state government pays for their attorney, right?
    So I represented people in the criminal justice system. I specifically represented people who were facing the death penalty. And I did this work for about four years and I was very, very passionate about the topic. I still am very passionate about abolishing the death penalty. And I wanted to really make a difference in that field. And I thought I would be there for a long time. And obviously, as you guys know, I have quit the law and there's a lot of reasons for that. But I think what I haven't really talked about a lot on the podcast is for me, one of the main reasons that I left was I had gone to law school to work in the criminal justice system and to work in public interest work. And I felt so burned out by that work that I didn't want to do any other type of law.
    There was obviously other reasons that I didn't like the law as well, but a very large portion of it was how burned out I felt. And the reason I felt so burned out and I realized this now, after doing so much mindset work, I didn't realize this then was because I was consumed with anger and frustration and a lot of negative emotions. I didn't know how to regulate my emotions at the time. And I was so enraged about the criminal justice system that it ate me up inside and made me feel completely helpless and hopeless. Because we were working at such an incremental pace, so slowly things were eyeing on a case-by-case basis. And even though there had been strides, you know, when you look back, it seemed like nothing was happening. It wore me out. And it wasn't until I left that I really thought about who was served by me being angry.
    Nobody like if my anger led me to quit to do nothing right. To get so overwhelmed that I had to take myself out of this game, then what was the point of that anger? I really now looking back, I realize how kind of disempowered I felt and the thoughts that I had that kind of led me to think that it was pointless and that I was going to ruin my life because of the fact that I didn't know how to handle my emotions in that arena. I've learned a lot since then. I wish I had these tools back then. And that is why I'm really passionate about talking about it so much. And I really want to help people, not just when it comes to, you know, politics and things in the world, but even when, obviously when it comes to your career and I will kind of tie all of this back into that at the end of the episode, that these same principles apply to when you're unhappy in your career.
    I think obviously certain things have maybe a larger emotional reaction. And so it's, I don't know, it's easier to evaluate the political climate, but it works the same way. That's why I want to talk about this election. I actually felt I'm really excited to do this episode because I know that it has been a very exhausting couple of years for so many of us that live in the U S I know how important and monumental this election feels to so many of us. And I don't deny that there are a lot of unique circumstances with the pandemic and what has happened in the last four years. And that has caused a lot of people to have, you know, more what seems like a strained, mental health, or much more negative emotions. And so I want to address in any way, if I can help in any way you reframing it or working on your own thoughts in order to have you show up the way that you want to show up. Okay. So with that long introduction, let's talk about this election and today, and how we can manage our own mindset in order to be able to show up the way we want to be. So, you know, since I've been doing thought work, these last couple of years have been very interesting to watch the world through this lens now, because I've really been reevaluating and seeing how much we all just create our own worlds.
    We all are literally just living in our own realities that we have created with our thoughts and our thoughts lead to our own feelings and our feelings lead to our actions. Right? And if there was ever an example, I think right now it is this, you can see that circumstances, facts in the world don't actually matter, right? We've seen this, like if you look at COVID, people will pick whatever facts, support, the thoughts that they already have, right. Support the thoughts that they are leaning towards. And we've already been shown, like there's all these psychological phenomenons about when we are confronted with opposing facts, our thoughts to what we believe we dig in our heels deeper, right? We don't actually change our mind and think like, Oh, that is a scientific fact. Maybe I should change the thought I'm having. We decide that, you know, whatever it's fake news, or there is a reason that that doesn't apply or whatever it is, but it's been really fascinating to watch how we literally all are just living in our own realities and then getting frustrated and angry that like, how can other people not see it the way that we see it now, obviously this has been even more heightened with social media and a lot of the disinformation campaigns and the amount of information that is out there and what people are, you know, being able like what they're being fed.
    And that is a topic for another day. And I actually I'll talk about a little bit later, but it's just interesting to watch and see how people will pick whatever fact they want, or look at a fact, look at the same fact in wildly different ways because they have different thoughts about it. And whatever thought they're choosing is gonna make them feel a certain way. And then, however, they feel they're either they're going to act or not act, you know, based on that feeling. I was thinking about this yesterday, I was reading an article about the Spanish monarchy. It was like some article about years of apparent corruption. And the fact that Spain's King was exiled or left, or I don't even remember, but I remember I was reading it, thinking how interesting that, like, I'm reading this and I don't have any feelings about it.
    Right. Because I don't really know what's going on in Spain. It doesn't really affect me. You know, it seems like somebody shouldn't be corrupt and stealing money from their people, but like, it's not, I'm not gonna lose sleep over it. Right. But I'm certain that people in Spain when they're reading the same information, have tons of very intense feelings about what is happening right. With their politicians. So I was reading that while thinking about our political situation because I have tons of thoughts every day when I see the news about what's happening in America because it does affect me directly. And I am seeing it every day and I am keeping up with the news, but I'm also observing it. Right. I'm also observing it in my own mind. And thinking about like, what is, what is the thoughts that I'm thinking about this?
    And I want to give a big caveat here because I think when people hear this kind of stuff, a lot of times they think that it means that you should change your thoughts. Like, because it is our own thoughts that cause our feelings and our feelings cause our actions, then we should change our thoughts to not be angry or to not be mad or to not be whatever the thought is. That is not what I'm saying at all. I actually want to keep most of my thoughts about what is happening, right? When something horrible happens in the world, I want to feel disappointed and angry and saddened or whatever the feeling is. I don't want to feel happy. Right? I don't want to feel like, eh, whatever, not a big deal. I want to feel any appropriate emotion. I want to have a thought about what is happening that aligns with my own values.
    And I don't want to change those values in order not to feel a negative emotion. So in no way, am I saying that you need to change all of your thoughts to just feel happy, go lucky thoughts. That is not what I want to say, but I do want to say that becoming aware of your thoughts is important because it leads to your results. It leads to your actions, right? I say your thoughts leads to your feelings, your feelings lead your actions and your actions are the results that you get in your life, right? And so you may want to feel angry or you may want to feel upset about what's happening, but you might also want to feel empowered to do something. Right. And I was, I was just mentioning in my story about the criminal justice system, I realized that that level of unchecked anger did nobody any good.
    It did not serve the people that are suffering still. Right? It didn't serve me. It didn't help in any way. All it did was consume me. You know, there is that saying that anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. I mean, it is a truth. I want you to think about that with respect to a lot of these emotions, like anxiety, like who is benefiting from you, feeling anxious about, let's say what's going to happen today. Right? A lot of times I just repeat to my brain, like regardless of if I feel anxious or not, the outcome is going to be the outcome. What is going to happen is going to happen. Right. That does not mean they don't get involved or I don't do anything. I just think, do I want to sit here and feel consumed with anxiety and anger and despair when that does nobody any good and it is to the detriment of me, or do I want to figure out how do I feel something where I feel empowered?
    What are the thoughts that are going to serve me? And that are going to serve the causes that I care about. That's going to get me mobilized. It's going to get me to do something as opposed to just feeling hopeless and, you know, anxious and angry and enraged and all these other emotions. And so that's why it's so important to become aware of it because there are so many of us, and there are so many, you know, in the world who have kind of given in to that despair. Right? You see so many people who are bitter and who don't even vote, who decided that their vote doesn't count that. Why does it make a difference? Right. That's their thought that like, it makes no difference. So I'm not even going to try, or I'm not even gonna give into this system. I think about things like that.
    And I think, how does that serve the people that I want to help? And so I'm constantly aware of the thoughts that I'm having, not in order to change them, not in order to never feel upset, not in order to not even feel like I, I guarantee I'll probably feel anxious for most of the day to day, but it's an anxiety that I want to feel. And then I'm in control of that. I don't let it go unchecked. I really check into it with myself about like how long they, anxiety is lasting, where it comes from, what I control. And so that's what I want to talk about today is how I've dealt with my thoughts throughout the last four years. And just in general, when I deal with kind of politics and world problems and why I've been doing that in order to actually have me show up more, not less.
    So this is how I deal with a lot of the uncertainty and the big feelings around these important issues. One, I stopped waiting for everything to be great in order to feel okay. Some of us feel guilty when we see that there are horrible things happening in the world. And we think like, because we are privileged and that's very much an acknowledgement, I have, I understand that I'm privileged beyond my own understanding for a long time, I felt very guilty and shameful about everything I had. I felt like I always had to be angry and upset and sad and all these other things because so many were living under such horrible circumstances. But again, me feeling horrible and angry and anxious does not change their circumstances, right. It just runs my life and doesn't actually get me to do anything. And what I started realizing is if I'm going to wait for everything in the world to be okay, then I will never feel okay.
    It will never happen because unfortunately, humans can be very terrible to each other. And there will always be something horrible happening. And even as some things get better, other things are going to get worse. As soon as we figure out one solution to something, something else pops up, you can look at technology as an easy example, right? It solves so many problems. There are so many things that we have solved as humans, but then we've just created other problems for ourselves. Now, this doesn't mean that we don't work on the problems. One of the best parts of humanity is our ingenuity and our desire and ability to problem solve. And I really truly think that the vast majority of people are good and want to help and will do whatever they can to help whoever they can, their neighbors, you know, their friends or family, people they've never met and we should be doing those things.
    But when I look back at my life right in the 40 years and close to 40, not 40 yet, but in the 38 years of my life. And I think about everything that I've witnessed, right? Everything I've heard growing up, all of the different Wars and the conflicts and the uprisings and the famines and all of these things. And I know I'm going to hear so many more as I continue to age, or I think about my parents or my grandparents and what they witnessed in their 70, 80, 90 years of life. And I see that this unfortunately is part of humans. And my question becomes to myself, how do I want to think about it? Right? Because I don't want to be apathetic. I don't want to get to the place where it's like, well, this is just going to happen. And I can't do anything, but I also don't want it to consume me. And so I, it's just an acceptance of like, there will always be good and bad and I can figure out where I'm going to direct my attention and my control.
    Number two, I look at history, Martin Luther King said the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice. This is a guiding principle for me in my life. I think about this quote often when I'm feeling overwhelmed because I know that we all wish that these horrible things would stop. Trust me. I wish I had some power to be able to stop them, but they're not going to. And what comforts me is knowing that even though it is a slow process, we do progress towards a more just and moral civilization. I mean, when you look back at just the last hundred years, you see the massive strides that we've taken towards a more equitable and just world, do we still need to make tons of more strides? Of course, we do. Do I think like you just sit back and hope that it gets better. No, that is not what I'm saying, but I know that even with our collective efforts, it's not going to be realized in a day or a year or even an election cycle.
    I know that it is longterm and I am there for it. Like I want to show up for the longterm change. I want to be a part of the change in my lifetime. I want to see where can I show up and do my part, but I can only do that if I'm not consumed with all of the horrible things happening, number three, our brains are not equipped to get this much information when we were growing up. I feel like before we were growing up and there was like TV before TVs and stuff, like people really had no idea what was happening in other parts of the world, or they would find out, you know, every once in a while, when we were growing up and there was television and there was more news reporting, even then it was like, what one hour of news, a night, one or two hours where you would hear about things that were going on in the world.
    And that was it. And then there was no more news for the rest of the day. Right? And so you went back to your life and you worried about your own things and you did whatever you needed to do. And then maybe you heard about the horrible things again the next night. But I mean, think about right now how much you are inundated with every horrible news story that happens in every corner of the world. I, one day I remember like wanting to take, like stock of everything that I read. And it was so overwhelming when I started writing it down. I mean, just the sheer number of horrific things, you know, from like child sex trafficking and famines and dictators, like committing genocide on their people. And, you know, I horrible drunk driver and wildfires and whatever else it was, it was just non stop relentless.
    And I remember kind of paying attention to it and thinking like, my God, how can I have outrage constantly for all of this stuff? It literally is impossible. It is unhealthy. Right? And I know so many of us feel guilty or we kind of dilute ourselves into thinking that we are just keeping up with current events, but that's not what we're doing. Right. When you're bingeing the news, when you're doing this doom, scrolling and constantly are refreshing or constantly looking at whether it's a news site or just social media, your brain has to process everything. That's the way our brains work, right? They process it, processes all of the information that's coming in. So even when you're mindlessly scrolling, your brain has to do something with that information. And we all know that the news media makes its money on doom and gloom and clickbait, right?
    Nothing sells better than fear. And so they are constantly bombarding us with the worst of the worst, right? There's tons of amazing things happening in the world, too. There's tons of people doing incredibly helpful, amazing, proactive, lovely things every single day. And if our newsfeeds were just that if every day you would just see headline after headline of like firefighters rescuing kittens are, you know, I mean, but seriously like doctors solving world health problems and firefighters saving people from burning buildings and all these other things. And not even that dramatic, right? Just seeing neighbors, helping each other, or a soup kitchen, providing food for people that may not have it or whatever else it might be. Imagine how different your mindset would be if like your day was just given that information. The reality is, is you can do with that information as much as you can do with all the doom and gloom.
    It's not like you are saving the world by reading all of these news headlines, you just keep taking it in. And then you're expecting to go back to your daily life and like work on your project or build that business, or be with your children and not feel affected by the fact that all these images that you've seen of people suffering around the world, it's not possible, right? Your brain is trying to process all that. And there's a reason why so many of us may not even understand why we are feeling the way we are feeling and why we just feel restless and frustrated. And a lot of it is just the consumption of all of this terrible news. I want you to realize that you cannot be knowledgeable on everything that is happening. I remember when I was younger I used to feel such outrage that people didn't know what was happening in Iran, right?
    Whether it was like the Iranian regime or whether even through, you know, elections for me, obviously in my family who comes from Iran, I still have a ton of family in Iran. What happens with United States? Politics is very important to me with respect to how it affects Iran and the Iranian people. Obviously when I vote or when I look at candidates or when I look at the Pratt forum, a lot of their international policies are very important to me. And I remember feeling kind of smug and outrage that other people didn't know. And I don't know, thought I was like more on top of things. I was very young and dumb and I realized that the only reason I know so much, and it's so important to me is because my family lives there. Right. It's because I have a direct interest in what happens with Iran.
    And so I'm constantly, you know, my parents are talking about it. My family members are talking about it. And so I know, and I'm up to date on it. Obviously I have nowhere close to that knowledge with everything else that's happening in every other country. And I, there's no way for me to know. And I feel like when I've humbled myself a little bit to realize that like, okay, I'm very interested in what's going to happen with Iran for a lot of reasons, both with respect to America and with respect to Iran. But that doesn't mean that is that's other people's interests or main concern. And it can't be because there are hundreds and hundreds of other countries who are also dealing with their own problems and with geopolitics and what's happening in their regions and all these other things. And so you have to decide what you can focus on and forgive yourself for not being up-to-date on everything else.
    I think there sometimes becomes a lot of shaming online about not keeping up. And I think we think we have to know everything about everything. And there are oftentimes when there's a conflict or there's something happening right then. And it is so beautiful that we have social media to put pressure on governments or to demand that action be taken and we should pay attention to those. So I'm not saying to just scroll past everything and say, I don't want to deal with any of this. What I'm saying is like show discernment and forgive yourself and be okay with the fact that it won't be with everything and choose which things you want to focus on. Set limits for what you take in. Bingeing on social media is a type of numbing. You keep taking in info as a way of not doing anything else.
    And then you'll feel not only like about the rest of the world, but you feel like about your own life. It serves nobody. So as long as you're just laying there scrolling and not doing anything else and just taking in the information just to keep taking in more information, you're literally not doing anything for anybody, but you're harming yourself. And especially in a day like today and the coming weeks, and whatever happens with this election, you have to be mindful of how much information you're taking in. You have to resist the urge to binge it. You have to resist the urge to constantly want to check every single second, because it's not going to serve you. The fourth thing I would say is focus on what you can control. This is the biggest lesson I've learned by far is that there is so much that we don't control in this world.
    And because most of us are not taught about our mindset. We spend all of our time losing our minds over that, right. We're constantly trying to control everything else in the world. And we're constantly feeling like if we can't control it, then we can never feel okay. And we feel so much worse, but I want you to just remember that nothing in the outside world makes you feel a certain way, your thoughts about that, what is happening in the outside world make you feel that way again, you can choose to keep those thoughts, but you can also decide to feel empowering thoughts about that same situation. So I'm not saying that because your thoughts are making you feel mad or sad or disappointed or angry or whatever about what's happening in the state of politics that you have to change that, but you can start thinking.
    I'm so disappointed that this many people in the country would do X. I'm going to focus my time and money on this organization to help combat that, right. I'm going to donate monthly to this cause, or I'm going to volunteer with this organization, or I'm just going to learn about this cause more, I'm going to focus on this one cost so I can teach my friends and family about it, right? That's more than most people will ever do. And if you could just do that, then, I mean, we would make huge strides in our country and just the world. If everybody, instead of just doom, scrolling and telling ourselves how the world is, if we focused on the thing that we could change, the thing that we think should be different in this country or in this world. And we set about to take a step and to do something that would literally change the world.
    And yet we don't do that. And so I want you to focus on like, what is it that you control? What do you control right now? You know, if today is going to be a high anxiety day for you, if it's going to be a day where you feel kind of out of control and you feel like things are very scary or whatever, the thoughts you may have, I want you to go back to thinking like, what do I control? What can I do today? What can I focus on? And maybe that's just working on your mental health, which is the last thing I was going to say is that you need to spend time working on your own mind. Mental health is key. Now that might mean self care. Yes. Like figure out things that get you detached from the news that help you pour into yourself, that help you find some joy in this world that helped you find like-minded people that connect you with people around you.
    That is super important. If you feel like you're struggling with anxiety and depression seek help. There are so many ways now through online, or even in person to get therapy and to get the support that you need. But I also think alongside that and the self care work on your thoughts. There hasn't been a bigger impact in my life than figuring out how to observe my own thoughts and then work on them and decide what I want to think and focus on the thing that I can focus on and figure out how I want to show up. It has made me feel so much more in charge of my own life. It has gotten me out of this victim mentality. It has gotten me out of this hopeless mentality of like, everything is just happening. Everything is doom and gloom, and I just have to trudge my way through it.
    It, it has allowed me to see the world in a different way. And I really hope that you all kind of see the benefit of it through these podcasts and understand the benefit of working through it yourself. And so with respect to today and the next couple of weeks, I really hope that you spend the time to do some of this stuff to limit your news intake, to focus on the things that you can focus on to accept that even if it's uncertain, which spoiler alert life is always uncertain. Even if it looks like it's going to be horrible or bad, that you are still allowed to find joy, you are still allowed to feel okay. You're allowed to feel hopeful that the moral arc of the universe will bend towards justice. You are allowed to feel empowered that you are going to make the change that you can make, and that's all you're going to focus on.
    So that is my hope for you for today. I do want to let you know that this is the same exact prescription that you have for anything outside of your control, not just politics. So on this podcast, we talk a lot about your job and I'll do some specific episodes about this, but I see so many people who have just taken this role of a victim in their own careers. They just have accepted that their boss is horrible or their work environment is horrible. And they ruminate over it. They have tons of thoughts that are disempowering. They feel hopeless, they feel stuck and they don't realize how much power they have in the way that they think they don't realize that they can control so much from their day to day, that they can focus on where the parts are that they can find joy or that they can set up boundaries or that they can stop people pleasing or whatever the thing is.
    And all of that comes from understanding that your own thoughts are causing your feelings and that you can work on those thoughts. You can choose thoughts that serve you. You can still pick to feel a certain way, but you can decide, am I going to stay in this job, or am I going to leave? I'm going again to show up differently and not be treated a certain way, or am I going to keep allowing this to happen? We have so much more power than we think. It's just that it's not the power to change everything outside of us. And once you can realize that you have the power to change what is within you, you will open up the doors to a new life. So with that, I hope that you will all take care of yourselves today and for the weeks to come in, whatever way you need.
    Thank you so much for listening. I can't tell you how much it means to me. If you liked the podcast, please rate and review us on iTunes. It'll help other people find the show. If you want to connect or reach out, follow along on Instagram and Facebook at lessons from a quitter and on Twitter at Twitter podcasts, I would love to hear from you guys and I'll see you on the next episode.