Negative thinking— though unwanted— is not exactly the enemy we think it is. In this episode, Dr. Lara Pence reveals how something negative may just be your key to success.
Dr. Lara Pence is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist. She is the owner of her own private practice, Chief Mind Works, in Colorado and has worked with parents, families, and children for the last two decades.
She is the co-author of “10 Rules for Resilience: Mental Toughness for Families,” the Chief Mind Doc at Spartan, and founder of LIGHFBOX.
She is also featured as a regular guest expert on the new CNBC show, “No Retreat: Business Bootcamp’ with Joe De Sena— who has recently been on the show (see JimHarshawJr.com/340).
Lara has also worked as a coach at Unbeatable Mind alongside Navy SEAL Mark Divine— who graced the show back in episode 45 (see JimHarshawJr.com/45).
In this episode, Lara reveals why having negative thoughts is just as important as having a clear and positive mind, how to handle them, and how to address such thoughts— especially when it’s your kids on the receiving end. Don’t miss this interview. Tune in now!
If you don’t have time to listen to the entire episode or if you hear something that you like but don’t have time to write it down, be sure to grab your free copy of the Action Plan from this episode— as well as get access to action plans from EVERY episode— at JimHarshawJr.com/Action.
Lara Pence: You know, someone just decides, you know what, I'm going to run a marathon this year. That's what I'm going to do. Right. But they don't really reflect and take a productive cause to ask themselves. But why does that matter to me? Like what about that is important to me,
Jim Harshaw, Jr.: welcome to another episode of success through failure.
This is your host, Jim Harshaw, Jr. And today I bring you Dr. Lee. Hence Laura is a licensed clinical psychologist. She also holds her MBA, which makes her about eight to 10 times smarter than me. But the really cool thing about this interview is how oddly incredibly aligned our philosophies are. You're going to find that.
They just a fascinating interview with a lot of real practical, real world stuff that you can apply to your life. She's also the owner of her own private practice called chief mind works in Colorado. She's worked with parents and families and children for the last two decades. She also the co-author of the book, 10 rules for resilience, mental toughness for families.
And that is what. Joe. DeSena the CEO of Spartan race, who I interviewed in episode 340. And that was the second time I had Joanne had a one way back in episode 27 as well. Dr. Pence is also the chief mind doc at Spartan. Also, she also worked with mark Devine on beatable mind, who you guys probably have heard of.
I had interviewed mark way back in episode 45. He's a Navy seal. Laura is also the founder of life box. So L I G H F box, it's an app. We're going to have a link to that in the action plan. So go to Jim harsher Jr. Com to get that link to the action plan, as well as all the notes and everything. From this episode, Laura was also featured as a regular guest expert.
On the new CNBC show with Joe de Sena called what's the new retreat business bootcamp, no retreat, colon business bootcamp. That's the name of the show? It's on CNBC. It's fascinating. When I was up at the Spartan headquarters in Boston and then up in Vermont, a few months ago, working with the team, they just finished recording it and it was going to be ready to go live.
So interesting to show is going to be fascinating. And by the time you guys listen to this, it will be already on the air. So anyway, check that out. If you want to spread the word about this podcast, do good in the world by letting other people hear this and learn from this two ways to do that. Number one, you can take a screenshot right now of the episode that you're listening to and just post it on Instagram or posted on Twitter or Facebook.
Tag me and let me know that you're listening. I'll make sure to comment on it or share it otherwise as well. Also leaving a rating and review on whatever platform you're listening to this on, whether it's on apple podcasts or Spotify, or otherwise a rating and review that bumps this up in the authority in the rankings there.
So thank you in advance for doing that. If you want to apply what you learned here from Dr. Pence. Because our philosophies are so aligned. Just go to JimHarshawJr.com/APPLY. You can apply for a one-time coaching call with me. All right. That's enough of me talking. Let's get to the interview with Dr. Laura Pence. So let's start with this. Why did you become a psychologist? What led you to your career?
Lara Pence: People? People to me are fascinating and I've always been interested in why we do what we do and how we think, what we think. And you know, what we believe. And, you know, I grew up in a home where movies were like the backdrop of my life in the sense that we always watched movies.
My parents ran a film festival, so they were always. You know, watching it sort of through the lens of story and really curious about the story and about the characters. And so, no matter what age we were, five or 15, they were asking our opinions of what we thought of the movie. And, and so it allowed me to really sort of get curious about the players in the movie and the people in the movie.
And I think that was really what attracted me to just being interested in people. And then. You know, in eighth grade we took one of those like human behavior courses where we walk around with an egg and we think it's a baby, so we can't drop it. And we learn about social psychology and all that stuff. I just thought it was so cool.
I mean, I just thought that people were interesting. And so, you know, it was honestly a pretty linear progression in that way with my career. I mean, I went to college knowing I would study psychology. After college. I knew that I would go to graduate school and, you know, that's where I find myself today as a psychologist.
So I feel really lucky in the sense that, like what I imagined myself doing when I was younger is pretty much what I'm doing right now at 42, which is pretty much.
Jim Harshaw, Jr.: Yeah, that is really cool. You know, I, I think back on what I would do, definitely go, I would probably follow a track more like yours. I mean, I got to this place in a very roundabout way, which gave me very unique experiences in entrepreneurship and business and working with companies and, and whatnot.
But yeah, that, that definitely fascinates me. Maybe that's why I married a licensed therapist.
Lara Pence: It's possible for sure. Yeah. Get your teaching by proxy.
Jim Harshaw, Jr.: Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah, she definitely has. I was trying to ask her to come on the podcast, but she doesn't want to do it. So she's definitely the brains of this operation.
So maybe one day for the listeners out there, maybe one day, the better half will show up here, chipping
Lara Pence: away. Keep nagging eventually. Yeah.
Jim Harshaw, Jr.: So for the listener, What I'm going to be asking Laura about today may feel a little bit like scatter shooting and there, like they keep emailing a lot of these bullet points and things I want to hit on because I know what's going on in your brains.
That's for my clients and for my listeners. So these are some of the things we're going to hit on, and it might feel like scatter shooting, but these are really thought out things that I wanted to ask Laura, that she's really an expert on really going to bring us some good insights. So Laura, let's start with this negative thought.
Why do we have these? They don't feel like they do us any good, but they seem to always be there, especially of course, when we are dealing with failures and adversity. Can you talk about negative thoughts and where they come from and why we have them?
Lara Pence: Yeah, that's a great question. And actually, when you emailed me this question, you know, one of the best things about coming on podcasts like this, especially when I get the questions emailed ahead of time, is it allows me to sort of like rethink the way that I think about things, right?
Because when I'm with my clients, it's much more. Potential situation than it is like learning. I'm not in classrooms anymore, you know, and I don't teach and I barely lecture. So, you know, it's nice for me to actually have these questions and be able to think about them in some ways, like, yeah, what is that?
And why do we have that? So, you know, this one I thought was great because for me, like when I try. Answer anything, whether I'm answering it for a client or answering it for someone like you, like podcast hosts or just anybody that's interested. I try and think of like, well, what's the most simple way to explain something because they think that we can get bogged down with really confusing language about things, you know, for example, boundaries, boundaries, in my opinion, or just what's okay.
And what's. Like super simple, right? Mindfulness is another one. Like people get really confused about what mindfulness is. Mindfulness is just paying attention. It's all of this, right? So negative thoughts for me, they're really thoughts that we have that feel uncomfortable and it make us uncomfortable.
And I think that we have negative thoughts. Really in so many ways, because we're primal human beings that want to survive. And so our brain is constantly evaluating the world in terms of what's going to allow us to survive and what's going to kill us. I mean, that's the most basic primal state of our brain, right.
And our brain wants to stay alive. Like it's interested in maintaining survive. And so I actually think that negative thoughts often pop in because we're struck with an opportunity or a challenge to ask ourselves is what I'm doing right now, helping me survive or letting me thrive or moving me towards death.
You know? And again, like this is sort of in a, in a much larger context, it's not really as simple as zap. So negative thoughts pop in because. You know, at any given time it provides us with that opportunity. So for example, you know, if I'm having a conversation with you, right. And I have the negative thought of, gosh, this really isn't going well.
Right. Well, that's really in so many ways, like in my opinion, the brain just signaling to me. Let's evaluate how you're doing right now. And I think this is where we get stuck because when we have a negative thought, we interpret it immediately as just that negative. And really, I think one of the best ways to overcome our negative thoughts is when we have a thought that makes us feel uncomfortable, it makes us feel insecure.
It makes us feel self doubt. It's an opportunity. Actually for us to be able to challenge that thought, right. With something different, like, well, hold on. This is actually going really well with Jim right now, right. Or to pivot and do something a little bit different because the truth is sometimes we might have a negative thought that actually is grounded in reality.
You know, I could, for example, have the thought, gosh, this really is not going well and I'm not doing a very good job. Well, maybe I need to pivot and evaluate, and maybe I need to shift my language a little bit. So I think a negative thought really in so many ways is an opportunity. It's not a threat. And I think that that's why we get tripped up is that sometimes when we have a negative thought, we interpret that as fact.
Right? So if, for example, I say to myself like, oh gosh, this really isn't going well with Jim right now. Well, that's not a fact. That's just a. So it's an opportunity either for me to say, no, it's going great and keep going. Or like I said before, pivot and do something different, but it's not necessarily a fact that I need to attach to.
It's an opportunity for me to evaluate,
Jim Harshaw, Jr.: but how do you become aware of these thoughts? I mean, is it as simple as, you know, doing some things like journaling and meditation, but how do we become aware in the moment so that we can actually look at this thought objectively and go, Hey, maybe there's some truth there, or maybe this is just.
Lara Pence: I mean, I love that you bring up that word awareness because they think in so many ways, so much of the things that we either struggle with as humans or that lead to deep levels of insecurity or deep levels of instability or self-doubt, or shame really are grounded in our willingness to become more self-aware and.
I think self-awareness in so many ways really starts with open-mindedness and curiosity and pausing sometimes too, I guess I would say because we have a tendency to just go, go, go, go, go. And sometimes we just need that. Pause. And I don't even mean like a 20 minute pause. I mean, literally like an internal ten second pause.
Like I can still be talking to you or when you're talking, ask myself, how's this going? How am I feeling really quickly? Right. And like still, also be paying attention to you at the same time. And so I think self-awareness really is just about being curious about how you think. Feel behave and relate.
Right? So what are the thoughts that are floating around in my head? How are they making me feeling? Or how am I feeling? That's making me thinking, how am I relating to other people and how am I behaving out in the world? And so generally speaking, I mean, you can absolutely develop a practice of, for example, journaling about those things or, you know, sitting down and closing your eyes and asking yourself those questions.
Or you can begin to integrate it just into your daily experience on a regular, like consistent basis. You know, we're when you're talking to someone, you make the point of asking yourself internally, how do I feel when I'm talking to this. Right. Or what thoughts pop up for me every time I have an interaction with this person, right?
Or what are the ways that I'm behaving in front of this person? How am I relating to this person? Am I listening? Am I being empathic? You know, so I think if you can sort of begin to. Almost developed like a internalized practice, I guess might be the best way to say it where you're regularly throughout the day, asking yourself micro questions that is going to strengthen your muscle of self-awareness tenfold.
Like I think oftentimes, and this is true for mindfulness and meditation. You know, people get really stuck because they think, well, in order for me to engage in meditation, that means I need to roll out the yoga mat. I need to light the candles. I need to put the soft music on, right. I need to dedicate an hour.
The truth is that we can like meditator become mindful during the day, multiple times during that day, it doesn't mean you need to carve out an hour. And I actually believe. That it's those smaller gestures of effort that actually create the beast. I mean, I think this is true in physicality, right? Like if somebody is trying to get fit, I think it's actually the smaller gestures that allow them to become fit for life much more than it is the dedicated hour run a day.
You know, it's me standing up and going downstairs to turn the alarm on, instead of doing it from. Right. It's me standing. If I'm doing a podcast like you are right now, rather than sitting, which I am by the way. So I think it's like those smaller gestures that I think actually grow our muscles more than these big grand sweeping practicing.
Jim Harshaw, Jr.: And I smile when you say this, because for the longtime listeners, you guys can say it with me, you know exactly what I'm going to say, but for the rookie and the newbie listeners, we have this concept that we talk about on the podcast. That really is, you know, if there's such a thing as a secret to success, I believe it's this.
Is this idea of the pause, right? You know, you talk to really successful people and you find that they do these pauses, whether it's maybe a retreat yearly, or maybe they plan their day in advance, where they meditate, they journal, they do these micro pauses. Like you talked about Laura and I've coined the term productive pause.
And the definition is a short period of focus, reflection around specific questions that leads to clarity of that. And peace of mind, and that's what we all want is we want that clarity of action and peace of mind. And when you crystallize that concept, it strikes people and they go, ah, yeah, if I could just do that, if I can just get myself out of the rat race, if I could just get myself out of my own head, even for a moment in the middle of the day, it can bring a lot of clarity to your day and a lot of peace to
Lara Pence: your day.
Absolutely. I totally agree. And I think that's an incredible concept and I think, you know, one of the things that I think again, Gets a stock is when we make things complex. And so if we just really sort of, you know, strip away all of the excess and acknowledge that it's not as complex as it has to be.
And it's actually more simple than you think it is. Then I think people are much more amenable to trying those.
Jim Harshaw, Jr.: Agreed. So we talked about negative thoughts. Do world-class performers have negative thoughts? These people that we see on the stages and on the podiums and having success, do they exist for them too?
I mean, you work with a lot of them.
Lara Pence: Yes. We all have them. I mean, negative thoughts are part of the human experience. They're not, you know, only found in people who have depression. They're not only found in people who were generally anxious. They're not only found in people who have recently lost a loved one or have PTSD.
We all have negative thoughts. And again, for me, it's because it's as simple as we're trying to figure out how to survive. And so sometimes. Thoughts filter in that gives us an opportunity, but we attached to them in a really negative way. And so we all have negative thoughts. What I have found to be the difference between those that become attached to negative thinking versus those that really just allow the thought to be, and don't attach to it, diffuse from it detached to it, or see it as an opportunity.
Is just that their willingness to do so and their interest in getting curious about the thought itself, like, what is this, like, why is this coming up for me? You know, how come every time I'm on a podcast within the first five minutes, I tell myself. Gosh, you really don't deserve to be here. What is that about?
And I think for so many individuals, there becomes a critical tone that layers on top of the negative thought, which is like, why am I having these, you know, and you have kids, like when you say to a kid, like, why did you do that? They immediately think they're in trouble. Like they've done something wrong.
Right. And so I encourage. Anyone who's, you know, who's having a negative thought. Who's having a thought that makes them feel uncomfortable. Who's having a thought that's permeated with self-doubt or insecurity too, instead of asking, gosh, why am I having these right now? Or to start with, what, what is this about?
Because I think the why immediately layers on this level of shame, like, oh, you're so bad for having a negative. What gets us out of this idea that we need to be punished on top of having a negative thought or that we're doing something wrong or that there's something wrong with us for having it. What puts us much more in a position of curiosity?
And so, in my experience, when I work with high performers, when I work with elite athletes, when I work with, you know, C-suite level execs and of course, oh my goodness. I mean, you know, sometimes they're just riddled with negative thoughts. It's really just about detaching. It's about using. Thought as an opportunity rather than a threat and having the willingness and the open-mindedness to get curious.
Jim Harshaw, Jr.: So they're riddled with these thoughts. I have a business partner, who's a psychologist as well. And he says the same thing, like these high performers, oftentimes they're actually riddled with these thoughts. Right. So how do they create success from now? Like how did they handle failures? Right? The topic of the podcast.
How do these high-performers handle failure differently than the average person or the person who stays stuck? What's different there? How are they internalizing it to create actual success?
Lara Pence: Yeah. So I would say two things and I feel like probably this is going to be like my constant bite on this podcast, which is they see it as an opportunity rather than a threat and they actually don't internalize it, you know?
So, so it doesn't become, this is who I am. It instead becomes, this is what happened. And you know, so for example, I've failed. I've failed a lot in my life, whether it's like starting different companies or various athletic endeavors that I've gone on or micro level failures every day with my kid, you know, where I forget to give them a snack and send them off to school or, you know, oh my gosh, they're wearing the same shirt they did yesterday.
And they pulled it out of the dirty laundry. And I didn't even notice, you know, there are these micro failures every day, but there's a huge differentiation between saying I am a failure. I engaged in failure or that was a failure or something that I did failed. And I think, you know, there are a lot of individuals that like the high performing level that have an abundance of negative thoughts, but because listen, when you're that level, when you're a high performer, whether it's in business or athleticism, you're going to fail all the time.
Right. Because just as you and I do mostly, but because of. You're often going against so many, like the, the pool of your competition is so huge. Right. But I think it's about detaching and not internalizing. And I think it's about seeing that as an opportunity rather than a threat. So when a failure knocks on their door, you know, they ask themselves, okay, what do I need to do differently?
How do I need to pivot? How do I need to target, you know, this group over here different than I did before, because that clearly didn't work. How do I need to train differently? Because that didn't work. It's all about. And you said this earlier, like the what's next? What, what do I need to take from this?
What data do I need to extrapolate? And that happens all the time in my practice. I'll have clients come in and they'll say. I took a drink after 15 years of not drinking or I didn't get the, the fundraising that I wanted for this company, or I guess what, I didn't make the Olympic team. Right. And what I say to them is like, okay, we've got data.
Like, let's take a look at this. We've got more data now to work with. You know? So I think for me, you know, when I look at these individuals, it's those two things, again, like seeing it as an opportunity, not a threat and not actually internalizing, not attaching to the failure.
Jim Harshaw, Jr.: When is it? Okay. Yeah, we listened to the mark divines, the Joe dissenters and, and, you know, never quit keep going.
And we kind of think of that mentality. Is it ever okay to
Lara Pence: quit? I think it's an interesting question because I think it would depend on what someone's definition of. Okay. Is, you know, in the sense that I think we have to quit sometimes I think sometimes we feel like we don't have an option. And so we do quit.
I think some of us opt into quitting at times. I think other times it just feels like we literally can't. Walk one more step, whether that's in our career and physical activity. I think, you know, one of the things that like is important is a little bit of like cost benefit analysis when you're considering quitting in terms of, you know, is quitting going to give me some return on investment or am I going to.
Attached to this idea that now I can't do anything. Am I going to drown myself in feelings of failure and grief and loss around not, you know, being successful in the endeavor? And I realized that we don't always, as you've mentioned earlier, like pause to think about that necessarily. But I do think that it is important for us to think about before we actually ring the bell and decide to quit.
Listen, I've worked with people who have quit many times in their life. And sometimes I would actually say more often than not, they look back and they say, I'm actually. Glad that I didn't finish that thing because it allowed me to pivot and do this thing over here. Or like, I look back at that first marathon and I'm glad I quit because it reminded me actually how much I had to train instead of what I thought, you know, you had to do.
So I think very much like failing because in some ways quitting, you know, could be a failure to some people. It's about the way that we interpret it. It's about the way that we land on it afterwards. And the data that we extrapolate.
Jim Harshaw, Jr.: Quick interruption. Hey, if you like what you're hearing, be sure to get the notes, quotes and links in the action plan from this episode, just go to JimHarshawJr.com/ACTION. That's JimHarshawJr.com/ACTION. To get your free copy of the action plan. Now back to the show.
Lara Pence: What do you think, do you think quitting is okay, man.
Jim Harshaw, Jr.: I I'm glad you turned that question on me and I always default to my friend, Travis Macy, who you actually, you and I talked about for the podcasts.
He's an endurance athlete out in Colorado. Travis gave the best description of this, that I've yet to hear any said, it's okay to quit. If what you're pursuing no longer aligned. With your values or what you want. And I think that's great, right? I don't know that it covers the whole spectrum because there's also quitting when, you know, there's this other thing.
If I quit this, that frees me up to put my bandwidth into that. But also I like what you're saying, because what you're saying is prepare yourself, like listen to this podcast episode twice before you quit something, because you can look at it. Data as information as an event, not a person you're not going to internalize this quit as a failure, or if you do, it's like what's the data.
Tell me, you know, what information that again, how am I better, stronger, faster, more experienced because of this? Not despite this, how do I use this as a launchpad for.
Lara Pence: Yeah. And I think the other truth that I would say is sometimes we quit and we regret it. We're super bummed about it and we don't feel great about it.
And it becomes that thing that we think about that we wish we always had done. And I think that's okay too. I mean, this is where I would say, guess what life is. You know, guess what, like, this is one of the plights of life where you cannot always be successful in everything. You cannot always finish everything.
And I mean, if okay, is the word we want to use that's life. That's the way that it is last year, 2021. I get so mixed up with our years since the pandemic, but I had my first attempt at a 50 mile race. I had never even run. In actual race, the length of a marathon prior to that. And I was like, well, I'm going to do 50 miles, right.
Because why not? And I quit at mile 42 and my kids were there and they watched me quit. And I definitely had that moment as I was quitting, you know, my littlest was like, no big deal. Mommy did great. You know, he could have cared less. All he wanted to do was go back to the Airbnb. But my older one was very tearful.
And, you know, I said like, buddy, what's up? And he's like, you just worked so hard. I want you to finish. And I just said, like, I know dude, but I just can't, I don't want to keep going. It's just, I'm in too much pain. I just do not want to keep going and I quit. And when he, and I talk about it, this is the thing, and this is a, you know, if there are parents listening, which I'm assuming there are, this is the thing that I think is really cool.
We don't always have to sugar coat the language, you know, especially with kids, like I've been on other podcasts and told the story and they're like, well, it wasn't really a failure though. You went 42 miles and I'm like, no, I failed. I didn't go 50. And I started the race wanting to go 50. Well, you didn't really quit though.
Like you just got exhausted. You couldn't go anymore. Nope. Okay. You know, and that's okay. Like it's okay for us to use that language, both with ourselves and with our children, you know? And I think this is where we get so stuck in this language of like, it means so much. And you know, oh, does this mean I'm a quitter now?
No, not really. I mean, I could think of how many moments in my life when I've decided to persevere rather than quit. Far outweighs the moments when I quit. Did I quit that race? Absolutely. Am I a failure? No, not at all. Did I fail that race? Yeah, absolutely. You know, so I think if we can like, be more comfortable using that language too, it gives that experience less negative power than it does positive power.
Jim Harshaw, Jr.: And I feel like you just opened my eyes to something. I feel like it's almost like allow yourself to grieve the failure. The thing that you didn't do, like the loss of the goal. We had a tragedy in my family a few years ago where my, my brother-in-law 55 years old, healthy. I had a heart attack and we lost them.
And I learned so much, you know, I started reading about grieving and there's three young kids involved in my sister. And like, you can't say, Hey, everything's just going to be fine. And, and kind of sugarcoat things and try to distract the kids. Like, no, you have. Even though their children, like you had to let them deal with it, head on and grieve it, you know, in a healthy way.
And I feel like it's the same way with not finishing a 50 miler in which you know, is an impressive feat, even try. I haven't gotten there yet, but it's okay to grieve it. Like face it, head on, and then you can step back, you know, you deal with the emotions and then you step back and go, okay. What did I learn after the, you know, not that day.
You're not, you're not like sitting down like, you know, still sweating and go, okay, what did I learn
Lara Pence: from this? Oh, I'm in the hot tub, right? Exactly. But I think to Jim, it, for me, One of the things that was really important about that moment, both for my kids to witness, but also for me to experience was that I can quit and fail and still be totally lovable, you know?
And I think like for me, that was really important for my children to watch, because I do think that, you know, children can be sent the message indirectly, you know, if you quit or if you fail, you're not necessarily worthy of love. And so. For me, it was really important for them to be able to say like three days later, like we love you mom.
And I'm like, I know I have no doubt. You still love me. Like that doesn't even float through my head. You know? So I think that's really important too, for us to remember both for us to just say to myself, I can quit and I can fail and I can still be lovable. And for the people around us to also express that to us.
Jim Harshaw, Jr.: So let's continue on the track of that. Let's say our child doesn't make the team or fails the tasks or doesn't get the grade they want or whatever it is that they're trying to achieve. How do we handle that with them? How do we shape those conversations? How do we approach those situations with, with kids?
Lara Pence: Yeah, it's a great question. I mean, it will vary a little bit, depending on like the developmental age of children. Assuming that we're talking about kids that, you know, like maybe put effort into a test and didn't do well or put effort into sports and didn't make the team. I think the very first thing we have to do is, you know, piggybacks off of what I just said, which is first and foremost, don't try and make it better for them.
And I'm not saying that in a tough way, I'm saying, let them have their feelings. Like if they're frustrated about it or they're angry about it or sad about it or disappointed about. Those feelings are not going to spiral them into depression or anxiety or shame or feeling like they're not good enough, but our avoidance of those feelings certainly could.
And I'll say that again. You know, having those feelings of disappointment, anger, sadness, having those feelings are not going to spiral children into feeling depressed, anxious, having shame or feeling lonely, but our avoidance of those certainly could. And so when your child comes home and says, I'm so disappointed, I didn't make the soccer team.
I get it, bud. I totally understand how you could be. Not, but you did so well. I think you did actually so well that I want to take you out for ice cream right there. What we're teaching them is that it's scary to have those feelings. And so let's make it better with it. And gosh, I mean, think about when you're an adult, how often do you feel disappointed?
And you're like, I'm going to get me some mint, chocolate chip, you know? So I think that if parents could take away anything from that answer, that's what I want them to take away is you've got to let your kid have a feeling and I get it. I'm a mom. I am a mama bear and I want to protect and I want to hold and cuddle and make it be okay.
And I also know that feelings are not going to destroy my child. They're just not. So if the failure, you know, unfolds in front of you, it's okay to just acknowledge it and just say, I totally get it. I totally get it, bud. Like quiet silence. When we're parents, we want to occupy this space with a whole bunch of words.
Right? Sometimes the silence is actually much more meaningful for the kid because then they let themselves have those feelings. So that would definitely be the first. That I would say. And then I think in a once they have their feelings, once they grieve you used a great word, then I think it's about, you know, let's figure this out.
Let's, you know, so what do you think happened? You know, and again, this isn't on the way home from the tryouts where they learned that they're not on the team, right. This may be the next morning at breakfast, or maybe two days later, you know, with maybe they bring it up again or you bring it up again. So, Hey, I want to revisit like the tryouts, but like, what do you think happened?
Do you have any thoughts about. And just get curious with them about, you know, what can they learn from that? How can they fail forward? That's a, you know, a term that Joe and I use a lot in terms of gaining wisdom, but that's really, I think the main two ways to approach it as a parent
Jim Harshaw, Jr.: For the parents, listen, Set a reminder on your calendar to listen to this five minute segment of this episode. Once a quarter, I get it at home because my wife's a licensed therapist, but those of you are not married to a therapist. This is just absolute wisdom.
Lara Pence: Well, in Jim, I want to say, I love that you said that because I do think, listen, I'm a psychologist and I trip over this all the time.
Like we have to have these reminders for ourselves in this account. Because it is our brain science that is working against us to want to protect our children. And we think that protection comes in the form of avoiding the difficult feelings and assuaging it with a trip to target or some ice cream.
But those feelings, those difficult, painful feelings are not threats. They're opportunities. If we let them
Jim Harshaw, Jr.: lie, I want to shift gears a little bit. Laura, ask you about, do you ever have a client who comes to you and say, I know what I have to do, but I just can't seem to get myself to do it, or I can't seem to get myself to do it consistently.
Like there, they feel like they're lacking the discipline or the consistency or the motivation to do the thing or the things that they know that they need to do. How do you address that with people?
Lara Pence: Yeah, so that's. Right. And I think that's in some ways, most humans, if not every listen, the first place I always start with.
And you mentioned this already, which I love is values because oftentimes I find that we attach ourselves to certain goals or ways of operating without understanding why it matters. You know, someone just decides, you know what, I'm going to run a marathon this year. That's what I'm going to do. Right. But they don't really reflect and take a productive pause to ask themselves.
But why does that matter? Like, what about that is important to me? And so, you know, for example, in my practice, oftentimes I have individuals that are really looking to like elevate their productivity in their. Primarily for, you know, the gain of better margins and better return on investment, better revenue.
You know, when I work a lot with executives, that's definitely one of the things that come up is feeling like they're just not squeezing as much juice out of the lemon as they want to during the day. And with athletes sometimes it's about training, but actually I would say that in my general practice training is usually not the issue when I'm working with athletes, it's the other parts of their life.
It's their relationships. It's, you know, the other elements of their career. And so to me, regardless of which one it is, we're talking about values here, you know? So if somebody, if somebody says like, well, I think one of the best ways for me to increase productivity would be to get up at 4:00 AM. You know, and to start the day off.
Right. So that by 6:00 AM, I'm hitting my computer. Okay. But what about that matters to you? It sounds like you're scrolling on Instagram and finding memes about productivity and just deciding that that's what you should do. Right. What about that matters to you? And so then I walk my clients through a really simple values exercise, which anybody could do.
I have a list of values. It's like a hundred values and I have them walk through and identify. Seven values that, you know, are the principles by which they want to lead their life. And, you know, once they get those seven, then we narrow it down to four and then we narrow it down to three and then three values are the things that stick out for them.
And then we measure everything up against those values. So you say you want to wake up at 4:00 AM day. But I'm noticing on here that family is a value to you. So talk to me about how waking up at 4:00 AM would be in alignment with family. Now, we're not saying it doesn't, but I want you to figure out how it aligned to that value.
When individuals do that, when they come more in alignment with their value system, this is where we see true integrity. And this is where change really begins to unfold because the greater the distance between our values and our behaviors, this gap. This is where we find depression and anxiety and low productivity and feeling overwhelmed and addiction and eating disorders and abundant shame.
And the more that we close that gap and become more in alignment, the more we lead and we live our lives with more integrity.
Jim Harshaw, Jr.: That is. Critical part of my coaching program and philosophy. I'm so glad that you outlined that because I feel like even when you just help the person make the connection between waking up at 4:00 AM and family, like if there's no connection there or maybe they, you know, they want to wake up at 4:00 AM, but they're not doing it.
But if you can help them make that connection, if you can make the connection, then they become more consistent at it. If you can't make the connection, then it's like, okay, well let's change the routine here. Let's let. Let's focus on something else. Like,
Lara Pence: is this really what you want to do? You know? Or are you thinking this is what you should do because you heard Jim quick talk about it on his podcast, right.
Or Jim Marsha talk about it on his podcast. Right. So it's like, What about this really matters to you? And I think, you know, oftentimes I would say that most of the time we're making a connection rather than eliminating or extrapolating what it is that they want to do, because it's something unconscious that's pulling them in that direction.
But like you said, they just haven't made the conscious connection yet. And so making that conscious connection is really important and you're absolutely right. The more that they understand why it matters, the more consistent that they. In it, I mean, that's always where I start. There's no hack, there's no tip to like creating the changes that you want in your life.
It's about understanding why and how it matters to you. And what about it matters to you? And then, I mean, going full circle to the beginning of our conversation, having the self-awareness to get you there,
Jim Harshaw, Jr.: Laura, you've thrown a lot of great stuff at us for the listener. Who's sitting here saying. I want to take action on this.
Like where do I start? What can they do? Is there an action item or two you can share that someone can do in the next 24 to 48 hours to start applying what they learned in this.
Lara Pence: Yeah, I would actually say, go do that values exercise. Like you don't need those lists for me, Google it, just Google list of values and like go to the images section.
And there's tons of PDFs. Walk through the values, pick seven, seven principles by which you choose to live your life. And here's the thing I want you to get real clear on. You have to also pick the values that matter to you. You know, sometimes we pick things because we think they matter. Like, for example, for me right now, Actually family may not be in my top three.
And I know that sounds awful. And oh my gosh, what kind of mother is she? Right. Well guess what, like five years ago it mattered a whole lot more because my kids were a lot younger and I was like totally in meshed in that system. But right now there a lot older. And so like they're individuating out, right.
They don't need me as much anymore. I mean, I'm always going to need them. They're my kiddos. And they're always going to need me. The point is you have to pick a value that matters to you, not what you think should matter, not what you think is going to be important to you. So make sure you run through that list with honesty, like with real gut check honesty and then land on seven, whittle it down to four, and then we'll live down to three.
That would be the number one thing, but they do that values exercise. The number two thing would be going back to what you and I talked about earlier in terms of self-awareness, which is, can you today? Take a pause. Maybe it's even when you're going to the bathroom and just ask yourself, how am I thinking, what am I feeling?
How am I behaving and how am I relating? Just get curious about it. And if you don't even really understand what those questions mean, just play around with them. You don't even have to like, just be open-minded enough to ask yourself the question. Like if you can start to identify your values and get those on a post-it somewhere in front of you and everyday ask yourself, how am I in alignment with these values?
And if you can start to build that practice of self-awareness, those are incredible places to start. Like I cannot tell you the ROI that you'll get on those.
Jim Harshaw, Jr.: Everything you're saying is in direct alignment with what I believe and I've experienced it in coach. And, and I'm just so glad to hear somebody way smarter than I am say the same thing.
Lara Pence: I understand. I've had similar experiences where someone says something and I'm like, yes, I got that. Yeah. I love that, Jim. That's amazing,
Jim Harshaw, Jr.: Laura, thank you so much for making time. Where can people find you follow you?
Lara Pence: Yeah. So, I mean, I am a practitioner like that is what I do. I actually see clients I'm far less active on social media channels than I am in my actual job.
So you can find me on Instagram at Dr. Laura Pence, be prepared to read. I'm not like a one-sentence kind of poster. It's, you know, I do paragraphs here. I do blogs basically on Instagram, but if you're interested in reaching out to me, my website, Laura, at Dr. Laura pens.com is my email. Feel free to email me, but that's really where I am.
I mean, I'm a practitioner at heart.
Jim Harshaw, Jr.: Excellent. Thank you so much, Laura. We'll make sure everybody gets your website, social media and the action plan listeners. You know where to get that. JimHarshawJr.com/ACTION. Thanks Lara.
Lara Pence: Nice jam.
Jim Harshaw, Jr.: Thanks for listening. If you want to apply these principles into your life, let's talk.
You can see the limited spaces that are open on my calendar at JimHarshawJr.com/APPLY where you can sign up for a free one-time coaching call directly with me. And don't forget to grab your action plan. Just go to JimHarshawJr.com/ACTION. And lastly, iTunes tends to suggest podcasts with more ratings and reviews more.
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