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Lori Gottlieb: Understanding Pain, Therapeutic Breakthroughs, and Keys to Enduring Emotional Health| The Drive with Peter Attia #122

Key Takeaways

  • A lot of us would rather blame other people for why we can’t have joy or happiness in our lives than take personal responsibility
  • If someone has physical discomfort, they get it checked out – when we have emotional discomfort, we minimize it
  • We give ourselves the death sentence, we’re alive but we’re not living
  • “Therapy is like getting a really good second opinion on your life from people who are not in your life.” – Lori Gottlieb
  • Therapy helps you access the place of knowing you have deep down but sometimes need guidance to unlock
  • Sometimes our story is so ossified there’s no other interpretation for the events and we need a different perspective
  • “The single greatest opportunity to reduce suffering on the planet is through mental health.” – Peter Attia
  • Maybe You Should Talk to Someone is written in part to open our eyes to the actual experiences of therapy and make it accessible

Introduction

Lori Gottlieb (@LoriGottlieb1) is a Los Angeles based psychotherapist and author of New York Bestseller, Maybe You Should Talk to Someone.

In this episode of The Drive, Lori and Peter discuss Lori’s book, the importance of mental and emotional health for overall well-being and dispel misconceptions about therapy.

Host: Peter Attia (@PeterAttiaMD)

More ways to follow Lori Gottlieb:

Lori Gottlieb’s Ted Talk

The Atlantic Column: Dear Therapist

Podcast: Dear Therapists

The Importance of Mental and Emotional Health

  • “I don’t think there’s a greater ROI that a person can make than investing in their emotional health because without it all the other things don’t matter.” – Peter Attia
  • We give ourselves the death sentence, we’re alive but not living
  • Our culture separates physical and emotional health as though they’re unrelated
  • If people have physical discomfort, they get it checked out – when we have emotional discomfort, we minimize it
  • We devalue our emotional health
  • We suffer unnecessarily because we often don’t seek therapy until we’re in the crisis phase – and that’s not to mention the collateral damage to those around us
  • We often self-sabotage in ways we aren’t even aware of
  • Not enough appreciation in the medical community as to how important therapy is
  • “When the story of my life is going to be told, the people who will literally have saved my life are going to be the people who helped me with my mental health.” – Peter Attia
  • “The single greatest opportunity to reduce suffering on the planet is through mental health.” – Peter Attia

How Does Therapy Work?

  • “Therapy is like getting a really good second opinion on your life from people who are not in your life.” – Lori Gottlieb
  • Sometimes our story is so ossified there’s no other interpretation for the events and we need a different perspective
  • Patients detail a narrative of their life that is keeping them stuck and therapists are there to edit the story
  • Therapy helps you access the place of knowing you have deep down but sometimes need guidance to unlock
  • By the time someone gets to therapy, there’s strength in recognizing that something needs to change – at the outset, it’s often someone we are having difficulty with more than something we want to change in ourselves
  • A lot of us would rather blame other people for why we can’t have joy or happiness in our lives than take responsibility for it being on us
  • Therapy often leads us to step back and assess our role in exacerbating difficulty in a relationship

Dispelling Common Therapy Misconceptions

  • Therapists are not there to keep you for life, it’s for a purpose – you get what you need to leave
  • People want instant gratification but that’s not the reality of therapy
  • Change is hard because we cling to the familiar and what we know
  • Even if we don’t necessarily like some of our features, it’s what we know and there’s comfort in that
  •  “Change happens gradually, then suddenly” – Lori Gottlieb
  • There are tiny imperceptible steps we take along the way to change
  • The most important step is not making the change but the maintenance
  • The outcomes in therapy are unpredictable because it really depends on the people and the relationship between the patient and therapist
  • The relationship with the therapist matters more than the training of the therapist and modality of therapy
  • Relationship with the therapist represents a microcosm of what happens in relationships in the real world
  • There are differences in the way men and women engage in therapy
  • Men often feel like they can’t be vulnerable and have not told anyone certain things
  • Women feel like they haven’t told anyone when they have already discussed the issue with 1-3 people   
  • We want men to feel their feelings, but don’t always create the space for them to do so

Overview & Lessons Learned from Maybe You Should Talk to Someone  

  • A lot of people don’t go to therapy because they have misconceptions of what therapy is – the book is partly written to open our eyes to the actual experiences of therapy and make it accessible
  • Lori tells the stories of four of her patients, as well as a fifth patient – herself
  • By the end of the book, readers identify with the patients and begin to understand that we’re more the same than we are different
  • The answer is usually inside of us, we just have to listen to it
  • Lori hopes the book also opens our eyes to the ways we make judgments about people and how we could come to love them if we gave people a chance
  • Each story uniquely highlights the idea that when something breaks, there’s an opportunity to put it together in a different form but the process can be difficult

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: Julie

  • Julie was in her early 30s, had just gotten married, loved her career, supportive family and friends – overall good life
  • Came back from her honeymoon and was diagnosed with treatable breast cancer and was looking forward to a good prognosis
  • Julie wasn’t looking for a “cancer therapist” but was seeking support as a newlywed going through an illness
  • When she was getting her six-month sign off scan at the end of treatment, doctors found a second unrelated and aggressive form of cancer, untreatable with a prognosis of 1-10 years
  • “Be aware of the gift of your life today. When you wake up, be intentional about how you want to live your life today.” – Lori Gottlieb
  • Julie’s story teaches us that there’s something invigorating about getting rid of performative aspects of life and being raw
  • “We all have a terminal diagnosis, life has 100% mortality rate.” – Lori Gottlieb

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: John

  • Everyone knows a “John”
  • John is a high-powered, successful male with an objectively unlikeable, abrasive, and derogatory way of engaging others – even Lori
  • His story is one of the cycles of shame and self-punishment with an utter lack of self-compassion
  • He engaged in an almost frenetic destruction of life
  • “We use behaviors to communicate something that we can’t do with words – we take the unspeakable and convert it to a behavior.” – Lori Gottlieb
  • John wanted to keep everyone at a distance because of unspeakable pain that shackled him
  • The revelation came out through the course of many sessions
  • Carried the burden of a lot of things in his life and was only finally able to drop his armor with Lori
  • Without giving away spoilers, it’s a very hopeful story!

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: Rita

  • Rita is a 69-year old woman who lives a very isolated life
  • Gets weekly pedicures because it’s the only time someone physically touches her and she craves that
  • Her adult children that are estranged from her because of their tenuous homelife growing up
  • Rita lives with significant regret for how she parented and engaged in a passive destruction of life over the years
  • She had a genuine fear of joy but also didn’t want to live if things didn’t improve
  • Two types of suicide: people who are depressed because something got in the way of nice life; or people who feel life is barren and there’s nothing to look forward to
  • Rita’s journey highlights that often, the person you need forgiveness from is yourself
  • Lori’s goal was to get Rita connected in the world again
  • There are two sides for what she did, and the reader can understand it in some capacity but the story is filled with moral dilemma and conflict  

Drive with Dr. Peter Attia : , , , ,
Notes By Maryann

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