lori gottlieb tim ferriss

The Power of Getting to *Unknow* Yourself | Lori Gottlieb on The Tim Ferriss Show

Check out The Tim Ferriss Episode Page & Show Notes

Key Takeaways

  • Just like your physical health, don’t ignore your emotional health
  • Getting to “unknow” yourself is a significant component of therapy (letting go of ideas/stories you’ve been carrying around about yourself that aren’t accurate)
  • “There’s a difference between pain and suffering. We all experience pain at various points in our lives, but we don’t have to suffer so much. Sometimes we’re the cause of our suffering.” Lori Gottlieb
  • “You can have all the insight in the world, but if you don’t actually make changes out in the world, the insight is useless” Lori Gottlieb
  • Long-term change starts with self-compassion, not self-flagellation
  • “Our fear of our feelings is often scarier than the feelings themselves” Lori Gottlieb

Books Mentioned

  • In Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor E. Frankl states, “There’s one thing that nobody can take away from us, and that’s the freedom to choose our attitude in any given situation”
  • One of the book’s Lori has gifted the most: The Tennis Partner by Abraham Verghese 

Intro

Share Your Story; It’s Fascinating

  • “So many of us are carrying around fascinating stories that we don’t think are fascinating. We think of our lives are pretty ordinary, but as a therapist, I can tell you that the most extraordinary stories come out of people grounded in the ordinary.”Lori Gottlieb
    • And by sharing your story, you’ll come to realize that EVERYONE is similar—even if the content of a story is foreign to someone, the underlying emotions are universal

The Hierarchy of Pain

  • We tend to avoid paying attention to our negative emotions (e.g., suffering, struggle, anxiety, etc.) because we subconsciously want to minimize their presence
    • The same can’t be said for our physical health—if something feels off, we see a doctor
    • If we ignore our emotional health, the negative emotions compile, eventually leading to an “emotional heart attack”
    • Pain is pain and suffering is suffering, whether emotional or physical
  • When our feelings get shuttered, they tend to come out via behaviors—a short temper, procrastination, an inability to sit still, scrolling social media, etc.
    • Realize: your negative feelings don’t go away—they come out in one way or another

Maybe the Problem is You

  • Humans tend to shine blame outward when often, the problem is internal. The driver of this: shame.
    • “Shame is the reason that we have trouble taking responsibly for our role in a story” – Lori Gottlieb

How to Point Out Someone’s Blind Spots

  • We all have blind spots, and we often need friends to point them out. But, it’s quite easy, if the “pointing out” is delivered in the wrong way or at the wrong time, to become defensive.
  • First, know that people need to feel understood before they’re able to self-reflect (AKA let the person know you understand the story they’re telling from their perspective)
    • Lori adds: “I keep using the word story because everyone’s coming in with a story, and we’re all unreliable narrators”
    • You don’t have to agree with their version of the story, but you have to understand how they feel about it—the other person has to “feel felt/understood”
  • Do NOT try to talk the other person out of their feelings with logic by saying things like, “You shouldn’t feel that way because of X”
    • Have compassion/empathy for how the other person feels—this diminishes their shame
  • Next, encourage the person you’re speaking with to broaden their story and consider different perspectives
    • Ask, “What do you think person Y might be thinking here?”
    • With this, the person begins to rewrite their narrative

LISTEN

  • If you find yourself saying, “You never listen to me” to your partner, ask yourself, “How well do I listen actually to him/her?”
    • (Usually, the person who says this isn’t a good listener him/herself)
  • When you’re in the midst of an argument with your partner, are you truly listening? Or are you constructing your defense to their argument as their talking?

What is therapy?

  • Lori defines therapy as “something taking place in the same room, in the same space, one-on-one, on a consistent basis”
  • In other words, it’s the process of trying to understand oneself better, discovering blind spots, and coming to realize how you might be “carrying” things from your past
  • Therapy is also about “getting to unknow yourself”—letting go of ideas/stories you’ve been carrying around about yourself that aren’t accurate
    • “Getting to unknow yourself is to let go of the very limiting stories you’ve been carrying around so you can live your life, not the story you’ve been telling yourself about your life. So many of us are walking around living some story we’re telling ourselves about our lives that doesn’t reflect reality.” Lori Gottlieb 
    • Lori adds: “Even if our stories are not stories we want to live, we somehow orchestrate our lives to keep the storyline going” 
      • Why do people do this? Because we cling to the familiar. We want to be free, but with freedom comes responsibility—this scares people.

You Might Have Pain, But You Don’t Have to Suffer.

  • “There’s a difference between pain and suffering. We all experience pain at various points in our lives, but we don’t have to suffer so much. Sometimes we’re the cause of our suffering.” Lori Gottlieb

“Insight is the Booby Prize of Therapy”

  • Many people think the goal of therapy is insight—the “why” behind their problems, but…
    • “You can have all the insight in the world, but if you don’t actually make changes out in the world, the insight is useless” Lori Gottlieb
  • In therapy, you must be vulnerable & accountable”
    • Vulnerable: let the therapist see your true colors 
    • Accountable: once you have your insight, do something with it! 

The Root of Long-Term Change

  • “So many of us self-flagellate. We think that if we self-flagellate, it’ll help us feel better. It’s very paradoxical … Self-flagellation never leads to long-term change. It might make you do something in the moment, but it won’t last.” – Lori Gottlieb
  • Long-term change starts with self-compassion
    • “The kinder you are to yourself, the more motivated you’ll be to change” – Lori Gottlieb

Listen to the Quiet Voice

  • “We have these voices in our heads that try to talk us out of things. Often, the most authentic place in us is the quiet voice.” – Lori Gottlieb
    • Ignore the loud voices saying, “What if X? What if Y?” and give more ear to the quiet voice—the voice that, deep down, you know is right

If someone can’t afford a therapist, how else can they identify their blind spots?

  • A therapist is advantageous because they’re an outside point of view—it’s hard to self-examine without an outside observer
    • A therapist is also preferable because they don’t have a personal agenda (whereas your friend might)
      • Or, as another example, a family member might prefer you not change out of a desire to maintain homeostasis
  • First, notice what keeps happening over and over—it’s likely not a coincidence. The problem could be you.
  • Examine your relationships
    • “We’re most revealed in the context of our relationships with others. If you see something happening over and over with the way you relate to others and the way others relate to you, that’s something to examine.”Lori Gottlieb
  • A related point:
    • If someone comes to you asking for help, and you find yourself feeling threatened/envious, use that envy as a catalyst for change in your own life

Hey! You’re Going to Die!

  • Life is short. Acknowledge the fact that life has a 100% mortality rate. Stop putting off what you want to do most.
  • Also, if you have your health, you have everything
    • “What a gift it is to be able to do the things we want to do because we’re healthy enough to do them” – Lori Gottlieb

How does Lori advise people to get past the feeling of denial?

  • Realize: denial is a way of staving off uncomfortable feelings we don’t want to acknowledge
    • “My job as a therapist is to get under that denial and help somebody realize that dealing with the feelings will be a lot easier than staying in denial” – Lori Gottlieb
    • “Our fear of our feelings is often scarier than the feelings themselves” – Lori Gottlieb
  • Remember the motto, “Both And” (you can feel pain and experience joy/laughter simultaneously)
    • “Feelings are like weather systems. They blow in; they blow out. Just because you feel something doesn’t mean the storm will stay there indefinitely.” – Lori Gottlieb

Advice for Coping with COVID-19

  • (For reference, this episode was recorded on March 13th, 2020)
  • In Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor E. Frankl states, “There’s one thing that nobody can take away from us, and that’s the freedom to choose our attitude in any given situation”
    • Take this advice and apply it today—no matter what happens, you can choose how to respond and where to allot your attention
  • Just because you’re experiencing anxiety and fear doesn’t mean you can’t have a dance party in your living room
    • (Remember: “Both And”)
  • Tim has found Facetiming with friends to help stave off feelings of isolation during his quarantine

What books has Lori gifted the most?

  • Lori prefaces: “I love giving books as gifts. They’re my favorite gift to receive. I love giving them because it feels like I’m giving an experience to somebody … Books, to me, are the best gift.”
  • The Tennis Partner by Abraham Verghese 

Additional Notes

  • A supervisor once told Lori, “Before diagnosing anyone with depression, make sure they’re not surrounded by assholes”
  • Mae West has famously said, “Those who are easily shocked should be shocked more often
  • Tim is taking extra precaution with COVID-19 because of past pulmonary issues 
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