Connecting with Laurie McElroy on Hijacking Fear Responses

Connecting with Laurie McElroy on Hijacking Fear Responses

Laurie McElroy is back on the podcast to discuss misfiring of our one of our most primal instincts: the fight or flight response. Spawning in the amygdala, our fight or flight responses serve as lighting fast survival instincts...when we are faced with a lion, tiger, or bear. Today, we rarely come across these types of threats, but we still experience the surge of adrenaline and cortisol often. Laurie helps unpack what to do when we feel threatened, and what we gain when we can be aware of this reaction rather than carried away by it.  Episode Notes can be found at 

Credits: Raechel Sherwood for Original Score Composition.

YouTube Channel: Uncover The Human










[00:00:00] AC: Welcome to Uncover the Human where every conversation revolves around enhancing all the connections in our lives. 


[00:00:06] CA: Whether that's with our families, co-workers or even ourselves. 


[00:00:09] AC: When we can be our authentic selves, magic happens.


[00:00:12] CA: This is Cristina Amigoni. 


[00:00:13] AC: And this is Alex Cullimore. Let’s dive in.


[00:00:15] CA: Let’s dive in. 


[00:00:18] Group: Authenticity means freedom. 


Authenticity means going with your gut.


Authenticity is bringing 100% of yourself not just the parts you think people want to see, but all of you.


Being authentic means that you have integrity to yourself. 


It's the way our intuition is whispering something deep-rooted and true.


Authenticity is when you truly know yourself. You remember and connect to who you were before others told you who you should be. 


It's transparency, relatability, no frills, no makeup, just being.




[00:00:54] AC: Hello and welcome back to another episode of Uncover the Human. You are here for a first. We have our very first returning guest, Laurie McElroy. Welcome, Laurie. 


[00:01:02] CA: Woohoo! Yeah, Laurie! 


[00:01:04] LM: Hi everybody. 


[00:01:05] CA: We're going to have some cheery music when we actually edit this.


[00:01:09] LM: Maybe The Rocky theme song?


[00:01:11] CA: Yes. 


[00:01:13] AC: Cue the roaring applause. 


[00:01:14] CA: Yup. Woohoo! 


[00:01:17] AC: So Laurie is joining us for a talk a little bit about the amygdala, which is the portion of your brain that it's actually kind of near the brainstem if I understand it correctly. It's one of the parts of your brain that really filters and creates a lot of our unconscious thought, a lot of our emotional reactions. And I believe every thought that we have ends up getting filtered through the amygdala which ends up coming out with – This is a factoid that I’m bringing to you from Laurie. I would love to take credit for this, but she's the one gave me this idea. But it is something that is very important to how we think and approach life because it becomes some of our default reactions. And, Laurie, I think it's a great topic. Do you want to talk a little bit about why it comes up so much in your coaching work and what made you think of it?


[00:01:57] LM: It does come up frequently, I’d say probably at least 50%, 60% of each client session. People are like, “Why am I getting so stressed out. Things that normally don't bother me because of COVID and restrictions and quarantining.” We are really seeing kind of this overwhelming exhaustion. And so some of the ways that we used to roll through upsetting events, those have been taken away, our coping mechanisms. And so I think people are being a lot more activated right now because they don't have the usual stress release options. And so it's very common people are like, “I am anxiety. I have anxiety and I’ve never had it before. I am so irritable that the slightest thing just sends me over the edge. I’m never like that. What's going on?” 


And so I think just because of the frequency of how much this is coming up right now, the exhaustion of the past year and how everybody's like we are so over it. And I think too the fact that a lot of us, myself included, thought, “Okay. I can't wait for 2021 to get here because everything will be better.” And then surprise! 


[00:03:15] AC: Here we are, month number three of 2021. 


[00:03:18] LM: Yeah, and it's still crazy.


[00:03:20] CA: Which universe 2021? 


[00:03:23] LM: I know. And so I think that at least in my experience we're all feeling just we're over it. We're exhausted. It's not fun anymore. We're kind of in the full tantrum, the terrible twos kind of thing. It's like we're stuck there right now.


[00:03:38] CA: Was it ever fun?


[00:03:41] LM: I think the first couple months most of us were like, “Okay. I’ll put on my big girl and boy pants and I’ll just do this. It'll be okay.” And then it turned into six months, and seven months, and now a year and it's like we're done. We're just done.


[00:03:57] AC: I heard somewhere that six months is approximately the timeline at which people start to hit a wall if you're going through like an event. If like a hurricane happens, it's obviously really intense for the first week and it starts to slowly taper off and by six months you've mostly recovered. But if there's something like that like, say, a global pandemic, it's around six months on average for people to where that starts to feel like a wall. Like you've started to use up what they call your surge capacity. That ability to like put on your big boy or girl pants and do this. It's now. I’ve done this for six months in a row. What's going to happen?


[00:04:32] LM: Yeah. And even though we're starting, the number of vaccinations is going up, the accessibility of the vaccination, those things are all positive, but a lot of people are still going to be working from home till July, September, maybe the end of the year. That's a long time. And then you put on top of that you are trapped in a house with your spouse whom you love and your children who you love.


[00:05:01] CA: You’ve signed a paper that says that. 


[00:05:03] LM: Right? 


[00:05:05] AC: Contractually obligated.


[00:05:04] LM: We aren’t meant to be stuck together. That is not normal. And so that fact, it's like my husband and I usually get along, but now we are just at each other. Why? 


[00:05:16] CA: Because you left the coat on the couch.


[00:05:20] LM: Just pick up after yourself and we’d get along fine. But we weren't meant to spend you know 24 hours a day with the same people over and over and over with no end in sight. It's frustrating.


[00:05:32] CA: Isn't it funny when we're teenagers and we start dating or we fall in love with somebody, we actually want to spend 24 hours a day with them? And as adults we're like, “God! That's a nightmare.”


[00:05:42] LM: It's a lot, right? It’s a lot. 


[00:05:44] AC: Wait, all 24 hours? 


[00:05:47] CA: Every day.


[00:05:49] LM: Yeah. I mean, it's fun for a couple months and then you start branching away from each other slowly. But a year, that's a lot. That's a lot. It's taking a toll.


[00:05:59] AC: It's funny you bring up the coat on the couch example because that's exactly kind of the thing that happens after like six months, especially six months like all together all in one house all dealing with the same personalities over and over again. That's something that I feel like for me can definitely –You end up feeling sparks that you're like once you have enough distance and time you're like, “Well, okay. There was no need for me to feel that strongly about that.” But at the time it's just immediate. There's no thought. There's no second like moment, and that's one of the things that I loved when you suggested you wanted to talk about the amygdala, because that feels prescient especially now, but it happens so much in life. Something that we can see objectively as small feels huge. 


[00:06:42] LM: Yeah. I think it’s the exhaustion piece is what make is what's making it kind of so huge now. And we all have these automatic reactive systems, right? None of us are above this, I don't think. And sometimes we don't like to admit to ourselves the way that we behave in these moments because it's usually less than charming, right? We freak out, or we scream, or we slam cupboards, or we walk around and everybody's just looking at us like you have totally lost your mind. What is happening right now? Or we get really quiet and we retreat and withdraw. I mean, it makes sense that our system's trying to protect us, but from a coat on the couch, like how does that harm us? Like what is that about? 


[00:07:32] AC: And it still triggers that fight or flight hide away. 


[00:07:36] CA: Yeah, it’s the hijacking.


[00:07:40] LM: It does. It's crazy. It does. It completely hijacks like our normal, rational, cherry loving self, right? 


[00:07:48] CA: If that is our normal.


[00:07:50] LM: Well, that is your normal, Cristina, right? 


[00:07:53] CA: Thank you. 


[00:07:55] LM: Yeah.


[00:07:56] CA: It's cause you don't leave the coat on my couch. 


[00:07:59] LM: Right. I’ll remember that for future lessons. 


[00:08:02] CA: Yes. When you visit and you're vaccinated, just remember where to put the coat. 


[00:08:07] LM: Yes, when I walk in, “Where should I put my coat?”


[00:08:09] AC: Right over the couch. Just lay it across the couch.


[00:08:13] CA: On the kitchen counter, even better.


[00:08:15] LM: There you go.


[00:08:17] AC: One thing that's funny about that is it is such a universal human experience. I think we've all – Hopefully, if we are all self-aware enough and open enough with ourselves, we have recognized many times in which we have overreacted something that we can see as not a huge stressor feels like a big stressor. And we can see that in ourselves when we look back at some of our past behavior. The weirdest part is when you see somebody else do that how little acceptance you have for it. At least, I feel like I have for it. Sometimes I’m like, “Why are you acting? Why are you doing this?” 


[00:08:17] LM: I know that I feel the same way. That's my experience. Like why are you acting so nuts? It literally is like spilt milk. What is happening right now? And then when I do it, it's justified, right? You've been pushing my buttons all day. What did you expect was going to happen? 


[00:09:07] CA: Yes.


[00:09:09] LM: So easy to point your finger.


[00:09:11] CA: Yeah. I’ve heard one of the biggest differences on how we are way more forgiving in those types of situations of ourselves than others is the example of if you're on the highway and somebody cuts off through the lanes to exit, they're automatically an asshole. But if we do it it's because we didn't see the exit, other people were in the way, we were running late, we have a child in the back that has to pee, like we're completely justified to doing it. But when somebody else is, they're fully judged as a bad person.


[00:09:44] LM: Yeah, that's kind of amazing isn't it? Because typically we can be really, really critical of ourselves, just normal average ordinary life. But when that amygdala is activated, “I have to save my babies. They need to pee and they need to pee now.” Therefor all rules go out the window. It's like, “Wow! That was interesting.”


[00:10:04] CA: Indeed. 


[00:10:05] AC: So this is something that comes up often in coaching. I mean, we've already talked about a few examples, but this is something that can be triggered basically at any point in life. Is this something you – You've done a lot of like career transition work. Is this something you see often even in those conversations or is it more around some of the pandemic stuff? 


[00:10:23] LM: I think it manifests in really every area of its life, right? Like somebody will say, “Why in a meeting?” This one colleague was just presenting kind of their part of a project and there was one statement and all of a sudden I just saw red and I was like, “I know he was attacking me and so I turn my video off. I check out of the meeting.” And for days, for days, I am activated by this. What happened to me? Why did I do that?


And I think our limiting beliefs, when those get poked in the smallest ways it causes a very strong reaction in us because we think that we do such a good job at hiding our flaws from everybody. And so when we feel exposed and vulnerable we have strong reaction, right? We have to protect, and defend, and deflect and all those other things. So that comes up a lot. Conversations usually with a spouse or a partner, simple conversation, they could say, “What do you want for dinner?” But what I hear is, “I’ve worked all day. Why isn't dinner ready? Like you're judging me because I have all this extra time. Why didn't I properly prepare.” And that isn't at all what somebody said. It just was like, “What's for dinner?” But it's the way that we interpret the words also that causes the reaction. And if we're already tired and stressed, then maybe we aren't actually paying attention and listening to our full capacity. We're making a lot of assumptions.


[00:11:57] AC: I know that's a big part of things like the thinking fast and slow idea, is that you have to be able to slow down enough to think slowly and to think like in the more complex rational ways that we like to think that we do all the time even though we obviously do not. We like to think that we get to that point, but it takes so much more energy that when you are tired especially, and to your point with like COVID, with the pandemic, with just general life stress, if that stress is enough, it's so much harder to gather the energy to go challenge those initial assumptions to not immediately succumb to exactly what you're saying, the feeling that somebody has seen your limiting belief. The feeling that somebody has shown the light on that place you didn't think was visible.


[00:12:37] LM: Yeah, and it is. It's just like I literally have zero F's anymore to give tonight. Like I’m done, right? And so I’m going to so just jump head first right into this behavior that I know is atrocious and I’m going to go for it though. I’m going to give it 150% of everything I’ve got. And then afterwards we have the added bonus of feeling guilty or embarrassed about how we behaved then we have to come back and clean up our mess. Well, we don't have to. Some of us choose to come back and clean up the mess and go, “Hey, sorry for the way I acted.” And others just are kind of like out of sight, out of mind it didn't happen. So let's never bring it up again.


[00:13:18] CA: And that awareness goes also with the, “Oh, that wasn't my best self.” So the awareness of maybe I could have done things differently or maybe that didn't come across quite as I wanted it to. It's the first big step that I believe many people may not quite get there either.


[00:13:36] LM: It is a huge step, right? Coming back and saying, “I’m sorry. I behaved badly. I gave you way less than I’m capable of for lots of reasons, and none of my reasons justify that behavior.” And usually our reaction bothers us so much because it's out of alignment with who we really are. Like if we're kind and loving and compassionate and we behave irrationally when we are full of anger and we've just had it, that's what the disconnect is. It's like, “I’m not like this. That is so unlike me and characteristic of me and the kind of person that I try to be.” That's where the guilt and shame come from, right? 


[00:14:22] AC: I never thought of it before, but it can become such a limiting belief that we are that kind of person and that kind of person will be who we are always, or it is a fault, or that it can end up becoming a limiting belief even though like up to this point I think I’ve mostly felt the limiting beliefs in things that I feel like are holding me back, but thinking that you're doing well, thinking that you always do something well or thinking that you are more perfect, more rational, more whatever. That is just as limiting because it runs into exactly this roadblock, at which point a challenge to it is a much quicker path to the amygdala response. So like somebody challenging like, “Oh shoot! I’m not acting like the person I want to be.” Like it's much easier to lash out and say, “Well, maybe it's your fault that I’m not being the person I want to be.” It's much easier to say.


[00:15:13] LM: Yeah, and blaming somebody else rather than taking accountability for our own actions is definitely a lot easier, right? I mean, you hear that all the time. This is an extreme example but I wouldn't have had to throw that thing through the wall if you didn't upset me. Really? Okay. That seems like your reaction that that is something that's on you. That wasn't me. I mean, regardless of what I did that led up to your reaction, I don't think that's someone else's responsibility. But it's easy to say that, “You made me do this. You didn't do your homework. You made me yell.” Or, “You didn't make the bed. I had to freak out. What did you expect?”

[00:16:00] AC: I actually read that recently in an article about male behavior specifically. It’s like how men – Like we've heard many, many articles about how men in general are not great at expressing emotions. And they talk about how there's usually two responses. There's either shutting down entirely. So there's never emoting anything, or there's only emoting to exactly that end that you're talking about, which is like I’m feeling this emotion. It's everybody's problem. It's everybody's fault. Those are the two reactions and it's never taking the responsibility for it. It's either absolutely not acknowledging it or acknowledging it in that everybody else needs to be taken care of this. And I have read that specifically in male behavior and I’m sure we all have moments of that, but I can definitely relate to seeing that a lot in male behavior and feel that sometimes in myself too and feeling those two specific roads of reaction. 


[00:16:47] CA: I’m particularly glad that you actually admitted that it's a male behavior, because I’ve seen it a lot. But when it comes from a woman, then it becomes like, “Well, that's what you think. That's not how –” That's where that behavior actually proves itself. 


[00:17:05] AC: That's weirdly self-justifying in that response. Yes.


[00:17:07] LM: Yeah. And I think that we have done a real disservice as a species to men, right? From the time you're little and growing up it's like, “Stop crying. Boys don't cry. Stop acting like a girl. Don't be so sensitive. Men are macho and tough and all of these things.” And it is not natural to not express human emotion and feelings. And so I do love that – I mean, at least I feel like that's changing right the younger generations that parents are taking the time to say, “It's okay to feel frustrated. It's okay to be disappointed if you didn't make the baseball team. I know how much you were looking forward to it.” “It's okay to say I’m sad and cry when your feelings are hurt. That doesn't make you weak.” Being able to label your emotions and share what you're feeling and experiencing is an act of courage and being vulnerable. And thank god we're seeing a shift in the younger kids now.


[00:18:09] CA: Yeah, I just had that conversation actually with my kids, and I have it fairly often when I see that they're shutting down and because they may feel that because they're boys they can't express whatever is going on. But I had it recently because my six-year-old actually told me like, “Yeah, like I keep hearing that because I’m six I’m not supposed to cry anymore.” And we were in the car and I was like, “Please cry. Please. Please do not listen to that. You are prohibited from listening to that advice or guidance,” because we have enough people in therapy and coaching at the moment that we need to because of that. And I told him, it's like, “Somebody telling you that because you're six you're not allowed to cry anymore. That's like somebody telling you that when you are happy, you're not allowed to laugh anymore.” They’re emotions. We can't repress them. We can pretend we do repress them, but then they bottle up and cause major problems down the line. So I told him like, “Cry if you need to cry because you're sad, upset, hurt, disappointed, frustrated, whatever it is, just cry. If you're in a situation where you don't feel like you can cry in the room you're in, then change rooms. And if you want somebody to just be there who's not going to judge you for crying, call me, and I will just sit there while you cry as long as you need to cry, but please do not stop crying.”


[00:19:29] LM: I love that you're telling your little boys that and creating a safe place for them to experience and express human emotion. 


[00:19:38] CA: What a concept.


[00:19:40] LM: I know. Gabor Maté, I believe he's a psychologist, he's Canadian, and he works in Vancouver, Canada. I think at the Roosevelt Hotel. It's basically I guess a drug den, right? But he works with people with very serious addiction. He also has a book called Hold On to Your Kids, which is kind of fascinating. He did a podcast with Russell Brand, the English actor. Yeah. And he was like, “Okay. Look. Is this the right thing? Whenever my daughter cries and gets upset, I’m like, “Please stop crying. I’ll give you some chocolate. Is that bad?” And he’s kind of laughing. And Gabor was like, “Yeah, that that is bad. Don't do that anymore.” 


What happens is when we see our kids especially in distress, we have such a strong reaction and it makes us so uncomfortable that we want the discomfort to end. So we bribe them, we control them, we give in. And he's like the best thing you can do, just sit and hold on to your kids. Let them cry. Let them express what's happening. They don't have to understand it. They don't have to be able to explain it. Just hold on to them and be with them in the discomfort, and I think that's such a beautiful lesson for all of us about learning to be uncomfortable.


[00:21:04] AC: This is a great example of why it's important to learn to be uncomfortable both from the parents and the kids standpoint. Like if you can learn to be uncomfortable, it's a lot easier to let somebody else be uncomfortable. And to your point, I think that's why people especially have such a strong reaction to try and like solve that, try and figure out and make sure it's not feeling uncomfortable so you can't sit with the discomfort. If we have it in ourselves, it's a lot easier to allow that for other people. And if you can allow it in other people, they can allow it in other people and you can have this wonderful ripple effect if you're willing to sit with that discomfort, but it is discomfort. It's uncomfortable. It'll trigger the amygdala. You're going to feel that reaction.


[00:21:41] LM: Yeah. It's like everything in me wants to run away right now. What do I do? How do I change that behavior? And part of it is just forcing yourself to stand still and go, “Okay. I’m going to stand here. I’m going to breathe until the feeling of retreating leaves. I am not in any danger here. So why do I want to run? Why is that my default?” 


[00:22:05] AC: There's so much work on that when you read about things like processing trauma and understanding trauma better. There's so much work in like half the reason it lasts so long and half the reason we carry it for so long is because it is so uncomfortable. We turn, we leave, we especially initially have to, have to turn away. It's a survival mechanism. But when that becomes the default mechanism, it becomes this growing inside burden we just carry onward and onward because we don't do exactly what you're saying, which is to sit with the silence, sit with the discomfort and have to feel it, process it.


[00:22:40] LM: Yeah. My parent, my mom used to tell me a lot, “You're so sensitive. You're so emotional.” And there's kind of a negative connotation to that, like it's too much. Her family was not very emotionally expressive, and I understand that now. But now I’m glad when I’m able to sit with like my nieces and nephews when they are upset and I don't keep them right six feet away like in my comfortable bubble. It's like, “Come close to me. Sit here with me and just feel what you're feeling.” And I don't ask questions. I don't make them tell me, “Why do you feel like this? What's going on?” Just come here and be loved and let's see what happens. And it feels it is so connecting. And I love that the kids lean into that that at first it's like I’m trying to hug and they're sitting there like, “Oh my God!  Oh my God! Oh my God! What's happening to me?” And then that moment they kind of melt into it and they feel what they feel and then they don't feel judged about it, but that is a really beautiful way to connect with somebody. Like I don't know why that image just came up, but there is – I think with COVID, like adults are trying to grapple with how is this affecting me? And sometimes we can think that kids navigate this stuff and they roll through it unbothered, right? Not impacted by it. And it is, it's been hard on them too. And so giving them those moments and those opportunities to just be I think is important.


[00:24:31] CA: Yeah, that's beautiful. I don't know if it happens with your nieces and nephews as well, but when I do that with my kids, I find that the minute they start melting into the moment and feeling the feelings and realizing that they're not being judged or rushed through them, that's it. They let it go. The minute I tell them , “It's okay. You can cry as long as you want. It's understandable. Just sit here.” That's when like their face changes, their energy changes and they're like, “Okay. I’m done.” It's like they need permission. Once they get it, then they can let go. 


[00:24:31] AC: I think it's so telling as to how much of the pain is running from feeling, running from that moment of having – 


[00:25:13] LM: Yeah, the vulnerability to stop and just let all of our walls down and just be. I mean, that is a powerful moment.


[00:25:23] AC: What I really liked about what you shared, Laurie and, you, Cristina, one of my favorite parts about that is the lack of words. You're not asking people to explain their emotions. You're not asking people to like, “Let's sit down and talk this out until you know why you're feeling this way.” It's just giving enough space to feel it. And there are no words for that. That's like the subconscious human language that we speak but don't have words for. It's the thing we feel but don't have a language for. Sometimes really cool and it's really nice to be able to talk these things out and put language to it, but it's so powerful to not do that, to just have the moment where you feel enough of it because it is just that base level.


[00:26:01] LM: Yeah, and to be okay with the silence. Silence makes a lot of us so just makes our skin crawl. It's like, “God! I got to say something. We cannot sit here quietly next to each other. That would be weird.” And so just knowing that you don't have to fill every second, that love is enough, the connection is enough, the closeness is enough, the holding someone and allowing them to feel held and supported, that is enough. And not asking people why are you feeling like this because that can feel like judgment. So instead when they're ready to talk, say, “What is this feeling like? I can see you're sad. What does that feel like in your heart or in your body?” And just allow them to share whatever comes up. Not make it about is this right or wrong? Do I understand? Do I have the same experience? It’s just let them share what they're feeling, right? What that is like for them?


[00:27:07] CA: I think that need to just be with someone in the same room is what it's missing a lot in the remote working environment that we live right now and that, yes, sure, we all love rolling out of bed and going to the office with pj’s on or whatever it's going on and wearing our leggings for the fifth day in a row and nobody notices. But beyond those comfort things, going to the office just to go for meetings is not really what I think sparks the magic of people working together. It's just being, being in the same room even if you're working on different things in silence. It's such a different feeling. And with the pandemic and being remote, even being on Zoom, but you're quiet and you're working, but you're not alone. That feeling of not being alone has a huge impact on productivity, on just feeling at peace and being able to focus on the work as opposed to focus on, “Oh, I’m alone. If I’m alone it means I’m being threatened. If I’m being threatened, now I have to figure out whether I’m fighting or flying or freezing. And I have no idea what I’m working on because I don't have time to stop and smell the roses. I’ve got a tiger chasing me.”


[00:28:26] LM: Yeah. I mean, as a species, we're built for connection, for belonging. We want our community, because when we started this journey as human beings, we had to be in community or we would die, right? There were a lot of threats. And I know that a lot of companies right now are asking this exact question, Cristina, is, “If we stay remote, how do we increase the actual connection?” Because people are – It is taking a toll, right? That interpersonal connection, being next to other people and feeling them around. Mental health, I mean, the hit that productivity it takes because of this lack of connection and our feelings of being alone and abandoned is pretty extraordinary, and in the last few months there have been so many articles about big companies like we have to figure this out. This is an issue that we just can't ignore because our people are struggling. 


[00:29:29] AC: It's kind of forced the issue of trying to be more human about it. It's forcing the issue of like this is the reason that connection works. It's not because people are in – There're so many like surface level arguments for people in the same office, and so you just have conversations that are about work. Like, yeah, that's part of it, but the connection is the connection and now you're feeling like a team, that you're feeling like you're actually working with the other person. That's the amygdala. That's the deeper layer. That's the initial reaction. That's the connection that doesn't have easy words to put to it but means something.


[00:29:59] LM: Yeah. I mean, you know what it's like when you are working on a project and their synergy and creative juices are flowing.  You know what that feels like when you're in the room. That's hard to simulate if you're in 10 different homes on Zoom, right? Doesn't mean you're not productive and that you aren't coming up with solutions, but the experience is different. And going to work and liking the people that you see, well hopefully you do. 


[00:30:28] CA: Some of them. Most of them. 


[00:30:30] LM: The energy when you walk in into a room and people smile and they're happy to see you, that feels good. The way that that welcomes you into your space, that feels nice, and we crave that, right? It's what we need to thrive.


[00:30:45] CA: And one of the things that I probably miss the most with that working environment is even if you're on a meeting, you’re in a meeting and somebody says something that may or may not be triggering and you're surrounded with people that know you. You can just look up and that those people that know you that you may have been triggered are looking at you with this reassuring eyes and that's when you're like, “I can pause. I’m not threatened because these people have my back. They didn't say anything. They didn't do anything, but I’m not alone.”


[00:31:18] LM: Yeah, that's a big one, right? I am not alone. Like it's one thing to say that, but to really feel that I am not alone here even though I may be isolated or I may be working right from home. I am not alone right now. 


[00:31:33] AC: That's your point. That's why we are such social creatures. We depend on that connection. We do feel it as a survival reaction when we don't feel alone. It can be so calming to have the exact opposite, when you don't feel alone. Now you don't have the survival reaction. It's much easier, to your point, Cristina, even if there's something that's triggering. Even something that if you were alone or felt like you were alone would ignite that fight or flight. When you don't have that, it's exactly the opposite. You have that safety. You have that connection. You have that net.  You know you have other people. It doesn't cue the survival fight or flight moment.


[00:32:06] LM: Yeah. And we can belong to a lot of different groups, right? Some of us find that in our immediate families, some of us in our friend groups. Some of us get that only through work and the connections we have at work. So when that's been taken away, I mean, no wonder we're all feeling more stress and anxiety and fear and reacting and kind. 


[00:32:27] CA: So we know we have to regulate this amygdala. I mean, unless we get a lobotomy and remove it, which I’m not sure that anybody's figured that out yet. 


[00:32:39] AC: There's no side effects that possibly come from that.


[00:32:41] CA: So what are some ways that you have helped your clients in regulating it, being aware of it and not having it hijack their entire personality and life really? 


[00:32:56] LM: Usually people notice one of two things, thoughts that precede the kind of stressful explosion or that moment of impact, or people feel it physically in their body building, right? They feel that the tightness in their chest or their butterflies in their stomach and they're like, “Oh my gosh! I’m getting ready to kind of be really freaked out right now.” So first step is helping people be aware enough to go what precedes the eruption, right? Then the next step from there is, “Okay. Once you know this now, how can you be more present in the moment?” So if you feel the buildup, how do you check in with what's actually happening right now in front of me to help ground us? So you can do that by using your senses. Like look around the room. How many different colors do I see right now? Because our brain, when we force it to focus on more than one thing, it can't do either at a hundred percent. It's not capable, right? I know a lot of us think that we're really great multitaskers and some of us like something we’re very proud of, right? And research disagrees.


[00:34:08] CA: Nobody is. Nobody is. 


[00:34:13] LM: Yeah. It does, right? And so when you know that this amygdala is activated and you're starting to really feel it, making your brain refocus on something else naturally starts decreasing the effect of the amygdala, right? So when it starts sending the cortisol and adrenaline through your body, when you're like, “Okay. What is actually physically happening in front of me? So what are all the colors that I see right now? What are all the different sounds I can hear?” That in and of itself starts kind of turning off the release of those chemicals. And so that can give you enough time to go, “Okay. Let me breathe now, that I’m back. I feel more in my body. I feel more rational. What really just triggered me?” It wasn't the actual comment that was just made. What is the assumption I made about that comment? What was the limiting belief or whatever that was triggered in me that caused my reaction? Once they can be a little more present and everything slows down a little bit, then they can explore. What is it really that happened and now what do I want to do about it? 


And it seems kind of simple when you talk about it like that, but obviously in the moment it's not that easy to just go, “Whoops! Put on the brakes. Time out. Give myself time out. Now I’m fine.” It does take practice, but it is possible. I mean, I have people every day who are like I didn't think that I could control what happens to me when I feel angry because I’ve been this way for 40 plus years. It's just who I am. And to know that they can do it is very liberating. It's like a weight is lifted off of our shoulders because we realize we do have choice. Even if the choice is to jump head first, it's still more of an intentional choice or I guess not option for us then when we're just kind of – When the fight and flight center is fully engaged and we really don't even have any level of awareness about what's happening to us. 


[00:36:23] AC: That's genius. I love the idea of defensive multitasking. Because I’ve read the articles, like, yeah, you can't multitask. A lot of people think they can, but it does not research-wise ever been proven that people can multitask. But I love that idea because that's usually what stops me from accomplishing many things when my brain tries to like jump into too many things. I can't do those. I’d never thought of using that as like, “Well, what if you could slow down all processes?” I love that idea. Concentrate on just things that are happening. Force your brain to focus on two things because it will inevitably not quite do them well. I like that a lot. That's a great insight.


[00:37:03] LM: If you can use many of your senses at once it actually can calm things down more quickly. And so most people when they go out and walk like in a park or in the woods, it just has this natural calming effect, right? And I don't know that this is true. This is just my belief, okay? So you guys can let me know if this feels on point or not but –


[00:37:27] CA: If you say it, then it's definitely true.


[00:37:28] LM: Okay. Sweet. So this is a proven fact. A proven fact, yes, and it's on a recording. So it must be true. When we're out in nature I think our body naturally kind of syncs up to the vibrational frequency of the planet, right? Like in yoga when they have you kind of sit and you go ohm and it's that certain pitch. I think that that is the vibrational frequency. And our body just naturally intuitively syncs up with that and so stress kind of melts away a little bit. We walk a little more slowly. We're breathing a little more deeply. We're more aware. We're taking the time to actually look around and go, “Oh! What do I see? How does the earth feel beneath me?” 


It's spring right now and, well, it's not spring in Montana, but it's a pretty day, and you can smell some the trees right and you can hear the birds are going crazy. And so to really just kind of immerse yourself in that has a very calming effect on your system. So if you are really heated and you know that you are just kind of fixing to go off, if you can get outside and really just slow everything down, I think most people find that hugely beneficial. 


[00:38:48] CA: I’ve gone on drives if I can't go on walks, because then it's that multitasking. And I go on drives in new places that I don't know on purpose because then my brain has to focus on the road because I don't know where I’m going. It's not automatic driving. And then it does kind of melt away. That coat on the couch doesn't seem quite as important as it used to be.


[00:39:15] AC: Take the brass knuckles off. 


[00:39:19] LM: Yeah. I don't know why I just got this image of Rocky in my mind. It's like go to your corner, take the gloves off, get a towel, relax, get some water. And then, Cristina, when you are driving, are you able to kind of trace back and go, “Okay, what is it really about the coat?” 


[00:39:35] CA: Yes, I am. 


[00:39:39] LM: What have you found in those moments, if you'd like to share?

[00:39:43] CA: Well, it depends. The coat can take on many reasons. I would say most of the time the trigger for me is – Which is interesting because I just heard a podcast on that, or at least half of a podcast on that because the second part is coming next week, but the trigger for me is when I feel invisible, which is my gremlin. So it's a very deep trigger. And for situations that are home related, and it happens at work too, but at home related is that invisibility that I’m taking for granted the I feel that – And I’m sure I’m exaggerating or maybe not, but I feel that 95% of my life is not about me. It's about taking care of the home, and the kids, and the husband, and the groceries, and the laundry, and the cat, and you name, but it's not really about doing something for me. And so when those little things for whatever reason I’m exhausted and I feel overly taken for granted, that's when the coat becomes the end of the world. 


[00:40:59] LM: Thank you for sharing that to be that vulnerable and say, “Yeah, it's this feeling that I’m invisible.” Maybe the things that I am saying are important to me aren't important, or that's the message. And I think we all experience that to some extent. Like, “I’m not being heard. My needs are not being addressed.” And that is a very, very common theme in a lot of my sessions is when we keep kind of peeling the onion and it's not about the wet towel on the bed, the coat on the couch, it's not about any of those things. What is the need, the bigger need that we have that is not being met? That's what the reaction is about. 


[00:41:47] AC: and that makes sense given how deep it is in our brain. I mean, this is a reaction to something like that. It is a threat to ourselves because if we don't exist, are we connected to the group? Are we connected to ourselves? Is anybody connected to us? Is anybody watching out for us? I mean, it's very threatening.


[00:42:03] LM: It is.  Yeah, do I matter?


[00:42:06] CA: Yeah, if I don't exist, then I can go driving for two months and they're not going to know the difference. 


[00:42:13] LM: Yeah, and it's amazing how those thoughts take over, right? And they feel so true to us in the moment. It's like, “Well, of course the coat is on the couch because no one cares about how I feel about this.” And I would be very, very shocked if that is exactly why the coat is on the couch. We just don't care about you mom. What's the big deal? They're kids. They run in. They pull their clothes off and wherever they drop that's where they stay. That's what kids do, right? 


[00:42:46] CA: What makes it harder for work situations is that at home you can go for a drive and realize that the coat on the couch is not because they don't care about me. At work it's not that easy because of that repression of emotions, because it's business, it's not personal. And so at work when you are excluded, when you feel invisible, when you are alone, you could walk away and nobody will ever say anything. 


[00:43:18] LM: That certainly is an option, right? And there's another choice. We could lean into that discomfort and say, “I am feeling unheard. I’m feeling like my voice doesn't really matter. I’m feeling like I’m not an equal partner on this team.” And all of those things are scary, right? Being vulnerable, like that is scary. And it is very interesting how often we choose not to say that because of the fear. What if the answer to my question is, “You're right. You aren't an equal member of this team.” Then what do I do with that?


[00:43:56] CA: Which sometimes it could be, right? 


[00:43:58] LM: Yeah. That could be the response you get. And if that is the response you get, it doesn't mean that you are not worthy. It doesn't mean that you're not good enough, right? 


[00:44:10] AC: I wonder if it's even harder to see that in that context, because work – Yeah, in the context of like the coat, coat is on the couch, you feel like people don't care about you.  You can drive away. You feel like maybe like, “No. That probably isn't what it's about.” But if you go to work and you have the same experience, work is this thing that you do very personally. I mean, even if you have a family, even if you've talked to them all about your job, all about the people you work with, all about like your day-to-day experience, it's still something that is so much about you that if you start to feel ignored there it can feel like this piece that is almost uniquely you is almost not there. That can be then doubly threatening. And it's even harder to have that conversation of like, “Look, I feel a little bit on the outside of this team. I feel like I’m not in this team.” It's even scarier than because then there's like this third level consequence beyond the first gremlin, the second gremlin, and now it's all –


[00:45:02] CA: It’s like a meta gremlin. 


[00:45:05] AC: A gremlin's standing on a gremlin’s shoulders in a big trench coat. 


[00:45:10] AC: I was walking yesterday and thought about gremlins and my first initial reaction is because I grew up when that movie was out, “Oh! They're so cute,” and then they go bananas, right? Like the flip of the switch and it's banana city. But it's fun. So that word gremlin always kind of makes me laugh a little bit because I’m like, “Oh! That's cute.” No. It's not. Woah, watch out. 


[00:45:32] CA: The amygdala takes over.


[00:45:36] LM: Literally. Our amygdala causes so many problems. It's such a little thing and really wreaks havoc on our system. And I do think at work there is the extra layer of the financial security piece, right? Like we need to feel physically and psychologically safe most of us. That's when we kind of operate in an ideal state. And so doing anything where the threat is, “Well, what if I speak up and then the response is I get fired or I get demoted or my promotion gets pulled because I’m not a team player?” All of these things are real possibilities. And so the need for self-preservation can even be stronger at work because we don't want to impact our ability to feed ourselves and our families. 


[00:46:33] CA: Very true. 


[00:46:35] AC: Then it literally does even more tie into that feeling of survival and instinct. 


[00:46:39] LM: Yeah. I mean, what's that saying? Doggy dog world? What is it? Dog eat dog, right? 


[00:46:45] CA: Dog eat dog. I think it's dog eat dog. 


[00:46:47] LM: Doggy dog. 


[00:46:49] CA: A non-American in the room says yes. 


[00:46:52] LM: I mean, it is real, right? And of course most companies are like, “Well, yeah, that would never happen.” But we all that that isn't true because there are lots of different personalities and feelings and limiting beliefs that are many different layers of managers and directors and senior VPs and all these people. It doesn't mean they're bad people, but when I say something like, “Hey, I’m really not feeling heard on this team,” that could be very triggering to somebody else in a whole different way, right? And so then they're reacting to what I’ve said and then, I mean, it just spins out of control. 


And so even with the companies with the best intentions, you can be reprimanded. Promotions can and do get withheld. Information sharing filters, it gets slower and slower, right? You do find yourself outside really through no fault to your own just because you were vulnerable enough to say what was true for you. 


[00:48:01] CA: Which then triggers you not wanting to be vulnerable in the future.


[00:48:05] LM: Yeah. It's like, “See? I knew I shouldn't have said anything.” And part of it does come down to you know how do you want to show up in your life? Is it important for you to say what's true and to work somewhere where you feel respected and honored and like a part of and all those other things? Some people that doesn't matter, it really doesn't, and they're just like, “I just want a good job where I make a good living. I don't really want to have to make any decisions. I’ll do the work and I’ll be fine with that.” But other people really want to have more than that and that need to really belong and increase the level of connection and openness and all those things. When you don't find that, it is very difficult to go to work every day and put a smile on your face and do good work, right? 


[00:49:00] AC: I really love this whole session we've just talked about just because it makes such a powerful case for why psychological safety is important. You brought up that idea of like psychological safety. And we've said it before, we know that it's important. We've talked about it on the podcast a little bit. We know that like psychological safety helps people. And it's easy to say like, “Yeah, I’m sure that helps people,” but there's times where it's stressful and it's just not going to happen. But this makes such a powerful case for why it's important because you're likely to trigger that. You triggered some kind of a mental response in somebody or your discussion of it will trigger an amygdala response in somebody. And if you don't have that psychological safety, to your point, that's how quickly it all starts to spin out of control like. It starts to become that thing where, yeah, I was triggered. That other person has triggered my reaction and triggered these things. Like that's where it's so important to have this and that's why it's not just this kind of ethereal nice to have psychological safety. It's something that can truly make or break the cohesion of a team.


[00:49:55] LM: Yeah. I talked to Cristina about this a lot, and maybe we even talked about it last time about Simon Sinek. His take on how do you build highly trusting teams. 


[00:50:07] LM:  People have to know there is psychological safety and that has to be mirrored by people in power, right? We have to know that it is okay to make a mistake and it is okay to say, “I don't know if that's the best course of action, “or “I disagree.” And that only happens when people hire up in the company are saying, “Hey, I disagree. I don't know that that's the best path forward. I have some concerns about the direction in which we're moving.” So then when people lower down in the company see that and they see that being modeled for them, then it's like, “Okay. This is a place that is safe for me.” 


And it still is shocking to me how few companies actually really support and encourage that because when there is high levels of trust, productivity goes through the roof, right? Employee engagement goes through the roof. Absenteeism goes down. Morale increases. It just has all of these positive benefits. And so it does, it baffles me, right? And so maybe if we could all learn a little bit about how to more effectively regulate our amygdala so that when we hear something that's difficult we can give ourselves a second to go, “Okay. Just breathe. This isn't about me this is someone just saying, “Look, I disagree.” That doesn't mean that I’m a terrible person.” 


So realize if you're in a group of 50 people, one person says, “I disagree.” Every single person in that room is getting triggered and having their own internal dialogue and their own system is freaking out. And so if everybody could just learn to kind of just take a breath for a second and go, “Wait a minute. What really is true? What is going on right now?” I don't know. I don't really know how to convince people to do that, but I know that it's effective because I see it every day.


[00:52:14] AC: And I love what you said about it being like from the top two, because if you see that exemplified, it's so much easier to then trust that you can do it because, A, it's harder to go up the hierarchy, to use the very corporate term. Like it's harder to go up the ladder on that. It's hard to confront that unless you see it the other way. And to your point too, if you have that experience a couple times or one time, even doing this one time where you had that promotion that got passed up, you had whatever consequence that you were fearing was delivered. Even if it wasn't to you frankly, even if you just saw it delivered on somebody else, as a leader you're working with a team of people who have all had some level of these experiences. So it's especially important you exemplify that from the top because they're coming in with their own presuppositions of this is probably how it's going to be and I’m going to play it safe if I’ve had enough instances where this wasn't safe. And so it's even more important to lead by example on that because you’re not only fighting just the culture within to make sure it doesn't change, the culture within your own company. It's the culture people are bringing from their previous experiences.


[00:53:23] LM: Yeah. It isn't just to – Like there're a lot of really great companies that have beautiful mission statements and statements of purpose that I’ll talk about. Yes, we're open. It's safe. Like all of these beautiful things, and that is not the reality, right? And so knowing that there is a disconnect and then addressing that to say, “You're right. Everybody that comes to work has all of their own life experiences.” And they may not have been ever been negatively impacted by sharing their truth, but I think everybody has seen that happen to somebody they know and it's like, “Oh God! I’m going to keep my mouth shut. I am not going to give any kind of dissenting opinion. I’m not going to share anything. I’m just going to smile and just say yes and keep moving forward because I know what can happen. I’ve seen it.” That's scary to go to work in a place like that every day.


[00:54:20] AC: Very scary.  You're fighting everybody's vicious and virtuous cycles, and that's such a powerful moment of social learning. You see somebody else experience that consequence. You're now worried about that consequence. Whether you were even in the line of fire or if you were even in the same ballpark, you're now worried about that, even if it's from a previous job. Similarly, like you can teach the other way. You can teach that it was okay to do this and people will carry that to their other experiences, carry that onward. But since we're so regulated to be responsive to stress, it generally takes more positive experiences to kind of outweigh that amount of stress. So it becomes even more important to be really, really aware of how much positive energy we're putting into the room and how much safety we are creating for ourselves, for everyone else, for our current, past and future experiences. 


[00:55:07] LM: And to know when someone comes to you with, “Hey, I think I disagree with your point of view or the direction you want to move on this.” To know that you're going to be triggered by that and to go, “Okay. Woo! Give me two minutes because there is a lot happening in my brain right now. I want to breathe. I want to ground myself.” I kick my shoes off a lot so that I really can feel the ground underneath me so that when I hear things I’m not expecting I’m able to absorb them like with a little less impact and I can go, “Okay. Wait a minute. Is there any truth to this and am I in any real danger? Can I explore this? Can I say, “Okay. What part of this is concerning or what is your suggestion? How do you think we can move forward?” And to know that it really is not about me. It is not um an indictment of me, of my character, of my life experiences, and to get that perspective and to just keep telling yourself just keep breathing. Just keep breathing. Keep listening. Keep breathing. Keep grounding. And to admit that, like, “I’m having a big reaction to this. So I need a minute.” That's the other interesting thing that we do when we have a conversation that feels difficult at all or that we are perceiving as conflict. It's, “I have to win. And if I don't win, then I’m a big loser. A great big loser.” And it's just a conversation. I mean, literally, I’ve never had anybody who's like pulled out a big sword and it's like, “This is it. Let's do this.” You have to defend your position to the death because it's happening right now. 


[00:57:06] CA: They may have their boxing gloves on, but – 


[00:57:08] LM: They might. Yeah, they might, right? But that's what happens inside of our brain. Like we are really ready for that.


[00:57:17] AC: You want to turn your expense reports in on Thursday? Sweet! 


[00:57:22] LM: Seriously? 


[00:57:23] CA: You want to ask questions? Try again. 


[00:57:28] LM: Yeah. It is interesting how many times a day our amygdala is activated and drives our behavior and a lot of times it's happening in the subconscious so we really aren't even aware of it in the moment.


So I guess I would encourage everybody, and I practice this myself when I know that I’m feeling triggered to explore it. Why did that one comment bother me so much? What is it about – What limiting belief do I have that I feel like is being exposed? What is the story I’m not good enough, I’m undeserving, I’m inadequate, I’m less than. What is it being poked in me that is causing every defensive and protective mechanism at my disposal to just kind of go on high alert, right? What is that? And then how do I really want to respond in a way that honors who I am and what matters to me? It is very liberating and empowering when you know that you can change that, that you absolutely can rewrite the story, right? You don't have to be stuck in the old one.


[00:58:40] AC: It's truly an addictive feeling once you feel that power, that liberation, that moment. And the coolest part is that when you can acknowledge that, then you say, “Well, how would I like to respond to that?” You're already starting the path towards creating a more default model that fits with how you want to be. Now the next time this happens, it's going to be a little bit easier to have the conversation with yourself of like, “Wait, why is this happening? Where is this going?” And it's opening and smoothing that neural path to get to the reaction that you want to have.


[00:59:10] LM: I do think it is a reconditioning process, right? That we have to take that old programming and get rid of it and put something in place that's more effective, more in alignment with who we are and really does honor, honor us and what's important to us. And you can do it. I know that. I felt it myself. I see it every day with clients who are like, “I didn't really believe.” I get that a lot actually. I was not picking up what you were laying down. I was nodding and I was smiling and I was saying, “Sure. Yeah. I’ll try that.” 


But the first time people really do notice that you can push pause and that is not a sign of weakness or a sign of defeat because that's the other thing that we do in our head. It's like, “If I don't give a response just like this and I don't defend myself immediately, then I’ve lost.” And it isn't a zero-sum situation, right? And so when people are like, “I was able to pause this weekend when my husband said X. Instead of just getting so defensive, I went and I took a walk outside for five minutes and then I came back and I said, “Here's what was happening to me,” and that was different and it felt good. It felt good not to lose my mind and freak out over nothing.” So I know that it happens. It happens every day. I see it every day.


[01:00:42] AC: And it's exciting to see it in other people just like as excited and feeling yourself. It's so fun to watch. 


[01:00:46] LM: It is fun to watch. I mean, we talk a lot, and I know you guys talk a lot about energy on your show or on your podcast – Your show.


[01:00:54] CA: It's a show and a podcast. It's both.


[01:00:57] LM: Okay. Podcast. But the energy shifts right and you’d literally feel this weight being lifted off of people because it's like I have reacted like this 40 some years always the same thing and it never felt good, never. So it's about also kind of getting out of your own way and realizing that you can choose something different even when you're super agitated and activated, right? I’m a fairly patient person and I have an almost six-year-old and a nine-year-old nephew, ten-year-old nephew. So really there aren't a ton of rules, right? You can't call each other stupid and we don't say shut up. But other than that it, I mean, it really is like free reign. 


And so when I reach that level where I’m like, “Look, this is it.” They can tell like, “Okay. What's wrong with you?” And I’m like, “I am feeling so nuts right now. Like one more boy jumping on the couch is sending me into overdrive.” And then they kind of look at me and I’m like, “Aunt Laurie needs a time out.” And then they laugh and they're like, “You do?” And I’m like, “Yes! Because I’m feeling so crazy about wrappers on the floor or boys jumping on a chair.” And news flash, that's what they're going to do. So it doesn't always have to be a big serious thing.  You can make it light and you can make it less scary by how you approach it, right? 


[01:02:31] CA: That's great advice. 


[01:02:32] LM: It's okay to laugh at yourself and go, “I am feeling completely cuckoo right now,” right? 


[01:02:40] CA: Yes. 


[01:02:41] AC: That's just the same as like showing that kind of exemplifying as in the workplace, because if you can do that with family, with nieces, with nephews, with all the young people in your life, if you can exemplify like I’m feeling like up to here right now. And you can tell them like, “Yeah, I’m feeling that right now.” It makes it much more okay for them to feel that and to know that like adults feel that. This is just something that happens. It's part of life don't expect it not to happen and don't run away from it. It's not a bad thing. It just is a thing. It happens. It's life.


[01:03:07] LM: Yeah. And to be able to say like, “I’m asking for a time out right now because I don't want to yell. I don't want to say something hurtful. I don't want to see that sad look like in this sweet little six-year-old's face because I’ve reacted badly.” It's okay to go, “I need a minute so that I can be who I am. I can be lovingly engaged with you and everything can be fun again, but I need a minute.” And to learn how to ask for that. People, at first they're kind of like, “That is really weird. What's happening to you right now?” And then when you come back and you explain, “Here's what's happening to me. I was feeling so angry that I know I was going to say something hurtful, and I don't like doing that. I don't want to hurt you.” And they're like, “Oh! I get that. I know what that feels like.”


[01:04:03] AC: Vulnerability and courage. 


[01:04:04] LM: It’s where it’s at. Yeah. Very courageous, isn't it, to do that? 


[01:04:10] CA: Especially if you start practicing that at work. 


[01:04:12] LM: Could you imagine like how different things could be if people high up in corporations would just say, “I need a minute. I’m feeling really challenged right now.” I have this limiting belief. I don't like it like when people push back. Or when I feel like people are threatening my position or questioning, “How do you even have the position you have?” And if they would just take a minute and go, “It's okay to feel that way.” So I’m just going to get up. I’m going to walk around the conference room a little bit. I’m going to compose myself and then we're going to move on, right?


[01:04:52] CA: I think it would be incredibly powerful. I know I probably would have avoided a few boxing matches if I had the courage to say that. 


[01:05:00] AC: We're going to re-title this one Laurie McElroy on Adult Timeouts. 


[01:05:03] LM: I’m a big fan. I give myself timeouts a lot. I think like a lot, that might be a dramatic word, but I do it more often than not. And every once in a while I do still jump head first into something and I know the minute I engage, I know what I’m doing, and then that makes it feel worse because it isn’t a subconscious behavior anymore. And then you’re like, “Ugh! Now I have to apologize and that I was being an asshole. And I’ve got to clean that up now. And that feels gross.” So the more you can choose to behave differently, then the less mess there is to clean up after the fact, and that feels good.


[01:05:50] CA: It does.  Yeah, the whole apologies, and I’m judging myself, and I can't control myself, and know how I’m going to be looked at.  Yeah, not fun. 


[01:06:03] AC: It’s a different gremlin. 


[01:06:04] CA: Yes, meta gremlins. Then it becomes gremlins versus gremlins. Who's going to win? 


[01:06:09] AC: Gremlin's because I had gremlins. 


[01:06:12] LM: Yeah, those pesky little gremlins. Really, they're there and they're so common and so activating, right? Any sense of not good enough is a big one. Not successful enough, good enough, competent enough, tall enough. It really is a fill in the blank, a dealer's choice with that one. Any sense of being undeserving of a beautiful life, of a successful life, of a healthy relationship and also feelings of being unlovable. Those are really common, right? So when we are believing all of those things and we are caught up in that story, we behave differently, right? The way we carry ourselves, the way we move through the world, it is altered. And when we really do put the effort in to just be really honest with ourselves about the way we behave and the whys, it really does feel so much better in your heart to not be beating yourself up all the time. 


[01:07:20] CA: Yes, it does.


[01:07:22] AC: You're enough. 


[01:07:24] LM: Yeah, imagine, right? And even on days when you don't operate at 100%, you're still enough. 


[01:07:33] AC: Nobody's 100% all the time. 


[01:07:35] LM: Such – I don't know. Liberating doesn't quite feel right, but it's adequate, but there's just a sense of expansion in your heart when – 


[01:07:48] CA: Peaceful. 


[01:07:48] AC: It is peaceful and it’s contentment and it’s acceptance. Maybe that is the word. This acceptance that who I am is enough. 


[01:07:58] AC: It's like the exact opposite of fight or flight. If you can accept it, you're not running, you're not fighting.


[01:08:03] LM: Yeah. Just put your arms to the side when you feel that thing activated and just stand and breathe for 30 seconds and see if it changes the intensity of the desire to fight or flee, right? It really does alter the internal energy pretty quickly when you do that.


[01:08:25] CA: Beautiful. Well, this was another wonderful conversation that could go on for another 12 hours easily. 


[01:08:33] LM: Well, thank you guys for having me back. I enjoy myself every time I get to talk to you.


[01:08:40] CA: Thank you, Laurie. 


[01:08:41] AC: IT’s always great talking to you, Laurie. We’ll have you on again I’m sure. The question is will we have other second guests or we have Laurie as the third? We're going to find out. 


[01:08:48] CA: She may come back again.


[01:08:51] AC: Thank you so much for joining, Laurie. This is a great conversation. I love the idea of taking some space, taking time for yourself, like everything that challenges us to feel like we're not enough. Taking the moment to just to feel and then to question, “What if we were enough? What would that feel like?” 


[01:09:06] CA: Yes. 


[01:09:07] AC: Defensive multitasking.


[01:09:07] CA: Yes, defensive multitasking. I love that.


[01:09:10] LM: Well, thanks guys.


[01:09:12] CA: Thank you again so much. And thank you everybody for listening.


[01:09:14] AC: Thank you so much for joining, Laurie. Good to see you guys. Thank you guys.


[01:09:19] LM: Bye.




[01:09:20] CA: Thank you for listening to Uncover the Human, a Siamo podcast. 


[01:09:24] AC: Special thanks to our podcast operations wizard, Jake Lara; and our score creator, Rachel Sherwood. 


[01:09:30] CA: If you have enjoyed this episode, please share, review and subscribe. You can find our episodes wherever you listen to podcasts. 


[01:09:37] AC: We would love to hear from you with feedback, topic ideas or questions. You can reach us at, or at our website,, LinkedIn, Instagram or Facebook. We Are Siamo is spelled W-E A-R-E S-I-A-M-O.


[01:09:56] CA: Until next time, listen to yourself, listen to others and always uncover the human.





Laurie McElroy Profile Photo

Laurie McElroy

Career, Executive, Life and Mental Health Coach | Corporate Culture Crafter | Thinking Trap Escape Artist | Value-Centric Vision

Laurie is a Mental Health Coach. She attended the iPEC coach training program and is an ICF Professional Certified Coach, along with being a Master Practitioner of the ELI. She has a Masters in Psychology w/ specialization in Executive Coaching & Industrial Organization Psychology.  Laurie has coached more than 400 clients over the course of 900+ hours. She went through coach training last year and hit the road running to build her impressive coaching career.  She grew up in entrepreneurial families and has always had a deep interest in people, which moved her towards become a coach, to work with people every day and help them reach their highest potentials.  Super fan of anyone who is interested in understanding themselves at a deeper level.

Laurie can be reached on LinkedIn and via email