by Jenny Leigh Hodgins
This month, YourCreativeChord Podcast will feature my conversation with guest, Dr. Tara Sanderson, a “Licensed Psychologist, Author, and Clinical Supervisor in Oregon.” The podcast will post in two episodes on March 17 and 31.
LISTEN to EPISODE 1 HERE.
Dr. Sanderson has been “helping people learn the skills to live their best lives” for more than 20 years. I read her new book, "Too Much, Not Enough A guide to decreasing anxiety and finding balance through intentional choices," and reviewed it earlier here.
I invited Dr. Sanderson to be a guest on my podcast because her experience as a counselor and someone who wrestles with perfectionism and anxiety, is perfectly in sync with nurturing creativity and inspiration.
The Dance Between Anxiety And Creative Flow
Getting or staying inspired sometimes comes with its own brand of anxieties for many creative people. I wanted to tap Dr. Sanderson's expertise on addressing this kind of negative self-talk.
We dove into the strategies she put forth in her book about decreasing anxiety. She shared a mindfulness tool she learned in a workshop, called SOBER:
S = Stop
O = Observe
B = Breathe
E = Examine the options
R = Respond
In our chat, Dr. Sanderson walked me through how to use each step of the SOBER tool. Our conversation is relevant for those who struggle with perfectionism, overachieving, anxiety, depression, and “the inner critic.”
E Is For Examine Options Versus Extreme Emotion
The step 'E' in SOBER particularly struck me as useful for those prone to anxiety or perfectionism. Examining the options within a particular scenario is a solid strategy for getting out of extreme, black-and-white thinking that is common for someone in an anxious state.
Dr. Sanderson demonstrated the use of initiating a dialogue with the 'inner critic.’ This inner voice, or self-talk, typically presents an extremely negative option.
Dr. Sanderson’s technique suggests brainstorming five different options versus the one negative option, opening the opportunity for making choices that feel better. Addressing this internal voice directly with alternate options instead of the one extreme reaction commonly offered by the ‘inner critic’ opens the mental space for calm, reason, and a better outcome.
3 Keys For Inspiring Bumperstickers
Dr. Sanderson's technique for handling a stressful choice is to follow the SOBER steps until you're able to respond in a way that's 'on purpose,' 'non-judgmental,' and 'fully present.' I joked that each of these slogans would make great posters or bumperstickers!
Seriously, can you imagine being stuck in constant traffic. You pull up behind a car, fuming frustration at the waste of time to get from point A to point B. Suddenly you see the bumpersticker in front of you, “Fully Present.”
Wow, what a difference that could make on blood pressure, mood, and productive energy! But, I digress…
It struck me that Dr. Sanderson’s approach with these three key points in mind when addressing a challenge is in dramatic yet calming contrast to the knee-jerk extreme emotional reactions we tend to roll with when anxious about something.
Our discussion of the mindfulness tools Dr. Sanderson uses both with herself and within her work as a counselor offers tremendous value for those eager to become less stressed.
Walk-Through For Self-Publishing Your Book
I also asked Dr. Sanderson to walk through her process for writing her new book on decreasing anxiety. She shared from idea conception, writing practice, to promotion, publishing and launching her book.
As I'm writing several nonfiction books under the 'nurturing creativity and inspiration' umbrella, to self-publish those soon on Amazon (and build courses based on them), it was fun to hear how Dr. Sanderson worked through her first book publishing process.
She also shared her process for creating an audio version of her book (which is available on Audible), and a second book to be co-written with her husband is in progress.
In this digital age, the options to publish a book are vastly different from the era of traditional publishing. Dr. Sanderson and I talked about the different ways writers could potentially get their story out or offer value through a book.
Whether you're an author, aspiring writer, or a reader who appreciates good books, this part of our chat illuminates the self-publishing and creative process for writing a book.
LISTEN to EPISODE 1 HERE.
Tune in Tuesday, March 31 for Part 2 of 2 episodes of YourCreativeChord Podcast to hear my in-depth conversation with Dr. Tara Sanderson.
Please let me know in the comments which parts of this blog resonates most with you. Share your thoughts or ask a question! I'd love to hear from you about these intriguing topics, or any tips you'd like to share!
Read my blog reviewing Dr. Tara Sanderson's book here:
How To Decrease Your Anxiety & Live More Mindfully; An Empathetic Perfectionist Helps You Balance Your Life
Checkout Dr. Tara Sanderson's new book, "Too Much, Not Enough A guide to decreasing anxiety and finding balance through intentional choices."
Find Dr. Tara Sanderson on Twitter Instagram Facebook and through her website, https://www.drtarasanderson.com
How To Decrease Your Anxiety & Live More Mindfully; An Empathetic Perfectionist Helps You Balance Your Life
GET YOUR FREE COPY OF Dr. Tara Sanderson’s book, Too Much, Not Enough A guide to decreasing anxiety and finding balance through intentional choices!
A Book Review
By Jenny Leigh Hodgins
In sync with my constant quest for more inspiration, creativity hacks and self-care strategies, I recently read Dr. Tara Sanderson’s new ebook, Too Much, Not Enough A guide to decreasing anxiety and finding balance through intentional choices. The book title captured my attention as something that would fit in with my current journey toward being more mindful.
I’m always open to new, positive ways to transform negative self-talk, doubt and fear. Aren’t you? So, along with adding meditations to my morning Buddhist chanting and exercise routines, I eagerly read through Sanderson’s book.
I was looking for tips or practices that could help me and TEAM YCC (YourCreativeChord, aka, you) deal with life’s inevitable challenges, that little inner critic, ways to improve rapport within relationships, and smooth out my perfectionist, overachieving tendencies. I found all these in Sanderson’s book and more.
The author begins and continues through to the last page of the book with blatant personal transparency, laying out intimate details of her personal struggles in a way that is immediately disarming. Her willingness to show her own vulnerability through every step of the way puts the reader at ease on the level field of humanity with this credentialed new author.
Sanderson is a “Licensed Psychologist, Author, and Clinical Supervisor in Oregon.” For more than 20 years, she has been “helping people learn the skills to live their best lives. Using tools from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, Mindfulness, and Dialectical Behavior Therapy, she specializes in working with clients who struggle with Perfectionism, Overachieving, Anxiety, and Depression. (from her website, https://www.drtarasanderson.com )
Sanderson dives right in to the core of issues. She shares inner feelings and life scenarios that are readily relatable. Though that may be awkward or troubling to note, she brings her wisdom and random humorous anecdotes just in the nick of time, comforting us enough to keep digging. She gently urges us to see that the big reward of continuing to sit through that discomfort, and along with it, grieve “the loss of our expectations” is that “experiencing difficult emotions makes us present.”
Sanderson’s advice resonates deeply with the benefit of practicing mindfulness; being present, sitting still with our thoughts and negative feelings. We learn that the more we sit with our discomfort, the more we can tune in to ourselves and what we need to transform our feelings and/or situation.
Just when we begin to feel what is most painful about ourselves, and as if she’s reading our minds that we want to walk away from this, Sanderson chimes in that “Broken-ness doesn’t have to be life ending. It can be a new beginning with a history,” bringing us peace of mind that we are okay despite our fragments and broken hearts.
She gives tools and reminders that our future has the hope of becoming a rich story based precisely on our struggles and endings, followed by new chapters of beginnings with our growing resilience that will come from doing the work Sanderson suggests we undertake.
She offers encouragement with the tools she practices professionally, such as reframing our situation or ourselves to see more options available to us than the extreme black and white areas of life that we often get stuck between. As an example, she doesn’t tell “clients they’re going to be a gold-laden bowl in 2 weeks. I am telling them we are ready to start picking up the pieces.”
She gently explains, “Sometimes we need to be broken in order to move forward in a new and different way. Brokenness isn’t final. It’s a thing that happens and we decide how to move on from it.”
Her soft power approach coaxes away the fears of endings or weaknesses, allowing the reader to breathe through the process of personal development. Sanderson’s professional skills come through her book, without overtly flashing those credentials in the reader’s face.
She walks us through various real-life scenarios, interspersing humor into her unadorned initial responses to paint a relatable picture of a problem state. She gets the reader down in the trenches of the typical emotional state of an overachiever, until we feel that problem or it brings up something parallel in our lives.
For those dealing with anxiety, Sanderson’s guiding voice compels the reader to let go of extremes to see the gray areas of life, and with those, the opportunities for releasing fears and finding hope. As a person with tendencies toward anxiety, I relaxed my brain to embrace her reminders that life is full of options, is never truly black and white, and that decision-making is a process that is not final. This may seem obvious to non-perfectionists. But Sanderson clearly speaks to her tribe.
A critical chapter in the book is for those from dysfunctional backgrounds who haven’t learned the art of training others to respect personal boundaries. Sanderson covers the issue of setting boundaries with the heart of a poet, reminding us of how important it is to treasure ourselves, and to teach others how to treasure our lives, too,
“Recognize your worth. You are a gift. When you have something valuable where do you keep it? You are valuable. You don’t just hand over your heart, your mind, your soul to whoever comes around. You keep it safe until you trust them. You deserve to be protected from those who might ignore your boundaries.”
This is where Sanderson segues into the importance of self-care as an important way of assuring we have enough to live our best lives. One of my favorite quotes from the book is, “Self-care is less about the value of the person and more about the fullness of the cup.”
Sanderson’s book shows us how critical it is to find ways to take care of ourselves, whether that’s solitude, listening to or playing music, exercising, spending time in nature, hanging out with friends or family, prayer, or good food. Sanderson makes it okay to treat yourself in the name of bringing your best to the situation and the people in your life.
Sanderson walks you through various situations that typically provoke negative emotions or friction within relationships. She voices the common responses that tend toward extremes of black and white options, then eases the reader to acknowledge a wealth of in-betweens that could be used to transform mindset, perspective, and ultimately the relationship or situation.
She brings the reader to an understanding that victim mentality is flimsy but taking full responsibility for one’s choices is empowering. She says, “Love it or change it,” working through potential negative feelings step by step to uncover alternative options that are feasible, and in bite-sized chunks that seem palatable.
The author guides you through levels of anxiety or knee-jerk reactions to find a space within your mind where you may practice new, healthier techniques. Sanderson reminds those of us who are anxiety-prone that our choices are valid and trustworthy. Even if rusty, shaky, or completely new to healthy, mindful practices, she offers you manageable methods for dealing with internal struggle, and leads you to create new habits of self-talk, communication with others, and the tools to find reasonable outcomes for challenging circumstances.
Sanderson, being a perfectionist, overachiever herself, knows the path to anxiety well enough to anticipate the typical objections from one anxious person to another. She repeatedly, gently and often humorously reminds the reader that these kinds of behavioral or life changes require time to acquire and practice to master.
In her words, “Being changeable is a good start, but making the change is another thing altogether. To make a change, we need another skill; we need to be willing to practice. We need to be willing to fail until we get it right.”
Welcoming failure as part of the legitimacy of practicing toward mastery is not an easy concept for the perfectionist. But Sanderson is always one step ahead, offering comfort and cheering you on through the process. Getting support and guidance from someone who is not only credentialed in the science of behavior and psychology, but more importantly—to many of us anxiety-ridden folks--knows that darkness from within her own mind, is just what it takes to gain the golden egg of trust.
If you’re someone who tends toward worrying, depression, OCD habits, or self-doubt, Sanderson’s book has the stuff to sway you to believe in your ability to make intentional choices that lead to a healthier, satisfying way of life. She knows you want to do everything yourself, yet need some help sometimes. Sanderson’s book is a strategy for you to learn how to believe in yourself, your capacity for handling everything you feel you must.
More than this, Sanderson brings you to find hope. For all who worry or doubt, including Sanderson herself, she knows, “Hope is a nightlight for our soul.”
Dr. Tara Sanderson’s book is FREE for 5 days starting TODAY, September 10, 2019! Get your copy Here!
Find Dr. Tara Sanderson at: DrTaraSanderson.com
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Why Should You Dream Too Big & Harness Your Powerful Imagination?
Defeat Fear & Doubt with Your Courage & Capability
How To Deflect Negativity To Become Happier
Believing In The Positive
My Top Tips For Winning Over Your Insomnia
How To Live A Life of Joyful Creativity
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