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
by Jenny Leigh Hodgins
People think I have a large life. My energy commands a room. But it’s not intentional. In fact, sometimes I think I have two personalities.
And, no, I'm not schizophrenic.
I developed my exterior confidence through my job as a music educator, and my role as a Buddhist facilitator. Directing, leading and teaching large groups of people performing music, and facilitating faith-based activities with diverse groups provided abundant training.
When I’ve had the opportunity to lead, there was no room for ego or attention to myself. There was a task to do. I’ve honed that skill to focus on the task at hand without regard to my personal feelings.
I appreciate this skill.
It enabled me to achieve more as a teacher, chorus conductor, faith leader and performing musician. It allowed me to see beyond myself and do more than I would have otherwise envisioned had I stopped to ponder my capability.
Battling An Attack of Self-Doubt
On the flip side, my alter-ego is debilitatingly shy and constantly fighting doubt. Through sheer life experience and in particular debt to my SGI-USA Buddhist philosophy, I’ve managed to function well—beyond my insecurity.
But it relentlessly attacked me when least expected with insomnia. Even when I thought I’d confronted my inner demons, fear and doubt insidiously assaulted my thoughts until the wee hours of morning.
I’d combat it with my intellect, of course. I spoke to myself with a voice of calmness about reality and fool-proof strategies to turn away my inner demons. I distracted myself with reading, deep breathing and imagery of relaxed, happy visions.
I chanted my Buddhist mantra while attempting to empty the barrage of negativity swirling in my brain. I got out of bed and stretched. I wrote my thoughts in my journal. I fought the battle until 3am, despite exhaustion.
Finally, I’d drift off for about three hours of rest.
In the morning, it would all seem perfectly stupid. In the light of day, my evening struggle seemed like a mirage. Except that I was depleted for two days afterwards.
Making Headway By Forging Inner Strength
This darkness beat at my inner doors all my life. I’ve dramatically lessened the effects of it. It used to cause such stomach-upset agony I couldn’t function beyond bed-rest. It caused me to develop respiratory issues. I had no stamina against this demon.
I continued consistently battling it from the inside out with my determined prayer. I forced myself through the exact experiences that caused me anxiety, repeatedly. I forged directly through anxiety until I incrementally gained strength over it.
I no longer have those anxiety attacks that shook my whole body with nausea or stomach pain. I no longer get respiratory illness or stage fright. I have no qualms about public speaking, performing, or facilitating. I've led hundreds of groups as a music educator and chorus conductor, performed in front of thousands as a vocalist/pianist, and spoken in front of countless audiences from musical to community events, from weddings to funerals and beyond.
I don’t worry about what people think of me anymore. All those battles forged my strength and grew my confidence.
As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.'
Notably, when I’m striving to reach a personal goal, or break through to a new level of success in any aspect of my life, my doubts rear their ugliness to challenge me.
That’s how I know I’m on the right track.
A Strong Opponent Builds Your Spiritual Muscle
My Buddhist practice confirms this is a sign of my inner growth; I’m pushing myself beyond comfort and growing my capacity larger than before. There should be some fear or doubt because...I’m human. I’m tackling new and bold territory.
I’m on to these twin evils (fear and doubt). They appear so I may open the path to my future with my true essence—my inner power fueled by belief in the human heart. My heart.
There’s resistance so I may develop spiritual muscle. These most powerful opponents enable me to forge my full potential. Anything easy would not warrant a victory celebration.
I wage on—with a resolute vow to never give up until I win absolute victory over every new challenge. I know it is always a test of my faith. A chance for me to see how my determined prayer—starting from the inner realm—manifests in tangible, conspicuous external proof, based on the interconnectedness of life.
I just have to do the inner work first.
Take that, doubt and fear. Take THAT.
I'd LOVE to hear from you. Please share your thoughts in the comments below. Thank you for liking and sharing this blog with someone who may benefit from the information.
Your Troubles Are Your Progress Barometer & Catalyst For Your Full Potential
5 Ways To Use Music & Nature For Self-Care
Defeat Fear & Doubt with Your Courage & Capability
How To Deflect Negativity To Become Happier
Believing In The Positive
My Top Tips For Winning Over Insomnia
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