Working with Feelings

In this episode JJ and Melissa share some insight on how feelings from both the mind and body have the ability to provide cues to ‘ how' one deals with problems and issues faced in life. From personal stories and examples discussed, JJ and Melissa are able to recognize when they are having feelings, which gives them the ability to step back and assess how to be more prepared to tackle these emotions head on.

June 9, 2020
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Melissa Albers  0:00  
Hey everyone, you are listening to the self awareness journey podcast. This little banter is about a car ride long in features your hosts, JJ Parker. And Melissa Albert's JJ owns a tech company. And Melissa has been a coach working with influencers for the last 18 years.

JJ Parker  0:17  
Hey, Melissa.

Melissa Albers  0:18  
Hey, how you doing? Great.

JJ Parker  0:20  
Hey, I really enjoyed our conversation last week about kind of being an actor and putting on a uniform and going to work and kind of how like work life and home life is getting all intermingled. Yeah, today, I thought I was really interested in him. It reminded me of like another experience I had that that really kind of like challenged my ideas around kind of like this authentic versus actor self.

Melissa Albers  0:47  
Yeah. Tell me about that. I do. I had a really active thinking week about it. I just, it was super awesome. And then I always love when we come back together and like get to riff on this stuff because it's just really cool.

JJ Parker  0:58  
Like just one needed around to Because like I really got going all week. So last summer, you know, we were traveling and I was, we were I was on a train in Spain, and I happened to be sitting next to a guy and his family who was originally from the United States. And we're living in Russia, right? Oh, and so, you know, I just kind of like curious, like, how did this guy end up here? What is he doing? And he was, he's working for a US company there. And so I just was talking to him about, you know, cultural differences, like, what's the business climate like there? And how did his family adapt to living in such a different culture than ours? And that was really interesting. And he said something that kind of struck me, he goes, Oh, no, the thing with the people in Moscow is that they're all like, extremely warm and friendly. And I was like, that's not I mean, right or wrong. That's just not my stereotypical view of that. Culture, right?

Melissa Albers  2:00  
Yeah, yeah, I'd have to admit the same.

JJ Parker  2:02  
And I mean, I mean, I have been I haven't been there I had didn't experiences firsthand. So I feel bad saying that I had this this stereotypical view. But I, but I did. And so ask them more about that, like, because I did this question. I was like, that's not I don't, that's not my, you know, what I've never kind of heard. And he was saying that once you get to know people, like the people that work for him, they're friends. They're like, extremely friendly, but to strangers, they're not very friendly. And so he's kind of confirming like, yeah, there is this kind of cultural difference. And it has to do with how they engage with people they don't know. And he went on to explain that in the former communist economy, that it really didn't benefit anybody to be friendly to strangers, unlike in the US. So like an example is if you're the local banker, in your round in the United States, you wanted to be friendly to all the people you do No, because they were potential customers.

Melissa Albers  3:03  
Right, exactly. Right. Exactly. Whereas

JJ Parker  3:05  
in a communist economy, there wasn't any economic gain by being falsely friendly to people you didn't want to deal. Yeah. And that that really struck me because I thought, wow, is our has our culture made me less authentic, right? Has it as our culture somehow tuned me to be friendly to people who I naturally just like, wouldn't be right. Yeah, I thought that was really interesting to think about. So I want to kind of like, hear your thoughts on on that. Yeah. idea.

Melissa Albers  3:44  
is an interesting one. And I would actually expand the question to not just be has our culture sort of push that because clearly, there is a culture of this in the United States. And I know regionally it's very different in within the US, but it's not just culturally but I think it's also our family units, our friend group, our work environments, all of these external pressures sort of push us into feeling like we have to be a certain way to fit in. And, and I just think about that as the actor self, you know, the actor self is one that says, I don't actually feel like this, but I know I have to say this out loud. I don't really think like that, but I'm gonna pretend like I feel okay with it. And it creates sort of an imbalance within us. But I think that we all do it all the time. You know, and, and, and then if you look at the authentic like, if you want to use the terms, actor versus authentic like to me being authentic means that everything that I think everything that I say what I do and how I feel, all four of those things are in alignment. It's really easy for me to be me when I'm acting the same way that I feel. I'm talking in the same way. I Don't have to try to, like we said before there's no there's no armor, I don't have to put any armor. And and it just feels like the difference between the two is massive. And I think as a society exactly coming back to your story, as a society, it is a cultural norm to change who we really are. As soon as we are out somewhere else,

JJ Parker  5:24  
yeah, wouldn't use it a couple things I got me like question like, like, you know, you and I will talk about like psychological safety and we're kind of even talk about like, I feel safer if I fit in and I am part of a group and while you're kind of saying is that there might be a natural tendency to want to try to fit in so we start modifying our behavior, even though that's not really like alignment with how we're really feeling.

Melissa Albers  5:46  
It's exactly right. And like you see it in the workplace, like we you know, you know, as you and I have talked over the years is like the workplace is really interesting, JJ and I, just for the sake of the listeners, JJ and I had a startup company that we had together where we were business partners and we had created such an environment in that place that we still talk about it as like one of the best experiences personally that we've ever had. Even though the business didn't do anything massive like we hoped it would, the experience of being together and creating, on purpose, an environment where people were safe to be completely who they were, we had the most top performers in each one of their rights, we were able to really move through a lot of business scenarios that were chant would not normally be extraordinarily challenging. And yet, we felt the best that we'd ever felt. And we had extremely high production, like the stuff we were creating was very high quality, because we weren't worrying or using energy up on trying to act a certain way.

JJ Parker  6:47  
I love that idea. Like, like that, when we're trying to act a certain way. We're, we're, we're consuming some of our gas. Yeah, right out of it. We're gonna learn about it, because I think a lot you're gonna ruin For being creative and having having I

Melissa Albers  7:02  
mean, I just really believe for me, my belief is, we all have a right to be happy. As human beings, we came on this planet to be happy. Everything that we do is to be happy in the work in the play in the creating in our families, we're driven to do things that make us happy. And yet, so often we put our feelings away when our feelings are trying to give us like a little heads up that hey, you're not acting in alignment, like you don't feel good inside. And the reason you don't feel good inside is because what you're doing or saying or being isn't making you happy, or how you feel on the inside isn't matching something on the outside. So it's creating an imbalance but so often we don't allow ourselves that and we jump right into Oh, just pretend it doesn't matter. Just suck it up, you know, just get this project done and don't complain and whatever.

JJ Parker  7:53  
Yeah, absolutely exhausted. Absolutely. Trying to live in that tension for extended periods. of time. And so, you know, I think we, you, we try to recognize that in ourselves, I think a lot of times we can recognize it in others, maybe even easier than we can recognize it in ourselves. Right?

Melissa Albers  8:12  
I totally agree. Like how would

JJ Parker  8:14  
how do you start recognizing that in yourself like, You talk a lot about, you know, mind body connection? And how, how would I really actually know if I'm being my authentic self? I am kind of like, backed in the party.

Melissa Albers  8:28  
That's such a good question. And I don't pretend to be the, you know, the sage that knows all things. But I do know this is that when you and when I notice how I feel about something, how we feel and how our body feels like our body will tell us how we're feeling before our brain tells us how we're feeling. And I say that all the time. You've probably heard me say that already. But when you check in with your body, like if you are acting in a way that you're not quite sure about how to As your body feel, if your body has a tendency to feel a tenseness, or your stomach hurts or your neck feels tight, or you get a headache, that's usually an indicator that you're acting in a way that isn't quite right for you in some way. And conversely, if you are having an activity or you're doing something or being a certain way, and your body feels really good, and your feelings are alignment with that, in other words, you feel sort of light generally have a sense of deep satisfaction, you know, you can feel that in your body. And I think that the very first thing is to just notice how your body is feeling.

JJ Parker  9:40  
Yeah, I would, you know, a lot of times we talk about, like when we're really doing our best, most creative work we, we use words like I'm in the zone, I'm in the flow, everything's cooking, you know, we use these words that that definitely describe, like a uneasiness yes to everything that we're doing right. Exactly. Everytime we're not in that easiness would be an opportunity to, for us to like really try to think about like, are we what is the tension that's not allowing us to get into that state?

Melissa Albers  10:10  
Because here's the thing is as your feelings and as your body feeling amps up more and more like what we typically do is we have this little reaction like an internal reaction that says, okay, something isn't quite right as that feeling grows, we have also have a cultural norm to not show strong emotion. We are a lot of us have been conditioned. Don't talk about how you feel, don't show it to the point that when our body starts to tell us we're having some sort of feeling if that feeling amps up to a place where we get uncomfortable, rather than us stopping everything and just checking in with ourselves. That's not typically how we handle things, or we haven't, what we will usually do is, oh my gosh, that feeling doesn't feel good. Turn it off, go do something, just get out of that. Get get out of there. Don't. Don't ask yourself why you're not feeling good. And I think that that is really the difficult part. And that's the part that we have to sort of unwind is that Natural habit, the minute we have a feeling that isn't favorable, the natural habit is to shove it away. Okay, I think to actually understand being authentic being in our act or self, all of that is to the minute we have that feeling is to just stop for a minute and explore it. Like, what is this feeling? Like? I don't feel quite right. Why is that? What's behind that feeling?

JJ Parker  11:26  
Yeah, that's that. That's interesting. Like, I'm trying to think through, you know, I, you know, I'm thinking back just times as you explain that things for myself, like, the times I like lost my temper, right? Like, I like I have this strong sort of physical reaction. There's boys over

Melissa Albers  11:44  
twice a year maybe but, okay.

JJ Parker  11:49  
But I'm trying to think of like, how do I actually like allow myself some space where I can rationalize this physical feeling before it actually Like, comes out as an over the top of motion, right?

Melissa Albers  12:04  
Yeah. Yeah. Because I think that's what happens is we think that if we bypass the feeling in the moment that we're going to be fine, like, it'll be fine. It'll everything's fine. Just, you know, we'll just bypass it isn't there anymore, but actually, we're collecting it. Right? It's building in there somewhere. And you know, I always say if you poke one where it's gonna poke out somewhere else, like it has to go somewhere. And so then what ends up happening is we have like these more strong emotional reactions and responses to things because they're building up but we don't even notice that. Oh, that's

JJ Parker  12:35  
really interesting, like how that energy collects within you until you're just really almost consumed with it. Yeah, it reminds me a little bit, you know, like, you know, I've talked quite a bit about like meditation and kind of the effects of that on on the brain and reminds me of like the mindfulness practice of just like feeling, feel the emotion, feel the thought come in to your brain and then Mike let it go. Right. But yeah, so pass it or ignore it like it's gonna happen. What you do with it is the key, right? Yeah.

Melissa Albers  13:09  
Yeah, exactly. And I think too, I always say be a river, not a reservoir, you know, it's like that these things are going to come to you Your life is gonna happen and you have certain triggers that will push you into acting like nothing bothers you, or will push you into some sort of emotional response that you are uncomfortable with, but you have learned amazing tactics and techniques to pretend it doesn't bother you, you know, and, and I just think that it Yeah, it's exactly right. It's like that whole mindfulness and I know that sounds airy fairy, not everybody may be into meditation and that sort of thing, but it's the same thing. It's like these feelings that we have are present regardless if we acknowledge them or not. Wouldn't it be interesting in instead of being afraid of a feeling to just sit with it for a moment and then let it pass through and and then get on with it? You know, like, acknowledge it, be able to understand it, because it allows you to be way more your authentic self and way faster with a lot less energy consumed.

JJ Parker  14:11  
Yeah, I, I'm just thinking like, trying to do that in practice at first challenging like, a gorilla, like, think about it. Like,

Melissa Albers  14:25  
I agree and some people are more aware than others. But you know, what I would say is I would say that even culturally, more and more we are becoming aware of this stuff, like I feel in the last two or three years, there has been a big paradigm shift in like workplace dynamics and in professional dynamics and even parenting like there's there's just a big shift to be more aware of feelings. Like I really believe that that's a thing and and so I think it happens not just by you making a decision, but you know, like Even then this conversation, JJ, so we've been talking for a few minutes now. And like we've kind of learned some stuff in this conversation. And I always say you can't unlearn something that you know, like, you can't unknow it, you hear something in that conversation and it resonates for you and you go, Oh, yeah, I know that's happening for me. You can't unknow it now. It's not like you're gonna stop listening, and then just go back in there. Yeah, it's tough. So I think awareness is a huge part of the process. And then I don't know for me, I feel like it's always so much easier when I'm not judging myself. Like when I become more observational instead of judgmental and by the way, that's been one of the hardest things for me ever. I've always been really critical of myself judgmental of myself a bit of a perfectionist.

JJ Parker  15:45  
Yeah, like, why, you know, why am I thinking this way? Like, I shouldn't think this way I you know,

Melissa Albers  15:51  
yeah, why do I feel like this? That's dumb. I shouldn't feel like that.

JJ Parker  15:55  
But just accepting the fact that Nope, these thoughts and feelings like they come up, but then you can Use your rational thinking to help understand them and then like let them go right yeah

Melissa Albers  16:05  
and then I think to the other thing is is interesting is to start identifying like what is it that triggers you because if you spend even just kind of five minutes doing a personal inventory it's amazing how you'll go oh my gosh, yes, every time I have this particular topic of conversation I get real mad or every time I have to talk to my brother in law he's so annoying and he's so this and so that and I don't it just makes me mad. Like, I feel like I have to armor up if we're going to be at a family event and I start dreading it like a week before noticing what your triggers are first is really a huge way of being able to unpack this and move through it really fast.

JJ Parker  16:43  
Yeah, that's that's probably like a whole nother conversation we can have right around how how triggers can pull you in and out of being your authentic self, right. I mean, that's probably another really interesting conversation kind of back to a little bit more like tactically as a We were talking about, you know, fitting in and safety and, you know, we talked a little bit of a workplace and, and having feelings be more part of the workplace. I'm actually even thinking like, personally like, do I kind of modify my behavior? You know, like, around my family is like actually was thinking like, like, do I modify my behavior on my parents? Right, right. Like, do I act like a child around my parents? Because that is our very long classic relationship. Parent Child, right? Yeah, like this idea that maybe your children are moving into and your children are moving into a time where it's a less parent child relationship and a more almost period relationship because they're older. Yeah. You know, how does that kind of play in with those roles that we that we play, and how we're all used to transitions and that self awareness happen as maybe your kids have gotten older?

Melissa Albers  17:56  
Yeah, that's such a good I mean, I was reading that By the time you're four years old, you've already established all of your thinking patterns and your behaviors in terms of what's expected of you for your goal.

JJ Parker  18:08  
That's amazing.

Melissa Albers  18:09  
Yeah. And I and, and don't quote me on that. But that was an article and it was super interesting because it makes you realize, you know, so many, so many ways that I think in so many ways I behave are ways that were created before I was even actually aware that it was socially what was expected of me. And so then as I got older, and I started to develop myself, and I started having needs and desires that were outside of some of those expectations, if I was pretty serious about keeping family health or pretty serious about keeping everybody okay around me, that would automatically put me at odds with my own energy. It would already put me at odds to worry about, oh, I want this but is that okay? Like I want to be like this, but nobody around me is like this. Is that okay? Am I Creating a ruckus by just being who I really am.

JJ Parker  19:03  
Yeah, that's really interesting, like so much of what we talked about last week about how a lot of our thinking patterns are on autopilot, right, their habitual routine. Some of those things that we learn as very young, are really, really programmed in that right and deep ruts that are hard to get out of.

Melissa Albers  19:25  
Yeah, well just think about like the little kids, you see them, and they go to a family reunion and the parent says in the car, you will not act this way. You will not act that way. This is what we expect you to do. And already you're getting yourself in this lane of I have to act a certain way in order to not create drama or troubles or get in trouble or and that's the actor self. That's the actor self. And so we

JJ Parker  19:53  
established really early on. Yeah, really early on. Yeah, that's really amazing. Well, I'm looking forward to this week. to maybe sitting with my thoughts a little bit longer. Yeah, man, I really like exploring how like that physical sensation. When I get a rush of emotion try to just get back to where where that feeling start and how did how can I sense it?

Melissa Albers  20:17  
Yeah, and my takeaway from this is to sort of evaluate my own triggers like I just have been thinking as we've been having this conversation, I actually have never sat down and sorted that out myself. It's like, what is it that I find triggers me, you know, doesn't matter how I'm acting about it on the outside, but if I can kind of follow that string to the front end of it, like what are the things that get me kind of? That would be an interesting thing for me to think about this week.

JJ Parker  20:41  
Yeah. I expect a very well organized spreadsheet.

Melissa Albers  20:52  
conversation. It was awesome.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

Discussed in this episode

Let's get real

Meet your guides

JJ Parker

JJ Parker is a serial entrepreneur passionate about building creative strategy, efficient operations, and unique marketing perspectives. Parker got his start as a student at The Minneapolis Institute of Art, and soon after launched his first company Tightrope Media Systems (TRMS) with a high school buddy in 1997.

Melissa Albers

Melissa is passionate about developing people’s self-awareness and ability to positively interact with others. She focuses on the importance of building influence, and highlights the most important relationship we have is with self first. Ms. Albers speaks on leadership and self-awareness, and has shared the stage with John Maxwell (Leadership Author and Speaker), Lee Cockerell (Exec VP of Disney) and Les Brown (Motivational Speaker) to name a few.

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