Mastering Adulthood by Dr. Lara Fielding Interview

Apr 30, 2020 | Podcast


Ever feel like you’re not adulting correctly and you need a more adulting adult? Then listen to my talk with Dr. Lara Fielding, author of Mastering Adulthood. Dr. Lara Fielding is a Clinical Psychologist specializing in the Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapies. Her approach is research based, and aimed at optimizing clients’ stress resilience and effective coping. She also provides supervision and professional training for clinicians and graduate students in the application of Mindfulness-based treatments.




Leann H 0:16
Welcome to the shelf aware books podcast today. I have the honor and the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Lara fielding the author of mastering adulthood. Laura, thank you so much for coming today. I want to talk about your book because it has been extraordinarily helpful. With my coaching clients, I have handed it out. It is one of the easiest to understand books that still has an evidence base and some psychological insights that anyone can use, whether they’re in young adulthood, or maybe the later stages of adulthood. Can you tell me a little bit about what prompted you to write a book? Why now? Absolutely. First, thank you for that great compliment. That’s about the best compliment that you can pay me that it’s easy to follow and, and applicable and all those good things.

Dr Lara Fielding 1:38
 Absolutely. First, thank you for that great compliment. That’s about the best compliment that you can pay me that it’s easy to follow and, and applicable and all those good things. And that’s related to why I wrote this book. I don’t think therapy should be $300 an hour and only for those who can afford it. But my early background interest in psychology began when I was 15. And I was looking around and seeing people making choices that didn’t seem to be working very well in their lives. And I became very curious about why people do the things they do why in my experience, I had actually dropped out of high school at 15 and gone off to Europe to work in the fashion industry. Yes, as a model. So I was a dumb blonde high school dropout that was really curious about people. They know it back then. But that that curiosity started growing up in a house where there was domestic violence and alcoholism and, and then my sister started following falling into substance abuse and difficulties as well as other friends of mine in the fashion industry. And it made me really anxious, maybe really scared that people could just make seemingly irrational decisions about their lives in a sort of automatic not thought well thought out way. So I started reading everything I could get my hands on originally was everything that had a penguin on it was my excuse for being a high school dropout but then it was every self help book that I could devour and someone said, Well, why don’t you go back to school?

I can’t go to school. I’m a high school dropout. That’s not gonna happen. And wonderful people at Santa Monica City College were so kind and inviting when I went to go check it out. They said today’s the last day to register, are you going to register? I didn’t think I could. At the time, it was only $11 a unit if you can imagine, which actually isn’t as long ago as you might think.

And I took psychology 101 and an art history class and I started getting A’s. And I got hooked. And I’m still hooked on devouring everything psychology related and ultimately helping people you know. So my background, I’ve realized led me to wanting to help people who aren’t able to help themselves and helping people solve the most difficult problems in their lives. The goal of the book is to make the bar as low as possible to make it super inviting, engaging and interesting and most importantly, normalizing that we all have the same mechinisms going on in our mind, the content may be very different is very different from based on our experience and our programming. But we’re all struggling with similar things. And if we can all approach psychology and our mental health and our emotional self care in that way, I just think the world will be a better place.

Leann H 4:19
So you were really trying to reach the average everyday person who, again may turn to a self help book first, before they turn to a professional.

Dr Lara Fielding 4:30
You know, I think, from the feedback I’ve gotten, it’s both right, it’s you know, sometimes our training can make things extra confusing in the way we convey psychology. For me, I noticed the book is based on how my own therapy practice was developing. And it is, as you might have mentioned, based on acceptance, Commitment Therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, the evidence supported therapies, and my research on those.

What I do in therapy is I look for patterns Look for a and I use a very clear cut, easy to follow recipe for finding people’s patterns of what particular triggers in the environment lead to particular ways of thinking, feeling emotionally, and reacting behaviorally. And it just becomes a very simple pattern analysis that other people can follow in their own lives. It can be hard to take these brave steps to look at where we’re contributing to the chaos in our lives. But that is the goal of the book. It’s it’s really, it’s for people who are willing to do the work on their own or can’t afford to go to therapy or want to work with it with their own therapist, because oftentimes, it gives a new insight to many of my colleagues who read who reviewed the book for me, found it really inspiring and adopted some of my methods in their books. And so yeah, it’s aimed at really anyone who’s just wants to take another look, whether you’re an expert or you really have never, you know, stepped even one foot into the land of psychology. Or therapy? Wow.

Leann 6:03
So the book is aimed a bit in the title on in some of the copy for younger adults. Tell me do you work with quite a few younger adults? Or why was the book aimed at that?

Dr Lara Fielding 6:16
Yes, my, my, my private practice does happen to be with young adults. My office was right next to UCLA used to be the supervisor psychology and acceptance of Commitment Therapy and DBT at UCLA. So that was a natural segue. But it was always my interest in my aim, because that is such a critical sensitive period for when, you know, emerging adults and that can be anywhere from like 17 on the early side, you know, just starting to think about I’m going to be leaving home for college soon or coming out the other side of college or going on to grad school, all of those 20 something years where we’re making those pivotal decisions about what our life is going to look like who we are as adults. But as you said, the feedback I always get is this book applies to anyone in any period of transition where and this is the important part. What used to work to get your needs met, moving to the next stage of life is no longer working.

Leann 7:10
So your book has a very unique aspect that I really liked. It has QR codes throughout the book so that users can check it out. Pull up mindful dash that’s mindful, hyphen, mastery, calm. And throughout the book, these QR codes, I just kept pulling up the videos and really, really enjoyed hearing your voice, and and hearing all the additional information that you have in these videos. What gave you the

Dr Lara Fielding 7:40
idea to add in a video? Well, there were a couple of things that inspired me, it was always in the back of my mind that first of all, I teach a lot of the same skills over and over again. Now I could have done that just in a print book, of course described the exercises, but one of the most essential elements we know inherent in these in these treatments in these interventions is making the exercise experiential. So in other words, when you’re just reading something on a page, you’re a little bit distracted, you’re reading the material, you’re not fully present. In order to really master this thing called becoming an emotional grownup in order to recognize our autopilot habits and then start to change them. They took us a long time, it took us a long time to build those habit patterns over time. So to change them, we’re going to need practices to override those autopilot habits. And to do that they have to be experiential. The role of the QR code linked videos was to pull the reader in and really give them a felt sense of what it feels like to move out of out of autopilot and into more of a fluid responding. So a lot of them are bringing up something that’s bothering you. Now let’s practice here’s what you do. And through that experience, they learn like oh, I actually can change my body posture, my attention. And the way my mind works around these issues. So they’re not so challenging to

Leann 9:12
Wow, no that and it really works. I mean, it comes across the entire time.

Dr Lara Fielding 9:17
I’m thrilled to hear that.

Leann 9:18
So inside the book, I want to touch on a couple things that I especially want to pique readers interest into going and checking out. And one of them you start out with the castle and village metaphor, now I openly lay claim to being a counselor. And I have had to learn how to balance that with visiting the village every once in a while. Okay, so readers a little bit about how you came up with the metaphors and what they mean.

Dr Lara Fielding 9:45
You know, it’s so funny, because the metaphor came to me in my sessions. It was a complete spontaneous response one day, I’m sure and then over time, I kept using it because every time I did my clients were like, oh, They just really resonated. So what the metaphor highlights is two ends of the spectrum of personality development, spending. So I invented the metaphor. And then I looked up the research and hey, I was onto something. Now what I was observing in my sessions was documented and described in the literature. And it along this continuum, there are two polls, on one end of our ability to regulate emotions are people who are very well controlled, they can appear like they have their act together, they can be very charming, they can be very good at organizing groups and putting things together that sometimes are a little hard to get to know. And they are so good at holding their stuff together. They’re really not connected to their emotions, because they’re not because they’ve sort of managed to push their emotions away very well. They’re also not very good at connecting to other people’s emotions, which can make empathy, sometimes challenging or sometimes if they’re in a relationship and someone else’s, gets very upset and they don’t know how to validate well enough, then the other person gets even more escalated. So this is where you see in relationships, the classic withdraw and attack kind of dynamic that can show up. Right. So the castle ones are usually the withdraw hours. Now these, this can work very well for them. But over time when they’re not good at connecting with their emotions, they’ll have these interpersonal problems sometimes. And more importantly, they won’t know how to listen to the messages of their emotions. And you’ll often find people who are casual people, sort of not knowing what they care deeply about. They’re good at following the rules and sort of stepping in line and going to school and doing all the things they need to do according to their parents and other people, but they’re not really sure what they care deeply about. Now, on the other side, at the other end of the continuum, we have the villagers. The villagers are the creators and the connectors they love, they hate they fight. They thrive in deeply connected relationships and they’re super creative. But sometimes they have a little trouble getting all that emotion under wraps. So while they thrive in these connected relationships, and they can create and come up with really creative solutions to problems and things, it can be a little bit chaotic in the village sometimes. So ultimately, the idea of being an emotional grown up and being well regulated is not being over regulated or unregulated. But knowing how to fluidly leave your castle sometimes and join the villagers so you can create Connect, and sometimes you know, when you go to work in it, well that castle wall up and put your game face on and hold your stuff together until you’re in a place where you can actually get your emotions validated and explore what’s going on with yourself.

Leann 12:48
So when I read that chapter, it actually made me think of, you know, everybody loves to take those Facebook quizzes, you know, are you a castle? Are you a villager? Yeah, to what degree so the quick version that I thought of Sitting around reading it was, you know the counselors probably think of villagers as the people who run naked up and down the castle walls. And the villagers are the people who think the counselors need to remove a certain broomstick from someplace. So if you’re ever wondering who is who that might be faster than the Facebook quiz,

Dr Lara Fielding 13:24
yeah, exactly the counselors or it can just be a little you know, and if you’re wondering what I am the funny thing is, I am a I am a person who feels like a villager on the inside. I think I appear like a castle person because I certainly know that I established my you know, trying too hard aims at perfectionism in reaction to you know, criticism and disapproval in my childhood. So I think I you can definitely be both and the idea is to be both be both fluidly, right, so wait, you change Have you progressed in

Leann 14:01
life? Yes. Imagine it’s possible. It wasn’t just how I was. Exactly, exactly. But now I’m really like that analogy. So you also talk about a little bit further along in the book The Mind Body vehicle.

Dr Lara Fielding 14:17
So I know that we talked about the mind body connection. But tell me a little bit more about your emphasis on the physical importance of our bodies. Oh my gosh, it’s so important. So the metaphor is a combination of Steven Hayes is he uses metaphor, sort of notoriously in our field of passengers on the bus and I incorporated the vehicle as your as your biology really psychologists, you know, get away from biology and biology is also constantly changing. Did you put good gas in the tank? Is your vehicle a little bit more delicate? If we don’t recognize that all of our bodies are processing information slightly differently. We’ll really get caught up in this idea of how others should be or how I should be in this judgmental stance, recognizing that everyone’s vehicle is processing information a little bit differently and has different needs for self care opens a field of compassion for ourselves and for others. So paying attention to our body a knowing the status of our body, that is it well slept well fed PMS scene did I drink wine the night before? And also help us take a step back and say, wait a second, I might not be processing things clearly. I always like to say where the minds time travel bodies don’t. So when you get good at anchoring attention in the body, and inquiring and asking what’s going on in my body. That is really the first step and in fact, in the evidence based mindfulness based therapies, most of them teach to start in the body when you’re regulating emotions when you’re feeling overwhelmed when you need to Attend yourself starting with a tension in the body is most concrete steps you can take and the best way to start regulating and paying attention to your emotions in an effective way.

Leann 16:12
I like that because we do risk we’re heads on sticks. Yeah. What do you need a body for? I have a brain that works.

Dr Lara Fielding 16:18
Yeah, right. And it’s, it’s problematic on a lot of levels. When I was studying psychology, I actually came to mindfulness last, the first things I was studying in my undergrad, and then at my masters at Harvard, were psychophysiology and psycho biology and, and neuroscience. I wanted to understand how is the body informing the mind, and we don’t talk about that as much as we talk about how the mind affects the body. And a lot of psychologists are guilty of this too, that we’re just you know, let’s find the story. Let’s find the cognitive part. But thankfully, we’re getting more in touch with our bodies in our practices, but it’s you I love To say, if you’re not taking care of the machine you’re in all of the psychological interventions are going to be way harder.

Leann 17:08
Yes, definitely, as someone with chronic illness and lots of friends with it. On the days when I am having a rough night physically, mentally, my emotional regulation skills are

Dr Lara Fielding 17:22
a little harder. Yes, yeah, much harder. And so yes, especially for people who do have, I think that’s an important thing. And I actually note that at the end of chapter 10, that, you know, chronic illnesses can not only make all of this a lot harder, but we’re learning a lot of new amazing research about the science of the microbiome, and how that impacts a lot of these sort of chronic autoimmune disorders and things like that. And that also makes you have that sort of wired and tired feeling when you’re kind of anxious and depressed at the same time and you’re just like, so it’s so important to listen to the messages of Your body and take good care of it.

Leann 18:01
So in chapter four, you talk about loving your passengers. And when we say Steve Hays, we’re talking about Dr. Steve Hays, co founder of act acceptance and Commitment Therapy, you talk about perfectionism versus being effective. Talk a little bit more about the story of Nina at her at the party in her boss’s house and loving your passengers. So

Dr Lara Fielding 18:25
we are not only socialized but it just be a we are built in a way to run away from what feels uncomfortable. And then on top of that, because that is a natural way of being for humans, feels bad, do less of it. It feels good, do more of it. Our parents then loaded a little story on top of that, that oh, you know, you should just be happy, my dear. You shouldn’t do things that make you feel uncomfortable, which couldn’t be further from the truth. So this comes down to the idea of being okay with being vulnerable. And that can be really difficult. So the in the Nina’s story in the book she works in, I believe she’s in the entertainment industry and she’s has to go to a beach party and wear a bathing suit or something and she’s normally an overachiever, perfectionist, but now she suddenly doesn’t want to go to an important work party. Because while she can, you know, work like a superstar, she’s not happy with how her body looks compared to whoever is going to be at this hollywood party or something. And so, when we were working together in real life, this, you know, we had to find a way that he could recognize where her values work, which I’m sure we’ll get to in a moment. Like what’s most important is it to intern job or, you know, the physical attributes of how she looks, to learning to love your passengers. circling back to that is recognizing what you really don’t like feeling you know, and it’s usually something that makes us feel vulnerable, awkward. Not on the power trip of being on top of every thing, which is canceled, people can certainly get into this, I feel like it’s a bit of a long winded answer. But in short, learning to love your passengers is opening up to that. It’s really in those spaces of vulnerability that we are connected to our humanity. That’s what actually makes us sort of charming and lovable and people don’t really love you for what you’ve accomplished or how awesome you are. They love you for you know, what you’ve gotten through and the complexity of you and they connect to you when they know that you’ve shared a vulnerable experience that maybe they have experienced.

Leann 20:40
So prior to your book, you so you have a structure to the book we should also repeat that quickly. The Universal you the unique you How are your patterns showing up and getting in the way of your goals in the skillful you, which is kind of the condensed hexa flex for those of you who are act savvy Hmm. So in part two, you Get into the unique you’re getting self aware, which is part of the shelf aware podcast and really like the title, a little bit more about putting your vehicle in gear making a commitment finding your values. Well, how in the world do we structure all

Dr Lara Fielding 21:15
that? Right? When I actually was writing the book, I sent it to a couple of colleagues to look at the table of contents and they’re like, are you in your mind? This is like a 600 page book, you’ll never get this all into this box. How are we so you’re right and great observation that it is a condensed hexa flex and it’s also the classic cognitive behavioral triangle, which is emotions, thoughts and actions in the relationship there. So what unique you with that section is attempting to do is to start getting the lay of the land. I actually thought about making it like a game board kind of thing. Getting the lay of the land of where you are right now in your life. What? What are you connected to do know what gives you an aha moment? What makes your eyebrows go up and makes you talk a little faster? And how can you start connecting to that outcome, you start creating experiences that connect you to what’s important to you. And then I have a visualizing success exercise that helps you maybe identify, Oh, you know what, as soon as I think that I really do want to do this with my career, I really do want a relationship, My mind goes, Oh, that’s stupid, oh, you’ll never be able to do that. And starting to notice your own passengers that stand up, you know, past experiences and programming that gets in the way. And where your avoidance patterns. You’re not your fit your inability or this point failure to commit behaviors that move you in that direction. So it’s that unique view is really your self assessment. And

Leann 22:52
in that self assessment, I know of course we have part of that is values, what’s important to me. Who and What do I get In the morning to do, yes. Tell me a little bit about your take on values and how do you differentiate values between goals? versus, well, I want to be a rock star or make a million dollars or, you know, graduate high school.

Dr Lara Fielding 23:17
Right. So values are not outcomes, goals have outcomes, whether it’s I want to stand up from my chair and walk across the room or become a rock star supermodel or whatever you want to become. So living a values based life is you can look at goals and outcomes. And I do talk about goals and goal setting and little tricks of the trade to keep you more adherent to your goals. goals can definitely say yeah, I did that that was consistent with my values. I’m living in my truth. But living the values life is not about checking the boxes on goals as much as knowing that you know what today even if I just did this little bit, it was consistent with my values. And that gives us a sense of, of peace and satisfaction, that the idea here is to have a satisfying life more than like a happy, impulsively consuming, always have to have the next thing because that can actually become quite addictive. I have heard many successful people tell me how they’re addicted to the stress of another deal that might not go through and then they get it and they feel that wonderful relief. So of course, it’s reinforced. So bowls are tangible outcomes, values is just a way of life. It’s a general direction of your life. And taking that mind body vehicle metaphor. I continue it there and I just call it it’s your truenorth. It’s your guiding star.

Leann 24:44
And there’s lots of verbiage to help you figure that out in the book. So check out the true north section, especially if you have the Kindle version or a searchable version that you can use to find text. So one of the and I swear This alone was the price of the book, but not that there aren’t about 100 more. You have a BA, and not as bah humbug. Ba as in B. Is there something biological happening? A would anyone feel this way? And he is for Is there something historical happening right now? This is brilliant. Can you tell me a little bit? Do you remember thinking this up when you wrote it?

Dr Lara Fielding 25:31

It’s so funny as the book came together, it was like all of these things really happen. So, Bob, I think I write in the book that this is not a very creative way to remember it, but it was all I had at the moment, too. In fact, in my own relationship, my husband will tell you this, and I say this all the time, if you can learn this simple skill of learning to validate the discomfort and I’m going to They have this goes in yourself and someone else, it’ll just this is how to become a more compassionate person. And it’s a really a three step process. So when we validate the BA, the biology, anyone would feel this way or historically what you’re doing is first you’re taking a look at the mind body view. Right? Okay, what’s going on with me? That again, gives you that little flag of awareness. So wait a minute, I might be having a slightly stronger reaction right now. And that’s okay. It’s because I have a physical illness. I didn’t sleep well, the night before and PMS seen. I know, I haven’t eaten, or I’m not feeling well, whatever. And that just gives you that window of self awareness and non judgement to say, oh, okay, I’m just feeling a little for today. Second, maybe anyone would feel this. This is the classic, you know, what would you say to a friend or if someone else was going through this, would you judge them? Well, anyone would feel this way. And what You’re going through this, okay? This makes sense he has that this makes sense sness that I’m experienced this way. I mean, I’m feeling this way, is different than Why am I feeling this way? What’s wrong with me? You know, you have that thought in your head, hmm. It’s just such a softer way to deal with our own experience, a child’s experience, a partner’s experience. And then very importantly, especially if you know someone or if it’s your, for yourself, looking at that historical thing. So some so often when we look at people’s behavior, even the most despicable of people, politician or whatever. If you think if you really and you, you’ve kind of understand these processes that you will have learned by this point in the book of how we get programmed and how we start to react to certain situations. Now you can kind of go, Oh, I understand why this person is this way they’ve been This is how their parents talk to them and this is what they did. Feel better about themselves when they were a child and then they just kept doing it and they got stuck in it. So for yourself, you can say yeah, this is really a sensitive spot for me, because this happened in my history or or over the course of my life. So it is just it’s a really, it’s a nice entryway into letting go of judgments, practicing validation and acceptance of yourself of others. And again, knowing we’re all in the universal stew together. So use bas and become a better human. Yeah, no. Yeah, I mean, yeah, and yeah, I guess we say that better is a judgment, right?

Leann 28:38
Yes, yes. Very much. textual. Yes.

Dr Lara Fielding 28:42
Yeah, exactly. You can become an emotional router, right? You can, you can step out of, you know, better, worse judgments. You can step out of what you’ve been programmed by and just say, Hey, we’re all doing the best we can, we can all do a little bit better. And Bob will help you sort of step back as you go through that process.

Leann 29:00
really like it, those were two highlights just from section two. The last part I really don’t want to miss, because this again is one of the few books that you want to read the entire book. This book is not padded to meet a word count. definitely read through part three. Can you tell me a little bit about you know, how did you approach the third section you know for that that more condensed texts of flex like we talked about the skillful you, how did you break

Dr Lara Fielding 29:31
this down in your mind? So, okay, so there are actually four parts so skillful you and then they’re successful you. So the skillful u part is broken down into two. What you’re calling a condensed text with flex is actually just traditional cognitive behavioral therapies triangle. So it you know, Aaron Beck, who invented cognitive behavioral therapy in the early 60s, highlighted that human beings are coming Having an interaction between their emotions, thoughts and action tendencies. So, you know, the dog jumps up on the sofa, I think oh noes get the sofa dirty, which makes me a little bit agitated, which makes me tell her Get down. So it’s all that’s always sort of happening via emotions, thoughts and actions tendencies. And I call that the ETA, sort of your mind body vehicle. So that’s, that’s where it actually came from. And then I just sort of scooched the pieces that from the six part hexa flex of act into the different compartments there and it will work rather nicely. And what I’m doing there not to be too wordy. Here’s what I’m doing there is highlighting the importance of emotional acceptance or willingness, not running away from our emotional experience which is really the heart and soul in my opinion of of action. It’s this willingness to feel discomfort and get out of reactivity and ability to diffuse and step back from your thoughts and the ability to maintain committed actions towards what’s important to you. So the three sections are how to, basically chapter eight is just a bunch of great resources for different ways you can start to practice this very counterintuitive. Action 10 is your behavioral pattern or way of thinking of inviting in those difficult thoughts and feelings that, that we spend so much energy trying to keep our bubbles under the water and just letting them be there and seeing that they won’t hurt you. It’s just it’s, it’s a little bit like the monster in the closet that once you open the closet and you look at it, eventually. It’s okay. You’re okay. the thinking part is how to get unstuck, from the from our habitual ways of thinking and how to recognize those narratives that are constantly flowing through our mind and you Even traditional cognitive behavioral therapy tricks for checking the evidence. Is it true that nobody loves me? Is it true that this always happens. And the last part is a combination. So the last part, the chapter nine, is all about how to control the only thing in your control, which is your actions. And it’s partially some quick tips that are not act consistent from dialectical behavioral therapy, which teaches you how to actually change an emotion when you’re in a crisis. So if you’re having a panic attack, if you really have to go to work, and you don’t have time to take care of your emotions, there’s a few quick tricks there to sort of lower your emotional experience, but also some long term tips for taking care of your body. So you’re, so you’re more likely to have emotional balance in your biology.

Leann 32:51
I really like that And in chapter 10, you have a section when illness makes mood and motivation harder. Yeah, I’m even counting that up to being hangry Because you do talk about self care and healthy self care, which is not just a bubble bath.

Dr Lara Fielding 33:07
bubble baths are actually pretty powerful if you get a good sweat going there. So they’re actually pretty good. But it is more than like a man. I don’t consider a manicure. People say Oh, good self care again. America is like, fully functional. It’s to be done. Yeah, exactly. This mental health. Yeah, exactly.

Leann 33:23
It’s like getting the oil changed on my car. Yeah, exactly. Um, but I did want to make sure that we do hit that that part for successful you maintaining commitment to yourself and others. Yeah. And your chapter 11 starts with sharing the road with other drivers. And I think that’s the part that’s left out of a lot of self help or pop psychology. Like we could do a whole rant session on this one. It isn’t just about you, if you were doing self improvement, so you feel better. Great.

Unknown Speaker 33:56
And then what?

Leann 33:58
This is what I always ask So if you feel better, what I’m hoping is that the next natural step is that you change and can help see what’s going on in the world around you. Maybe you’re reducing fear, maybe you’re increasing your level of distress tolerance. Maybe you’re starting to feel more uncomfortable with the people and the co workers who drive you bananas. So in the Section four, you really talk about, you know, the metaphor again with the vehicle sharing the road with others. Talk about why you wanted to make sure that that you gave people skills on how to work with other people.

Dr Lara Fielding 34:40
Because our relationships are a massive part of our psychological health and well being and enjoying the journey on the planet. We don’t have good relationships. It’s, you know, it’s we’re a lot more vulnerable to becoming unhappy and scared and anxious and not feeling good in our own skin. To that, that’s number one. And number two, the world will just be a better place I think if we’re all learning how to be kind with every with other people’s emotions, so that skill is actually my distillation of a section of dialectical behavioral therapy, just called interpersonal effectiveness. So I also squished that down from like an eight week training. And it walks the reader through. First and foremost is how did you know that feeling? I don’t know if you knows, I definitely know that feeling of like, is this something I’m supposed to ask for? Am I in the right or am I being selfish? Like when you don’t really know if you’re supposed to ask for something? First of all, by this point in the book, hopefully you’ve learned how to listen to your emotion so you know what you need. Then you could ask yourself, okay, is this appropriate? So it goes through some factors to consider like, Is it appropriate to the relationship to ask this is it a good time? Do I usually take care of things for myself? Or do I ask for a lot of things, and you could do sort of quick check in to see if, if you’re good to go to ask for something. And then very importantly, a mistake that we often make when wanting something is, I want you to support me or I want you, we’re not really clear on what it is we need. We’re just not we’re not happy. And so the skill walks you through figuring out specifically and behaviorally, what do you need from that person to feel the way you want to feel? You can’t ask them to read your mind. So the importance of this skill is how do I get my needs met without pissing the other person off? Because when we, when we’re in the dance of relationships, we’re constantly either giving energy or taking energy. The person speaking and wanting to be heard is usually the one who needs energy from the other person. Right? And so we have to ask yourself, Is it appropriate is this is a good time am I am I pulling more energy than I should be for, for the power dynamic in this relationship, say it’s your boss and you’re talking and talking and talking, then it’s not really appropriate to the relationship. So it helps you figure that out. And then it teaches you how to go through the steps of validating where the other person is, again, we’re back to the validating the ball asserting specifically and behaviorally what it is you need. And then very importantly, telling the other person here’s what’s in it for you. So reinforcing it, I call this the var skill, validate assert reinforce. So I understand that you’re totally busy and this might be hard for you. I’m wondering if you might be able to send me over a couple of copies of that thing you were mentioning, then reinforce, it would mean a lot to me. And I think if you got it over to me, then I could help you figure out that thing you were working on.

Leann 37:55
That That alone right there how to deal with it. Very

Dr Lara Fielding 38:01
Yeah, it is and it empowers the person. And that’s what this whole book is about. It’s about empowerment. And that is since I was very young that the thing that meant a lot to me that people have more empowerment than they realize it’s just, it’s about skillfulness. And being aware of these dynamics that I certainly wasn’t when I was young, that you actually have more ability to go further than you than you believe you can.

Leann 38:31
I mean, that puts your book very, very nicely, very beautifully. But um, for your the last chapter that I want to make sure I pull out chapter 12, shifting from autopilot to mindful mastery. When you go through you have written up actual plans, which is a big one for me, I call it the tomorrow morning test. If I read a book, and the next morning, I don’t know what to do. Yes, I can feel inspired. I can feel hopeful. But I don’t know what to do I get very frustrated.

Dr Lara Fielding 39:04
Oh my gosh, I can give you a hug for that. Because

Leann 39:07
I apply those to read or to have a practice plan.

Dr Lara Fielding 39:11
Mm hmm. Because I and I say this to clients in my office, I said, God forbid you ever leave this office? I don’t know what I learned that will just depress.

Leann 39:20
You go to therapy, and you leave and you go, Well, I talked about a lot of stuff. I don’t remember. And now I don’t know why I feel this way or what I’m

Dr Lara Fielding 39:30
supposed to do for another week. Exactly. Because that’s just being on on the dole, right? Is that sort of you you’re, you’re sort of, you’re getting symptom relief, but you’re not really getting any skills or or, like you said, an action plan. So this chapter 12, sums up the whole enchilada and actually the video, behind the scenes peek the video I made at the 11th hour the book was written it was and then we’re like, It needs a video to teach you how to review all the home practice assignments you’ve done, and, and your self assessment, all that and put together on a single worksheet. Here’s my autopilot. This situation triggers this series of emotions, thoughts and action tendencies. And here are the skills I need to help me override my autopilot so I can be more effective. And you can plug in here the validation skills from chapter eight, how to be kinder with my emotions, here are the skills for working with my thoughts to check my thoughts for accuracy and keep them in check. And here are the ways I need to control my behavior. And then you have this sheet right in front of you like Oh, yes, this becomes really, really clear all the time. And here’s what I need to continuously practice. So there’s a video to figure out how to figure out your own autopilot. It’s kind of like doing your own astrological horoscope to kind of really get a sense of you from it. Being crystal crystal clear of what you need to do. Because one thing is for sure, when you’re learning a new skill, it is not going to occur to you when you’re stressed out to use your skills. It’s like trying to ride a bicycle on really bumpy road, you need to practice practice. And if you can’t remember what those skills are, you won’t use them. In DBT. We have phone coaching, but so this was as an alternative to phone coaching that you have exactly what it is you need to remember when you’re freaking out.

Leann 41:33
Well, I don’t want to take up too much more your time. But in the spirit of actors studio, I do have a couple rapid fire questions for you. So just tell me a couple that comes to the top of your head. And we will go from there.

Dr Lara Fielding 41:46
ready? I’m ready. How long did it take to write your book? It was about four years because actually, I had been working on it and working on it working on it. I had health problems, and I have to just tell you what quick story it’s actually in in the acknowledgments section. It was a Wednesday night across my arm stuff my lower lip out stomped my foot. So what books now we’re gonna talk about written and no one cares. It’s never gonna happen. And I kid you not the next morning, I had an email from Elizabeth Hollis Hanson at New Harbinger. And I was with someone like this I email say what I think it says, asking me to write a book for them. Ah, you are kidding. And not making that up. Next morning.

Leann 42:28
It’s the next morning plan. Oh, love it.

Dr Lara Fielding 42:33

Leann 42:34
Well, then that’s an even better answer that I hope so are you a planner or a pantser? Do you write when the mood strikes or do you have a whole writing plan?

Dr Lara Fielding 42:46
mostly a planner? Writing is is not easy for me because I am a perfectionist. And I’m thinking about the listener the whole time and so yeah, I have to plan and just like mail myself to the desk.

Leann 43:01
What is the book memory that has stuck with you the longest either the title or the topic?

Dr Lara Fielding 43:07
Well, the two self help books that have stuck with me the longest. I cited both of them in the book one was a road less traveled by Steven pack was, I think, the genesis of much of my thinking, and the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Oh, yeah, yeah. So always towards betterment, not so much about how to get rid of a feeling or feel less bad or something. It’s more about how to move towards improvement.

Leann 43:40
What’s your favorite chapter to write in the book?

Dr Lara Fielding 43:44
They were all hard. They were all like giving mini birth.

I think probably the first chapter. Actually, that makes sense. And of course, and of course, Chapter 12 was like, there was a distinct sense like is this? By the time I got to chapter 12, I was like, okay, it came or it worked. It all, I got it in my page account and it came together and I covered everything. So chapters one and 12. So your book was

Leann 44:13
published about a year ago. Any new updates to it since then?

Dr Lara Fielding 44:17
Yes, I’m very excited to share with you that just hot off the presses, I have gotten the rights to make the audio book. So we’re going to be working on that. I can’t tell you how many people ask me like, I’d love to be listening to this on my way to work or you know, when I can’t remember what the skills are. So the audio book is coming to audible soon. Hopefully,

by summer, we’re aiming for a little summer program where we can help people prepare for the next school year or when they’re just coming out of school.

Leann 44:46
So I’m a huge audio book fan. So I’m very excited and that’ll be summer of 2020.

Dr Lara Fielding 44:51
Yep, we’re excited to

Leann 44:53
I really want to thank you for your time.

Unknown Speaker 44:56
Thanks, Leah.

Leann 45:00
A big thank you for everyone listening to this episode of shelf aware books. You can find me at www shelf hyphen That’s shelf dash And you can also find me on Instagram at Instagram comm slash shelf, underscore aware underscore, yes double underscores. Don’t forget I want to hear from you. You can even leave a voice recording asking me anything you want about books or situations and you’re trying to read your way out of you can go to my website, shelf dash and leave a voice message on speakpipe. And remember shelf care is self care.

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