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 3 Step Plan for Anxiety with Dr. Luana Marques|12.20.2023

In this episode, Kristen sits down with Dr. Luana Marques, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School and bestselling author to explore a three-step approach to anxiety and psychological avoidance, delving into the roots of avoidance and the imperative role of discomfort in personal growth.

You'll Learn

  • How avoidance, rather than anxiety itself, is the root cause of many personal and professional challenges.
  • The role of cognitive dissonance in creating beliefs about self-worth,
  •  the discomfort associated with anxiety and the various ways it manifests in individuals.
  • Strategies for managing anxiety, including the importance of pausing to link thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.

www.drluana.com

Resources

For counseling services near Indianapolis, IN, visit www.pathwaystohealingcounseling.com.

Subscribe and Get a free 5-day journal at www.kristendboice.com/freeresources to begin closing the chapter on what doesn’t serve you and open the door to the real you.

Subscribe to the Close the Chapter YouTube Channel

This information is being provided to you for educational and informational purposes only. It is being provided to you to educate you about ideas on stress management and as a self-help tool for your own use. It is not psychotherapy/counseling in any form.

Kristen Boice

Welcome to the Close the Chapter podcast. I am Kristen Boice, a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with a private practice pathways to healing counseling. Through conversations, education, strategies and shared stories, we will be closing the chapter on all the thoughts, feelings, people and circumstances that don't serve you anymore. And open the door to possibilities and the real you. You won't want to miss an episode, so be sure to subscribe. Welcome to this week's close the chapter podcast I have been wanting to get this guest on. I have heard her on multiple podcasts and really was hoping I could get her on. And she said yes. So I'm so excited to introduce you to her. We talked about her three plan approach to anxiety and psychological avoidance and how that impacts the anxiety. And where does avoidance come from? Why looking at avoidance is so imperative when we have anxiety. Do you have anxiety? Do you feel anxious? Do you feel overwhelmed, we talk about how to face discomfort to work through anxiety, and her personal journey writing the book bold move, three step plan for anxiety. So let me tell you a little bit about her. Dr. Luana Marques is an associate professor at Harvard Medical School, past president of anxiety and depression Association of America and best selling author. She is bold, she is insightful. She has overcome adversity, poverty, trauma, she grew up in Brazil and provides authentic and I would say vulnerable ways of showing up. You can tell work on her own history. We talked a lot about her grandmother, and what her grandmother taught her. And I loved it. I loved every minute of it. And I highly recommend you listen to the episode, share it with other people in your life. So you can talk about it with each other. There's something about building a community of people that are also on a growth journey. And I also have never done this before. So this person that wrote this review about the podcast is getting the first shout out ever on a review because it meant so much I do the podcast to hopefully reach those that could benefit from it that has an impact. So I want to thank s c m is what they wrote on the review. I don't have the full name. But it says informative and affirming meaningful conversations about important mental health topics always informative and supportive. Thank you, Kristen, for this helpful podcast. Thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy day to write a review, a specific review. That means so much hopefully more people can find the podcast on Spotify, and Apple. So iTunes is fantastic. And thank you so much for listening. I appreciate you. So shout out to you in your heart for taking the time to write the review. And if you'd like to review, that would be awesome. Don't feel like you have to. But if it comes across your heart, feel free to write a review. Of course I'd love it to be positive. You don't have to write a positive, just say it. So without further ado, let's jump into the topic of anxiety and avoidance with Dr. Luana Marquez. Enjoy. Welcome to this week's close the chapter podcast. I am so excited for my guest. I have heard her on several other podcasts I just listened to 10% happier. That was a great interview. I loved the questions. And so I'm so excited to promote your new book bold move and talk about your three step plan for anxiety. So welcome Dr. Liu, Ana to the podcast.

Dr. Luana

Thank you so much, Kristin, I'm so excited to be here with you today. Yes,

Kristen Boice

thank you, I thought we'd jump right into the topic. There's two things that really strike me as super important. One is psychological avoidance. And I don't think we talked about that enough. And then to your three step plan, so I thought we'd start with psychological avoidance. What is it? And do we all have it? Well,

Dr. Luana

I venture to say we all avoid one way or another for sure. I certainly do. I don't know about you but the reality is psychological wounds. The way I define it is a quick fix is anything that we do when we perceive a threat that momentarily makes us feel better, but keeps us stuck long term. So you walk home and your partner gives you a lock and you know that they are upset with you and instead of engaging and having a conversation you avoid conflict by cutting dinner, going to work more answering emails, and momentarily if you better long term that conflict doesn't have legs. Usually, and you know, as well as a marriage therapist, if we don't want to poach conflict, conflict just increases and increases. And so I'll do that quick fix helps. It's really keeps us stuck long term.

Kristen Boice

Where do we develop the sense of avoidance? I mean, we know it starts really early, talk a little bit about the development of like, psychological avoidance, how does it begin? So

Dr. Luana

avoidance is really the same mechanism turns out that biologically, all of us are actually wired to move away from discomfort, right. And when we move away from discomfort for we are often of waiting instinct, because our brain is really smart, when it comes to perceiving threat. So if you're crossing the street with your kid, and an ambulance comes bearing down, you're gonna grab your kid, and you're gonna get to safety. That's your fight flight or freeze response. In that case, you're just flight moving as fast as possible, fleeing the real danger. The brain, sometimes, though, has a huge difficulty separating real threat from perceived threat. And when our brain when we get an email at 10pm, from our boss, saying, We need to talk that same mechanism, the fight flight or freeze kicks in and immediately, you're gonna want to fight, flight, or freeze. And that's how we avoid, we get stuck on what I call in the book, the three R's of avoidance, some of us react, some of us retreat, some of us get stuck and remain stuck. Or regardless, we are trying to protect ourselves from a perceived threat. thing is it's a false alarm. It's not a real threat. So okay, let's

Kristen Boice

dive into reaction. Because we all have automatic reactions, how do you start noticing your reactions? So

Dr. Luana

all of us have specific things that press buttons, right, we talked about buttons all the time. And so the first thing is really relying on our own superpower of pausing. So whenever you sense that anxiety, that the stress that discomfort, instead of moving to react, as you suggested a minute ago, was ask yourself, What am I saying to myself? Am I feeling here? What do I want to do? What's my behavior? In the book, I describe the thoughts, emotions and behaviors cycle, which in cognitive behavior therapy is just the idea of linking what we're saying to ourselves to how we feel and what we do that pause is a superpower, because allow us to then change how we engage with what's coming at us. Okay, so

Kristen Boice

let's take kids, I have two teen girls right now. And teenagers are in a different kind of developmental cycle, right? So when I can feel myself when I want to react to something, they say, and I'm working on, I've always been working on but as a parent, to try to take a deep breath, create the pause you're talking about, it's tough, sometimes, it's tough, especially if they're dysregulated. It's easy to kind of join in, right and react and try to, it's okay, everything's gonna be okay. But that's not really what they need. This is the question, how do we continue to build that self awareness enough, and in the moment actually do that, rather than try to fix it, or try to protect them from rejection or pain or loss, because that's really uncomfortable, because we want to protect them. Walk me

Dr. Luana

through that, when we're talking about working with teenagers or kids in general, right, the first important thing is we can't regulate somebody for not regulated ourselves. And so it's really practicing your own ability to self regulate by doing things like meditation, or mindfulness, or single tasking versus multitasking. But practicing the moment that your hot buttons are not being pushed, because the reality is if you don't have the foundation, if somebody pulls your hot button, you're quick to react. And it's biological. Because whenever we are triggered emotionally, our main blood kicks on in our prefrontal cortex shark lipo brain just goes offline. And so really, I think about this as like, you have to practice daily, slowing down your brain, creating that pause, trying to regulate your emotions. So that in a moment, when you are triggered, you have the ability to activate your thinking brain and slow down. And when it comes to kids, what I say to myself or my son is, I can't fix it for him. I can be regulated and teach him how to regulate, but I can't go in and fix. And so if it really distracts me, sometimes I have to say, wait a minute, this is so important, then in a moment, this is really important. I can see you upset, but I need a moment. And I might actually just go in another room and write down my thoughts a little bit to try to cool off my brain so that I can engage in a way that can help regulate him and not just join the party of this regulation, as you're talking about.

Kristen Boice

Yeah, it's the most powerful thing you can do, I think, is self regulation. And do you agree? 100% I

Dr. Luana

think we can't really thrive in life, if we don't have the ability to soothe ourselves to regulate our emotions to show up fully with our emotional and our rational brain. When

Kristen Boice

we talk about psychological avoidance, I want to go back and jump into this idea that you mentioned discomfort, and we want to prevent something bad from happening, whether it's to us to somebody else, we want to avoid kind of hurting other people. How do we start beginning to accept the as is moment? Like how do we start to begin to rumble through the truth that we can't prevent something bad from happening, facing

Dr. Luana

reality does not mean we like reality, that's the first step is really understanding that there's going to be pain in the world and that we are sometimes if not often, prolonging pain for others by trying to protect them to bubble wrap. And so the first piece is, is really seeing with our own discomfort, or seeing somebody suffer without having to go in and fix it. To your point earlier, that's where I think emotion regulation comes in, because then you're able to sit with you on discomfort. And I think eventually is learning to live a comfortable and uncomfortable life knowing that to grow, we have to be out of our comfort zone, to be able to get to the next stage in our lives, personally, professionally, in our roles as parents or professional, we're going to have to sit with discomfort. So it's really a shift in the perception, something bad could happen. I say this to my clients all the time. Yeah, that happened. But predicting it doesn't surely get you more prepared. Yes,

Kristen Boice

is vulnerability key to working through psychological avoidance, like getting more comfortable with vulnerability.

Dr. Luana

So I think having vulnerabilities each working with most of our emotional pieces of ourselves, right, because it's really seeing yourself naked, and seeing through yourself and being able to feel comfortable with that. I think in terms of psychological avoidance, I think if you're able to overcome avoidance, you can live a life that you're more comfortable with vulnerability, I don't think they linked, but it's certainly a outcome of living a life where you're approaching instead of avoiding.

Kristen Boice

Has that been a journey for you living more kind of vulnerably in authentically, like, how has that been for you? I always find this interesting for all of us, like how do we get to be more ourselves when we're thinking about boldness and bold move? Like for sure, yeah. So for

Dr. Luana

me, I chose to write bold move as a moment of invigoration. I grew up poor in Brazil, with a lot of trauma and adversity, eventually got to the US became a psychologist became very successful. But in some ways, there was this part of me there was a professional me and there was this part of me that was the person I mean, they weren't integrated as I saw it. And so sitting with the book, and really asking myself questions, like, am I enough? What does it mean for me to be enough as a human being it my own beliefs about myself, is how I think I got to becoming bold, I think it's why we call the bold move, because I think being bold, is not being fearless. being bold, is living this life that's aligned with your values and your true self. And that's why I share so many of my personal stories in the book, because I want people to see that you can be bold and vulnerable, that you can be bold, and not be perfect. There isn't such a thing. We are all a work in progress.

Kristen Boice

So while you were writing the book, were you embracing like the fear and where you having fear about being more vulnerable, and sharing more personal stories, like you knew that this is kind of necessary in order to help other people

Dr. Luana

stay skinny to put your story out there. It's scary to in some ways, show yourself fully to the world. But as much as I had that little thought in my brain of like, will people like this book will people like me, as a true me, I also felt so compelled to just help as many people especially coming off of the pandemic and anxiety being so high and people being so stuck that I just did, and I truly felt like I love what I wrote. And I hope people appreciate it. But I no longer was attached with how people would perceive it. It was the best therapy I've ever had writing this book. And so I was happy with that.

Kristen Boice

I love that you said you're becoming more integrated in your professional self, and then your true self like there was an integration that happened as a result of writing the book. I really

Dr. Luana

believe that it's what happened for me. So there are COVID out sitting in I wrote the book in four months in the mornings between 4am and 7am. Every morning, and I saw through the process of writing it like more of mute show up I was able to like write about being a kid and realizing that I was having panic attacks that were being called asthma attacks. And I remember sitting vividly my morning writing about this and I was like, wait a minute, I didn't have as many more will happen and Ganesh the conclusion that like wow, my asthma disappear when my father left the house and what changed well, those in domestic violence anymore. That's what change and then I was like, Oh, very likely I had panic attack. And my whole life was like comes into play. Focus. And it feels like okay, the parts of me are integrated. That's the best word I can have for it.

Kristen Boice

Yes, I love that. And I love how you talk about your grandmother. Like she kind of was doing CBT. She didn't know that, that she's helping you. How did she help you? I mean, you talk about kind of when you had afraid of going out, like talking to people, and she's like, we're gonna go to the mall, and we're gonna meet people, and how that helped you, like, move through some of your anxiety? Did Germany influence you to want to do this, like be a psychologist,

Dr. Luana

I think I bumped to psychology as a bit of an accident. She certainly showed me how to overcome my own avoidance early on. And then, when I came to the US, I was taking some pre med classes and some psychology classes, I ended up volunteering in a clinic that treated obsessive compulsive disorder to do research. And I just fell in love with psychology, like it just made sense on my brain. And for a while I was taking psychology classes, pre med classes, wanting to become a medical doctor. And I she did help me make the final decision, went back to Brazil, and I was talking to her about what to do with my life. My whole life. I thought I was going to be an MD, but I'm also considered psychology. And she said to me, she says it's simple. You think psychology classes, you take match classes, the one that's easier? And then you get an A match the harder one, that's what you do? Because life is hard. Why would you make life harder? And so I looked at her and I said, Well, I get a pluses in psychology and I get c in biochemistry, she says, then the decision is made, like why are you struggling with this like, and she is very pragmatic, like, that's what I love about my grandma is just pragmatic. And she was right. I was fighting my brains natural tendency. And today, as a professional, I see people do this all the time. They do what they think they're supposed to do, not what the client doing. And I leaned on psychology, and I'm so thankful I have because I love what

Kristen Boice

I do. I love how clear and direct she is, I think Claire indirectly, for clear and direct is kind by saying the nervous system goes and then gave you permission to go. That's what I'm going to do. And that's exactly

Dr. Luana

what I needed that permission. So your the clarity to your point, I think it was so simple. Sometimes we make it so humble. And she was like, No, it's simple. And I think the people that I've seen be the happiest in the world are the people that are leaning into the natural tendencies and like, continue to work harder and harder towards them.

Kristen Boice

I agree. How did you come up with the three steps for anxiety? Like we have shift approach and align? How did you come up with those three as the three.

Dr. Luana

So I've been a psychologist for 20 years, and I have sort of three phases of my career. The first was working on what's known as randomized control trials. So testing cognitive behavior therapy, and in that I learned every single treatment protocol you could imagine, then I got really frustrated that most people didn't have access to CBT therapists. So I took that work. And I started to work in tasks and train care professionals. So people with no psychological whatsoever in communities of color, teaching those individuals to teach, basically, strategist, inner city youth. So basically taking a paraprofessional youth worker, teaching them how to regulate themselves and give dosages of CBT, to kids as skills, not therapy. And when I looked across all of my career, everybody I've treated from the inner city kid to the person coming out of jail to the billionaire, and I've had incredible privilege, you have worked with people from all spans of life, it was very clear to me that there's one thing that everybody stuck, which was avoidance, and if you call avoidance different things, and different kinds of disorders, but it's avoidance. And then if I thought about how did I work with people? And how did they got to be better and live a full life? Was it a change how they talk to themselves? So the fighting their core beliefs, fighting their views of the world. So that shift, they either took the plunge and decided to approach that's changing your behavior and going towards this conference, or they had to reevaluate their life and think about how do I live a values driven life, not an emotion baseline? So I basically looked at it and said, Okay, I can talk to myself differently. I can show, if I can tolerate this confident approach, I can go towards what matters most. And in the end of it all, what kind of lives we want a life that is guided by our values. And so that to me, is the nuggets of all of the therapies that we were just in a sort of bite sized kind of way.

Kristen Boice

You know, it just hit me. I feel like your grandma and I don't know why this has come into me but it is your grandma like exuded these things. I feel like she showed you how to shift your thinking. She showed you how to approach things differently and conquer that discomfort and maybe I'm not getting this and then to be in alignment and align with your purpose. It feels like that is like capturing. Am I getting that too? I know that's kind of a byproduct. Absolutely.

Dr. Luana

I mean, I talk about her throughout the book a lot, and I finished on the last chapter I talked about being the water, not the frog. And that's what she did. I mean, my first shift and my perspective as men, she gave me the Alchemist by Paulo Wailea. And the idea is live your own dream life, if you went for it, you're right that she forced me, invited me to what she would say. But I felt like she forced me to talk to strangers, which is approach. And then in the end, that crucial moment in my life, when I could have completely avoided my own value and pursued what society was telling me to do. She forced me to then align and become a psychologist. And I hadn't put it that together in the way you just beautifully did. So thank you.

Kristen Boice

Yes, it just came through so big. I was like, Oh, this is what she did. This is it. And then you kind of captured it in a three step plan, like, Okay, I'm wondering, did you see her work through discomfort because we're all want to avoid discomfort. So did you see her work through discomfort,

Dr. Luana

my grandmother always chose to approach she would get angry when people didn't do the right thing to get viscerally angry could see. But she always went for it. If she thought somebody was upset with her, she'd pick up the phone and call and say, let's have a conversation about this. She's one of the few people I've met in my life that is direct, unkind, but she will choose to be direct, she should say things like, I don't understand why people say yes, when they mean now. It's 5050. Choose what you want, and say yes or no. But if you mean no, it's no, I remember very vividly, the examples of always choosing to be in alignment is what I'd say she had her clear belief system, and she was aligned all of the time. And

Kristen Boice

that's, I think, what people are looking for. I told my husband yesterday, I said, if it's not a heck yes, it's a no for me, like I need to be more clear. And when I do I feel relief on the front end, I move on, I let it go. I don't have to feel anxious like ooh, now I don't really want to do this. And I said, Yes. But I already said yes. And it's this whole rumble. You can eliminate all that, like your grandma just did it. Yeah.

Dr. Luana

So for me what I just worked on this the other day, and it was really liberating for me, I believe fully in a values driven life. And the values shouldn't be how you say yes or no to something. But what sometimes it's hard is when values collide, or when you don't prioritize them. And so I created like a four by four, I put my two top values in one axis and the other one in the other. And then I said, Okay, if I want to high on this and high on this, what are the situations there? Yes, is to and I'm only going to do things, they're high on both of these values. And that just clarified to your point the heck yes. And everything else is a no. And it's as simple as that. Yeah,

Kristen Boice

do you mind sharing your top two values,

Dr. Luana

I don't mind at all for next year. So this is my professional values. That's the other thing I separated like my personal professional. Next year, I want to only work on things there are high impact and high financial stability, wealth, I want to be in a position that I am not struggling financially, I can help more my family. And I want to make sure that is the finest high impact. And I define impact as well, in anything I do. I want at least x number of people to walk out. So if I'm giving a presentation to 100 people, I want to be able to at least hear from five people, for example, that that presentation changed some significant in their life, and there was a light bulb moment. That's what I want to work on. I want to work on things that bring more impact in the world, and that financially creates more stability

Kristen Boice

for me. I love that. And then personally, what are the two? So personally, is family and health. Yes. Because if you don't have those two, when that's key for me,

Dr. Luana

if I don't have those two, I have in trouble. If I don't have family, then I feel like I'm a bolt in an ocean choppy just bopping around. The family for me is what gives me a human anchor in the world. And health it without it, I can't be of service to anyone, including my family.

Kristen Boice

That is the truth of the truth. And that goes to the third step in a line really being clear on what do you value. And then the decisions can come from there. And then the anxiety doesn't have to be so great when you're making the decision.

Dr. Luana

It's still going to have this comfort though. So you won't have anxiety, you still going to have this golfer because if you're clear on your values, then you can live a value driven life the opposite what most people do is an emotion driven life. So you get anxious and you want to get rid of that anxiety. So you avoid whatever it is that's causing me anxiety. And that tends to keep people stuck. For example, the decision of really impact had been crystal clear for me. And this year I focusing pack a lot on the book and the publicity of the book, because I wanted people to get a handle on something that I believe could really change their brains. And I didn't think a ton about financial stability. In fact, Dan Harris pushed on me he's like you said he listened to me. And he says, but is it that ambition or financial stability said this is not the year that I want to do that. There's the year that I want to do this, and I need to make enough but I want to focus on impact. And for me this 2020 to 2023 was impact health and family. And then I literally separated. And today now I'm more clear, but it's hard to even say, Well, I want wealth, that's a hard thing to say. There's always that judgment for the brain. But if you're clear, then you can decide how to do the things that bring you those values for you.

Kristen Boice

That's so true. And giving yourself permission to say it's okay, that I want that. Because a lot of us go, oh, I don't know if I deserve that. Or oh, I didn't want it to be the wrong, we go into that judging the value or what we want. And when you go, it's okay. It's okay for me to want that.

Dr. Luana

Yep, that's okay for me to want that. And I'm clear, I want to. And there's plenty of opportunities in the world, that people bring wealth and change people's lives, they don't have to be mutually exclusive. And so I think I want to model that for the world as well. I

Kristen Boice

love the concept of two truths can be a true, it's liberation to me, I love this, like, I can have my feelings and you can have yours. And those are both valid and can coexist. And I love that instead of just either or all or nothing good or bad. It feels so much better my nervous system to go. Okay, it's okay for us to have our own different feelings. For some reason, your grandma was just really like coming. I don't know, she's just a big presence. Right now. We're talking. And I see your book behind you a bold, and what does bold mean to you? Because I feel like your grandma represents it from what you've described her how you've described her, what does bold mean to you,

Dr. Luana

showing up only as me without apologies, not asking for permission not changing. It is in the end of it, living a value driven life that has all pieces of me the pieces there better the valid visa data last developed, but it's every day taking those moves that go towards that thing that matters the most one way or another.

Kristen Boice

Okay, so how do you live boldly with fear,

Dr. Luana

you give it a big hug, and you take it along with you. That's how you do it. You don't allow fear to stop, you don't allow fear to paralyze you, you understand that fear is coming out of your fight, fight or freeze. And you need to make friends with it. And you need to know that part of it. And you need to know what's maintaining it. For me, my fear is maintained when my core belief of not been enough gets activated. So every time I'm about to make a bold move, I just about to do one, I decided to fly to LA to meet with somebody to pitch something that I really feel very passionate about. And I had this idea last week on a Wednesday, by Saturday, I contacted the person he said, Yes, I can have dinner with you in LA, it's all valid, but I'm scared shitless get on a plane tomorrow morning, I'm gonna go to LA. And the closer I get to being at this dinner this person, the more my brain wants to say, but you didn't think enough through this. And you know, maybe you shouldn't be more and you need to. And that's just fear. That's just fear, because the idea is crystal clear in my brain. And if I can get fear out, I can give it a shot at pitching this idea. And but fear is there like I am honestly terrified to get on this plane. I have this conversation. That being said, I'm gonna get on the plane tomorrow, I'm gonna bring fear along with me and I will shift my perspective shifts my perspective, but I'm gonna approach no matter what,

Kristen Boice

okay, so you have this knowing like this idea came through to you. I'm gonna pick up the phone. Did you pick up the phone? Or did you email or how did that you reached out to the person?

Dr. Luana

Yes, I just texted him. I just said, Hey, listen, if I can be in LA next week, do you have a nice day, you can do dinner and he said, Yep, I can do Wednesday night. I said, Okay, I'll be in LA alignment.

Kristen Boice

To me. It's like alignment, and you're still petrified, you feels terrified. You feel scared? And you're bringing fear along with you. And you have this knowing that this isn't alignment Do you feel like that's part of it, that gives you that comfort to some degree, the

Dr. Luana

ideal so clear on my brain, and a few people I've mentioned this idea have been like, Oh my God, that's incredible. And when I see come through, it only gives me a sense of alignment of integration of like, this feels like a win win to the world and not just to me, and that gives me a sense of like, I have to at least give it a shot. What do I lose the worst case scenario? I had dinner with somebody that I fully admire and I get three days in the warm weather in LA there's nothing bad that gonna happen there. Yeah,

Kristen Boice

I think what happens for people is they get paralyzed with the thought of what if 100% right what if this happens and what if they don't like me? What if they get rejected and what if and then the what ifs? Take them down the rabbit hole percent growth help people work through the what if

Dr. Luana

me so it is the brain hates when things don't fit hates? What's known as cognitive dissonance right when two things don't fit, and use me as an example. That's probably the easiest example right? Growing up poor, I had this belief and my parents being divorced that I wasn't enough, because if I wasn't off course they'd had stayed together. Now it's again a belief. And right now my brain would want to prove that I'm not enough, right? So it's gonna say, what if you're not prepared enough? What if he the person doesn't like the idea? What if? And what I do with that is I looked at? And I said, Okay, what if, and I go, if my best friend was here, what would I tell my best friend in that scenario? And what I would say always, and all my friends would tell you this 100%, I would say get on that plane and get on that plane today, and just go for it. And so I think what I did differently for most people is that when I have a desire that's value aligned, and the wife comes in, I over approach, in some ways, I basically go, I'm not gonna avoid, what does it take? Because I can, I really could have done this trip, and January, between now January, my brain is gonna get very anxious. And so I stopped that what if by going for as soon as I can, because I'm going to feel anxious anyhow, I might as well be anxious for something that is worse, some that you don't avoid. Now, I tend to over the I do avoid, I avoid by over approaching, so if I am trying to do everything yet, once usually, usually, because I'm anxious about something I have to be very thoughtful about not overdoing, because that's how I avoid overdoing

Kristen Boice

is your avoidance. Yep. Explain that to the audience that might not understand like how could overly be avoiding

Dr. Luana

think about avoidance, again, as a quick fix, if it's just making you feel better in that moment. So early on, in my career, I had decided that I wanted to go up with academic letter. So think about the promotions in your job. And early on, it made a lot of sense. I was writing papers, I was writing grants, and all great Eventually, though, I was miserable doing it. But instead of looking at reality, knowing that that path was no longer bringing me any sense of joy. I just avoided that emotion by doing more. So I wrote more grants, I wrote more papers, I tried to get promoted faster. And every time I'm writing the paper, I'm miserable, I hated it. And yet, I kept doing that, to avoid the reality that was no longer a life that satisfied me. And

Kristen Boice

having to feel the grief and the sadness and the fear, making a change. That's exactly right. And I resemble that achievement was mine. I'd be like, Oh, I'm gonna just achieve the next thing. And I'm gonna achieve the next thing. And the next thing. It was a very brilliant avoided tactic as a kid. Yeah, it's

Dr. Luana

a really, because you get the m&ms, right, you get the Oh, you're so good. And because you're achieving more, you're so great. And yet inside the landscape is so miserable.

Kristen Boice

Well, I ended up my body was like nerf because in college, I got mono strep and bronchitis, it took me down, it was like, we're done with this, so to speak. I mean, I was trying to wake me up, like wake up, this is not working for your body, you are not caretaking yourself, you have completely just pushed through all of the things that my body was like we're done. We cannot avoid. That's

Dr. Luana

it. I mean, if we don't stop ourselves, I had a similar event before I rolled move when I was in the combination of my avoidance professionally. And I won, they had a half of my face just paralyzed. And they thought I was having a stroke and thankfully was in but he was the moment that I was like, wait a minute, I can't do this anymore. So to your point, I think our bodies if we can't catch awareness ourselves, our bodies will do it. Yeah,

Kristen Boice

they'll get our attention, and they'll get it in a big way. Okay, what are the three most important takeaways would you say about anxiety and making a bold move?

Dr. Luana

The first one is think is it is not the problem. avoidance is the problem. Anxiety is definitely uncomfortable, not what keeps us stuck. And so fighting the real enemy of avoidance, the first one, the second is to maximize your ability to pause. So train your brain to have moments that you pause and ideally linking thoughts, emotions and behaviors. So you have a technique to pause. It's not just this halting, you are activating your thinking brain. And the third one is that to live boldly, you have to live a values driven life. That's the only way to have a bold life. Yes,

Kristen Boice

I think you just said something that just struck me that needs to be repeated. It's not the anxieties. The problem. It's avoidance, that is at the root is at the root, at

Dr. Luana

the root cause of all our problems be my personal and professional mind is avoidance, not anxiety. And so we're fighting his eye all the time. Everybody's talking about anxiety being designed is not the problem is what we do when we are anxious. That is a problem. Let's use the example we had a minute ago, I'm anxious about going to a lake and yet I'm going I'm doing

Kristen Boice

it anyways. You have to take comfort in gunman I'm approaching

Dr. Luana

right so anxiety is not the problem. The problem is if I let the what ifs when then I'd be paralyzed. And then I'd be hyper focusing because it and I'd be robbing myself on the opportunity. Yeah

Kristen Boice

So when you feel anxious, how would you define anxiety real quick, just so I get a grasp of like, what is your definition of anxiety?

Dr. Luana

I think anxiety for many people is very different for some people and because it is really about their thinking, it's the worry if the catastrophe, the worst case scenario, something bad is going to happen and I can handle it for something anxiety is purely physiology heart pounding this in this hot and cold flashes, sort of the panic kind of sensations. And for some people, anxiety shows up in just avoiding, avoiding avoiding, and they get a little jolt of like nervousness, discomfort, and then just avoid, and all of us have a little bit of each one of them. But in my career, I've seen that some people they tend to, like avoid through their thinking or their emotions.

Kristen Boice

And they're really avoiding pain, discomfort, and emotions. Let's put

Dr. Luana

an umbrella category and called discomfort and then have every person labeled in discomfort. For me, it's anxiety purely because I are pounding I get like anxious, physically anxious, right? For me, that would be that if I had to think about my mom, when I talk about anxiety with her, she's the one her thoughts. She's like, I don't even think about that. I didn't want to think about that. That's that kind of flavor. But it's this comfort is because if she thinks about it, that's gonna make her uncomfortable. She doesn't like that feeling of uncomfortable she doesn't think about. And so I prefer to go up and think big umbrella discomfort. And now if you're listening to us, what is this golfer for you. And if you put that word there, then that's where really that anxiety shows up.

Kristen Boice

And I think for me, what came up just immediately as I'm going through my journey, and working on accepting the as is and letting go of outcomes on attaching outcomes, it's this, I can't predict what happens next, especially with my kids, I'm okay with me, so to speak, more or less my kids like it is what it is, I mean, they're just their own sovereign being, and they're going to have pain, they're going to have emotions, they're going to have hurts, they're going to have shame, they're going to I can't protect them from any of that. It's the acceptance, almost of the reality of the uncertainty.

Dr. Luana

And when it comes to uncertainty, we control what we can and then we have to accept that a lot of a weekend and with our kids, it is understanding that we can take them so far, but not all the way or we can't stop it from them. In fact, what comes me now as a mother after is if I go in, and I try to fix this, in the long term, teaching what I need to teach this kid and if the answer is yes, then I will step in, if the answer is no, because I'm preventing my son for having pain or preventing him for learning to regulate his own emotions, then I have to tolerate my own discomfort, but I can't step in because I'm actually doing a disservice. That

Kristen Boice

is the key. You have to tolerate your own discomfort around it. And I like how you distinguish that. That's really the essence of this.

Dr. Luana

A really to meet is, am I fit right now? Because I'm actually being helpful, or am I acting because I'm feeling uncomfortable? And sometimes being a professional? What I do think it helps if this was a client of mine, would I step in? And the answer to me is very clear sometime. No, I wouldn't, I would step out and let them rumble themselves. And then I go, then I need to step out, because that's my thinking, right? My thinking brain tells me what to do, then I can't step in that. So

Kristen Boice

I love that. That's the first time I've heard someone say it that way. So that was really helpful. Right behind you is the Jesus statue. I mean, I've been to South Paulo, and it's amazing. Does that help you guide and I know have to answer if you don't feel comfortable, but is that part of your value is your faith.

Dr. Luana

That's the statue of the Christ in in Rio de Janeiro. And my grandmother was very, very spiritual. And I believe in a higher power, I believe that there is a God and that can guide our lives. And so it's there to remind me, not just of his spirituality mostly remind me of where I come from. And so some of the things are really meant to this is my origin story. When I walk in, I always sit down. I'm like this where you came from. It brings me to the present moment. That's what it does. Yeah, centers

Kristen Boice

you to the present. And I met real. I don't know why I said Sao Paulo. But yes, I love that. I just want to say thank you for the work you're doing in the world. Thank you for sharing about your family. Is your grandma still with you or she

Dr. Luana

she is physically with us. She has Alzheimer's now. So she really doesn't know me very much. I just went to Brazil in February to spend some time with her. And it was great. But it's unclear. She knows who I am. She's around. And they've been through the message that she has taught me. Thank you for talking so much about her. He gives me a lot of pleasure. And we're helping me eat a great even farther how the steps in the book I highlight is so beautiful about my relationship with her.

Kristen Boice

Yes, it just came so through in what you've shared about her. So thank you for sharing about her. really truly, and your vulnerability and authenticity. Everybody go get bold move, please. It's a fantastic book, and I appreciate you and what you're putting out in the world. Where can they find you if they want more information, so they

Dr. Luana

can find me On my website, www. Dr. lawanna.com on social media is Dr. lawanna. Mathis on all the social channels the same. Or you can email me at drluana.com

Kristen Boice

Thank you so, so much. Thank

Dr. Luana

you it's really was a pleasure.

Kristen Boice

Thank you so much for listening to the close the chapter podcast. My hope is that you took home some actionable steps, along with motivation, inspiration and hope for making sustainable change in your life. If you enjoyed this episode, click the subscribe button to be sure to get the updated episodes every week and share with a friend or a family member. For more information about how to get connected visit kristendboice.com. Thanks and have a great day.