Do you struggle to express uncomfortable emotions? Emotional health expert, Dr. Shahana Alibhai, explains why defining emotional intelligence and understanding emotional literacy is essential to your mental health. Don't miss Dr. Shahana's experience with post-partum depression and how you can improve your emotional health to stabilize depression, reduce anxiety, and prevent suicide.

Why Emotional Intelligence Is Essential To Your Mental Health

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Do you struggle to express uncomfortable emotions? Emotional health expert, Dr. Shahana Alibhai, explains why defining emotional intelligence and understanding emotional literacy is essential to your mental health. Don’t miss Dr. Shahana’s experience with post-partum depression and how you can improve your emotional health to stabilize depression, reduce anxiety, and prevent suicide.

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  • Perinatal depression: definition and symptoms
  • The difference between IQ vs. EQ
  • Understanding emotional intelligence
  • Why emotional literacy improves depression and anxiety
  • Practical steps to improving emotional literacy for adults and children


Do you struggle to express uncomfortable emotions? Emotional health expert, Dr. Shahana Alibhai, explains why defining emotional intelligence and understanding emotional literacy is essential to your mental health. Don't miss Dr. Shahana's experience with post-partum depression and how you can improve your emotional health to stabilize depression, reduce anxiety, and prevent suicide.


Dr. Shahana is a family physician, professional speaker, and mental health expert. She has collaborated with numerous national organizations, including the University of British Columbia, Scotiabank, and Remax to help people better understand their mental health.

As a lead physician at one of British Columbia’s largest youth health centers, she is passionate about shaping child and youth mental health policies by bridging the gap between health care and social-emotional education.

Do you struggle to express uncomfortable emotions? Emotional health expert, Dr. Shahana Alibhai, explains why defining emotional intelligence and understanding emotional literacy is essential to your mental health. Don't miss Dr. Shahana's experience with post-partum depression and how you can improve your emotional health to stabilize depression, reduce anxiety, and prevent suicide.


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Your feelings are an energy, not your identity. A lot of the times in our head, we will say I am worthless shift. The I am to the, I feel. And suddenly you are implying to your brain, that emotions have a beginning, a middle and an end. Welcome to the imperfectly empowered podcast with DIY healthy lifestyle blogger on a former empowering you to transform your life.
One imperfect day at a time. Hello, and welcome back to another episode of the imperfectly empowered podcast. I am your host, Anna Fuller. Today. It is my honor to introduce you to Dr. Shahan Ali BA Dr. Shahana is a family physician with a specialty in mental and emotional health. She is passionate about shaping policy around youth mental health and is best known for her expertise on building emotional literacy to improve mental health here, to teach us how to train our brain to thrive.
Welcome Dr. Shahan alibi. Hello? How’s it going? Good. How are you? Good. Nice to finally meet you. Yes. Nice to meet you as well, right? Yeah. Yeah. What time is it over there for you guys? Um, it is 10 15 for us. Got it. Okay. Okay. Well, thanks for making this work. Uh, appreciate the changing time. Yeah. Right. Exactly.
Exactly. So yeah, I’m excited. It worked out really well. Well, welcome to the podcast. It’s so fun to have you here. I’m excited to be here. Definitely. Yeah. No. And thanks for changing the time. And it’s a little bit of a blurb. We’ve got kids screaming in the background, but we’ll make it work. So, um, you and me both.
No worries. You and both. Oh, how are old? Are your kids? Mine are nine. Um, let me think. Nine, seven and four. Almost five. Oh, there you go. And then we’re adopting our fourth, so we don’t have him yet, but oh my goodness. Congratulations. Where are you guys talking from the Pacific island of Samoa? Oh, wow. Oh, my word.
Oh, that’s amazing. Oh yeah. That’s a blessing. It is. Oh, that’s great. So very similar ages. Just younger for us. It’s just, okay. Two, five, and two, two just turned five and set it. Yeah. So yeah. Oh my gosh. Aw. Yeah. That’s so fun. It’s it’s a lot yeah. Yeah. Juggling the work mom life because you are a family physician.
Yeah. And you’ve been doing that for how long? Oh, my word. That’s a really good question. Uh, well I guess just nine years or so. Yeah. Yeah. I did nine years. I took three mat leaves, but we don’t really take Matt leaves. So I took three months or four months and then went back. And I think in that time discovered, so you were family physician that’s been practicing for nine years and then you, in that time had a personal connection to this whole area of emotional and mental health.
Exactly. So that’s. Tell us how that happened and where you went from a family provider to suddenly feeling very personally connected to the world of emotional health specifically completely. So the way that I always explain it is that, you know, prior to me going through my own experience, I was a huge supporter, a huge advocate.
That’s what I did for a living was discuss mental health. But I think I always had that block within me that, you know, mental and emotional health was a you issue. It would never be a me issue mm-hmm and it could never be a me issue because I felt that I had too much privilege. And that that’s the ego talking, but that’s the truth.
And we need to start talking like that because there is a huge subset of our society who feel the exact same weight, but aren’t admitting it mm-hmm, who feel like, and you’re saying privilege as in either like economical resources or educational or financially, is that what you’re saying by privilege?
You know, definitely. And for me it was, I think educational, it was this idea that, you know, I’ve, I’ve educated myself for 10, 12 years. I’ve bolstered myself with enough knowledge. I, I know the ins and outs of this. I can, I know the criteria inside and out, so I get it. I get it. But because I get it, I can stay in arms length away from it.
Yeah. Doesn’t mean that I don’t support it, but I felt like it would never come. Hit me close to home. Mm-hmm and then everything changed. But I was just having this discussion not too long ago on a podcast dedicated for engineers. And it’s the same kind of thing, because when you’re dealing with type a personalities, when you’re dealing with achievers and professionals and people who just wanna go, go, go.
Yeah. I think a lot of the times you feel that, oh, you know, I’ll empathize with the neighbor with depression or my sister with depression or anxiety, but know what, for me, I’m that I’m untouchable, I’m untouchable. And that’s why I say none of us are mental health is meant for all health. I would never have a patient come up to me and say, you know, Dr.
Alibi, I’m too good for exercise. I just, my body just looks amazing. I just don’t need to exercise. Right. No one would ever tell me that. That I could eat junk food and I feel fantastic. Everyone says I need to work more on eating better and moving more, but why is there a subset of our society that completely wants to ignore the importance of mental health?
And I was in there and I was living in there and the ego was, it makes it very easy to live in that space until, until right, until you hit your own version of rock bottom. And that’s exactly what happened to me. And I always say the postpartum period is a fertile period. Everything that you’ve buried way, way, way down deep will find its roots again and grow.
And that’s exactly what happened to me, right? So I found myself in this space where I was not only exhibiting every single symptom that I knew and recognized in an instant in my patients, I was in complete denial. And I thought this must be my thyroid. This must be a lack of vitamin you’re clinically going through all of the different, okay.
This could cause these symptoms exactly, really, really quick back up for a second. So tell us for people who may not be aware. So for example, postpartum depression, I did not struggle with it. I had a girlfriend who never struggled clinically with depression until the postpartum phase, and she actually struggled with it in her first trimester as well.
For whatever reason, the hormones made her really struggle with depression in the early stages of her pregnancy. And then it would improve and then postpartum, same thing, the hormone and the hormone thing is real. But so just for people who. Familiar with it. Tell us what kind of symptoms are we even talking about with postpartum, depression, anxiety, et cetera.
And you bring up a really good point because now we’re starting to call it not postpartum, but perinatal, which means that it doesn’t have to happen after the baby. Yes. Right? Exactly. It can happen, you know, during the pregnancy process. So that’s number one. And number two, that this is not just exclusive to the carrier of the child.
The partners can also be involved just as much. So are the two kind of things I wanna say right. At the onset as well. But in terms of the symptoms, it’s the same criteria as those of what we think about depression and the two biggest things are low interest or pleasure in doing things that you usually like to do.
So this pervasive feeling of hopelessness and this idea that the things that you used to you enjoy doing, you actually have completely no motivation to go and do them anymore. So then there’s a whole laundry list of other symptoms as well, but it’s a pervasively, low mood is what we see now. Postpartum or perinatal depression, I think has been, you know, people might recognize it or talk about now we’re hearing more about the anxiety component.
And this is something that seven, eight years ago when my son was born, nobody ever was talking about postpartum anxiety. And this is the counterpart and the lesser known counterpart to postpartum depression, where. You know, the women are starting to have, you know, they can have something as extreme as panic attacks or they’re so anxious to go out with their child or they’re having they’re they’re feeling so keyed up or on edge constantly.
For me, it was the subset of that. And it was the idea that I had postpartum O C D, which was something that we’re now starting to talk about more. But I talk about it now openly, because I think a lot of the times women are so afraid to share this and postpartum O C D is even more specific. It’s where you’re actually getting very debilitating and awful intrusive thoughts about your child oftentimes about harm coming to your child.
Yeah. And these are the thoughts that will bring you to your knees. And that you will never, ever, ever tell even your partner about because they are so riddled with stigma. Yeah. I’ll just give one example that comes to mind. So for those of you who don’t know, who are listening or watching, I am a nurse practitioner.
I have two masters. So family medicine is one and adult geriatric critical care is the other. And in my second master’s in the family medicine program, I had to do an OB GYN rotation and we had a patient come in. And what you’re describing is very much, and to be honest, I had never heard such specific thoughts because again, in the ER, which is where I primarily worked, this was not the kind of stuff that we were dealing with.
Are you hemorrhaging? No. Okay. Fine. like, you know, go see your B GYN. So what her pervasive thought was, she was terrified to even hold her child and walk around because she was terrified that she would drop him and she was. Debilitated, anywhere near stairs. She just had this completely irrational thought that she would drop him down the stairs.
So she couldn’t carry him. And she would actually have her husband carry him up and down stairs cuz she was absolutely terrified of stairs. So that comes to mind instantly when you’re talking about, I’m just giving an example, this was a real life patient and how she was struggling with precisely what you’re talking about.
And she had no, there was no reason for her to fear that, you know, she was perfectly capable of walking. She’s perfectly capable of carrying her child, but to speak into that. Yeah. So well said, and this, this is the ki these are the kind of dialogues we need to have because what’s happening is that no one’s talking about this and I have had a personal example where you know, women are ending their life because of this because it is so.
Stigmatized and debilitating and shameful. And with they do see their healthcare practitioner. It often can get mixed, diagnosed as something completely different, which is postpartum psychosis, which we don’t need to get into right now, but is a totally different counterpart too. So I think having these types of conversations, because we all know somebody, you know, who’s likely going to have a child, might have a child in its early stages.
And what I should clarify too is, you know, postpartum or perinatal, you know, it typically is defined as okay, within the first six months after the child is born. But I think we all know that that hard period of time can last even beyond six months. So, you know, those are the women that need to, and partners that need to be talking about it even beyond the six months after their child is born as well.
So. So talk to me just a little bit about how you, what your experience was going through that process, the clinical approach that you ended up undergoing, how you treated it, how you’re doing now, we will in the second half dive more into your expertise in terms of, you know, emotional literacy, et cetera.
But for now, tell me a little bit about your experience. Going through that and how you’re doing now. Yeah, no, that’s such a great question too. And I think I will, I’ll start with the end in mind, which I think is the, the last part of the question, which is, you know, how I’m doing now, because one thing I always wanna stress to people who are struggling or have struggled with a mental health issue is that it’s never linear and I’m the same weight as well.
I think we expect being in the medical field, you know, it’s including you as well, that things are very black and white, that you have a cut every day. You can see the cut, getting better on your finger and mental health is a complete opposite of that too. And I think that’s what makes mental health also very frustrating for people too, is that every day can be a little bit different.
It can yoyo back and forth. But if the overall trajectory is going up and part of that is talking truthfully about what you’ve been through. I think you’re moving in the right direction as well. Now for me, it was a much longer path, you know, like I said, I could recognize the criteria a mile away in my patients and I would’ve diagnosed them in a second.
It took me a year. It took me a year to get. And it was a, it was a year of, of literally feeling like I was on my knees feeling completely and utterly, you know, I think humiliated is, is the right word. Mm-hmm I would go to work. I would be a per version of myself that I knew and I would come home and I would crumble into something that I didn’t know.
And was that your first pregnancy? Yes. Or yes. Yeah. Mm-hmm yes, exactly. Exactly. And this is piggyback, you know, six weeks after, you know, 12 years of schooling, you know, six weeks after residency. So, you know, I think you, you add in all of that and you also add in this. Idea. I think for a lot of people that decide to conceive and I will call myself out is that I really had a very idealized notion of what pregnancy and motherhood would be like.
Mm-hmm , you know, I grew up with a mother who said, me and my sister were perfect angels and we never had a, who knows if that was actually true. I really don’t. We never had a tantrum. I don’t know what tantrums are. And I’m thinking, oh, this sounds fun. I’ll just bake. Teach me your ways because thats not my story.
That’s not, no, no, this was exactly like my mom, obviously, like I was, that sounded lovely and wonder. Yeah. But the truth and I hate to say this. It sounded like a break. Yeah. It sounded like a socially acceptable break because society loves when you’re pregnant. Oh, look, I’m I’m with a child. I’m I’m I’m productive right now.
I’m growing something. Yeah. Yeah. I. I don’t need to study right now because I’ve spent the last 12 years studying. So give me a break. And I think all of this was festering in my mind as well. And it was the complete opposite of that. I’ve, I’ve still never strapped on an apron and baked cookies. And my oldest son is seven.
Like it hasn’t happened that way. It has been one of the most humbling processes because in the interim I’ve had to figure out, do I even enjoy parts of this? Because it is. It has taken so much of myself to realize how to be a mother. And I think we expect that as soon as the baby’s out, we know what we’re doing and we don’t, you know, every day you’re trying to figure things out too.
So yes, it took a year and it took a year of, of being in complete denial and ignorance and shame until. Until I started feeling the thoughts that I would also recognize in my patients that I didn’t wanna be here anymore. Mm. And those thoughts became so crystal clear, that was the change. It wasn’t fuzzy.
It wasn’t gray. It was beautiful and clear and concise. And it was. Comforting, those thoughts became comforting. And that’s when I know I knew that, okay, well, this is I’m. This is not the right thing. This I, I need to, I need to do something. Um, it’s interesting that you say, I wanna point out, you know, this mentality is, is truly so foreign to many people who have really never struggled with myself being one of them, never really struggled with this mentality.
That, and again, as an ER provider, having seen this in patients clinically many times, but I think you worded it so beautifully that the true rock bottom and the most dangerous place to be is when you said in your own mind, the thought that people would be better off here without me, I would be better off.
Not here actually feels like a comforting thought, a breath of fresh air, that it would be so much easier and almost clear and beautiful in that darkness. And I think you worded that. So well, and that is the mentality that is so hard to understand and where suicide is such a real danger when that mentality starts to adopt and manifest itself in that way.
So I think you worded that really, really well. And it’s chilling in some ways, because you can, now I can see it. And I see it in my patients because yeah. You know, once, once you’ve walked that road and once you’ve really felt that feeling right, and I called an anonymous physician helpline and I, I didn’t talk to my own provider because I was too embarrassed.
We were actually colleagues, my family physician and I, so I was like, no, I can’t, I can’t broach that. I still have to be perfect in, in my, in her eyes. And after the first call, I gave my whole story and I said, you know what? I feel so much better. This is being lovely. And they said, no, like, wait a second.
Do you know that you’re gonna need to see a psychiatrist? You know, you’re gonna need to start medications. And I said, no, oh no, no, no. This is being lovely. And I feel so much better. And it just shows you that. The first call is the first step. Mm. You know, so many of us want to just leave with a prescription and say, great, I’m great.
It doesn’t work that way. And that was the rude awakening for me, that sitting in the reproductive psychiatry office with my young son, looking at my husband and going, how did I get here? Mm. Like how, how did this all happen? And drawing the diagram for the psychiatrist and the psychiatrist looking at my husband going, is she always like that?
Is she always , you know, is this normal for her? and my husband psychosis, like when yeah, yeah. Like what’s happening here. Right? My husband’s like, yeah, yeah. This is it’s it’s it’s color coded. It’s it’s get, it’s get worse. It’s color coded people. Yeah, exactly. What will this bust up those? So, yeah, like it’s almost like looking at yourself, like a fly on the wall going I’m going through.
And the other piece too, is I had to go through a couple of counselors to go, to find the right fit. And that’s the other thing it’s kind of like medication, it’s not always the first one. So these are the kind of, we never talk about this stuff. We always just say, we just said, we keep saying, let’s have conversations about mental health, but then what, you know, we don’t, we talk about medications, people get their backup.
And I was the same way I was taking an eighth of a regular starting dose because I thought, oh, I, I’m not gonna be one of those people because. I’m too good for medication. I don’t need it. And it turned out that for me in particular, because this was postpartum, OCD was my condition. It, it literally did save my life.
That’s not for everybody, but for a lot of people, yes, it can help. But we also can’t make the mistake. That medication alone is your silver bullet. Right? It doesn’t work that way too. You need everything. I compare it to, I would never throw my child into the pool without water wing, those little floaty devices.
It’s the same things. Medications keep you afloat so you can do the other things, right? So you can exercise and sleep better and eat well and bolster yourself a little bit more. So that was, and like you said, too, the, the journey doesn’t end, it continues. And it continues by, by talking and sharing my story.
When I gave my TEDx talk three years ago, I partially I told a partial truth and the partial truth was. You know, was panic attacks, panic attacks. Let’s be honest are much more acceptable than O C D I wasn’t prepared to share it. Anxiety and depression are much sexier terms to use. The minute I say, bipolar schizophrenia, suicide, O C D.
Nope. Don’t like it too much. I’ll take a big step back. That’s too much. So now I’m actually using the words that I have been so afraid to use for so much of my life. Right. Mm. And then share with us a little bit. So you’re, you know, I love to hear the transition in your own mind and experience. So tell us a little bit how making these transitions using the words for what they are actually recognizing the stark.
Reality, the messy reality that existed. And does it still exist for you? How do you manage it? How has your healing process and your growing progress been? Yeah. Yeah. So the first thing, and this is five years later now, is that about? Yeah, but so we’ll say six, six years later. Yeah. Yeah. Okay. Cause I got help when my youngest was, I was one.
Yeah. So right. And then I had two more children after that and um, I think that was the scariest thing for me. Sure. Is. And that’s the other piece too, is that, you know, it’s almost like once burned. Do I do this again? Do I, do I stop my family at once? Am I? And my, and, and you know what I think human. Humans are interesting creatures because I, I went into my second pregnancy thinking I got this, I got my scales.
I I’m okay. I, I don’t need the medication anymore. Like I got this. And then I remember looking at my second son and he must have been a week or two old. And the thought started to come back. The anxiety started to flood me again. I found myself in tears all the time, more so than just the first two weeks or first six weeks are always hard.
But the, it was the thoughts that were starting to come back again. And I looked at this little face and I thought you deserve better. And I deserve better. Not just you, but I also deserve a chance of mothering you without these thoughts. Yeah. And that’s where the medication started to come in again. And it was a hard decision of course, cuz you’re breastfeeding all the rest of it too.
And that’s a decision you make with your practitioner. But these are the conversations you have to have and not thinking that one thing is evil. Like medication is evil. I can’t touch that. Or I can’t do this. You know, you have to look at the whole picture too. And once again, with my third child, that was another conversation, but the medication is something that I’m still on to this day.
And I, for me, that is the right choice for me. Mm-hmm counseling is something that I do still regularly on and off. I haven’t been a little bit tardy with that, but, you know, I know the importance of it and mm-hmm, , that’s something that I want to get back into meditation, exercise, all of those types of things too.
And I have to be honest, is that the more that I can look at a postpartum woman. Ask her, are you having intrusive thoughts, really be able to share my story in a meaningful way and you’ll be surprised. So we know that a study done 99% of parents have intrusive thoughts, 99% that’s normal. Did the abnormal part, the diagnosable part is if you are debilitated, just like the patient that you had, just like myself, that you cannot be with your child.
You cannot hold your child. That’s about four to 5%. That’s a much smaller fraction of the population, but having, you know, we all get those, those kind of thoughts that pop in your head. They did a study and that’s very normal. So we don’t even have this dialogue enough about that. But for me, it’s the service based component of being able to talk on platforms like this or with my patients that keeps my story alive and.
Long enough that I can say that it was all for not right. Mm-hmm we all that’s that’s that’s, that’s the essence of being human. Even when I work with at-risk patients too, who are a youth, all of their survival stories, all of their trauma, we have to make it mean something. And I take that as seriously as I do.
If I need to give them a diagnosis. mm-hmm, absolutely. What’s that whole concept that your story, you know, people hear it all the time, hear your story matters. Mm-hmm all the messy parts matter. It’s literally called imperfectly empowered because exactly what you’re saying is this concept that the sooner that we can embrace our own sense of inadequacy, our own sense of imperfection, because it’s human on this side of heaven, it will be experienced.
And the sooner we can bring it to light and share our story, the more we can have meaningful relationships see progress in our life and really empower our ability to fulfill our God-given purpose with more joy and confidence and energy. And I love love hearing. I mean, you’ve literally just given that timeline so beautifully where pregnancy number one, it took an entire year and you couldn’t even recognize it.
Mm. Pregnancy number two, I heard it was probably two weeks, two weeks ago. You recognized it. You intervened quickly pregnancy, number three, you were already on the medicine. Mm-hmm mm-hmm and I mean, that’s just beautiful. And, and you can hear, even in your words, how there was progress there mm-hmm imperfect progress, but it was progress, nonetheless.
And exactly. So it’s a beautiful, beautiful. What would you say to somebody right now? Who’s listening again, we’ll get in more specifically to, you know, your expertise with emotional literacy, et cetera, but maybe there is somebody right now who is experiencing that perinatal depression or anxiety or postpartum.
Maybe you’ve already had your child, whatever it may be. We’re depression at all, but what would you say to them right now? And we’re having the conversation, but what step do they need to take next? And what kinds of things should they be prepared with to proactively intervene with their yeah. Invasive thoughts?
Yeah. Oh yeah, for sure. The biggest thing I wanna say to anybody who is struggling with just the umbrella of mental health is that depression, anxiety, O C, D is a dialogue. We don’t see that word enough. It’s a dialogue that you, you are having with yourself and you’re having it with yourself at one of the most vulnerable times.
And it’s selling yourself a story it’s selling yourself. The fact that you’re, you’re worthless, that you’re never gonna amount to anything that this is always going to be the way that your life is that you are gonna be paralyzed by fear what fill in the blank. But it’s, it’s the dialogue piece, a back and forth conversation with yourself at its most vulnerable time.
So how do you. Unroof yourself from that. How do you actually, you know, get help? And that’s, that’s not the easy part, right? Because you are believing it the longer that you’ve beaten that trench, the more that you are not saying, I feel worthless. You’re telling yourself I am mm-hmm I am worthless. I am never gonna amount to anything.
This is my life. Right. So I have to say that it really depends on, on how far down deep you are in it. And I really do hope that you are surrounding yourself with some people that can help take you to that next step. For me, you know, was my family members, my husband, who started recognizing it, cuz often they can see it before you can see it.
But we’re ire, regardless of that, when that decision comes, that you’ve said that like, for me, that I’m choosing not to live my life like this anymore, that there has to be something else out there whenever you do pick up that call. My wish for you is that you’re met on the other end with compassion.
Because it’s that first call that you don’t know how much courage it takes to make, or that first in person appointment, whatever the case might be, but that’s my priority. And what, what number should somebody call? Yeah. Yeah. So it, once again, it depends on the severity. If you’re really having those thoughts that I was having at one point calling the crisis line, calling a help line would be the key points.
If you have a practitioner like a family doctor, nurse practitioner, it would be reaching out to them like for here in British Columbia, we have a youth health center. So it would be something like that where you’re going, and you can be seen as a walk-in patient, but you know, you’re gonna be met by seeing an, an NP or a family doctor as well.
So there are numbers to call and often those numbers will lead to us cascade of other numbers of other outreach, but that make that first initial call. But that’s the one that takes the highest degree of courage. I know that. Yeah. And I’m just looking here. I mean, you literally can just like national suicide prevention.
Yeah. Um, crisis hotline. You can Google crisis hotline and find a number near you. If anyone right now happens to be listening. And that is you Google that, give a call. And I will also say this. If you do struggle with these kinds of thoughts, come hang out here because you will hear me say pretty much every episode one, we have story after story like this, and you’re not alone.
Mm-hmm . And two, if you have not heard me say it recently, or you’ve not heard anyone else say it recently, and you do feel very alone, your story matters. You are loved. You are defined with infinite worth by a divine creator. The moment you are knit together in your mother’s wo nothing can add to or detract from your value.
Not even you, you cannot be redefined, only redeveloped and redevelopment is what we’re all about. So you matter. Stick here progress one day at a time. so, so thank you for that said yeah, beautifully said, yeah, we are going to take a quick break, but when we come back, stay tuned for a speed round of this or that with Dr.
Shahana. And we’re gonna hear her expert advice on how to build your emotional literacy to improve your mental health. Right? When we come back, you have tried it all worried. You will never lose the extra weight or reclaim the energy you once enjoyed. Want to achieve fat loss without spending hours in a gym or eliminating entire food groups from your diet.
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Curious to try the program, but not sure if the strategies will work for you. Try the faster way strategies for free head to and sign up for my free seven day fat loss accelerator course today. And start your own transformation story. All right. Well, we are back here with Dr.
Shahan. We’re gonna play a quick round of this or that you get two options, no stress, no anxiety. okay. Would you rather pasta or bread? Pasta candy, or baked goods? Baked goods. What’s your favorite baked? Good. Oh, like pie? Yeah. Do you have a favorite pie? Like one that is, this is your go-to apple, apple pie.
Apple pie. Yeah. Yeah. Apple’s very hit or miss it is, it is. Yeah. I don’t love apple pie. I don’t know why. I think it’s because the apples are too crispy. It’s like a texture thing. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. I, I, unless it’s just smothered and butter and like a really delicious dough then. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Frier then.
You’re good. Yeah. all right. Would you rather wear a dress or a pants suit dress? Would you rather be a ninja or a pirate ninja ninja? What would you do with your ninja skills? I would copy my kids who are always pretending to be ninjas and they just seem so much cooler or you would show them what’s up and yeah, exactly.
Ninja skills. Yes. I literally, this year, so I’ve, I’ve decided that I’m I made a bucket list last year and I decided I’m going to actually start checking off things on a bucket list. One of those things is learning jujitsu and I have officially found a place that I’m going to start on Monday nights. So I’m trying to make my ninja dreams come true.
oh, you’re you’re the real thing now. Exactly. We’ll have to check back and see these skills. Oh, wow. I love it. I love it. all right. What’s worse. Laundry or dishes. Oh, dishes. Yeah, they really, I don’t like either of them. Can I just hire somebody? That’s why I had children actually. do laundry and dishes. Yes.
Yes. Okay. Last question. Very controversial. Toilet paper. Does it roll over or under? Oh, my rolls under . Yeah, she, so, so she does under, so you’re pulling it from under. First world problems. Yeah. totally first world problems. People get real passionate though. Like, oh yeah. Like if I’m at somebody’s house and I notice that their toilet paper is unrolling a certain way, I’m like a little OCD there.
I’m like, ah, no, no. I like, I want to switch it while I’m there. Anyway. Totally first world problems. Yeah. Yes now we’re gonna be on, but these are the important toilet they are. Yeah, exactly. High alert by alert, high alert. And it may just stimulate a little bit of OCD. Yeah, exactly. You never know. I’m really not helping anyone here with this conversation.
I apologize. all good. Well, speaking of emotions, I get very worked up about toilet paper, apparently so we’re talking about emotional literacy is something that’s all over, just emotional. Um, the concept of understanding emotions, speaking into your emotions, how to communicate your emotions. And there are terms for all these things, which many of us are probably not aware of, not only the importance of it, but what they even mean.
So when we talk about the importance of emotional. Literacy, which as I understand, it is more the ability to communicate your emotions, but let’s start by defining emotional intelligence because before we talk about emotional literacy and the ability to communicate emotions, we should probably understand the definition of.
Emotional intelligence. So tell us a little bit about that. So exactly. So, you know, all of us know intuitively with your, what your IQ means, you know, your measure of how smart you are. You can be taking these tests and really your IQ is quite set, right? Whatever score you get on that test, you know, you are given that number as your IQ.
You’re we all know what mine must be because I get passionate about toilet paper being over or under. So interpret that. However, you’ll I don’t need an IQ test. We know we know those are like high, high score. No, exactly. So, so, you know, I think we’re the, the concept of EQ has been around for a long, long time, however, mm.
I think only really in the last 10 or 15 years, are we catching onto this concept? That the idea of EQ or emotional intelligence is actually more important than your IQ. And if we define your emotional intelligence as once again, an umbrella, it’s an umbrella. That includes things like empathy, includes things like communication and includes things like self awareness, motivation, all those types of things too.
But the key difference between EQ and IQ is that EQ can be changed. It can be it’s flexible throughout your life and you can actually improve it. Whereas IQ, you know, can get you to a certain degree in terms of, you know, jobs and success. It’s EQ that actually proves to be more of a, of a fuel for both professional and personal success.
And that’s why I think a lot of big and small companies are focusing on that more because I think we’ve lived in a generation where we stress academics, academics, academics. But not communication, empathy. And self-awareness, you know, how many of us have graduated or 12 years of school and learned anything about what self-awareness means?
I know I did it right? So you’re giving breed to this generation of people who are going around trying to compete for these high level jobs, but don’t know how to communicate with each other. Right? And this leads to what we’re seeing. Now, we know that in the us alone, 50% of physicians are burnt out. And these are people who, you know, have gone to graduate school and hopefully would’ve gained these skills, but actually know.
So we need to start at a much earlier age. So if we D dissect EQ and we kind of take out the literacy components in my TEDx talk, I focus specifically on emotional literacy for better mental health. Because for me personally, My job. One of my main jobs right now is that I’m a staff physician at, uh, one of the largest youth health centers in our entire province in British Columbia here in Canada.
So we see 500 new patients a month is staggering amount of people that we see every day. And they’re between the ages of 12 and 24. So I got tired of hearing and seeing. The same issue with a different face. Hmm. It’s the same thing over and over and over again. And a lot of the times these kids look at me as a prescription writing fast food machine.
And I don’t want to be perceived that way. I always tell them, I could write you a prescription for Zoloft in two seconds and you’re out the door. Yeah. That’s not my worth, my worth is to understand your story. Tell me your story. And that is a much more nuanced and let’s be honest lengthier question, right.
It takes time. And that’s where I started to figure out there has to be something else I can be teaching these kids. And the bigger question became, I’m not sure how it’s done in the states, but here in Canada, the education system and the healthcare system are silos. We work completely separately. Yeah.
I’m at the intersection of that. I’m a physician that works with youth. Well, the youth spend half of their time in school and I don’t know what they’re learning in school. And if I can piggyback on anything that they’re learning that I can reinforce. And most of the times they aren’t learning anything meaningful with regards to self-awareness or EQ in general.
Yeah. So that was the premise of the Ted talk that we need to be coming together. And now I’m working as a physician in a school, in a high risk school, which is one of the most amazing experiences for me because now I get to work with the counselors, with the youth workers, with the vice principal and principal.
And this is, this is the essence of team based care, but it’s sad in some ways collaborative. Yeah, exactly. Like this is because if you know, when you’re a solo practitioner, you can’t do it all. Right. A lot of the times it’s a social issue that brings them to my doors, not a medical issue. It’s food insecurity, it’s housing crisis.
It’s things like that. And that’s where I need help in sport. I’m sure you can attest to that too, in the emerge. Right. So many of the times it’s not a medical issue. It’s everything else. Yeah. So this is what brought you guys test for emotional intelligence. Is that part of, so talk to me a bit, cuz again, people might not realize this.
So again, we think IQ and we instantly think IQ testing, like the idea that we can implement an IQ test. To my understanding there is you can test for emotional intelligence as well. Is that right? Yeah. Can or just to me for a second about, are there benefits, especially when we talk about youth? Well, even for ourselves, but we’re talking about youth now is emotional intelligence testing, something that you recommend.
What, how does one go about testing emotional intelligence? There’s so there’s, there’s a couple of them online, uh, and they’re more standardized too. And they’re used in studies for emotional intelligence testing. This is something that we, we don’t do. And I think you bring up a great point. I don’t think there’s any harm in doing it, but the simplest question that I will ask.
Tell me about self-awareness do, do you know what that means? And 99% of the time I’ll get blank faces and then I’ll go and explain what self-awareness. Sometimes they just don’t know the word, but they know the rationale or they know what I’m getting at. But a lot of the times they don’t even understand that.
So I know that I need to start there because that for me is the foundation of building a better EQ our school systems do a pretty good job of, you know, let’s be a better communicator and let’s communicate with our words. And, you know, like, let’s try to show a bit of empathy. Like, you know, you can see that sprinkle throughout the elementary and the high school system, probably more elementary in that case.
But the biggest pillar that I saw missing was self-awareness. So bottom line, no harm in testing at all, and it’s fine. You can go online and kind of test yourself. A lot of the questions are, do you have a recommendation for one? Is there one in particular that you. There? No, because there’s actually, I haven’t found a really, I haven’t found a really great one.
I really haven’t. Yeah. I was doing the research for my TEDx talk and I thought, oh, like, they’re okay. Some are super lengthy, some are super short. Right. But if I ever come across, now, this is, I did my talk three years ago. So I really haven’t looked if anything is new out there since then. But a lot of them are case based.
Like, they’ll have a little vignette of some sort and you have to say, how would you answer? And you can see what they’re getting at. Right. How would you communicate with somebody that right. Was crossed with you or cut you off or things like that too, but there’s certain things to be looking for. So if there’s not like a specific emotional intelligence test yes.
I’m thinking even of my own kids. And it’s really interesting hearing you describe the difference. EQ and IQ. Yeah. And my older two by nature, just from what I’m understanding, these definitions being between IQ, my son has a naturally high IQ. He just does. We’ve been told it multiple times. And I see that yes.
In him. Yes. Yes. But I would argue, he probably has a naturally low EQ. Okay. Yep. He is not emotionally or self-aware like just little things that you’re just like what, like the practical, reasonable, rational element where my daughter, on the other hand doesn’t struggle in school, but is very, very self-aware.
Yeah. And I’m just even thinking like she probably has a higher EQ. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And again, she doesn’t struggle in school, but I’m, I’m curious, are there things that we could be looking for in our children that would maybe flag that we could help our child improve their emotional. Intelligence. Very, very well said too.
So the number one thing is we need to take a step back and, and we’ll, we’ll go through, this is like, what are the emotions piece? And, yeah, exactly. So, so number one, and this is more, this is more, I guess, with adults, but you can kind of talk to your kids about this, but emotions have three components, right?
They have the component. And we always think about emotions as you know, as a scale, right? A lot of us think that emotions are good or bad. This is the first thing to teach to kids. I grew up not even realizing this, but intuitively feeling that I was only able to feel good emotions, but the minute I felt.
Bad emotions. That was not okay. And guess what I have, I used to parent in this way. So when I saw my child feeling angry and resentful and frustrated, and any of the quote, unquote, bad emotions, I would take that as a personal hit. That that meant that I was a bad parent. So you need to erase that. We need to understand that emotions are neither good or bad.
They’re either comfortable or uncomfortable. They’re either emotions are neither good or bad. They’re either comfortable or uncomfortable, uncomfortable. And I love how you said that about parenting. Yeah, exactly. Cause I remember, and I’ll give that case example too, is that I had my little, he was a couple of years old, maybe three at the time.
And I had to divide a package of Smarties amongst so three of them and I was just being a bit tardy and I gave one some more. And the other two, some less heaven forbid heaven forbid like. So the older one that got less just mass rebellion in our house, that’s SU things been thrown that’s. Exactly. And it was more like thrown at my leg.
Like they were too young to reach anywhere above the torso. So they were just fighting your kneecap. Yeah, exactly. And I remember thinking that this is not allowed, like you’re not allowed to feel angry. This is not okay. And then I realized something, emotions leave clues. You wouldn’t care about the candy if you didn’t care about something deeper than that.
And the most funny, the funniest part about that was my older son. Who’s now seven, who was having this physical and emotional reaction. And I looked at him and I said, you value fairness. Don’t you, you need a, to be fair. This is the bane and the blessing in his life. Still to this day, he’s very black and white and he needs things to be precise and life isn’t like that.
But if I, that would’ve been a complete, missed opportunity to say, stop punching me. You’re not allowed to do that. I don’t condone physical violence, but it was this idea that there was something deeper in there. So first thing is emotions are neither good or bad. They’re pleasant, unpleasant, comfortable, or not comfortable.
The second thing is that this idea that emotions leave clues, emotions, leave clues, they leave three clues, the sensation you feel in your body. This is what we need to this connection is what you, if you can teach your kids, this that’s their superpower. Is that when I feel angry or I feel something, what is that doing in me?
Okay. My Palm starts sweating. I feel like my heart starts to pick up a little bit. I feel a little bit warm or flushed on my face. If you ask an adult, they’ll be like, sorry, what? Because we, we practice self abandonment as we grow up. We’re just fine. Everything is okay. Everything is just fine. We don’t think about what’s going on inside because we’re so used to being fine.
Right? So sensation is the first clue story is the second clue as the kids get older, they’ll start to go. What is that? Is there a voice in my head? That’s telling me a story that, you know, you can’t do that long jump, or you’re never gonna fit in with that group of girls or, you know, that teacher just doesn’t like me, or I’m gonna fail this test.
Like, what is that story? What is that voice? That’s your own voice in your head? That voice is self-awareness getting comfortable with that voice is self-awareness, but I’ve had a 70 year old patient go. What voice we live our life, not even realizing that you have an inner roommate. that you have this inner conversation that’s going on 20 for seven, that will never shut up in your head.
And that’s you, but creating space between that voice and you is the premise of self-awareness it’s that simple, right? So sensation story, and signpost signpost is what does your child value? It’s your value systems that are foundational, and we know your value systems are built early on in their life, but it’s your identity.
That can be fluctuating. We always think that your identity is set. It’s not like that your value systems are foundational. Your identity fluctuates the minute they put that child on my chest, suddenly I, my mom do I lose my other identities? No. Right. We’re always trying. The person you are today was not the person you were five years ago.
Your identity is it, it, it will fluctuate, but we need to get our kids in touch with what they value deeply. And that’s so important. And that’s what I try to do for my youth as well. I’ll never forget. I had this youth that came into me, who’s tried, who, you know, was confidently saying, he’s tried every drug underneath the sun and still uses tons of substances and so much so that his friends will come to him before they mix drugs.
Because he knows about all the adverse reactions. And he’s like, my friends, you know, trust me to, before they mix their drugs. And I looked at him, I said, wow. I said, your friends actually trust you with their life. Don’t they? And he looked at me and he said, oh yeah, I never thought about it that way. I said your friends really value you don’t they, they value your intelligence.
They value that the fact that you will lead, that you won’t lead them as straight. They trust you. They trust you. And he’s like, I’ve never thought about it that way. So sometimes we have to turn what would seem like a negative, you know, a negative thought or a negative story into something that’s, you know, they would never really realize that people actually care about them because it’s on the backs of their value system that makes their story worth living.
Cause so many of these kids don’t right, but you, I need to remind them why they are living and why, what they value and that their story matters just very similar to, to what you just told us too. So those are the three things. If you wanna teach your kids, something is what your emotions leave behind your sensation, your story, and the signpost as to what they value and understanding that, you know, I think we live in a society where we often think that.
We don’t like negative emotions or we don’t like uncomfortable emotions. Actually. We love them. We crave them. I always call negative emotions, sell. It’s literally a marketing technique. Exactly, exactly. Yeah. You know, we always say like, that’s that we’re, that’s the complete opposite. I play this little, all game of truth, three truths and a lie.
And that’s the lie. The lies is that we don’t like negative. We love it. I call it your emotional bed. We all have your, we all have one or two or three emotional beds that we love to lay in. For me, it’s self pity. I love my emotional bed of self pity because I, my story that I sell myself and I tell myself every day, Is I’m the working mom that has to do everything and all the grocery shopping and all in the laundry and the LA LA LA LA like, you know, fill in the blanks.
Right. And I will cozy myself up in that bed of self pity and lay there. So you also have to find is what is your emotional bed that traps you? Because that is a trap, it’s in a trap trap, but it’s a trap and our kids are doing that too. Mm it’s just changes over the years. Right? Mm. I love that. So take notes, everybody.
obviously these things will be on the show notes too, but I love those. Those are three very practical ways to be able to start speaking into our children’s understanding of their emotions. And I mean, I’m literally thinking through, again, my son, especially is who I’m thinking about here and how I can be helping him think through what he’s feeling when he is so terrible at expressing.
He just reacts. He just reacts. He’ll sit for hours and work on, you know, Math and science projects and read, but when it comes to his emotions, he’s just like, you know, off the shoulder, this is what this is what’s happening. Exactly. Exactly. So tell us, speaking of communicating emotions, talk to us a little bit then about this concept of emotional literacy and mental health.
I mean, I think we can already start to see how these things are connecting. And I also love that you are separating them. This is something I meant to say earlier, but. People have heard me say before that, I believe that that whole concept of redeveloping on this side of heaven to truly fulfill your purpose with more confidence, energy and joy is all about understanding that living well is more than just eating more vegetables and exercising enough.
It’s not just our physical health, mental health is a much bigger part of our conversation, but there’s still a whole narrative that we leave out all of the time when we talk about living. Well, I believe there’s five areas that we need to consider and where we are lacking, and that is emotional, mental, physical, social, and spiritual.
They all contribute to living well and you can be super. and be an emotional wreck or have no good social health. You have no ability to actually communicate well with your spouse, your children, et cetera. So I wanted to point out, I love that you separate emotional mental, because I think they they’re related very closely, certainly, but they are different.
Exactly. So I love, and I, I want to kind of tease that out a little bit, as well as you talk about building emotional literacy to improve mental health. Cuz notice they’re not one in the same. No, no, they they’re closely related. exactly, exactly. And I love what your five pillars as well. It, it reminds me of what I scratch on the back of a napkin during the postpartum period with my first, because I started to realize very similar to what you’re saying is this idea of how did I get here?
How did I get to this broad bottom place? When I spent so much time, I was still exercising and drinking fish oil by the gallon and you know, all my vitamin D during the postpartum period, I, I was doing that. So what, how did the bottom fall out from beneath me? And it was because I didn’t have a bottom in place.
And that’s where the optimal health pyramid that you’ll see on my website, the foundation are two things connect deeply and think better. You know, you can have the, you can, you can train your brain and think better, but if you’re surrounded by energy vampires, it doesn’t matter, right. We are social creatures by norm.
So you need to be surrounding yourselves with people that are going to uplift you. Mm-hmm, not reroof you. Right? The middle part of the pyramid is all of the stuff that I think our society wants us to focus on eat, eat better, move more. And I call it rest smart as well. Yeah. And the top part is what you’re alluding to the spirituality component as well.
Which I call impact and purpose. And I think we need to start living with purpose, not for a purpose. Mm-hmm, live with purpose. We keep thinking that purpose is some sort of treasure map. And once you find the treasure, I found my purpose. It doesn’t work that way. We start we’ve stopped living with purpose at all, like smiling at somebody at your checkout line or paying for somebody’s coffee, or just even having a real conversation for me is living with purpose.
Instead of chasing something, our society loves to chase stop chasing it’s right in front of you. Your purpose is right there. It’s living like a good human being. So I think all of those components you bring into wellness and living your best life, just like you’ve talked about as well. And when it comes to the emotional literacy component as well, I think so often we get bogged down with the mental health criteria.
We know that one in five of us will have a diagnosable mental health condition. But I always say five out of five of us will have an emotion. So why not start there when the key thing, child, adolescent, or adult? Wait, say that one more time. Say that I love this. Oh, I was just saying one out of one outta five of us in the states.
And in north America, I should say will have a diagnosable mental health condition, but five out of five of us will have an emotion. So let’s start there. That’s where we to start. Right? Mm-hmm so like, we don’t even talk about this. Brene brown did a great study and she showed that we have three adjectives to name our emotions, bad, sad, or glad.
That’s not enough. We need to increase. So number one, step for what I try to teach the youth is to increase your emotional vocabulary, increase your emotional bandwidth. This is where you can start with your sign, your daughter, my kids as well. How are you doing at school? Good. How’s everything good? Like fine.
I’m fine. Fine. I’m fine. I’m good. Like everything’s good. You know, I recently had a situation in my life where two very close people in my life got into a conflict and it was, it was awful because we live in close proximity. I thought in my, the story I was telling myself is that we’re never gonna be in the same room together.
This is the fate for the rest of the, the family. And I was magnifying and just making a big issue out of it. And initially I thought I was angry, but when I thought about it deeper, I said, I’m not angry. I’m embarrassed. I’m embarrassed that two close people that I really care about are in this conflict.
And it seemed messy and I was humiliated and embarrassed. Anger and embarrassment are two totally different things. They send different emotional cycles, so be prepared to label it correctly and a great easy app that everyone can download. And I think it’s 99 cents. Uh, it’s called mood meter. I believe it was developed out of Yale, Yale university.
And when you are going through your day, it will give you your emotional valence. Are you feeling pleasant or unpleasant? Is your energy high or low? And it will spit out tons of adjectives. For the longest time. I thought as a mom, I’m tired. I’m tired. I’m tired. I’m tired. I’m not tired. I’m depleted. Yeah.
That’s different depleted and overwhelmed are different. So use the right. Say that app again. Say the name of that. It’s again. It’s it’s called mood meter mood meter. Mood meter. And I also wanna throw this out here too. I’m sure Dr. Shahan is aware of this, but for anyone who also wants to practice this themselves, as well as with their kids, there’s also, I think it’s called the wheel of emotions.
Is that okay? Yeah. Yes, yes, yes. That what it’s called and it literally has, you know, for those of you looking and watching here, it literally looks like this. It is a wheel that has a million different emotions on with the core ones being, you know, bad, fearful, angry, disgusted, disgusted. Yeah. Bad and happy.
I’m literally and surprised. Like they’re kind of defining those as like the core, but then there’s literally dozens that form circles. So if you’re just struggling for a word and want to put this into practice. Yeah. This is also a really, you could save this on your phone and help your children. Be like, find how you’re feeling on this wheel and tell me how this describes you.
exactly. And often children are better off describing their sibling or describing you than they are describing them. So if they’re struggling with doing themselves, it we’re much easier. You, you can tell, like I could tell my, my husband a mile away going, oh, I know exactly what you’re feeling, but I don’t know what I’m feeling.
Right. We’re really good at doing other people. Right. So kids are the same way. So you can sometimes start there, or also in books, if you’re reading a story or a novel or whatever’s, uh, get them to describe it. So I think a lot of it comes down to the vocabulary and I think we are now seeing a push that we have to use it.
It’s we call it, name it, to tame it. Right. Kids talk like, actually give it that name and suddenly that beast, that monster doesn’t seem so scary anymore. Yeah. Right? Yeah. So that’s one of the, be big things too, when it comes back to the emotional science piece. The other thing I always wanna tell kids and adolescents is that emotions come and go.
Emotions come and go. You know, your feelings are an energy, not your identity. Amen. No. Right. So a lot of the times in our head, we will say, I am fill in the blank. I am worthless, or I am lonely. Or I, instead of I feel, yeah. So shift the, I am to the, I feel, and suddenly you are implying to your brain, that emotions have a beginning, a middle and an end.
We often just go get stuck in the middle. That that’s how we form our little rut. And we fester there. We never complete the emotional cycle. And the only way to complete it is to get in tune to the sensation, not the story. The story makes the emotion fester. You’re sitting in your bed. You’re thinking all those types of things, that story will never shut up.
You will be in that middle of the emotional cycle for decades, but if you just complete the sensation and let it kind of fade away, then you can move on to the rest of your day, right? It’s the story that will trap you. So from what I’m, what I’m hearing. So for people listening to summarize, when you are feeling depressed or you are feeling name the emotion, whatever it is, mm-hmm , from what I understand, what she’s saying is literally stop and name the emotion.
Try to find exactly what it is that you’re feeling, recognize it, give it space to exist, but then try to halt it at the sensation as opposed to filling in the narrative that comes after you’ve identified that emotion, meaning don’t then tell yourself the story that so quickly comes after identifying that emotion.
Is that what I’m hearing? So that’s the piece for acknowledging. So acknowledge the fact that, okay, I have the, the motion I want you to, here’s what it is. Second. Here’s what it is. Fill in the blank. Feel what that sensation feels like. Take just to take a second, take two or three seconds to feel that sensation.
Yeah. The story will come and that is okay. But what happens is that we replay the story again and again and again, and that’s the hamster wheel. That’s how we don’t know how to exit the story. Right? And there’s many different ways that you can exit the story. One of the key ways that you can exit the story is you can ask yourself, is this true?
You start, you need to start poking holes in your own story. Do I know that this is true? A hundred percent of the time. What evidence do I have that it’s true. Like, and that is the work often. That it’s very, I’ll be honest. It’s difficult for you to do by yourself when you believe the story and you’re in it.
That’s where a trusted therapist or counselor can come in and help you dissect your own story. Right. Mm-hmm and I call it poke holes in your story and say, as if you’ve got a big balloon and go, wait, is that true? Are you sure that’s true and challenge yourself. And then, and the last thing is, if you don’t, you know, if you can’t afford the counseling, look up cognitive behavioral therapies, you will see thinking traps thinking traps are the most common pitfalls that we all, as humans fall into.
We love black and white. You know, I’m either all good or I’m either all bad. We don’t believe in shades of gray. We need to start using the gray coloring in the gray and seeing, well, sometimes this is like this. And sometimes this is like this, our story, our brains hate open loops. We need to have everything closed.
We hate that we need to finish the story. So how do you finish the story in your head? Maybe part of the story is that you don’t know how the ending is gonna be, but we have to be okay or learn to be okay with discomfort. And this is another key principle in our society is that we pray, wait, say that again.
We don’t like to hear that, but say that again. You won’t find this printed on a billboard and yet it’s revolutionary to change your life. Say it again. Yeah. Basically we need, we need to have the story ended, but oftentimes we know that we’re not gonna have the story ended and we hate discomfort. We are creatures that crave comfort, and part of that comfort is having everything packaged up in with nice little bows.
And that includes the stories in our head. So being able to get more comfortable with discomfort, even in your physical body, Is one of the key ways to cure yourself. I won’t use, uh, I’m using a larger word, but to get more comfortable with your emotion and mental health, right? So this is why it’s so interesting.
We see this rage of intermittent fasting and cold showers and saunas and heat, you know, playing with heat. All of that is good physically, but I argue it’s just as good mentally because you’re playing with the edges of discomfort, right. And so much of mental and physical health and starting to, starting to push forward in those departments.
Mm-hmm mm-hmm is getting comfortable with the unknown mm-hmm mm-hmm right. Mm-hmm so that’s a big part of it as well, too. So I think realizing all of those pieces are gonna be allow you to, once again, going back to the optimal health pyramid is form a better foundation because this is that foundation of how do you think better and how you think better is how you train your brain training.
Your brain is a 20 for seven. Minute to minute, hour to hour process, but the clock resets at midnight. So you get another 24 hours to practice. Mm-hmm none. If this is ever going to be perfect, but it’s about allowing yourself to feel the breath of emotions without judgment. It’s allowing yourself to name the breath of emotions with accuracy or the best accuracy you have, and for allowing yourself to listen to your own story without question, but also to ask yourself, is it true?
And is it true all the time? And the biggest question I can leave your audience with is out of all of that, ask yourself the question. Does this serve me? Does it serve me? Does it, sometimes it does serve me to feel self pity, great. Be there, but for, does it serve me and for how long does it serve me and for how long.
Say, I’m gonna feel this way for two hours. Great. We live in a society where we just keep wanting to replace positive emotions that doesn’t work, acknowledge it, feel what you’re feeling, and then ask yourself those two questions. Does it serve me and for how long. That’s beautiful. Well, I’m mentally taking notes.
I’ve learned so much. Where can listeners and viewers find you? Where can they learn more about what you do, support your work and anything else that you wanna leave us with? Oh, thanks so much. Yeah. Uh, my website, Dr. and on Instagram at the Dr. Shahan, I’m also on LinkedIn at Dr. Shana alibi too.
Yeah. Come, you know, send me a DM, come say, hi, I’m still new to the world of social media. I’m getting there. you know how it is? It’s all alerting social media. Yeah. Talk about emotions. Holy cow. And negative ones. Exactly, exactly. Putting yourself out there, but this, you know, if you haven’t gotten the gist of, I do love talking about this stuff and I love talking about it because it matters and it matters to me.
It matters to my patients. And thanks to platforms like this, it matters to all the rest of you because. So much of this, the premise of what you just said is so beautiful. The one thing you can own is your story that gives you your worth. Mm-hmm . Nobody can take that away from you as well. So I think in this whole messy journey of, of life and trying to navigate it too, we’re always looking for, well, what’s in it for us.
And what do I have? That’s unique and what’s my purpose. Forget all of that. It’s your story. You’ve already got it. You’ve already got it. So stop looking. That’s right. Well, I don’t need to say anymore after that. amen case closed. Well, I just pray. God’s blessing over your home, over your heart, your family, and all of the work that you’re doing.
I know you’re changing lives and there’s many youth who probably years from now will look back and say that Dr. Shahan. She was a pivot pivot point for me. So thank you so much. It was an honor to have you, oh, so much fun. Keep doing the great work. Thank you. Thank you. Thanks for listening to this episode of the imperfectly empowered podcast.
I would love to hear your thoughts from today. Head to your preferred podcasting platform and give the show an honest review and let me know what you think. Remember, you cannot be redefined only redeveloped one imperfect day at a time. Your story matters and you are loved.

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