Transcript

Dr Nina Savelle-Rocklin:
Hi there. Welcome to the Dr. Nina Show here on LA Talk Radio. I am your host, Dr. Nina Savelle-Rocklin, and I am here to help you stop counting calories, carbs and fat grams so you can easily get to a healthy weight and get on with your life. That is what it’s all about. I want you to wake up and think about your day, not your diet. If you’d like to call in and talk with me today, that number is 818-602-4929, 818-612-4929. You can also join me live on Instagram and drop me a message in the comment section. I would love to hear what is on your mind, what is eating at you, because the real problem with binge eating, stress eating, any kind of emotional eating, the real problem is not food. The problem is what is eating at you, what is going on inside.

So, I have some questions, couple questions from listeners. This is from Linda. She says, “Would overeating and binge eating be considered the same thing when one eats clean and healthy most of the time but then…” She says, “Then I have bouts of eating junk and sugar and I can’t stop. It goes on for an entire evening or days and days and sometimes stretches into weeks until I wrestle it back. It comes along with this urge to not stop, to just want to eat, and eat, and eat, and eat. Usually it starts with putting something I didn’t want to eat into my mouth and not stopping after a few bites. Then I think I’ve blown it, so oh well, here we go.”

Okay, that is a great question, Linda. I’m actually going to answer it by reading a section from my book, The Binge Cure: 7 Steps to Outsmart Emotional Eating. Page seven, I say overeating versus bingeing. Overeating means eating to excess, and that is different from bingeing. And there are a lot of reasons why people eat too much, overeat, none of them having to do with feelings. Americans overeat on Thanksgiving. One of my patients actually referred this to… Thanksgiving as national binge day, but really it’s national overeating day. Overeating on that holiday or any other time has very little to do with feelings, it has to do with food. Now, it may not be so cut and dry because often we’re with family, and that can bring up feelings, but that’s a whole other story.

So also, if you don’t eat enough during the day and you get to the point where you are absolutely ravenous, you might end up overeating once you start eating because you’re just so hungry and you don’t get full right away. That’s just a mechanical body thing. It has nothing to do with feelings, again. And if you eat too much, if you overeat, you’re generally like, “Ah, I overdid it. I’m going to cut back tomorrow.” And it’s not this shame-filled experience. It’s an, “Ah, okay, I had too much,” or, “I had one too many pieces of pizza. Okay.” It’s not something that brings you great shame.

Bingeing, on the other hand, means eating great quantities of food at one time in a compulsive way, often without even enjoying it or event tasting it after the first few bites. Bingeing is a way of coping with something inside. It’s about using food for comfort, distraction or to numb and express pain, anger, anxiety, anything uncomfortable. Unlike overeating, bingeing is being out of control with food and it usually involves remorse, guilt and shame afterwards. And you might think, “What’s wrong with me? What is the matter with me?” So not only do you feel bad about what you ate, you also feel bad about yourself. So that is an important distinction.

And I also just want to say something about bingeing because people use it in all kinds of different ways. Some people will say they binged on five cookies or three cookies and some people will say they binged on 30 cookies. So I want to share the official DSM-5 definition of bingeing in relation to binge eating disorder. So the diagnostic criteria for binge eating disorder… And by the way, a lot of people think they have no willpower, they have no control, that there’s something wrong… I have a caller.

Carly Gash:
Thank you. This is actually Carly Gash.

Dr Nina Savelle-Rocklin:
Hi, Carly. Welcome back to the show.

Carly Gash:
Thank you. Yeah, so my question is… it’s pretty much the same, what Linda asked. How can I basically… I do the same, what Linda does, same thing. And I was listening to you, and the difference between bingeing and overeating. And you said bingeing is like compulsive, so compulsive, when you eat and… Here is my thing. I actually enjoy eating, but my stomach hurts in the end and it’s so painful after that. I just… Maybe similar to drinking [inaudible 00:06:25] when people drink alcohol, but I don’t drink alcohol so I don’t know how it feels.

Dr Nina Savelle-Rocklin:
Well, I think that there are some clues as to what is going on with you for bingeing. When people eat until their stomach hurts, there could be a couple of things going on. One is inadvertently, unconsciously turning emotional pain into physical pain because it is easier to deal with physical pain than it is to deal with something that is hurting you, your emotions, the emotional pain. So that is a way of turning emotional pain to physical pain. Also, when people eat so much that they’re that full it indicates that there’s a possibility of some emptiness inside, some profound emptiness, a void within that is getting symbolically filled with food. So those are some things to consider because when we focus on food, then it’s a distraction from that emptiness, that perhaps loneliness, that pain.

Carly Gash:
Man, that makes so much sense and I was wondering how to [inaudible 00:07:49] this emptiness because I notice that recently I…

Dr Nina Savelle-Rocklin:
I’m sorry to interrupt you. It’s very hard to hear you. Feels like there’s a lot of background sound that I’m hearing, and then your voice is a little bit hard to here.

Carly Gash:
How about right now?

Dr Nina Savelle-Rocklin:
That’s so much better, yeah. Much better.

Carly Gash:
Thank you so much. So I notice that every day is like Groundhog Day for me so I’m like… And I feel like I am having hard time even [inaudible 00:08:31] emptiness. I don’t let myself get pleasure, get something nice. I’m like [inaudible 00:08:38] do stuff, and then I’m scared and I end up scaring to do stuff, and then blaming myself that I didn’t do it, and so do it and it’s like, “Oh, I’ll never do it. My life is a mess. I’m already late,” and–

Dr Nina Savelle-Rocklin:
I want to stop you because I don’t want you to keep talking that way about yourself because language is so important. When you say these things, a part of you is listening. So if you say, “I don’t have my life together. I’m never going to have my life together,” as you just did, “I fail at things. I’m no good.” Now I’m paraphrasing. Your mind takes in what you’re saying and that is being critical. It’s also forecasting the future. I’m never. When you say never or always, that is a little bit of a warning sign that you’re making these overall generalizations, negative generalizations about yourself, so please be aware of doing that.

So instead, you’ve got to talk to yourself in a different way. Because one reason why people binge or focus on food, even if they’re not bingeing, overeating, or just emotional eating, or just focusing on food, one reason is just to get away from their own mean selves. You cannot berate yourself into feeling better, so you can only encourage yourself. I know that you’ve heard me say many times, “Be curious, not critical.” So instead of saying, “Ugh, there I go again. I’m never going to change. I’m always going to…” say, “Okay, what’s going on with me? Why am I doing this? What is this distracting me from? What is the pain that I don’t want to feel? The emotional pain.” In a curious, non-cruel way, kindness.

You wouldn’t say to a friend, I’m sure… If that friend was struggling, you wouldn’t say… The friend came to you and said, “Oh my god. I ate a whole pizza,” for example. You wouldn’t say, “Well, you’re never going to lose weight and you’re such a loser. You’re always going to be this way.” You wouldn’t say any of the things you say to yourself to a friend.

Carly Gash:
No. No.

Dr Nina Savelle-Rocklin:
So please don’t say that to yourself. You got to be to yourself as you would be to a friend.

Carly Gash:
Thank you so much. Actually, the phrase you said helped very much. You cannot berate yourself into feeling good makes so much sense.

Dr Nina Savelle-Rocklin:
No one ever hated themselves into loving themselves.

Carly Gash:
Yeah, but it’s kind of, I think, what I was doing my whole life. Because this is how adults talked to me when I was a kid, the whole society I came from.

Dr Nina Savelle-Rocklin:
And you absorbed it.

Carly Gash:
Yeah, and it apparently doesn’t work.

Dr Nina Savelle-Rocklin:
We learn to talk to ourselves the way we’re talked to, and so if you’re talked to in that way, even though you may hate it when you were a kid in Kazakhstan, even though you hated it, a part of you took it in and now does it to yourself. And it’s recognizing, well, whose voices are those? Whose voice are you using to talk about yourself? Whose voice are you using? I’ve got a question about anxiety (on Instagram). I will answer that as soon as I am off the phone with Carly Gash.

Actually, anxiety or any painful feeling, the only way to get rid of it is to get to the source of it. There’s how to deal with the anxiety, or the self-hatred, or the whatever, but also, what are the ideas that are causing it? Because thoughts and beliefs lead to feelings, lead to behavior. That’s why focusing on food… Carly Gash, if you’re eating so much that your stomach hurts, that’s why focusing on food is not going to help. It’s what are the ideas and beliefs about yourself, how are you talking to yourself, what are your ideas that lead to the bad feeling that lead to using food? Whether that is anxiety or anything else, what is it that you’re thinking that creates the feeling that then leads to the behavior?

Carly Gash:
Thinking. Okay.

Dr Nina Savelle-Rocklin:
Yeah. And even the language that you used. Just say one of the things that you said to yourself just now, or that you would typically say.

Carly Gash:
I’d say like, “See?” It’s my favorite critic, “See? You cannot even accomplish your daily tasks, simple tasks which other people do easily.”

Dr Nina Savelle-Rocklin:
Stop. Stop. See? You can’t even accomplish those daily tasks that other people are doing so easily. So as soon as you say, “See?” And talk to yourself in second person, you cannot even. Who’s talking? You’re not saying, “I can’t even accomplish those daily tasks,” which, although is still mean, would still be better. When you talk to yourself in second person, that’s another person’s voice, “See? I prove myself right,” says that voice, “I prove myself right that you are just not good enough.” Who’s talking? So the first thing to do is identify whose voice that is. And also, in the… You’re welcome, pharmacy school. In the moment when you find yourself talking yourself in a second person, try saying it again, I. I can’t even do this. And you’re also comparing yourself to others. Everybody else has their life perfectly in order. Everybody can accomplish tasks, you can’t. Well, maybe there’s a reason you can’t.

Carly Gash:
I always felt my whole life that I am the dumbest person in the world, or a mistake, and like I’m living this life by mistake Occasionally I was not supposed to [inaudible 00:15:40] and that I don’t fit in, and that whatever I do, I do it wrong or I don’t get it. There’s this very weird feeling that I don’t have the right either to have [inaudible 00:15:56] I don’t belong here or I’m not supposed to be here, but-

Dr Nina Savelle-Rocklin:
Okay, so I don’t belong here, I’m not supposed to be here. Often when you’re a mismatch in your family… And I see this a lot. I myself was a total mismatch in my family. I will share that. My parents, totally academic, college professors, very cerebral, very quiet, very… just academics. And I had a lot of energy, and I was into other things. I did not want to just read books all day when I was a kid. This was not my idea of fun, even though I did read lots of books. So I was labeled too much, too dramatic, too sensitive, too much, and then my five year old brained turned that I’m too much to handle into I am literally too much and I began to think I was fat. So as if I could lose the too much-ness about me by losing weight, even at five years old.

So this mismatch happens a lot. You have a quiet, thoughtful person in a family that’s really athletic and outgoing. They don’t fit in, but that doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with them. That’s why I love the story of the ugly ducking. The ugly duckling didn’t fit in. The ugly duckling was made to feel as if he, because in the Hans Christian Andersen it was a he, but let’s make her a she. The ugly ducking was made to feel as if she was deficient, defective, funny looking, not right, just bad, and she was bullied, really badly bullied by everybody. And finally she ran away to find her way in the world, and one day she’s out-

She’s out, she sees some swans, she thinks, “This is it. They’re going to kill me.” I guess… I didn’t know that swans killed ducks, but apparently they do in this story. And instead, the swans swim over and welcome her because, what do you know? She was never a duck, she actually was a swan. And when she found her swans, her people, in the time that she ran away, she became a swan. She grew up. And the swans welcomed her, and then she had her place in the world. She wasn’t born into a place where it was a right fit, either were you, either was I, either were a lot of people, but that doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you or with them, although sometimes there is something wrong with them. It means you haven’t found your swans, you haven’t found your people.

Carly Gash:
That makes so much sense. Actually, when I was living in Kazakhstan four or five years ago, I had this inner voice of… I guess this is my subconscious. I was suffering a lot, and then the voice just said, “Go and find your pack.”

Honestly, I feel guilty. Sometimes I feel guilty that I cannot connect to those abusive people or bad people. I feel like I still have to find some way to make it work or… I always blame me, take it on me like, “Oh, I need to work on my compassion.” So there must be something wrong with me if I cannot tolerate abuse or whatever. I must be [inaudible 00:19:37].

Dr Nina Savelle-Rocklin:
Or, instead of saying, “There’s something wrong with me that I’m trying to connect with my abusers, there must be something wrong with me that I’m tolerating abuse,” say, “It’s normal to have mixed feelings, to wish.” It is a human wish that the people who are our family would love and accept us unconditionally. That is a human… Erica says, “Carly Gash, tell Carly Gash Erica sends her love.”

Carly Gash:
Aw, thank you so much.

Dr Nina Savelle-Rocklin:
She says, “Thank you so much.” You guys, I apologize. We still don’t have the equipment that’s on back order so that everyone on Instagram can hear my callers. Still hasn’t arrived after two months. We’re still waiting on it, but eventually we will be able to hear the callers. So I just want to say, Carly Gash, it is human to wish that even abusive parents would accept us. That is why when you take an abused child and put them in a nice foster home, they want to go back to their parents. Because that is a human wish. So I want you to normalize it. Instead of judging it, normalize it. Okay? Normalize it and be curious.

Carly Gash:
That makes so much sense. Thank you so much.

Dr Nina Savelle-Rocklin:
You’re welcome, Carly Gash. Thank-

Carly Gash:
And, actually, I’m very grateful to you working without equipment. I honestly would listen to you from a cave or anywhere, any house, still good for me. Thank you so much.

Dr Nina Savelle-Rocklin:
Thank you, Carly Gash. Thank you for calling. I love getting your weekly calls and hearing from you.

Call us back and let us know how you’re doing next week.

Carly Gash:
Oh, I will. Thank you so much.

Dr Nina Savelle-Rocklin:
Okay. Bye for now.

Dr Nina Savelle-Rocklin:
[Modern Worldzen says, “I’m not fat, but I do feel fat most of the time.” Fat is not a feeling, fat is a substance. When we feel fat, it’s code. It’s some kind of code for something, a sense of too much-ness or not enough-ness or simultaneously not enough and too much. So you want to crack the code of what fat means when you’re feeling fat. Are you feeling like you’re not good enough? What does that mean? Translate feeling fat, because fat is not a feeling. We make it a feeling, but it’s code for something else. What is it? So Modern Worldzen, if you want to, pardon the expression, weigh in on your thoughts about that, I would definitely be interested to hear that.

I also want to say that with regards to Linda’s question… And basically she said she eats clean and healthy most of the time, and then once she starts eating something that she’s not supposed to have, she can’t stop after a few bites. Well, of course not. Of course you can’t stop after a few bites. Then she has the thought of, “I want more, and more, and more, and more, and more. I want to eat, and eat, and eat, and eat, and eat.” And she said she… one, two, three, four. Four eats. And then there’s, “I’ve blown it, so oh well.”

So, a couple of things here. One is deprivation leads to wanting more of what you cannot have. If I tell you you cannot have something, if I tell you you can’t have something, you’re going to want it. You’re going to want it more. And then, when you have it, you’re going to say, “Well, I’m not going to have it again until I’m at my ideal weight, so I might as well have as much of it as possible now.” And then there’s the, “I’ve blown it. Oh well, here we go,” which is, “Well, I’ve eaten three cookies. I might as well eat 30 because it’s all or nothing.” And if you have a more balanced approach, then you’re not going to have that deprivation and you’re not going to then overeat or binge because the anticipation or the experience of deprivation makes you want something more.

Modern Worldzen says, “I feel shame for not being at an ideal weight.” So shame is about there’s something wrong with you. Why shame? Shame is really deep, whereas guilt, which I plan… Let’s see. We do have some time. I’m going to talk about different types of guilt. But guilt versus shame. Shame is the idea that there is something wrong with you. Guilt is the idea that you did something wrong. You did something wrong or you failed to do something that you think you should do. That’s guilt, “I should have done that,” or, “I shouldn’t have done that. I feel guilty.” Shame is there’s something wrong with you because you did something or didn’t do something, so guilt is a much lesser… it’s not pleasant and it’s not good, but guilt is a much more easy state to deal with. Shame is about your very sense of self.

And I’ll tell you, when people feel shame because of their bodies, say they get into great shape. You know what happens if they don’t deal with the sense that there’s something wrong with them that they think they can fix by getting in great shape, they come in and they tell me, “Now here is the thing that I’m shamed about.” So the shame just is a moving target. If you feel shame because you’re not at your ideal weight and you get to your ideal weight without dealing with the shame which seems to be attached to weight but isn’t, you’re going to feel shame about something else, something else. I’m not good enough in this area or I’m too much in that area.

So when it comes to shame about weight, it’s really shame about yourself that needs to be challenged and needs to be worked through. Shame is insidious. Shame just keeps you perpetually feeling bad about you. And when you feel bad about you, as I told Carly Gash earlier, you can’t berate yourself into feeling good about. You can’t shame yourself into feeling good about yourself either. You have to challenge that shame. Where did you get the idea you’re not good enough? Where did you get the idea there’s something wrong with you? And challenge that. Break up the shame and then you just feel good about yourself and it’s more easy to support yourself.

So I had another question from… I had another question, but you know what? I’m going to save it for next week. I’m going to talk about guilt. So this is something I go over in my book, as you know. In fact, I’m going to read from my book. The Binge Cure book, because I have three. So there are different types of guilt. And I talk about this time that my friend and I went to Krav Maga class, and we leave, and I just said, “Wow, that was such a great class. It was so challenging, it was so intense, it was awesome.” And my friend said, “Oh, I know, but I feel so guilty because I left my husband with the kids, and here I am working out and having fun, and he’s at home giving the twins a bath. I feel so guilty.”

So she felt guilty for doing something for herself while her husband was at home with the kids. Personally, I call that parenting, but that’s just me. She called it babysitting. I don’t think you can babysit your own kids, but that’s just me. Anyway, so guilt is about something that you did or didn’t do, and guilt references behavior and actions. You feel guilty when you think you’ve done something wrong or when you’ve chosen not to take action. So guilt sounds like, “I’ve done something really bad and wrong,” or, “I should have done something,” or, “I should have done something different.” So there are different types of guilt.

Now, my friend was experiencing what’s called depletion guilt, and that’s the sense that if you do something for yourself, if you meet your own needs, you’re taking something away from others. You’re depleting them in some way by taking care of yourself. So in my friend’s case, going to the Krav Maga class, she felt like she was burdening her husband with childcare duties. So some other examples of depletion guilt are, “Well, if I leave my husband, if I leave my wife, if I leave my boyfriend or girlfriend he’ll be miserable, she’ll be miserable. I can’t do that to them.” So of course that’s putting their interest ahead of your own, even if you’re unhappy.

“I’m turning down that great job in Chicago,” someone once said to me, “My mom was so upset when my sister moved to New York that I can’t do that to her. I will stay in LA even if it’s not the right thing for me.” I want to be an artist, but my parents will be so disappointed if I don’t go to law school. They’ve been counting on me joining the family firm since I was born. So that’s depletion guilt. If you choose you, you take something away from other people.

Self guilt is a different kind of guilt. That’s the guilt you feel as a result of actually existing in the world and for having any needs or wants at all. So the sense is that by needing anything, food, nurturing, comfort, security, love, anything you’re somehow exposing a deficiency in yourself and even a belief that it is fundamentally wrong to have needs. So self guilt sounds like, “I shouldn’t be so hungry, I shouldn’t be so tired, I shouldn’t want to rest, I shouldn’t want,” fill in the blank. I’ll go to whatever movie, or restaurant, or vacation you prefer. Well, this is my book obviously written pre-COVID. Can’t really say that now. I’ll do whatever you want. I’ll do whatever you want, it makes no difference to me where we go. Makes no difference. Whatever movie you want to see tonight, it’s fine.

I know someone who absolutely hated disaster movies, but her boyfriend just loved disaster movies. And she sat through disaster movie after disaster movie after disaster movie because she didn’t want to say, “Hey, how about we compromise and sometimes watch disaster movies and sometimes watch something else?” That would have made her feel way too guilty. Or, “Sure, I’ll babysit for you tomorrow night. It’s not a problem to cancel my plans.” Let me give up me to make you happy. Self guilt is, “I shouldn’t want anything for myself,” and self guilt involves a sense that your needs or wants will be burdensome to others, so you go out of your way to put the needs of others before your own.

All these types of guilt are related to food issues because of what’s called displacement. Instead of feeling guilty about something in our lives, we feel guilty for what we’re eating. Right? No, I don’t feel guilty about that. I don’t feel guilty about wanting to watch a rom-com with my boyfriend. I feel guilty because I ate too many crackers. Displacement. So remember that binge eating or any kind of emotional eating, it is a way to comfort or distract from this guilt.

Oh, do I have another caller? No, that was from before with Carly Gash. Okay, so any questions you have about guilt, any questions you have about shame, feel free to call me. 818-602-4929, 818-602-4929. I know some of you guys wanted to call me last week and we had technical difficulties because Ronan was gone. Ronan is back. Yay! Ronan is back, so feel free to give me a call. And I will just continue.

Actually, I was talking about shame. Let me talk more about shame here. So guilt is different from shame, which is about who you are as a person. Shame has to do with your essential character. So, whereas guilt sounds like, “Oh, there’s something really wrong with what I did,” or, “With what I didn’t do,” shame sounds like, “There’s something really bad and wrong about me.” About me, which is a horrible, horrible feeling. So, “I was really bad last night.” People tell me this all the time. “I was so bad last night, I ate pizza and cookies,” or, “I ate three carbs.” Whatever it is. If you feel guilty or ashamed for eating, what crimes are you accusing yourself of? If you feel bad about that, why? What’s the problem? If you feel good when you eat healthy food and bad when you eat something you think you shouldn’t, then your sense of self is overly tied to… Oh, new caller. Hi, caller.

Jenny:
Hi, Dr. Nina.

Dr Nina Savelle-Rocklin:
Who’s this? Is this Jenny?

Jenny:
I called to vent on the Dr. Nina Show.

Dr Nina Savelle-Rocklin:
Please vent away.

Jenny:
I love that you were talking about guilt because that was something I was really feeling last week, actually. Feeling a lot of guilt. But this week I’m feeling a lot of anxiety again and panicky, a bit panicky, and a little bit angry because…

Dr Nina Savelle-Rocklin:
Because?

Jenny:
Well, because I’ve been… The world is going back to the way we were before COVID. We’re not in a stay at home order anymore and I’m feeling anxious when I leave the house, noticing that no one is taking this seriously. We don’t have a cure yet and I’m getting invited to barbecues, and birthday parties, and fourth of July yacht parties, and I’m like, “What is [crosstalk 00:35:29]?”

Dr Nina Savelle-Rocklin:
You’ve been invited to a fourth of July yacht party? That’s pretty cool. Except, of course, standing on a yacht six feet a part ain’t going to happen, so I’m with you. Yes.

Jenny:
I got angry. And my girlfriend was like, “What is your problem?” And I was like, “What is your problem? This is crazy.”

Dr Nina Savelle-Rocklin:
Exactly. Yes.

Jenny:
And I was just wondering if I’m the only one feeling this way.

Dr Nina Savelle-Rocklin:
You are not the only one feeling this way. Okay, so listen. What you’re saying is that you’re feeling anxious and panicky and angry, but I’m sure it all relates to the same thing, which is that we are in a pandemic, there is no cure, there is no treatment, there is no vaccine, and yet nothing has changed. 117,000 people, maybe 118,000 people in this country are dead, and yet, people are acting as if it’s over. And that is extremely anxiety producing and enraging. Both.

Dr Nina Savelle-Rocklin:
I want to normalize your feeling that what you’re seeing is just a cultural denial. Some people just want to minimize it, “It can’t happen to us. It’s not so bad. It’s only for old people. It’s only people with underlying conditions. We’re safe. It’s been overstated.” All of these things, right? It’s all part of the denial that people have to say despite what the CDC says, despite what the World Health Organization says, despite what every scientist all over the world is telling us, despite the new spikes in Beijing, despite the higher rates, which are not due just to testing, right? So it’s really upsetting and scary to see people tell themselves and delude themselves that everything is okay when it’s not, and that makes you feel unsafe. And that’s anxiety producing.

Jenny:
Yeah. And you know [inaudible 00:37:45] one of my friends actually said, “Well, what are you, a germaphobe?”

Dr Nina Savelle-Rocklin:
Your friend said, “What are you, a germaphobe?”

Jenny:
And I was like, “What?” Yeah. And I was like, “What? What is that?” And then it almost was like an insult. I got defensive and then I was like, “Do you have to be a germaphobe to…” I don’t even know how to handle it anymore.

Dr Nina Savelle-Rocklin:
First of all, if I were in the studio… I have all these really cool buttons that Ronan gave me and there’s one where I have large crowd booing. It’s a stadium sized crowd booing and I would so be hitting that button right now.

Crowd:
Boo!

Dr Nina Savelle-Rocklin:
Boo. Large crowd stadium booing. Look, we’re in a pandemic, people are dying, people are in hospitals, nothing has changed, and someone says to you, “What are you, a germaphobe?” That’s a classic example of minimizing and denial. Someone saying, “What are you, a germaphobe?” Means, “Nah, it’s really not so bad. It’s nothing.” Minimizing is a defense mechanism to help people deal with something that they can’t deal with. So they tell themselves, “It’s not big, it’s small.” It’s not what… And they find all these ways, “No. The scientists are lying. It’s a conspiracy,” it’s this, it’s that. So they find ways to justify their denial.

Jenny:
Sure. I feel like some of my friends have FOMO, fear of missing out. And I have the opposite. I have fear of going out.

Dr Nina Savelle-Rocklin:
Fear of going out. FOGO. You have FOGO. You know what?

Jenny:
I have FOGO.

Dr Nina Savelle-Rocklin:
Jenny, I have FOGO too.

Jenny:
Okay. I’m glad I’m not the only one.

Dr Nina Savelle-Rocklin:
You are not the only one and I hear this every single day. I hear this when I talk to patients, or clients, or just talk to people in my Facebook group. I hear a lot of this, like, “How can this be? How is it that people are pretending that it’s fine when it’s not?” And it gives you a very helpless feeling, and then you feel very alone. I don’t know, I go out and there’s… maybe 10% of people are wearing masks. It’s infuriating and frightening. So of course you feel this way. And so your challenge is to be able to hold onto your convictions despite what other people may be saying.

Jenny:
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it’s been hard for me this whole time because this is… a lot of the symptoms of COVID are you can’t breathe right. It’s a lot of breathing, and my anxiety and panic always is like… that’s where it goes right toward, my throat. I can’t breathe, I can’t swallow, I’m choking, I’m suffocating. And so when I think about that person without a mask just walked past me, I think, “Oh my god. Is this it? Is this it? Is this how it’s going to happen to me?”

Dr Nina Savelle-Rocklin:
Okay, so partly you’re going to the possibility becomes the probability.

Jenny:
Yeah.

Dr Nina Savelle-Rocklin:
Yeah. So remind yourself that you have a mask. If that person without a mask walked by you, it’s not good, but it’s probably unlikely that as they’re walking by you outside in the street and you’re wearing a mask that they would… they would first have to be someone who’s a carrier, and in that moment you’d have to… A lot of things would have to happen for you to get there, but you go to, “Is this it?” So you’re in that moment catastrophising the possibility into a probability.

Jenny:
Yes. For sure. For sure. And maybe I am a germaphobe too, but damn it, I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

Dr Nina Savelle-Rocklin:
Well, I think everybody… I mean, I certainly turn into a germaphobe. I’m a germaphobe now. I wasn’t before, but I am now. That’s called self protection.

Jenny:
Yes. Oh, that’s a good word for it. Self protection. I’m going to use that when someone calls me a germaphobe next.

Dr Nina Savelle-Rocklin:
Yes, I am. I am very afraid of COVID. I am very phobic of COVID. Yes I am. I am a germaphobe. Indeed, I am. I probably wear the… That’s what you could say instead of defending yourself. So it sounds like you’re put in a position where you’ve got to defend yourself.

Jenny:
Yeah. It always seems that way, but I have to… I’m always defending and explaining myself. Why should I have to explain that I don’t want to go to a yacht party in the middle of what’s happening?

Dr Nina Savelle-Rocklin:
So here’s a tip for… Instead of defending or explaining or justifying, if someone says, “What’s wrong with you? Why are you turning down this yacht party?” You say, “What makes you think it’s okay to be going to this yacht party?” Just ask them a question. Why would you want to go on this yacht? What makes you think it’s okay to go? Just ask them a question so that they have to defend themselves and you don’t have to justify yourself for doing the right thing.

Jenny:
That’s a great [inaudible 00:43:42]. I’m going to do that. I’m definitely going to do that. And it’s interesting because a lot of these things actually aren’t legal yet. You’re not allowed to have these group gatherings that’s not family members of more than a certain amount of people. And when I say that to someone, they say, “Everyone’s here. Everyone’s out on the beach here. No one’s enforcing that,” as if that is an excuse. [inaudible 00:44:11] on beach. No one’s enforcing it. Then I get mad because I’m like, “Why isn’t [inaudible 00:44:18] enforcing this?”

Dr Nina Savelle-Rocklin:
Yeah. Exactly.

Jenny:
I’m full of lots of emotions.

Dr Nina Savelle-Rocklin:
You’re full of lots of emotion because you are feeling something strongly and never apologize for that. This is an inherently absurd situation. Well, everybody’s doing it, so it’s okay. And you’re paying attention to the science and to the reality and it is infuriating. And when you’re furious, you have lots of emotion. So rather than try to diminish your emotion or even justify it to yourself, normalize it. Of course you have it. How could you not feel this way?

Jenny:
Yes. That’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to take your advice, Dr. Nina. You’re very smart.

Dr Nina Savelle-Rocklin:
Well, I don’t know about that, but I can tell you that if you are feeling something strongly, it’s for a reason. And in this case, you know exactly what that reason is. By the way, do you have any history of not being heard, not being believed, not being taken seriously? Anything like that?

Jenny:
I’m sure, yeah. I’m sure. I’m sure I can think of… Yeah, I mean, my parents weren’t exactly, “Let’s hear your opinion, honey.” They were of the children are seen, not heard mentality of that generation.

Dr Nina Savelle-Rocklin:
Okay, so right then and there, that could also… Not being heard in the present can… Which on its own, in this situation and in this context, it is infuriating. Of course you feel this way. But if it also taps into a personal history of feeling like you didn’t have a voice, you weren’t heard, no one was listening, no one was paying attention, then it could also trigger you doubly. So it’s like the wounds of the past plus the situation in the present and then it’s super intense.

Jenny:
Yeah, that [inaudible 00:46:38] makes a lot of sense because I did grow up in a very misogynistic kind of house. Not just household, but that generation. It was before all the… I mean, it was after the major women’s movement, but it was still a very misogynistic mentality when I grew up in the ’80s and ’90s and when I was a child growing up and learning how to be a woman. And women were not… And my mom, they were… women were housewives and mothers and the men ruled the roost. As a woman, I was probably never, ever listened to by a man until I moved out of my house and screamed for what I needed and wanted, which was probably not til college. So I was probably stifled most of my childhood. I can’t think of something exact, but I know I can relate to those feelings of not being heard, for sure.

Dr Nina Savelle-Rocklin:
Well, you are not stifled now. You have a voice.

Jenny:
Thank you.

Dr Nina Savelle-Rocklin:
I am so glad you’re calling the show to use it. And anytime you want to call and share what you are feeling, believe me, there are people out there who are feeling the same way, exactly the same way, and you’re giving yourself a voice, you’re being heard, but you’re also legitimizing other people’s similar thoughts and feelings.

Jenny:
Great. Thank you, Dr. Nina, for always letting me vent on the show.

Dr Nina Savelle-Rocklin:
Or, as I like to put it, share.

Jenny:
Share, yes.

Dr Nina Savelle-Rocklin:
Share.

Jenny:
That’s a good word, share.

Dr Nina Savelle-Rocklin:
Because venting has slightly a negative connotation like, “Ugh, you’re venting.” To me. But sharing, expressing, emoting, yeah. Sharing and expressing yourself. That’s what it’s about.

Jenny:
Well, thank you for letting me share.

Dr Nina Savelle-Rocklin:
Thank you for sharing and I look forward to your next share. Sharing is caring.

Jenny:
Okay. Sharing is caring. Thank you, Dr. Nina.

Dr Nina Savelle-Rocklin:
Okay. Bye, Jenny.

And that does it for this episode of the Dr. Nina Show. I am here every Wednesday at 10:00 AM Pacific so you can listen live on the radio station or on Instagram and you can also listen later on Apple podcasts or anywhere where you get a podcast. So thank you so much for joining me. I’m so glad to spend this hour with you. And again, be safe, be healthy, and I’ll see you next week. Bye for now.

 

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