Transcript | PPP102: 

Belonging and Cultivating Your Thrive Tribe

[00:00:00] Ellen:
Hello, and welcome back to the Potential Psychology Podcast. I'm Ellen, your co-host for this season of the podcast, because with me, of course, is Marie McLeod. Hi, Marie.

[00:00:13] Marie:
Hi, how are you? Ellen?

[00:00:15] Ellen:
I'm well, thank you. It's been a great week. We have been focusing on our, what went well exercises, but before we go into that and a little bit about the importance of belonging and connection, perhaps I'll just, for anyone who perhaps didn't hear us last week as we introduced this season.

And or, you know, maybe last week was just too long ago. We can all, I think we all have those moments. This season of the Potential Psychology Podcast, we are focusing on how to thrive and that is exploring the beacon model. A model of thriving a model born from positive psychology that Marie has developed to create some wonderful language and metaphors around the skills that we need to really thrive and flourish in life.

And as we said last week, your interest Marie is particularly, or certainly most recently has been around how people thrive through struggle. That's right isn't it?

[00:01:19] Marie:
Yes. Thanks Ellen.

[00:01:21] Ellen:
And the, I suppose, you know, for us a little bit of context in a global pandemic, it has been a struggle in lots of ways for so many of us. I think there's always points in life that are a struggle. One of the challenges, and I know we're talking about what went well, so we will talk about what went well, but you know, certainly in our household over the last week, we've had some news around the health and wellbeing of family members, of kids, friends, things that have kind of knocked us around a little bit.

And, you know, even if you take the big things, like a pandemic out of it, We always have

elements in our lives, we will always get difficult news. We will always have times of stress and struggle. And so what we're focusing on really for this season is giving us all the tools and Marie and I are going to put those into practice.

We are putting them into practice as we go the tools to be able to remain resilient and even out, kind of smooth out, perhaps some of those challenges and our emotional response to those challenges as they confront us day-to-day. So, Marie, what are we talking about today?

[00:02:31] Marie:
Well, to add thanks Ellen first of all. Just so I just want to acknowledge, I suppose. One of the things we're going to talk about today is opening up in terms of our relationships. So I, suppose I just wanted to acknowledge as well that, for all of us, even if we know all the science, we do struggle sometimes it's not like we're immune. Just like you say, you know, having some difficult news in the week or even it's a funny thing, isn't it? You know? Here in Victoria, we've been led out of lockdown. And so you'd think we would all be kind of joyous and celebrating, but it's confronting for many of us.

And I, you know, I'm an extrovert, but I have to admit, you know, someone said great description to me. And it's like being a puppy and the gates being left open, and you're sort of standing at the gate going, you know, do I want to go out?

[00:03:18] Ellen:
Is it safe?

[00:03:19] Marie:
Yeah. And, then some of that sort of you know, feeling like sort of social fitness, where am I at with that?

And I know for me, I've been feeling a bit, anxious, it's great use, and we get to go on a six day hike with my kids and, they've been bursting for that. And it's been canceled so many times and I'm like, 'yoohoo!' but I'm terrified and I feel anxious and I feel overwhelmed. And so I think we're all dealing with all of those feelings.

It might've been, at the moment because we're coming out of lockdown, but these things happen all the time. Don't they, there are things, events that happen. And I think last time I used that, saying, you know, it's not about waiting for the storms to pass. It's about learning to dance in the rain. And so, you know, I am very conscious that at the moment, sort of practicing what I preach to navigate some of that anxiety, that I've been feeling with the sort of changes occurring.

So we have been working on what went well and, I was really glad this week that we had said that we would do that. And I got back on my Delightful app and I was just looking back at it before. And it's fantastic not just in the moment each day to be noticing the three things that went well and why they went well.

But at the end of the week, you know, because I've done it before. There's a record in there for me of things that have gone well. So just to remind those of us that weren't with us perhaps last week, or might not have got to listen yet. What we asked or the quest that we set for people was to do an activity called what went well and why, and that was just writing down three things that went well and why they went well everyday for 7 to 10 days. And we're doing that to rewire our brains away from that negativity bias, that tendency, we have to focus on what's wrong rather than what's strong. And so for me, I did do that. I used the Delightful app, which I downloaded on my Android it's available Apple and Android, and it was just fantastic.

The little things sometimes. Sometimes it's just, literally on some days and some clients have said to me that they've woken up or they thought, well, I've got my arms and legs. Do you know what I mean? It might be that simple or it might be, you know, I might see my nephews or my godson's and have a cuddle. I might sort of go to the beach for a walk.

I might get to I'm just having a look here. For instance, someone offered me to, help me with something that I was doing that was difficult around content creation. My little boy was sleeping in the tent for the first time that he was so excited about having ice creams at the beach.

My sister encouraging me to do a piece of work that I'd be putting off for a long time cuddles with, with my son, Jamie. What else? Just, you know, just these little things that people, we just forget to notice. So I definitely felt that that was a real lift for me doing that and again, as I said, you know, I noticed for myself and others, you know, partway through the week,

I started to notice it in the moment. Oh yeah, I'll put that on my list tonight. When I, when I write them down, how was it for you, Ellen? Did you get a chance to do your, what went well and why activity?

[00:06:19] Ellen:
I did. And I'm so glad that you suggested the Delightful app to me, because I'm always a fan of technology. I love an app. And so there was an extra motivation for me that instead of just thinking about it or writing it down in a journal, which, you know, okay, nice stationary is nice but I'm usually writing on scrappy bits of notebook and things that are sitting around, so the app was fantastic for that. And one of the things I really loved about it is that it has the little prompt. So if you can't necessarily think, cause I think starting from a zero, especially if you're not feeling it your best at the end of the day, when you are perhaps feeling tired or overwhelmed or you know, those

positive things aren't as obvious to you because of your frame of mind. The little apps that it had in there. So one of the ones that struck me was, you know, what are you most proud of yourself for? Because that's not something I would have thought of in terms of what went well, you know, I don't know.

Maybe that's probably everyone we have, you know, well, this happened and that happened. So it's all of these sort of external things that happened to us that we consider to be good or bad. And therefore there's no obvious external things happening to us that we feel good again and a bit of comments, then yeah, but when it's something internal, something

[00:07:27] Marie:
were you proud? Were you proud of? I love that.Yeah

[00:07:29] Ellen:
You know, what were you most proud of? So, you know, there are things that, and maybe that is, I handled a difficult conversation well, or I, as you say, you know, I, I conquered a task that I'd been putting off for me, there has been some content generation for those of us in this kind of digital field.

And in the entrepreneurial field, it seems to be a perpetual cycle of content creation as we call it. So I'm working on an online program at the moment that I'll let listeners know a little bit about, further into a series. And I had really struggled with getting the content down. I was procrastinating a lot, so had a really good episode yesterday afternoon of just nailing all of that stuff.

And it was something I was really proud of myself for being able to do that. Another thing has been navigating some difficult conversations around the Covid vaccination mandates for my role in, the leadership program that I run. So managing events, managing people's expectations, having to constantly change things.

I think that's something that. anybody who's had to try and organize any kind of event recently, you know, having to keep pivoting and keep changing and the rules keep changing. So you've got to keep adapting with it and being able to do that, you know, without anybody completely falling apart perhaps has been something that I was able to say that I was proud of.

So another different way, a different lens through which to consider what went well, I suppose.

[00:08:53] Marie:
That's fantastic. So you were actually able to turn something negative. Into a positive in a way, because if we think about, you know, managing people through difficult situations, that thing itself, we might think all of that was really hard and difficult and overwhelming and stressful. But we can think about the fact that we got through it and we can think about, you know, how we handled it.

And so I really liked that sort of lens on it as well. What was I proud of? And I think you're right. I think it's important to realize that people are at different stages. And if you have been experiencing a low mood or depression or anxiety, you know, some people find this hard. So when I have worked with people with clinically diagnosed depression, you know, just finding the smallest things, like I felt the sun on my face today, or I got out of bed today or I, you know, looked up and acknowledged someone or I stepped outside my comfort zone in some way.

Right. So, you know, please don't think for a moment I just wanted to say to our listeners that it has to be things that are magnificent or, you know, amazing, just the tiniest things. This is just about retraining our brain to start to notice some of the things that are a little lifts are little things that we're better today than yesterday.

And so I think it is important. And I think that, you know, what was I proud of helps us to do that because it says, you know, how did I show up that made me proud.

[00:10:18] Ellen:
And I think that's really important. And to be, you know, another experience that I had, another of my, what went well that I recorded was probably at the other end of the spectrum when I was, I was feeling cranky and

Overwhelmed. And I was really struggling. I mentioned this kind of news that we'd had about things that had had an impact on people that we know.

And I was just feeling so hopeless and helpless about not being able to do anything about this set of circumstances that was, you know, pretty rotten for someone who we care about. And I took the dog for a walk, which is, again, one of my well-being strategies is to take the dog for a walk and I just trying to stay really, really present in that moment and enjoy, you know, what went well.

It was, it, it was that I actually got out and went for a walk and did it, and that the sun was shining after a day when the sun hadn't shown and here in Ballarat, it's still pretty cold at this time of year. So we appreciate every little bit of warmth and you know, just. Yeah,

those micro moments. And I know we're going to talk about micro moments today, those micro moments of just being where you just think, you know what, there's a hole that I can't do anything about, but I'm just going to absorb this little piece right now.

And that's more than good enough.

[00:11:29] Marie:
Control what you can, right. Control what you can let go of what you can't and, you know, to be able to do that is something that went well and is something to be proud of. So, excellent! Well, it sounds like we did a great job on practicing what we preach for our search first quest. And maybe now we'll move on to the topic for today, which is the B of beeping BEACON Belonging.

So yeah, looking forward to getting into that with you.

[00:11:53] Ellen:
Absolutely. And I just wondered before we do that, just let our listeners know that we would love to hear about how you went with your went well exercises. So you can, of course you can email either one of us through our websites and we'll give you the details to those at the end of the show today, you can also find us

both or just communicate through the Potential Psychology Podcast. We'll have all of our promotion and our little snippets that we share of the show. So if you see those on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, pop your comments in there, let us know what went well for you, because we'd love to be able to share those with with everyone next week when we reconvene.

But we are indeed talking today about, Belonging. And what do we mean by belonging in this context, Marie? Why is it important?

[00:12:44] Marie:
Thanks Ellen. So I guess, you know, it's in here, we're talking about belonging and close connections and I guess there's, you know, there's a slight difference here because we know of course that having close connections with others is foundational to our wellbeing, and all of the science tells us that.

But what if we're not closely connected? And so I want to sort of address that today, but also we can have moments of connection and we can have belonging. And so when I talk about belonging, what I am thinking about, and the way that I define it is that we have relationships with others where we feel safe,

we feel seen, we feel valued and heard and where we know that we will be sued if we suffer without judgement and that's important, right? That we, and I guess without judgment means that that's, what's helping us to feel safe. So having that sense of psychological safety, where, if I'm struggling, I could call you at two in the morning and know that I could tell you that something was, was going on for me.

And you wouldn't judge me that, you know, we have that kind of knowing of each other that says I will, I will sort of unconditionally be here for you. And so for me, that's what I mean by belonging and other people might define it differently. And really for me then when it comes to thinking about the kind of connections that we want to work towards.

And I say that deliberately, because for some people, when they're struggling, they've become isolated and they may not have enduring connections yet. And we're going to give some sort of tips around that as well. But we want to really think about. Cultivating or sustaining what I call a Thrive Tribe. So, who are those people that we can surround ourselves with that help us to thrive?

Who are those people that lift us more than lower us? And, and who are those people who we feel really safe with consistently that we feel like we can open up with that. We feel like they'll be there for us in good times and bad. And so this is something I feel. Very passionately about. And I think, you know, some of us are experiencing relationships that are a bit superficial and that are in authentic and there where we are in a culture currently of a lot of social media that just shows each other, just the shiny bits of our lives that can leave us feeling alone and isolated and ostracized and not enough because our lives don't look like that.

So I don't know how it is for you, Ellen, whether any of that sort of resonates with you at all.

[00:15:26] Ellen:
Well, it's interesting. I was just reflecting on it as he was speaking Marie because we've got a situation here where you're an extrovert and I'm an introvert. And so I've always one of the things about this piece around connection. And whilst it's been a really interesting experience, I think for me, working from home, I've worked from home for a long time being more isolated, perhaps the, normally we have been because of lockdowns and other situations and whilst there is a part of me that's gone, totally okay with that cause that's how I roll anyway. I don't need, you know, I, I appreciate the importance of those elements that you were speaking of, of the, the need to be seen to the need to be not judged. And I think there is. some really interesting conversations to be had perhaps beyond what we have the capacity to talk about today, around that, you know, quality, not quantity and, and who do you surround yourself with and the boundaries that we set around our relationships, but as an introverted person, I've never really felt a strong need to have a lot of people around me. Those quality connections, obviously vital because I'm just as human as everybody else, but it's certainly not in terms of quantity.

And there's no one that I would ever ring at two in the morning that I could imagine unless I really, you know I dunno it was a life and death emergency, but that's just because that's who I am. So,

[00:16:45] Marie:
yeah,

[00:16:45] Ellen:
there's lots of different elements to this connection piece. Isn't there?

[00:16:50] Marie:
I love, yeah, I think that's that's is a very useful thing that you raise about introverts and extroverts. And I love Susan Cain's book, the, The Quiet Power of

[00:17:01] Ellen:
Quiet.

[00:17:02] Marie:
Susan Cain's book speaks very much to that. And I think so I love that you've raised that because it is so important to realize our different needs. And so I would say, you know, that whatever we talk about here on the, on the podcast together, it's about being discerning consumers of what we say, right? Because yes, I'm an extrovert and you might be an introvert. And so how much is the right amount? And so we might give you a smorgasbord of things and I might say one thing and, and you might say another thing and what will people like to choose that works for their unique circumstances.

And I would always encourage that. However, whether we are an introvert or whether we are an extrovert, we are not islands we, we have a need for others.

[00:17:45] Ellen:
I think that was the thing that sorry I was getting, because I remembered, I clearly lost my train of thought earlier, but that's what I was going to say about that. The interesting experience of the pandemic and those long periods of greater social isolation has been it's actually made me realize how important some of those relationships and those connections are that even as an introverted person.

And when we talk about introversion and extroversion, we're talking about the need to gain energy from other people. So, you know, traditionally extroverts gain energy from the experience of being surrounded by other people, from the interactions with other people, introverts tend to find that more depleting and gain energy from their inner world.

And so, you know, very happy in my inner world, very happy on my own, very happy with all of that but I really started to notice that I was perhaps more trapped in my own head than I needed to be, that I wasn't getting the perspectives that I got from being around other people. And just those micro moments, which we're going to talk about, aren't we? Those micro moments of being in the presence of somebody else particularly you know, in a, in a fun and more well fun is probably the best word for it really, most social environment. I don't know that that was certainly my experience was it actually made me more acutely aware of the need for me, even as quite an introverted person to be around other people.

[00:19:04] Marie:
I think that's fascinating because for me it was almost the opposite like that, I was surprised how I could enjoy quite and, and I, I've sort of reflected on that myself that now I feel like it's turned down somehow my need to be around other people, except except I'm such a, this is, you know, we were talking before I think about how creating content can be so difficult for many of us that work in this kind of field.

And I am so extroverted. I'll joke about this, but it's quite true. I'm so extroverted. I need to talk to think you know. So for me to try and write down a bunch of stuff without talking to anyone is literally painful, painful for me. So there has been poor, my poor daughter, I've just about chewed her ear off at times and we've walked and I've just needed to talk things out to think.

So thank goodness I have three teenage children at home and I'm sure they get sort of sick of it sometimes, but it gets really bad, I talk dog.

[00:20:03] Ellen:
I go for the walk. I go for the walk so that there isn't anybody talking because I need to process it all on my own. So what look, you know, I've been talking a bit in the work that I do about the silver linings of the pandemic and trying to find so again, in the context of this positive, perspective, you know, what are the silver linings?

And perhaps there has been a significant piece, at least for us. And I suspect for many of our listeners too, around self-awareness. And what we've discovered about ourselves from these experiences?

[00:20:27] Marie:
Absolutely very profound in terms of, you know, our ability to tolerate distress and become to appreciate and have gratitude for something that we would have never expected to have enjoyed. That's extraordinary for me. I think that we'll look back on this time. Very lovingly, you know the sort of lockdowns that we, we sort of would never, never, never thought that we would have coped with and into it, let alone come to find peace with for some of us.

Now, let's all talk about our experiences have been very different. I haven't been, I've been locked down with teens rather than toddlers. And you know, and I haven't had my sort of a financial hurt and I haven't had many other things that could have, you know, profoundly affected that experience.

So when we are talking about that sense of belonging and connection, we've acknowledged that it's different, whether you're an introvert and extrovert, and there are many other things that kind of play into that as well. And it's, it's about finding the right amount for each of us, but acknowledging that it needs to be there.

You know, we don't do so well. Without anyone at all, and it doesn't have to be lots of people. It can be, as you say, it can be quality, not quantity, but we do need to have this little or larger or, or multiple thrive tribes. And thinking about the fact that we don't often think about who's in our tribe.

I don't think many of us have fallen into friendships and that's sometimes okay. But you know, it's maybe useful to do a bit of a, you know, an audit sounds a bit sort of you know, a bit rough, but, but just scanning our mind over, you know, other people that we spend time with people who help us to be who we want to be and feel how we want to feel.

And I'm not sure that we've given that much thought or ways to who do I feel good around. And so I want to encourage people just to think about that a little into, to choose, to invest more in those people who they feel that are good for them and to be aware of toxic relationships. And as you sort of mentioned before, how do we set boundaries?

How do we trim the tribe if we to and that sort of whole other conversation, but if we need to, we can sit boundaries and we can move away somewhat from some relationships that are not serving us, but,

[00:22:42] Ellen:
And I think Marie, I was going to say, I think one of the challenges, perhaps for many people regarding this is feeling that we're allowed to do that. So feeling that we have permission, and I know for me, certainly when it comes to issues of permission or whether that's around taking time out self care, alone time, whatever it might be, looking at this permission issued feeling allowed to do it and looking at it through a wellbeing, mental health lens has been enormously helpful.

It's almost that I've got to put the mask on myself before I can, you know, the a mask go myself to help myself before I can help others. So if I'm allowed to focus my attention on some relationships ahead of others because at this point in time, they lift me up rather than drag me down, then that's okay because I'm doing this for the benefit of my mental health and wellbeing.

But I think that permission piece is something that people really struggle with isn't it?

[00:23:42] Marie:
Yeah, it is. And I think it is interesting. Cause you know, obviously there are certain people we have to interact with that we don't get a choice over. God forbid they're partners or family or parents or children, you know, sometimes we do have people in our lives that, that lower us more than lift us. Or we go through ups and downs.

Let's face it in our relationships and I'm not encouraging us to walk away at the first sign of trouble because we know that, you know, that is just life. However, there are other relationships that we can have more intentionality around and it's those ones, I guess, that I'm asking people to think about.

Oftentimes, you know, I coach people who. Yeah, they they've forgotten that they do have a choice about who they spend their time with and maybe they don't feel that they've been given permission. And there's a sort of element of worthiness, you know, that says I am worthy of love and respect. I am worthy of being treated well.

And if I feel like people are taking advantage or they're not showing up for me, how I want to, I can set a boundary. And that might just mean that I choose to spend less time with you, or I choose to invest more heavily in other relationships and move towards them being my, my tribe. It's just something, I think that we, we let roll on sometimes. And you know, it is just interesting to think. Well, if, if you know, one of the, sort of more famous studies, a 75 year Harvard study, that, that, that studied, what is it? What are those elements that help people to live a good life? And the single finding from that was having close connections with others.

So if we don't have that, surely if it's more important than money, which it was found to be, why are we not spending a little more time? And intentionality thinking about that, both in terms of what we pull in and what we hold back from ourselves. So look, that might be a little controversial for some, and it's, you know, obviously something we can have more conversations about, but you know, what I like to think about then is, well, how, how do we do that?

We know why we know that it's, you know, foundational to thrive. We know that it's about having close connections that are enduring, but it's also about the fact that we can, as you mentioned briefly, before we can have these little micro moments of connection that also lift us, that we often move past in our day that our relationships and our connections with people can become transactional because we are running around, you know, busily saying to our partners or our children or our neighbors, you know, did you put out the bins or can you grab the milk or

Come on, we need to, we need to go you know, we're driving out of the driveway. We don't, we don't stop. We don't slow down to connect oftentimes. And knowing that there are ways that we can do that in a micro-moment that lift us and the change what's happening in our bodies in a way that helps us to thrive.

That's what I want us to look at a little bit more and to set our quest for this week.

[00:26:42] Ellen:
Yes. And I have to say, this is, I'm excited about this one because, and I don't know if it's my introverted nature or just who I am, but somebody who likes to process the world, especially having been quite involved 24 hours a day, seven days a week with the family in lockdown then and wanting to be able to process the world on my own in many ways, but these micro moments that you can have with strangers can't you? Because these are things that I have noticed really do make a difference both to me and I think to the other person too.

So tell us a little bit about what a micro moment of connection is.

[00:27:20] Marie:
Yeah, so I love this. This is some research that comes from professor Barbara Fredrickson, and she calls this positivity resonance about the, the way that we resonate two between two people. It's a bit of a mouthful. So I'm, I sometimes call it micro moments of connection and really what that means is, there are sort of three components to this.

And the first one is that we need to have eye contact when we are connecting with other people. And so whether it's a stranger or a loved one again, often we're moving too fast. Often we're looking down too often to actually connect with our eyes and so, there is neuroscience behind what happens when we catch each other's eyes.

And so the first thing is that we need to look at someone and catch their eyes. The second part of it is that we, that we share a positive emotion of some kind. So we elicit, you know, maybe we have it a laugh, we give them a compliment, we elicit pride or gratitude, or we have kindness. And so whilst that might sound a bit complex, it might just be that I say, Ellen, you're look gorgeous in that bright pink, pink color.

It really makes your eyes shine. Or that I might say to someone, oh, look at this gorgeous day that we're having today. Or, you know, I'm, I'm walking out walking and I see someone and I comment about how cute the dog is or their child is or all that, if it's my, someone I know, then I can express gratitude to them, or I can say something about something that they've done or I can do a little act of kindness.

So these don't have to be complicated things, but just, or if you're you're good at telling jokes, you could say something that's a little bit of a laugh between you.

[00:28:59] Ellen:
I was thinking about that actually, because I think for anyone who has humor as one of their strengths, and we'll talk about strengths a little later my husband has humor as one of his top strengths and he does that, you know, you can see that's how he connects with strangers is perhaps they don't always totally get his sense of humor, but, you know yeah.

That's, that is absolutely the way he rolls. So with strangers, with anyone it's, you know, you just make a little joke or a funny comment

[00:29:25] Marie:
Have a little laugh

[00:29:25] Ellen:
that you can see does, does people up. One of the things I try to do is just smile and say, thank you. So whenever I'm in a shop or someone serving me or helping me, they're just really, Yeah, Try to make eye contact, give them a big smile and just say, oh, thank you so much. Or, you know, I really appreciate it. And you just hope that those little moments, even just the smiling thing, you know, those mirror neurons are things that replicate our emotion in somebody else. Being able to create those micro moments, as say, which is why I like the term so much, that it doesn't need to be big or complex.

It doesn't need to be even considered necessarily, except I suppose that is cultivating a habit over time, maybe, or some consciousness of intention, as you said around trying to do a little bit more of this and then paying attention to how it makes feel. We don't know how it's going to make the other person feel.

We could probably, you know, make you make a guess or a judgment depending on how they respond. And not everyone will want to respond positively or receptively but that's in that realm of things that you can't control. So in creating that little bit of heaven or intention around just trying to find those micro-moments

[00:30:32] Marie:
That's right. And certainly the, you know, Barbara Frigid since research shows that it does in that moment, that's the third part, right? Is that if you catch someone's eyes and in a really heartfelt way and say , and I love that, just thank you. It doesn't need to be anything more than that. Just a really heartfelt thank you.

When you have someone's eyes and you say thank you in a heartfelt way. Or any of those other things, a joke or a compliment or whatever, you actually come into this mind-meld for a little moment, just for a tiniest of moments, you feel felt by each other, you feel seen and safe and in a little bubble of shared care.

They've seen me, I've seen them. And that releases actually this, you know, oxytocin, this care and connect hormone when neuro peptide through our body, which is so good for us and so calming. And so sort of good for our capacity to thrive. So all in that micro-moment these beautiful things happen to us and to that other person and that little moment of shared care.

So those three steps that happen just so quickly catching their eyes a shared positive emotion of some kind. And then just noticing the little bubble, the way that you walk away with a little smile on the inside, or a little warmth from having had that connection and the reason I love this so much is that it is as applicable to someone who has no one as it is to someone who has everyone.

I, that, you know, but because you know, when I've worked with people who have been experiencing struggle for a long time, they might be very isolated. And so it's very confronting if I'm to go in there and say, hey guys, well guess what the most important thing to thriving is having close connections to others, or do you feel like shit, if you hear that your, isolated and lonely, that just makes you feel worse.

So when I started first working with people with clinically diagnosed mental illness and sharing positive psychology, and this is one of the foundational pieces, I was really stumped by that at first. And I thought, well, how am I going to go in there and say we'll get out there and connect more when they don't have anyone.

And so the very strong usefulness of this tool is that you can do it as much with strangers as you can with loved ones. When you do it with strangers, you're doing it in a micro-moment and you're experiencing that little lift. And so these are the sort of,these moments are sort of the tiny engines that drive our wellbeing.

The, the, the moments that if you have more of them create this, this lift to out to our moods, that we really you know are, are helping us to feel good and function well. But if we do have lots of people, you know, we do have a tribe, then these are about safe sustaining and maintaining the connections we have, because love doesn't just sit there,

like a stone. It has to be, as, as Frederickson was say, it's more like bread that needs to be made and remade over and over again. And we do that by investing in each other through these micro-moments. So, you know, rather than running past each other and did you put out the bins and if you fed the dog and pick up your shoes or whatever, those little moments where we catch each other's eyes and say you know, how are you, or did you see this? Or I love that, or thank you for this and, and here's your sandwich or whatever, but we do with our eyes as well and we have that oxytocin. It's just, to me, it's a very useful and broad thing that we, we can, we can use.

[00:34:05] Ellen:
Yeah. I love the phrase. The little reminder that love is a verb, not a noun. So it's something that we do.

Not a thing. And we could probably do the same with connection. Isn't it connection. It's not something that you have or don't have, it's something that you do. And that probably brings us quite nicely then to our quest for this week.

What is it that you and I, because we are absolutely in this with all of our listeners and our listeners we'll be working on in terms of bolstering connection and perhaps finding some of those micro moments for for them to, for us all to thrive.

[00:34:40] Marie:
So this is your quest. So you've been hearing about this idea of these micro-moments of connection, and I'm going to kind of, you know, amp it up for those who need a little more, like it's like, we need an exercise class where you have the modifications, so, pick your own level of the quest because, you know, I want to acknowledge that for some people, it might sound very simple to you and I, to catch people's eyes, but for some people that's not easy. You know, if you have been experiencing struggle or if you're depressed or you're low in self-confidence and worthiness, you might go around looking at your feet most of the time and simply to raise your eyes takes courage. And so I do want to say to those people that, you know, practice that just raising your eyes, even if it's just for a split second.

And for you, as silly as it might sound, the safety might be in doing that with, you know, older people or people walking dogs or people who have children, and that you can then sort of make a comment about that or the person you're buying the coffee from. So your task is just to raise your eyes and see if you possibly can do a smile and a thank you.

And celebrating when you do your, what went well that you caught their eyes through too, if you are regularly connecting in that way, the bit that I would like you to do with your loved ones is to catch their eyes and to share the positive emotion. But I also want you to focus on opening up a little more than you normally would.

And so one of the things we know that's really important and in my blueprint for belonging that I share in my, BEACON e-learning, which is called KNOCK the, the O of KNOCK is about Opening up and that's because as the beautiful Brene Brown says that true belonging only happens when we share our whole or Thintech selves with the world.

And so we have this tendency to be you know, how are you, Ellen? Fine. Thanks. How are you, Marie? Fine. Great. Well, what does that tell us? And how does that help us to connect closely? It doesn't really. So the second part of the quest is to go beyond, are you okay? Both in the question and the response to, to open up and authentically go further, say, you know, like I did at the start of this, I said, you know what? I'm feeling a bit anxious. I've got the six day hike coming up. I'm glad for my kids, I'm going to do it, but quietly I'm flipping terrified. And I was awake last night, thinking about it, I've woken, feeling sick, going, how am I going to pull that off in the five days I've got packing all that stuff and hiking all that way.

And so, you know, that I'm sharing how that really feels. Rather than just saying, woohoo we get to do it. So the opening up means that we are. Being more authentic and we are sharing the vulnerable parts of ourselves because if we want to deepen our relationships, that's what we need to do. So your quest is to catch someone's eyes for a micro moment.

And if, and when you're ready with the people you feel that you can trust and safe with opening up more than you normally would and, and sharing some of those things that might be struggles for you. How does that sound for you Ellen, as the interim.

[00:37:41] Ellen:
Yeah.

Well, to be honest, it does play a little bit confronting.

Yeah.

I know. And what it is, I think is that this has been something that I have been working on personally myself, because again, you know, I, I know the reasons why I have. It's doing it with this extra level of intention, it's setting it as a quest or a challenge.

So I would probably, for everybody listening, you know, for me being a little vulnerable about this, this does feel confronting. If it feels confronting to you to, you know, yeah, about the small steps.

I think too, the other thing to the point to make is for anyone in our neurodiverse community, for whom I taught in tact is actually a particular issue because it's not something that we're all wired to do, then thinking about how else, you know, if that is the biggest struggle, then, you know, can you maybe

put the hotter part of that to one side and find the other ways to do it. So still the, the opening up the vulnerability, the sharing and the sharing could be little things, you know, maybe it is just saying to somebody for whom you would ordinarily respond, as you say, Marie with, you know, when they say, how are you say, oh, I'm okay.

Or I'm fine. If you're not fine you know, maybe even just - I'm actually having a bit of a rough day today and you don't need to say anymore.

[00:39:01] Marie:
or something.

[00:39:01] Ellen:
Yeah, I'm a little anxious today. You don't need to take it. I think people often we don't do that because we feel like then the other person's going to feel that they need to somehow fix this, but no, that's not how this stuff works.

You're allowed to share that I'm feeling anxious or I'm feeling worried or I'm feeling overwhelmed and, and just have it out there as a moment of connection, rather than an invitation for somebody to feel that they need to somehow solve that problem for you. So this is quite complex stuff. So little small steps

[00:39:30] Marie:
steps, baby steps always end. The chances are that if you share something, the other person will share something. You know, it's kind of like a, a bit of a show in town, but I love that. And thank you very much that the reminder about the fact of neuro-diversity I have a son on the spectrum and it was very remiss of me not to think about that, but if you can't do eye contact, if that feels uncomfortable for you, then matching your voice tone, matching your body language.

Because we also in the age where we might be. We might not be in face-to-face. So how can we use those other ways of kind of showing that we're there, showing that we're very present in that moment. So, so that's great. And thanks, Ellen for reminding everyone that this is about just doing a little more than you ordinarily would right?

Cause I'm extroverted. It's sound like an open book. I, you know, so it's great to be reminded that it's, you know, it is, it is harder for some people than others and you just own where you're at and take a baby step forward. That's

[00:40:26] Ellen:
beautiful way. Beautiful way to remind it. So that's what we're going to be working on, everyone. Both Marie and I, and hopefully yourselves, let us know how you going. Give us some feedback on the socials. Get in touch. As always, you can find all of the details. We'll put some of the resources and research that we've mentioned in today's episode, in the show notes for the show.

So that's potential.com.au/ podcast. We did mention, Marie mentioned the Harvard study into longevity, which there's a fantastic Ted Talk which we'll put them in the show notes for that one, along with perhaps a little bit more about positivity, resonance and the research for those who like to get a little kind of nerdy about that sort of stuff.

And of course you can find [email protected] or search needtoseesomeone in your social platforms. You can find us Potential Psychology or at potential.com.au. Next week, what are we talking about next week, Marie?

[00:41:25] Marie:
Next week we were talking about Engagement. So I'm looking forward to that conversation to Ellen and checking back in on how we got on with our connection quest.

[00:41:34] Ellen:
Yes, and of course engagement has absolutely nothing to do with the precursor to marriage. We're talking here about things like flow. Things like being in the moment, getting a sense of energy from playing to our strengths. A really important one of my favorite topics of POS psych research and practice, because it's something that we talk a lot about workplaces, which is kind of where I hang out.

So that's next week on the Potential Psychology Podcast our special, How to Thrive series with Marie McLeod, we look forward to seeing you then.