“I want to teach people how to learn to use their brain for change so that they can actually guide their brain, and their thoughts, and their feelings, their heart, and their behaviors to where they want to go, but you can’t do that in an anxious state.”- Sandra Vesterstein
The GlowJo Podcast presents the brilliant Sandra Vesterstein. Sandra is a coach specializing in helping people to overcome anxiety. Not only is Sandra an incredible coach, but she teaches and certifies people in Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP), coaching, hypnotherapy, and Reiki. Sandra is also the founder of the Thrive Learning Collective, your one-stop shop to find everything you need. Whether you want to work with a life coach or a certified hypnotherapist or an NLP practitioner, Thrive Learning Collective is the place to be.
Sandra and I have an insightful conversation on anxiety and the powerful approaches Sandra uses and teaches others to manage anxiety. Her perspective makes the conversation relatable and valuable!
How’d you like this episode? Let’s connect on Instagram at @leannekallal and @theglowjo and remember to subscribe to The GlowJo Podcast to hear all the advice, have all your questions answered, and listen to some really amazing conversations.
To stay up to date with everything happening at The GlowJo, join the weekly newsletter at www.theglowjo.com
Thank you for being a part of The GlowJo community! ♥️
[00:00:00] Leanne Kallal: Welcome to The GlowJo Podcast, I’m your host, Leanne Kallal and every week I’ll be sharing thought provoking, soul soothing and inspiring conversations. From personal stories to insider tips and tricks, at The GlowJo, you can always find what you need when you need it most. This is permission. Permission to be you, permission to be messy, permission to feel all the feels.
[00:00:30] So what do you say? Let’s do this together. I’ll see you in The GlowJo.
[00:00:39] Hello and welcome to The GlowJo Podcast. I’m your host, Leanne Kallal and today we are diving deep into a topic that I talked about on a solo episode a couple of months ago. Now this was one of the most popular solo episodes I’ve done and over at The GlowJo Instagram account @TheGlowJo. It was [00:01:00] by far hands down, the most popular posts that we have shared the topic and what we’re talking about today is anxiety. I had no idea that when I shared the five types of anxiety that I experienced in my personal life, that it would resonate with so many people. And so based off of the responses and the conversations that I’ve had with so many people, since then, I decided that we absolutely need to go deeper. So today I am pleased to introduce you to my guest expert. My guest today is Sandra Vesterstein. Sandra is the founder of the Thrive Learning Collective, I like to think of this as your one-stop shop to finding everything you need. If you want to work with a life coach or a certified hypnotherapist or an NLP practitioner Thrive Learning Collective is the place to be.
[00:01:51] There are a lot of different instructors and coaches there in one place so it makes it really easy for you to find what you’re looking for. Not only is [00:02:00] Sandra an incredible coach, but she actually teaches and certifies people in neuro-linguistic programming NLP for short in life, coaching and hypnotherapy and Reiki. I’ve actually studied with Sandra and it was about five or six years ago.
[00:02:15] I studied NLP and hypnotherapy and Reiki, and it was an absolutely incredible life-changing experience. I learned so many tools that I use in my personal life, as well as in my professional life. I’m excited for you to listen to this conversation today because Sandra has such a unique way of talking about anxiety and she also shares three tools that you can use when you start to feel anxious.
[00:02:41] My intention for recording this episode is twofold. Well, maybe threefold one. I want you to know that if you experience anxiety, you are not alone. You’re not alone. We live in a stressful, hectic world and it is so easy to get overwhelmed. [00:03:00] My second intention is to help you bring awareness to your personal patterns.
[00:03:05] When we have awareness into how we respond to certain situations, then we can start to take positive action to change. And thirdly, I wanted to provide you with practical tools that you can implement in your life when you need support. Alright, let’s dive into the episode. There are so many great zingers. You’re going to learn how to get off the hamster wheel of anxiety and stress and I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on this. I look forward to connecting with you again at the end of the episode. Enjoy.
[00:03:37] Sandra, welcome to The GlowJo Podcast. It is wonderful to have you here today.
[00:03:43] Sandra Vesterstein: Oh, gosh, it’s so exciting to be here. I’m so when I saw your face, I just, my heart just melted.
[00:03:49] It’s just like, it’s been too long so thank you for having me on.
[00:03:52] Leanne Kallal: Yeah, it’s absolutely my pleasure and I feel the same way about you. For everyone listening, this woman is someone [00:04:00] who’s very near and dear to my heart. I think it was probably four or five years ago or five or six years ago by now, which is absolutely insane to think about, but I studied with you and I took your neuro-linguistic programming and a clinical hypnotherapist program that was in Sedona and it was a magical month. Sedona is magical. Plus having that experience, it was, it was a very transformational experience and you’re just someone who has so much knowledge and you’re an incredible coach and mentor and everyone tuning in today, Sandra and I are going to have an incredible conversation on anxiety and she has such a powerful approach to anxiety and I’m really excited for her to share her expertise when it comes to you learning how to work with your mind.
[00:04:45] And so I know that you’re going to be walking away with some valuable tips and tools, but before we dive into all of that, Sandra, I’d love to turn it over to you.
[00:04:54] Can you share a bit about yourself and your story and how you came to be where you [00:05:00] are today and really passionate about helping people with so many things in their life and anxiety being one of them?
[00:05:06] Sandra Vesterstein: So I started out in the coaching field, kind of like a generalist and I enjoyed it, but I didn’t really catch the bug until I started dabbling in guiding people to overcome anxiety. And the reason for that is, I struggled with anxiety for 44 years of my life and I didn’t even realize that I was struggling with anxiety.
[00:05:31] I was one of those people with anxiety that I was in perpetual motion. I never stopped because if I stopped, then I would feel the anxiety and so, as years progressed and certain situations happened in my life, it came front and center for me that I had to gain control of this and so, I ended up stumbling into NLP and after working with, you know, and I’m not dissing the counseling field at all, but I [00:06:00] did work with a counselor from 20 to like 43 for anxiety and not the same counsellor, different ones off and on.
[00:06:07] And I just never could put a dent in it. And after my first NLP training, like you had this transformational experience. So did I, and I thought, wait a minute, I gotta do something with this’. So I started, uh, working with a lot of people with anxiety and having really positive results and then I started getting into trauma, release, all that kind of stuff.
[00:06:29] And then, I found my way back to anxiety during COVID. I started getting people calling me, clients from the past and they’re were like, ‘I don’t know what to do’. And it was like, these people were like powerhouse people. And it’s like “what? What’s going on here”. And then it just kind of unfolded, oh, these people are suffering from, you know, their anxious thoughts.
[00:06:50] And so that’s when I just started, building my program and I formalized it now. So that’s where the Conquering Anxiety comes in is that I want to teach [00:07:00] people how to learn to use their brain for change so that they can actually guide their brain, and their thoughts, and their feelings, their heart, and their behaviors to where they want to go, but you can’t do that in an anxious state.
[00:07:15] So we first got to teach people how to calm down. So that’s how I got back into it and I love it. I just watch people when all that stress goes away from their face, and you’re just like, “now this is worth it, a hundred percent.”
[00:07:28] Leanne Kallal: Yeah. That’s amazing. Thank you for sharing your story and your reason why, and isn’t it interesting how, what draws us to something and we’ll go on our journey and we’ll discover different things and then we come back to where we started and I do think there’s usually a really strong reason why and a purpose and it sounds like you found your sweet spot and I’ve worked with you and had powerful sessions with you for other things,
[00:07:53] and so now I’m like, okay, if I ever have to get support with anxiety. I know where I’ll go, because you’re so good at all of that so if this is your [00:08:00] sweet spot, holy man, I can’t even imagine!
[00:08:03] Sandra Vesterstein: Ah, that’s sweet.
[00:08:05] Leanne Kallal: And so with the one thing that I just want to follow up on that you said is that. One, yes, I do know you to be a busy person. You remind me of a hummingbird. You just go, you move really quick and you’re always moving around and I find it so interesting that you said you didn’t even know that you were experiencing anxiety because you kept yourself really busy. I know for me, I recently did an episode and I, I wrote a post on anxiety, and I shared about the different types of anxiety that I’ve experienced personally.
[00:08:35] I’ve really gotten to, I guess you could say know and understand my anxiety better over the last couple of years. Before that, I actually think I was similar to you. I think my norm was actually a baseline level of quite anxious and I didn’t realize it because it was normal for me until, you know, like I had a lot of things that happened in my life, similar to you where it’s like, [00:09:00] whoa, wake up call, it’s time for me to make some changes and that’s where I really started to realize this way that I was living wasn’t actually healthy and I was operating at this baseline anxiety. So, I know you said that you’re really passionate about helping people understand anxiety and using their brains and their minds. Can you talk a bit more about that?
[00:09:20] What do you think are some of the maybe biggest misconceptions about anxiety? Um, and what are the cycle that people are caught in when they first come to visit you?
[00:09:31] Sandra Vesterstein: Well it seems like people, when they come to see me, they’re kind of, they’re stuck in a loop. They don’t know how to break the loop.
[00:09:37] So they might have a little bit of a pause, but they don’t break it and, what I found is that a lot of people shame themselves for having anxiety and I’m a big proponent, whether it’s anxiety, whether it’s depression, whatever is within us, that’s making us feel uncomfortable, one of our best tools that we can use is to befriend [00:10:00] that part of us and actually invite it to come in and tell us what it needs. So anxiety, a lot of times that I find with people there’s a lot of co-dependence and anxiety that are, uh, I, I would say co-dependence, depression, anxiety are kind-of cousins. What I have found through the work that I’ve done with people, and I’m not saying this is 100% overall, because I think in the United States, there’s like 40 million people that struggle with anxiety. I mean, that’s crazy.
[00:10:29] Leanne Kallal: That know they struggle with anxiety.
[00:10:32] Sandra Vesterstein: That know, that’s right. Yeah. Right, right, right. But what I realized is that, um, there was this level of disconnect, and then there was this level of anger. Like people would, were saying yes to things that they really wanted to say no to.
[00:10:50] Leanne Kallal: Yeah.
[00:10:51] Sandra Vesterstein: And they stuffed it, and the more they stuffed it, the more anxious they became. And I started correlating this like, oh my gosh, this is what’s happening, [00:11:00] they’re exerting so much pressure to keep things under wraps that they’re actually feeling anxious. It’s kind of like, you know, when you have a beach ball in and you’re pushing it down in the water and as soon as you let it go, “Poof.” That’s what anxiety is about.
[00:11:14] So a lot of times people, when their anxiety releases, they might have a crying jag, or they might get vicious, they might start a fight, all these sorts of things that they don’t feel really good about themselves. So I, I really teach people about how anxiety gets triggered in the brain, what happens to your nervous system and how.
[00:11:34] What happens is that I always say this, the quality of the decisions that we make in life are based on the quality of emotions that we’re running at the time we’re making the decisions. Okay? So think of it. You have a big life decision to make, and you’re feeling anxious about it. Now anxiety is about fight or flight or freeze.
[00:11:53] You can just be frozen in fear and you’re making that type of decision from that state. [00:12:00] Not a very healthy state to make it from. So what ends up happening is that people make it from an anxious or fear-based state and then they end up regretting it. But the thing is like you and me, we didn’t even know we had anxiety.
[00:12:14] So I teach people how to calibrate their own body. Like, this is what it feels like to feel relaxed. ‘Ah, I like that. Okay.’ So now that we’re telling their body, this is relaxed and when your teeth are clenched and you’re grabbing onto the steering wheel and you’re breathing just with your shoulders. Hmm.
[00:12:34] That’s kind of a nervous, anxious feeling, right? But you wouldn’t know it unless you calibrated yourself and so when I’m working with people, I’m always watching people, you know, how do they look? Do they look relaxed? Do they look anxious, all that kind of stuff. So doing that it’s freeing. People start getting to know their bodies and they start to get to know, ‘oh, this is me feeling [00:13:00] anxious’, which is very different than ‘I am anxious.’
[00:13:05] Feeling anxious is a lot easier to change. Then the, “I am,” the identity of, ‘I have an anxiety disorder’ or whatever. So, we play around with that and when people start coming from a place of choice and start having a new normal, because remember, you know, if they’ve had generalized anxiety, especially if it’s been undiagnosed, they don’t know any different that’s familiar.
[00:13:31] So you keep on gravitating towards the familiar. It’s like why people stay in toxic relationships. It feels familiar, it must be right? Well, same goes with anxiety. I teach people to condition their mind to have a new way of being, so it’s way more familiar than that old feeling of anxiety.
[00:13:52] So it’s really pretty cool and then once they understand that, you know, they kind of do a compare and contrast in their life when they’ve made decisions [00:14:00] from a really solid, secure state, versus making decisions from a really anxious state. They go, ‘oh, okay. Now that makes sense.’ And then it’s applied knowledge, then they can start directing their thoughts and that little chatterbox that we all have in our brain, that can have a kind of a sassy snotty voice.
[00:14:19] Teaching them how to change it, to be a kind and supportive voice because actually anxiety wants something really good for you. It really does. It wants you to be good. It wants you to, you know, conquer things, but when you become anxiety, not so good. So that’s, I think is the freeing part of it, you know, learning tools, techniques, to free yourself from this.
[00:14:43] Chronic anxiety is like bondage. It’s like you have shackles on and doing not only, no, no,
[00:14:53] but it’s like giving you the keys so you can take off those shackles and you can actually live your life. You know, so, [00:15:00]
[00:15:00] Leanne Kallal: Oh my gosh, I don’t think I’ve smiled more talking about anxiety. I’m just sitting here with a big smile on my face because everything you’re saying makes so much sense and you shared it so clearly, so thank you. I want to backtrack and touch base on a couple of things and then follow up with some questions. I absolutely love what you said, the quality of your decisions are made from the quality of your, the state of your emotions..
[00:15:26] Sandra Vesterstein: are based on the quality of emotions you’re running. High quality emotions, high quality decisions.
[00:15:32] Leanne Kallal: And that is so incredible and so moving forward, this is going to be one. This is like tweetable quotable. I want to shout this from the rooftops and share this because just this idea of where are we making decisions from? And I know, I truly believe that we make decisions from a place of inspiration or desperation.
[00:15:51] Sandra Vesterstein: Right.
[00:15:51] Leanne Kallal: And Tony Robbins says this as well, and it’s very similar to what you said, just a different twist.
[00:15:57] If we’re making decisions from an anxious [00:16:00] state, I know a couple of things came to mind for me immediately, where I was either afraid to take the leap or make a change and I chose the familiar. And because I was in that state of fear and that state of anxiety, I chose something familiar that wasn’t aligned with my best interest.
[00:16:18] It wasn’t aligned with probably the other party’s best interests as well and then it was this perpetual cycle of anxiety and it was not good. And so that brings me to the second thing, the loop and this is what you said right to begin. When you first start working with people, they’re caught in this cycle of anxiety.
[00:16:37] And I have been caught in so many loops and so many cycles in my lifetime. It is absolutely insane. And I know for me, I’ve realized I was addicted to stress and I was addicted to anxiety and it’s like, I almost, I didn’t know another way. And I’ve had to be really diligent with myself and train myself to not respond like that, choosing a different way and I [00:17:00] do know now the difference in how it feels in my body.
[00:17:03] And so do you have any information to share on the chemical nature of what happens when we’re stuck in that loop? And I know that it’s kind of like neurons that fire together, wire together and all that kind of all the Dr. Joe Dispenza’s neural loops and our minds are plastic. There’s plasticity we now know is a thing and so that means that we can actually change and get out of these cycles in these loops, by, you know, working with people like yourself and learning these new tools. But I’d love to hear more about that loop and cycle because that is something that I can totally relate to and I know many of my friends can as well.
[00:17:39] Sandra Vesterstein: Well, I think more important than understanding the chemicals that go throughout your body is to realize that 95% of what we do is unconscious. Like you decided to call me, I decided to text you five seconds before we were even consciously aware.
[00:17:55] If we had to think about what we did every moment of the day [00:18:00] we would be exhausted. We wouldn’t get past breakfast. We’d be like, ‘oh my god’. Cause we have handed over so much of what we do to our unconscious mind. So it’s a habit, it’s familiar and, you know, honestly, it’s lazy.
[00:18:13] It’s going to go on the path of least resistance. So if, for instance, if you only have one option to respond in a situation, that’s all you can do. So my job is to create many options that are way better than the old option. So you come from a place of choice. I mean, you and I both know when we took the NLP course also in our world got a whole bunch of bigger. We didn’t have to have life just so, because we expanded our options, we enriched our map of the world.
[00:18:44] And so I think what happens, when we start habituating to anxiety you hear something, you see something I think we have, well, I know we have more receptors for our visual field than any other sensory field.
[00:18:57] Think of how many things could trigger [00:19:00] us to get into an anxious state. I mean, we could walk into our office being we’re in an anxious state. We could see somebody that we’re have unfinished business with being more in an anxious state. So starting to just become aware of that and say, well, wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute.
[00:19:14] Now that I’ve calibrated what my body feels like anxious. Now I’ve brought conscious awareness to what’s playing in that unconscious mind. Oh, this is how I do anxiety. And then I can say to myself, “Hey, what would I rather feel right now?” And then you can start working the pattern, the strategy, because remember, you know, us little Energizer bunnies, that was just a strategy.
[00:19:37] Everything we do is built on a strategy, so we just need to formulate a new strategy and it takes sometimes like a coach. You can muscle it yourself, but if you understand the basics of this. We have thoughts. We have feelings, we have behaviors and we have beliefs that are all like this. You have a thought that fires off a feeling [00:20:00] that feeling fires off a behavior.
[00:20:01] That behavior is all steeped in a belief system that we have running our values and our attitudes. My goodness. It creates the experience we’re having. If we want to change that we could change one of those elements. I call it my success equation. So if I wanted to change how I am experiencing an experience, I could just change my physiology, my behavior, instead of like me walking really fast.
[00:20:26] I can walk really slow and it’s amazing. I start walking really slow. I start feeling differently. Well, if I start feeling differently, I’m starting to tap into different belief systems, which fires off different thought processes. It is so cool to think that you can actually change. You can break this loop a lot easier than you thought you first have to be consciously aware that you’re in the loop.
[00:20:52] That’s the main thing. So when you get that conscious awareness, even if you know that chatter box, it probably feeds the loop. If you [00:21:00] make that chatter box go as slow as humanly possible, you know what I mean? You’d be like, I can’t even take you seriously. There’s no way. And you start laughing at it. That’s the easiest way to change because now you can’t be like being anxious and laughing at the same time.
[00:21:16] Leanne Kallal: Oh, I love it. That’s such a good tip.
[00:21:18] One thing I want to say, and then followed by a question. So when you were saying like, we have the most visual receptors, that’s fascinating because right now I’m reading a book and it’s talking about the RAS, the reticular activating system.
[00:21:32] As you said, we walk into a room when we can see this boom, it triggers anxiety, this boom and triggers anxiety. Essentially anxiety breeds anxiety. And so with our reticular activator system, if that’s what you’re experiencing, and that’s what you’re used to looking for being triggered by things, it’s just going to perpetuate the loop.
[00:21:50] So I think that’s really interesting how you shared that. And for everyone listening, the Reticular Activating System, it’s almost like this filter because like you said, there’s so much that goes on [00:22:00] around us all the time. There’s parts of our brains that are trained to look for certain things.
[00:22:04] Now the question is what are some of the common symptoms of anxiety that people might not assume is anxiety? Why I’m asking this question is because as you and I both know to change something, you first need to be aware of it. And I do believe that anxiety is a sneaky mofo.
[00:22:25] I think it’s sneaky. So yeah. What are some of those maybe not so telltale signs of anxiety that actually are, the unsuspecting symptoms?
[00:22:34] Sandra Vesterstein: I think I want to touch a little bit on the Reticular Activating System, because I think it feeds into this. So our Reticular Activating System determines what we let into for our experience.
[00:22:46] Leanne Kallal: Well said.
[00:22:47] Sandra Vesterstein: We search for evidence to prove, you know, if I’m feeling anxious like why should be anxious? So one of the signs that people don’t realize that they’re running anxiety, or [00:23:00] let’s maybe call it ‘anxious’, they’re having anxious feelings.
[00:23:04] I like that.
[00:23:04] Is that they’re, hyper-sensitive maybe they’re hypersensitive to sound. They’re hypersensitive to touch. Maybe they’re hypersensitive, like they’re always being offended. Someone’s always offending them doing something wrong. They’re hyper sensitive. Now. I’m not saying all hypersensitive people are anxious, but I will tell you this. When I work with people who are hypersensitive, when I teach them how to calm down their nervous system so they activate their parasympathetic nervous system, the rest and digest. All of a sudden, you know what, they don’t get so uptight. Not everybody has to agree with them.
[00:23:42] You think of what’s happened in our world in the last year. People have been at odds because people are in fight or flight. They’re either fighting with each other or they’re fleeing, or some of them are just frozen in fear. When you feel a little bit more turned on in a negative [00:24:00] way, take a step back cause that could be a sign that you have anxious feelings.
[00:24:04] Keep in mind we haven’t really defined anxiety. Anxiety is about feeling that bad things are going to happen in the future. Depression is about the past.
[00:24:15] So getting present with that and saying, God, am I always trying to pick a fight with somebody or I’m always being offended, or I think people are talking too loud or, you know, chewing too loud or. Ah, that might be a sign that your sympathetic system is revving up all the time and you’re in a state of alert and you need to calm yourself down.
[00:24:36] And one of the easiest ways to calm yourself down is just breath. Breathe.
[00:24:41] Leanne Kallal: Yeah.
[00:24:42] Sandra Vesterstein: I mean, oh my god, or take a walk. I was doing this in COVID. I would take a walk around my neighborhood and I was a walking meditation and I would walk slowly and I would do Ho’oponopono where I’d say, I love you. I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you.
[00:24:58] And anybody that would come to [00:25:00] mind I would say it for them or to them and then I would look at the trees. I did everything slow motion, and I would come back and I’m like, yeah,
[00:25:09] Leanne Kallal: It makes such a difference. I know I definitely operated in Energizer bunny mode for years and I would just go, go, go, go, go.
[00:25:18] And then now my lifestyle pace is so much slower and I was saying to a friend the other day, I’m like, I don’t know how I lived before. Yeah. I really don’t know how I was able to survive all of that. Like I almost didn’t, but it was just really, really high pace and there is something so beautiful about slowing down.
[00:25:35] So I love that. If you find yourself getting triggered, if you’re more on edge, if you’re hyper sensitive, these are signs that you actually might have anxiety going on. I know for me like that irritability. Ooh I’ll just get so irritable, random question side note.
[00:25:55] When you said you’ll get annoyed by people chewing. This happens to me, [00:26:00] but only with specific people.
[00:26:02] Sandra Vesterstein: Right.
[00:26:03] Leanne Kallal: Why do you know why?
[00:26:05] Sandra Vesterstein: Probably. So they’re a trigger, the person themselves is a trigger. Okay. And then they’re doing a behavior. My son used to always say, when you have a mat on for somebody, you’re always looking for why they should piss you off.
[00:26:18] You know so. So if you’re not feeling really good about somebody. Let’s face it, like you fall in love with somebody and you love, ‘oh, I love the way they smack their lips when they’re chewing’. It’s so sweet because your parasympathetic nervous system is on. You’re all relaxed. You’re in love. It’s good.
[00:26:36] When you’re not feeling that way, you’re sorting for what you don’t like versus what you like about a person, right. There is a cinder where people have like their hypersensitive. You know, sounds but I have found with people when they come to me for feeling anxious, they’ll say loud sounds really bother me or repetitive sounds bother them.
[00:26:57] And then this is another interesting thing. People [00:27:00] with a lot of food allergies,
[00:27:02] Leanne Kallal: Which is me.
[00:27:03] Sandra Vesterstein: Another little nother little sign that maybe your system has been running on the edge for too long, because if I work with anybody with a food allergy, if I ask them what their dinner table was like when they were a child, most of the time, their dinner table, the energy around it wasn’t very calm and peaceful. It wasn’t fun and so what happens is that, your nervous system is in your, the sympathetic and it’s supposed to be fighting. Digesting food is not, it’s not even interested in digesting food and so their system is off. Yeah, but I haven’t had one of the person I know, said she started watching funny shows when she was eating
[00:27:44] Leanne Kallal: Smart
[00:27:45] Sandra Vesterstein: and she’s digesting better. It can affect your digestion too anxiety.
[00:27:50] Leanne Kallal: That’s brilliant. And I know I’ve traced my allergies specific emotions and time, certain things in my life and I’ve done a lot of work with them, but I still [00:28:00] do experience these. I interviewed someone who is a nutrition expert, gut health and she says, mindful eating is so important because it’s about the state and so now I’m like, I don’t want to eat when I’m stressed. I don’t want to eat when I’m anxious or when I’m, you know, angry, I truly want to be present and she said exactly what you said. You’re either in stress or digest. And so you want to make sure that your common, so it just goes back to the very first thing you said that the state that we do things really, really matters and makes a difference.
[00:28:32] Sandra Vesterstein: Yeah. Yeah, it sure does. Yeah.
[00:28:34] Leanne Kallal: And so my next question for you, we’ve talked a lot about the nervous system in passing parasympathetic system, the sympathetic system, the nervous system. For people listening who might not be versed in what those are, if this is something new to them, can you explain how our nervous system works and processes and the automatic responses that goes into truly to keep us safe, but it sometimes ends up [00:29:00] hindering us in other ways.
[00:29:01] Sandra Vesterstein: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, think of it. I, our nervous system is really pretty incredible, um, to think that we don’t have to think about our heart beating. We don’t have to think about our food digesting.
[00:29:12] However, and I’m not a neurologist, but on the basic level, this is what I, how would I teach my clients is that we can either be in our sympathetic or parasympathetic, but it’s not either, or think of it.
[00:29:24] Think about when we were little kids, we were playing hide and go seek and we’re getting chased and we’re like, woo. That we got free. We’re okay. We’re safe. Right? Yeah. Think of it as that on a continuum, like your sympathetic system and your parasympathetic is a continuum of responses and we want to move and flow through that continuum.
[00:29:47] If we get stuck in the sympathetic nervous system, if we get stuck in the parasympathetic system, We’ve got no energy. We want to move in and out of those systems and be in the [00:30:00] system that’s most appropriate for the task at hand. So the sympathetic is our fight or flight parasympathetic is our rest and digest.
[00:30:10] So if you’re wanting to connect with people, probably the parasympathetic system is the one you want to be in. I have lost more relationships over anxiety because anxiety and connection, don’t go hand in hand, anxiety and conflict, go hand in hand, but anxiety and creating loving relationships, not so much.
[00:30:32] So when you think of that, how often do we really need to be in fight or flight?
[00:30:39] Leanne Kallal: Yeah, you’re right.
[00:30:41] Sandra Vesterstein: Not very often. Right. We might have to have a little bit of an edge to like, get something done to take action, whatever but it’s when we become these states, it becomes like our personality. When it gets stuck, like I have a depressive personality or I have an anxious personality.
[00:30:58] That’s when it’s a [00:31:00] problem. I want to teach people how. Be able to navigate through both of those states because they’re useful in the right situation. If someone had a gun pulled on me, I’d want to have that little anxious feeling and start running or doing something or fighting, right. But I don’t want to be treating everybody as an enemy.
[00:31:18] And that’s, what’s happening a lot in our world. Everybody is treating each other as enemies and we’re sorting for differences versus what the sameness is.
[00:31:30] Leanne Kallal: Thank you for sharing that and so I know for me, one of the tools that has really helped is EFT, Emotional Freedom Tapping, and I’ve been doing that a lot and it’s helped to reset my nervous system.
[00:31:42] Do you have a tool or a tip or something that can help people? I know for me, you know, I’ve done a lot of work and I use a lot of tools. This is sort of the tool of the moment, the one that I’ve just been able to integrate into my life pretty easily, but I know there’s so many other things out there. And so, yeah. [00:32:00]
[00:32:00] Sandra Vesterstein: Yeah. I’m sure I can share some, the thing is EFT. What was cool with EFT, I think it’s a pattern interrupt. So remember when we talked about that, when you’re in the loop, it interrupts the loop, right? And so then you can get at a state to say, you know, cause sometimes you can’t even ask yourself when you’re in the anxious state, what would I rather feel?
[00:32:19] But you might have enough where with all the tap and you can break the state.
[00:32:22] Leanne Kallal: Yeah.
[00:32:23] Sandra Vesterstein: So that’s helpful. One of my favorite things to handle anxiety is I’ll say to myself. Okay. So say I’m feeling anxious. All right. How do I know I’m feeling anxious, oh I got a really tight. Okay. Okay. So it’s there.
[00:32:39] So I’ll do this. Where’s the location, the locations my stomach. What’s the color of my anxious feeling. Hmm. Red. Okay. It were to be a shape, what’s the shape of it? Uh, well, it’s kind of like a spiky ball. Okay. Take a deep breath. Grab your [00:33:00] wrist and exhale, and then you’re going to do the same thing.
[00:33:04] So that anxious sensation. Where is it? Well, it’s in my gut, but , it’s not as much in my gut. Like it’s not filling my gut anymore. Ooh, cool. What’s the color? Well, that’s interesting. The color now is purple. Interesting. Purple. Okay. So what if it were to be a shape?
[00:33:23] What’s the shape? Uh huh. Now it turned into a triangle that’s and then you just keep on doing that. And then pretty soon what you’re doing is anxiety is in your body. It’s an anxious feeling, but I’m asking you to create a visual of it. Hmm. You’re not going to feel it in the visual right field and so all of a sudden it starts changing the sensation.
[00:33:46] That is such a simple technique. One of the things you want to do before you do that technique, it’s like, I’m feeling anxious on a scale of 1 to 10. What’s the sensation level. Oh, it’s 10. Okay. Okay. [00:34:00] So now you’ve told your logical mind you’re at a 10. Now, from that point on, just refer to it as a sensation, because if you refer to it as anxiety, what does your brain do?
[00:34:10] It goes and finds anxiety, and we don’t want it to find anxiety. So you rate it, you ask it where’s the location. My gut what’s. If it were to be a color, if it were to be a shape, get all that breathe in, grab your wrist and exhale.
[00:34:26] Leanne Kallal: I love it
[00:34:27] Sandra Vesterstein: and then do it again. So that’s just like a super, super simple thing.
[00:34:30] And the other favorite favorite technique I have that I teach people is, tap into your inner dialogue. What has happened? What are you saying to yourself? Because whatever you’re saying to yourself or whatever you hear someone else’s voice saying to you is probably triggering that anxiety. Like, oh, I’m stupid. I screwed up that proposal. I did a horrible job. Oh, that interview sucked whatever. And you start having that voice slowed down as slow as [00:35:00] humanly possible. And when you do that, I guarantee you’ll start laughing because you can’t take that voice seriously. Going that slow or you turn it into our cartoon character voice.
[00:35:14] Leanne Kallal: I was thinking Donald duck.
[00:35:18] Sandra Vesterstein: And then the other thing is to befriend anxiety, like, gosh, we’re all being told to be so kind to everybody else, but the reality is you got to step back and start being kind to yourself. And would you actually talk to a small child like you’re talking to yourself? Probably not. Yeah.
[00:35:37] And so actually anxiety is an invitation to go within. It’s just knocking on the door to say, ‘Hey, could you please pay attention to. I need some attention’. And then if you actually start talking to anxiety, it sounds like, you know, this is crazy.
[00:35:53] It’s not crazy. Cause it’s just an aspect of you that wants to be heard. And if you actually took the time to [00:36:00] listen to what anxiety wants for you, you’d find out that anxiety actually wants success for you. He wants you to feel secure and safe.
[00:36:07] Leanne Kallal: Yeah. That’s so beautiful. Thank you for sharing. The first one that you shared where you’re locating and then the color and the shape, what I love about that is that you’re actually separating the anxiety from yourself.
[00:36:22] Sandra Vesterstein: Yes, yes.
[00:36:24] Leanne Kallal: So it’s now this separate living entity, like when you were going through that, I’m like, okay, I can see it and it’s in front of me and I think having that separation helps us to remember and realize we are not our anxiety, we are experiencing a sensation. And so I love the difference even in the language that you use their anxiety and then sensation.
[00:36:48] And I just want to really highlight this because as we’ve talked about earlier in this interview, if you’re focused on anxiety, that’s what you’re telling your brain to look for. And so I just wanted to really [00:37:00] highlight that relabeling it as sensation is brilliant and that’s an important piece of the puzzle.
[00:37:07] So for everyone listening, that was gold. And I know for me, I would, instead of oh, I have al my allergy. I used to be like my allergies, my allergies, and I still will say it. I catch myself and I’ll be I experience allergies, but I want to actually change that now to say I experienced some symptoms.
[00:37:30] Yeah and
[00:37:31] Sandra Vesterstein: I used to. You could actually say I used it. You could put it in the past. Yeah. You know, the, and that old feeling.
[00:37:38] Leanne Kallal: Yeah.
[00:37:39] Sandra Vesterstein: So that’s in the past. So to keep in mind again, if we go back to the Reticular Activating System, we’re actually directing the Reticular Activating System to the future.
[00:37:49] When we let’s say old, that’s supposed to the past, and it’s like, I’m wondering how many ways I can eat, whatever you’re allergic to and have it totally digest perfectly. [00:38:00] I wonder how many ways I can just assimilate food and just the most perfect way that I feel energized.
[00:38:07] So then now we’re going future like, oh, I wonder how many ways. So when someone comes to me and says, I just don’t want to feel anxious. Well, they’ll certainly feel anxious because now they just said, ‘hey, Reticular Activating System, go find out all the ways that that person can feel anxious.
[00:38:23] And that’s not what we want. So we got to learn to talk to our brains. You know, we have to monitor our language, because language, even though it’s 7% of our communication, it is really super duper important. So be careful what you say, measure your words. Are you saying really what you want to say?
[00:38:41] Leanne Kallal: Right.
[00:38:42] Sandra Vesterstein: And is it directing your mind to where you really want to go? So if you’re talking about everything that you don’t want, you will go to what you don’t want. We got to talk about what we are going towards and we’ll go and move towards that.
[00:38:55] Leanne Kallal: Yeah and so this is something that I probably should have asked right at the [00:39:00] beginning of the interview, but can you explain to people listening, what is Neuro-linguistic Programming? Because that’s what I’ve studied with you. And I do believe more people are learning about it and there’s more awareness, but I also know that for a lot of people, they might be like, what the heck is that? And this really does explain why language is so important.
[00:39:18] Sandra Vesterstein: Well, Neuro-linguistic Programming the neuro, or neurology, and language and how our neurology language and our physiology come together to create like a program in our brain that makes us act a certain way or a strategy and it’s that combination that creates our experience.
[00:39:38] And so when I’m talking with people and I’m referring to something in the present state, that’s unhealthy, I’m conditioning their mind to be in that state. You know? So I want to teach people how to use language, how to use their neurology cause language fires off neurology, that fires off your physiology, fires off your behavior.
[00:39:57] I want to teach people how to use that [00:40:00] effectively and, you know, think of it, our words are conscious way of communicating all the other stuff is unconscious, but the choice of words is unconscious. So when we start listening to the choice of words, like you are making a conscious thought to choose how you’re describing this.
[00:40:17] When I got over anxiety through NLP, I was like, I was a little resistant cause I was thinking, ‘wait a minute, I’ve got a lot of money into this storyline that I’m anxious and I’m not sure I’m going to let it go that easily.’
[00:40:30] Now when I let that storyline go, uh, so freeing. Now I’m not saying that I never get anxious about things. I don’t live in anxiety anymore.
[00:40:42] I was swimming in anxiety.
[00:40:44] Leanne Kallal: Right.
[00:40:45] Sandra Vesterstein: Not anymore.
[00:40:46] Leanne Kallal: And so you raise a very interesting point when you shared what you did about the allergies, I got nervous and I know that there’s a lot of what we would call it, ‘secondary benefits’ to stain in a [00:41:00] situation that you’re in. I just want to expand on it cause you said, like I had a lot invested in, in, in being like that. Can you explain a little bit what that means cause at first I know when I first learned about secondary benefits, I’m like, wait. And then it’s like, okay, no, it does make sense. But even if we don’t want something, there’s a part of us that is benefiting from the quote unquote negative situation or scenario that we are experiencing. I think it’s important for people to start to realize this
[00:41:27] and not shame themselves for it.
[00:41:29] Sandra Vesterstein: The reality is for me my anxiety was created by a third grade teacher stating that I was stupid when I was in front of the class and so I generalized that feeling that any time I was around in public, in front of two or more people I’d feel anxious because I would be called out on maybe being stupid because my unconscious mind had that pattern and its job is to protect me, right?
[00:41:54] So what did it want for me? Well, it wanted me to be successful, but it [00:42:00] also kept me to be small so I didn’t have to worry about being rejected. So if I never put myself out there, I was safe, safe, safe, safe, but then the pain of never achieving my dream became far greater than feeling safe and that’s when I decided to conquer that. So I want people to understand the secondary gain is something to embrace, lean into, befriend, because when you give that secondary gain, whether it’s like for eating, it could be food allergies, sometimes it’s just serves us to take care of yourself.
[00:42:36] Leanne Kallal: Right.
[00:42:36] Sandra Vesterstein: And it to be hypervigilant on food might be your way of saying, I love you enough to take care of you. Now there’s lots of different ways that you could love yourself. One of which is watching what you’re eating, but you don’t have to fear it. You could be mindful, you know, there’s so many different ways of even taking time when you’re actually preparing meals, you’re a [00:43:00] fabulous cook.
[00:43:01] Like you lovingly, you know, and you and yeah. And you sit down and you lovingly eat and you’re, you feel appreciation. There’s a reason why people pray over food. Because what does that do? Turns on that Parasympathetic Nervous System. It brings us down into our heart. We’re blessing the food we’re appreciating.
[00:43:20] You can’t be anxious and in a state of appreciation at the same time. So slowing down and maybe the food thing, just wants you to slow down. We don’t know. I just want people to get the message this shaming of this, like I get people, um, in class I get like, I don’t, I don’t get anything good from it.
[00:43:39] Well, because they’re judging that. And if they stopped judging that and they just be friended it, that’s when you can relieve some of these old wounded patterns that probably are not even of the adult self, they’re of the wounded little child.
[00:43:54] Leanne Kallal: Yeah, he read my mind. I was like, we have all of these strategies that we use now that were developed 30 or [00:44:00] 40 years ago, or however many years ago, based off of something that we experienced and didn’t have the awareness or the tools to respond in a different way at that time and then, like you said, 95% of what we do is unconscious. Which is insane and it’s so crazy to think that basically 95% of what we do is driven by your five-year-old self.
[00:44:23] Sandra Vesterstein: Well, and if you haven’t done the work on that five-year-old self, that was very concrete and you know, didn’t have the ability to say, ‘oh, I wonder if mom was thinking this or that when she looked at me that way’ or, ‘I wonder if they were doing this.’ They, you don’t have that ability, but now when you have conscious awareness that you might be reacting from an old pattern, then you can do something about it, but if you’re not aware of, it’s hard to change it, right?
[00:44:49] Leanne Kallal: Yeah.
[00:44:50] Sandra Vesterstein: So just kind of being your own little scientists saying ‘hi’ and being curious, ‘I wonder what that’s all about? I wonder how come I responded that way. I wonder what’s playing for [00:45:00] me inside that needs to heal so I don’t get all ruffled about that.’
[00:45:04] Leanne Kallal: Oh my gosh. I adore you and my hope is for this episode that everyone out there listening, that you have more awareness on your personal patterns and those cycles that might be going on and anxiety. Maybe, if it’s even low level anxiety that you’re like, ‘oh shit, I am operating from this place, I didn’t even realize that.’
[00:45:23] I could talk to you forever. I know that we both do. I don’t want you to leave. I know you, this is so fun. Let’s connect again soon. Where can people connect with you? Where can they learn more? I know that you have your Conquering Anxiety Course. Share where people can connect with you because honestly you’re just a wealth of information.
[00:45:44] You’re such an incredible coach and you’re inspiring me to go back into the old tickle trunk a little bit.
[00:45:52] Sandra Vesterstein: That’s good. Okay. So, you can connect up with me @ThriveLearningCollective, and then I’m going to send you the ebook [00:46:00] so if anybody wants to download the ebook of Conquering Anxiety, I think we have 10 tools in there and then I have a couple of little exercises that I walk you through digitally, so I’ll send you all that so you can have that.
[00:46:11] If you can make them available to other people that would be wonderful. You know, and I think if we help one person overcome this, so it’s not their normal state. It’s all worth it.
[00:46:25] Leanne Kallal: Yeah.
[00:46:25] Sandra Vesterstein: Right.
[00:46:26] Leanne Kallal: Yeah, agreed.
[00:46:27] Sandra Vesterstein: Thank you so much, honey. I appreciate you having me on.
[00:46:30] Leanne Kallal: Thank you. I appreciate you so much. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and wisdom. The world is a crazy place and let’s normalize the human experience and not be shamed, not feel guilt, and let’s be empowered to find the tools and resources. So thank you for sharing your tools and resources.
[00:46:49] I’ll make sure to link to all of this in the show notes. So for anyone listening, I’ll make sure it’s easy for you to find Sandra and her wonderful work that she does @ Thrive Learning Collective. [00:47:00] Thank you so much again for joining me. It’s been such a pleasure.
[00:47:04] Sandra Vesterstein: Thank you.
[00:47:05] Leanne Kallal: Bye.
[00:47:06] All right. What did you think of today’s episode? I personally took a lot of notes and I’m going to share my top glow notes with you. And then I’m going to recap the three tools you can use to deal with anxiety when it strikes. Here are the top six things that really stood out to me from this conversation.
[00:47:25] Number one. The state that we make decisions from matters and the quality of emotions that we have when we’re making decisions matters. And so if we’re making decisions from a place of anxiety and fear, those decisions, probably aren’t going to be in our best interest because we’re making them from an ungrounded perspective that most likely is not aligned with our true self.
[00:47:52] That is huge pay attention to the state that you’re in when you were making decisions. And if you’re emotional, if you’re angry, if you’re [00:48:00] sad, if you’re irritated, if you’re feeling fearful or anxious, pause, just take a minute. The decision can wait. One of my good friends always reminds me. Don’t make big decisions when you’re on a high or when you’re on a low, because your perspective is skewed.
[00:48:17] GloNote, number two, anxiety can show up in so many different ways. We might think that anxiety means having a panic attack or a meltdown, but in reality, it can show up as overwhelm. It can show up as sensitivity or being hypersensitive to sounds and lights and just irritated. Irritability is a big sign that there’s some anxiety going on underneath the surface.
[00:48:43] Everyone reacts differently. Maybe if you’re anxious, you keep yourself busy so that you’re not actually going to be able to feel what’s going on. Or on the flip side. I know for me, if I get really stressed, I get super sleepy. It’s like my body goes into shut down mode to cope with what’s going on. [00:49:00] The third thing that really stood out to me.
[00:49:02] So it’s about, we all have strategies that we use every day in our life to live and to get through life and so these strategies you could think of like our set programming, like if you have an oven or if you have a microwave, you have these set programs to do certain things. We have this as well. But in so many cases, the strategies that we run, our strategies that we formed when we were really young, let’s say usually in our formative years, like five years old, six, seven years old, and we learn to cope and we learn to show up in a certain way based on the environment and our surroundings.
[00:49:43] Now, so much of what we do is automatic. In fact, 95% of what we do is unconscious because a lot of things need to happen to keep us living and to run this human body. And so it’s a survival instinct that we’re able to do [00:50:00] things automatically in that we just know how to respond to certain things. So there really is this beneficial side that keeps us safe and alive and going.
[00:50:09] But on the flip side, if we have these routines and habits and strategies that we formed, when we didn’t know any better, we were young and we had a, a certain perspective. That served our five-year-old self, but it’s not serving our, let’s say 30 year old self or 40 or 50 year old self. That’s where the problem comes into play.
[00:50:29] So that’s why it’s important to really be aware of the patterns and the habits that you formed, really making sure that they do serve you. And then also looking at limiting beliefs and what are your beliefs and how can you start to rewire some of the beliefs that are holding you back. All right. The fourth thing that really stood out to me is that anxiety breeds anxiety.
[00:50:51] And this is where we can get stuck in those loops in those cycles. And it can be so hard to get off the hamster wheel. We have what’s called an RAS, the [00:51:00] Reticular Activation System. This system acts as a filter, letting in certain information and it’s programmed to pay attention to what we tell it is important.
[00:51:11] And so have you ever bought a new red shirt, or maybe you bought a white vehicle. I know for me, I got a white vehicle and then all of a sudden, all I saw was that vehicle in white, all over the place? It’s because this is information that we’ve told ourselves is important. It’s in our awareness and so then our Reticular Activating System goes out and it seeks all of the instances.
[00:51:33] And so if you’re stressed, if you’re anxious, if you’re overwhelmed and those are the emotions that you’re running. It’s natural for your RAS to actually seek out instances to confirm that, yes, I need to be stressed. I need to be anxious. I need to be overwhelmed because of these things that are going around in my environment.
[00:51:53] So a trick is to set the intention, to really focus on finding the calm in your day, [00:52:00] finding the peace. This is why I love practicing gratitude because you’re training yourself and you’re training your mind to look for all of the good things. And then that’s what starts to come into your life. The fifth thing that I really loved that Sandra said is to befriend, your anxiety, the anxiety is there to support you.
[00:52:17] Like it actually is and that can sound so silly, but it’s showing up for a reason. When you’re feeling anxious, you can actually flip your perspective and be like, oh, do you know what? This is actually an invitation for me to go within, to connect with myself, to learn what I need in this moment. And to learn, to be gentle with yourself.
[00:52:37] Lastly, and this pairs with what we just talked about when we’re anxious, there is a secondary gain. And so secondary gain means that there’s actually a positive that we get out of being in a certain state. It can be tricky to understand this, but let’s say if you’re used to being super, super stressed out and you’re operating in a fast paced way, [00:53:00] if you’re stressed out the people around you will respond to certain way. And maybe those people around you respond by helping out more at home or giving you your space or somehow doing something that actually is a positive thing that supports you. When we show up a certain way, then we receive this attention. And as Sandra talks about in the interview, it can be really difficult for people to understand that even though there’s a negative situation going on, we can be getting these positives from it and people will feel shameful or guilty, but that’s not what this is about.
[00:53:38] This is about just really, truly realizing that certain things that go on in our life, there’s always a flip side in a positive. And when we can better understand what we’re getting from a negative situation and the positives that come from it, then we can seek to experience those positive things in new ways, instead of in the negative ways.
[00:53:59] Now, I’m [00:54:00] going to recap the three different techniques that Sandra shared for you to use when you’re experiencing anxiety. So the first one, and again, this is really similar to what I’ve shared before, but she got more specific. I call it locate label and accept and so when you’re feeling anxious, the first thing you want to do is just stop and pause and take a breath and then locate.
[00:54:23] Where is the feeling of anxiety? Is it in your chest? Is it in your stomach and then label it. How does it feel? Is it heavy? Is it kind of butterfly what’s going on? I love that Sandra said, what shape is it? Maybe it’s a blob or maybe it’s a solid cube or it’s a triangle and then give a color to it and then there’s that level of just sitting with it and being like, oh, That’s what’s going on.
[00:54:50] I accept it. And then you do this again. And as you go through and you do it again, you’re going to notice that the shapes are going to change. The colors are going to change and you’re going to [00:55:00] feel less charged and it might sound crazy. But what I love about this technique is that when you take a minute, when you locate and when you label and you start to put like a shape and color to your stress, what you’re doing is you’re actually removing it and you’re making it separate from yourself.
[00:55:15] So it’s like, it’s a separate entity. It’s no longer inside of you. It’s not a part of you. It’s something that is living outside of you and that helps you to get that separation and to get out of that anxious. Now the second thing. And again, this can be tricky to do in the moment, but I think that this is a really, really good technique to remember.
[00:55:33] And even if you just find yourself starting to get stressed out and running around and operating from a less than optimal state, this is a really, really good one. Change your physiology to change your behavior. It is truly as simple as that. So if you find yourself really, really stressed, Maybe you take a moment and you walk slowly and as he walks slowly, you’re looking around and you’re noticing what’s in the room and you’re taking things in and this helps [00:56:00] reset your body and recalibrate, and your behavior is going to be different and your experience is going to be different.
[00:56:07] Now the third one is a lot of fun, actually. I don’t know about you, but when I’m anxious, I just have the voice in my head that runs and runs and runs and a lot of times what it’s saying is not productive at all. And it actually serves to make me more anxious and bring me down. So what the trick is here is that you want to change the voice that you’re hearing in your mind.
[00:56:29] And so you can either slow it down and turn it into a slow motion voice where you can’t really take it seriously. My personal favorite is to actually change the voice into a cartoon character. Donald duck is my go-to because it’s so hilarious. So just imagine you saying negative things or beating yourself up or being upset about something and second, this anxious loop and then all of a sudden you have Donald Duck saying everything. You start to laugh and it, and you start to [00:57:00] smile and you can’t be anxious and smile and laugh at the same time. So I hope you enjoyed this episode. I hope these techniques are really helpful for you. Make sure you go get the download that Sandra provided.
[00:57:12] And I look forward to hearing from you connect with me over on Instagram @TheGlowJo and @LeanneKallal and let me know your biggest takeaway and the one tool that you’re going to apply in your life when anxiety strikes. Thank you for being here and I look forward to connecting with you next week.
[00:57:30] Bye. For now.