The Rational Basis® of Happiness Podcast

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Values - The Big Four

People are put off by my lack of emotion.

(this is raw unedited text transcribed directly from the audio)


Dr. Kenner:      Bobby, you’re having some difficulty with relationships?


Bobby:             Generally speaking, I have trouble enjoying things, and it’s very difficult for me to feel anything about feeling good, I guess. From what I understand, the closest thing I can attribute that to is something called [inaudible 00:00:24].


Dr. Kenner:      Just not feeling any pleasure in life?


Bobby:             Right. My question specifically is, what can be done to mitigate the damage that it does to the people, relationships and the people in your life?


Dr. Kenner:      The first relationship you want to focus on is your relationship with yourself. You want to be as kind and as loving and endearing to yourself, so if you’ve not given yourself permission to laugh hysterically or go after a sport or a hobby that you love or find a career … how old are you, ballpark?


Bobby:             25.


Dr. Kenner:      So you’re still designing your life, so to speak Bobby. You’re still young. It may not feel that way to you because you’re the oldest you’ve ever been, but you’re still young. You want to understand several things. First of all, you want to be kind to yourself and you want to give yourself permission to embrace values. When I say values, I don’t mean faith, hope and charity. What I mean are, loving your life. The goodies in life. The values in my life are ballroom dancing, doing something silly with my husband or having a good night with friends. You want to learn how to embrace those. If you don’t know how, you can build skills in any of those areas, because something got you to where you are today and for some reason, you’ve dampened your emotions. Tell me, am I off base there or not? Do you allow yourself to feel strong emotions, apart from fear and anxiety?


Bobby:             I don’t, really. I feel like in general, I distance myself from it, but I don’t know how to get it back.


Dr. Kenner:      If you could give that distance a voice, what guidance is that distance telling you?


Bobby:             I guess I don’t, I’m not worth being happy?


Dr. Kenner:      Good that you found that out. Because most people feel that way on some level, even people who put that smile on their face and they look like they’re the life of the party. Deep down, many people have mixed feelings about themselves, that they’re not worth anything. How tragic is that? You’re 25 years old. Would you ever want one of your kids to feel that way about themselves? You never would want that. And so you have the opportunity, if you have the courage to give this to yourself, to when you get that feeling of not feeling like you’re worth it, to start to figure out. One task would be where that comes from. That might be a task if you’re comfortable or interested in some counseling. You could get that. The other is, what do you genuinely like or love in your life, or have liked or loved that you’re putting a barrier between you and that wonderful goody? What is it? Is it a hobby? Is it a career? Are you in a career right now?


Bobby:             Currently in an internship position and I have one more year left of college.


Dr. Kenner:      Is it in a career that you enjoy?


Bobby:             Overall it’s interesting. It definitely can allow me to do more with … it’s better financially than a lot of options that I had.


Dr. Kenner:      So you want some financial security. Let me give you some structure here. There are four basic areas of goodies, I’m calling them values. One is going to be your career. You already are on a path. You can always look at it. My son was on a path for management engineering and guess what he ended up being, after he got his degree? You won’t guess, so I’ll just tell you. A ballroom dancer. And he loves it. So you never know what direction your career will take you in. But the fact is, he loves it, and that to me was the most important factor. One area of values is your career. Another is going to be a romantic relationship. Do you have anyone you’re interested in?


Bobby:             Well, I’ve been in a long-term relationship for a while, but it’s been very difficult to connect with my partner because when you’re close with someone, when somebody gets close to you and they expect a certain reaction from being with you and having, he’s having a good time and I’m not, I’m not able to –


Dr. Kenner:      You feel like a stick in the mud. My father must have felt that way with me when he took me to baseball games and I couldn’t stand them. A stick in the mud. You want to find your own values. I’m going to recommend the book I wrote with Dr. Ed Locke. I’m going to change the title, The Self-Valuing Path to Romance. We got very courageous and we titled it The Selfish Path to Romance, and we don’t mean the mean, rotten way to romance. We mean the self-nurturing, self-esteem path to romance, where you both value yourselves and neither of you lose yourselves in the relationship. That’s the second area of values. I’m still going over the four areas of values. Then friends in general. You can take a look at that and see if you’ve got one or two friends. You don’t need a whole gaggle or whatever of friends. You just need one or two good friends and you can have more, but usually we don’t have in our intimate circle, we don’t have 500 friends. And so those are three of the areas. You’ve got romance, family, friends and the last one is hobbies. You can make ballroom dance a hobby. So you want to have something that contrasts with work so it gives you a mental breather and yet you still feel productive. Maybe your hobby is reading a book. You choose your own hobbies.


What I would encourage you is really to focus on nurturing yourself and valuing yourself and I think if you read our book, it gives a lot of guidance on how to make yourself lovable, how to have a good relationship and how to make it last over the years. But the core point is, how to value yourself.


I want to thank you so much for your call, Bobby, and I want to wish you the best and someday you can say, “I don’t have [inaudible 00:07:50] anymore. I’ve loosened up a bit and am enjoying my live.


Bobby:             That would be good.


Movie clip       

Female:           I’m not mad at you. I’m mad at me. I’ve just been so lonely over the last year. I’m raising a child alone. I’m scared. I always thought of myself as a strong and independent person, but the truth is I’m afraid.


Dr. Kenner:      That’s from Frasier, and if you’ve been in that situation or a similar type of situation, what do you do, or what advice would you give her if you have survived that type of a situation? The first thing that comes to my mind is that she has a lot of courage to let herself share that she’s afraid, rather than burying it. She’s bringing it out in the open and she’s facing her fear and she’s naming what it is. She’s saying, “I’m afraid to raise a child alone.” The first thing is, face the fear. Name it to yourself. And then get specific. What in particular is she afraid of? Is she afraid that she’ll make the same mistakes made? If it’s a toddler or a school-aged child, what are her specific fears? Because when she can get specific, then she can look at them carefully and analyze them.


The next thing she could do is to look at what are my resources? When have I overcome things in the past? When have I had difficult situations and I’ve surmounted them? What gives me my self-image that I am a strong woman? What are the particulars? She might remember times when, “Even though I was jobless, I was able to go out and I got turned down a lot but I was able to find a darn good job.” She might be able to see situations in her own life where she was successful. She also mentioned she was lonely and she could reach out. I mean, she is reaching out to Frasier in this case, but she can reach out to other people who she knows. Sometimes when you feel really fearful and lonely and you see yourself as a strong woman, you don’t want that side of you to be shone to the world that you feel vulnerable. But if you can find trusting people and share your vulnerability, the loneliness starts to diminish. You feel like you have support and people have your back, so to speak. So she can, with some work – it wouldn’t happen right away – she could reframe this as an opportunity for a challenge for herself to increase her strength and to do so with new skills by reaching out to others and by remembering the strengths that she does have and by getting specific.