ReMind Yourself: www.remindyourself.com

Hannah:
Welcome to the Burn Pod listeners. Now I’m really excited to welcome Annia Baron, who’s the owner of ReMind Yourself. It’s a business dedicated to crafting a mindset for modern living. Annia is a mindset coach. She’s a clinical psychologist and a yoga teacher. She’s obsessed with sharing the art and science of psychology practises in relatable ways that help close the gap between where we are and where we want to be. Welcome, Annia.

Annia :
Thanks so much for having me, Hannah. It’s a pleasure.

Hannah:
So good to have you on as well. Thank you so much for your time. Now, for those of you that are a little bit new to Burn Theory, and as a reminder for those that are long-term members and listeners, we’re not just about fitness and food. We’re all about a holistic approach to your health and wellbeing about creating whole self health that meets you where you’re at in your life right now. A big part of that is mindset. Now I know some of you, and I used to be this person, may think it’s a little woo-woo when we speak about mindset, but it truly is the number one reason for reaching or not reaching your goals, for how you’re feeling, your actions and your results. I’m really excited to have Annia join us to discuss the mindset further. If you want to tell us a little bit about yourself?

Annia :
Absolutely, Hannah. I’m in my mid, well, getting to my later 30s now. Getting wiser each year and enjoying my time here in Tasmania. I moved to here about nine years ago from Melbourne. I had a passion for human behaviour, for psychology, for wellbeing from a long time back. But I guess during my schooling years and college and university, it happens a lot of the time. I guess I was comparing myself a lot to everybody and swayed by a lot of influences of what I should do, and what I should be like, and what I should look like, and what career paths to follow. I ended up doing a business degree first. I started out in human resources where I got a nice grounding of different types of people and characters and personalities to work with in the corporate environment, but something in my heart just burned.

Annia :
I mean that this isn’t the path for me. Watching everybody around me just climb the corporate ladder and coming in day in, day out, and hiding on their Mondays. I just thought, this isn’t what I want. This is not my life. I dropped everything. Returned back, did my studies, and eight years later becoming a clinical psychologist. I’m so happy I followed my heart and my pursuit. Because for me, my life’s work is around helping people to connect to themselves, to live a better life, and to do it in a way that’s really meaningful to where they’re at, like you said. I think in this day and age, there’s just so much clutter and so much noise and so many expectations of what we should do, how we should live, how we should exercise, what we should eat. At the end of the day, having the skillset to strike through all of that white noise and really listen to your heart, that’s where my drive for doing what I do is all about. That’s I guess a little spiel about where my work-life is at at the moment.

Hannah:
Yeah. I could completely, completely relate to the old getting to Sunday and starting to get really anxious about the fact that I had to go to a job or something that didn’t light me up, didn’t excite me. Yeah, I love it. I love hearing about other people that just went for what they wanted and worked for their big dreams and have created it. It’s so exciting.

Annia :
Yeah, and it takes a lot of effort and consistency and practise, doesn’t it? It’s not all pretty and it’s not all what we see on the outside. There’s a lot of inner work and commitment that goes through that. But that’s part of what I do. I love to help people rekindle their own love affair with creating their life. It’s not about all easiness. I’m actually quite a tough love kind of psychologist and mindset coach. I say things as they are and I don’t beat around the bush. I feel that resonates quite well with the people I work with. I think we need to hear the truth these days. Yeah, that’s what drives a lot of the work that I do.

Hannah:
Yeah. I love that. Well, let’s dive in. Firstly, let’s discuss what mindset is all about. I guess that’s like a huge question. Are they key processes of your brain and your body? How does this work? How do you gain control over your mind and your brain and your body?

Annia :
Absolutely. I love how you said before that mindset is seen as a bit of woo-woo sometimes. I feel that that is something that is such a big misconception out there because it’s so highly scientific. A little while ago, especially there’s a book that came out called the Growth Mindset, or it was just called Growth Mindset, sorry, by Dr. Carol Dweck. It really started to unveil quite a lot of the scientific evidence behind what mindset is and how it impedes or facilitates a life that we want to live. I guess the concepts of what mindset is all about and the components of the brain and the body, it all starts with your nervous system, Hannah. Getting to the core of our body and how it functions well and how it integrates with our brain processes, our nervous system is fundamental to mindset. The key components of that particularly are around something called the HPA axis.

Annia :
It stands for the hypothalamus pituitary adrenal axis. It’s all about the way that our body responds to stresses and threats and looking at the biological ways that our body is actually cleverly designed to deal with that and to also thrive. Not just about reacting and responding to daily stresses and challenges and things that go wrong, but we are actually biologically designed and wired to thrive and be happy and be present and live meaningful, enriching lives. But if we’re not aware of how our nervous system functions, so particularly the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system. Without getting into it too much, the sympathetic nervous system is your fight, flight mode. The one that gets your heart pounding. The one that makes your mouth a bit dry when you get nervous. The parasympathetic nervous system is more of your rest and digest mode.

Annia :
That’s really about calming things back down to homeostasis and finding that equilibrium where our body is at its healthy stage. But given our way of living in a very modern life with so many stresses, so many commitments, schedules, et cetera, we’ve lost a little bit of the skill and the art of how to activate our rest and digest mode in particular. It’s having a big impact on mindset. If your nervous system is not at an equilibrium, then all of the cognitive processes that we have, the thinking, perception, memory, analysing, interpreting, all of our thought patterns are directly affected by that. It interferes with our ability to think clearly, broadly, creatively, and it interrupts with our ability to regulate our emotions.

Hannah:
We are, we’re just constantly go, go, go.

Annia :
Absolutely.

Hannah:
I mean, the busy woman is just the way we are now. A lot of the time we talk to people, particular with our challenges and stuff, we build in that mindset piece. A lot of it is like take time, some gratitude, and just mindfulness practises. Even with our classes now, we’re building in one to two minutes of just being still at the end. That’s even a struggle for some of us to sit still for so long.

Annia :
Absolutely.

Hannah:
Even though one minute is not very long, really, but it’s a challenge.

Annia :
But that’s just a reflection of our society. We don’t start learning those things from a young age. They’re not modelled to us. It’s expected that for many of us, we actually find it really uncomfortable to be still and to try to practise those things on a daily basis. But if we are talking about mindset and elevating that, it’s fundamental to start seeing those practises as no one is expecting you to sit for half an hour and be silent and meditate straight away. They’re just little doable, easy, mini activities that we can start incorporating to rewire the mindset and rewire the brain.

Hannah:
Yeah. I love that. If we talk about mean girls stories or say self-sabotage, is this part of the reason or one of the reasons that we’re so busy and then the mean girl stories occur? How was that connection there? How does this occur? What is the mean girl story?

Annia :
I think we all have our individual version of mean girl stories. The sad fact is that so many of our own stories, the meanest ones we have are the ones to ourselves. Because in terms of comparing ourselves, let’s just take a step back and go back to a time where things were a bit simple and we didn’t have as much of an influx of constant stimulation. Back in those days, when we were living in the wild and had our inner tribe, like 20 people, 30 people. We would sit there and perhaps compare how we look to how they look, how we ate to how they ate, what we wore and how we behave, because essentially our brain was wired to want to belong. We still are wired that way. We want to find acceptance. In essence, our brain just automatically compares us to our tribe and just to make sure that we’re doing the right thing, so to speak, to fit in. Because let’s face it, if you didn’t fit in, if you’re a bit weird, a bit different, didn’t create cohesion in a group, then you’d be more likely to be kicked out of the tribe, so to speak.

Annia :
From a survival perspective, you wouldn’t survive very long on your own out there. In this day and age, fast forward hundreds and hundreds and thousands of years, so here we are. Essentially, our brain is still wired the same way, but it’s not 20 or 30 people in a tribe anymore. It’s in a family, our friends, our work friends, their friends, their friends. Then there’s media, TV, personalities, news, radio. Don’t even get me started on all the different social platforms we’ve got. Our exposure to this constant comparison, we really are underestimating the impact that it’s having on our mean girl stories. The stuff about comparing ourselves to others, and then how that creates an inner dialogue that then runs like the loop, because we then continue to expose ourselves to a lot of comparison and retell ourselves those stories.

Annia :
It is quite challenging at the moment, Hannah, because so much of our life does revolve around that. Trust me, I love social media and I love technology. It’s made my life so great as I’m sure it has yours and all of our listeners, but it is really important to be mindful about how much of that we’re letting into our brain. How much of that we’re feeding our brain, because as much as you might think it doesn’t relate, it does. How we think about ourselves and the self-sabotaging stories that we create, we need to give them some space and quiet to start to reconfigure. But if there’s a constant reference point for comparison, how someone looks, how someone’s achieving, how someone’s progressing, and we’re still saying the same dialogue, those neural networks keep strengthening and it gets harder to get rid of them in a way.

Hannah:
Is there a way that we can reduce that self-sabotage story or change the mean girl stories in a way?

Annia :
Yeah. I often encourage people to start with something from a place of kindness and compassion. That might seem a bit, oh, okay, whatever, but it has a lot of scientific merit. A little simple strategy that I encourage people to try is the next time you find yourself comparing, instead of comparing, celebrate. Replace your comparison with celebration. If you are exercising in a class and you look over and someone’s looking like they’re doing better than you, or they look better than you or whatever the story is that propels any kind of mean girl ideas, the self-sabotage, look at them and catch yourself comparing and replace that with celebration. Wish them well in your head and celebrate the fact that they look that way, that they’re exercising that way, celebrate it.

Annia :
Catch yourself out and celebrate rather than compare. It’s not as hard as you think it is. It’s just in the beginning catching yourself is key, and then applying it. Really wishing people well and celebrating the diversity that you see instead of then using that as a reference point to then analyse yourself and belittle yourself and degrade yourself, because there is so much beautiful variation to celebrate. If you allow yourself to wish that person well, it takes the pressure off and then it makes you celebrate yourself in a way too. Because how you treat others is how you treat yourself.

Hannah:
Exactly, exactly. I’m sure practises like practising gratitude, I mean, that’s a massive one that I started implementing into my life and then visualisation. Just thinking of all the positive things that you already have in your life then perpetuates additional positive vibes coming into your life.

Annia :
Well said, Hannah. Again, it’s just a plethora of scientific evidence to show that gratitude practise and appreciation practise and celebration of things that we have in our lives and that we can experience. That really does change the neural wiring in our brain and tends to activate it out of an old default mode and starts to create new connections that then form new emotions and new attitudes. It is really important to be open to it, give it a try, even if you’ve done it before and you thought, no, whatever. You’re in a different space now in this point in time, so just go back to it and see what it does for you at this point in time of your life.

Hannah:
Like you said before, you don’t have to spend half an hour doing this every morning. We are busy. I mean, I’m definitely one of those people that’s wondering where the last week went and needing that week to come back so I can do it again or creating [inaudible 00:15:24]. I really wish I could clone myself. I know it’s probably not the best way, but I found that the drive into work when I used to work at my office job, or even now when I’m driving in, as long as I’m reasonably attentive to the cars around me, you can talk out loud to yourself. You can just go through a few things that you’re grateful for. Even if you drive two minutes down the road, it only takes a couple of minutes to go, I’m grateful for my family, I’m grateful for my health, I’m grateful for my puppy. I’m grateful that I can wake up in a warm, comfortable bed with my loved one next to me.

Annia :
There’s never something that you cannot find to be grateful for. But one important thing to say about gratitude, which I think maybe some of your listeners might have experienced in the past, because I find it’s quite common is that when we encourage people to practise gratitude and we say, okay, we’ll just think of something that you really appreciate or you’ve got and you’re grateful for. It’s not about trying to get someone to stop worrying about their problems and make that person feel like their problems aren’t worthy of thought. I think sometimes we’re too quick to go, oh, I should just be grateful. I should. I have to practise all this gratitude. It’s not about saying, no, you should get over your problem and just be grateful because you have a bed and other people don’t, or stop complaining because you have food and there are so many people around the globe that go hungry.

Annia :
It’s not about trying to make someone feel like they shouldn’t acknowledge their challenges and difficulties. It’s just about shifting attention and focus from them. It’s acknowledging that you might not feel well that day when you’re driving into work, you might be stressed. At the same time, if you can, there’s space enough in your brain to also focus on something that you do have, and that you are grateful for. I think that’s an important point because a lot of clients I work with, they tend to not resonate with a lot of gratitude practise sometimes because they almost feel like, oh, well, I shouldn’t be complaining. That’s not really what it’s about.

Hannah:
Then where do our, I guess, our personal values come into all of this then? I guess the question is, do most people even know what they value, what their key core values are? Then, if we know that, does that allow us to be able to be more grateful or reduce that self-sabotage? Is there a connection there?

Annia :
Absolutely. There’s a very strong connection. Like a lot of things growing up that seem obvious to us when we really look into them, like being kind and grateful and taking care of our nervous system, understanding what our values are. We don’t really get taught that in school. We don’t have that talked about a lot. We don’t get encouraged to regularly revisit the very things that we care about and that really truly matter to us. Values are extremely important when it comes to mindset. A lot of the work that I do scientifically is around values. It is surprising that a lot of us as adults, we’re not too sure. Like we have a rough idea, we go, oh yeah, I think this is my value. I think that I value this. When you really give someone the space and freedom and permission to explore their values, it’s quite surprising and enlightening for that person to go, oh, actually this is what I really do hold close to my heart.

Annia :
Identifying it is the first step. The way that it helps us with our self-sabotage is when you feel clear on the very things that navigate you through this life, those things that you can always come back to, then no matter what’s going on in our lives, whatever turmoil or challenge or self-sabotaging habits that have crept in and gotten us down. If there is an ability for us to shift that focus and attention onto a more values-aligned action, like a habit or a goal that we’ve set for ourselves, if it’s aligned with that value, then we’re already changing the trajectory of our emotions, of our experience. It’s like values are like a guiding post. Like if you’ve been trekking or bushwalking and you see those little highlighted fluorescent arrows that guide you where you need to be, they’re not at every metre.

Annia :
Sometimes you’re walking in the bush and you’re like, oh, I don’t really know where I’m going and everything feels a bit overwhelming. I think I’m going the right direction but I’m not sure. Then you see one of those posts or those guides, and then you feel safe, steady, grounded again. I guess values are like that for us in our life. We don’t always have the answers. We don’t always know what to do. We feel overwhelmed. Things happen that shift us off that trajectory. If we can stop, pause, look after our body through kind practises and refocus back on those values, then you feel safe, grounded, and clear again. You can start over and know that you’re already changing the trajectory to where you want to be, because you’re focusing on something that actually does really matter to you.

Hannah:
Are there some good resources our listeners can seek out to further, I guess, educate themselves around working out with their personal values out or how to reduce self-sabotage and mean girl stories?

Annia :
Yeah. Absolutely. There’s lots of good resources out there when it comes to identifying your personal values. There’s lots of little questionnaires and quizzes. There’s one that I think, valuescentre.com. I’m not affiliated with them. You just Google them or just Google values assessment. You’ll get a few that will come up. But at the end of the day, sometimes it’s worthwhile just to sit down and brainstorm a couple of words or phrases that mean a lot to you or things that you might already know that you find important in your life and start to tease that out and narrow those words down. I generally get clients to just have a bit of fun with it. Identify, start with 20 or 30 words, and then narrow it down. We start to work in that way until there’s maybe top five.

Annia :
Then once you’ve got your top five, there’s some really good ways that you can then expand on that. In terms of self-sabotaging resources and places to go and things to help us with that. Look, I would really encourage listeners to find ways to, relatable ways to them. If you, for example, aren’t someone who’s into mindfulness, it just isn’t your thing, then don’t force yourself to do that. Maybe go down another path of trying a little tool of celebrating instead of comparing, or trying a little tool of self-compassion exercises, or Googling some other ways to reset the nervous system to find some calm. There’s lots of different ways to help with self-sabotage, but it starts with identifying what works for you? What are you comfortable to do? Some people prefer to sit down and journal. Some people prefer this gratitude exercises, as we said. But don’t overwhelm yourself. Just find one or two that resonate with you.

Hannah:
Yeah, and that provides you with some value in your life and fit into your life. It’s never one size fits all.

Annia :
Yeah, absolutely. Just because sit works for someone, it doesn’t have to work for you. But if you do feel overwhelmed, then go to a trusted source or listen to your favourite podcaster. Just reach out because a lot of people are very happy to share their tools and share their ideas on what’s worked for them and others.

Hannah:
That’s awesome. Thanks so much for joining us, Annia. It’s such an important topic that we’ve just gone through. Now, for our Burn listeners, tune in for the next one. We’re getting Annia back. We’re going to dig into whole self health, habit formation, personal values, and finding balance. Have a great rest of your day.

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