Educator Wellness Podcast

Connecting with Others in Difficult Times

December 14, 2022 Season 1 Episode 3
Connecting with Others in Difficult Times
Educator Wellness Podcast
More Info
Educator Wellness Podcast
Connecting with Others in Difficult Times
Dec 14, 2022 Season 1 Episode 3

Just in time for the holidays, I welcome Dr. Jacob Priest to the podcast. Jacob, Associate Professor and Director of Couple and Family Therapy at the University of Iowa College of Education, is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Director of the LGBTQ Counseling Clinic. 

Learn about:

  • Managing emotions to meaningfully connect with others during stressful times
  • How to navigate different types of relationships
  • Setting firm and kind boundaries in relationships 

Thanks for listening! Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, X, LinkedIn and YouTube.

Visit our website: https://scsmh.education.uiowa.edu

Show Notes Transcript

Just in time for the holidays, I welcome Dr. Jacob Priest to the podcast. Jacob, Associate Professor and Director of Couple and Family Therapy at the University of Iowa College of Education, is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Director of the LGBTQ Counseling Clinic. 

Learn about:

  • Managing emotions to meaningfully connect with others during stressful times
  • How to navigate different types of relationships
  • Setting firm and kind boundaries in relationships 

Thanks for listening! Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, X, LinkedIn and YouTube.

Visit our website: https://scsmh.education.uiowa.edu

(bright music)(bright music continues)- Oh.(Kari laughing)- That was not meant to happen.(Kari and Jacob laughing)- I think we're live though.- I think we're live,(Kari laughing) so here we go. Oh my goodness. Welcome to the Scanlan Center for School Mental Health Educator Wellness podcast. Just to kind of get you going here, this podcast was really designed for teachers. It's designed for teachers to learn about different dimensions of their wellness and to become a healthier, happy individual, not only in their own personal lives, but of course, in their school lives as well. My name is Kari Vogelgesang, and I am an Associate Clinical Professor in the College of Education at the University of Iowa. And I'm also the Director of Professional Development for the Scanlan Center for School Mental Health and the Baker Teacher Leader Center. Well, that is a mouthful.- You're fancy.- No, I'm not fancy.- No, I think that's what it is.- But it's just a lot. It's a lot of hats. So, we teachers wear a lot of hats.- Yeah, yeah.- So, it's just a lot of hats. And this is our special guest, our expert guest tonight, Dr. Jacob Priest. Welcome, Jacob.- Happy to be here.- Okay, so I'm gonna read Jacob's bio and then we're gonna ask Jacob lots and lots of questions. And I want all of you to think of this as like a personal free therapy session.(Jacob and Kari laughing)- I'm gonna get in trouble.- So start writing questions down folks, okay?(Kari laughing) Every time I do an event like this with you, I'm always like, yes, free therapy.(Kari and Jacob laughing)- I mean, you just have to invite me over for pizza again, I give you free therapy anytime you want.- Okay, I'll do that.- Yeah.- Okay, so Dr. Jacob Priest is first and foremost, a very good friend and colleague of mine, and he also happens to be an associate professor and director of the Couple and Family Therapy Program on the College of Education at the University of Iowa. He also holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Carvery, I wanna say Carver Hawkey, Carver College of Medicine. Jacob received a BS in Family Studies from Weber State University and MS in Marriage and Family Therapy, from Purdue University and a PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy, from Florida State University. He is a clinician in the UI Healthcare LGBTQ plus clinic. Has a private practice in Cedar Rapids and is the author of The Science of Family Systems Theory, which is on my desk. On campus.- And you read it cover to cover.- Cover to cover.- It's a gripping novel.- It is on my desk. He lives in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, with his wife Chelsea, who is his better half.- That's not wrong.(Kari laughing)- Their son Keaton, their daughter Birdue, they're both adorable and their cats, Albert, Woodward, Lyndon and Cecilia. You only ever talk about Cecilia, when I'm around you.- Well, 'cause- Is she your favorite?- No, she's the quasi feral one that was born under our porch.- Oh yes.- Yeah.- Okay.- Yeah.- That's why, yeah.- She's the one that causes lots of problems.- I only hear about Cecila.- So that's probably why. Similar thing in families, the problem ones the one you hear.- Oh yes, we're gonna get into that. Cecilia, we're gonna unpack you a a little bit later and all of your issues. So, first of all, how are you?- I'm doing pretty well. It's been, it's the end of the semester, so it's nice to know that there's a little bit of a pause coming, but,- Yeah.- I'm not to that pause yet, so hopefully we'll get there.- We'll get there. We have one more week.- Yeah.- Yeah. I know that lots of the educators who are joining us tonight, are also approaching their holiday break and are excited to have a little break and a rest. But, we are really coming together tonight to kind of prepare for that break.- Yeah, because it can sometimes not be a break.- Yes, sometimes it's a break. Sometimes we have things that come up over the holidays with friends and family that don't feel very relaxing.- Yes, that is very true.- So.(Kari laughing)- My practice always gets a little bit busier in January.(Kari laughing)- I imagine it does. So, before we start to pick Jacob's brain about how we can maybe prepare ourselves for interacting with all different kinds of people over the holidays, some people who we're very close to, some people who we maybe only see once a year, twice a year. I'm gonna remind us a little bit about how this episode specifically, directly connects to the eight dimensions of wellness that we're talking through and how those dimensions are connecting specifically to our castle competencies, our five core competencies. So, just bear with me so I can make that direct connection. So, we are focusing tonight on our social and emotional dimensions of wellness. And as a reminder, our social dimension refers to our ability to interact successfully with others. And this dimension includes our sense of connectedness and belonging. And we're gonna talk about belonging and the importance of belonging tonight. It involves creating and maintaining a healthy support network. Systems is your area of expertise and some of the skills a person should consider in practice and strengthening this dimension of wellness, would include learning how to set and respect boundaries using effective and empathetic communication skills, being genuine and authentic with others, and treating others in a respectful way. Our emotional dimension is our ability to cope effectively with life and build satisfying relationships with others. Some of the skills a person practices to improve their emotional wellness are managing feelings and behaviors. We have to get through what I wrote today, so that we make sure we make these direct connections to your work in healthy ways, particularly during challenging moments in our lives. And so, this is why we are all coming together tonight to think through how this plays out. Again, not only in our personal lives, but in our lives at school with our students, families and colleagues as well. Okay. Over the summer months when I was planning this series and I got kind of each month I started to think about, as many of you know, I've said before, I taught elementary for almost a decade, elementary school. And each month really, at least for me, but I know all my teacher friends, we've talked about this before, really, there's something specific that a teacher connects to, like in each month. And so when I get to December, I immediately start to think of, okay, we're at this point we're at a breaking point, we need a rest,(Kari and Jacob laughing) we need a break. We've had lots of things happen.- Yeah.- From summer months of planning all the way through December. We also know that we're having to do some additional planning in our house around different holidays. We are getting excited and maybe a little bit fearful about some of the interactions that we may have over the holidays as well. So, I'm thinking it would be good to first, let's just start talking about how, what are the benefits of creating and maintaining healthy relationships in our lives? Like, why does it even matter?- Well, so one of my favorite therapists, Esther Perel, you may have heard of her, she's on lots of podcasts, has great books. She makes a claim, which I agree with, is the quality of our closest relationships, determines the quality of our lives. Right? I mean, my research and lots of other folks', research looks at how we connect with people, predicts not only our mental health, like depression, anxiety, or how fulfilled we feel in our lives, but also like our physical health, right? So, if you have stressful relationships, over time, you're gonna be at greater risk for chronic illnesses. So, they're not only important to like, just feeling who we are, being alive, connecting, all those things that make us human, but they're also really important to our health and wellbeing.- Yeah. Okay so, talk to me about this because, so I push back on this sometimes, I mean, not really. I know what the research says about that.- Yeah.- And it's very clear, right? But, so there are some of us who will say to you, or to their therapist, or to whomever,"I'm an introvert and I actually don't like"hanging out with people all the time"and it makes me feel uncomfortable"and it stresses me out, it gives me anxiety". So like, can you talk to us a little bit about people who tend to actually, like their cup is full when they have some private time and like the difference between that and just not having relationships at all.- Yeah, right, there's a difference between being alone and being lonely.- Yeah, okay.- Right? Like one of my favorite bands, Jack's Mannequin has a great line that says,"Have you ever been alone in a crowded room?" Right? Like that feeling- Yeah.- Of, being an introvert, loving to have like space to yourself to reconnect, I think is really healthy. And that doesn't mean you're lonely. Some people need that. They need to be able to not be so social, so connected all the time, because then it actually allows them to connect in the ways they want to.- Yeah.- But being isolated is totally different, right? You can be in multiple relationships, interacting with people and feel lonely and isolated. And it's in those relationships actually, where we see the worst health outcomes, right? Not, the introvert who also has maybe one, or two friends, they're really close, connect with maybe a partner, or a parent that they're close with, who doesn't, not gonna go out and be the star of the show.- Yeah.- Those are healthy relationships. It's the person that's embedded in relationships where they don't have a sense of connection and don't have a sense of individuality in those relationships, that are really the ones that are unhealthy.- How does that happen? Like how do we learn how to do this?- How do we learn how to be in healthy relationships?- Well, or to even just like make connections?- Yeah.- I mean, we know when we're kids, right? We're kind of forced into it.- Yeah.- Right? And like, we're supposed to practice that then. But now, like I hear this so much from adults, how do I make friends?- Right and so, that's a thing where I don't think we do a very good job when it comes to this kind of education. We don't actually have a theory, of what it means to be connected, right? We don't actually have a way to think, we have tools and tricks and oftentimes those don't actually get it done, right? You can read on a website like the 10 best ways to find friends if you're a lonely adult and you go do those and then you're sitting at a restaurant, trying to awkwardly talk to somebody. You're like, this is terrible.- Yeah, that's depressing.- Yeah.(Jacob laughing)- You know?- Yeah.- As someone who online dated in their 30s, I know it can be depressing, it can be not very fun, but if you have a theory of what connection is, you have more options to respond, right? Like, if you just have tools, but no reason why those tools should work, then the tools themselves, if you gave me a hammer, I have no theory on how to build a house, I could be like, well, yeah, you nail stuff to other things.- Yeah.- But it's not gonna help me build a house. Right? If I had the knowledge, okay, these are the plans, this is what this needs to look like, this is what you do first.- Sure.- Second, then you have that. But we don't give people that for relationships.- So then it makes me wonder, okay, so we're not necessarily like explicitly teaching these tools in schools, or maybe in other areas of our life. Maybe people who go to church. Maybe they're, I don't know, different areas of our lives. But also then I start to think, things that were modeled to us, as we were growing up. And like not only like how that shapes how we resolve conflict? Which I wanna get into conflict a little bit later, but like how we interact with people, our expectations of what relationships might be. Can you talk to us a little bit about how just that family system, our direct family system and experience with that system, then impacts the way we build connection with other people?- Yeah. So as you said, I have two kids. One of them is going to be nine months in six days from now. She can't talk, she can't say her name. She can't ask for what she wants. We've had millions and millions of tiny interactions.- Yeah.- Those things that we have done have shaped who I am in relationship to her and in who she is in relationship to me. And so, if you think about that, even before we're cognitively aware, we already learn how to be in relationships by the people that are closest to us. And so when we can actually sit back and think and reflect on our relationships, which takes a long time, even sometimes clear into adulthood, we don't actually see that these patterns that we've learned how they affect us, because we see them as, this is what the relationship is. We don't actually see that there's opportunities, or options to be different in these relationships.- I mean shit, like that is so, what you just said to me is so heavy, because, I'm still working on this, right? And this is like, I've worked in this field of social, emotional behavioral health for 20 years and I still think about and have to unpack, like why I am re responding to things in a certain way and why it's triggering different responses and emotions and why I'm reacting the way I'm reacting? And nearly through lots of training therapy.- I hate.(Kari laughing) I love my therapist so I'm just saying.- I just kinda walk back and like it's, because I can usually remember a moment in time in my childhood, that I can match whatever emotion I'm feeling in that moment and why I am feeling uncomfortable to a specific time in my childhood, when I was seeing something that, evoked that kind of emotion and how scared I was.- Yeah. Right? And if you think about this, we talk about patterns in relationships and these patterns get seared into our lives, our brains, our bodies, right?- Our bodies.- If you think about Bessel van der Kolk wrote the book, "The Body Keeps the Score".- Yeah.- Right? And that's about how trauma, our reaction to these terrible events, actually gets imbued, embedded into who we are. And so sometimes we're reacting to things in a way that in some ways makes total sense to us, but we have no idea why, or makes no sense to us, but it's just what we do.- Yeah.- And it is these, that's often easier to see when they're these big events, but then also take, these big events aren't always there, these little interactions, right? It does two things. It shows us how we exist in a relationship, but also we get our sense of identity from the relationships we're embedded in.- Yeah.- Right? If I say I am a father, husband, brother, uncle, grandson, nephew, those are all identity markers, but they're talking about a relationship. And when I am in those things, when I inhabit that identity, I'm a little bit different in how I interact.- Yeah. So would you, do you think it's a good idea?'Cause you just, so you've mentioned, how we have these identities and those identities are really relationships. Do you think it's a good idea for us to sit down and maybe really critically think through what that relationship actually means to you? So like, what does it mean to be a son? What does it mean to be a teacher? What does to be a wife, or a daughter, or whatever? Would that be helpful to somebody?- I think so, because if you think about it, when you said all of those things, when I said all of those identity relationship markers, there is already big cultural narratives around what that means.- Yes.- Right? And, oftentimes because those narratives are there, because the interactions are happening, we don't think about it.- Yeah.- All we do is think about like, oh, I'm a dad. This is what dads do. It's most apparent when you see the discrepancies, right? So, I live in Cedar Rapids. We used to live really close to Beaver Park. One morning they were doing, this activity in Beaver Park and I took my two kids there. Right? I rolled up there, with my big two seater stroller. I got my son out who was two at the time.'Cause he's two and a half now. And you know, we start doing this activity and I'm interacting with my daughter and the women come up to me like"Oh there's super dad."Look at you."- Oh okay.- Right?- Here we go.- And so, yeah.(Kari laughing) And so my wife does the exact same thing, right? She will take, like this morning, every Wednesday morning, she takes the kids to story time in the library. Does anybody call her super mom for taking two kids somewhere?- No.- No, right? Because the cultural narrative, or expectation is dictating what is considered normal, for in one relationship, because of your identity marker is considered amazing for another person, right? And that inequity shapes how we interact.- Okay, so, pause.- Yes.- We're gonna pause.- Okay.- We're pausing. We have educators in here. So, let's unpack what people think about teachers and what teachers need to be in order to be valued?- Yeah.- Teachers have to be on all the time. They have to be completely selfless, or they're not a good teacher. They have to be totally accommodating at all times, or they're terrible. They're really not a very good teacher. They have to take home all of their work with them. If you think about this identity in our culture, that we've built around what it means to be a teacher, and then if you choose to set boundaries and not do that, how that impacts your relationship with your family, with your colleagues, with your students, with their families.(Jacob laughing)- Yeah, right?- It's nuts right?- No, well yeah, I talked to, I did it today. I was talking to teachers in Joaquin about social-emotional learning.- I forgot you were there today.- Well, yeah, it was virtual.- Oh, I thought you went so.- No, I'm going somewhere else in January in person.- Okay. I'm sure I emailed you about that and I've forgotten now. We'll talk about that later.- Anyway. But if you think about that, why do we want that expectation? Well, because, it allows us some predictability, right? Most of these narratives we have around people, help us navigate in a predictable world. But, oftentimes they become these what we're supposed to be in these identities, become so narrow, so restrictive. So, if you step out of line where you are going to be viewed as bad, or wrong, or different, that it makes it so there's no place for a real connection, or individuality in that space, right? We ask teachers to teach math, science, all this stuff, oh and take care of the mental health of your students, right? It's an impossible task.- It's an impossible job.- Right? And also being perfect in any identity, or in any relationship is also impossible. And what I think the main thing we can do, to have healthy relationships, is learn to mess up well and to adapt based on those mess-ups.- Okay. This is a good segue.- Oh, I love a good segue.- Yeah. This is a good segue. But first, before we make a little bit of a pivot here, I want to welcome all of you who are joining us tonight to take advantage of Jacob.(Kari and Jacob laughing) And please feel free if you have comments, anything about relationships, particularly relationships that might be, you might be experiencing, or having difficulties with in your life, then feel free to pop them in the comment section and we'll start to filter some of them and take them as we see them come up. So, feel free to do that. Okay so you, let's shift to conflict.- Yes.- Okay. So, I have been thinking about conflict a lot in my life. Probably the last, well, you know my journey, so I won't unpack all of it.- We don't need to do your therapy session here, we'll do that after.- After, after. But you know, okay, so I wanna talk a little bit how conflict shapes maybe, I don't know if shapes is the right, shapes our relationship, or enters into a relationship and impacts our relationship. And so, we know that conflict is everywhere. And it seems like over the holidays we all do this thing. I know I do. I supposed it depends on who your family is.(Kari laughing)- You get ready for, okay, I know this is coming.- Yeah, we're like armor up, in the words of Bene Brown.- Yes.- And we get our defense mechanisms ready to go and we start to like emotionally, mentally prepare and even like sometimes rehearse.- Oh yeah.- Like how we're gonna shut shit down. Like we're just so ready for it. So I, okay, I was listening to this. So, I like Hidden Brain. Do you listen to Hidden Brain?- Yes, I do listen to Hidden Brain. It's a great podcast.- It's a great podcast. And so, there I was listening to Hidden Brain. I wrote this down. So, they were talking about conflict and conflict causes all kinds of uncomfortable feelings, right? So, it causes hurt, anger, animosity, fear, shame, stress, all of this, right? So, let's face it, when we feel that conflict in relationship, it became destroy a relationship. On Hidden Brain, someone asked this question that I've spent a lot of time thinking about, how can we do conflict better? Not erase it, because it's everywhere. So, instead of thinking about, I'm gonna avoid conflict, I'm gonna shut it down. I'm gonna rehearse how I'm gonna shut that down and get them to be quiet and not so then I don't feel this way. How can we actually lean into it and know that this is part of life and do it better?- I love this question. I'm really glad- Thank you.- You asked that.- Thank you.- I love the set up.(Kari laughing) So, I'm gonna jump back to what I said first. You know how we don't have a theory of relationships? I'm gonna give you the 500 foot version of mine. So, relationships are inherently conflictual because, the interactions that have to occur in them are always opposed to each other. We've been talking kind of around this a little bit, but in every relationship there are two important, processes, interactions that are always constantly happening. I want to belong and I want to be me. Right? And so when you think about that, that is, is constant conflict and what comes up in the middle of that? All right, I'm monitoring the threats that might make it so I lose me, or I lose you, or I lose us, right? And so, if we're gonna do conflict better, we actually move it from the content of we're arguing about money, we're arguing about.- Politics.- Yeah, politics. You play too many video games. I get a lot of this stuff, right? And instead you say,"Okay, how are these impulses of threat response,"connection, individuality,"structuring an interactive dance that we do? Right? And once you can see the pattern, it's actually much easier to shift it. The problem is, is when we have conflict, because it makes us feel uncomfortable, we just wanna stop.- We wanna stop it.- Like, no, I'm right. You're wrong. You see that and then it doesn't stop it, then you're like, fine, you're right, I'm wrong. And but that conflict still exists. And what the thing is about conflict and that tension between those interactions, is that it feels like it has to be that dichotomy. Someone has to win the conflict, someone has to lose. But, conflict better is about seeing the pattern and owning, okay, this is what I do in the pattern, this is how I see the pattern. Do you see it that way? And when you do that, then you have all of this incredible ability to shift.- Yeah.- And the cool thing about that, is why I think it's so important to have conflict in relationships. It is allows you to create something new, right? When we restructure the interactions, our relationship, we're creating not an only a new sense of we.- Yeah.- But a new sense of me too.- Okay. But what if I am right?(Kari laughing)- Well,- I got a doozy.- I mean I know you Kari and I know you are right, right?- But what if they are wrong?(Kari laughing)- Yeah, right?- And so.- But what if you get into that? Okay, so what if Uncle Joe comes to the-- Love Uncle Joe.- Yeah. He's a character. But he comes to the table over the holidays and he actually just starts spewing things that are totally inaccurate and offensive.- Yeah. I think.- Okay.- So, is your Thanksgiving like my Thanksgiving?(Kari and Jacob laughing)- No, not anymore. Well, I've done things to shut down.- Well, so I think two things, right? If someone is attacking you and an identity you hold, I don't feel that in that point you have the responsibility to try to connect that. If you're having an argument with somebody that says"You don't exist, or you are inferior because you are this", that is not conflict.- Yeah.- That is just.- Bullying.- Bigotry, bullying, those types of things.- Yeah.- Right?- It's different.- But if somebody is really trying to engage with you to have a conversation about how you see things differently, I think that is essential to a good relationship. It's just that they might not go about it well. I get asked around the holidays a lot to talk, how do you manage relationships across the holidays? Right? Just like we're talking about. Don't have those conversations at the dinner table. If you really want to have, if Uncle Joe wants to talk politics with you, you can say, " Hey, I'd love to have this conversation."We're not talking about this right now."Let's just enjoy our mashed potatoes".- Yeah.- Right? Move it to a different because.- Okay.- The context of conflict is also really important. You can't decouple the interactions that are creating conflict with the context, right? If the person you're trying to, if you're in conflict with you, has been really unsafe, hurtful in the past, then unless, and until that's removed, engaging and trying to shift that relationship is gonna be problematic.- Yeah. Yeah. Okay. We have a question that I think we need to pause. Okay."Thoughts on conflict between significant others"when their family relations differ,"due to different cultures".- Okay. I love this question.- I do too.- So, let me share a story first that my therapist shared with me.- Okay.- And it's one of my favorites. It was actually a story about her parents. So, my therapist, she has since retired, but I worked with her for a really long time. And so she was, when I started working with her in her mid 60s right? So, her parents, grew up in the early, 1920s, 1930s. And they dated for 10 years, right? Which is very atypical.- Wow, that is.- And why? Well, one was Protestant Lutheran, one was Catholic.- Okay.- Right? And if we think about cultural, significant cultural divides, especially in Iowa, that was a big one. They loved each other and they couldn't figure out in a short period of time how to mesh these cultures. But what were they able to do? Because it was so important to them, they took the time to establish, understand, structure a relationship in a way where, my therapist said, and I believe her, they had one of the best marriages I've ever seen. Right? They didn't follow a script, but they learned from the differences that were there, to build something that was uniquely there. And I think it's similar thing can happen, on how we use conflict when there is difference across cultures, right?- Yeah.- Because cultures carry their own, expectations, norms, traditions, rituals, all those types of things. And you know, it's easy to wanna just pit the, I'm right, you're wrong, we do it my way. No, we do it my way. But if you really can organize conversations, interactions around these experiences, that are not asking anybody to abandon, or totally shut down, or just disconnect from their culture, you can create something that is unique to your relationship, to your family, to your system. And I think when we do that, you asked the question earlier, we have these narratives that are so powerful and how do we get out of those? I think in some ways that's how you do it. You say.- Yeah.- These are the expectations. This is what we created for us, and this is better than what we could have had, if we just did it one way or the other.- Yeah, it reminds me a lot of the work that we're trying to do in schools right now, in terms of like shifting like deficit models to asset based models and thinking through culture and climate and how we use all of our differences as an asset.- Yeah.- I think sometimes, we're in a hyper political environment, right? And that pushes us towards right and wrong. And, that ends discussion, that ends actually, when you are so polarized, you can't adapt a relationship, a system in that way.- Yeah.- Right? And so in other words, by moving so far, we lose the opportunity to actually adapt. And so that's why I think it's important to value difference.- Yeah.- Because your lived experience is different than my lived experience.- Totally.- Right? But because we know that, we know things about each other, it makes our friendships so much richer. Right?- Oh my, 'cause we couldn't have been raised more differently.- More differently, right?- No.- If we would've met each other in like junior high, we would've been like, who are you? Right?- Yeah. Yeah, it would've been nuts.- But, because of those lived experiences, we get thrown into a system where we get to interact.- Yeah.- And it becomes, not only like fun, but also like, because I know you, my career has gotten a big boost, because you have provided me with opportunities like this.- Oh Jacob.- That I'm really thankful for. Right?- Well, that's really sweet and it goes both ways.- Well, I appreciate that too, but no, I really mean that. I think that because of you and your excellence and part of that is you lift other people up. You have really done that and given, like just like this platform, right? You didn't to invite me. I'm just the guy down the hall, the office down the hall. But.- Yeah. The reason why I think some ways we have a friendship is because we are so different.- Yeah, I do too. I think we, and we're are at a point we've learned, right? And this is one of the things that I love about my job, is I meet so many different people. I go to really small school districts and I go to our larger urban areas. I do work internationally. So, I'm in and out of the country talking to people who are in the education field. And one thing that I think I've learned a lot, particularly over the last probably five years, is to shut my mouth and listen. Because people have some really interesting stories.- Yeah.- And you can learn so much about their delivery, what they're interested in, and why they keep bringing certain points up in conversation, why they wanna just talk to you about certain things in general, based off of their lived experiences.- Yeah.- And I think that's one thing that we don't do a great job of teaching our kids how to do, is like, okay, because you know what? We don't oftentimes listen to them very well.- Oh yeah. I agree. Right? I deal with that in my practice. Like when I'm working with families, a lot of times what I'll see is kids really want to share a message with parents, and parents are like, "No, that's wrong."So I'm gonna shut that down" and I have to help parents coach 'em. Just listen, hear, be interested to ask questions. You don't have to change your mind, but actually in, as you talked about leaning into the conflict, or really just, you know, I talk with clients all the time. Like ask two or three follow up questions, before you give your opinion.- Yes.- Because do you know what that's gonna do? It communicates the other person your ideas, what you're saying, I'm listening and I value it.- Yeah, you taught me this actually why a long time ago. I mean, I think Griffin was like in junior high and Griffin, I don't know. Griffin might be even listening right now. He's my 21 year old and he's great, by the way.- I love him.- He's a junior here at the University of Iowa. But, we went through some challenging times as an adolescent and I remember you saying that to me one time. We were at our dining room table.- Yeah, I do remember this conversation.- And you were like, "You just keep correcting him."Like just ask him some more questions".- Oh I gave you therapy.- Of course you did. And I'm not saying it fixed all the problems.- No.- Like of course that's never going to happen. But it did help and I use that all the time now. Like, especially when I'm starting to feel frustrated, I'm like, just keep asking questions, just try to understand.- Yeah. Because we often when we hear something we don't agree with, the goal is to shut it down, right? And I think in certain situations, in certain conversations that is acceptable. That is the right thing to do. And in most conversations, especially ones that are really important, that can enact change, leaning into that, asking those questions can be a huge difference. Right? Can I share a story?- Absolutely.- Sorry, this is, maybe some of you have heard this, but it's like, so you know, but I'll tell our audience. I grew up Mormon, right? And Mormon theology isn't really accepting of gay and lesbian, especially gay and lesbian relationships. So, I grew up in that context, right? And I go to graduate school at Purdue in 2008, if you remember 2008, that was the California Proposition 8, which the Mormon church was heavily invested in, both, getting their members to canvas and talk to folks and spending lots of money to codifying in California as a marriage between a man and a woman. So, we're in a couple and family therapy program. We're gonna talk about this. Now, within the cohort of students, there was nine of us. There's people who were bisexual, who were lesbian, who had all sorts of sexual identities. And I knew this and we're talking about this and what does 2008 Mormon Jacob do?- Well, you told me, but please share.- Yeah.(Kari laughing)- No, this isn't right. This is not what God wants. This is wrong. Now, I was told that they would respond to me by saying I was a bad person and hypocrite. That's what I was told. I was waiting for them. I was like, okay, tell me I'm terrible. Tell me I'm wrong. And they didn't, they said,"Wow, okay tell us more about that". After the conversation, the classmates came up to me and said,"Hey, you said this, I wanna know where you're coming from". Right? And, and to me that was a huge shift in my life, before this podcast. I was literally being in a court hearing for a trans kid who's trying to get access to care. And if I don't have that conversation and if, or if those people don't have this inviting me into that conversation, my life looks really different right now.- Yeah.- And I think that's where we can actually grow and build something that's so much different, but better than we might expect.- Yeah.- And we don't have to- Sorry I regress.- No, it's a great story. I mean, because it's really using a strategy and showing how other people even just use an authentic strategy to try to better understand you and to build a bridge and a connection even if you don't agree.- Yeah.- And, I think that's really important in our lives, but also in our work as teachers.- Yeah.- We're going to meet colleagues and parents and students who don't have the same values that we do.- Yeah.- Or agree with all of it, but we can still build relationships.- Yeah. There's a difference between being in a relationship with someone and wholly ascribing and believing, you know what they believe.- Absolutely.- Two things can, those two things can exist.- We have a great question here. Oh wait, sorry. Okay."Has there ever been a time"where a couple has come to seek" oh, we've talked about this before.- Yeah."Seek counseling and you realize"they're better off separate than together."And if so, how did you handle that?"- Yeah. So, I tell a lot of my couples that the end goal of my therapy with you isn't necessarily to have you stay together. Right? Some people grow out of relationships, some relationships don't have staying power and that can be a problem. Right? Not every successful marriage ends until death do you part. Sometimes the success is realizing that you need to let go of that, in order for the two people to be their best selves. That said, there isn't ever a time where I say like,"Oh yeah, you two shouldn't be together". I'm not gonna make that choice for them, because they know way more about what's going on in their lives than I do. And I don't ever think that you want to take that off the table in your relationship. Right? Some people say like,"There's nothing that could ever happen"that would lead to us breaking up".- I agree.- That's not true, right?- Well, I said that in my 20s.- Totally, yeah.- Yeah, right?- But now, like at 45 and single, like when I meet a guy, and he will say something that's upset me, red flag, moving on.- Real commitment I think in a relationship, is having real expectations and real boundaries around what violates trust.- Yeah.- And if that trust is being consistently violated.- You gotta move on.- Yeah, I mean it may be hard, it's not always that easy.- No.- Especially 'cause there's a lot of invested, but sometimes.- Yeah.- That's the best outcome.- Sometimes it is the best outcome. Absolutely. It's the healthiest thing to do sometimes. Yeah. Okay. We have about 15 minutes left and so I think it might be a really good idea for us to do, if you could, if you could do like, okay, we're going into the holidays. What are some things that we should be doing to prepare ourselves? Kind of talk through some of 'em, but maybe we can just specifically name- Yeah.- Three or four.- All right, have a plan.- Have a plan.- Right? And what do I mean by a plan? Like you can ask my wife, I am not someone that's going to schedule out, this is here, this is there, some people are that, and that's a great plan to have, but have a plan for what you're opting into and what you're opting out of.- Okay.- And communicate that plan ahead of time, right? In many families, there is one person who is like the caretaker of the holiday. You're gonna go to their house, they're gonna organize everything. They're gonna cook the food, they're gonna wrap the presents. That might be you, many of you listening, or watching in on this podcast. And oftentimes, what we do is we say,"Oh okay, when we get there."Okay, I was here, this is too much, I'm gone". And we don't communicate that. Right? We don't actually say,"Hey, I'm gonna be here for this,"not gonna be here for this,"but I'll be back for this". And it may hurt that person that they're going through all this effort to do all this and you're gonna opt out of something. But what would hurt the person more, is if you don't respect 'em enough to communicate that.- Yeah.- Right? So, that's what I would say. Like, there is going, I mean, this is my mom. My mom loves Christmas, she loves having her family altogether.- I've seen the pictures.- You've seen the pictures. My mom is like.- I mean it's gorgeous.- It's Christmas, Martha Stewart. Right? My mom has her own- It's truly Martha Stewart- Present wrapping room. She has a present wrapping room that started three months ago and she's just like.- And bless her soul. I mean seriously.- She loves it.- It is wonderful.- And so she has texted us,"Hey, this is what we're thinking."Let me know where you're gonna be". Right? Because, and we live far away, so we'll probably be there for everything, because we have extra hands to take care of our kids and we don't get to see as much. But my other siblings who live closer, they have other family members that are gonna be there. And they're gonna go spend time. And my mom understands that and sure she would wish that, her family, in my mom's perfect world, we would be there for three weeks. Everybody would be under the same roof, all of that. And she loves that. But she understands that that can't be realistic. But she's communicated a plan to us and it's our job to follow up with that plan.- Okay. I'm gonna throw a wrench in the wheel.- Yes, throw a wrench in.- Okay, you have a partner and what if you are like, I can't wait to go home. I can't wait to spend a month under my parents' roof,(Kari laughing) a week, whatever the time period is. And your partner is like, oh hell no, we're not doing this. I can't have this. So, clearly there's, I mean I think I know what your answer's gonna be.- Yeah.- But there's clearly very some differences in terms of how you wanna spend your holidays.- Yeah.- What do we do?- So, first, if my partner's thoughts are because they don't feel safe, they don't feel like they are welcome, that's a different conversation, right? If there's just a history of tension and conflict, or I can't spend that much time with your family, that's a more malleable conversation. I'm gonna assume we're doing that one.- Okay.- To me, I would say,"Okay, you don't wanna be there for a month". I don't think.- Can you imagine?(Kari laughing)- No. That is the recommendation. Do not.- I mean that's the plan.- Maybe some folks like love that, like going to stay with their parents for a month. I mean in some ways, maybe you're like "Grandma and grandpa"take care of your grandkids"- A month. You'd better not back out.- Yeah, that's true.- I mean, your parents' house is huge, so they can accommodate.- But like, I think that, it's okay too to say "All right", and this again is under if they live like 20, 30 minutes away, I'm gonna go to this, you stay home.- Yeah.- Let's be there for the most important event. And I think if you can make an effort for me, I will call, have a conversation with them of what they need to do. I can navigate this boundary for you.- Yeah.- I can go to bat for you. And I think you showing up, putting forth the effort would really mean a lot to me too. And so, I think that there's a way to navigate that. I also think that you do have to allow your partners some flexibility, some autonomy in what they're participating in. Right?'Cause not everybody gets along.- Yeah.- You have families, it's just not always, you're not always gonna get along. And being able to opt in or opt out I think is really important.- So, basically what you're saying is, you actually have to like communicate in a kind way?- Well, yes right?(Kari and Jacob laughing) Part of that is that, we talk about skills and I always laugh a little bit, because couples always come to me and I say,"What brings you to therapy? And they say "Communication issues" and that can mean anything.- Yeah.- Communication and so if I just said,"Oh great communication issues."All right, here's the speaker listener technique."Now your marriage is fixed". It doesn't work like that. But, there is value and when we talk about communication techniques, the most important one is slowing down.- Yeah.- Is actually, hold on, where are you coming from? Wait a second. Did I get this right? No.- Double again.- Say that again. No, I'm not quite getting that. Wait, did you hear what I'm saying? I wanna make sure you get, slowing that down actually allows for good communication, because it allows us to absorb, feel, express what's going on for us.- There was an episode, I think it was on Hidden Brain that talked about the slowing down of communication and how essential it is and like all parts of your life. Yeah, so I mean, yeah I think that's great. Okay, so we're gonna take a little bit of a break on the steps.- Yeah. So plan is the one, but I really wanna get to Olivia's question here, cause I think it's a really good one. Yikes, yeah."So how would you deal with sadness"that family members are excluding you,"even if you don't normally enjoy your time with those?" Oh yeah, that's kind of complicated, isn't it? So, you're sad that you're being excluded, but you don't necessarily enjoy your time with those people anyway. Like I get it.- You're not invited. Well, I wouldn't wanna be invited anyway, but I'm also sad that I'm not invited.- Because it's going back to that innate feeling it's like this necessary feeling of belonging that we have to have as human beings in our community.- So, two thoughts on that. The first one is, we do put a lot of pressure on togetherness during the holidays and right? If your only sense of trying to fix connection comes about every December, that's not gonna happen. If you're lonely and wish you could be with your family the next holiday season, start that conversation in January. Right?- Yeah.- And so you have that time. Also, that's a normal feeling. And I think it can be too that sometimes, the family we are born into, isn't the family we need to be with. Right? Sometimes, you know?- Yeah, just say that one more time.- The family we're born into, is not the family we need to be with.- Yeah.- I deal with a lot of like young adults, or early people in their early 30s and they're really upset that their parents aren't who they want them to be. And they're like, "Why don't my parents get this?"Why don't they change?" I was like, "Do you want you to be in a relationship"with this person, or do you want them to be different?" Right? Because those are two different things, right? People are gonna be who they are and you trying to change that, is actually the best way to avoid building a relationship. Rather, what it is, is having reasonable rational expectations for what certain people can provide you. You may never have the dad that is going to be cheering you on at your soccer games, or puts his arms around you and says you love him. And that's doesn't mean that your dad is a bad person. It means that the expectations and limitations that maybe he's experienced that you may not even know, are there and you can still be connected to him. It just can't be a narrative, a story, an expectation that that person is incapable of.- Yeah. That is a big one.- Right?- Really, trying to see who people really are and what, and having a relationship with really who they are.- Right? We even think about like social and emotional learning is like, we all wanna do this. Well we all don't.- Yeah.- Some people are like,"No this is all you're gonna get from me,"take it or leave it". And sometimes you have to trust them at that. Sometimes, not only that, they might not say that, but that's all they might be capable of.- Yeah, and I think even, I'm thinking about students right now too. I mean, I'm having, I was having some student issues this week with some kiddos and teachers and just, wanting a student to care about school and getting into this back and forth of like, well you should care about this, because it's part of your future. And like kind of this back and forth about what they should care about. But we can't make that determination for them. We have to try to understand where they're coming from and who they are and then build the relationship from there. And sometimes that means maybe not even having conversations about that content, or because they're just in that place right now.- Yeah. So, in therapy training we call that working harder than the client.- Ah.- Right? So, a lot of times people come to therapy and they get the client, or they get the therapist to try to do the work, right? They're basically saying like,"Oh well have you tried this?"What if you do this?"Think through this, go through that."Oh, I got all these options for you."We can solve this problem this way". And then they come back week after week like,"Oh that didn't work". Right? It's that same idea.- Yeah, same.- If we are working harder for a relationship than someone else. We're actually not in a relationship with them.- Oh my God, this is what's wrong with my life.(Kari and Jacob laughing) And with every person in my life. Why do I do this? We're gonna talk about that later.- Yeah.- Oh my goodness, okay, let's see here. What is this one?"In the name of salary transparency".- "What are your salaries from being a therapist"?- Oh yeah, I mean you can look it up on Iowa. So I have kind of a different job, right? Like my Iowa salary is what I do to train therapists. But most therapists, depending on health insurance, are gonna be billing for about a 50 minute hour. Anywhere from 100 to 150, to in certain areas, like $200 plus. I know if you wanna find somebody in Denver, or Chicago these days, you're probably paying 250 bucks out of pocket per hour. So, that's not what I get but...(Jacob laughing)- He gets pizza at my house.- I get pizza and tea.- And tea. He gets pizza and tea.- So yeah, so it varies. And typically it's about insurance reimbursement, or if they're private pay, they're gonna set their own standards and that's typically at market value, depending on the area you are.- Okay, we have about eight minutes.- Eight minutes.- Give us one more. What else should we do to prepare ourselves? We have a plan.- So, when we think about connection, we think about conversation. That's a terrible way to connect. Not all the time, but especially if we're in a fractured relationship. If it's Uncle Joe that you only see every once in a while, if you go out and, I don't know, you play a a round of pickle ball with Uncle Joe.- Oh my gosh, you're right.- Right? Like all of a sudden. So, for example, I actually have an uncle I'm really close to, but we couldn't be further apart when it comes to political, religious beliefs or anything. But we're really close. We had a family reunion, we were on the same pickle ball team. We knew that, 'cause we got assigned early, we like made T-shirts, we bought headbands and we had a great time. And then do you know what? When we had other conversations, it made them flow so much easier.- Of course.- Right? So if the holidays were like, okay, let's sit around, let's have a conversation now, that's a great way to actually not have a meaningful conversation. You can have the interaction, the connection first. It's like sometimes like when people go on first dates, they like, you know, have coffee and they talk. I think that can be great, but if you just keep doing that, you're gonna miss out on opportunities and experience to really know if you connect with that person.- Yeah.- Right? That's how all of my first dates went, but typically after that, I want to do something else. Right?- So what did you and Chelsea do?- On our second date, what did we do?- Did you make her dinner on your first date?- No, that was like third, or fourth date'cause- Okay.- See for context knowing Kari was privy to all of our, all of my dating with my now wife, she was literally.- Even before the wife.- Yeah, yeah.(Kari and Jacob laughing)- When I say dating in my early 30s it was all last year in Iowa. So.- It was actually fantastic.- She would get all the stories and be like, "All right,"is it happy hour yet?"We're going to Pullman".- We're going to Pullman. That was it at the time, yeah. Okay, I like that. So.- Okay.- Okay, so let's do maybe one more question before we kind of shut things down for the night. I like to keep it around 50 to 60 minutes because I know.- I mean I'm not that interesting so.- I'm not either. I'm not either, but.- Nobody's that interesting.- But hopefully, we're offering some good advice here and some good tips, maybe. So what's here? Maybe let me put this on the screen."What type of role can teachers play"in being frontline for the mental?" Ah, I think this is a really good question,'cause we oftentimes say that you are on the frontline,'cause you're basically the first, you are the first person oftentimes that students are building connection with and relationships with and even oftentimes the first person that they will come to and talk to them about something that they're struggling with.- Yeah.- Jacob, do you wanna take that, or do you want me to?- I can take it.- Okay.- I'll let you chime in too.- Yeah.- My thought is the role you can play is, for lack of a better phrase, still from finding Nemo, just keep swimming. What do I mean by that? I don't believe in good therapy, meaning like, there's not one way to go in there and like this is what's gonna be good. It's a process of actually figuring out like, oh, that didn't work, this didn't work. Oh, that seemed okay. And that's the same thing when we're dealing with students. You're not like, even if you got all the training, mental health, first aid, QPR, imagine Iowa.- Yeah.- All of that. You're not gonna do it perfectly. I don't do therapy perfectly all the time, but what it is, it's about showing up.- Yeah.- And, that doesn't mean you're gonna show up in the way you want to every single time, for every single student. But hopefully, if everybody's trying to show up, if all the adults and in the school in their lives are trying, that is gonna make it so everybody's involved in this process and so there's much more of a net to catch people.- Yeah. And I think that's the key right there. You know, I think we're telling, we're not telling teachers this, but I think teachers are receiving messages right now that are really damaging and with regards to, they have to be the mental health professional in the classroom and we don't want them to be, we want them to be teachers. But in order for that to happen, we have to do a better job of building systems, systems that support students. Systems that support family. Systems that support teachers, and then connecting, making sure that there's like explicit connection within those systems, so that teachers know who to go to, how to go to them, when they're really seeing a student struggling. So, it's not just weighing on you solely and, you're the one that's managing it on your own, but there's a team of people in this system that can all kind of chip in and support whoever is struggling in that moment. And it actually might not even be a student. We need to do a much better job of supporting our colleagues as well. And we'll talk about that during like our occupational dimension of wellness in one of our episodes and how we need to come together as a community, as a teaching community, with our administration and with different organizations who support the field of education to make this happen. And that's one of the missions of the Scanlan Center too, is to try to work with the state of Iowa, with the AA's, with school districts across the state, to build really healthy systems of support.- Yeah.- We're not there yet. I mean, it's always a journey. We're never, there's not like a finish line, right? There's always, there's a journey. But I do think that we can do a much better job of creating these systems to support teachers in particular. I think that's a great question to part ways on.- Yeah.- Yeah and to move into my own personal therapy.- Yeah. So we'll turn the cam, well do we wanna leave it on? We'll just kinda.- We'll just record it.- If people wanna parachute in and listen to.- No. They don't need to hear.(Kari and Jacob laughing) They don't wanna hear it.- Actually, they probably do, but maybe you don't wanna share.- I don't know, it would scare people. Okay, I really appreciate you all of you joining us tonight. And I hope you come back in January. We're already gonna be in a new year. In January and if you just follow us, on our YouTube channel, or on Facebook, or I think we're on Twitter as well, you can also find us on our webpage if you just Google Scanlan Center for Mental Health and go to the professional development page. Or, you can go to our clinic page, or whatever kind of resources you're needing. We are there and we are happy to interact with you. Yep, we put our link in the chat there. So, Goodnight everyone. Have a happy holiday. Bye-Bye.