If the mere mention of Ask a Mormon Sex Therapist in my bio hasn’t prompted you to listen, maybe these selections on metabolizing anxiety will.
Btw, these interviews are all Q&A based — usually two Qs per episode, this one has three. To get the backdrop on this metabolizing anxiety conversation, jump to the start of the third question and Dr. Jennifer Finlayson-Fife’s answer at @ 22:00.
What follows are loose transcripts from the episode. I cut “you knows,” “I thinks,” and so on, and added content (in parentheses) that I believe accurately connects allusions to previously mentioned ideas so that it’s easier for you to follow the excerpts.
@ 34:33 – Giving people space to grow
To tolerate the discomfort of another’s discomfort is part of what it is to actually give people the space that they need to really grow, and to manage your own anxiety.
@ 35:59 – Metabolizing Anxiety
If you’re going to actually grow, you have to metabolize more anxiety within yourself and not use the people around you to manage what is your work, or what is your job, or what is your responsibility.
What is of virtue is to take 100% responsibility for exactly what your responsibility is — in a marriage, or in a family, or in any group — and 0% responsibility for what isn’t your responsibility.
That sounds very selfish, but that’s actually one of the most virtuous things you can do: to really do what your job is in any situation.
It also frees up other people to grow in the ways that they need to grow.
When we get in trouble is when we rush in to kind of get anxiety to go down in the moment, but then we stabilize and mature our destructive patterns.
The virtue in creating goodness is tolerating difficulty up front. That’s what sacrifice is: you take your difficulty up front to create something better ultimately.
It’s against our human nature (to do that, to sacrifice, to tolerate difficulty up front) — it’s natural man to not to do it (to avoid difficulty up front, escaping to an easier path). But what creates goodness and godliness is doing that (tolerating difficulty now).
@ 40:15 – When’s the time for metabolizing anxiety?
It’s when you’re having a hard conversation, and they’re pushing on those buttons on you that you like to react to, that you get all self-righteous about.
Instead of getting self-righteous and reacting, you calm yourself down and you stay constructive. That’s what I’m talking about in the “real time”: that you don’t (use) your losing strategies, which are the reactive things we do that feel good in the moment but that keep suffering alive.
You have to really track what it is you do (habitually) so that you can push yourself to do the better thing in the face of a lot of pressure to do the thing that’s familiar. (Catching yourself before you do the familiar thing) is what development is all about.
@ 42:56 – The effect of metabolizing anxiety
When you step into new action, or action that’s driven by a sense of what you believe is right, even if it’s hard, you literally expand your capacity as a person, and you expand your sense of self.
@ 43:52 – Metabolizing anxiety includes not doing the familiar thing to get validation
Many of us prefer to kind of just do and deal with the (familiar) things that (have, in the past, managed to get us) validation from the other person, and so we constrict our relationships (to doing just those things, even if they are losing strategies that perpetuate suffering) to our detriment.
We have to work against that natural-man tendency.
Ask A Mormon Sex Therapist is a sub series of the Rational Faiths podcast.
Have a listen.
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