Ep. 202 The Importance of Slowing Down (with Drew Linsalata)

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This week we interview Drew Linsalata, an amazing friend who has written an amazing book called, “Seven Percent Slower” Click the link below to hear more about his book! https://theanxioustruth.com/seven-percent-slower/

Kimberley: Welcome, everybody. This episode is for you, the listener, but it’s actually for me, the podcaster, more than anything.

Today, we have the amazing Drew Linsalata. I’ve talked about Drew before. We’ve done giveaways. We’ve done a bunch of stuff together on social media. I am a massive Drew fan. So, thank you, Drew, for being here today.

Drew: Oh, you’re so sweet. Thank you, Kim. It’s my pleasure to be here.

Kimberley: Okay. So, you, you are amazing, and I would love if you would share in a minute to people a little bit about your lived experience with anxiety. Drew is just the coolest human being on the planet. So, I’m so excited to share with everybody you, because I think everybody needs Drew in their life.

Drew: Wow.

Kimberley: But in addition to that, we are today going to talk about something. I’m actually going to try and drop down into my own vulnerability, and not just be the host, but also be the listener today because you are talking about one particular topic that I need to work on. So, first of all, tell me a little bit about your background, your story, and we’ll go from there.

Drew: Sure. So, unfortunately, I lived in experience with panic disorder, agoraphobia, and intrusive thoughts and things of that nature, clinical depression, on and off, from the time I was 19 years old – 1986 all the way to around 2008, in varying degrees. So, it was a very long time. I was in and out of those problems. They came, they went. I did all the wrong things for a lot of time, trying to fix those problems, even though I knew what the right things were, because I’ve always been a bit of a behaviorism and cognition geek. And it took me a long time to come around to actually solving those problems. I did the medication thing that didn’t work out for me. And then I really just took the time to learn what I needed to do behaviorally, cognitively, using those evidence-based things that I know you talk about all the time. And I just used them on myself and I learned as much as I could from very smart people like you. And I went and did the work and managed to get myself through the recovery from panic disorder and agoraphobia and depression and all of those things.

And along the way, the things that I learned, I just started sharing with other people, which is nothing that I invented. I never claimed that I invented any of this stuff. I just became a really good messenger, I guess, in terms of explaining. Well, I learned this and then I used it this way. And that led to just helping people online back in 2008, 2009 as I was going through it. And that led to continuing to do it. And that led to starting my own podcast back in 2014, like talking to nobody with a $4 app on my phone. But it just seemed like the right thing to do to try and pay the help forward, because I had a lot of supportive people who rallied around me. And that just one thing led to another.

And here we are, and the podcast is just kept going and it has led to writing two books about this stuff. One is my story, and one is the recovery guide that I wrote. And here I am, still educating about this topic and advocating and supporting where I can and just trying to contribute to the community because I felt like the community, in its form that it was in 10, 15 years ago, was so helpful to me. And I just feel like I want to give as much of that back as I can. So, yeah.

Kimberley: So you’ve written-- I’m giggling. So, for everyone listening, if you hear me giggling, it’s not because it’s particularly funny. It’s just so ironic to me. You wrote a book called Seven Percent Slower.

Drew: Yes.

Kimberley: Now I probably tell my clients every single day they need to slow down. I have done a podcast on slowing down, but it is probably the safety behavior I fall into the most. And I don’t do a ton of safety behaviors anymore that this one is just so ingrained in me. So, I read your book. Thank you so much. Not only is it an amazing read, but you’re hilarious. I was texting Drew yesterday, just cracking out at some of the things that he says because it’s my type of humor. I just love it. So, can you share with me why this one topic? Of all the things you could have written, why is this one topic? Why was it so important to you and why is it so important?

Drew: It’s a good question. Up until three, four months ago. I would have not thought that I would write this book. There was no plan to write a book about learning to slow down. But what I discovered was, Seven Percent Slower is the thing that I just came up with as a little silly mental device for me when I was struggling in a big way. I knew that part of what would happen when I would get really anxious and I would begin to panic, and I would just associate that with all those nasty things, I would start just really speed up. I would rush around like crazy. And I knew I was doing that, and I knew that wasn’t helping me, but I was having a hard time catching it. And one of the things that my therapist at the time, she was like, “Really, you got to start to learn to slow down.” So she gave me that good advice. Again, I didn’t invent any of this. And I used to have to remind myself, I would literally walk around trying to remind myself like, “Slow down, moron. Slow down.” I would be talking to myself. The no self-compassion there, like, “Slow down.” And I was trying and trying and trying.

And then for some reason, because I’m a fan of the absurd, the idea of trying to go 7% slower was born in like 2007 in my stupid brain. And it was just easy to remember, “Oh yeah, just go 7% slower. And it was just a little mental trick not to actually go 7% slower. Just remind me again to slow down. And it proved to be really helpful to me like that stuck in my head because it’s silly. It’s just a silly, arbitrary number. And I forgot all about it. I use it. I still use it to this day, but not really thinking of it consciously. And I have to tell so many people in the community surrounding my podcasts and my books that slow down. One of the things to do slow down – I started telling people, “Well, just try going 7% slower.” It came back to the surface again. And the response that I got from it was astounding, like, “Oh, that’s so great. Yes, I’m using it. I’m doing the 7% slower thing and it’s really helping me.” And I’m like, “Oh, there’s a book. I need to write this.” And that’s how I dragged it back up from 10, 15 years ago. And I said, “I should probably write about this and tell people what it is.”

Kimberley: So, tell me how you implemented it in-- you’ve talked and I’ve heard you talk about exposures and some of the experiences you did. Can you just give me upfront for people who, first of all, want to hear about your story, what were some of the exposures you engaged in and how did slowing down impact it, both for how did it make it easier and how did it also make it more difficult? What was your experience?

Drew: So I’ll give you a typical morning for me. My biggest issue was-- again, my official diagnosis would have been panic disorder with agoraphobia, right? So I had a real problem leaving the house or being alone by myself or going any appreciable distance from the house. And so, a typical exposure for me, a typical morning for me when I decided I really have to fix this as I would get up, the minute I open my eyes, I put my feet on the floor, I would already be in a state of very heightened state of arousal and anxiety at that point because I knew it was coming. I was going to get dressed. I was going to get ready. I was going to hurl my butt out the door and start driving, which is the thing I was terrified to do. So, I did that every day, every single day.

And right away, I learned within the first week or so like, okay, I get the principle of this, but I’m walking out the door in a blind panic. So I need to dial it back and start to work on just preparing to walk out the door first. So, I need to really acclimate to this first. And that’s when I really started using the “Slow down, slow down, slow down.” So, I would get up and I would be trying to get ready and rush around and drink water and do everything I had to do to get out the door like I was on fire and it was crazy. And I started to slow down that way. And it really was a huge help, but you’re right, it also made it worse because-- and this is so funny because it came up in a live I did the other day on Instagram with Jen Wolkin. She talks about mindful toothbrushing. And that is really-- the act of brushing my teeth in the morning is where Seven Percent Slower really began to shine.

I wrote about it in my first book. The first thing I did before I learned to drive again was to learn to brush my teeth slowly and mindfully while I was in a complete state of panic. Yes. And just the act of slowing everything down, all I have to do is take the cap off the toothpaste. All I have to do is put the paste on the brush. All I have to do is put the cap back on. All I have to do is pick up the toothbrush. I literally would have to break down my getting-ready routine into the tiniest, little tasks and just focus on each one of those and literally act as if I was in slow motion.

So, I wrote in Seven Percent Slower that one of the ways I learned to actually do that was to exaggerate it in a huge way. To me, it felt like it was brushing my teeth in slow motion. I probably was, but it really helped because it was the opposite action. So, my amygdala is screaming, “Go fast, go fast, go fast.” And I’m like, “No, no, no, I’m going to go slower and slower and slower.” And it did change my state over time. And I was able to go out and start my drive and my exposure and panic all over again. But at least I was leaving the house at a level 5 instead of a level 8. But it did make it harder because when I slowed down, I would just feel all of the things. I just have to let them come and let them come. You know the deal, and your listeners, I’m sure, know the deal. So, it was tough, but it was also tremendously helpful to me. Slowing down was one of the biggest things that changed my situation, for sure.

Kimberley: Yeah. And the reason I think this is so important, this one thing and I love that you’re just looking at this one thing, is I think in that moment, for the listeners, we’re constantly talking about how to reduce mental compulsion. And I think the slowing down helps with that too, right? I think about there’s exposure, but there’s also the time before the exposure and after the exposure where you have to practice not doing the compulsion. And if you’re rushing, your brain’s rushing and everything. And so, I love that you’re even talking about before doing the exposure, you had to slow down.

Drew: Yeah. I mean really, before the exposure was exposure itself, there’s no doubt about that. And I had to come to the realization that like, well, the exposure right now isn’t the driving. The exposure is literally putting my shoes on right now while I panic, putting on my coat while I panic, brushing my teeth while I panic. And in Seven Percent Slower, I wrote about accidental emergency multitasking, which that’s the thing that I forgot. We were talking before we went in there. I forgot I wrote that. And I’m going through my editor’s notes, and I’m like, “I wrote that, how about that?” But that’s true because when you--

Kimberley: Good for me.

Drew: Yeah, right. Good for me. go through. So, I remember really thinking that, like when you’re in that crazy terrified state, I was trying to solve every problem at once. So, there was a lot of mental compulsion in there. I was trying to go through the drive in my head. I was trying to anticipate each turn. I was trying to beat back the panic before it even happened in my head. I was thinking about yesterday’s drive and how difficult that was. And slowing down, meaning it put things-- it made me focus on what was going on right now. So, it was also accidental or backdoor water down sort of ghetto mindfulness practice. I’ll take it though because it worked. It put me in the present moment and it took me out of emergency accidental multitasking mentally and physically.

Kimberley: I think it’s pure mindfulness, right?

Drew: Oh, it definitely was. And there was no-- I mean, I wrote about this in the book too. I’m not trying to read the whole book to you guys, but yes, it is part of it. There’s a whole chapter called Is This Mindfulness: Do I Need to Meditate to Slow Down. It’s literally one of the chapters. And well, it kind of is. If you start to learn to go slower, you will accidentally become more mindful without having to go through all the overwhelming things that sometimes people feel mindfulness is. “I have to become grateful and of the present moment, and I have to learn to appreciate the now.” No, you just have to slow down, and you’ll automatically mechanically become more mindful. The rest of the stuff is window dressing. It doesn’t matter. I wasn’t grateful for brushing my teeth at all, but I was mindful of it, and it got me out of those compulsions in that crazy, anticipatory anxiety cycle. Let me do the exposures more effectively.

Kimberley: Yeah. So, one of the things I love that you did-- and I actually did the homework. You’ll be so proud of me.

Drew: You did the homework. Did you use index cards?

Kimberley: Huh?

Drew: Did you actually use index cards, like I wrote about? I’m so old.

Kimberley: I did. Usually, when I read a book, I do not follow their instructions because I don’t like to follow instructions. It’s not my style.

Drew: I feel you.

Kimberley: My husband always cringes when I go to make an IKEA piece of furniture because I am bringing out those instructions.

Drew: It’s going to be an extra draw leftover. We just know it.

Kimberley: Oh, I could show you some photos. You would love, I tell you. But I did your homework. And this is what I thought was really interesting. So, I want to walk through. I’m going to try to be vulnerable here. I have noticed in the last week, since returning back from vacation, that my hyper-vigilance is going up a lot. I was noticing my anxiety wasn’t so high, but I was engaging in a hyper-vigilant behavior. I think mostly because I’m now thinking about COVID, how to protect my children, and all the things. When we were away, we were far, far away from anybody. We didn’t see anybody. So, I sat down, and I wrote the things that I do that I need to slow down at, right? And I’m just sharing it because I do the homework. I’m so proud of myself.

Drew: I’m proud of you too.

Kimberley: So number one is in the morning, I wake up and I sit up and I just go. I don’t ease into the day. And then you talk in the book about how speed is like an escape response, right? You don’t want to be in your discomfort. So, I thought that was interesting. These are ways that I’ve caught myself, right? So I jumped out fast. Like how can I not feel my discomfort about the day? Another one is I rushed during emails. And the big one, which I’m not happy about, is I multitask. Now I want to get your opinion on this as my dear friend, excuse me. Most people are probably multitasking, but why would multitasking be bad for anxiety?

Drew: Okay. So, I will preface this by saying, I used to think that my ability-- and I will multitask like a mofo. I’m good at it. I know that cognitive scientists will tell me that I’m not because there’s no such thing. We’re literally tearing down our cognitive models and building new ones every time we switch from test to test. I understand all of that. But I will tell you that I’m good at it anyway. I’m going to stick with my guns, right?

So, I wore it like a badge of honor. And when I have to, I can still do it. However, it absolutely fueled my anxiety state. There’s no doubt about that because there’s a sense of urgency that comes with multitasking. There really is. You are not present in anything when you’re trying to do everything. So, that really in the end is that. And multitasking is not just physical. It’s also mental. So, I’m answering an email while I’m thinking about the next email. I see your face. You know what I’m talking about. You’ve been there, right? You were probably there today.

Kimberley: Like I said to you, I’m so grateful that you wrote this because it’s so important. It’s so important for the quality of our life. Last week I was exhausted at the end of the week and it’s because I was rushing. I just know that’s why. That’s why I’m such a huge fan of what you’re writing.

Drew: As I was writing, things came out because I’ll be honest with you, when I thought of this as my own little mental device many, many years ago, I didn’t flesh it out. I just did it. You know how it goes. I didn’t invent a thing. But as I was writing about it, I had to think. And this speed to me looks like both an escape-- it’s both a fear response, sort of involuntary, and a safety behavior at the same time, like it keeps us from feeling the feels, right? So, yes.

And I think the other thing that multitasking does is it makes us sort of-- we can put our attention to the places that we want it to be at because they’re the easier things, even practically, like, I don’t really want to answer this email because this is a hard email. So, I’ll skip that one, mark it unread, and then go back to this one and I’ll just keep marking that. You know what I mean? So, it keeps--

Kimberley: You just described my whole week last week.

Drew: I hear you. The day I got to inbox 0, which was years ago – by the way, I’m not there anymore. Not even close – I was on top of the world. I was convinced like I’m now qualified to basically run the UN if I need to, because I’m at inbox 0. But I’m very guilty of that stuff where I was for a long time. I still fall into the habit. There’s no doubt about that. But yes, when I find my-- sometimes I do it intentionally because I need to, and there’s a time and a place for it. But when I find that I’m feeling extra stress, because one thing that I noticed about this book is that it doesn’t just apply to anxiety and anxiety disorders, but it applies to stress management in general, because I still use seven percent slower, I just didn’t remember that I was. And when I find that I’m feeling the effects of the stress, much of which I create myself by taking on so much, slowing down and stopping the multitasking, like close all the apps, run one app at a time, do one thing at a time, it really brings that down. It doesn’t solve all my problems, but it keeps me from being overwhelmed by the physical responses that come with stress. Why am I holding my breath? Why does my neck hurt? Well, I know why. Because I’m stressed, and I got to back off. It helps. It really does help to slow down.

Kimberley: It does. The final one that I listed, and I really want you to talk more on, is just a general sense of worrying, right? I mean, I think you can actually give me your opinion on this, but sometimes we do have to solve problems, right? We have to make decisions. This was a big one for us last week, is deciding whether we wanted to put our kids back in school or homeschool them, back and forth. Sometimes you do have to make those decisions, but there is a degree of just general worrying that happens. And then you can start to worry on speed at the highest speed ever. So, did you have to apply this to the speed in which you worried or try to solve problems? You’re talking about physically slowing down, but did you also apply it to mentally slowing down, or they go hand in hand?

Drew: That’s a really good question actually. And if I think about it, the way it worked for me personally, my personal experience with this particular method or whatever you want to call it, is that it was first the physical slowing down. But then I discovered that that started to spill over. So, when I was physically going slower and being more mindful and deliberate in my behavior, it became a little easier for me to recognize that I am literally thinking about 17 problems at one time right now. I can’t solve them all at one time. Some of them I can’t solve at all.

Kimberley: We could probably resolve or solve them already.

Drew: Exactly. And it really helped me clarify that habit that I have. I’m just going to think, think, think, think, think. I’m thinking all the time. I think anyway, but I was thinking very maladaptively in those days in a big way. I was a prisoner to my thoughts and the thinking process. And it really helped me break that cycle. It’s always important to me to say, slowing down and going 7% slower is not a cure for all of this or anything like that. It’s not magic. It was just one part of the puzzle. It turned out to be a big part of the puzzle for me because it unlocked a lot of things, but yeah, it did slow down my mental behavior too, my ruminating, my worry, my thinking.

Kimberley: Right. Yeah. I keep saying, I’m such a fan of these. And I think for me, I mean, you guys know I’m very well recovered, right? I’m mostly very healthy, mentally healthy. You might question me now that I’ve totally got that upside down. But I consider myself to be pretty level. What was interesting for me is, that for me is usually the first sign that you’re starting to go into relapse, right? When you start to speed up. So, that’s why I thought last week, I was like, the gods have all the stars aligned because I’ve come out of this very beautiful, long vacation where I’m managing my stress and everything. And the first thing my brain did when it got home was speed up. And if I hadn’t caught it being hypervigilant, I think I would have gotten snowballed, right? And I think it’s a great way, a tool to keep an eye out for your relapse as well.

Drew: Yeah. I mean, actually, these are hard things to catch, don’t get me wrong, because so much of it is automatic or it’s a little bit beyond. The initial speeding up is beyond our control. My assertion in the book is initially, you will probably automatically speed up, but you can catch that and then change it. It takes work. And I really talked about like-- in fact, today’s Instagram post is all about that really. Not that anybody has seen it because it’s a podcast for the future, but it was about that. Like, “Hey, look at these. Here’s 10 signs.” I did a 10 things posts. Now I’m disgusted with myself now that I think about it, but I have a list with 10 things like here is-- I think there’s actually 11, to be honest with you. But here’s a thing, if you find yourself doing this, if you’re stumbling over your words, if you’re shaking, if you’re dropping things, when you’re walking, if your stride length has shortened, because that’s what I would do. I have reasonably long legs, but I’d be taking these little tiny penguin steps because I was rushing like crazy, like running. So, there’s a bunch of practical things that you can really look at. This is what my rushing habit looks like. So I can be aware of those things and catch them and then start to slow down.

Kimberley: Right. And that was what you said in the book. Write them down, identify the behaviors in which you’re doing, which I thought was brilliant.

Drew: Thank you.

Kimberley: Yeah. Okay. I wanted to touch on, because I loved how you really talked about that, the side effect of slowing down is that you have to feel uncomfortable. Bummer, you totally ruined it.

Drew: I did. What a buzzkill.

Kimberley: We’re going so good.

Drew: Yeah. It’s true. I think that was one of the chapters. I specifically wrote an entire chapter about why you probably don’t want to slow down, right?

Kimberley: Exactly.

Drew: One of the reasons is that we view rushing around as some sort of badge of honor and achievement. If you run around like a speed demon, it must mean that you’re busy and achieving things, which is not true. But also, if you slow down, you feel all the feels, and we hate that. And I’ll use the word “we.” Humans are not really-- we’re designed to be creatures of comfort. We don’t want to feel crappy stuff. But you know that. I’m not telling anybody anything they already know. If they’re listening to Your Anxiety Toolkit, you already know this, but you have to move through the crappy stuff to get past the crappy stuff. And slowing down is a good way to allow yourself to do that.

Kimberley: Yeah, I agree.

Drew: Yeah. Accidental happy side effect.

Kimberley: I love that you brought this up. So, let’s go through like, okay, slowing down. You can even maybe share your own experience. Slowing down, for me, I think it’s not that I have to feel physically uncomfortable as much as I have to have a lot of uncertainty, right? I have to be uncertain, which is typically, at the end of the day, still just sensation and experience. For you in that, when you were practicing this during your exposures, what did you have to feel when you slowed down?

Drew: So for me, when I would slow down, I would feel the physical sensations of panic. The one sensation that never leaves me – it’s the memory of a sensation. It’s not that I feel it. I rarely feel it anymore – was the feeling of my heart thudding in my back. You feel like all my chest was pounding, but it would feel like it was beating so heavily when I was in a panic that I could feel it almost beating along my spine. It was a really uncomfortable sensation. And traditionally, when I would feel that, I would do everything I could to try to not feel that – wiggle around, change position, lay down, stand up – try anything that I could to not feel that.

One of the key things-- and I felt all the physical sensations, but that one sticks in my memory was when I started to slow down, I had no choice but to let my heart pound lead against my spine, and it was so uncomfortable. And I remember really just having to reason with myself as best I could like, “Just get through it for another 10 seconds. Just give it another 10 seconds. Just give it another 30 seconds.” And then it was just, “Just give it another minute.” And then it was like, “Oh, this isn’t so bad.” So, it was a gradual habituation to that where I stopped being afraid of it. And slowing down meant I had to feel that. There was no more shield against feeling it.

If I’m going to stand in the bathroom and slowly brush my teeth, I’m going to feel that. But I also heard the thoughts very loudly when I slowed down. And the thoughts would be panic-type thoughts, like, oh my God, what if it’s not anxiety this time? What if I’m having a heart attack? What if this is a stroke? It does happen to people. Even though I’m only 30 years old or whatever it was at the time, this can happen. What if, what if, what if? Those thoughts were already loud. And when I slowed down, I essentially turned down all the other sounds. So those thoughts were really, really, really loud. And I would literally have to practice. It forced me to practice like that could be, but it’s not likely. I would have to say that all the time. “That could be, but it’s not likely. It could be, but it’s not likely.” Yeah. And it just forced me to practice. So, I would feel the physical sensations and hear my thoughts so much louder. Hated it.

Kimberley: Right. Yeah. I’m so glad that you mentioned that. I mean, I can only imagine too. When we have those symptoms that aren’t textbook, like you feel your heart in your back, it’s hard to just let that be there, right? You and I have joked a lot, the old Instagram posts about like, these are the 12 ways to feel a panic attack. But when you don’t have something on that list and when you have something additional, that’s scary, right? “Oh, crap. I’ve got six things that aren’t even on that list. What does that mean?”

Drew: Here’s an interesting thing that you just made me think of now. The other thing that slowing down accomplished, and this was a happy accident also, is I like to look at it as imagine anxiety as a room. So, when your lizard brain, when your amygdala is in charge, it fills the entire room, so prefrontal cortex stuff has no room. It’s pressed against the walls. It’s being pushed out the door. There’s no reasoning at all.

When I slowed down, I actually made a little bit of room for prefrontal cortex to chime in. Winston and Seif, they will talk about wise mind in their writing. Wise mind had a chance to chime in where I was able to say, “Okay, Drew, yes, this isn’t on the list of the usual stuff, but you have felt things like this 10,000 times. And all indicators are: you’re healthy as a horse, you’re in great shape. It’s okay.” And it allowed me to tolerate that uncertainty a lot more because I was able to reason a little bit more. I was unable to talk myself off the ledge, but I was able to insert just enough reasoning because it gave me a little bit of room to work in. That helped also. I was able to actually do that, whereas before I was just frantic. That was like, “You’re okay. You’re okay. It’s okay. It’s nothing, it’s nothing.” But your amygdala doesn’t care. It doesn’t believe you. But in that case, I was able to actually say, “Okay, hang on. I felt this zillion times before. This is likely nothing. Okay, I can go with that. I’m going to roll the dice on that. I’m good with it.”

Kimberley: Right. You can see the trends that have been playing instead of thinking like it’s the first time it’s ever happened, even though it’s happened a million times.

Drew: Yeah. So, practicing slowing down gave me a little bit of space for that stuff to get a little foothold, a little handhold, and then it grew.

Kimberley: Yeah. So it’s interesting because I’ll share with you, a big part of my recovery has been considered what I have been calling a walking meditation. So, I did a lot of meditation training in the latter stage of my recovery. And I don’t love to sit and meditate because it’s uncomfortable, right? But what I love to do is this end practice of walking meditation. And so, I’ve often called friends and said to them, this is an accountability call. I have to do a walking meditation all day. And then when you’re writing this, I’m like, “That’s what I was doing. I was slowing down.” And I’ve been just calling it something different. So, I thought that that was really fascinating because in the Zen practice, you do a lot of walking meditation, right? Being aware slowly as you engage in the day.

Drew: Which is something that I think a lot of people have a hard time putting their brain around. In the beginning, I think it’s hard to do that – being mindful in motion. So, to me, meditation, I always say mindfulness to me is like meditation in motion. I don’t know if that makes any sense, but that’s--

Kimberley: It is what it is.

Drew: Okay. So, that’s the way I’ve always thought of it for myself. Well, firstly, I learned to meditate and then I put it in motion so that I can be meditative even in a meeting or on a phone call or driving my car. That’s possible, but that’s the thing you have to learn. But that’s part of slowing down also. When you do your walking meditation, you’re intentionally slowing down.

Kimberley: Yeah. I would even invite the listeners to think about when are you the most calm or coping the best is when you’re actually slowed down. For me, it’s when I’m with a client. When I’m with a client, I can’t multitask. I am so with them, and it’s their pace, which is not my pace. I can’t speak at a rapid, two times speed formula in session. And that’s where I feel the most connected. And that’s where I feel just wonderful. And there it is right there. It’s forcing me to slow down. So, I think it’s helpful also to look at where are you actually being slipped, where are you forced to slow down, and how are you coping in those situations.

Drew: Yeah. When you have no choice, you can actually try and remember, well, what does it look like for you? It’d be like, what does it look like when I’m in session? I just have to do that. When you’re not sure, well, let me just go to what that feeling is. And those things to me also-- the last chapter of the book is called Beyond Seven Percent Slower because to me, that skill that I developed accidentally years ago serves me well now.

So, one of the things in business that I get told all the time and people always say, the building could be on fire, and you’re just-- I mean, I was a dude that couldn’t leave his bathroom. I was so panicked and so agoraphobic, and they’re like, “No problem. You do this, you get a bucket, we’ll put it out. Everything’s going to be cool.” That’s the slowing down. And when you learn to do that, and you cultivate that skill, not only can it help you in your recovery journey, but it stays with you for a long time and it brings out the superpowers.

We sometimes think that rushing and multitasking is the superpower – not really. Slowing down and letting each of your individual strengths and skills shine through because they can because you’ve given them space, that’s where your real superpowers come out. That’s probably where you are the most effective as a clinician is when you slow down and you’re in that session.

Kimberley: Or as a parent or as a wife or as a human, everything, right?

Drew: Yeah. So, not to get all preachy about it, but I think it goes well beyond just the anxiety and stress thing. It’s a good life skill in general.

Kimberley: 100%. Okay. I have one more question.

Drew: Sure.

Kimberley: I’ve purposely not tried to go down the tips and tools because I just want people to actually buy the book and just go through it, like I did writing it down and really addressing it. But you talk about one thing that I wanted to talk about, which is the 92-second timer.

Drew: Okay. I have to search through my Ulysses app, where did I write about 90 seconds.

Kimberley: See, we just did this today. Let me tell you what I found was so helpful, is you said you set a reminder every 90 seconds to slow down.

Drew: Yes.

Kimberley: So, tell me, how important is that? Does it have to be 90 seconds? Was that a big piece of you retraining your brain? What did that look like?

Drew: Again, that was my own-- yeah, that’s right. I did do that, and I did write about it. So, I know we talked about it a little bit. That’s fine. What I did was, I had an original iPhone, like OG iPhone, and I had this stupid timer. And I had this timer in there for 90 seconds. I use 90 seconds. I don’t care what you use. I don’t think the number is magical in any way. But when I was getting into that panic state and when I started doing my morning routine to prepare to do my driving exposures, I would just set the timer and it would repeat every 90 seconds. And that silly little timer would bring me back to slow down, slow down, slow down. It was just a cue. That’s all. It was a silly little mental thing.

Do I think it’s critical for people? Some people might not need it. But if you do need it, I don’t see that there’s any crime in using it. And you could do it every 30 seconds, 60 seconds, every two minutes. It doesn’t matter. It was nothing more than an auditory cue to remind me to slow down, slow down, slow down, slow down.

Kimberley: The reason I bring it up is that has been crucial for me in all of my recovery, no matter what it is, is reminders. I think that it’s easy to go on into autopilot. And I love that you mentioned that because I am a sticky note fan. I talk about it in my book. I love reminders. That’s a crucial part of my existence. So, I just love that you brought that up because I think that we always have sticky notes like don’t forget to get eggs and you’ve got to make a phone call. And this is the opposite of that, which is like, “Slowing down, hun. Bring it down a notch.”

Drew: Kind of, because our reminders are usually to remind us to do things faster, now, don’t forget them, get them done. Whereas--

Kimberley: Urgent, urgent.

Drew: Yes, urgent, urgent. One of the funny things about this, the thing was, I don’t have my phone with me here, but the sound was that stupid submarine alarm, like errr, errr, errr, which you would think I would have made a silly little, I don’t know, like chimey, gentle thing. But I intentionally did the errr, errr because it was jarring. I needed it to jar me. And so, yeah, it was weird.

I did not have to use the 90-second timer for months and months on end. It was in the beginning. It became very helpful to me. And then I spread the timer out to two minutes and then five minutes, and then we just didn’t have to use the timer anymore. So, it was adaptive. I don’t want anybody to think like I live my life based on this silly timer going off all the time. That’s not the way it works.

Kimberley: And I get that. I think that that’s the cool piece here to the story you’re sharing. And I would make this a big piece of what I want everyone to take away, which is, like anything, this sucks to start. It sounds like for you and it has been for me, although, like I’m saying, I’m owning up to falling off the wagon here a little, which I’m fine with. It can be a 90-second timer to start. But then that’s where that muscle gets strong. It sounds like that for you, it’s pretty strong now.

Drew: Oh, it’s really strong. It’s automatic now. Yeah. It’s almost automatic, but again, that’s a lot of practice and repetition and really taking this to heart. It’s not an overnight thing. And I still make mistakes. I just catch them faster now. Now, there’s zillion things to do to get ready to launch this book. Yesterday, I fell absolutely into the trap. Totally did. Around three o’clock yesterday, I felt terrible. I was just agitated and all the stress stuff and anxiety stuff was like, oh, wait a minute here. So, I can see at least that that’s the benefit of it. It’s taught me to see what I’m doing and then correct it when I need to.

Kimberley: Yeah. And it’s great to have that. You’re modeling that beautifully, right? That it’s not going to always be the hardest thing. It’s like something that you can learn to strengthen, which I really appreciate. Okay, tell us about where we can get this amazing book.

Drew: Well, I think I made it pretty easy being a techie guy that I am. You could just go to sevenpercentslower.com, which you can either spell it seven or use the number 7, sevenpercentslower.com. We’ll get you right to the page on my website that tells you about the book, which should come out plus or minus September 15th. So, I don’t know when this podcast is going to air, but it’s either out or not. If it’s not, just get on my mailing list and I’ll tell you when it is out. And yeah, that’s how you got it. It’s nice, friendly, short. You read it pretty quickly, I’m sure. It’s not a giant 400-page monster like The Anxious Truth. It’s friendly, easy, I like to think funny, easy to remember.

Kimberley: It’s so great. I’m actually so in love since the summer. I read all these amazing, just like short, really goes straight to the point. I cannot stand books that tell you something they could have told you in 100 pages. So I love that. I think it was exactly what I needed to hear. So I’m so grateful.

Drew: Oh, I’m glad that you find it helpful, and thank you so much for giving me this little spotlight to talk about it and appreciate you.

Kimberley: Of course. I probably a hundred episodes got on and went on a big lecture about how everyone has to slow down. And this is perfect timing. I think we all need it right now.

Drew: Very good. Well, go get it. Sevenpercentslower.com. Hope it’s helpful for everybody.

Kimberley: Thank you, Drew.

Drew: Thanks, Kim. Anytime.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09G227B1Z/ref=sr_1_9?dchild=1&keywords=coping+skills+for+anxiety&qid=1631488551&s=digital-text&sr=1-9

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