David H. Rosmarin PhD is an associate professor at Harvard Medical School, a program director at McLean Hospital, and founder of Center for Anxiety, which services over 1,000 patients/year in multiple states. His most recent book is Thriving with Anxiety: 9 Tools to Make Your Anxiety Work for You. https://dhrosmarin.com/

Alison: Hello, Jeannie.

Jean: Hi, Alison.

Alison: Today we are talking to someone, um, that talks about anxiety in such a different way than I have heard before.

Jean: Same with me. He is a champion for not getting rid of anxiety, but actually transforming the way you feel about anxiety and not making it like an enemy, but more as a calling card to empower yourself.

Alison: That’s right. His name is David Rosmarin and his his book is called,Thriving with Anxiety”, which is a great title, “Nine Tools to Make Your Anxiety Work for You.” And while I was reading it, I was reading it like, at auditions and in waiting rooms, and I was stopped so many times. Like, what’s that book about? Because just the title, Thriving with Anxiety, um, is, I think, really touching people.

Jean: Absolutely. And it also kind of lets the air out of the shame around having anxious thoughts or, um, you know, having anxiety. Right? Just he’s like, lighten up on yourself. And he gives so many great ways to, to actually transform your anxiety.

Alison: And he’s very intellectual. He is right? He is the founder of the center for anxiety, and he’s also a Harvard associate professor, and he’s very intellectual. And yet, he has this very spiritual side and they really complement each other.

Jean: Yes. And I also love that he mentions his wife. Yeah. And the emotional connection he has with her… That that was beautiful.

Alison: He’s great. So here’s the interview with David.

David: I am so sorry… Oh, I did not mean to make you anxious.

Alison: I’m late and I’m driving here like, this is a great way to ….

David: I had, I had tech difficulties for the last five minutes. Perfect. Yeah.

Alison: I just got here and I’m like, this is a great way to start a talk on anxiety.

Jean: 100%.

David: I’m honored to meet you. Thank you. Thank you for making the time. I’ve been really looking forward to this conversation for a while.

Jean: Yeah, same. It’s great to meet you, David. I’m Jean …

Alison: And I’m Alison. Hi. So how did you deal with your stress with technical difficulties?

David: Let me tell you, I definitely got my own anxiety, and I use a lot of the strategies in my book on a regular basis.

Alison: That’s I think that makes me feel much better.

Jean: All of us, I, think it’s great to know that people that appear to really have their act together have anxiety. You know, it’s like what goes on behind the play…what goes on back stage..

David: Whats’s happening in the kitchen?

Speaker1: What’s happening in the kitchen while Thanksgiving dinner is being prepared.

David: All, oh my God, it’s all coming out in like beautiful platters and what is happening in the kitchen? haha

Alison: Right. What inspired you? Was it was it your work or was it your own anxiety that inspired you to write this?

David: All of the above.

Speaker1: Yeah.

David: All of the above. Um, I learned a lot from my patients and how incredibly high functioning many of them are, how amazingly talented they are. And I was always taught to see to see anxiety as a limitation, as a disorder, as a disease, even at some point, I’m like, you know what? Something’s not adding up here. These people are so high functioning. Yes, they have anxiety. And furthermore, when they use it in the right way, it can actually enhance their lives. Like we need a different lens and a different relationship with this ubiquitous emotion that every human being experiences. How many people have you met in the last month who had no anxiety, right?

Alison: No one, no one.

David: And if you did, if you did, they’re either super narcissistic, right? Or they have a drug problem or they are comatose or dead.

Jean: You know, especially nowadays, And your book is so relevant for… Right now what everyone is going through. Um, can you start off by telling. Allison and me and our listeners, what’s the difference between stress, fear and anxiety? Is there a difference? Are they all cousins? But what’s your take?

David: Yes, absolutely. Happy to start there. And it’s in my book. Um, so, uh, let’s start with fear. Fear is a healthy response that the nervous system has, um, in order to deal with an actual tangible threat. So if your body is threatened by something which is really in front of you, uh, an amazing process involving adrenaline. Will, uh, adrenaline, the adrenal glands will fire and release adrenaline into your blood system, and within nanoseconds, your body will transform. Into the fight or flight system. Also known as the fight, flight or freeze system, which can protect you and prevent you from experiencing harm or physical harm as a result of that threat. And that is a healthy, adaptive, positive thing that hopefully you don’t have to rely on too much in your life. But the couple of times that you might have to rely on it… it’s a gift. I think I think of it as a spiritual gift given my background. I will add. but it’s an amazing thing, that’s adaptive and healthy and and keeps us preserved and safe. Anxiety is the same thing, the same heart palpitations, the same secretion of adrenaline. In fact, the same, uh, breathing that increases the tachycardia, increased the breathing rate, the same muscle tension, the same stomach upset, all of the same things occur, those physiological changes with the fight or flight. But there’s one small difference. Any guesses?

Alison: It doesn’t go away.

David: Wow. That’s interesting. It depends on what you do with your anxiety and how you relate to it. Um, anxiety can be perpetual. That’s true. Um, but there’s a there’s a different, there’s another difference.

Alison: Um. I know, I know it somewhere. I know I read it in the beginning.

David: Are you feeling anxious that I’m asking? HAHA

Alison: Yes, yes, I feel like. Oh, where are my notes?

David: The teacher, you know, calling on the pupil. And he’s like, uh, I’m supposed to know this?

Alison: Exactly. Right.

Jean: Something about a smoke alarm.

David: Yeah, that’s true actually. Yeah. That’s right. Ask you a question like, what’s the worst case scenario if you don’t know the answer? Like, what’s really going to happen to you? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Right. That’s anxiety. Fear. If you get it wrong, something’s going to happen. Like if you don’t step out of the way of that bus which is careening towards you at 60 miles an hour, it’s not going to be good. If you unless you activate your flight system, you’re, you’re you’re flat. Now, when it comes to anxiety, there’s no real tangible fear. So you have that adrenal response. But actually if you stop and think about it, you’re like, whoa, this is a false alarm. There’s no real fire in the kitchen. There’s just smoke coming up from onions burning. Right?

Alison: And stress is also different.

David: It’s a little different. This is the cousin. So fear and anxiety are actually very close cousins. I would call them siblings. Mhm. But the one is a real alarm and the other is a false alarm. And by the way the false alarm doesn’t mean it’s bad. It’s still intact. It means your neural system is intact. It means you have a fight or flight system. It means you’re aware of your surroundings. You’re not oblivious. Right, right, right. So there’s advantages of having a smoke alarm that goes off too quickly, that what’s really deadly is the smoke alarm that doesn’t go off at all. Right, exactly. So that’s not what we’re talking about here. So anxiety and fear are I would call them siblings, to use your analogy from before the cousin is stress. Stress is when your demands are greater than your resources. Right? I have too much money to pay. I don’t have enough money. I have too much. Too many things to do. I don’t have enough time, emotional resources. That person is coming to my home and I really can’t take it right now, right? Yeah. Don’t have the wherewithal to do so. We need to reduce the demands and increase the resources right back to a place of equilibrium.

Alison: So me being late is really stress. I’m supposed to be somewhere I’m not there.

David: Correct. But there could be an anxiety piece as well. Which is oh no, what’s this going to do? Like it might also trigger an anxiety response.

Alison: Right. And I think that for me is what the heck’s wrong with me. Oh no. Now you’re speaking with me. Why why couldn’t I have this be straight? So I see. So the stress was, you’re late. But then my mind goes to this, you know, catastrophe place. I’m. I’m losing my mind.

David: Yes. And something’s wrong with me is core. That’s the anxiety spiral. I mean, that’s where when we feel anxious, we start to judge ourselves. We start to go down this tube. I mean, this is why we have an anxiety epidemic today, you know, right. Start to feel anxious and then we upset about it.

Alison: I think it’s interesting that you also differentiate from worry.

David: That’s true.

Alison: And I thought that was so interesting because I thought worry was just anxiety. But you but you’re explaining that it’s some it’s not really. Even the way I understood it was that it’s not really even getting into the weeds. It’s just this sort of level. Right? Like you’re not really ever dealing with anything, like you’re just this constant. Like pebble in your shoe, right?

David: When I learned this concept about worry, it blew my mind. It changed my life, and I have shared it with how many hundreds of patients with similar, similar results. So the thing about worry is that it is a cognitive process, which is really a behavior. It’s something that we do, to cope with anxiety and actually keep it away. Yeah.

Jean: Mhm.

Speaker2: When you’re feeling anxious the number one thing that people will do is avoid, right? Yeah, I’m anxious about the height. So I’m not going to go in the elevator. I’m not going to fly. I’m uh that person makes me uncomfortable. So I’ll block them on my WhatsApp or whatever.

Alison: Right, right right right.don’t want to think about the fact that I’m not in control. So I worry at a very superficial level about just 1 or 2 things, as opposed to really going into the depths of it.

Alison: Right, right.

David: Worry is like a. We ask these very superficial what if questions like what if? I run out of money? What if I run out of money? But you don’t actually answer that question, right? What would it be like? What would actually happen? Mhm. And embrace the true uncertainty of like. There’s not a whole lot. There are certain things we can’t control. That’s usually what worries stops us from moving into. It’s a cognitive process which actually prevents us from experiencing anxiety.

Alison: Wow. Yeah, yeah. And that was my that was my mom, you know. And I loved her. And but I know that there was a source of, you know, my father was in a very risky job, and it was a constant like undercurrent. It was very interesting when I read that.

David: What did he do?

Alison: He was a he was an investigative reporter. So he would go to these countries and you wouldn’t hear from him for weeks or months, and it would be dangerous. And he’d leave. And it was just me and my mom. I’m an only child. So it was very interesting to be with that. And then, you know, so when I was reading it, I thought to myself, wow, that is really, you know…

David: You’ve had a lot of uncertainty to embrace with being alone, being terrified about what’s going on with her husband, not being having any agency over it because there’s nothing she could do. Right. And she’s alone with her daughter and or, you know, in different country and… And then having probably having to keep it together… So, the worry is a perfect process to just keep it at a superficial level without actually losing it. But losing it is in some ways a good thing, because once you actually embrace the anxiety and the uncertainty. It just scales us down to become so much more raw and in tune with ourselves, with others. And that’s where it poses us for growth. It’s not fun, but it’s a lot more emotionally, potentially a lot more emotionally healthy. Yeah.

Jean: I love that your take on anxiety, David, it really makes you feel… You come   away from your book, I came away feeling very empowered. You know, you’re really offering… (Oh, sorry. Because we’re like. Loosey goosey, loosey goosey. That was my daughter. Sorry.) You’re coming away, I came away from from your book feeling empowered. I’m already someone that does a lot of spiritual work. So this just, um, gave more credence to looking at things a different way and not shaming yourself. That’s such a big thing. Is, um, shaming ourselves when we feel out of control or, um, and not knowing the answer. And I read this quote the other day that said. We’re so conditioned to needing to know the answer, because we’ve been validated with love. So it makes sense when we’re in school and we know the answer, we get praise and feel good.

David: Yes,

Jean: And when you don’t know the answer, you kind of sit there and you’re like, mmm, you know?

David: Like at the beginning of our conversation.

Jean: Right..Can you talk a little bit about um, you talk a lot about connection and I don’t want to lose all our time, but talk about connection that you talk about self connection, Other connectio,. Spiritual connection.

David: Yeah. That’s what it’s all about I mean, you know, what are we here to do on this, on this earth with however many, you know, years we’re blessed with? We’re here to create a life that’s meaningful and connected to others, to have a self compassion and connection with ourselves and for those who seek something spiritual, too, I think that can be a great source of meaning and purpose and solace and and wonder and awe and and love and all sorts of other good things. Um, anxiety can help facilitate all of the above. I really believe it. I think it’s part of our. You know, ancestral heritage, which is, you know, optimizes our ability if we use it in the right way and if we frame it in the right way. If you run away from anxiety,A- it’s going to get worse and B- we’ll never find these opportunities. But. When you feel overwhelmed, that’s the time to, recalibrate to rebalance. To look at your priorities. To become more self compassionate. To understand that you have your limitations and not to judge yourself, not to get upset about it. You know. And it’s usually not what we do. Usually when I feel anxious, I’m like, how can you feel that way? You’re so weak. What’s wrong with you? I have to push myself harder. I don’t want to feel these feelings. I’m going to squeeze them out by working even more, by taking on another project and showing that I’m in control. And like all of those strategies that almost everyone takes, unless you’ve been taught otherwise, are exactly 180 degrees in the wrong direction.

Alison: And so. When you talk about having more compassion because you have experienced anxiety, could you go into that a little bit? Because I thought that was really, really interesting about how you’re using it as a, you know, a superpower for good? You know?..

David: I you know, I had some experiences recently, not even recent, the last couple of years of meeting some very well established, well known, um, wealthy, successful business folks, people in industry, people in, um, in entertainment, people in athletics. You know, in my practice, there’s some higher profile folks who have come my way and the way of my practice. And, you know, some of them, they literally have the car service waiting outside, you know, on, on, on the street and the, the whole nine yards and the private chef and everything. And going through a mental health crisis for them was so jarring, so shocking, so upsetting, because everything else in their life is going beautifully. Mm. They’re flourishing in their careers, but then emotionally, they’re really struggling. But through that process, they actually learn to, like, become more accepting of themselves, more accepting of their loved ones, more accepting of their own children. And it softened them. It made them more human. More. Relatable, more connected, literally more connected. It’s it’s a humbling process to experience the throes of anxiety, the panic. Yeah. The struggle. But that’s part of many times what we need to remind us of our limitations, which is good. We need to embrace that and to lean into it as opposed to leaning away.

Jean: .. That reminds me of when. My late husband Alex would say, “You know, Jeannie, before I met you and we had the the children, my life was just ordered . I was always in control. It was just me.” And he went on to say, “you and the children have introduced a new level of fear in my life that I never knew existed.” Except he had a dog. And he said, ” A deeper connection. A deeper connection with my mother, to you and the children, with other people.” Oh, yeah- when you have children, Oh my God you know, he said it brought a whole new level of connection. Yeah, Having a family will do that.

David: Yes, Because it actually means something. Like, what do you get anxious about? You get anxious about stuff that really means something to you.

Speaker2: Right? What else do you care? Why else do you feel anxious. Unless it’s something you really care about? So part of our anxiety shows that we’re actually invested in something other than ourselves- leaning into that, it’s hard, but it sounds like that’s what you did in your family.

Alison: And you talk about converting anxiety into love.

David: And oh yeah.

Alison: That made me cry a little. We have a family member with OCD. Yeah, very, um, a very interesting journey to to witness that. And just the love that’s come from that experience is really, um. So I was hoping you could just talk about that a little bit, because I think you don’t really hear that a lot, you know?

David: So this is something I did not get from my cognitive and dialectical behavior therapy training. I got this from the exposure and experiences I got with emotionally focused therapy. In terms of couples, it’s a couple a way of treating, and it’s based on the work of John Bowlby, who was an attachment theory. He actually started attachment theory. The concept of attachment theory is that life is for love, that people are born in order to have connection, in order to have bonds, especially bonds with other people. And those bonds, those love bonds, those connections are what make our life worthwhile. They make us. They make us tick. Um, legend has it that Bowlby was going to call his theory the Theory of love, but he was in he was a British psychiatrist in the first half of the first half of the 20th century. So he thought he would have been laughed out of the Academy, which probably would have happened. So he called it attachment theory instead. And it’s stuck ever since. Anyhow, part of attachment theory is that secure attachment is when – I care about you, and I’m anxious when you’re not there, but I know that you’re there for me, and I can show you that I need you, and you will be there for me. And that occurs both in romantic relationships and also with parent child relationships, also with friends. I mean, there’s other ways that. But this is the core of it. Will you be there for me when I need you? In other words, to the extent that I can be vulnerable, show you that I care about you and that I need you, be anxious, actually expose my anxiety, scale back the facade.. as you were talking about right at the beginning, what we were talking about right at the beginning, right? Go into the kitchen, see the mess, and have you accept me and be there for me. That’s going to make us extremely close, right?

Jean: Yeah. And you articulate that beautifully, or you write about it beautifully in your book about being vulnerable.

David: This is something I’ve learned from Being married for 23 years. My wife taught me this one.

Alison: I love that. Um, I wanted to also talk about the disconnection spiral. I think, I have watched people go through that, do you know. And I just want, I would I’d like you just to kind of sum that up for our listeners, because I’ve seen it.

David: Yeah. So this happens at the level of inter intrapersonal. So our relationship with ourselves.   When people start to feel anxious, what’s their response to that today? I’ll ask you, a typical person… they start to feel anxious, and then what’s their meta response, so to speak?

Alison: I think, I think people get angry. I think I’ve seen people get angry. I just watched it about a parking spot at Trader Joe’s, uh, two days ago.   I just was like, this is what he’s talking about, you know? It just escalated and it got worse and worse and worse. And then, the one person got in the car and just started banging the wheel by themselves. And I was just thinking, they’re going down and it’s about a parking space of Trader Joe’s. And it went really far down. So that’s what I think, that people get like very angry sometimes.

David: I’m just realizing now you meant the disconnection spiral, which is our relationship with others, not our anxiety spiral, which is our relationship with ourselves?

Alison: Right?

David: Okay, so I’m going to pivot. Um, yeah, that’s exactly it. I’m getting judgmental of the other person. They’re making me feel anxious. I don’t want to show them I feel anxious, so I show them I feel angry. I covered it up. You’re the wrong person. It’s not, I need you, I really need the space because I’m running late today. Right? I’m having a terrible day. I really need the parking spot. It’s raining. I’m here with my kid… whatever. For whatever reason, it made that person very anxious. But they don’t want to show that. So they’re on their horn, right? Cursing, banging, having a temper tantrum as opposed to, like… I really could use that space. Is there any way that we can work this out? Right?

Alison: And is that what you think we should all be doing? So you’re thinking that, okay, I’m just going to use the Trader Joe’s spot thing. So two people are pulling into the same spot and I’ve seen people go hysterical. So you’re suggesting either to- somehow do inner work to pull away and know there’ll be another spot. Or are you suggesting that we go up and say, hey, I thought I was here first? I’m late. Would it be okay? Like, what do you what do you do in that minute?

David: Good question. You know, probably for a parking spot. (interruption on David’s screen – I Keep getting these, you know, hand gestures. Kind of funny. That keeps happening. I gotta keep my hands down.) So it depends on the circumstance. You know, probably for a parking spot, it might not be worth it. And some inner work might be more worthwhile, calling a loved one. You know, you can be vulnerable. It doesn’t have to be with everyone. With a stranger. It could be with a loved one. Calling someone up saying, I’m so mad. Someone just took my parking spot and now I’m running late. And now I have to do this and I’m schlepping my groceries and I’m just having such an awful, terrible day, you know? I wanted to let you know because you’re my friend, so that could be a way of managing it interpersonally, which is not what the person in front of you. Um, but I’m thinking on an airplane, that’s probably a better example. It happened to me the other day. I’m sitting in a plane and the lady behind me was having a fight with the person to my right, I mean to my left. And I’m like, she was so irate and so angry. And I think in that kind of circumstance, she could have said like he did something. He spilled a drink and it went on her stuff and he didn’t realize. It wasn’t a jerk move, but it was an accident. But she got so nervous, I think that her space was invaded, or she perceived it that way, that she got really angry and started a fight with the guy. And I think she could have said to him, like, you know, I wish you could have said something to me or, hey, you messed up my stuff because you spilled my drink. I’m letting you know. Instead, she’s like, you’re an ahole. And like, the whole plane just was very uncomfortable. Yeah. So that there could be certain circumstances where you do have to say it’s good to say something, but showing your emotions, as opposed to covering them up with anger would be the approach there.

Alison: Why don’t we do that? Like what problem with what’s the problem with that? Like what happened?

David: It’s hard to show other people that you need them.

Jean: Oh. Wow. It’s hard to show other people that you need them because…

David: It gives them a lot of power.

Jean: and goes back to being vulnerable. Vulnerable has got a connotation of weakness, when it’s really not.

David: It’s not a weakness, it’s the reality. And the reality is actually strong when you embrace it. Why do I care what this person’s doing and sit in front of me? It’s because I’m a human being and they’re a human being, and what they do affects your choices affect me.

Jean: But I think that is changing. David. I think the connotation around being vulnerable is slowly changing.

David: Let’s see what happens later in this election year. Before you bring that up, before you count your chickens. Yeah. So let’s see what hatches. I, I am not anticipating a lot more vulnerability this year, but hey, I’ve been wrong before. I’d be delighted to be wrong now.

Jean: Well, we can start in our family units.

David: That’s worthwhile.

Jean: Right? You know, and then hopefully we be the change we wish to see.

Alison: What do you think started that, though? Where did this all begin of this idea that, this is your belief, this is my belief… And so I just don’t like you. I don’t think it used to be like that.

David: John Wayne, that’s the example I brought John Wayne, who staunch Republican, and when Kennedy was, uh, elected, he said, well, I didn’t vote for him. But he’s my president and I hope he does a good job. Right. You know, when’s the last time you heard someone say anything even close to to that? You know, it’s…. And I think it does have to do with anxiety. I think it makes us so scared that other people have power and they have control, and we don’t have control over them. And we are at vulnerable because of that. And we don’t want to face that reality. It’s so scary. But I think accepting it and expressing it ironically gives us as much control as we can have, and certainly brings us more into having into the sphere of humanity and having relationships.

Alison: And I thought it was really interesting the way you discuss uncertainty, because, you know, I have kids in my 20s, Jean has kids in the in their 30s, and uh, my kids are, um, shocked when, they don’t know something. When they don’t have an answer…the idea of uncertainty for this generation. And I think you even talk about the fact that there were so many generations where they lived with uncertainty in a daily way that they were able to cope with it.

David: Yeah. You know, here’s an interesting… Here’s my take on it. I think it’s interesting. I guess I think it’s interesting for what it’s worth. My sense is that we have actually a lot less uncertainty today. And because of that, we can’t tolerate uncertainty as much. Right? During the 20th century, people did not know what was flying. Two world wars. It was the Korean War, Vietnam. There’s the Cuban missile crisis. There was the Cold War. I mean, there was literally the world was at the brink of destruction at several key political points along the way. There’s no question. And I mean, since the breakup of the Soviet Union, things have been relative. I’m not saying there has been no war. I’m not saying there’s no famine. I’m not saying there’s no, uh, social inequities. I’m not saying there’s no socioeconomic inequities. Racial disparities 100%. There are definitely social issues, pressing social issues that must be addressed. And I’m not invalidating that, however. If you compare that to the level of uncertainty, that was the level of economic uncertainty. I mean, in throughout the 20th century, it’s not even a contest. It’s not even a contest. But we have become, I think it’s because we all have these amazing devices that can go to the moon and back in 10 seconds, You can call anyone on planet. And we can we have we have air travel. You know, how many adults do you know have never been on an airplane? Right. Right. How many? How many people do you know who’ve never been to a physician? Ever? So because of that, we’ve become used to a level of certainty, apparant certainty in life that. It’s not real.

Jean: I love that you you say in your book we’re we’re at a point now where we have to be uncomfortable with Uncertainty. Um, no. We have to be comfortable with uncertainty.

David: And this, I think, I think you’ll appreciate from a spiritual perspective. Is that so bad that a human being doesn’t know or control everything?

Jean: Right. That’s, you know, like the deep, the deep surrender the humility of true surrender into the Universe, God, whatever. You know, like whatever…

David: Whatever your language is. Yeah.

Jean: And David, you also talk about being a perfectionist. That adds to perfectionism.

Speaker2: Yeah, that’s another cousin of anxiety. Yes. Um, where people are focused on the small details to maintain an illusion of control over life. Where, Who are you kidding? I mean, how much can you really control? Um, but it’s something that we, many people do.

Alison: And I thought, when you talk about the, um, what would you really love to do? I don’t think we ask ourselves that enough these days. Like where, what, where is your love or your passion really taking you? And did you find in your life that you followed what you what you loved?

David: Yes and no. There are certain things that I pursued that I only realized many years later that weren’t really something that I wanted to do, truly did. And when I struggled with those issues, that was a, you know, sort of the anxiety catching up with me that I should have faced a long time ago and really focused on just what I want, which what I’m really good at. Um…

Alison: What you’re doing now?

David: I’m trying to. I’m getting there… You know, I’m I’m trying to take my own advice on that. Um, it’s scary though. There’s so much uncertainty. Like when I’m really pursuing a dream that I actually care about. Truly care about. What if I fail?

Alison: What if I fail? And then again, would that be so bad?

David: It would.

Alison: Why would it?

David: Well, it’d be a hard pill to swallow, but I have to embrace that. That I don’t know whether things are going to work out. Um, and that’s part of how anxiety can actually make us, show us what our direction is in life. What I’m really anxious about it, it’s probably like, oh, you know what, maybe I got to be doing this. Yeah. Mhm.

Alison: I love that story of the man whose partner cheated on him. And then he ended up creating a business that helped people. But he you know helped people be aware of any kind of, you know, malfeasance in their own businesses. And I loved that because I thought, wow, you really helped that guy figure out what mattered to him and how to move forward, as opposed to just living in that place of resentment and and blame and shame. You know?

David: That to me is where spirituality comes in, you know, why did this happen? Is there a is there a greater context? And if people can start to ask those questions in psychotherapy, I think there’s a lot of great things that happen when patients want to go that route. Of course.

Alison: I think that’s always a common thing. Jean and I have talked to so many people and they all seem to say something happened and I never thought I’d recover from it. And it actually was a blessing. And they actually learned something or it took them in a different path. We’ve heard that so often. Like, you know, Anita Moorjani passed away and, you know, and came back like there were so many people that have experienced that. And so I loved that you embrace and share your spirituality, your points on spirituality in this book.

David: Thank you. A lot of the patients appreciate it too. You know, the the industry of psychotherapy dating back to the the era of Freud has been very avoidant of matters of the spirit. Um, ironically, though, psychology is literally the study of the soul. I don’t know if you know that the Latin root of psyche is soul. The irony. The irony. But that’s changed in the last 20 years. The the sort of godless, uh, industry, if you will, has changed in the last 20 years with a much more open spiritual zeitgeist. Um, and I think especially since Covid, we’ve seen it in, uh, in a large way, a lot of people are asking these questions. Therapists aren’t so afraid to go down. They’ve had the whole movement of mindfulness, the movement of 12 step programs, and AA Alcoholics Anonymous, which is based on spirituality in the realm of anxiety. You don’t see it as much. And that’s sort of where I’m trying to move things along. But nevertheless, you know, these are that’s where the state of the Union.

Jean: Yeah. How great that, you know, here you are a doctor and you’re willing to entertain, even entertain metaphysical.

David: Thank you. Um, you know, it’s definitely part of my life personally and my culture and, you know, my religious background, and I think that’s certainly shaped it. Um, and, uh, it’s also the part of many patients lives, though, that’s really where it’s the main thing . I’ve done research on this and in, uh, in eastern Massachusetts, where I live, one of the least religious enclaves in the entire country, would you believe that 60% of our patients want to speak about spiritual matters, and they want spiritual care? Incredible.

Alison: Yeah, that is incredible. Where are you in Massachusetts.

David: Boston.

Alison: Oh, really? I lived in Boston for a long time. I didn’t know, I didn’t know you were still there. That’s great.

David: Yeah, yeah. Where’d you live?

Alison: I lived right in Back Bay.

David: Yeah. Beautiful spot.

Alison: Yeah. And my mom had a house on Cape Cod, so.

David: Oh, a real New Englander. That’s like, uh.

Alison: I’m from the Bronx, so I could relate to your New York office. So, you know, is your is your anxiety office in New York still incredibly active or…?

David: Sure. Yeah. There’s the Manhattan office, Brooklyn office, couple things out there

Alison: That was really brave of you to do. And I like…

David: Brave or stupid.

David: It’s, uh. It’s been a journey. Yeah.

Jean: Okay. Well, we I would love to hear some, like 2 or 3 tips from you, David, to help someone move through anxiety.

David: Sure. Number one piece of advice that I’m going to give here is to change our relationship with anxiety, as opposed to getting rid of it. You know, we think about anxiety as a disease. You got to get rid of it. It’s going to overcome you. It’s going to eat you alive. It’s going to kill you. You know, I’ve never lost a patient to anxiety and I never will, right? Yes, It’s uncomfortable, but embracing it, allowing it to happen and changing our relationship with this ubiquitous, ubiquitous human emotion that all of us have, let’s face that and accept it is the first step to dealing with anxiety, is to accept it, understand it’s going to be part of your life. Don’t let it rule over you by trying to get rid of it, embrace it, try to understand it, and realize what it’s trying to teach you. That’s sort of my first go to. Once we have truly accepted our anxiety, I’ll give you two and three. Have you accepted your anxiety?

Alison: Yes, I’ve accepted that.

Jean: Yes, right now I did. Yes, I saw my. My white flag is up. I surrender to my anxiety, I surrender.

David: Once you raise the white flag, I like that, once you raise your white flag to anxiety. Um, got a couple of things to say. You know, the number one. Uh, it was really number two. Um, I think it’s such a great tool for enhancing our relationships with others when we can express our raw emotions to them. Um. Part of what I learned. Part of what I was talking about my wife before Miri. Part of what Miri has taught me, She’s taught me many things… One thing she’s taught me is that it actually is a sign of strength. To be able to acknowledge when I’m having a bad day. As opposed to just, you know, pretending that everything is all right. And to be able to come to her and to be able to talk about my feelings and to be able to show her that I actually need someone to be there for me. Right? That’s an greatly enhanced our relationship. That’s converting anxiety into love. As we were speaking about a little bit before. So I don’t think you have to do this with everyone. I don’t think it has to be on your Facebook page or Instagram posts or it maybe, but I don’t think it needs to be a public image. But I do think they have to be 1 or 2 people in this world that you can actually convert anxiety into love with by showing them how you really feel and letting them be there for you. That’ll enhance your connection. And another one. I guess I told you I’d give you three years. Another one is when you’re pursuing a dream, you will feel anxious. Because you care about it. We spoke about this a little before two. Which means that the experience of anxiety in of itself is not necessarily a bad thing. It might be an indication, actually, that you’re on the right route.

Alison: Mm. That’s great. Yeah. And I love I really appreciate you and I love all the work that you’re doing. I wish that I wish I was your patient.

David: It’s very kind of you to say thank you.

Jean: You wrote a wonderful book. There’s something for everyone.

Alison: And I was reading it in a waiting room, and I realized the cover is so great.. And two people were like, what’s that about? How do you do that? And I was like, you gotta, you gotta go get it. But it’s pretty great. Yeah.

David: So I can listen to your podcast. They can also get a 12 page free guide on my website, by the way, which all your listeners are able to get. Um, so that is available to anyone. And I can send you the link. You can put it in the show notes. DHROSMARIN.COM Is my website, and, uh, I think it’s on the home page. Um, there’s a link to the book, and you can get a 12 page free guide. Um, I’d love to hear from people. My, you know, I read the comments that come through on the website and respond to many of them. And so, um, I love engaging with people about this topic. It’s just a great topic and an important one.

Alison: If we think of more things or, or another book comes out of your wonderful mind, can we call you again?

David: Please do. I don’t know if I’m working on another book just yet. Don’t make me anxious or stressed. Um, but I definitely, um, so grateful to to meet you.

Alison: Great. Maybe after the election will give you a call or during. Thank you so much. We appreciate it.

Jean: Thank you, you’re a wonderful guest, and many blessings to you and your family. And say hi to your wife.

David: Thank you. We’ll do. Goodbye. Take care.

Alison: The really interesting thing about this interview was that I was late and David was having technical issues. And so we’re starting the interview about anxiety with anxiety, which was just like, I’m like, I’m almost there, Jean…. Hang on. You know, that’s right.

Jean: I did think I was like, wow, this is so interesting that that this is occurring. But you know what? We made it. And what a great interview. Um, David is, was really lovely to talk with. And, um, he’s got a gentle side to him too. Yeah.

Alison: And he, um, it was a very different interview in that he’s like that. He had that little quiz for us. He asked us that question and we both just sit there nodding and he’s like, well, what do you think? I’m right. Go ahead. Right. Pick up your pencils and begin. You know. So he was great I liked him. He was funny and, um, very relaxed and, um, I love that he’s taking a different tact and showing us that we all have anxiety and that it’s just a part of it and how you can work with it.

Jean: Right. And he he offers to anyone, as he said, “If the listeners want, they may reach out to me.” and that meant a lot to me. How gracious of him to to offer that. So if you are someone that would like to talk to a wonderful doctor schooled in anxiety, here’s your guy.

Alison: So thriving with anxiety. And you know, I’ve had some stressful stuff come up since we’ve interviewed him. And I have really used his tips about making connections, about being vulnerable, about having compassion for myself. And it’s very helpful. So I suggest taking a gander at Thriving With Anxiety. Yes, there I go. I feel very relaxed.

Jean: Wow, that was a mouthful.

Alison: It was okay. Bye everybody.


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