March 27

Episode 1306: Interview with Dr. Julia DiGangi About the Power of Emotional Self-Awareness

Inspired Stewardship Podcast, Interview

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Join us today for the Interview with Dr. Julia DiGangi, expert in our brains and emotions...

This is the interview I had with author and neuropsychologist Dr. Julia. 

In today’s interview with Dr. Julia DiGangi, she shares with you why you need to learn to lead yourself first to lead in uncertain times.  I also ask Dr. Julia about how important it is to really understand how our emotion drives everything.  Dr. Julia also shares how her book “energy rising” is able to help you understand how to harness your emotions to drive you forward.

Join in on the Chat below.

Episode 1306: Interview with Dr. Julis DiGangi About the Power of Emotional Self-Awareness

[00:00:00] Scott Maderer: Thanks for joining us on episode 1,306 of the Inspired Stewardship Podcast.

[00:00:08] Dr. Julia DiGangi: Hey, I'm Dr. Julia Ganji. I challenge you to invest in yourself, invest in others, developing your influence and impact the world by using your time, your talent, and your treasures to live out your calling. Having the ability to lead well, even when it's hard is.

[00:00:26] One way to be inspired is to listen to this, the Inspired Stewardship podcast with my friend Scott Maderer.

[00:00:41] So if I can change my mindset about the emotional shake and say the fact that my voice is quivering, the fact that my heart is racing, the fact that my palms are sweating isn't something d. It's something incredibly hopeful and expansive. This is the very path. This is the very path [00:01:00] to my increased emotional power.

[00:01:05] Scott Maderer: Welcome and thank you for joining us on the Inspired Stewardship Podcast. If you truly desire to become the person who God wants you to be, then you must learn to use your time, your talent, and your treasures for your true. In the Inspired Stewardship podcast, you'll learn to invest in yourself, invest in others, and develop your influence so that you can impact the world.

[00:01:36] In today's interview with Dr. Julia Ganji, she shares with you why you need to learn to lead yourself first, to lead in uncertain times. I also ask Dr. Julia about how important it is to really understand how our emotion drives everything. And Dr. Julia also shares how her book Energy Rising is able to help you understand how to harness your emotions to drive you.

[00:01:59] [00:02:00] One reason I like to bring you great interviews like the one you're gonna hear today is because of the power in learning from others. Another great way to learn from others is through reading books. But if you're like most people today, you find it hard to find the time to sit down and

[00:02:16] read,

[00:02:17] Scott Maderer: and that's why today's podcast is brought to you by Audible.

[00:02:21] Go to inspired stewardship.com/audible to sign up and you can get a 30 day free trial. , there's over 180,000 titles to choose from, and instead of reading, you can listen your way to learn from some of the greatest minds out there. That's inspired stewardship.com/audible to get your free trial and listen to great books the same way you're listening to this podcast.

[00:02:48] Dr. Julia is a neuropsychologist who works with leaders, corporate teams, and couples to address pain in their lives, an expert in the brain's relationship with stress, resilience, and relationships. She [00:03:00] applies her expertise to help leaders think differently about their relationships, the pain they can cause, and what actually works to solve interpersonal problems.

[00:03:08] From overwhelmed corporate leaders to traumatized couples to dysfunctional teams. Dr. Julia has. Thousands to create a new relationship with their brain and therefore improve their relationships with the people around them. By helping people understand the brain in new ways, she empowers people to achieve the interpersonal effectiveness they desire.

[00:03:29] Prior to becoming a neuropsychologist, she worked in international humanitarian relief. She delivered AIDS in disaster zones. She's also worked on multiple US presidential campaigns and at the White House. In her clinical practice, she treats patients suffering from a variety of stress related conditions, and she is regularly the keynote speaker for corporate healthcare, government and educational audiences.

[00:03:52] She's published extensively and is currently working on a book about energy rising for the Harvard Business Review. [00:04:00] Welcome to the show, Dr.

[00:04:02] Dr. Julia DiGangi: It's great to be here Scott. Thanks for having me.

[00:04:05] Scott Maderer: So we talked a little bit in the intro about some of your background and some of the work you've done and at different places you've worked and that kind of thing.

[00:04:13] But share a little bit more about your journey. What brought you to becoming a neuropsychologist? First of all, let me explain cuz I think a lot of people have not heard of a neuropsychologist. A neuropsychologist just means I'm a clinical psychologist with specialized expertise in the brain. And the way I think about my work is I really think about my work as the intersection between the brain relationships and what I call emotional power.

[00:04:44] Dr. Julia DiGangi: And what this means is how do we leverage our brains based on, there's so much exciting neuroscience these days. How do we leverage our brains and our nervous systems to lead the most powerful, satisfying and connected lives possible? It's been an incredible [00:05:00] career choice for me. I I really feel like this work is a vocation, and part of the reason I became a neuropsychologist is in my sort of prior career I did a lot of political work and a lot of international humanitarian aid.

[00:05:13] So I was working in very stressed, very traumatized communities all around the globe, and I became very interested in how our bodies, our brains, and our bodies respond to extreme advers. . So that's kind of the academic in me. And the way I talk about it is I talk about our brains and our emotional power.

[00:05:32] Scott Maderer: That's part of what I wanted to dig into. So you worked a lot in political settings and then you worked in humanitarian aid and relief. So you've seen a lot of folks in stressful situations, both in leadership positions as well as in non-leadership positions. How does what you study.

[00:05:53] How have you seen how we react and what's the commonalities between the human [00:06:00] part of us that reacts the same? Regardless of position, regardless of whether it's in a humanitarian situation, a political office, that kind of thing. What's the commonalities. .

[00:06:09] Dr. Julia DiGangi: That's a phenomenal question and a, actually that question is what led me to this work.

[00:06:14] So I have a really strong academic scientific background and I really wanted to study, cuz what was happening is I was working in communities that had endured extreme stress in Chicago, in Detroit, in South America, in Africa, in Asia. And I was realizing that isn't it interesting that despite all the cultural differences, When people are in stress, when people are in pain, when people are experiencing great adversity, it doesn't matter where you are on the planet, people start to look very similar.

[00:06:51] And so I started to say was there something about we could learn about our biology? That could really create a [00:07:00] more peaceful, a more whole, a more connected world. And I think the answer is absolutely yes. And one of the things I, I talk about, so I absolutely do talk about emotional power, but you cannot talk about emotional power unless you're also talking about emotional pain.

[00:07:15] Now, the reason I like the term emotional pain is because I think it really shows the spectrum. of the stress that we can endure. And when I talk about emotion, cause if you think about the brain's not all that big. It's a pretty small piece of real estate, right? For most of us, it weighs less than three pounds.

[00:07:33] And the parts of your brain that process bad feelings, whether it's stress, irritation, anxiety, frustration, self-consciousness, all the way up to trauma. It's the same parts of the brain. So I think your question was incredibly insightful. It's like until leaders at work, until managers, until parents, until politicians understand what to do [00:08:00] about these sensations in their own body, things really can't change.

[00:08:08] So we have to understand how do we con, if we wanna be live, the most powerful expression of our lives, we have to figure out. So in order to get to our power, we have to know what to do about our pain. Does that make sense the way I'm explaining that? No, it

[00:08:22] Scott Maderer: does. It does and I think too, that commonality of.

[00:08:25] Cuz I hear people sometimes talk about big T trauma versus little T trauma and all that, but it's all related to each other. and what may be a quote big trauma for you may not be for me because of our PAC history and backgrounds and all sorts of other variables, but at the same time, it's all kind of reacting through us in the same way, especially if we're unaware of that.

[00:08:51] Kind of sum it up what you

[00:08:52] Dr. Julia DiGangi: said. Yeah. Especially if we're unaware of it. And I think too, a big problem that people make that if you can understand this, [00:09:00] you can have a much more successful relationship with your own leadership, is a lot of times people focus at their problem, at the level of the situation.

[00:09:09] What I mean by this is you'll say, okay, you were supposed to do this for me on we. Or he said he wasn't gonna do X or they said they were gonna do Y. In other words, we get very fixated on some deliverable in the situation, and we think it's because we didn't get what we want. That is the problem. But if you really think that, if you really think intelligently about what's happening with the emotional energy in your life, it's really not about what's happening in the situation.

[00:09:39] It's a exactly about what's happening with your emotional. In other words, if I'm like, these people did not get me what I want, there's a deeper, there's a deeper truth there that you're really saying, I was unable to access what I wanted. And when [00:10:00] we when you're at this deeper level of, I was unable to access what I wanted, this starts to create really profound emotional sens.

[00:10:08] right? So this feeling of dissatisfaction, this feeling that I can never get what I want, the feeling of being unworthy, the feeling of never having my needs met. So if I guess

[00:10:17] Scott Maderer: what I'm trying to say, others let always let me down. I can't depend on anybody.

[00:10:21] Dr. Julia DiGangi: Yes. Yeah, exactly. So I think we have to really work at the most powerful place, which is can sometimes sound dramatic if we really wanna make significant and lasting changes in our.

[00:10:33] Scott Maderer: And a lot of times, like I said too, I think history becomes a pass a part of that in terms of if you grew up in a home with a single parent or alcoholism or poverty or abuse or even just normal. Day-to-day discomforts that happen because , it's called We're in a family and it's made up of people.

[00:10:57] It sometimes we have that callback [00:11:00] to, to when we were 13 years old or when we were eight years old, and don't even realize that we're playing that same script out in our adult life.

[00:11:08] Dr. Julia DiGangi: Absolutely. And I think what you just said about repeating the same script, one of the most powerful ways to think about your brain, it.

[00:11:18] It's main function. It's main function is your brain is a pattern detection machine. And so what that really means, if you think about it, and this is a lot of the research I did in neuroscience, is that your brain is not looking for what is objectively there, . Your brain is literally wired to look for what it predicts should be there, right?

[00:11:42] So if I,

[00:11:43] Scott Maderer: sometimes it'll see it even if it's not really there.

[00:11:46] Dr. Julia DiGangi: If you . A so one of the main paradigms that we use in our lab is we used a paradigm where we take people and we put them in the scanner, the big F M R I scanner, and we show them pictures of faces. So happy faces, sad faces, mad faces, neutral [00:12:00] faces, some of the most interesting scientific finding.

[00:12:03] Are about neutral faces. So neutral faces are just that neutral, but plenty of people interpret nu neutral faces as threatening, angry, or some people think that they're positive. The person looks really relaxed. Who? Who is the decider? Who is the creator of the story that I just made up about? That neutral face, it's me.

[00:12:27] Until I'm willing to work at the level of my own emotional power, nothing in my life is really gonna change. If people could really understand this so much about their leadership and so much about their life becomes a lot more effortless and frankly, a lot more enjoyable. So what are

[00:12:44] Scott Maderer: some of the key takeaways that you know, especially if we're in a leadership position or a parent those sorts of, when you're in that position like that, what are some of the key takeaways that you think we need to work on or we need to understand to begin [00:13:00] becoming more aware at that emotional level?

[00:13:02] Dr. Julia DiGangi: The first thing, so I take this in two steps. The first thing is to really sit with this. That your brain is a pattern detection machine. What this really means, and this is a tough pill for a lot of people to swallow, is if my brain is seeing the patterns that I predict should be there.

[00:13:28] There's not really a whole lot of power in objective reality when it comes to my relationships, not my relationships at work and not my relationships. This is very upsetting to a lot of people and I, I completely understand why I have my own marriage. I have my own work struggles, so it's easy to be like no.

[00:13:47] You don't know a let me tell you the truth about this situation, but it, how could that possibly be the truth when the whole interpretation is entirely in the whole show is happening inside of my nervous system. Okay, [00:14:00] so if I really sit, like almost meditate on the fact that my brain is a pattern detection, Something, and you're just gonna have to trust me here.

[00:14:06] Something opens up in you. Something shifts, okay, so number one is the brain is a pattern detection machine. Then what's number two? I start to think if my brain is a machine, like a cell phone or a computer, every machine has an energy source. So what is the energy source of my pattern detection?

[00:14:31] and the answer is the energy that powers your pattern detection machine is always the energy of emotion. What neuroscientists are starting to find, and this is so powerful and it's so exciting, is people think the situation causes the emotion. , I was fine until I walked in the room and the whole thing came crashing

[00:14:52] Scott Maderer: down when the hell over that ruined my day.

[00:14:55] Yeah.

[00:14:56] Dr. Julia DiGangi: It is the emotion that IVs the situation. [00:15:00] Who is the holder? Who is the possessor? Who is the leader of the emotion? The leader of the emotion is me. And so until I'm willing to work with myself, and this is, I think my definition of leadership is quite radical. I think it's simple, but radical, which is leadership is simply my ability to use my own.

[00:15:23] To have an effect on my own life. So until I'm willing to really lead the way that I work with my own emotions, everything else becomes, I'm just a recipient of how other people are feeling, or how other people are behaving, or what other people are doing. And so from that posture, I'm really much more disempowered.

[00:15:47] Scott Maderer: I think that's one of the questions that can come up when you start talking about the brain and it's a pattern recognition machine. Sometimes it's playing out these internal scripts that we're unaware of. I think people sometimes [00:16:00] feel powerless because of it. It's then what can I do about it?

[00:16:04] So what what's your answer to that? What can they do about it? .

[00:16:10] Dr. Julia DiGangi: So I get this question all the time and I also understand that it's challenging cuz I, I live my own human life. But one of the things that does strike me and tell me if this resonates with you is nobody really asks that question about physical toughness.

[00:16:28] Nobody's ever I'm really confused because it's really hard to get strong and I'm, we're just really confused about it and I don't know how to get str. You're just like, I know exactly what I need to do now. Do I wanna do it? Am I willing to do it? Do I have the time to that? Those are different questions, but I'm not confused about how the process works.

[00:16:47] I understand

[00:16:48] Scott Maderer: that if I exercise and eat right, I would get pH physically more.

[00:16:52] Dr. Julia DiGangi: It's inevitable. It's like gravity, right? It's that certain, so if I go to the gym, I'm gonna get stronger. Okay, [00:17:00] so what is then, what is the true analog and the emotional thing? It's two things and they're opposite sides of the same coin.

[00:17:07] The first is what I call, you have to learn how to hold your emotional. . Okay. So what is an emotional shake? Let me again go back to the physical, cause I think it's gonna make it really clear for your listeners. When I go to the gym and I wanna get stronger and I really wanna lift 20 pounds today, I start to do do three reps and then by the time I get to the fourth, my bicep is really shaking.

[00:17:31] Now, when my bicep shakes at the gym, I don't think anyone has ever been like, oh my. Something horrible is happening. My bicep is shaking. I'm gonna flee from the gym. Never to return ever again. Oh,

[00:17:47] Scott Maderer: I don't know. There's probably someone that's reacted that way, but yeah, probably not. Usually. At least

[00:17:52] Dr. Julia DiGangi: Right? Even if they decide that they're, cause I would actually say that even if they decide never to return, it's because they didn't like it. Not [00:18:00] because they were confused by what was happening. True. Yeah. So let's apply that analog to the emotional health. Let's say, let's take public speaking cuz that's a pretty anxiety provoking one for people.

[00:18:13] If I have to, for example, the first time I get on a podcast or the first time I'm gonna give a virtual talk or what get on some big stage, I am going to shake quite literally. So the nerve your voice will shake, your hands, will shake, your heart rate will accelerate, your pupils will dilate there becomes this very strong, sympathetic nervous system response.

[00:18:36] What happens, let's say, let's take this now to a different example. Let's say I'm gonna have a difficult conversation with you, Scott, and I'm like, God, I really gotta tell him something that's on my heart. But I'm nervous. I'm feeling my emotional pain. I'm feeling anxiety, I'm feeling nervous. I'm feeling stressed when I go to tell you that if the sensations in my body are too intense, if, in other words, if the shake is too much, I'm gonna go, [00:19:00] I have to flee from the situation.

[00:19:01] But when I understand cuz one of the things is plenty of people. We don't think the shake at the gym feels good, but it does feel satisfying. Why? Because it's the shaking itself. That is the very evidence that I'm getting stronger. So if I can change my mindset about the emotional shake and say the fact that my voice is quivering, the fact that my heart is racing, the fact that my palms are sweating, isn't something dangerous.

[00:19:28] It's something incredibly hopeful and expansive. This is the very path. This is the very path to my increased emotional power

[00:19:39] if we're not really willing to get that piece. We just won't get emotionally stronger. Just if I will never lift more than 10 pounds, I will never get physically stronger. So we, I think it can be really clarifying to start thinking about what situations in my mind would feel like an emotional difficult level of a one?

[00:19:59] What would feel like an [00:20:00] emotional difficult level of a five? What would feel like an emotional difficult level of an eight? And then really think about how to approach those, engage our emotional e.

[00:20:10] Scott Maderer: And not necessarily having to jump straight to an eight situation all the time either, but being willing to do some reps at the two or the TH five or three

[00:20:20] Dr. Julia DiGangi: or whatever.

[00:20:20] Yeah. Yeah. And actually, I think what you said is right on. Not only should we not start at a 10, I think. We don't have to start at a 10. I don't think we should start at a 10. Just like I wouldn't go out and run a marathon tomorrow. And again, I think with your analogy, I think it's easier for people to understand that in a physical realm, oh, I can't go bench press 250 pounds when all I've been lifting is 10.

[00:20:44] Scott Maderer: Yeah. Because that would be dangerous. That would cause damage That would hurt me. But in an emotional realm sometimes we feel. Urge to push ourselves further than maybe we're always ready to

[00:20:56] Dr. Julia DiGangi: go, I think. Why do you think that is? Because I think that's why [00:21:00] do you think that is?

[00:21:00] Scott Maderer: I think sometimes part of it I think is sometimes we tend to think of the emotional as less lesser , for lack of a better word when it isn't.

[00:21:13] I know in a lot of leadership circles terms like emotional intelligence and being emotionally aware and that sort of thing there's a lot of leaders. That will poo that idea and oh interestingly, they're always the ones that are the least emotionally aware, but that's another conversation.

[00:21:29] So I think that's part of it. Beyond that, I'm not sure why we would push ourselves further faster. A again, sometimes too, I think maybe it's lack of awareness of where we are in terms of our own emotion. I don't think most of us do a lot of self-awareness of how well we deal with emotional trauma.

[00:21:49] In other words, I don't know that we even have that leveling system. Like you're thinking about, we've been, we've thought about it before. We're in the situation. We're just suddenly in a situation. It's this is an eight , [00:22:00] I think, you know what, I would just add to this, cause I think you're exactly right that it is somehow more logical and then therefore, Easier to get our minds around on the physical side.

[00:22:13] Dr. Julia DiGangi: And I think the reason goes back to what I was saying about the brain being a pattern detection machine and emotional energy. Ener being the power source for the brain is this is another like really big piece. It's sometimes it's so big, it's can be difficult to really wrap our minds around.

[00:22:32] But there really is no meaning. There is no meaning in your life. There is no meaning in your. Until there's emotional energy. So is it good to be a leader? I don't know. How do you feel about it? Do you make enough money? I don't know. How do you feel about it? Should you leave the marriage? I don't know.

[00:22:53] How do you feel about it? Was it rude what he said to you? I don't know. How do you feel about it? So cause, [00:23:00] because emotional energy is the mother energy that is really shaping our lives, and this is of course, not to say that the cognitive system doesn't matter. It's profoundly powerful, but it really is the emotional system that is more fundamental.

[00:23:15] We're living it every second of every day. So it's almost like asking somebody, how do you work with gravity? You're like, H I don't even understand the question. What What do you mean? How do I work with gravity? Like it just is. I think a lot of times we feel like our emotions, we have no relationship with them other than to be victimized by them.

[00:23:34] On the days we have a good day, we're lucky us. And on the days that we have a bad day, we just gotta Muscle through it. But what we really know is, and I think this is a beautiful way to say it, is that we our emotions are a co-creation with us. In other words, we all know we don't perfectly control our emotions.

[00:23:54] And anybody who tells you they, they do they're not telling the truth. And [00:24:00] so our emotions don't perfectly belong to us. And yet at the same time, they very much belong to us. So it's this beautiful dance between strength and surrender. How do I work with my emotions in a way that's so emotionally intelligent?

[00:24:16] I know when to exert the power of my will, and I know how to also ride the wave the way a surfer would ride a wave, right?

[00:24:25] Scott Maderer: Acknowledge it and be aware of it, but not drowned. So to speak. Yeah. So I work with people a lot. Part of my business is around financial coaching.

[00:24:35] And it was funny as you were saying that because, for instance, I'll talk with someone who's maybe a prospect or interested in coaching and we're having that first conversation, and inevitably people will say things like, I make good money. And my answer is, what? What? What does that mean? because they think that's a definitive an, that's something that answers the question. Around money and [00:25:00] how much I make and that kind of thing. But it's like I've had people that make $350,000 a year say that I've had people that make $35,000 a year say that there is no number that is quote, good money. It's all relatively your situation and how you feel about it, and you know what that means to you more than it is a number.

[00:25:18] And yet for people they think that literally

[00:25:20] Dr. Julia DiGangi: is. Yeah. I totally, yeah, I think that was a beautiful example and it just shows once again, the subjectivity and the power, the raw the entire meaning of our lives is emotional. It's how we define it. Yeah. So why then, this is the other important piece here, is if we wanna be the most powerful version of ourselves, you wanna be the most powerful leaders of our own.

[00:25:45] How could anything be more important? This is and I'm really like I would really encourage people to reflect on this. How could anything be more important than sitting with the energy of our emotion and learning how to work with what's [00:26:00] happening inside of your own nervous system? What do you like, what do you not like?

[00:26:03] What I call it is, I call it the emotional edge, the edge of emotional. How do I come to my edge? What does it mean to come to my edge? What opens up for me when I come to my edge? If you learn how to work with your emotional edge, I see it all the time. I've been doing this work now for a long time, and I work with some of the people who've endured excruciating pain.

[00:26:26] So what I'm say by enduring excruciating pain, if it's true at the most extreme, of course, there's lessons for us who have more common stressors. You learn how to work with your emotional. Your power skyrockets. And I'm not talking, I think this is very self-evident. I am totally not talking about what we, people will call kind of command and control power.

[00:26:50] First of all, that is not power, that is emotional weakness. And the accurate term for people who are trying to control other people is manipulation and coercion. [00:27:00] So what I'm talking about is like, how do I construct a life that genuinely feels good? .

[00:27:05] Scott Maderer: so you used the word manipulation and one of those things that I've defined for folks is cuz manipulation versus influence as an example.

[00:27:17] And leaders can influence people and leaders can manipulate people, but the drive behind those is so different. Manipulation is, like you said, command and control. It's about, I'm going to. Manipulate this situation. So you do something because it's good for it. It helps me it, it's totally, it's a selfish mentality where Totally.

[00:27:38] So its more about, no, I'm going to help this situation in ways that help you that help others lift them up and put them in better positions and that kind of thing. You may rise too, but the drive isn't about. Getting ahead, so to speak. It's the intent behind it. I think that can be different.

[00:27:58] Would you? How do you see those

[00:27:59] Dr. Julia DiGangi: [00:28:00] words? I completely agree with that. And the piece that I would, cause I want people to really see when I keep talking about coming to this very upstream place of emotional power, if I need to control you in quotes, I need to manipulate I need to coerce. All that really is codependency.

[00:28:17] Now that's a fancy word of just simply saying, I need you to do something. I need you to behave in a specific way so that what? So that I can get the project done so that I can have this thing, but what am I really saying? So that I can feel , you're back at emotion, so that I can feel more okay. So that I can feel more, more comfortable, more important, more wealthy, more right?

[00:28:44] I am telling you, everything comes back to emotion and the reason I'm, I keep in saying it, so I consistently is if you work at the level of emotion, it solves everything. Yeah.

[00:28:56] Scott Maderer: Because it leads to the other places that you wanted [00:29:00] to go anyway. And to put it in the simplest terms, you don't have a single problem in your life.

[00:29:08] Dr. Julia DiGangi: Not a single problem. Unless you feel bad about it. Sure. Yeah. People get divorced all the time. I have some people who feel relief when they get divorced, and I have some people who are devastated. Devastated. Yep. Who's right.

[00:29:24] Scott Maderer: Yes, .

[00:29:26] Dr. Julia DiGangi: Totally. That's right. Emotions are very intimate and all I'm saying is it's very beautiful, very healing, very empowering to have a sort of a strange way to put it, but to have a relationship with the energy of our emotions.

[00:29:40] Scott Maderer: And it's why sometimes reframing or having those aha moments when you're talking to someone else and all of a sudden, They say something and it's oh, wait, now I completely see this situation in a completely different light than I did two seconds ago. Yeah, exactly. And your whole demeanor changes.

[00:29:59] Your, [00:30:00] the way you feel about it changes, the stress level changes. Did the situation actually change? No. the situation may be identical, but all of a sudden the way we view. Shifts.

[00:30:13] Dr. Julia DiGangi: All of our pain comes from demand. If you really get down to it, all of our pain comes from demanding that reality be different than whatever reality is.

[00:30:21] Yeah. Our pain, if you wanna measure our pain, right? Cuz a scientist in me is always trying to operationalize things. The distance between what I'm demanding that life be and what it actually is. So I need you to do X. I need my kids to listen better. I need my employees to work harder. I need people to be more productive.

[00:30:41] I need my social media followers to be more engaged with me. The problem with that is they got their own nervous system, their own lives, their own challenges. I used to have a coworker who would say, an academic colleague who would say a little bit crafts, but also effective. He would say crap in one hand and wish in the other and see which one fills [00:31:00] up first.

[00:31:01] So a lot of us are hemorrhaging this remarkable amount of, to use your word, influence, power effectiveness in our leader. By squandering you I mean we can't even if we're really honest about it, cuz I do a lot of work with leaders and I do leaders. I think about leadership at work and at home If we're and parenting is the most powerful form of leadership on the planet because of the neurobiological relationship between the parent and the child.

[00:31:32] If we are really honest about it, we cannot even get our children to do what we.

[00:31:41] Scott Maderer: Hey, if we're real honest about it, sometimes we can't even get ourselves to do what we want. .

[00:31:45] Dr. Julia DiGangi: That was the most, that was the fantastic point. Exa you're, because our lives are a co-creation between our volition and. These more kind of, I don't, whatever we wanna call it, [00:32:00] God, the universe, just the way kind of neurobiological energy moves.

[00:32:03] There's days where you don't wanna have a stomach ache, you got a stomach ache, right? There's days you don't wanna be tired, you tired. So how are we gonna work with that?

[00:32:11] Scott Maderer: And your reaction to that and your way of dealing with that comes down to again, how are you feeling more than, how are you doing so

[00:32:21] Dr. Julia DiGangi: to speak.

[00:32:21] I love it. I totally.

[00:32:24] Scott Maderer: Because again, like I, so I have migraines and there's days that I'll have a migraine and I, I still work and I'm talking conversations with people and everything else, and yes, it's painful and I leave the lights off and that kind of thing, but I'm still working.

[00:32:39] And people are like, how can you work with a migraine? And I'm like can lay in bed and hurt, or I can do some things. And hurt. The hurting doesn't change. it hurts, but I can still function. I just have, I have to be aware of the fact that I'm gonna have different limits and there's things that I won't do, like drive but I can still [00:33:00] do some things and it's okay because I'm okay with know, again, it doesn't change the pain.

[00:33:05] And I see that as an analogy of we're not talking about dealing, if I'm understanding you correctly, we're not necessarily talking. Understanding our emotions so that we can. Change them as much as we begin to co-create and be in almost in partnership with them in a different way. Have a different relationship with

[00:33:25] Dr. Julia DiGangi: them.

[00:33:26] Absolutely. And what I will, this I'm glad you said that because it reminded me of something else I wanted to say. is the idea of course, is to lead a life that feels good to us. So I'm certainly not advocating well, let's just totally be miserable when we're miserable and let's just be really like more sad and like more hopeless.

[00:33:47] What actually happens. And there's actually a lot of neuroscientific evidence, a lot of neuropsychological clinical evidence to substantiate this is when we are willing to work. , the negative, [00:34:00] painful emotions that we've been avoiding. The feelings of inadequacy, the feelings of stress, the difficult conversation, the memories that haunt us when we're really willing to work with them.

[00:34:10] What happens is energy rises. What I mean by this is when we allow the energy to simply move through. It will move through us and it will leave. And when it leaves, it will create. The very thing that I can promise you is the only thing we all want on the in, in our lifetimes is peace. Now we can't have perfect enduring peace because that's not what it means to be a human being.

[00:34:40] We live a dynamic life. But the, I think what happens is what we're all out there doing is like trying to overwork, I call it the overs, overwork, overgive, overthink over-engineer, overdue over commit. Why are we doing this? We're doing all this because we think it's gonna make us okay. If I could just achieve more, if I could be [00:35:00] more, if I could have more.

[00:35:01] It never makes us. Okay. Never. Why? Why does the whole the impulse for why you're doing the overs is because you already believe you're not okay. So why don't I just work at the level of the feeling and say, if, and by the way, most of us have overworked and overdone it for what, 20, 30, 40, 50 years?

[00:35:19] If it hasn't worked, then now is the problem. Like you just need another 50 more years of that no, it's, I need a totally new strategy. And the strategy is how do I work with my emotional energy to say I am okay no matter what. And there's something that's very counterintuitive is when I start to say, I'm okay no matter what.

[00:35:44] It's okay if they don't agree with me. Here's the big one. It's okay if I misunderstood, because the understanding belongs to their nervous system. It doesn't even belong to. So how could I perfectly control their construction of the things that I'm saying? I'm okay to be [00:36:00] misunderstood. I'm okay to not have people agree with me.

[00:36:02] I'm okay if they don't like it. When I really start to really believe those things, really integrate them, I finally get all the things I really wanted. So it's, we gotta, it's like we gotta stop doing all this over this. It's just so harmful. We're just injuring ourselves and it doesn't even bring us what we thought the promise

[00:36:27] Scott Maderer: was.

[00:36:28] it changes our feelings very temporarily, but never permanently. The line just moves. And I say this again, I'll use the financial realm cuz that's I see that a lot in the financial realm too, where it's more stuff. More stuff. More stuff.

[00:36:42] Cuz that will bring me happiness. And the funny thing is when they discover happiness, All of a sudden the stuff doesn't matter, and they may actually end up with more stuff but it's not, the stuff is no longer the driver the aclu accumulation is not the purpose. [00:37:00] It may result it's it's what's the cart and what's the horse what are you putting first versus second,

[00:37:06] Dr. Julia DiGangi: right?

[00:37:07] Because it sounds like even when your clients accumulate more stuff, they haven't changed the underlying emotional energy, right? So enough can never feel like,

[00:37:14] Scott Maderer: It temporarily, it's oh, that's an, oh wait, now there's something else that I want. There's always something else cuz there's always something else , The best, I think the, one of the most powerful ways to conceptualize that is it's really addiction. It is. If you think about what addiction is a very, I think, a very useful frame to think about addiction. It is ritualized, self-soothing. I don't feel good. I drink. I feel better. I feel bad again.

[00:37:38] Dr. Julia DiGangi: I drink, I feel better. I don't feel good. What's gonna make me feel better? Overperforming being a star performer, getting a lot of agreement, getting a lot of likes on my social media. I get the hit and then it starts to wear off. What? What happens when I wear off? It wears off. I feel bad. I feel anxious, I feel inadequate.

[00:37:55] I feel like I'm falling behind. So once again, I'm at the level of emotional energy. If I don't recognize that it's really [00:38:00] happening at the level of emotional energy, what do I do? Ritualize self-soothing over reform. Start pumping out content. Start talk.

[00:38:07] Scott Maderer: Yeah. And you're now, you're on a treadmill .

[00:38:09] Dr. Julia DiGangi: Correct.

[00:38:10] So I, I really believe that the brain is the portal, the power. And what a very exciting moment in time where. We now know more about the brain than ever before. We now know more about the nervous system and how, and not just how our nervous system affects our lives, but how we can really have healthier, more healthier, more satisfied, more productive relationships with others.

[00:38:32] So this idea of working intelligently with the brain and the nervous system, I just think it's so life.

[00:38:41] Scott Maderer: Absolutely. So I've got a few questions that I'd like to ask all of my guests, but before I go there, is there anything else about your work with the brain and your understanding of trauma and stress that you'd really like to share with the listener?

[00:38:53] Dr. Julia DiGangi: I guess I would just like to share that right now I'm actually writing a book on emotional [00:39:00] power for Harvard Business Review. So the book is called Energy Rising, and it's about this idea of how do we lead our lives, both at work and at home in the most powerful way. And what I think is so exciting is that if we work at the level of emotional energy, everything rise.

[00:39:24] So

[00:39:24] Scott Maderer: one of the questions that I like to ask all of my guests is about stewardship. So you mentioned leadership earlier is a word that you have a definition and everyone has a definition of leadership, but they're all different. Stewardship is one of those words that I use a lot, and yet I've discovered different people mean different things.

[00:39:40] So when you hear the word stewardship, what does it mean to.

[00:39:44] Dr. Julia DiGangi: First of all, I think it's a beautiful word. I'm a word person, so I like the way, like certain words have certain resonances, so it's a beautiful word. I wanted to say that. And I think of stewardship, the way that I think about leadership. I think what does it mean?

[00:39:56] I'm, I always wanna go to the most upstream place. So I think a lot of [00:40:00] times, whether we're talking stewardship or leadership, people focus on other first. The only way I can have relationship with other is vis-a-vis. So I start to say, forget for a second, and I'm someone who does a lot of family work and couples work.

[00:40:15] So I work in, in, in human systems, right? I work in organizations, I work with families, and I work with couples. And so what happens is people start to focus on the other. So what I think in the best definition for stewardship would be in my mind is how am I using my own emotional energy? To steward my own life and it becomes really freeing because I think a lot of our pain, a lot of our exhaustion, a lot of our.

[00:40:48] Feelings of ineffectiveness come when we're trying so hard and 99.999% of us are good pe like we're trying to do the right thing, but we're exhausting [00:41:00] ourselves trying to get other people to play by the rules of a script that only belongs to us,

[00:41:08] Scott Maderer: but they didn't say their lines .

[00:41:10] Dr. Julia DiGangi: It becomes incredibly liberating when I get to say, oh my God, you mean I'll have to do that anymore?

[00:41:17] No. Are you sure it's safe? Yeah. How do you know? It wasn't even working anyway. You have 70 years of evidence, .

[00:41:30] Scott Maderer: How's that working for you,

[00:41:34] So this is my favorite question that I like to ask everybody. If I invented this magic. And I could pluck you from where you are today and transport you into the future magically 250 years or so. And through the power of this machine, you were able to look back on your entire life and see all of the connections, all of the ripples, all of the impacts you've left behind.

[00:41:55] What do you hope you left behind in the world?

[00:41:58] Dr. Julia DiGangi: You made me nervous when [00:42:00] you, someone was like, oh God, it's gonna be like, I'm not gonna have a good answer. But actually, I do think about this question, so that's wild. I, the ripple that I, I would have is this idea of our emotional evolution as a species.

[00:42:17] This idea that there is something redemptive and holy and inspiring about human pain. It is very natural to want to avoid pain. Your brain. Interestingly, the circuits, like I was saying before, that give rise, the pain, the, even the physical and the emotional pain it's a lot of the same circuitry. So if I put my hand on a hot stove, of course I'm gonna whip it back.

[00:42:42] The problem though is that in our, all of our emotional pain, and I almost mean every single ounce of it, does not come from the one time somebody said a nasty thing to you, just like the one time I burned my hand on a hot stove. The majority of our emotional pain comes from the conversations that we've [00:43:00] had 10,000 times.

[00:43:02] The same fight with our spouse, the same fight with our children, the same annoyance with our teams. So we have to come into a more powerful and more evolved relationship with our emotional energy, and particularly the energy that for a, I think for a lot of us and for a long period of history in human history, seemed too overwhelming to work with.

[00:43:27] So if I had to say what I hope if I can contribute anything in my lifetime, it's this idea. Working with our emotional energy, particularly the energies that are difficult will lead us to the human transformation that the planet is calling for.

[00:43:50] Scott Maderer: So what's coming next for you as you continue on this journey? What's up for the new year?

[00:43:54] Dr. Julia DiGangi: It's a very exciting year. So I am putting out a book with Harvard Business Review called [00:44:00] Energy Rising, the Neuroscience of Leading With Emotional Power. And this book it's been an incredible journey.

[00:44:08] I draw on my own leadership experiences. I've worked at the White House. I've worked in international development and humanitarian aid. I've worked with the military and special forces. I've also done a lot of neuroscience research, so I think it's this, and I've, I interviewed hundreds of leaders for this book, so I think it's this kind of gorgeous integration of some of the most powerful ways to think about what does it mean to lead as a human.

[00:44:41] So that book's coming out in September. And I'm just I'm doing I could talk about emotional energy for a million lifetimes. So it feels very exciting. You ask what's coming up for the rest of this year, I'm doing a lot of work around talking to people about emotional power.[00:45:00]

[00:45:01] You can

[00:45:01] Scott Maderer: find out more about Dr. Julia over at Psychology Today. Slash us slash blog slash reasonable hyphens sanity or find out more about our work@neurohealthpartners.com. Of course, I'll have links to both of those over in the show notes as well.

[00:45:26] Thanks so much for listening to the Inspired Stewardship Podcast. As a subscriber and listener, we challenge you to not just sit back and passively. But act on what you've heard and find a way to live your calling. If you enjoyed this episode please do us a favor. Go over to inspired stewardship.com/itunes.

[00:45:53] Rate all one word. iTunes rate. It'll take you through how to leave a [00:46:00] rating and review, and how to make sure you're subscribed to the podcast so that you can get every episode as it comes out in your feed. Until next time, invest your time, your talent, and your treasures. Develop your influence and impact the world.


In today's episode, I ask Dr. Julia about:

  • Why you need to learn to lead yourself first to lead in uncertain times...
  • How important it is to really understand how our emotion drives everything... 
  • How her book “energy rising” is able to help you understand how to harness your emotions to drive you forward...
  • and more.....

Some of the Resources recommended in this episode: 

I make a commission for purchases made through the following link.

If I can change my mindset about the emotional shake and say that the fact that my voice is quivering, the fact that my heart is racing, the fact that my palms are sweaty isn’t something dangerous, this is the very path to my increased emotional power. – Dr. Julia DiGangi

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You can connect with Dr. Julia using the resources below:

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About the author 

Scott

Helping people to be better Stewards of God's gifts. Because Stewardship is about more than money.

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