Dr. Laurie Hollman: “Empathy”

Regularly considering the thoughts and feelings of others helps each of us to not feel alone and it also strengthens each individual’s participation in the collective community by giving a feeling of belonging. The global health and wellness market is worth more than 1.5 trillion dollars. So many people are looking to improve their physical, […]

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Regularly considering the thoughts and feelings of others helps each of us to not feel alone and it also strengthens each individual’s participation in the collective community by giving a feeling of belonging.

The global health and wellness market is worth more than 1.5 trillion dollars. So many people are looking to improve their physical, mental, and emotional wellness. At the same time, so many people are needed to help provide these services. What does it take to create a highly successful career in the health and wellness industry?

In this interview series called “5 Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Career In The Health and Wellness Industry” we are talking to health and wellness professionals who can share insights and stories from their experiences.

In this particular interview, we had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Laurie Hollman, Ph.D.

Laurie Hollman, Ph.D. is a psychoanalyst with specialized clinical training in infant-parent, child, adolescent, and adult psychotherapy and is an expert on the Narcissistic Personality Disorder elaborately illustrated in her captivating book, published in 2020: “Are You Living with a Narcissist? How Narcissistic Men Impact Your Happiness, How to Identify Them, and How to Avoid Raising Them.” In 2021 her most recent arrival on the Parenting scene is: Playing with Your Baby: Research Based Play to Bond with Your Baby from Birth to One Year which received the Gold Mom’s Choice Award prior to its release July 20, 2021.

She is an authority on modern parent-child relationships and an award-winning author who has published seven books. She has been on the faculties of New York University and the Society for Psychoanalytic Training and Research, among others.

She has written extensively on parenting for various publications, including the Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, The International Journal of Infant Observation, The Inner World of the Mother, Newsday’s Parents & Children Magazine and Long Island Parent in New York. She blogged for Huffington Post extensively and currently contributes articles for Thrive Global, Mind Body Green, Authority Magazine, Choosing Therapy, and Upjourney. She also writes for Active Family Magazine in San Francisco and is a parenting expert for Good Housekeeping, Bustle Lifestyle, Romper, Fatherly, and Fox News.

Her Gold Mom’s Choice Award-winning books are Unlocking Parental Intelligence: Finding Meaning in Your Child’s Behavior. Her companion award-winning books are The Busy Parent’s Guide to Managing Anxiety in Children and Teens: The Parental Intelligence Way, and The Busy Parent’s Guide to Managing Anger in Children and Teens: The Parental Intelligence Way.

Other books in this series are The Busy Parent’s Guide to Managing Technology with Children and Teens: The Parental Intelligence Way and The Busy Parent’s Guide to Managing Exhaustion with Children and Teens: The Parental Intelligence Way.

In addition, Laurie Hollman, is an artist painting in various media. Her paintings have been exhibited in family and patrons collections in New York and London.

Further information can be found in detail on her website: https://lauriehollmanphd.com/ (more bio, more publications, details about books with excerpts and extensive endorsements and media).

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’?

With many career options available to me, I found myself at first looking for a profession that was not at the time often assigned to women. I avoided English Literature, School Teaching, and even Psychology. I began to venture into Political Science, City Planning, and was proud of my accomplishments. I became a researcher in regional planning, only to find that despite my successful years in my twenties, I was unfulfilled and no longer believed professions traditionally assigned to men or women would hold me back.

The very options I avoided began to draw me naturally as I shifted my career plans and began to do research in Educational Psychology, began to teach elementary school with an innovative skill-based individualized program unavailable in the eighties, turned my focus to the rising field of learning disabilities, and discovered what called on me most of all was the psychology of the young children I was working with.

While beginning to raise two infants, I found myself reading psychology extensively. My original need to carry out a plan not usually suited to females had done a one-eighty. I found I could do many occupations with ease. I studied hard, educated myself in Psychology, went back to school and eventually became a Psychoanalyst and Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist. Over the decades that followed I discovered infant, child, adolescent, and adult development engrossed me. My learning did not cease. Treating those suffering during this range of ages became my calling and my forty-year career.

Was there a particular person or event that inspired you to live a wellness-focused lifestyle? Can you tell us about your main motivation to go all in?

As a young woman in my late twenties, natural childbirth, and newborns placed in the mother’s room rather than a nursery was just beginning. My obstetrician honored my individual wishes and created in a rural hospital setting for the first time “rooming in” where my baby would stay with me the entire hospitalvisit. The medical requirements for such a room were investigated and made available by the time I gave birth nine months later. By the time I left the hospital (three days at the time) I was healthy, strong, and knowledgeable about baby care due to the wonderful attention of fine maternity nurses who taught me what I needed to know. I am still thankful to my obstetrician for reaching out to me not only as his patient but as an individual. He cared for my wellness and the wellness of my newborn.

Available then was new information on infant nursing, nutrition, and care. Lactation specialists were an unknown but the La Leche League was available for support. I discovered that nursing a baby was the most satisfying and fulfilling experience of my life.

When my babies were in preschool I ventured to higher education and clinical experience as a psychoanalytic psychotherapist. How my continued education and practice would evolve were unknown, but I had found my niche in the wellness world.

Most people with a wellbeing centered lifestyle have a “go-to” activity, exercise, beverage, or food that is part of their routine. What is yours and can you tell us how it helps you?

Giving myself and my infants excellent nutrition became a way of life. Food additives and preservatives were deleted as I chose my groceries with care. With the foundation of good nutrition and a diet that kept me fit, it wasn’t until my two sons went to college that I discovered my athletic ability. I became a long-distance runner at forty. By fifty I had run three marathons and pleased to discover I could be athletic and enjoy it. That is, females could be athletic, intelligent, and maternal. There were no exclusions for women. This challenging discovery changed my life.

To live a wellness-focused life is one thing, but how did it become your career? How did it all start?

Now the study of the mind and body were part of my everyday life. A healthy mind and body are the best preparation for years of clinical work as a psychoanalyst and psychotherapist that draws on your emotions as you help ease the emotional life of others. I created a home office so that I could be available to my children before and after school and so began my version of being both and at home mother and career woman.

Can you share a story about the biggest challenges you faced when you were first starting? How did you resolve that? What are the main lessons or takeaways from that story?

In retrospect a big challenge was to think for myself. This meant disregarding well-intentioned advice from the older generation about how to succeed as a married woman with children, something I wanted and would always make my first priority, but still not all I wanted.

As an undergraduate with the highest honors in political science, the chairman who even awarded me a 2000 dollars grant for my highest grades in the department (a huge award at the time), advised me to “just have fun” when I asked his advice about graduate school. Fun is wonderful throughout life, but it was because I was girl that he wasn’t advising higher education. I was taken aback and didn’t listen.

Many years later I desired to get my PhD “for fun” — that really was fun for me. Learning was and is my friend. I was told such a degree could hurt my marriage. I didn’t understand the advice and did not take it. My husband has always fostered my desires to learn and even be ambitious. So, times surely changed, at least, in my life.

So, what’s the lesson? Keep an inner eye awake and stirring throughout your life. Work very hard to find your inner desires and strengths and secure them with all humility. Then pursue and persevere. A good male friend in undergraduate college gave me advice I give to my children and grandchildren. “You can become an expert in anything you choose. Just learn more about it than others.” That was a revelation at the time, and I’ll never forget that walk on campus with this superior mind and kind soul. I wish I remembered his name so I could thank him because his advice I did take and continue to follow.

Can you share with us how the work you are doing is helping to make a bigger impact in the world? Can you share a story that illustrates that?

The world is a very big place extending into outer space and under the sea. I must rephrase the question to “what parts of the world do I try to impact?” I believe I impact others with well-worn beliefs that I will share with you. What we believe affects what we do, so it is with my ideas that I venture forward.

Although a psychoanalyst looks to the past to comprehend the present life and future of a human being, I still hold on to a belief that life can begin over and over again as long as there is fresh air to breathe and a few people to love.

Challenged to give life-renewing understandings to my patients, I have learned a great deal from them. When I can have an impact on another, he or she can use all they hold inside to have an impact on others in turn as well who they encounter in their lives. Then the impact is exponential meaning hundreds of people are positively influenced by the emotional wellness of others.

From my experience with so many, I have come to the belief that suffering doesn’t vanish and isn’t conquered in some magical or even well-conceived way but influences a deep respect for humanity. Unlike the advice you may get from many, we don’t just ‘move on’ and put our losses behind us, instead they influence us and become a part of us, even guide us as we gain new revelations about what’s occurred and the meaning it holds for us.

Humans are wingless creatures who can learn to fly each in our own idiosyncratic ways if we believe each of us are “of consequence.”

Some people can somehow tolerate more suffering than others. I see that in President Biden, a grandfatherly figure the United States needs right now. He doesn’t have all the answers and is the first to say he must accomplish only by depending on the American people to do what’s needed with him.

In my heart, I sense he takes on the burdens of others as his own. He is a great and humble leader, not in love with power, but in love with human beings. I would never aspire to have an impact on so many, but revere those who try. My world is filled with the few. But the few impact others as well in life-giving ways.

A guiding belief for me is that no one, that is, no one, should be overlooked. Try on that mantra, dress in that overcoat, and your world opens up.

You ask for a story. Again, I point out that the impact I have is on the few, trusting they turn, will impact others. Every day brings new stories. I won’t talk about my confidential sessions with patients whose lives fill my consulting room, but instead give you a peek into a day off when I take the opportunity to make a small impact on a stranger.

Reading Hemingway’s, Green Hills in Africa, I slip into his world one morning in my favorite small café. Sitting at a small table by a window blooming with light, I am close to a large center table of restless folks from three generations epitomized (metaphorically) by a toddler having a tantrum on the floor (the spokesperson for the others). Their bustling becomes center stage in this quiet setting as they talk loudly over each other in broken fragments while eating from each other’s plates, spilling drinks slopped up poorly with paper napkins. Their impatience with each other mounts excitedly. Their superficial gaiety if you could call it that is tense.

They do not rise all at once, but at different moments and at different heights. They do not clear their table and carry their dishes to the designated café spot as is required but leave tripping over their feet disheveled in their prolonged exit without considering the extra work they’ve left behind for the conscientious café worker.

I say to her, “Your job has grown today!” She smiles with recognition. She is not overlooked.

Soon enough I am again alone in Hemmingway’s Africa reading in the quiet light.

When I pay for my single coffee, I leave a big tip telling her, “That tip is for that family who turned your morning upside down.”

The next time I go to the café she welcomes me with my first name. We’ve become people to each other; no longer invisible.

Just an everyday story, about everyday life, in some small village, that breathes new life into the day.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

My newest project is writing my first novel. It isn’t entirely different from my nonfiction books which relay information through stories. But now I want to bring the immediacy of my characters’ feelings, thoughts, and actions to my readers. It is through their interplay that the story evolves. It is from my experiences with my patients that these characters have emerged quite alive in my mind. They are with me offline no matter what I’m doing.

The story is told in first-person present tense to bring forth a woman and a man, from the inside, each challenging the reader to grasp a deep and dark psychological romance.

You are a successful leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

If character is reasonably defined as mental and moral qualities subscribed to by an individual, I consider myself a quiet leader with character traits described in your earlier questions. Hopefully you’ve been getting to know me with the stories I’ve been sharing.

If beliefs define character, what I would like to share further is the way my belief in learning from others throughout life guides me and enriches my character. One avenue that interests me because I’m a painter is learnings from the perspective of artists. I will share some favorite quotes currently on the walls of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Consider how these quotes might influence and expand your sense of the world in which you reside.

“Time and contemplation gradually modify our vision,” Cezanne reflected, “and at last we reach understanding.”

In multiple ways Cezanne reveals in his artwork traces of human presence with attention to a wide range of objects seen in daily life and the interiors of people he encountered — all with his brush strokes. I admire his character trait of being open-minded through contemplation to new visions.

“An idea is a work of art” is another valuable lesson. This pertains to theories ranging from how artists depict objects to the way they visually document ephemeral actions of people. Being open to ideas that lead to visual expressions is a wonderful character trait in my view.

Monet held the conviction that art can give “a respite from an increasingly urban, commercialized, and technological world” which as viewers we experience in his magnificent renditions of water lilies. “Jackson Pollock made Monet’s paintings newly relevant” with the grand scale of his Abstract Expressionist compositions. Artists we don’t usually view as similar learn from each other in fascinating ways and in turn, as viewers, we expand our inner and outer worlds thanks to their visual expressions reflecting character traits of openness to new forms of expression.

In a different way, when O’Keefe adds further insight suggesting she needed “to strip away” all she was taught and “accept as true my thinking” she took us as viewers from a “naturalistic mode of representation” to “abstraction in her painting.” We, too, can have a life of learning and then strip some of it or refine our understandings and open up new forms of expression.

How exciting to view their reflections about their painting and thus life itself from this range of perspectives. The world keeps opening up.

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. Let’s begin with a basic definition of terms so that all of us are on the same page. Wellness is an incredibly broad topic. How would you define the term “Wellness”? Can you explain what you mean?

Wellness in mental health refers to developing an ability for self-reflection which leads to considerations of how changing perspectives helps assure growth.

As an expert, this might be intuitive to you, but it will be instructive to expressly articulate this. Can you please share a few reasons with our readers about why focusing on our wellness should be a priority in our lives?

If one focuses on wellness in mental health or one’s emotional well-being this becomes a foundation from which to proceed through uncertainties in life that are inevitable. No matter what comes our way if we can regain and renew our well-being in time, we can deepen understandings of our lives as we weather both disruptions and experiences of success that shift our equilibrium yet allow for the restoration or even reinvention of stability.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an increasingly growing understanding of the necessity for companies to be mindful of the wellness of their employees. For the sake of inspiring others, can you share steps or initiatives that companies have taken to help improve or optimize their employees’ mental and physical wellness?

Various companies have made well-thought-out decisions about how to give their employees physical and emotional security despite a virus out of our control. Mandates to wear masks and social distance in small and large settings protect and guide those living in fear by using scientific knowledge to support the care of all.

For example, confusion over whether to wear a mask or be vaccinated as if that has something to do with individual rights has misled many because there are no individual decisions that affect only oneself under these circumstances. All decisions such as mask wearing, social distancing, and vaccinating oneself will always affect others. When company leaders come to this conclusion, then they can actively protect their workers. This is true leadership.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Career In The Health and Wellness Industry”? If you can, please share a story or an example for each.

1. Perseverance

As life throws at us various challenges in order to be successful in facing them and creatively approaching them it’s essential to keep pursuing learning.

2. Continuing Education

Education is life long formally and informally. Education gives us the pleasure of learning and the capacity to keep moving forward despite disruptions and new ways of living.

3. Empathy

Regularly considering the thoughts and feelings of others helps each of us to not feel alone and it also strengthens each individual’s participation in the collective community by giving a feeling of belonging.

4. The Mind-Body Connection

Various theorists suggest the well being of the mind leads to a greater ability to sustain the well being of the body. Others suggest the reverse. I suggest we always consider the interplay of the mind and the body to continuously move toward wellness.

5. Acceptance of the Diversity of Ways People Live Their Lives

There is no certainty in specific conventions of how to live with others or alone. We need to respect each other’s choices keeping in mind how they impact others, to allow for changes in those choices as new passages in life evolve, and to be willing to see from others’ perspectives.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would promote the most wellness to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Wellness for most is a contradiction and a minimal goal. It reminds me of when we learn that there is a policy stating that poverty in children will be reduced by some large percentage — like 50%. This is an erroneous goal. NO children should be in poverty. NO children should be unsafe or undernourished. Given this belief, no movement supporting a physical and mental health care option should be considered unless it is for all Americans without exception. I am one mere mortal, hardly able to start a movement that comprehensive. But I surely support it and know its urgency.

We are blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

Despite my long career, published works, exhibited paintings and the tremendous satisfaction from loving and being loved — I am becoming a debut novelist. There are always new beginnings no matter how old you are.

I would like to meet 2019 Perkins Award Winner Ms. Lynn Nesbitt the well-known literary agent who has contributed substantially to the success of writers I respect. Her guidance would be wonderful. I think of Ms. Nesbitt specifically because she can understand that even a forty-year career can still be evolving. Thank you. (https://www.janklowandnesbit.com/contact; https://www.janklowandnesbit.com/agency).

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Please visit my website, lauriehollmanphd.com to read my always growing publications, new books, blogs and paintings that I hope inspire others to focus on wellness — their well-being and the well-being of others.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!

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