In the end we need to be compassionate and kind. Everyone is dealing with some sort of trauma or life issue. We do not know what other people are dealing with, especially when we are focused on our own challenges. We can and should be kind and compassionate with ourselves, as well as with others. We can move from fear to hope and help others do the same.
As a part of my series about the the things we can do to develop serenity and support each other during anxious times, I had the pleasure of interviewing Elisa Robyn, PhD.
Dr Elisa Robyn has a PhD in educational psychology, two master’s degrees, one in geology and one in Jewish spirituality, and is a trained astrologer. She recently transitioned from a 25-year academic career, most of which was spend as an academic dean, into private consulting. She is an author and has a regular radio show on KUHS Denver.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
Asyou might guess, I have had a circuitous career journey. I spend six years as an exploration geologist after earning my master’s degree in geology. I loved the science but was not in alignment with the values of big oil companies. So I left that career to earn a PhD in educational psychology as I followed my first love, which was about understanding how people think and how they learn. Since I had to find I way to put myself through school, I started working as a professional astrologer. I have had psychic abilities since I was a child, and learned to use the framework of astrology to help people.
After earning my PhD I started teaching in several colleges and eventually was hired as a dean at a small art college. After that I became a dean of arts and sciences at the Community College of Denver, I moved from there to an academic dean position at Regis University. Last year I decided that I wanted to reach out to people in a different way and have opened a consulting practice as a wealth relationship expert, using astrology as a personal tool.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
When I was thinking of moving from higher education into private consulting I was offered an opportunity to host a radio show on a small internet station sponsored by my astrology friends. I hosted this show for a little over a year and learned that I love being a radio host. A few months ago I was offered the opportunity to move my show to a much larger station, KUHS Denver, which is a streaming station. This has allowed me to embrace the power of my voice as I reach a much larger audience. Each step involved quite a bit of synchronicity and magic. I realize that I have an opportunity, especially when people are frightened to be a calming voice in the world. My tagline is “inspiriting a renaissance of spirit,” which is the focus of my work.
What advice would you suggest to your colleagues in your industry to thrive and avoid burnout?
To being with, say yes to opportunities when you first start. Then, as you grow sure that you say yes to the opportunities and invitations that are in alignment with your values and goals. Say no to the things that pull you off course. And remember that you have value. Honor and respect that when you are asked to give your skills away.
We all have to learn when to say yes and when to say no. As a consultant, speaker, and radio host I have learned to value my own expertise and time. So now I rarely say yes when someone wants to “pick my brain” since this usually means they want my talent without paying me. While I do volunteer my time for non-profits, I am also very aware people tend to value what they pay for. In fact, I have discovered that the less people pay me the less they are invested in what I have to say. Burnout comes when we are giving our all and not refueling. Payment is one form of refueling.
We also need to know what to simply take a break or say no to a client. We are more successful when we focus on the work and less on the number of clients.
What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?
Treat people with respect. Live your values at work. Focus on growing the people around you and making them shine. When people feel honored, respected, they have a sense of meaning and purpose and control. This will help them build a community of success.
If you are unable to do this in your company, than ask yourself if this is the correct place to spend your time. I have walked away from organizations and people that supported back-stabbing as way to climb the success ladder.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
Man’s search for meaning by Viktor Frankl was a life changing book for me. This is the story of a man surviving a horrific experience in the Holocaust concentration camps. Viktor Frankl not only survived but developed a theory of psychology. He said the humans can withstand any “what” if they have a profound “why” to lean on. He helped people survive by helping them find meaning in their survival. He developed this in the worst possible conditions. If he could rise above in that situation, then I can in any situation I face. This book made me aware of the power of cruel and evil leaders, how easily people can be convinced to join in evil and brutality, and the inner strength we all have to choose our attitude and path.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. The past 5 years have been filled with upheaval and political uncertainty. Many people have become anxious just from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The upcoming fears of an impending coronavirus pandemic have only heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to develop serenity during such uncertain times? Can you please share a story or example for each.
- Turn off the news and social media. Check your news feeds once or twice and day, and then leave them alone. Stop focusing on the negative information. We do need to be informed, but opinion pieces do not add facts. Stay informed and then move on.
- Spend some time each day focused with gratitude on the positive aspects of your life. Be grateful for food and shelter and health and friends. Give thanks for the opportunities in front of you, as well as the challenges. There is a Jewish expression “this too is for the good” which helps us focus on what is positive in the moment. Of course there are times that we cannot see any good; however, we always have the freedom to choose our attitude and beliefs, regardless of the situation.
- Take the attitude of gratitude into the world. It will help you be kind to the people around you. When we come from a place of gratitude we are more compassionate and understanding. We are less likely to react with anger and more likely to offer help to others. Take the time to call wait staff and other service employees by name (look at their name tag or ask their name) and treat them with respect. Be patient if you have to wait in line. We all have to wait at times.
- Schedule quiet time for self-reflection, either while meditating or engaged in some activity you love. Exercise on a regular basis and engage in something you love. All of this is about self-care. Learn something new on a regular basis. Challenge your mind. This can be something physical like dancing or something mental like learning a language. It can also mean talking with someone who has experiences completely different that yours. Help your mind grow.
- At the end of the day let go of regret and guilt. Remember that you are human and doing the best you can in your situation. Focus on the present moment and the future, releasing the past. If you feel that you have something to feel sorry about, plan to apologize and resolve the situation. Forgive yourself, and be ready to forgive others.
From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to effectively offer support to those around us who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?
- We can listen. When people are hurting they need to feel heard. We can listen without offering suggestions, or solutions, just by being present with them. Listen and affirm how they are feeling.
- We can reach out to people and ask how they are doing. If someone is suffering from any type of depression they are often unable to reach out for help. We can text or call and check on them, just ask how they are doing and offer to meet for a walk. Or talk on the phone.
- We can STAY CALM ourselves, especially around someone who is struggling. When my husband died one of my friends showed up and helped me make decisions. She was calm and thoughtful which helped me stay calm. We read the people around us to help interpret the nature of a situation. This is why we hoard products if we see people hoarding products. When we are calm we can calm people around us.
- We need to have strong boundaries so that we only do what we feel we can do. We might be able to talk on the phone, but feel unable to attend an event with a friend. We help others best if we are also taking care of ourselves.
- In the end we need to be compassionate and kind. Everyone is dealing with some sort of trauma or life issue. We do not know what other people are dealing with, especially when we are focused on our own challenges. We can and should be kind and compassionate with ourselves, as well as with others. We can move from fear to hope and help others do the same.
What are the best resources you would suggest to a person who is feeling anxious?
If we have close friends who we trust, we should reach out to them. However, if we do not feel safe doing so we can try a therapist or advisor or spiritual teacher. If we do not have a person in our life, we can read books or attend workshops or listen to motivational talks online or on podcasts. But first, choose a real person you trust.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
Honestly, I have several so it is difficult to pick one. However, this one from Anais Nin is one of my favorites. “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” Every time I face a challenge with fear, I remember that at some point the fear of NOT changing will over take me. This reminds me that in the end I will regret the things I did not try. Life unfolds when I am willing to step up and embrace myself, my potential, and the road before me.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
A movement of people who spread hope and walk away from fear, who embrace their ability to change without fear, to build communities without blaming others, and who know that it is our differences that often makes us strong.
What is the best way our readers can follow you online?
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!