Time Spending quality time whether it be in person for a walk, lying on a grassy knoll in the park, a video call, or a conversation on the plain old phone, human contact is healing.
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 Susan Gold.
Susan has been a long-time meditator, endurance athlete and yogic practitioner. Her journey to self-discovery started early after an upbringing filled with abuse of every kind in a violent and chaotic home. Having found recovery, Susan’s forte is transforming harsh initiations to gifts of love has helped many.
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?
It’s been a natural progression and one that I’ve almost not realized taking shape. Growing up, I always felt a little isolated, as if I didn’t fit in, and definitely belonged outside the box, yet I had a strong sense of being here for a purpose or mission beyond what I was experiencing. In my mid-20’s I hit a hard bottom and clearly realized a need for help. Luckily, I got it and ever since have been subtly and not so subtly offering what I’ve learned and experienced freely to others.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
Though there is not one specific story, I think there is a theme. That theme is one of serendipity. When I look back now, I see how one building block followed another to lead directly to this point. It is most amazing to see how the jigsaw pieces to the puzzle began to interlock perfectly, though I certainly did not recognize it as that at the time.
What advice would you suggest to your colleagues in your industry to thrive and avoid burnout?
Don’t watch the news…or at least don’t stare at it. I spent some time as a producer, a brief period for a major cable network 24-hour news channel. I’ve sat in editorial meetings, and I have seen how ‘stories’ are covered. I truly believe gripping news cycles is a way to feel more fear then faith and our energy becomes depleted. When I blocked even the mildest of news forms, I saw my well-being increase and my ability to thrive and work with more precision, focus, and clarity bloom.
What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?
Let people you hire do what they do best. Give them space and encouragement. Notice the qualities of their work that are truly positive and compliment them, recognize them. It will return to you and your business tenfold.
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?
There are more than several, The Diary of Anne Frank; David Copperfield; Uncle Tom’s Cabin; Failure is Impossible: Susan B. Anthony in Her Own Words; The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous; Drama of a Gifted Child; A Course in Miracles, Autobiography of a Yogi; Malignant Self-Love: Narcissism Revisited; The Biology of BeliefI could go on and on. These books were among those that created turning points on my path of self-realization, to clearly identify roadblocks I had directly experienced, and to help transport me to a place of awareness I did not realize was possible.
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.
- Trust the now moment. It’s important to stay in contact with what your immediate reality is bringing to you. There have been many times that I’ve spun out imagining all sorts of tawdry circumstances. If I would have acted on those beliefs, I would have missed the mark and shot myself in the foot over and over. A quick example: Payment for services rendered was late in coming and though I was continually re-assured, I believed otherwise. I was ready to call and berate the provider when I happened to check my bank account to find the payment had been deposited several days previously.
- Breath is life. When anxiety notches up deep breathing is the first to go which impacts our central nervous system. Experiencing the trauma of a life-threatening event over several months brought me to realize this personally. It was only after a conscious practice of noticing my breathing and being willing to breathe more deeply, I realized the calming impact it did have on my health and well-being.
- Move your body. When anxiety erupts, we often want to control it and sometimes that means maintaining very rigid patterning or even recoiling from social interaction and holing up. I’ve suffered bouts of serious depression and it was movement and exercise even non-strenuous exercise that helped me stay connected and elevate my mood. Body movement has been key to maintaining a balance of mental health in times of high-anxiety or just in life.
- Recognize the unstoppable miracles of nature. I live in California and have witnessed the horrific destruction of wildfires. The stunning lesson is that the hills and trails and trees and plants begin to rejuvenate quite quickly. The resilience of nature teaches me I may call on that inner capability as well.
- Don’t inhale the hype Work to trust your own intuition, and body on your feelings about the day’s reported events, your decisions and beliefs. I was woken late one evening recently with a text prophesizing a lockdown within 48 to 72 hours in relation to the Corona Virus. I couldn’t fall back to sleep thinking I’d not prepared enough and was negligent as a parent. Against my better judgment, I threw on my tracksuit over my pajamas to make a run to a market I hardly ever frequent. Inside it was like a bad Fellini film complete with a young woman pushing her loaded shopping cart while wearing Eeyore pajama. I spent almost an hour picking through semi-empty shelves and made some purchases that may not have been the most prudent. The text was labeled as a hoax days later.
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?
- Try not to preach If we all could be heard more deeply I think we’d be at greater peace. Sometimes it’s much better just to allow others to talk. Often that’s all they need.
- Don’t be a fixer I know it’s a knee jerk response for most of us to want to ‘fix’ the issue of a friend, family member or colleague. I’m of the belief we are all here to learn and life offers us those opportunities. Show support while allowing the other to explore options and be sure to check yourself on how you choose to respond.
- Check-in but don’t loiter Often it’s just recognition that helps the anxious person find ease. Knowing they matter and are not forgotten often is enough.
- Unexpected acts of kindness go a long way A candle or scented soap, a hand-written notebook of comforting quotes, a bouquet of Sunflowers or a photo can really reassure someone they are not alone, they are seen and that all will be well.
- Time Spending quality time whether it be in person for a walk, lying on a grassy knoll in the park, a video call, or a conversation on the plain old phone, human contact is healing.
What are the best resources you would suggest to a person who is feeling anxious?
YouTube is amazing. There are many links to music frequencies that reduce stress and anxiety, personal stories of overcoming challenges, gobs of healers sharing their experience to ease your anxious human moments, and yogi’s and martial artists sharing movement practices to ease stress. It’s one of the most abundant, free tools available.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
My favorite life lesson quote was from my former father-in-law, “The answer is always yes, until it’s no.” I have used that strategy in life over and over again and have saved myself from so much self-sabotage and opened up to new opportunities I would have never expected using that phrase.
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. 🙂
I would have to say practicing non-judgement. Non-judgment of myself and non-judgment of others. I think humanity would shift and our world would rise in consciousness.
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!