Lately I’ve realized I have a numbing behavior I practice when I’m going through a transition or difficult time. Having just moved from Seattle to Los Angeles, starting my first full-time career the day after the completion of grad school, and not knowing a single soul in my new environment, I have (not so slowly) begun to pack my schedule with tasks and social activities. Although some would see this as an active approach to getting to know a new city and life, my introverted self has slowly begun to lose steam. I show up to work tired and unable to focus the entire day and when I get home I’m unable to relax because I’m jittery with anxiety from not performing my best at work and thinking about having to socialize after a long day.
Although not as harmful as alcohol, drugs, emotional eating, or smoking, sleeping and productivity are very common methods of numbing during uncomfortable moments in our lives. Both methods take up every inch of space in our brains to the point where questions of uncertainty, recognition of sadness, or just plain thoughts on accepting current circumstances have no room to unpack. Unpacking emotions is critical when it comes to being present with our lives and living mindfully. Happiness is a result of working through hardships and accepting the good and the bad.
I often take pride in my ability to confront difficulties and create space for discomfort. Except now I’m beginning to realize that ability is a muscle that needs to continuously be stretched. Sometimes the thought of making that effort can be incredibly exhausting in and of itself. The idea of reaching out to a therapist is scary for many, and it’s a process to find one suitable to your needs with a connection that you can feel. Reading a self help book can also be a difficult task. Trying to get your eyes to move through each sentence, absorbing the guidance, and trying not to fall asleep immediately because the thought of working through difficulties seems to heavy. These steps are hard.
For me, I’ve found that podcasts and audiobooks are my new best way of sorting through my thoughts and emotions when I’m in that weird place of recognizing there’s a problem but not feeling ready to take charge of changing the situation. Everyone who listens to podcasts knows you can turn one on in the car, on the bus, at work, at the gym, when you’re walking, at home while you cook, etc. The options are endless. You can just plug in your headphones and your only job is to listen and think along silently with them. I often take notes, pull out quotes, or answer the questions asked via pen and paper.
Here are some highly recommended self-help podcasts and one audiobook that have helped me and continue to help me through change, uncertainty, and discomfort:
Zen Parenting Radio:
- You don’t have to be a parent to listen to this podcast! Trust me. Todd and Cathy’s whole motto is “The best predictor of a child’s well being is a parent’s self understanding.” The episodes are geared more towards personal improvement and less towards the how-to’s of parenting.
Help Me Be Me:
- Is a podcast put on by Sarah-May Bates and revolves around how to sort through inner conflict in order to find happiness. Her podcast appears as a transcript on HelloGiggles after every aired episode. Each episode is around 30 minutes, sometimes less, but are quick enough to where you can squeeze one in during/after your commute, a quick run, or whatever time of day you usually plug in your headphones.
The Power of Vulnerability: Teachings of Authenticity, Connection, and Courage:
- OK so this one isn’t really a podcast, but an audiobook. You may have heard of Brene Brown from her Ted Talks “The Power of Vulnerability” and “Listening to Shame” two of the most watched Ted Talks out there, but she has also written several books and occasionally travels to give speeches (I recently saw her in Seattle for her new book “Rising Strong: The Reckoning. The Rumble. The Revolution”). This audiobook is about six hours and is actually a workshop she led over the course of a couple of days. Brown discusses vulnerability, shame, authenticity, and overall patterns that keep us from living wholehearted lives. Unlike podcasts, which are free, this audiobook is $30, but TOTALLY WORTH IT. I’ve listened to it on three separate occasions because let’s be honest, living a satisfied/wholehearted life is a daily practice.
- This is a new podcast run by Elizabeth Gilbert (“Eat, Pray, Love” and “The Signature of All Things”). Gilbert’s podcast centers on our inner creativity and ways in which we can release it. Gilbert interviews authors and other inspirational people who incorporate creativity into their lives and their methods of doing so.
- Yes I’m talking about the magazine. They also have four podcasts, three of which are self-help related: “Adulthood Made Easy,” “I Want to Like You,” and “The Labor of Love.” My favorite being “Adulthood Made Easy.” They recently had an episode about quarter life crisis and interviewed a lifestyle editor about her own personal experience when she hit her mid-twenties.
All in all, podcasts and audiobooks are a great way to put things into perspective when you’re too tired to read, write, or talk your way through them. Plugging those headphones in and blocking out the rest of the noise around you only adds to the experience. I highly recommend checking these out!
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