How to Be Happy: Step by Step, with Bonnie Skinner

Bonnie Skinner-BLOG

Andrew: 00:02 – Welcome back to Two-Brain Radio. On today’s episode, Chris Cooper speaks with Bonnie Skinner, a registered psychotherapist in his hometown of Sioux Saint Marie, Ontario. Bonnie and Chris talk about depression, anxiety, and the connection between physical fitness and happiness. She’ll tell you how to prevent burnout and manage anxiety as a business owner. Here’s Chris talking to Bonnie about how to be happy.

Chris: 00:20 – All right, friends. My guest today is a good friend Bonnie Skinner, our local psychotherapist at the Two-Brain workshop. Welcome, Bonnie.

Bonnie: 00:26 – Welcome. Thank you.

Chris: 00:28 – And today, we are talking about how to get happy. Now, I published a blog post a couple of weeks ago that said that happiness is actually a correlate of fitness. Bonnie, besides being a very talented psychotherapist is also a CrossFitter. So Bonnie, first let’s start off with like, is there a correlation between physical fitness and happiness?

Bonnie: 00:53 – Absolutely. And I think that not only has the scientific data proven that I think, and even from my own experience, you can talk about, you know, the ability to create—I think what fitness does is it gives us the ability to create clarity. So when we start to address, you know, the needs of our body, needs for movement, the needs for exercise, those sorts of things, then our body has what it needs and then we can kind of focus on, you know, the needs of our mind or the needs of our souls or whatever, you know, kind of you want to call it. But that’s the link between the two. It’s the ability to give the body what it needs so that we can focus on figuring out what does my mind and my psychology need.

Chris: 01:28 – So it’s not just like the immediate effect of I’m going to go do a workout and then I’ll feel better for a few hours.

Bonnie: 01:36 – No, it’s a little bit more than that. So it’s, so for example, you know, one of the things that I’ve really found, so I started CrossFit about a year ago and one of the things that I found is that yes, the time, immediately, as soon as I’m finished at the gym is when I’m at my clearest. So I’m walking back to my office, I’ve got ideas in my head. I’ve got a blog post I want to write, I got, you know, programs I want to run. And so there’s that immediate sense of like, wow, like, you know, I’m jacked up, like this is fantastic. But I think there’s also a longer-lasting sense of, you know, you don’t have that kind of lower-level anxiousness. You know, your body has its needs. So it’s actually in a restful state, and in a restful state, we can start to figure out what are the other things that we need.

Bonnie: 02:21 – So for example, what’s meaningful to me, so when we talk about happiness, what we’re really talking about is contentment, right? It’s the idea that I’m at peace with my life and that’s going to come from whether or not we can answer, you know, are the things that are in my life no matter what it is or who it is, is it meaningful to me? So we can’t figure out what’s meaningful to us until we have this kind of, this quietness, this peace of mind. If our bodies are in a state where, you know, we’re not moving, we’re not fit, we’re not healthy, our nutritional needs aren’t met and our water needs, whatever the case may be, then our body is so busy triggering us that we can’t—we get pulled in between the two.

Chris: 03:04 – OK. So it’s not just the chemical response to exercise, there’s actually like some cognitive processing benefit. Do you think—can that happen immediately or is that more of like a long term?

Bonnie: 03:16 – I think it’s both. I think you can definitely have that, you know, myself, I can definitely attest to the fact that it happens immediately afterwards. But also there is long term effects that are well-documented scientifically.

Chris: 03:33 – I know for me, you know, one of my daily practices is when I start to feel stressed, I will work out. Is there like a better type of workout for people who are dealing with anxiety or depression or, you know, they’re not at the point where I want to get happy, they just want to stop being sad?

Bonnie: 03:52 – You know what, it can be as simple as walking, right? It doesn’t need to be—I think sometimes when people, you know, what we tend to tell depressed people because we’re family or friends or whoever, you know, oh, well you you just need to go and you need to work out. And we don’t define what that is. Really all you need to do is move. Our body will respond the second we start moving. The struggle is when somebody is in a severe depression, the part of our brain that is charged with helping us initiate activities is actually not that functional. So that’s why it’s kind of cruel to just say, OK, well just go do some exercise. It may not be that simple. But we do know that when people with depression or heightened anxiety do move, there’s an immediate effect to it, but also a long term one.

Chris: 04:46 – So you and I, you know, we talk about rumination and we’re going to get to like, you know, your thoughts on depression and anxiety here in a moment. Really, really important stuff. But are you saying like rumination isn’t just mental, that it can be physical?

Bonnie: 05:01 – Yeah, absolutely, absolutely. So we tend to not think about anxiety. So I want to talk about anxiety in particular and then we’ll kind of get into depression. But we tend to think that it comes from, you know, some random trigger or something like that. But anxiety is a way of our minds telling us what we need. That our outside world is not congruent with what our inside world needs. So it’s an alarm system. So if for example, I am spending more energy in my day to day than I am conserving, so you know, you max out over time, then our body starts to tell us, you know, I’m not OK. I need something. I don’t know what it is. I need something. And if we don’t slow ourselves down and figure out what’s happening, why would my brain and my body respond like this? Then what we do is we keep powering through to the point where the body has to say, OK, I’m done. I’m done. I’m just going to turn this party off. And that’s what we label as depression. OK.

Chris: 06:03 – So anxiety is almost like a more active state of the same illness.

Bonnie: 06:09 – Yeah. So it’s exactly what it is. It’s the body’s alarm system to say this is not sustainable over the long term. So I may be anxious, for example, let’s say I’m starting a new job, right? I’m going to be anxious going in cause it’s a new situation. So my anxiety is going to turn on for the first week or so. You know, until I get to know everybody, I’m anxious. That’s a normal response. It says, hey this is kind of interesting. And then when I get acquainted with the staff and into my role, then the anxiety tapers off and that’s fine.

Bonnie: 06:43 – Cause I know what that is. That’s situational. Where we get into a problem is when there is a heightened baseline of anxiety all the time. So I move through my day with this general sense of like, oh, I’m not sure I’m OK. And when we look at what contributes to that, what we find is that people have overspent their energy in some other area without creating it. So where exercise comes into that is it’s actually a way of generating new energy for ourselves. So for example, if I, you know, if I go two or three weeks and I didn’t know I didn’t go to the gym or I didn’t take care of myself, I know that it shows up, right? And I may have to, you know, give myself a good story on the whole walk to the gym. But the second I’m there, my body immediately helps me get through the workout.

Bonnie: 07:35 – And after that, it’s almost like someone hit the reset button on my mental faculties, right? So we move through life spending energy in positive and negative ways. We tend to always think of it as negative, but it’s not, I can be excited about, you know, my upcoming birthday party this time of year. I’m excited about the new year. Right? But we also know that on the backside of that energy, there’s a bit of a lull. There’s a bit of a fatigue that’ll happen. So it’s about the energy management and that’s how fitness fits into the bigger picture, is the creation of new energy.

Chris: 08:06 – So, OK, so I’m anxious. I am exhausting myself with anxiety. Exercise will give me more energy, eventually, though, I could still run out and become depressed. Is that what you’re saying?

Bonnie: 08:18 – Yes. OK. So, think of it as a bank account, right? So we work jobs that help put money into our bank account. That would be the equivalent of going to the gym, connecting socially with those of who are meaningful to us. Having meaningful work and meaningful engagement in our lives. All of those things are inputs into that account. The things that are outputs would be things like caregiving, right? Paying bills, being able to take care of ourselves and others and being able to go about all of the little chores that we just consider to be life. So long as the inputs is enough to cover the outputs and both of them will adjust at any point in time, but if those two things are kind of congruent, then you have a fairly stable baseline, right? And so people can tell, you know, I think I’m doing pretty good. I’ve got lots of friends in my life. I like my job, you know, then when a problem happens or whatever it is, the car breaks down, I feel like I can manage that because, you know, it’s not chaotic. But you have a car break down after you’ve just had a bad breakup and you’re not sleeping and you haven’t been, you know, taking care of yourself and eating right and working out, all of a sudden now the output is higher, the inputs aren’t enough. Right? So over a period of time, and now all of a sudden, that seems so much harder to manage. And that’s what we find with individuals who have anxiety, is there’s this reactiveness to everything. It’s like I just can’t manage anything. And so that amount of an angst prolonged over time, so when I have heightened anxiety for a long time, that’s when the brain says this is not manageable and what I’m going to do, I’m going to start to disengage because now I’m in energy conservation mode.

Bonnie: 10:07 – The little bit of energy I have left, I’m just going to save, so now we start ignoring texts from our friends. We don’t show up at work, we don’t, you know, we don’t go to parties like we used to. We may not even want to shower and get out of bed and that is the brain saying I’ve been too taxed for too long and I have no energy left.

Chris: 10:25 – Do you find around the holiday season that you know, maybe levels of anxiety, they might’ve been a seven over 10, you know, high but manageable before, like can they kind of overflow around this time? Could there be a correlation between that and people not going to the gym, not going to holiday parties?

Bonnie: 10:44 – Yeah, absolutely. So usually they can go one of two ways, right? Because remember, outputs can also be positive. So a lot of people are heightened during the season, because it’s a very positive thing, it’s very energetic. I want to go shopping, I want to connect with my family, I’m traveling, whatever the case may be. So whether it is heightened because it’s a positive, exciting time or it’s really difficult because for a lot of people it’s a very stressful time, right? I don’t have the money to buy presents and I feel like you know, there’s this pressure, this commercialized pressure and all this case, but either way on the other side, and usually January and February, we know referrals are going to go up because people are going to feel that dip and they’re going to think there’s something wrong with me, right? I’m depressed, I’m down. And it’s like, well, the first thing we look at whenever I have, you know, that new intake in January, February, tell me what the holidays were like, right? Because if you went into the season with great inputs and lots of balance and a pretty manageable baseline, then this is a temporary dip.

Bonnie: 11:47 – And you know what, give yourself some good self-care for a month and things are going to be fine. But if you went into it already depleted, already at risk, already on the downside of that energy conservation, then you’re going to need a lot more support.

Chris: 12:02 – All right, so let’s talk about the downside now. You know, from the day I met you, you said that depression is not a disease. Tell me more about that.

Bonnie: 12:13 – OK. So the medical model of looking at depression is basically there’s something wrong with your brain. And so I have a lot of clients and even to this day, who will still come in and they’ll tell me, you know, I went to see my doctor and they gave me a medication, and I always ask the client, what medication is it? How long have you been on it? I don’t recommend people go on medication or not because I’m not allowed to do that. But what struck me was the amount of people who had no idea what medication they were taking or what it did to their body or you know, what the baseline was before. So for example, if I’m taking an SSRI, which is going to modulate my level of serotonin, if the assumption is my serotonin levels are low, then shouldn’t we know my baseline before we go messing with them? Right? So all of a sudden it’s like, it’s low. Well take this pill and it’ll increase them. But then we don’t know how much of an increase we want because there’s a serotonin center. So now we’re just going to modulate until you feel something different. And people say that something different is not necessarily feeling better.

Bonnie: 13:23 – So that medical model of depression is, OK, there’s something wrong with your brain. We need to correct whatever’s wrong and move on. Instead of saying, our brain has developed over millions and millions and millions of years, why would a system that fine-tuned just all of a sudden not know what it’s doing?

Bonnie: 13:39 – So the question that I feel like is better that I use in my practice is what is your brain responding to? And so when I go back and I do a timeline with my clients, so I say kick me back from zero to now, and what I’m looking for, I’m looking for the inputs versus the outputs. And when I find those, I can with my clients reframe that in a way that says, is this depression or is it depletion?

Chris: 14:06 – So you’re not looking for one traumatic event. You’re looking for their response to various events.

Bonnie: 14:15 – Yeah. So it could be one traumatic event. What I’m looking for is where are all of the ways that you are spending energy physically or psychologically that is not being compensated for with things like meaning, purpose, close connections. We’re social animals. We are designed to connect, right? If we don’t have significant connection in our lives or meaningful engagement or good nutrition, good fitness, good, you know, lots of water. I always ask my clients, how are you sleeping? Because we can replicate the same symptoms we see in trauma, those who are experiencing intense trauma, with a lack of sleep.

Chris: 14:54 – Wow. So a new client comes in today, they’ve got a clinical diagnosis for depression. Maybe, you know, what do you start with first?

Bonnie: 15:01 – I always start in the same place, so I’ll get a bit of a general history. Tell me about, you know, what symptoms are you experiencing? Why have you come in? Kind of what are the things in your day to day that you’re worried about? I will ask them about their history of depression. So when were they diagnosed? When did they notice a difference? What do they think their baseline is? But I will also ask them, what is your understanding of depression? Because the belief about depression can do as much damage as what we consider to be the depression. So if, for example, I have clients who say, you know, I’ve struggled with depression all my life. Then they’re saying things to themselves like, well, what’s wrong with me? Well, why can’t I do everything that everybody else can do? Right? Why is everything so much harder for me? What’s wrong with me? So now there’s a level of shame and blame that is actually, remember when I said the outputs could be physical or they could be psychological?

Bonnie: 15:58 – That’s a major psychological output. So if I have somebody who has the understanding of depression as I’m broken, I’m bad, there’s something wrong with me, I’m going to start there first because the first focus is to find ways to cap this bleeding of energy, right? You’re in conservation mode. Your brain has already decided to put you there. I’m not going to do something that’s going to, you know, I’m not going to start an intense therapy and that’s going to be even more energy out.

Chris: 16:26 – OK. So our primary concern is helping people in the gym, but also like a lot of entrepreneurs get anxious often. And this is a big time of the year actually for entrepreneurs. So what can they do to make sure that it’s just a temporary dip as you said, and that they’re not, you know, long-term sliding into depression.

Bonnie: 16:46 – You know, the first thing I would do is look at what you feel like your overall balance is. Like if you think about psychological energy, again, just the same way we think about money. How much do you think you have, right? Usually people can tell you pretty quick whether or not they’re overspending. And then the question simply becomes, how long do you think that’s sustainable for, right? Do you feel like, I’ve just got this goal that’s going to take me into the new year and then I know I’m going to recover. That’s fine. There’s nothing wrong with that. We don’t have to always be in conservation mode. But if you think about it in terms of where’s my baseline right now and is that OK with me? Right? If not, what are my inputs? Right? What are my significant relationships? What does the state of my home life, my faith life, my happiness? Like what are the things that are meaningful to me?

Bonnie: 17:36 – Where would I say they are and how can they be changed? Right? So I have a lot of clients who say, you know, especially living up North here, you know, I love to get outside but I don’t get outside enough. And so my next question is what do you think the consequences of not getting outside very much and then for the first time in a long time they start to think about it it’s like, well yeah I probably wouldn’t be as snappy. I’m like, hey, OK well where can you start a five-minute walk twice a week? Nothing crazy. Don’t disrupt your life with the thing cause you don’t want it to be an output. But just, I always make it really simple for my clients and say, you know, like if you were to look at your inputs versus your outputs, where would you be today?

Chris: 18:15 – OK. And then identify the first easiest thing?

Bonnie: 18:19 – Right. So, I always look for what would make the biggest impact. So if you were to make one or two changes right now that you’d be like, if I could only do those things and nothing else, they would make the biggest impact. OK. What’s a way that you can address those two things, one or two things, in a way that’s not going to disrupt your life? So for example, if it’s you know, I never get outside much. How can you get outside twice this week, right? Where it’s not going to disrupt your life, not going to take away from the family, not going to make any other problems, but that’s what you’re going to do. It may be something as simple as where are the shoulds? So I always ask my clients, where are you walking around kind of shoulding yourself, what are the things you should do? Like I will send people home and be like, that’s your only focus for the next week is to figure out where you’re telling yourself you should, should, should. Cause what you’re doing is you’re bullying yourself all day long. Major output, major output. So it’s small incremental changes. I mean, as gym owners, you guys know this, right? It’s tiny little changes over the long run because those are the ones that become lifestyle changes.

Chris: 19:26 – OK. So when we say that you are shoulding yourself, that’s S H O U L D. Just so we don’t get banned in China again. So you know you said that depression is kind of like the inactive form of anxiety. And so if contentment is the inactive form of happiness, then what is like the active form of happiness?

Bonnie: 19:50 – Meaning and engagement. So, that sense of fulfillment is going to be closely connected to your values and your values is just, it’s the meaning that you’ve made of the world, right? So for example, if my belief—let’s not even talk about my beliefs, let’s talk about as a gym owner, obviously gym owners have entered that realm for a particular reason, whatever it was, maybe they wanted a healthier world, maybe they love fitness so much, they just want to share it. But there’s obviously a meaning component to that. So it’s around how do I take the things that light me up, the things that just automatically give me energy and identify that those things are going to be the sources of my happiness, right? What is it about? So, you know, when I was at the Two-Brain summit there, I had the opportunity to speak, and I said, you know, what got you into this business, right? And I will why you to death. He goes, it was a great opportunity. I was like, why, why, why and you know, then you get down to I feel like I want to help people. So, there’s a philosophy there that says my existence in the world is meaningful, therefore I want to do things that, you know, push that meaning forward.

Chris: 21:07 – OK. That’s interesting. I mean, you can make lots of money in fitness, but that’s not why anybody enters the industry. So how do you balance that? Because I know, you know, a lot of gym owners get into the industry because they want to help people. Bottom line. But then they started getting these feelings of burnout and they start feeling anxious because of, you know, they’re comparing themselves to others. Or you know, I’m working so hard, I’m missing my family. Why aren’t I doing better? So what happens when you’re working in the thing that you know, lets you express your values and commitment in the world, but you’re still getting burnt out?

Bonnie: 21:45 – So I think it’s important to remember that no one thing is everything, right? And what I mean when I say that is we can be doing something that’s very meaningful to us, that does make us happy or give us a sense of fulfillment. But it cannot be the only part of our life, right? So for example, you know, if we have businesses that it’s like, well that’s really fulfilling, but at the same time it takes me away from my family and my family is a source of connection, it’s a source of input, then it’s a matter of time before I start to have strain on those relationships. And that strain in those relationships starts to become a major output, right?

Bonnie: 22:28 – So it’s about how do I find balance across a variety of facets of my life. So we have the career facet, we have the financial facet. We have the social facet, we have family, we have our health, physical and mental, and then we also have a spiritual aspect. So at all times it’s about, you know, we are always going to be multifaceted individuals. All of those facets need to be addressed. They don’t all need to be high at the same time. Right? If know I’m going to throw some time into starting a business that’s going to take away from a couple, sure, but later it’s about checking in and saying, OK, how do we rebalance? How am I doing? Where is my baseline at now? What do I need? And being able to listen to ourselves cause the biggest mistake we make is not listening to the cues our bodies give us. Anxiety is just a cue.

Chris: 23:24 – Give me an example. What’s something that I might recognize as a cue that maybe I just don’t recognize the cue right now?

Bonnie: 23:31 – I’ll give you one from my own experiences. When I start to feel really stressed, I go home later at night. So it doesn’t matter what it’s about. It’s that kind of like, so my work is kind of, you know, I can become very immersed and not have to think about anything else when I’m at work. So what I notice is, you know, when I become extra stressed, I’ll throw myself into paperwork. I’ll throw myself into, you know, planning over the next quarter, I’ll throw myself into something else. And so that becomes my cue to say, OK, what’s happening? What’s happening? I can’t transition as well, you know? So, and it’s different for everybody, right? Some people may find they’re a little more irritable or a little more argumentative, right? Some people may find they’re actually a little bit more passive or like they just kind of disengage.

Bonnie: 24:17 – And that’s why it’s so important to slow down and have that clarity because those cues are going to be different. Now when we miss the cues and our anxiety starts to step in, there are some similarities, right? So that’s when you’ll get that general sense of unease, maybe increased heart rate. Some people experience panic attacks, kind of, you know, when it gets really intense. But anxiety and depression both have gradients where they start off very small, very kind of like, Ooh, I just don’t feel comfortable. And then they progress to that feeling getting louder and louder until it’s full-on panic attack. Now I’m socially avoidant and with depression it’s OK, maybe I’ll just, you know, I’ll skip that party today. But then it’s like, you know, I don’t call that friend back tomorrow right up to I just quit my job cause I can’t go in anymore.

Chris: 25:04 – So it sounds like, you know, a big part of what you’re saying is just, you know, self-awareness and watching yourself like as an observer and then I guess trying different things so that you notice, oh I’m waking up at 3:00 AM every single day and checking my phone because my anxiety is high. When that happens, I should do this. So what are some strategies that people could take if they’re a business owner to help them cope with anxiety when they notice that it’s creeping up on them?

Bonnie: 25:33 – The simplest one is to, again, step back and check the baseline. What do I feel like is working really well? What do I feel like isn’t, and what do I feel like is the, you know, the general balance. But in addition to that, it’s understanding why you’re doing what you’re doing, what the real issue is. A lot of people say, you know, I work because I need to feed my family. OK, fine. But like silly question. Why is feeding your family important? Right? And so to be able to answer those questions and say, OK, no, there’s a connectedness I have these people or I have a legacy issue. You know, like I want to be able to leave the world with something. That’s why I’m doing this. And it’s like, OK, that’s fine, but you can’t ever remember that you are human being with needs.

Bonnie: 26:17 – So yes, you can build a legacy. Yes, you can impact the planet. Yes, you can connect with others, but you also have needs yourself. So what do you need? And I think when we, you know, as business owners kind of move on in the world, we’re always thinking, what do our clients need? What is the marketing, what does the industry need, what does the world need, what does everybody else need? And then we’re like, we’ll get our needs later.

Chris: 26:38 – Totally.

Bonnie: 26:41 – And that’s the problem is that we don’t remember or we don’t take time to think about the fact I’m a human doing this work. I have needs, too. So in our work, so as a psychotherapist, when I’m not grounded, the risk to my clients is something we call countertransference. So now I’ve got a client who’s sitting in front of me and they say something and I become more easily triggered into my own stuff, right?

Bonnie: 27:07 – So, there’s a real like, you know, for us it, and I’m sure it’s in every industry, but we have to be very careful that I’m not just trying to get a client to do what I want to do because I’m stressed and just want to get through the session. But that will happen if we’re not grounded. And it will happen with business owners, right? Is there’s always a next goal, the next goal, the next goal and next goal and next goal. But the question is why, where are you going and why are you going there and is this the only way to get there? Right?

Chris: 27:37 – So before we started, I told you that I was going to ask you, like what are some habits that we can do on a daily basis to get happy? But I really think that the more important question is like, how do you start paying attention to yourself, you know, like how do you know when things are in sync or out of sync? And do you have any best practices for that?

Bonnie: 27:56 – Yeah, you know, I’ve got a, it’s actually an activity that I do with my clients. It literally takes 10 minutes and it’s called a PCI, just a personal check-in. And so I take life in six different areas. So the ones I mentioned earlier, so, career, financial, social, family, health, physical and mental and spirituality. I have them rate each one as it stands today. Then I have them tell me if it was a 10, what would it look like? So if I snap my fingers and you now have the perfect life in all areas, tell me what each of these areas looks like. And then what happens is they get a sense of where they actually want to be. And then the third question is, what steps can you take today to move in that direction? So the changes that they see that they, you know, if this part of your life was a 10, so family was a 10 and you know, it’s an eight now because you don’t get to spend enough time together, then the question becomes, OK, how do we start to spend a little more time with your family.

Chris: 28:58 – That is so close to, we published something called a personal flywheel to our clients. So we teach them like the business flywheel, here’s the handles that you can push, it’s on the white board behind you there. Yeah, the personal flywheel though, we say we have exactly the same handles that you do. We have different names because we want to call it like the six Fs, but it’s, you know, faith, fitness, finance, family, et cetera. So how often should people do these, like PCI, these personal check-ins?

Bonnie: 29:25 – I recommend at least once every two months. Right. It really kind of depends on how focused you are. I know I have times when I’ll go through the year and I’ll do one every month just to make sure that I’m on track. When we try any intervention that’s designed to keep us healthy and happy, we want it to be sustainable, right? So it’s putting it in and creating a ritual around it to say, OK, I’m going to go have my favorite coffee and sit down and say, how am I doing? There are Mondays when you come in that my door is closed because that’s where I am. Like, I’ve literally got my own up on my whiteboard. I’m like, OK, Bonnie, what are we doing again? And that reset is OK because then what happens is you stay grounded.

Bonnie: 30:10 – It allows me to say, OK, you know what? Feeling a little stressed out. Like I haven’t been to the gym in two weeks. Like, let’s do that. So what are the one or two things, again, we’re not going to create 20 new goals in every area of my life, but what are the one or two things that I can get the biggest bang for right now that’s going to get my energy baseline a little bit higher. So you sit down once a month, once every two months, and you have, I’ve seen it, it’s a circle. There are like the six handles on it and you sit by yourself with paper or whiteboard. How long does it take? What’s the process going through your brain as you’re doing it?

Bonnie: 30:48 – For me, it takes about, I usually draw it out to about a half an hour or so. I can finish all of the filling it out in about 10, 15 minutes or less.

Bonnie: 31:02 – But then to sit back and say, OK, what are the two now that I want to pick out and what are the things I’m actually going to do? Because from that, the last question is what are the steps you can take today to move it in the direction of a 10? Not to make it 10, but I’m going to take those steps and I’m going to put them in my calendar, right?

Chris: 31:20 – So first you have to define what a 10 is in each situation.

Bonnie: 31:23 – Yes. You got to know what your, again, that’s coming from that meaning, right? That’s coming from the, what am I trying to create? What am I really doing? Right? And then once you’ve established that, then you know where you are now.

Chris: 31:36 – So if a client was in front of you doing the PCI and they said, OK, well I’m a nine on finance, a four on family, two on faith, you know, and I’m an eight on fitness. So they identify family and faith as being low compared to everything else. So how do you say, all right, well here’s your first step. How do you determine that?

Bonnie: 32:00 – I don’t, because for me it would be me telling somebody what should be meaningful to them. Right? Which again is just another should. And so I always ask, the first question I asked is which one is going to make the biggest impact, right? Or which one is causing the most amount of problems for you? Cause sometimes people can’t think in terms of, you know, impact; they think in terms of problems. So if they say, you know, it’s my family because I’m fighting with my spouse, you know, I don’t get to see my kids and blah, blah blah. Then I want to build some emotional attachment to changing it.

Bonnie: 32:37 – So I say, OK, tell me when that is a 10, what is it going to change for you? Oh, I wouldn’t have to think about the fight that I have every morning. Like I wouldn’t be mad going home. I wouldn’t be anxious when I pull in the driveway. I’ll talk about that at length and then I’ll say, OK, what are some things, what are some ways we can change that? Because now there’s an emotional attachment to changing that, to setting that as a goal and saying what’s one thing or two things we can do? And then, depending upon the session, I may say, OK, what is the obstacle to that? Right? Oh, I really need to have a talk with my wife. What’s the obstacle? She’s really mad. OK, how do we communicate to open the door just to start to solve that problem?

Chris: 33:18 – Interesting. And then how do you hold people accountable for taking those actions?

Bonnie: 33:22 – I don’t. I ask them, you know, is it worth it? Do you feel like this is a place that’s worth you investing your time and energy? Because it’s not going to be easy. I’m very kind of direct with my clients. And I’m saying, you can come back tomorrow—not tomorrow, next week—and this can not be done and my life will still look exactly the same. And in some cases, people will come back and there won’t be a change. And so the question then just becomes, OK, tell me what happened. Well, I’m not ready to have that conversation. OK. You’ll do it when you’re ready and then the positive changes you’re looking for will come when you’re ready.

Bonnie: 34:02 – But for me to impose another level of, OK, well you need to do this because I need to move on with my work. That doesn’t make sense. And I think that’s a difference because—I also do know all the coaching, coaching is very different. Coaching is like we’ve got these goals and this timeline and here we go and you’re really wasting your money if we’re not doing that. And so you know there are some instances with some individuals where I’m more direct and there are some instances where we say, OK, what’s getting in the way? And we may have to spend a little bit more time figuring out what’s getting in the way.

Chris: 34:33 – Super, super interesting. So Bonnie, if people want to see more about the personal check-in or like you know the handles on that flywheel, where can I get that info from you?

Bonnie: 34:44 – Yeah, definitely. They can check on my website,, they can give me a call or send me an email. All the contact information is there. I’d be happy to speak to anybody.

Chris: 34:54 – Fantastic. Bonnie, thank you very much for coming.

Bonnie: 34:57 – Thanks for having me.

Andrew: 35:00 – Thank you for listening to another episode of Two-Brain Radio. Don’t forget to subscribe and leave us a rating or review. You want to know how a mentor can move you closer to your Perfect Day? Book a free call today at

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