A question Katy gets regularly is something along these lines: I’d like to move more but my partner, kids, office mates, etc. are not interested. What do I need to do to get them on board? Katy has always felt this question would be best directed toward someone in the psychology field so, in this episode, Dr. Diana Hill gives us some firm tactics and gentle actions that we can take to get our people onboard.
Diana Hill, Ph.D. is a modern psychologist, mother, and co-author of ACT Daily Journal: Get unstuck and live fully with Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. She is the host of the podcast show Your Life in Process, blogs for Psychology Today, is on the clinical advisory board of Lightfully Behavioral Health, and offers regular meditations on Insight Timer Meditation.
(time codes are approximate)
03:10:00 - Psychological Flexibility (Jump to section)
00:13:00 - The Steps Toward Psychological Flexibility and Movement (Jump to section)
19:15:00 - Self Determination Theory(Jump to section)
33:45:00 - Can You Keep A Change Going Once It’s Started? (Jump to section)
36:10:00 - Preparing the Movement Soil (Jump to section)
LINKS AND RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THE SHOW
Diana’s Podcast (show with Katy is Episode #20)
This is the Move Your DNA podcast, a show where movement science meets your everyday life. I’m Katy Bowman - biomechanist, author, and family member. All bodies are welcome here. Let’s get moving.
KATY: Hey podcast listeners. This show is all about movement and where it fits into life. And I know so many of you have become to be not only exercisers, you’ve also become movers by using information you’ve gathered on this show and from my books and articles. And, I also know you have questions. And, I know this because you send them to me. Thank you for doing so.
But a question I get regularly is something along these lines: I’d like to move more but my partner, or kids, or office mates, etc., they're not interested. What do I need to do to get them on board?
And, I've always felt this question would be best directed toward someone in the psychology field. Because I don’t really have any answers to this common query. So today I thought I would bring someone onto the show to help us think through this issue.
Diana Hill, Ph.D. is a modern psychologist, mother, and co-author of ACT Daily Journal: Get unstuck and live fully with Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. She is the host of the podcast show Your Life in Process, (which I've been a guest there) and she blogs for Psychology Today, is on the clinical advisory board of Lightfully Behavioral Health, and offers regular meditations on Insight Timer Meditation.
Dr. Diana Hill, welcome to Move Your DNA.
DIANA: Thank you, Katy! It's so good to be with you here. The tables are turned. And what a great container. You know, I was thinking about you bringing me on. You talked about all the different containers of movement on my podcast from Grow Wild, and now we get to move into the psychology container, which is an area that I have a lot of interest in. So I'm excited.
KATY: And that container weaves through all of them. Right?
KATY: It's like culture. It's part of the culture container. So I know that you are familiar with many of our suggestions for moving more over here at Nutritious Movement - like getting a daily walk or getting kids out for regular walking, spending less time sitting in chairs and more time sitting on the floor or in unique sitting styles, setting up dynamic workstations for your home or office, wearing more minimal shoes. I mean, most of our guidance doesn't boil down to "get a daily workout in" and the stuff we're putting out that I know many people want to pick up, so to speak, tends to be unconventional when compared to the culture at large as well as their own family or workplace culture. There’s pushback there.
KATY: I want to start with this question; How do I get my - and I'm just gonna say my others so it doesn't have to be your children or your family - it's the people that you want to be moving more or the spaces that you'd like to be moving more in - how do we get these others on board when it comes to breaking out of the sedentary habits we tend to share collectively?
DIANA: Well, my first response to that question, when you sent it to me, was uh-oh. Because as soon as we're thinking about getting somebody else on board, the thing that I think of is "whose board are you trying to get them on?" And inherently humans do not like to be pushed or pulled. When you push or pull someone it creates resistance. If you have a teenager or an emerging teenager, you will know this very well. Or if for yourself you've been on the other side of feeling pushed or pulled, you notice that there's a natural response to resist. It's a bit of a tug of war. So the first thing that I think we need to think about is the paradigm of getting someone on board. And we need to look at things in a much more collective board, you know? There are many parts - we're all - maybe we could all get on a board together as opposed to pulling someone onto our board.
DIANA: And that, I think, maps on to a bit of psychological flexibility which we can talk about, and some of the motivational skills that psychologists use all the time with people that are ambivalent about change.
KATY: I guess we'll start with this concept that you fleshed out beautifully in your book. What is psychological flexibility?
DIANA: Psychological flexibility is something that has been studied/researched. So there's decades of research on this concept of psychological flexibility. It comes from some researchers Steve Hayes, Kelly Wilson, and Kirk Strosahl originated it about 20 years ago. But what it is is your ability to stay present, to stay open and engaged. So allowing for discomfort to show up, knowing what your values are, and pursuing those values even in the face of discomfort. So when it comes to something like, I'll just give an example from my own life, getting my kids on board for a daily walk. If I go in with that kind of mentality - if I want my kids to go for a walk with me, a psychologically inflexible me would go in and say, "Ok kids, we're going for a daily walk. Everybody get off your screens. Let's go. This is what we're doing." And I'll get some resistance and I will guilt them into it. Or I will command them into it. A psychologically flexible me would be able to come in and have a conversation about what some of my ideas about movement could look like. Listen to their ideas around movement. Take perspective back and forth. Stay in it even when there's something they're saying something I disagree with. Don't avoid that. Don't shut down. And actually, be open to many different perspectives while also staying true to my values around moving. So psychological flexibility is a term that you can use in a lot of different arenas of your life, being psychologically flexible, but the key to it is not being so tied to a belief system or your thought system or avoidance of discomfort that it pulls you away from what's important to you and how you want to show up.
KATY: So if we talk about movement, I guess I want to talk about values first.
KATY: So I decided that movement is important to me - that it is an essential. It's a nutrient. For me. And also, I believe, for the people that I'm in charge of, let's say children at this point. I don't feel like I'm in charge of my office mates. But I feel like I'm in sort of in a mentorship/leadership role here with children. So I know what that value is. Is there any other way I should think about values as far as movement goes?
DIANA: Yes. I think so. Because I wouldn't necessarily say movement is the value. I would say the value is how you, why is it important for you to move.
DIANA: And so ... why is it important for you to move, Katy?
KATY: Right. Well. You're not asking me right now or are you? Are we on the clock?
KATY: So it has a lot to do, I mean, I think you know because you've probably been reading a lot of things. So there's the interpersonal level of just the physical well-being that I think depends on the movement. So it is to have the physical well-being but even that's not the end goal. Because it really depends on the things that I want to do in life that I value. Being of service. Interacting with other people. Being outside. Being in slightly risky situations or pushing myself physically to see that I can. These are things that I value that, for me, being physically robust requires. These things that I want to do require some sort of physical robustness. So I think that's the end for me - it's about these experiences. And then there's that greater collective piece which is, I have this way of seeing the world which physical exchange - your physical action for the things that you consume, that there's this relationship here: biologically, energetically. I think about it more in terms of physics - the physical exchange of the motion for the thing. And I think that we're in this interesting time where there are cultures emerging that are outsourcing - I use the world outsourcing a lot - that aren't doing a lot of that and I think it's relating to other social problems, that I also care about that I don't think that they're facilitated by physical robustness, my personal physical robustness. But yet I see a link there. And so it's like I feel like doing my physical share. And so those, I would say, ultimately is my value system. And then movement has become a conduit.
DIANA: Great. Good. So you have a lot of clarity around - when you flesh that out it becomes really diverse and abundant and rich when you talk about your values behind moving your body. And your values - sort of like favorite colors - your values may be green and my values may be blue. And green is not any better than blue. So I have different reasons and a lot of overlap behind why I value moving my body or what are the values that underlie movement for me. For me, it's actually a lot of the values underlying my movement have to do with kindness. I spent a lot of years - I had a really gnarly eating disorder - severe anorexia, hospitalized - and a lot of my early years were around abusing my body. And so, for me, reclaiming movement in this nutritious way has been a lot of my healing and practicing kindness to myself and then being able to model and be of service to my clients that I work with. That there's another way of being in your body in an embodied way that is kind and compassionate and loving and has a lot of vibrancy to it as opposed to control. So very different than what you just described. And then I have all some of the other stuff that you talk about. So what happens in our conversations about movement, is we don't go there. We don't go to "What is it that you care about?" Just like when we have a first conversation when you're at a cocktail party you say, "What do you do?" You don't say "What do you care about?" "What do you do for a living?" It says something but not a lot. You know? "What do you care about moving your body?" says a lot. And when we're in conversations where we just assume that moving more is better or this type of movement is better is the same paradigm that got us all screwed up in the first place. You know? Not every family has to have a family walk. As much as you and I would love the family walk, that's not everybody's family movement.
DIANA: There's a lot that we're actually doing that is preventing those types of conversations or preventing us from being able to see the perspective of other people's values. For example with my kids. I read to my kids at night. I have a 9-year-old and a 12-year-old. Two boys. I still read to them. I still read to my 12-year-old. We're reading The DiVinci Code.
KATY: Me too.
DIANA: I love it.
KATY: We just went through some of that too - that book! That's hilarious.
DIANA: Yes. Yes. So trying to make it something he'd want to read with me.
DIANA: And the way that we set it up is that my husband reads and I read. So we alternate. We divide and conquer. Then one night a week, Sunday night, we do the family bed, where I get one kid on one side and the other kid on the other side. Right? And I drink my tea and read. Well half the time in that family bed, are my kids getting up, wrestling, jumping on the bed, getting out of the bed. And my instinct is to say, "Stop moving so much."
KATY: It's reading time.
DIANA: It's reading time. But at 4 o'clock in the afternoon when my son comes home and he loafs in and he's laying out on the ground in the beanbag just completely looking like the laziest of the lazy as my judgemental mind would say, I'm like, "Get up and move!"
DIANA: So how am I defining movement and imposing my movement values on him? So this is, I think it's really important that we start to look at that. Because that's a huge part of what creates resistance is when we impose our values on somebody else and we don't actually have a deeper conversation about what it means to them.
KATY: So for the person asking me the question...
KATY: ... having a conversation is that the first... maybe the first step is defining your own value. Like to actually pay attention to what your values are. Right? Or walk me through, maybe, the steps here.
DIANA: Sure. I think the first step is what are your values and how could those values show up in many flexible different ways.
DIANA: How could you bring that value for you, Katy, robustness, and movement, to things other than just maybe the family walk? Could you have robustness in movement when your kids are on the bed and get on the bed and jump on the bed with them or whatever it is. Right?
DIANA: So yes, identifying your own values. I think another part of psychological flexibility is being present and especially psychological flexibility in this "how do I get people on board" thing, being present, asking questions, and listening without trying to direct people to some kind of answer. Deep listening is actually a skill that is foundational in something called motivational interviewing which is a type of approach that's used with substance use. It's used with cigarette smoking. It's used with diabetes treatment. And it's used with hostage negotiation. And the reason why this type of deep listening is so effective is that you start with just really open-ended questions and listen to what the other person's perspective is. You affirm their perspective. You ask more questions about it. And when somebody feels safe enough to tell you their perspective, then they become more malleable to start looking at other perspectives beyond their own. So I think the first part is identify your values. The second part is listen to somebody else as opposed to going straight to the fixing reflex.
KATY: And what does “affirm someone else's perspective” look like? That doesn't mean agree with it. I'm asking for people listening - what does that mean when someone else states their point of view and how do you affirm that? I mean for me it's just repeating back what I heard. So I hear you and you said this. Are there other tools to affirming?
DIANA: Yeah, I think you could add on, "I hear you saying this" just the sort of mirroring thing. But actually listening deeper to what the person is saying they care about. And reflecting that. So, Katy, if you were to reflect back to me what I said about what my movement values are, what did you actually hear in there? I mean you could parrot what I said back, but you may have heard something deeper in there.
KATY: Mmm. Well yeah, I heard that movement, having a more diverse toolbox for a perspective for movement that was perhaps different than how you had it before allowed you to be kind to your body through movement where maybe you had used movement as a way that was unkind. That there was an unkind relationship with movement that you might have had before.
DIANA: Yeah. So the way you just did that to me was very affirming. I felt watered. I felt like a plant that was being watered. And that's what affirmation should feel like when you're just affirming what I see in you. What I hear in you. What I see in you. I'm not trying to change you. This is what I hear and what I see. The irony of this is that the more that you do that, the more room there actually is for somebody to make a change. Now, how do we get there is the next question. Am I just affirming the hostage in the hostage negotiation situation? Is this really how we're gonna get...
KATY: That was my next question.
DIANA: ...is that gonna get me where I want to go or where we want to go? So the next part of that is that most people have some degree of ambivalence. There's a part of them that really doesn't want this. But maybe there's a part of them that does want it. But there's some barriers. There's some internal barriers. There's either it's uncomfortable, it's I don't want to do it that way, it's I feel controlled by you, I feel pushed by you, or... there's just parts of us. Right? So the next part of it is being able to help people flesh out some of their ambivalence and part of that is making space for them to argue both sides.
DIANA: So with kids, I mean I think this is always helpful to talk about with kids. I actually, knowing that we were going to do this podcast, I talked to my kids this morning and I said to my older one, I asked him, "ok, so when you don't want to go for a walk with me or whatever, what could I do differently, you know, to change the way that we're talking about this family walk?" And what my son said, which was interesting, was, "It's not that I don't want to go for a walk with you, mom. That's actually not right." So I was already assuming that he didn't want to go for a walk with me. "It's not that I don't want to go for a walk with you, mom. It's just the time of day that you want to do this. I'm exhausted. You always want to do it in the afternoon." No for me I've been sitting most of the day in my therapy practice. I sit on the floor, I move around. But I'm still pretty sedentary. More sedentary than I want to be. So I want to walk after school. He's been out and about, doing sports practice. He wants to come home and do something kind of quieter after school. So, part of that is actually helping in that moment the ambivalent part of him is "I want to walk, but I just don't want to walk now. It's not working for me."
KATY: Yeah, that's great. We have a lot of similar conversations. "I'd like to get a walk-in sometime today. How are you feeling about when is best for that to happen?" And then what happens is you get them choosing a time. Instead of saying, "How 'bout a walk?" where they can just say no. And I think that's probably just some old parenting trick of you give choices and then before you know it they've actually chosen to take the walk because the walk wasn't even one of the choices. It was just "when would you like to do this?" or "What if we bring a frisbee. Let's take a frisbee on the move." Try to make it different than...
DIANA: It's not just a parenting trick, Katy, it's actually the foundation of something called self-determination theory in psychology which is a theory of understanding change and there are three components to somebody changing their behavior. The first component is autonomy in choice. You are much more likely to change a behavior if you feel like you have a choice around it. Right? The second component is relationship. You're more likely to change a behavior if you feel supported and in relationship. And the third component is you're more likely to change a behavior if you feel competency and you have the skill set to do it.
DIANA: So we need to give our kids the skill set and the competency and all of that so that... or our partners may not have the skill set. Like I do west African dance on Sunday mornings at the beach. It's the best thing that I do. I post a little bit on Instagram once in a while. The best thing I ever do of the week. And my partner is not gonna come join the west African dance class because he has very low skill set in this type of dance. And he would - we would need to do some practice at home to get him up to speed. So that power of choice is really important and it's foundational in motivating and actually truly giving someone the choice. And being supportive of them in making the choice. I remember I went to my youngest, on New Year's Day, when he was 3 years old, he stapled his finger from one side all the way through - like the staple went all the way through. You could see it coming out the other side of the finger.
KATY: Right right.
DIANA: And so we went to the ER and you know…I feel like ER doctors - they're the people to watch. They know how to be skillful in a crisis. And the ER doctor turned to my son and he was like, "Well, lemme tell you, you've got a choice here. Either I can take this really big needle and I can inject it into your finger and it will numb your finger out and then I can pull the staple out. Or I can just pull the staple out. And both of them are really gonna hurt a lot. But which one would you want to do?"
KATY: Right. It's just getting down to the details.
KATY: You choose.
DIANA: You choose. And my son, because he had a choice, he had a very different experience of getting that staple pulled out of his finger. Right? So choice is huge in being able to shift - for all of us to feel like we want to get more motivated to move our bodies when we feel like we have a choice.
KATY: Well and it brings something up that you just said, you know, you're listing three components to being self-determined - and I'm not sure if I've mirrored that back, what I heard, but that's just how I've sorted it. And I think that's another one of my values for moving more where children are concerned - where my children are concerned. I wrote a book about it so obviously, I care about other children too, is that I want them to feel like they have the choice to be movers or not later on. And I think that childhood is a period of time where they get to set some things that allow them to have the choice later on. So I'm wondering how much I think of movement as related to overall being self-determined. You know, in the physical sense. In the physical sense. Because I think that, in many cases, children are losing the choice as they get a little bit older because their movement skill set is so low. I think about it as reading, almost.
DIANA: I see it as a skill set, but what I see in my practice... I work with a lot of adults. I work with a lot of teens. Right? And what I see is not that their skill set to move necessarily is low, is that they've lost the intrinsic motivation to move. Intrinsic motivation is basically the love of movement. Right? And part of what happens around why we lose the love of something is when it's been chosen for us. So if you are from birth to age 20 before your kid goes to school, you're directing all of their stuff. Right? You're telling them when to move. You're telling them when to eat, how much to eat. You're telling them when to do their laundry. When to do their homework. You're guiding them through all of that. It's like running 21 miles pushing somebody in a wagon. And then getting to mile 21 and saying, "ok kid. Time to get out. You've got to run the next 4." It's not gonna work so well. These are the kids that come to my practice after first year of college and they're like, "I... don't know. I just drank the whole semester and I didn't exercise or move my body once and I lived off of Cheetos and..."
DIANA: "...cereal." And I'm like, "How you feeling?" "Not great."
KATY: Right right.
DIANA: So what we want to work on with our kids and this comes to the autonomy and choice part - the values part and really kind of passing the ball to them to some degree and having them be part of this conversation or with our partners, is asking them questions about how they want to do it, what works for them, how does it feel for them. Giving them a little bit more freedom to choose than is comfortable for us. And that's where psychological flexibility comes in. You know I actually need to tolerate and be with the discomfort of sometimes my kid choosing the thing that I wouldn't choose for them. Because in this situation it's an opportunity to talk through the consequences of that and actually ask questions "did that work for you? Did that not work for you?"
KATY: We had a thing for minimal shoes. So there's probably a lot of listeners who have gone through minimal shoes with their kids and then as my daughter got a little bit older - and she's only 9 - but she's always had minimal shoes. And we didn't have dress-up high heels or any of those things around. But once she got a little bit older she was like, "I really want this pair of boots. And have them wear this way" you know the high heel on them. We're at goodwill or some thrift store and I was like, "Get 'em". And then after wearing them where people would have sent me letters like "my daughter wants to wear these shoes and I don't want to let her and I'm stressed because her feet are going to be ruined" or whatever. And I was like, "oh I have my daughter let her make those choices because then she has the experience that" .. she's like, "I can't run in these. My feet are all over the place. And I can't wear these anymore." And then she takes them off. And makes that choice. That's sort of what you're talking about, right?
KATY: If you never get to have the experience instead of the rule or the mandate that comes down in your household then you are never actually making a choice towards anything.
KATY: And then you go into we'll call it adulthood at 18 or 19 and you've never really made a choice and now you're struggling having all the choices and no practice in making any.
DIANA: Yes. I'm so glad you brought up that shoe example because we just went to the shoe store last weekend. I've always been the type of, whatever, in our family you get one pair of shoes.
DIANA: You wear them until they have holes in them. It looks like it's about time to get another pair of shoes and then we wear them for a couple more weeks because it takes me that long to work on getting the next pair of shoes. So we do that with our cars too - wear them to the end. But my son, who is 12 now, is now in the position - he's never, it's just like totally new - where he's looking at other kids' shoes and thinking about shoes and sort of this fashion thing. And so we walked into Foot Locker and talk about acceptance and tolerating discomfort around the first shoe that my son goes to. It's like this - it's like a block.
KATY: Yeah sure.
DIANA: You could not move it.
KATY: Doesn't bend or twist or anything.
DIANA: It doesn't twist. It doesn't move. And it's got a heel. It's got everything that we've been trying to not have happen in our house. And I had this moment of ok, so this is also a metaphor for when my kid walks into the dining hall at college and he can have pancakes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
DIANA: And never eat a vegetable. And this is also for when my kid walks into many different situations where there's gonna be some choices. So how am I gonna navigate this? My instinct was the fixing reflex. My instinct was "let's look at these over here, honey." And I'm looking for any shoe there possible.
KATY: Right. Right.
DIANA: And then I could feel his resistance. And I could feel him looking at these. And he was caught. Because where he was caught in that moment, which is a place where our kids are gonna get caught more and more as teens, is do I please my parent in this moment, or do I please my peers.
KATY: And that's a thing. I mean that's going on.
DIANA: And what I want for my kid is neither of those.
DIANA: I want him to ask himself what works for me.
DIANA: And I want him to build on all of the lifetime of all those flexible shoes and all the barefoot experiences that I instilled. I know that you did that too. They're all in there.
DIANA: And I want him to reflect upon what he likes and the owned embodied experience of what it will feel like wearing these shoes. All of these things in making this decision. So I practice psychological flexibility by not, I first rided him a little bit and then I redirected. And then we had a conversation about it. He ended up getting the blocks and what's been so interesting about these shoes is that he now has his other shoes - his old ones with holes in - and he wears those, the flexible ones with the holes - when he does any kind of physical activity. But the fancy ones that are the blocks he only uses for special occasions.
KATY: And that's where we landed with both of my kids too. It's the same thing. "I wanna wear these because they look cool" just like we did all the things and probably still do in some ways in some things. Or I do. But yea, I can see them negotiate. And when they want to feel - at least they're tying into "when I want to feel one way, I will do this and when I want to feel another way I will do that" but it's more within themselves. So...
DIANA: I appreciate that clarity.
KATY: This has been great. I feel like I should pay you for being here. Like a session.
DIANA: I should pay you for how you've changed my life, Katy.
KATY: It's great. Well, then we're even.
DIANA: There you go.
KATY: But it's lovely. It's so nice just to hear in the context of movement. You hear in other things. But there's not a lot of parenting books about moving. You know, like that doesn't really exist besides the general - yeah make sure they do it. Talking about it just like any other choice that we're trying to help them learn to make.
DIANA: Yeah. But here's the thing. I imagine any listener can remember a point in time in their own movement history when they were forced to move and it made them hate movement a little bit more.
KATY: I think a lot of people come from P.E.
KATY: They hate movement because of their P.E. experience. And I was one of them.
KATY: And so it's good to have a different new... and that's why you're a modern psychologist. Is that what the modern is?
DIANA: This is what the modern is... I don't know. A catchy term. But that's important because here's what I want you to do. I want you to take that memory and I want you to remember that when you're interacting with another person around movement.
KATY: Mm-hmm. Yeah. And I do. That's the thing. It's like, for me, it's not here's your movement recommendation. It's like I feel like our relationship with movement has been fractured in some way. It's never been a tool for many people. It hasn't been a tool for improving self-worth, physical capability, or even the way you feel. It hasn't been used kindly. And then there's the flip side who have used movement as a tool - I'm thinking sports - people...
KATY: ... I just got done celebrating Dynamic Aging and I got a lot of letters from older, I would say late 50s and 60 year old, mostly men, who were quite physically active and physically capable who are now feeling - because they did their one sport that sort of made them feel good - and now they don't have any other relationship with movement besides this old tool that doesn't work for them or make them feel good anymore. And there's nowhere to go. So it's just trying to make movement as a way of being kind to yourself in a lot of different ways. In all the different ways so that you can pick it and line it with your values system.
DIANA: And that's psychological flexibility because there's a degree of cognitive flexibility around that.
DIANA: We have this tendency to categorize things as this is movement and the psychological flexibility part is seeing all these different ways in which movement exists.
DIANA: That's what you do so well and I think that's part of why I've been so attracted to your work is that you're incredibly psychologically flexible in the way that you just have so many diverse perspectives on this one concept. And part of that is knowing and being able to identify what your stories are in your head and even what the automatic thoughts that are going on in your mind - the inner commentary - and not always believe those to be true. To get enough space from them to actually tend to what's happening in the present moment. We all do this with other people. We do it with our partners. We label them. We say they're this or they're that. You know. I just did it a little bit earlier on this podcast where I'm like, "he's not a dancer."
DIANA: I did it right there. That's gonna be a major block. Guess what? I did it to myself. I'm not a dancer. But I showed up for this dance class because my best friend teaches it. So I'm going because I'm a friend. I'm not a dancer. But I'm a friend.
DIANA: And I discover that I'm a dancer. Right? So these things that we have - these belief systems and stories about ourself - we have to get more flexible with them especially when we're quote "trying to get someone on board."
DIANA: That it will help us be able to engage in more creative conversations about what it means to move.
KATY: Ok, so can you keep a change going once it's started?
DIANA: Yes! Can you keep a change going once it's started? Absolutely! The way that I view it is that I think we just have multiple choice points throughout our day. And so the way that we keep a change going once it started is that every time we come up against a new choice point it's a new opportunity to choose our values. And what's nice about that is sort of like a labyrinth - sometimes when I close therapy with people I give them a little symbol of a labyrinth. Unlike a maze. When you walk into a maze you get to a dead-end and you have to go back to the beginning again. A labyrinth has all these twists and turns and twists and turns. And it twists in and then it twists out and all of a sudden you're on the outer edge again and you're like, how am I back at the same spot. But you're closer to the center because you keep on moving forward. So we keep a change going in a couple of different ways. First is we recognize that part of being human is moving outside of our values and then recalibrating and then coming back in. Like that's part of change. Nobody has a straight path. The second part is that we make our change very very small and we reinforce very small changes. So for me, if my kids are jumping on the bed while I'm reading the story, I'm reinforcing that. I love how much fun we're having!
DIANA: As opposed to shutting it down. And then the third part of making a change - so to continue over time - is that we reinforce it with intrinsic - things inside of ourselves, our values which never get used up, as opposed to extrinsic - rewards. So all the extrinsic stuff are like weight loss or trackers on your wrist - you know, 10,000 steps - all those things. Those are extrinsic rewards. But what happens when you're hiking and your wristwatch loses its signal. Or whatever. Do you lose your motivation to continue on the path? No. Because it's inside of you. So those three things: Know that getting off track is part of the process. Know that you benefit from reinforcing small behavior changes. And then third, make the reinforcement link to your values or the other person's values as intrinsic reward.
KATY: One of my favorite lines in your book is this one: “If you grow a vegetable garden, you know that before you can start planting seeds, it’s wise to tend to your soil. You want to create conditions that will help your plants grow, thrive, and be resilient in the face of inevitable challenges.”
So what's one simple thing the audience could do that would prepare the soil when it comes to moving with - I was thinking like others in our lives. Maybe we'll just think of one person that we have in mind. What would we do? How would we start?
DIANA: I think one of the best ways to prepare the soil is to be a movement highlighter and see how they are already moving and join them in something that they are already doing that's movement-related. Even if it's something really really small. That when you join up and you show an interest in somebody else's interest, they feel like you're on board with them.
DIANA: And then when you're on board with them, then you can start to have conversations where you want to maybe take that board or expand that board or diversify that board together. So look for where somebody else is already moving and join them in it.
KATY: I love that. So the idea of how do I get them on board is really about how do I get them on board with me. And what you're saying is how do I get on board with them and start moving with them there. Which I think is brilliant. So thank you so much for sharing your insights and just these little small reframes. You have a new online course on psychological flexibility? Is that right? Could you just tell us about that?
DIANA: Yeah. I have an on-demand course on psychological flexibility on A.C.T. In this model, it breaks it down on the six core processes of psychological flexibility. It's paced on your own pacing. There's handouts. There's meditations. There's lots of different things and you can find those on my website DrDianaHill.com.
KATY: Well that's awesome. I'm gonna go check that out. I loved your book and it's a journal. What I love about it is I love that it's thin and I love that it travels well. It's a good summer reader. And that I can work on myself, sort of, when I have these few moments here and there. So you can go pick up your copy of the ACT Daily Journal: Get unstuck and live fully with Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and go find you on social media. Yeah?
DIANA: Because it actually was, I have to say, it was one of my very favorite podcasts that I've ever done. I loved it. And we talk about our favorite walks in the end.
KATY: Yes. And I will link to that in the show notes because that was a beautiful conversation.
KATY: All right. So go check out Diana's online teachings. She is passionate about building psychological flexibility so that we can all live more meaningful and fulfilling lives. Be well. Thanks so much! Be well friends!
Hi! My name is Laura Houston and I'm a Nutritious Movement Certified Restorative Exercise Specialist and an older budding naturalist currently living on Duwamish Land in Seattle, Washington. I enjoy moving through and being moved by any landscape and learning who else moves and lives there. This has been Move Your DNA with Katy Bowman, a podcast about movement. Hopefully you find the general information in this podcast informative and helpful, but it is not intended to replace medical advice and should not be used as such. Our theme music was performed by Dan MacCormick. This podcast was produced by Brock Armstrong. And the transcripts are done by Annette Yen. Find out more about Katy, her books, and her movement programs at NutritiousMovement.com.