Hello everyone and welcome to today’s podcast. I’m Dr. Trish Murray – physician, author, and Health Catalyst Speaker, and this is Discover Health Podcast. Today I am speaking with Sara Palmer. Hi, Sara!
Hi, Dr. Trish. So glad to be here and really excited to be able to talk about some interesting things today.
Awesome! Well let’s get right to it! I’m going to read your bio. The title that we’ve come up with for today is “Being Selfish Saves Lives.” That might be a bit intriguing to you and we’re going to learn a lot about it. “Being Selfish Saves Lives” with Sara Palmer.
Sara Palmer was born and raised in Springfield, Massachusetts and is now residing in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania with her daughter and life partner. She graduated from New York University and has a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education and Masters-level courses in teaching from UMass Amherst, Millersville University, and Penn State.
Sara is a recovering addict and scrappy survivor who triumphed over abuse, assault, and addiction. As a veteran public-school teacher, professional consultant, and lay minister she has helped over 20,000 children and adults gain success and serenity by tapping into their innate strengths and rising above limited expectations.
After living through an alcoholic marriage and fighting her own demons, she dedicated her life and career to empowering others to achieve their own goals, no matter what the odds. Sara Palmer has amused, impacted, and inspired groups all over the world for over thirty-five years and is now focused on empowering millennial and Gen X women. Sara’s experience in the trenches of addiction, codependency, and recovery has made her a vital resource to others who struggle.
Sara, that’s quite a background. Welcome to the show.
Oh, like I said, I couldn’t be happier to be here today.
That’s awesome. The first question I’d like to ask is how are you being of service to others today and how did you get here?
If we go back to 2012, from a distance I had the perfect life. I had a great husband and an adorable toddler. I had a fantastic job. I had close family relationships especially with my mom – she was my best friend. From a distance, I had it completely together, couldn’t had wanted for more. If you moved any closer, God forbid you actually made it inside, it was a completely different story. My husband was suffering from the disease of alcoholism and that meant that my daughter and I were also suffering from the effects of the disease of alcoholism. It is very much a family disease. I was completely burned out in my teaching job. I did not want to go ever, any day. And those kids, there was nothing wrong with them. I was afraid I’d lost my passion for the only thing I ever wanted to do in life which was to teach and help other people. My mom struggled with mental health issues, and unfortunately as her best friend and closest confidant, I received the brunt of the cries for help and I also received the scathing rage. What you saw on the surface versus what was underneath were two completely different stories. It all came to a head on a hot August night. Something happened that I could no longer tolerate. Because I responded differently there, I tried something I’d never done before. I had a completely different reaction. My life changed inexorably that night.
Since then I faced job loss, divorce, harassment, the minefield of dating, an escalation of anxiety and depression, my own addiction, and my own recovery. In recovery they talk a lot that if you want to keep your recovery, if you want to stay healthy, grounded, and serene and able to deal with life not float above it but deal with it, you have to give that away. If you try to keep it yourself, you’re going to go right back to where you came from and it’s not a great place. I know that in order for me to keep where I am in life, I’m compelled to share that. Not just my journey, not just what it’s like to be in the valley but the skills, the relationships, and the systems that I’ve learned along the way for the people that are still down there. There is a way out and it doesn’t just relate to addiction. There’s something to be said for hearing from someone who’s been there versus hearing from someone who read about it and studied it for a long time in school but has never experienced it themselves.
I realize now that my mess is your message.
How do you work with folks? What type of set up is there for you and how you work with people?
I speak to organizations, events, and all sorts of businesses about a variety of topics, primarily about self-care, about changing our own mindset, and about how to balance work and life. I do speak at length about my own addiction and recovery and what that looks like because there is nobody in a room ever that isn’t either suffering with some type of addiction or doesn’t know somebody very closely who’s suffering with some type of addiction. In order for us to make that uplifting and useful we need to talk about it. I also do breakout sessions and trainings with organizations, businesses, and hospitals. I like helping the helpers. I know Mr. Rogers says, “Whenever there’s a problem, look for the helpers.” Well the helpers need helpers too! That’s what helps to keep us safe and healthy. I like being one of the helpers of the helpers. I also offer group coaching, primarily for women and moms. Anybody can get something out of it, but I think we’re long overdue to really focus on the needs and the points of view of women and moms in our country.
Yeah, I mean so many people you talked about taking the distant view at your life and so many of us, if someone takes a distant view, we’re all getting up, going to work, doing our thing for the most part. The majority of the population we’ve all been trained well to get up, do our thing, and make it look good. It’s interesting how so many people, all of us, sometimes I’ll say, “we’re all crazy it’s just a matter of degree.” Other times I’ll say, “we’re all suffering, it’s just a matter of degree.” And it’s a matter of do you have your support system to be able to help you? Do you have your tools to fall back on for yourself? You work with a lot of moms it seems like presently. What are three things that moms, you would say, struggle with the most?
You know, with the moms that I work with and even moms that I know and moms that I’ve listened to, I realized that my experience is one experience. I have a daughter as well. My experience is one, so I need to do as much research as possible to hear as many different points of view from moms who look and sound and act like me and those who look and sound and act very differently if I’m going to be the most effective coach for the most number of people. Some of the things that keep coming up across the board regardless are:
- Feeling like they are enough
- Taking care of themselves
- Making real changes in their lives
Those are things they struggle with. Number one, feeling like they’re enough. It used to be that as a mom, you compared yourself to the other women on your block or in your neighborhood or in your kid’s classroom at school, and you did okay. And even if you didn’t do okay it was a small sample size! You’re doing okay. But now we have literally the entire world to compare ourselves to. There are untold different places I can look and see whether what I’m doing as a mom is good enough. When I’m competing against a couple billion people, there is always going to be a mom who spends better quality time with their kids than I do. There’s going to be a mom who gives their kids better vacations than I do. There’s going to be a mom who makes amazing bento boxes with rice that looks like pandas in it that I don’t do. There will always be people who are better than me, and there will be billions of them which is going to make me feel terrible.The moms that I work with often feel like they couldn’t possibly be enough because they’re looking around at everyone else. And everyone else is better than them at something and they don’t recognize what they’re really solid inClick To Tweet. Maybe not the best, but what they’re really solid in.
On social media everybody is presenting their best foot forward, if you will, or their best face and making it look good. You don’t see the mess that’s going on. It’s almost like that distant view again. That they always present that everything is great!
Yeah! The picture of the super smiling kids with the beautiful artwork that they just did that the mom found on Pinterest. If you scanned that camera three feet in either direction there’s a pile of clothes and there’s laundry and there’s the things that the dog just spilled, but you don’t see that. I know moms that actually keep a little part of their house clean for those types of pictures because they’re so afraid of what happens if people see what their house actually looks like which is a house where people live, not a house that’s dangerous or neglectful or unsafe but it’s really overwhelming when we’re comparing. Where moms think they couldn’t possibly be enough.
The other thing that I remember as a kid, there were six of us, and mom might be yelling at us all and when phone rings she’d be, “Hello!”
But that was easier in the essence of it was a phone and only if somebody’s calling in, and they can’t see anything, they’d only hear your voice. It’s all quite different today than it used to be.
Very! The second thing that they’re struggling with is taking care of themselves. We are literally taught things like this, this phrase that seems to come up every year around Mother’s Day, it’s a phrase that came around a saying from the 1930s and it’s been around ever since and it says “a mother is a person who sees there are only four pieces of pie for five people and says she doesn’t much care for pie.”We’re told that taking care of ourselves, that actually having wants and needs like everyone else, is not what mothers do.Click To Tweet I’ll tell you what, if I’m sitting at a table where there’s four pieces of pie and five people, we’re getting out a knife, doing some math, and everybody’s getting some pie. I’m getting the same size piece of pie that everybody else is. We might have slivers, “couple slivers for you, couple slivers for you.” We’re all getting pie. That’s actually looked down on. “Well, moms sacrifice. Moms don’t need sleep because they need to get things ready for their family. Moms and women shouldn’t have to worry about how they look, it should be more about how everybody else in your family looks, except you also really do need to look like you don’t care about how you look.” Let me say that one again, you have to look perfect, but you have to look like you don’t care how effortlessly beautiful you look! That’s not something that anybody should need to struggle with, especially when we’re dealing with little boys and little girls, kids of all genders that are listening to those messages. “Moms sacrifice, that’s what they do. Moms don’t need things. Moms don’t buy shoes for years. Moms don’t need a vacation from everybody else.” They hear those things and kids that are going to grow up to be moms think, well okay, that’s what I’ll do when I get older. And kids that aren’t going to grow up to be moms think that’s what moms do and their going to expect it from partners. It’s really harmful, but it’s wrapped up in what looks like love. It’s hard to say, “No, I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to be that way.” That’s a huge struggle.
Of course, and that also plays into our economy and the idea that still today women make less than men on the dollar. Why is that? There are just as many women as there are men on the earth, and I think there actually are more women, but yet we still allow the fact that we don’t make the same amount of money out in the workforce. That, I think, plays off of what you’re talking about, the whole cultural paradigm that as still not completely shifted.
No, and I think there’s just as many women – working women, women who work at home, women who work from home – we are told so many times that our job is the most important job in the world. It is to nurture. I’m not saying that women aren’t born, that girls or people who grow up to be women aren’t born to nurture, but I’m saying if you give a little girl a baby doll and everybody oohs and aahs over the fact that she carries it around she’s going to want to keep carrying it around. If you give a little boy a baby doll and everybody were to ooh and aah over him carrying it around he would also keep carrying it around.When we’re being told from picking your toys in toddlerhood that one group nurtures and one group creates, that one group is there to carry out all the details and one group is there to go forth into the world and conquer, then even we as women question why we would be getting paid the same amount.Click To Tweet Well we’re doing different jobs. Our job is paid off in hugs and love, but unfortunately hugs and love will get your electric cut off after a while.
Right. Did you want to comment on the third thing that moms struggle with?
Absolutely. That one is that they struggle with making real changes in their lives when they’re ready to make changes. Sometimes they’ve gotten through well maybe I feel like I’m enough because I’m recognizing who I am. Maybe they get to you know, maybe I am going to start taking better care of myself. Well how? How did they do that when they’re not fighting a system.
It’s a little like swimming against the current. It can be exhausting if you don’t have tools on how to do that. For instance, if you go to the beach sometimes there’s a sign that says there’s a riptide. A riptide basically means that the water moves directly out from the shore super-fast, almost like the letter T. No little wave, just straight out. If you don’t know anything about riptides and the water starts carrying you out farther and farther, you’re going to try to swim against it because hi I don’t live in the ocean, I don’t want to live in the ocean. This is not going to be my home forever. But you’re swimming against tons of water, literal tons of water. You’re going to get tired and things are not going to end well. What if I know about riptides? What if I know that eventually end a certain number of feet or yards into the ocean and that the people that work at the beach know exactly how far out it’s going to take me and they’re going to be there with a boat to just pick me up in the water and pop me in. What if I know that? Well, then I’m not going to panic as much. I don’t have to fight so hard. There are systems around me to help me. In this case,when we have women and moms that are interested in making changes, the more they can learn about how to do those changes in a way that doesn’t fight against the current then they can get what they want and the people around them can still feel loved and cared for a not feel like they need to fight back because this is change and change is inevitable.Click To Tweet Change can be really scary for everybody. What types of ways can we support women and moms who are learning how to make those changes so they’re not swimming against that riptide because they’re going to get exhausted?
Yeah. Sara, I see this a lot in women that come to me and are moms and have families. Let’s say they want to make changes based on functional medicine that I talk about and diet and exercise and nutrition but particularly for a moment here what you’ve been talking about reminds me about when I make recommendations around diet. Let’s say someone wants to eliminate gluten. Then she starts talking about the fact that she’s going to have to make a different meal for her family than for her. For me as a woman, I look at them like they have twenty heads and I want to say, “Why would you ever consider making another meal for anyone else? If that’s going to be a healthier diet for you, then guess what? It’s going to be a healthier diet for your children so they’re going to grow up stronger and have better energy, for your partner whoever that might be, or anyone else coming to your home! Why would you make a meal for you and then a different meal for them?” In my world I go home, and I say, “Well folks, this is what we’re going to be doing for a little while if I’m the cook. If you want to eat something else, then you’ll have to figure that out.” Do you find that?
Amen to that, by the way! Amen! I say that I have one kiddo. She is nine and a half, going on seventy…not seventeen! She’s always been a very old soul. For the most part, we didn’t have any food issues. If she doesn’t like a food it’s because she doesn’t like it, not because she had an allergy or a need to remove something. I can say, Oh yeah. Then I would cook for me and she can eat it or not eat it. And I also understand that the way that our system works a women saying, “In my home this is the food we’re making because this is going to benefit me and also it will benefit you but it’s primarily for me,” there’s going to be pushback in a way that there wouldn’t be pushback if one of the kids had that issue and they needed to change the diet. If there was a need to remove red dye. That actually is something we’ve eliminated as frequently as possible. Red dye makes my kiddo really angry. We figured that out when she was really little. Does she have it still? Yup. Does she also recognize it now that she’s older and try to pick a different option when it’s available? Yes. But if I had a couple kids and red dye was definitely was something we were removing, it wouldn’t really be a discussion with the rest of the family about why we’re not having this, that, or the other because we found that this isn’t healthy for so-and-so and probably not healthy for you too. Let’s just get rid of it and put something else better in its place. For a kid, nobody would say a thing. If they did, the mom would feel justified in discussing that. Since it’s “just the mom” then I can see a lot of parents where just to make it easier they would make two meals.
This happened a lot. I’ve raised two children now they’re older and I’m at that age where we’re transitioning, and we’ve kind of transitioned. My daughter is now married and owns her own home at 25, and my son just finished college and now is in an apartment and has a job. It’s that time where they’ve really transitioned fully into adulthood, if you will. I can remember when they were pre-teens and teenagers and I was making changes for me and I had the attitude I described. At first, there was definitely pushback, but I will also tell you that when my son was a senior in high school, he asked me how to make sure he could get six-pack abs and I told him how to do it and he did it! He also learned that dairy, for example, for him he has a sensitivity to it and his sinuses have been clear ever since he doesn’t eat it and it’s been years. He’s grown up healthier. At first, he didn’t like it, but over time he realized he felt better, he looked better, and he did better in school as a result. Folks, realize that when you make decisions for you that are healthy decisions it’s going to not just benefit you, it’s going to benefit your entire family.Click To Tweet
It’s going to benefit you at generations.
The people that are in your family and your friends are going to say, oh that’s an interesting thing that Sara is doing. Let me take a look at that. Oh, yeah okay. I like what she’s saying about that. I’m going to try that. And then their family sees it and their little kids see it and those kids grow up and may or may not have kids. They’ll spread it to their kids. Oh yeah, that’s just what we do. It’s this massive ripple effect from small changes we make by being selfish. When I say selfish, people immediately swing to, “No you don’t want to be selfish. Selfish is the person in the sandbox who sits on a pile of toys and says, ‘go ahead. Come at me.’” And that’s not what selfish is.Selfish is literally taking care of myself. That doesn’t mean I don’t take care of anyone else. It means I take care of myself first.Click To Tweet
When my daughter was tiny, a year and a half old, I started this with her. I would say, “Kiddo, who do I love most of all? Who does Momma love most of all?” And she would say without any hesitation, “You.” Meaning me, meaning Sara by “you.” And I would say, “Then who do I love?” She would say, “Me.” And I would say, “That’s right.” And then I would ask, “Kiddo, who do you love most of all?” And she would say, “Me.” And then I would say, “And then who do you love?” And then it was a toss-up. It could me, it could be her dad. There was a stuffed animal that really was close and dear to her heart for a while. And then I would ask, “Why do you love you most of all?” And at this point, she’s heard this so many times that she says it in the same bored voice that you say, “Oh my gosh, Mom.” “Why do you love you most of all, Kiddo?” And she says, “Because if I don’t love me first, then I don’t know what love feels like.” And I’d say, “Yes, and why else?” “Mom!” “Why?” “Because if I don’t love me first then I don’t know how to love anyone else.” And those two things are so selfish because they start from something where you take care of yourself.
I agree with Lizzo. Lizzo says, “It’s not necessarily if you can’t love you then you’re hopeless.” I love Lizzo, an amazing singer. She says, “Listen, if you can’t love you, I’ll love for a while.” So, if you can find people who do know what love is like and they can kind of take you under their wing for a while, that’s a great primer. That was more of what I had to do. I had to find people to love me until I figured out what it was. If we can start them young, if little kids can figure out, oh this is what love feels like. This is safe, then we have a huge shift in the things like functional medicine. People are taking better care of themselves from the start so they’re less likely to develop conditions that need to get dealt with later.
We all need support at some point in our lives. Every day for that matter, not just one time or another. We all need that support system and we need love. We are community beings. We do better in groups. That’s one of the reasons I have group visits at my office and things like that because people do better and progress better and they reach their goals better when other people are lifting each other up.
Sara, what surprises you most about working with women and moms in 2020?
What surprises me most, this blows me away, is that we have access to billions of other people 24/7. We can be on Facebook, we can be on Instagram, we can be on Twitter, we can read blogs, we can be part of online communities and somehow, we still feel lonely and awkward. We see the other people posting pictures and posts where they have perfect makeup and witty letter board phrases and they have smiling partners and potentially shiny children in pictures that are color coordinated. They think, there’s no room for me here. I’m a different size than all the people that I’m seeing. I love “smash the patriarchy” t-shirts, and I’m not seeing that. My house is a ranch from the 1980s, not a multi-thousand square foot mini mansion so I’m not represented there. For me, what I’ve observed people telling me is it’s like moving through the lunchroom in seventh grade with your tray in your hands and everyone else has their table but you. It feels like you don’t fit. One of the things I love about coaching women in this group program that we run is they get to look around and see other moms – real, quirky, messy, not-perfect moms. They get loved on and they get told how hilarious they are or how thoughtful they are or how geeky they are. How wonderful that is, that we deserve to be 100% our true selves and get to find our people. Get to find our crew. Get to find our table in the lunchroom. It breaks my heart to see people saying, “I can’t be what I see online.” Even when we are having more conversations about the fact that, like we talked about earlier, it’s as real as you want it to be. It’s “real.” There is real out there. We are all encouraged to be exactly who we are, and that’s one of the pieces that surprises me. With so many people around us we can still feel that cut off. That I see other people feeling so isolated.
So many people in the world today do it. If you go out to a restaurant and see a family sitting at a table, they may all be on their cellphones and not communicating with each other. A recommendation would be, sit with your family on a regular basis, have meals together, and don’t allow any technology. We never allowed the kids to have technology. When we went to visit their grandparents, there was no technology allowed! We would sit in the living room and talk for hours. Now the kids look around and they see it and they say, “Wow, I am so glad we did it that way.” You’re probably teaching tools and the idea of how to make shifts. It’s a journey. You’re not always perfect and it’s not a destination it’s a journey. So many of us today are, again, you need to try and find, like you said, what’s your group. Get out in some support group. Get out in a book club. Get out in an exercise program. Whatever it might be so you’re actually interacting with real people, real humans that you can see and say “hi” to and shake their hand and cry with and laugh with. All those things. What’s on social media and on the tube is just ridiculous. Reality TV. That was kind of past my era, but reality TV. I look at that and I always have like what, are you kidding me? That’s not reality! It’s just…yeah, interesting to say the least.
The irony though, the irony of the idea of social media is especially for Gen X and millennial folks, our lives are so tightly scheduled. Either by choice or by circumstance the amount of people with student loans who have to have more than one job or people who have kids and can’t get childcare that isn’t going to basically eat their entire paycheck to be able to leave. The irony is as isolating as social media can be, my group coaching programs are held on zoom online so that somebody can have Moana on in the other room for their kiddo and be sitting on the couch in a virtual room with people from all over the world and be real even if we can’t physically be present. I think that’s a big shift I’m seeing is that folks in coaching and folks who are recognizing that we have different abilities at this point to be able to get out and about that we’re not trying to say this should take the place of, that online work should take the place of giving a real hug to a real person. I’m with you 100% on that, Dr. Trish. In the absence of always having that though, being able to find how can we use the internet to make connections where we are right now.
I really talk a lot about avoiding what I call “white women yoga solutions,” which are solutions that would require a full staff or a bed of money or an entire weekend to put in place and very few, if any of the people I work with have one or any of those things, never mind all three. How can we be where we are and still make progress and still be able to grow together and still be selfish?
That’s a wonderful point because yes, we do zoom group gatherings ourselves with folks and it works well! Again, like doing this podcast we can see each other, and we can communicate and connect energetically. It doesn’t have to be literally in person. People have the time to do it for let’s say an hour rather than have to drive there and get out of the car and all the logistics of that.
And if they still have their children that they are caring for. How does our society encourage women and especially moms to push business and helping others over self-care?
Two words: emotional labor. Emotional labor was a term that was coined in the early 80s by Arlie Hochschild in a book. She discussed the idea that women were in charge of making emotional workspaces, not just a place where we are a bunch of Xerox machines but where they were actually connections happening. It’s really taken off as a discussion in the last two or three years amidst and along with the “me too” movement where these conversations have always been happening about who’s in charge of what. Especially at home or even in workplaces or even in spiritual centers. Who’s in charge of making things move and get done versus who says they should be done? Those conversations have always been happening but now they’re actually getting uncovered. Again, because of the internet and the rise of social media more people are able to sit at a common table and have some really useful conversations about it. Are you familiar with emotional labor?
Um, I haven’t heard that term before. But it’s been around, you were saying, since the 90s?
It was first coined in the early 80s, but it’s been around since then. So, it’s this – the idea that one group of people (and it’s not always women but a lot of time in America it falls to it) are responsible for all of the tiny details that actually make, for instance, a household run.
Two great examples, I have a number of friends. We like to spend time together. My boyfriend and I have a couple of groups of friends we like to spend time with, and we reached out to one couple and said, “Hey, are you free on such and such a date?” And the husband texted back and said, “Actually I’m going to have to check with my wife, she’s the social calendar keeper.” That’s an example of emotional labor. Why is it her job to keep track of what they’re doing as a couple at any given time?
Another great example, a friend of mine had their partner message them from the grocery store. Even when we are splitting tasks, oh, well we each do 50% of the work. Her partner was at the grocery store, and her partner messaged and asked, “Do we have mustard?” Now, my friend was at work at that point, but her partner had all good intentions and she had messaged her wife and said, “Do we have mustard?” Sometimes in a relationship, one person is tasked with the idea of all of the little details. The other person is not thinking they’re better than or not thinking well I don’t care about that. We’re going back to the socializing again. Girls are socialized to keep track of all the things that are happening and oftentimes in America boy are socialized to be the supervisors, to be the bird’s eye view, to really do the up-level stuff, the directing. So, they don’t need to know if there’s mustard. That’s not their job. The women are supposed to know because we’re the managers, we’re on the ground. Do we have mustard, and if so, where is it?
A way that I’ve seen it explained is if you’re in a partnership, do you know what fieldtrips your kid has coming up? If you do, you are probably the person in your partnership who is carrying most of the emotional labor. It doesn’t mean the other parent does not love that kid, but it’s just not in their wheelhouse to care about it, to need to know it.Emotional labor is exhausting, and it’s unpaid!Click To Tweet
We all need to learn to take care of ourselves first because if you don’t, you can’t love anyone else until you love yourself first.
Right, right. Yeah! It’s interesting and I would think that some couples, certain categories might be the focus for one and then another area might be the focus for the other.
Yeah, whenever it’s more of a bend towards your category then it becomes laborious and it becomes exhausting for sure.
Yeah. When my boyfriend moved in last year, we had some long conversations before he ever moved in. I talked to him about the concept of emotional labor. Bless his heart he knows so many things about so many things now! He suggested, “Why don’t we make a shared shopping list?” On Google they have something called “Keep” which is a little like a series of Post-It notes you can write stuff on that you can get from your phone, your computer, anywhere you can on Google. He and I have a shared shopping list that we both have access to. He will never message me, “Do we need mustard?” If mustard is not on the list, it’s not going to get purchased when he goes to the grocery store. The same way if I need something, I have to put it on the list and then whoever is at the grocery store next will be the one to get it. We removed some of that. We also have a shared Google calendar so if he wants to do something socially or if I want to do something socially, we can both swing over to the calendar. I don’t need to check with him, he doesn’t need to check with me. It’s just there. It’s tiny little pieces like that that make my relationship less exhausting than it could be otherwise.
Obviously, there’s a sign where technology helps us! Breaks down these other social mores that have become established.
There’s always a good and a bad to everything, it’s just a matter of finding what works for us and what doesn’t.
Sara, tell me about the 1-Minute Miracle and how it can help us change our habits, our outlook, and our leaky guts even.
Well, I love me fixing a leaky gut. I know you do too!
That’s dear to my heart, fixing people’s leaky guts. That’s for sure!
It’s close to my gut as well.
The 1-Minute Miracle is based on a dialectical, behavioral therapy. It’s a system I developed, starting in 2012, actually. Starting related to what I was talking about way back at the beginning when I made a major change and life shifted after that. I used what was the 1-Minute Miracle and didn’t know that’s what it was at the time. I refined it over several years. I’ve gotten feedback from countless people, people of all genders, all ages, all sexual orientations, all abilities, all social classes, all education levels. This system is not just for “people with _______” or “people who _______” or “people who don’t _______.”
This is a system that works for everybody. It relies on changing behaviors in the first few seconds of a situation rather than dissected it or revisiting it or hashing it out later. There’s no shame. It eliminates guilt. It depends on you doing things you already want and like to do. It can be done by literally anyone, anywhere, at any time for free! It involves five steps. The first three, steps one, two, and three, are the action steps. They only take about seven or eight seconds to do. The other two steps, steps four and five, are strengthening steps. They’re what makes steps one, two, and three work better over time.
As an example, I’m standing in front of the fridge at 1:30 in the morning, alone. This is not good. Something is probably going to happen. It’s not great. What do I do? Well, step one says to name your first thought. What is the thing I am most likely going to do? My instinct. What’s my automatic? In that case, it would probably be grab some ice cream. Step one takes about a second or two in this situation, and you name your thought. Oh, yeah. What am I going to do probably? I’m probably going to grab ice cream. Now here’s where the change is. It’s simple to the point of being difficult.
Step two – you think about another possible thought. Now all of us know things we want to change in our lives. We all have a little mental recipe box. If I want to get stronger muscles, I have a little mental recipe box of things I’ve gathered over the years that I might want to try to make stronger muscles. In this case, I would take out my little recipe box of ways I want to handle late night eating. I’ve already done the research! I’ve read blogs, I’ve talked to people, I might have even hired a coach, I may have joined a system. I have things I know I want to do. There are things I don’t want to do; I’m not doing them. There are things I do want to do; I just haven’t done them yet. I keep sticking with my first thought over and over and over again. My second thought takes three or four seconds. I take out that mental recipe box and I dig through it and I pick out something else that I could do. Something else I already wanted to do; I’ve just not done it before. In this case, a second thought might be, have a glass of water and go to bed, Sara. My second thought could be, grab some yogurt.
We have step one – what am I automatically going to do? Step two – recognize something else I could do. And then step three – pick one. That’s step three – pick one of them! Now, that doesn’t mean pick the “better choice.” It just means make an intentional decision to pick one. If I still grab the ice cream, there’s no shame. There’s no blame, there’s no guilt. I chose to do that. I’m empowering myself there. It’s not a, why did I do that? It’s a, I’m doing this. Steps one, two, and three take seven seconds, but you’re making intentional, empowered choices. Just by recognizing that there’s some power there, you can change the world!
Step four is to recognize what makes it easy for me to pick step one. Pick the first thought. That’s something I call HALT. That’s pretty common in twelve-step recovery rooms. They say, “How’s your HALT?” And that’s hungry, angry, lonely, tired. How am I doing in those four areas? If those four areas are great, I have a good chance of being able to make a different choice to pick a second thought. If I’m hungry, angry, lonely, or tired, I’m much less likely to default to what I always do and always get mad at myself about later.
Now I’ve noticed there’s two things missing on there, so I added because I’m a creative person. I added two additional letters and they’re little lowercase ones. So, it looks like trademark ™ but it’s not. The little T stands for thirsty. I can’t tell you how many stupid mistakes I’ve made over the years because I just didn’t have enough water. The other one is medication or meditation. Something to do with mindset, but I don’t say mindset because it’s too easy to think that’s a white woman yoga solution. Meditation or medication. What are actual things that could help my brain to be where it needs to be? That’s step four – recognizing on a day to day basis a couple times a day, how am I doing? How’s my HALT™? If I’m thirsty, can I put some water in me? If I’m tired, can I just close the door wherever I am and take two minutes to just close my eyes and breathe a little while? Get a little more rested?
Step five is to practice steps one through three every day. To actually put some alarms on your phone. We go over that in our program. So that a couple times a week on random times during the day you get a chance to run steps one, two, three on a situation that isn’t even a big deal. Alarm goes off on your phone, you say, I’m in a meeting right now. I’m looking across. What’s my first thought? The woman across from me looks like she had some emo teenager doing her makeup. That is horrible, oh my God! Why would you do that? Step one – that’s my first thought. Here’s my second thought – okay there’s me listening to the scripts about how if the woman looks good then I can pay attention. If she doesn’t look the way I want her to then let’s focus on her appearance. Let me actually listen to what she’s saying because that’s probably a little more important. Step three – pick one. My HALT™ is feeling pretty good right now so I’m going to go with second thought. Just actually listen to what she’s saying.
Boom! I’ve practiced the 1-Minute Miracle and now I’ve used that muscle a little bit. The more often I do that, practicing it in low-stress situations where nobody else even knows what I’m doing then the next time I’m fighting with my partner and they say that thing that if I say that other thing we have another forty minutes to go now. Yay, we just re-upped our fight! If I recognized that, I can do steps one, two, and three in a high-stress situation because I’ve been practicing doing it in a low-stress situation for weeks. That’s how we make greater success is just be tiny, tiny little bits of practice. James Clear says “get 1% better every day,” and that’s an example of getting 1% better. Practicing the 1-Minute Miracle every day so when you need it you can close the fridge door and go to bed!
Because you’ve had a chance to practice.
Sara, that’s awesome and practical. 1-Minute Miracle, five steps that can be done in a minute that people can take away today and start implementing into your life and try and practice it, as you say, every single day. I always say to people we should all have a practice every day to quiet our minds and manage our stress. This could be the practice that someone implements, the 1-Minute Miracle. That’s awesome!
Sara, how do people get in touch with you?
I am all over the interwebs. You can find me at sarapalmerspeaks.com. I’m also @sarapalmerspeaks on Instagram and on Facebook. On Twitter I’m @sarapalmerspks because they don’t have a long enough character count to get “speaks” in there. I wanted to offer your audience the opportunity to get a free 1-Minute Miracle Guide. It explains more on the steps, it has more examples, and it’s an excellent resource to have to share with other people. You can get that just by going to sarapalmerspeaks.com. Right at the top of the page there’s a spot where you can give me your name email address and I’ll shoot that guy right out to you.
That’s awesome! Well thanks for offering that because the 1-Minute Miracle sounds like a really awesome way for folks to take control of their emotions and be able to check in with themselves with how they’re doing that day. So, it’s sarapalmerspeaks.com.
You’ve got it, Dr. Trish!
Sara, I love to end the show every time with asking each and every person I interview – what is your top secret for living a healthy life?
I’ve got to say since it’s been almost ten years, the 1-Minute Miracle system has gotten me through a lot and has brought me a lot of riches as well. A lot of what I was hoping for in life. Just those five little steps, practiced every day. It helps me to handle it when life’s really coming at me!
That’s awesome. Well Sara, thank you so much for being on the show. Everybody go get your 1-Minute Miracle at sarapalmerspeaks.com. This is Dr. Trish Murray – physician, author, and Health Catalyst Speaker on Discover Health Podcast. Thank you, Sara!
Thank you so much, Dr. Trish. It was total pleasure!
Awesome! See everybody on the next podcast.
Connect with Sara Palmer
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