S1E11 Be Present Be Brave

If you are addicted to listening to WEMW, you have heard Dr. Pete and Dr. Rubin say "be present, be brave" at the sign off of each episode. Tune into this episode to learn why the docs chose this tag line and what it represents in the world of Eastern spirituality and Western behavioral science.




Pete: I'm Dr. Pete economo, the East Coast psychologist.

Nikki: And I'm Dr. Nikki Rubin, the West Coast psychologist.

Unknown Speaker: This is when east meets west.

Pete: So we're going to elaborate on our tagline of be present. Be brave. Hey, Nikki.

Nikki : Hey, Pete, how

Pete: you doing? Good. I know that it's been a fun time kind of putting this out there and, you know, be present. Be brave. I thought it was we could talk about what it was like, when we first started this podcast. Yeah. We were trying to figure out like, how do we begin? How do we end? Is there music? Is there not music? I think we've come to like a nice little formula.

Nikki: Yeah, we've come to a little formula. And we we definitely played around with what how are we going to how are we going to tie this up? What's going to be our little tagline at the end? Which, you know, I don't know. Maybe some people think it sounds silly, though. I will share one of my one of my dear friends listened to the podcast. I was like, I love your tagline. I was like, so thank you, because I actually spent quite a while trying to determine what small little phrase can capture what we're trying to talk about in the podcast.

Pete: Well, yeah, it was all about like syllable count. And so I of course, referenced Ellen DeGeneres because she says, Be kind to another identity. That's become like a, you know, a tagline. It's just, you know, I think taglines are important, but also like, what does it what embodies what we're actually trying to do? Right? Absolutely. It's bridging between the psychological Western science and then spiritual Eastern practices and thinking about that. So so we I pulled up, you know, we have a couple little renditions that we went through. Yeah, right. Remember, we were like we even shared our screen which, you know, you're a little bit of a technical Can we say that? technophobe? I

Nikki: well, cuz I think that implies I don't like using technology, which I do like using technology. I get I get cuz I'm really into privacy. I'm like, screen sharing that makes me feel like violated I don't like it that much. Yeah.

Pete: Yeah. For what it's worth, whatever I'm doing like these webinars. Now in the in the world of virtual learning. I'm like, if I have two screens up, I always make sure everything's over on the other screen, so that I'm only scared like sharing that one thing, because there is this like, that is like the ultimate vulnerability.

Nikki: Yes. It's just like, oh, so yeah, you shared your screen. I didn't.

Pete: I shared my screen even with me as comfortable as you are. You felt like maybe I

Nikki: did. I was like, Oh, yeah. Yeah, so sure. Some of the ones that we

Pete: work with came with the ending, we called it the end events. And I was this fancy tagline. So we were like, act except and D. So we thought about maybe, again, it's about like, the rhythm of it, the prosody, like, you know, like, what, what actually makes sense, the syllable usage, but also like the act pieces, because we're like, we're focused on action, which is, I guess, the brave or, yeah, that's, yeah,

Nikki: that's the brain? Well, I think like we really, were always trying to acknowledge the dialectic between East and the West, and the acceptance and the change, right. And so we really wanted to somehow communicate. This is about action. And it's also about presence, I guess, about it's about acceptance. I think we really settled on the the be present part fairly quickly.

Pete: That was very well, yeah. Because then. Yeah, the east, the West, we didn't like we didn't like that. But that was sort of there. We wanted to focus on mindfulness and behaviorism. Right. So that's the mindfulness of the present and then brave is the behaviorism. Okay, so like main ones that we really narrowed it down between was be present act with courage. Which, you know, we liked it. We were there, but it wasn't be present act bravely. And then Nikki, my grammar guru. It's all like, wow, the adverb and you know,

Nikki: I do I do. I do have an undergraduate degree in literature and writing so I,

Pete: I may or may not often send Nikki some of my talk.

Nikki: I do love her. I do love grammar. I do love it. I really do. So so maybe we can say a little bit more about like, maybe we could break down like these two components of like, why we ended up settling on be present, be brave, because I think we're definitely expressing that. Yeah, we wanted to capture in a bite sized way, this balance between mindfulness and action. So I don't know. Can we start a little bit talking or speaking of grammar? spent a little bit talking a little time discussing what what is what is being present mean, if we're saying be present, like, what does that mean? What are we asking people to? Yeah, well,

Pete: this is I think one of the most challenging things for people to do within the world of mindfulness. It's it's it there's these quotes, it says, like, each present moment passes through the present moment, and I I was on a retreat once and you know, I love me my retreat, I know you do.

Nikki: And I lead retreats to beat us. I was like, Oh, I would. I was like, that sounds I know.

Pete: What I'm missing right now, to be honest, you know, is that I'm missing a few things, but that's one of them. But you But but but my teacher there were she Kennedy said, there is no present moment. And I was like, Oh, hell no. It's like you spent all this time learning this stuff, you're like the present moment is it. But the idea in the Zen world is that, once you realize and accept the present moment, it's already gone. So too deep, you know, and so one present moment passes through the next and, and that's what so what it means to be present is just to observe, to observe where you are in this moment, you know, at that moment, because guess what the good news is, then that moments already gone?

Nikki: Well, again, I think that that hopefully, will resonate with people, because we get so attached to what we think we know about the future, frankly, right like that we would think like, but this is going to happen, it's like, well, I always like to share with with patients, we never, ever, ever have access to what's on the other side of this moment, like whatever, like it's this moment, and it's only this moment, and I'll say people, I'm not trying to be, you know, kind of out there, I'm being actually extremely concrete. Yeah, it's like, it's just this moment, and now it's this one. Now, it's this one.

Pete: But I think like highperformance, for example, they're like we have, but I got a goal to where I'm going, you know, and I think that's what we teach in mindfulness is that and then that goal is created in this moment. So if you're established, you know, it's like grocery shopping, you know, you have to get you got to make the Listen, you're going in the future, but in this, write it?

Nikki: Yeah, and I, you know, the this idea of planning, I think can get very confusing, because planning is a useful tool. Of course, 70 is another traffic example. I

Unknown Speaker: see.

Nikki: A lot of times they'll say, I'm from LA, I live here, yeah, is I'll say to people, you know, like, Look, if you're trying to get, you know, to an appointment at nine o'clock in the morning, and you know, based on the general traffic patterns, you want to leave with 30 minutes to spare, you want to leave at 830 in the morning. And usually, like that's going to get you there on time. You could plan that. And then there could be a road closure and accident, and then there's traffic and you're late. So it's not to say like, don't plan. But when we're talking about being present, we're really acknowledging the only information we have access to the information available up until this moment of time, like you don't, you don't actually know what's going to happen. I'm not saying don't plan. I'm also just saying like, and we don't know, like something unforeseen can occur. I mean, the pandemic is a perfect example of this. No one is ready for that. No one saw it coming

Pete: on it also just letting go of the past. Well, yeah, exactly. Scientists and yeah, geologists, yes. But anyway, but also letting go the past. So like, you know, as with just being able to crumple up whatever you're struggling with, and throw it away. And the present moment is allowing yourself the space to say I'm here, just here. I'm letting go of what was there bothering me? And I'm not focused. I've no idea what's ahead of me.

Nikki: Yeah, and I am going to bring in sort of a similar thing that people then will often challenge me about when also snag that like, that's not happening, they'll say, like, but can't, alright, I'm supposed to learn from the past. And like, pretend it didn't happen, I'll say look like, especially using behavioral terminology here. Our past is what we refer to in behaviorism as our learning history, right? Like, of course, what's happened in the past, has informed to how you experience the world, what you do, how you think, etc. And I'll say, and reflecting on that is absolutely helpful. And to your point, Pete, we're reflecting in this moment, though, like, this is the only moment we have agency over like,

Pete: think about, oh, well, she texted that guy that time, or he got cheated on in that moment. Or I left my keys there. And that was so annoying. Or that guy punched me in the face. Otherwise, you're our mind creates, there's so much in in memory and the brain in coding, that. That's really what makes it so hard to unattach

Nikki: Yeah, the stories, the stories. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, I mean, do you ever find because I hear this a lot too. Like where people get sort of then like, attached to like staying in the present. They're like, I don't know, they'll do a meditation and be like, Oh, one really bad because I got distracted. And I'm like, Oh, that's, you know, that's what's supposed to happen. It's not. Yeah, you can't, you can't, you can't stay rigidly present. Like, that's not like physiologically possible. Does that do people say things like that to you? Like, they're like, I've got to stay in the moment. Yeah. Judge themselves if they're working on this stuff?

Pete: No. I mean, I think for me, I I'll share just person. Yeah, please. No, I think, no. But for me, when I first started doing this stuff, I remember like yoga, where they would do some breathing before and then you know, be like, and I would end it and be like, it's so cool. I totally breathe three times without thinking anything else but the breath, you know, and it was like, and so now with flexibility and really present moment living you realize that part, your present moment living is that you will get distracted? That's right. Yeah. Well notice the person next Yes, that, you know, that's also part of it. And the goal is always just bring it back to the present moment because we're constantly distracted.

Nikki: I totally, it's like, and that's I think that's why that's what I mean in terms of Like, I've definitely encountered a lot of people that have this assumption or misunderstanding that part of doing mindfulness work and being present means never being distracted. Like, you know, like it. Look, this is sort of like, the double edged sword of all of the mindfulness availability out there. Now, you know, a lot of people come to now when they come to session, you know, a lot of people have, like, played around with mindfulness, like tried to apps or you know, they've tried to work or something. Whereas, you know, 15 years ago, nobody was doing that. So that's the awesome thing. The downside is like, people will then say to me, okay, I've tried mindfulness, and I'm not very good at it, because I can't stay focused. And I'm like, No, no, I want you going in knowing you're getting distracted. Like the noticing is just like observing what's happening. And yes, you can work on pulling your attention back, but that might be like, a millisecond. That's right. Right. You're not just like, we're not gonna live there all the time. Like our minds are designed to like, go other places.

Pete: It's the movie. It's the movie director in our mind. Yeah, like that. Yeah, it'll it'll take us all over the place and create stories. Geez, sometimes my mind is real creative. Well, sometimes I provocatively say to like a client or an athlete be like, you know, what if I had a thought of like, wanting to just reach across this room and just punch him in the face, right? Cuz that's a movie like, ridiculous. Yeah, doesn't mean I have to actually do it. That's right. That's right. So it, I can notice that that's what my movie director is doing in my mind.

Nikki: Yeah. Well, I'm and that's being present too. It's like, you could have, we could have changed the tagline to, like, notice and something right. Like, that's, that's

Pete: like, wow, Nikki, what do you think about brave then. So when we think about just this, you know, the second part of our tagline Be brave, you know, almost servicing

Nikki: I'm very into that part, not that I'm not into the present part. But I'm very into the Be brave, because this is something you know, Pete and I talk about a lot is that, you know, and this, again, aligns with vulnerability and living aligned with one's values.

Pete: Yeah. It's,

Nikki: it takes courage to, you know, basically, do the hard things that show up in our lives, you know, like, the easy thing is always to, you know, retreat below the, you know, pull the metaphorical or literal covers over our head, right, you know, bury our head in the sand and, and I'm not judging that, like, we all do that. I certainly, I've certainly done that many times in my life, and still do that sometimes. And nothing happens when we do that, like, we can't grow, we can't evolve. And so, you know, it really have to be like very literal about, it's like, it is very brave to step into discomfort. So that's what that means. That's what that means to me. That's why. So I like that part so much that we we identified

Pete: Yeah, it's the action piece, which has behaviors, of course, we really are focused on, you know, action and ways that we can improve ourselves. And so, for the tagline, we felt like, be present, be brave, really encompasses like that East West a little bit of a dialectic. Because we don't always want to be present. You know, and so, the being brave helps us be present. Yes. And I, you know, for me, it was it was like, bingo. That was the main we Yeah, that was it. So the end, we landed right on that. So I think that that was exactly it. And, you know, I know also, in terms of like, behaviorism, Bernie brown uses the acronym braving, you know, so I think Yeah, what is was what it's using, it's the idea of building trust. So as we know, like Renee brown writes a lot about vulnerability shame. How do you know when to trust you know, because sometimes the shame then and pees on it. So the seven elements of trust are an acronym that she calls braving, which is also action oriented, but it's boundaries, reliability, accountability, the vault integrity, non judgment, and generosity. And so the idea is, like, you know, assessing somebody who has had good bounce, like good boundaries or respected your boundaries, historically, people that are reliable that they actually do, they're gonna do accountability, like you know, being okay with like, the fact that we make mistakes, which is definitely a big piece of mindfulness. The Vault is like you don't have to share everything in it. Right You know, and that's key like being mindful that like there's some things we don't sure

Nikki: that's right and that's an n go there their boundaries involved in that right. Chairman? Yeah, there we are. Yeah, yeah. You know, as you're reading through that I'm I'm having a thought about what I really like what like braving like the you know, how I'm gonna code down to go real Yeah, the Geron you know, the IMG to get real real dorky here. I actually read the IMG I am a children's Yeah, yeah, yeah. Right, I was front row and center and sophomore year of college,

Pete: to Geron go

Nikki: sit with my Gen so you know, what I'm actually really connecting with about that like breathing as opposed to what we said which is like, be present, be brave, which you Because of the nice ring to it, though, I do wonder if if that can sort of lend itself to people misunderstanding that being present or being brave again, through what we're saying for our, like, static, like outcomes. And it's like, really, like, it's always an IMG. It's always like breathing. Like, there's never gonna be a time where we're just brave, right? Or we're just mindful. We're just, you know, happy, right, like, there's no outcome that it's always an IMG and that's, that's also related to like this moment to moment shifting, right. And the flexibility and I think that's, that's a pretty hard concept for people to wrap their minds around. Because back to the stories, our brands really like something need of like, this is our, you know, our self concepts, our identities, we like to there's nothing wrong with this necessarily, like, we like to frame things in more concrete ways. Right. And that can get in the way of understanding that it's, it's ongoing, right? He's constantly

Pete: happy. Yeah. And integrity is about choosing covered courage over comfort. So we like that.

Nikki: Absolutely. Yeah.

Pete: Non judgement, of course, speaks for itself and generosity, that you can have the most generous interpretation of intentions, words and actions. Yeah, I think, you know, I, that's the thing is, within this be present, be brave, is that it also requires that I'm have to swallow my pride, let's say or something. Like, that's part of it. Like, you know, I think I'm going to try and keep reminding myself of like, not always just like psychology based things. It's also just like, interpersonally based things like,

Unknown Speaker: Yeah, absolutely.

Pete: You know, how many challenging conversations we have, whether it's in our, like, personal life, and yeah, generosity, it's like, and that's, it's part of what I was writing about in my book right now is like, that's a big piece of, of also just forgiving yourself. Yes. And just building this like connection with something that's larger than ourselves. And I think that that's brave.

Nikki: Yeah, no, I love what you're saying. There. It is brave. And and it's, it's starting from such a place of humility, honestly. Right. It's like, like, starting from this place of not all like so one. Things, there's something bigger than ourselves, and also, the generosity of recognizing, like humans, like, we're a messy species, you know, like for messy species, and people, people mess up, right? Like, we mess up. And we all do we know. And of course, like, we mess up in varying degrees. And we all mess up. And so can we start by opening up to the opportunity for someone else to maybe shift right, like, if you go like, I was just thinking when you're saying like, if we go in with a, I don't know what the word but non generous, ungenerous framework, it's, it's a lot more narrow, like, if you go in assuming that somebody's intentionally trying to hurt you, or intentionally trying to, you know, screw you over something. And I'm not saying that there aren't people that do that, that obviously happens. But going in with that assumption, it just, it narrows, curiosity, right? Like, and there's no opportunity for that person to actually evolve or, like, if they did make a mistake, it may be for you to give them feedback, and they can maybe hear you and improve in some way.

Pete: Yeah. And I think for us, this also was the the podcast when East meets West is us being present and brave. Yeah, are very busy. And so we have a lot of things we could be doing other than recording episodes. You know, we're president, we're here with each other, we like that we get to talk to each other and also crave the, you know, being braving ourselves, putting ourselves out there, creating the space of time trying to commit to this value of educating folks and realizing that, you know, some people are going to judge this and that's okay. Yeah, and hopefully,

Nikki: our listeners then can maybe think about, like, where can Where can they say be brave or practice breathing?
Where can they practice breathing, right, like, and, and presence. Practicing presence is required for that, right? Because it's like, where am i right now? Like, where do I feel scared? What feels hard? And where can I grow? Where do I want to grow?

Pete: And this is us, you and I landing right on the perfect tagline to be president to be brave. Thanks, Nikki. Thanks. This has been when east meets west. I'm Dr. Peter economo.

Nikki: And I'm Dr. Nikki Rubin. Be present. Be brave.

Unknown Speaker: This has been when East meets West all material is based on opinion and educational training of doctors, PT, economo, and Nikki room. Content is for informational and educational purposes only.