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Ep. 3 Coping with Tech Layoffs with Andrew Kushnick
Rampant Layoffs, Tackle Trauma, Common Patterns observed in Techies
Hi there! Things have been quiet for a few days because I’ve been off the grid on a 10-day Vipassana meditation retreat - away from dopamine, stimuli, or technology. Probably the most enriching experience for the mind! 🌱
Welcome to the Episode 3 of our Tech Minds Unwind Series!
In this episode, we discuss the biggest stressor in Tech today, "Layoffs" with Andrew Kushnick, a Psychotherapist who deals with a lot of clients in Tech.
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As the economy continues to struggle, many businesses are cutting back on employee numbers. This has led to mass layoffs, and as a result, many people are feeling stressed, overwhelmed, and dealing with the doom. of never-ending fear.
In this video, I'm sharing insights from a psychotherapist about how tech layoffs may be affecting your mental health, how this can impact some in the form of trauma, and strategies, and tools to cope and go through with this.
We also discuss the 4 most common patterns observed for those working in the Tech Industry:
🌱 Sense of lack of meaning
🌱 Feelings of isolation
🌱 Rigid cognitive style
🌱 Communication problems
Remember: We all cope differently in difficult situations, and the stress of tech layoffs may be affecting you in ways you didn't expect. If you're feeling stressed or overwhelmed, don't hesitate to reach out for help. A therapist can provide you with tips and strategies for coping with the stress of tech layoffs.
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0:00 - 0:36: Tech Minds Unwind Intro
0:37 - 1:19: From Lawyer to Psychotherapist
1:20 - 2:56: Andrew's clients
2:56 - 5:37: Anxiety in Tech due to Layoffs
5:37 - 15:31: Coping Strategies
15:31 - 19:39: Common Patterns in Tech
19:39 - 26:53: Coping with Trauma
26:53 - 31:44: Black-and-White Thinking in Tech
31:44 - 34:52: The discomfort of accessing emotions
34:52 - 36:57: Feelings of isolation among tech workers
36:58 - 39:23: Loneliness in Tech
39:24 - 44:01: Closing remarks
Andrew's practice - https://andrewkushnick.com/about
Vidhi: [00:00:00] Hello everyone to our third episode for the Tech Mind Unwind series. My name is Vidi and I work in tech in the Silicon Valley. In this episode, we are joined by Andrew Kushnick. Andrew spends most of his time supporting folks in the tech industry and has been doing so for the past several years, working with age groups ranging from what would've been working with age groups, ranging from almost 20 to.
Vidhi: 40 years old. Andrew, I'm so glad to have you here. Thank you for joining us. Thanks for having me. So a therapist and what has your journey been like so far?
Andrew: Yeah, this is actually a second career for me. I worked, um, as an attorney for about 10 years in a past life. Yeah. Oh wow. Um, and I found that the legal system, you know, it's so huge and unwieldy and sometimes dysfunctional.
Andrew: And for anyone working within the legal system, [00:01:00] sometimes you get the sense that you're not really able to help people as much as you want to on a day-to-day basis and see the result of your work on a day-to-day basis. So, um, as a therapist, that's, that's, it's really, um, fulfilling to see clients make progress over time.
Andrew: Um, yeah. And that's how I know I'm in the right field.
Vidhi: Awesome. So then what would be the ratio of the people that. Come to you today and you have sessions with, is it only people in the tech industry or are there others as well?
Andrew: Um, I would say about half or a little bit more than half of my practice consists of people that work in tech.
Andrew: Um, and that ranges from, you know, beginning software engineers or designers, um, up to management, uh, people who have been in for a while and they either stay as an independent contributor or go the management route and. A lot of the struggles, a lot of the issues are pretty similar, you know, throughout the different levels.
Vidhi: yeah. And what do you think led to the tech industry being [00:02:00] such a big portion of your practice today?
Andrew: You know, I think it's, uh, my education and experience as an attorney that lends itself to a very, uh, pragmatic, practical, sort of logical mindset. And I think what's required for a coder, for instance, a programmer, Is that same mindset, you know, to sort of follow a sequence and to, to troubleshoot and to try to fix things.
Andrew: Like if, if then thinking. Um, and I, so I think, uh, people who I work with, who work in tech are able to relate to that. They can sort of, um, and I'm able to adapt my methods and my, um, how, how I conduct therapy, um, to sort of cater to that.
Vidhi: Got it. So it's you. It's like you apply your previous career being a lawyer and things you learned through like the life of a coder today, the life of an engineer today in the tech industry.
Vidhi: Would there be some exact other [00:03:00] patterns that you've noticed which help you become a go to therapist for people in the industry
Andrew: here? You know, people want therapy. People wanna be able to leave a therapy session and. Try something like, just like in their interactions with coworkers or when they go home that night and they're struggling with anxious thoughts, they, they wanna be able to implement something right away.
Andrew: So I try to make it as actionable as possible. That's, so that's, that's one way that I, um, try to really, um, yeah, adapt and, um, and, and make it really accessible for, for those who work in tech.
Vidhi: Think we need to address like the biggest thing going on in the industry right now, which is the fear of. Layoffs and how so many people in the tech industry have been laid off and while some that haven't been, they're constantly worried about being laid off concerning everyone around here.
Vidhi: So what do you have to say about
Andrew: that? It's a big problem. I see it across my practice and you know, you just, from the news and just, just the general atmosphere these [00:04:00] days, you know, in the Bay Area. It's just, it's just a heightened state of anxiety, I would say. People are worried about their jobs. And they're really focused on what, you know, what should I do now, they're trying to do really well at their jobs.
Andrew: They're trying to, may maybe they're working longer hours or they're trying to prove themselves indispensable and, you know, have their manager really see, um, you know, the benefit, the, uh, the fruits of their labor. But at the same time, there's distractions from, um, thoughts about should I be looking for another job?
Vidhi: And is this the pattern that you see for. The folks that you have and who come to you for therapy sessions as well?
Andrew: Yeah, they are. Yeah. They're talking about strained relationships, you know, if they're not themselves, if they're maybe not getting good sleep and if they're stressed all day, you know, it's kind of like people are not, you know, they're just not themselves.
Andrew: They're, um, so strained relationships is one way that it shows up. [00:05:00] Um, Interpersonal conflicts at work, you know, worried about whether their manager likes them, worried about whether their ideas are being taken seriously. And um, you know, when they're meeting with their team, um, uh, yeah, you have problems with sleep.
Andrew: Um, quality of life issues. People find they're not able to see friends as much cuz they're working so hard or they're not able to exercise. Um, you know, they might say, I really should meditate, but I just can't. I'm too busy, I just can't. Stop. Like the thoughts kind of get in the way. So those are some ways that it's been showing up.
Vidhi: yeah. Thanks for sharing that. So what would be the solutions that you would sort of offer for all of these folks or people who are listening who are also worried about layoffs today and that can help them out in their everyday life?
Andrew: Yeah, so there's an expression that comes from Dan Siegel. He's a psychiatrist and professor at C L A and he says, name it to tame it.
Andrew: And [00:06:00] so he explains that when we put a label, when we put words to our emotions, it actually sends like a soothing neurotransmitter from the left side of our brain to the right side of our brain. Um, so it may sound funny, but putting words to what we're feeling actually feels good. It's almost like an anesthetic sort of effect.
Andrew: Um, so I would recommend that people actually tell themselves, yeah, I'm stressed. This is anxiety. So, Or I'm worrying right now. Um, or I'm, I'm, I'm focused on something and it's repetitive. I can't stop thinking about this. Um, and so that's, you're making sense of your experience, which is really helpful. So that's one.
Vidhi: So, uh, if you don't mind me asking beyond that, so how would you say people can name a feeling? Because usually if someone is churning all day long for 24 hours, it's very hard to check in and stop and be like, oh, I am feeling something. So would this be like, oh, I [00:07:00] check in, or something that you recommend where a person just pauses and is like, okay, I need to name my feeling now and what's
Andrew: going on?
Andrew: Yeah, I mean, it's most helpful in the moment if you can actually pause, you know, maybe just take a di take a deep breath. Um, and just, just close your eyes for a second and just check in with yourself. You just ask yourself, how am I doing right now? What am I feeling right now? Are there any words that I can use to describe this?
Andrew: Oh, yeah. I'm really stressed. I'm tense. I'm, you know, my, my, my chest is tight and my breathing is faster. Um, so ironically, yeah, that actually helps. You feel a little bit better. It doesn't solve anything in the moment, but it's, it's nervous system regulation. It actually kind of regulates your nervous system a little bit.
Vidhi: Yeah. So, yeah. Well, thanks for sharing that. Yeah. I think that'll be a great technique for people to remind themselves every moment now and then whenever
Andrew: they can. Yeah. And be beyond that. Um, sharing your [00:08:00] experience externally really helps as well. It's, it's along the same lines of naming it to tame it so.
Andrew: Journaling is helpful. Just writing down what you're feeling. Doesn't have to be a whole elaborate paragraph every day or anything like that. Just break out the notes app on your phone and just write, you know, whatever you're feeling really stressed right now. Um, and sharing how you're feeling to another person, you know, someone in your life who cares, really helps.
Andrew: Um, yeah, what that does, this, this kind of merges into trauma a little bit. Um, This situation with the layoffs, you know, it's like an extended period of time that this is happening and we don't know when it's gonna end. We don't know when all the jobs are gonna come back. So people feel helpless. They feel like this is a situation they can't control.
Andrew: And with trauma, um, that's pretty much the definition of trauma, by the way, an event or circumstances that we feel like we can't get through. So the reason I say speak, you [00:09:00] know, name it to yourself, journal it. Or speak to someone else about it is cuz we weave a narrative around what's happening. We kind of put a story around it, which, which kind of, um, stores it in our brain in an adaptive manner so we don't get as stuck in it.
Vidhi: Yeah. Thank, thank you for sharing the science behind that. I think that's very relatable and I feel like a lot of us would be going through that right now without even actually being aware about it. So, yeah. What would be some other solutions? Maybe we go back to this chain of like talking with, talking about your worries with a friend or someone else.
Andrew: Yeah. So beyond, um, naming it to tame it be beyond kind of, you know, making sense of your experience and putting a, a narrative around it. Um, I would recommend boundaries. We hear therapists say that word all the time. It's overused, it's in a popular culture. I need to set boundaries. But it, it's actually really important.
Andrew: Um, You know, [00:10:00] especially when people are available, you know, they're on Slack, you know, ev every waking hour and they maybe they sense that their manager, you know, appreciates how available they are. Um, but we really need a separation of work life and personal life, um, just for our system to recharge, you know, just so we can do something that gets our mind completely off of that stuff.
Andrew: You know, watching. Binge watching something funny or hanging out with a friend or significant other exercising or getting actual sleep, like a decent night of sleep. Um, so if at all possible, I would recommend just deciding like, okay, these are the hours that I work and these are the hours that I'm not at work.
Andrew: And see if you can turn off devices and try to just, yeah, let your system just let your, your whole self just, you know, get absorbed in something else. Something relaxing, something fun. Yeah.
Vidhi: Yeah, yeah. It's, it's hard to [00:11:00] disen, I guess, get out from the mind and focus on the body. I think that is one of the biggest things that I'm, I'm realizing as you're speaking about the boundaries and like name, entertainment, all of that sort of as a theme, it seems of not being able to feel yourself in your body.
Vidhi: Would that be correct?
Andrew: Definitely. That actually leads into another solution. Um, we hear about breathing all the time. You know, everyone knows, yeah, I have to breathe. It's obvious. But, um, intentional use of the breath to relax your nervous system is really, really helpful. So there's something called 4 4 8 breathing.
Andrew: Mm-hmm. Um, and if you breathe, I kind of like to visually depict, like, if you breathe in for four seconds, then hold it for four seconds, and then a long, long exhale, like eight seconds or longer. Um, it's believed to reset. The parasympathetic nervous system, um, which is the, the, um, portion of our nervous system that really helps us unwind and relax when we're ramped up.[00:12:00]
Vidhi: And is there anything else from the solutions that you'd like to
Andrew: point? I would say this is a little bit less, um, you know, immediate, but I would say to take a longer term view of the labor market, you know, um, I, I'm definitely no. Economist. So I don't know what's gonna happen, obviously. But you know, I've been alive long enough to know that these trends kind of come and go.
Andrew: You know, that there's yeah, periods of time when there's layoffs and then it's followed, you know, whoever, like maybe months or years later, a few years later, but you know, an influx of hiring. Um, and so no matter how someone is doing now, maybe they just. Maybe they just need to be in the mindset of just kind of, you know, taking care of themselves during this period of uncertainty, knowing that things will change.
Andrew: Uh, this too shall pass. You've probably heard that before, so that's really helpful to tell yourself.
Vidhi: Yeah. Yeah. I, I think there are moments where if my [00:13:00] mind istok enough, it believes in this too shall pass. And then there are moments where I'm just very anxious and agitated and it's like, I don't know what is going to happen.
Vidhi: And at that point, things like this too shall pass are like, oh, I don't know how much I can believe in
Andrew: this. Like, it's not passing right now, it's right here. Yeah.
Vidhi: Yeah. So it's like getting that balance of being able to accept that. So yeah. Thank you. Thank you for sharing that. I think with that we can jump into something specific that is your area of expertise, which is you specialize in trauma and when people in the tech world worry about layoffs, does this qualify as trauma?
Vidhi: I know you touched a bit on that, but can this exactly be diagnosed and labeled as stroma and. What do you think makes it so difficult for
Andrew: people to get through it? Yeah, so I'll just define trauma really quickly. Again, it's, it's a, it's an event or a set of circumstances that overwhelms our nervous system where we feel helpless or we may feel overwhelmed or out lacking control [00:14:00] over our circumstances.
Andrew: Um, so yeah, this extended period of not knowing if you're gonna be able to keep your job worrying, um, about what you're gonna do if you lose your job, um, that's. That's really, that, that does qualify as, as trauma. Absolutely. Um, depending on the person, depending on how they're experiencing it. But so many people are.
Andrew: Mm-hmm. Um, yeah, they're, they're having, uh, persistent, intrusive thoughts about this, and they're stressed and it's showing up in their nervous system and yeah. So they are, they do seem overwhelmed and lacking a sense of control. Um, what makes this time. It's kind of like a, a a, a particular brand of trauma, if you will.
Andrew: We don't know the end date. We don't know when this is gonna get better. And so that's, that adds to the feeling of, um, lack of control. It's a little bit similar to the pandemic, actually the very beginning of the pandemic. You know, think March, April, 2020, when [00:15:00] we didn't know how bad it was, we didn't know how long it was gonna last, and our lives were different.
Andrew: And so, yeah, back to the present, it's, it's almost the same thing. You, you, you don't know if you knew that, okay, I just have to deal with this for a month or two, then you think, okay, I just have to stick it out and, and, you know, use my normal coping skills, but not knowing how long this is gonna last and what's gonna happen in terms of your job, whether you're gonna get another job that kind of adds to, um, this overwhelming someone's natural ability to cope.
Vidhi: What would be common patterns that you've seen for people working in the tech industry or just in the tech industry as a whole?
Andrew: Yeah, so again, anything can really be experienced in our system as traumatic. And what I've heard a lot over the years among people who work in tech, um, is like upsetting work interactions.
Andrew: You know, one-on-ones with your manager where it doesn't go well or where someone's convinced that your manager doesn't like you. Or [00:16:00] where you, you know, someone on your team will sort of dismiss an idea, you know, at a meeting and it, you kind of wonder like, you know, am I good enough to be here? Um, or maybe like personality mismatches between someone and their manager, um, or previous layoffs.
Andrew: If you've been laid off before, um, you know, um, that can really make, um, you know, your current work situation that much tougher. Um, yeah. Yeah. In terms of someone's history, I would say I've heard a lot among people who work in tech. You know it, I don't wanna overgeneralize at all. But if you think about it, if someone's, um, always been good with technology, always been good with computers, they in the past may have withdrawn, sort of socially isolated a little bit.
Andrew: Maybe it felt safer to be behind a screen than to be interacting, um, with peers in school. And again, this doesn't apply to anyone. To everyone. This is, [00:17:00] um, okay. Just something I've seen here and there. Um, but yeah, I've seen people, um, you know, feeling like social interactions haven't gone well. Sort of replaying in their heads some things that they've, that they say to, you know, to a friend, um mm-hmm.
Andrew: Or classmate and then kind of beating themselves up over the way that they said it, for instance. Um, yeah, maybe a sense of not fitting in with their peers. Especially if the, uh, they, um, you know, came to the United States from somewhere else, the, the immigration experience can really, uh, be super traumatic.
Vidhi: Yeah. You touched some two great points, I think, which we can delve in deeper, which is, you are right. It's, we. I, I don't think there's a way to generalize the fact that everyone is sort of an introvert in the software world, but I feel like we, it, it's also running joke in the software department or in engineering that engineers are introverts and they prefer to stay by themselves and that's how they are, which is where I think you were going with not, not having socialized as much before, which is why [00:18:00] fitting in with peers is even more difficult.
Andrew: Definitely. Um, and it doesn't apply to everyone. But, um, yeah, it, it can make it tougher to make friends. It can make it tougher to, um, you know, engage in those social interactions at work that, that, you know, kind of enhance your reputation. You know, sometimes, you know, networking within your company is really important, but if someone feels less inclined to just go up to someone and ask how they're doing, um, you know, then that can lead to a little bit more of a withdrawn and feel.
Andrew: And so it, it's unfortunate that that social dimension is often so important, you know, sometimes in hiring decisions.
Vidhi: Yeah. Yeah. And then that's the complexity the person has to work with every day. Like a part of them is constantly worried about not being able to fit in with theirs, and a part of them is still trying to work and be productive and do things.
Vidhi: So it's, um, it's somewhere in their mind at some point. So. [00:19:00]
Andrew: Definitely, maybe there's economic hardships, there's yeah. Concerns about, for so many people about getting a green card, kind of, you know, feeling like they have to keep their job because, you know, their, their, um, visa re uh, depends on it. That adds some serious pressure.
Andrew: Um, and, and then just mixing in with, you know, dominant American culture. That's gotta, that's gotta take energy.
Vidhi: Yeah. Yeah. Which is why I think layoffs for immigrants is. Tougher. Obviously it's tough for others as well, but I think for immigrants it's also the pressure of maintaining their results so that they can continue their life here and it's more of a burden is, is there anything else that you want to cover for like the other trauma patterns that you see for folks in tech?
Andrew: I would say there's also sometimes bullying. I didn't mention that, but sometimes again, if, if you're, you know, a, a teenager and you're not feeling as comfortable, you know, socializing, a lot of people feel like they. [00:20:00] Um, they didn't fit in and sometimes, you know, other kids in school would pick up on that and, um, you know, kids can be mean, kids can be awesome, but kids can be mean.
Andrew: Um, and so that sometimes gets stored in someone's brain as trauma. And then anytime in the future, you know, as life goes on, anytime anything reminds their system of what they went through before, um, then it can be triggering and they can really feel it like the experience of being rejected. Or feeling like you don't fit in in your team or making a joke and no one laughs and feeling like, is there something wrong with me?
Andrew: Um, so that, that experience of, of, of bullying or not fitting in early on, you know, with childhood and adolescence, that can really shape, um, interpersonal patterns in adulthood at work.
Vidhi: Yeah. Oh, wow. I never thought. I mean, it, it never strikes or comes to my mind that the two could be like, so related where all of these childhood patterns could show [00:21:00] up even in the workplace today, and then sort of have to revisit those and resolve those to be able to resolve yesterday in general.
Andrew: Absolutely. It's almost like a recording, you know, back then, you know, a kid might internally store a belief like, I'm not good enough. You know, if they, they, they're, they feel separated from social groups. Know, um, and then they could easily just conclude it's something with them. Um, you know, or if one of their parents is not into, uh, video games or computers in general, and, you know, and there could be a mismatch between what the kid likes to do and what the parent likes to do.
Andrew: So it's so easy to form that belief, like, there's something wrong with me and I'm not good enough. And it's almost like a recording that's made. And then when you fast forward to adulthood, When anything similar in our environment happens that resembles what we went once went through. It's like someone is pressing play on that recording and we feel not good enough all over again as if [00:22:00] what's happening now, you know, as if what's, what happened then is happening now.
Vidhi: Oh, thanks for sharing that, that that's very insightful. Plus the. Things that people experience with trauma, what are some ways for them to cope with those or act on those?
Andrew: Yeah, so I would say figuring out what, what works to self-soothe is really, really important. So again, if you're about to go into a meeting with your manager and you're just, you can feel your heart racing and um, you know, there's so many thoughts and your palms are sweaty and you know, you're just thinking like, this is not gonna go well, or, my entire job depends on this.
Andrew: Um, figure out what works for you. And again, it's gonna sound cliche, but breathing really helps that 4 48 breathing that I mentioned earlier, um, or even self-talk. You can almost be your own therapist at any given time. Even if you don't completely believe some of these comforting thoughts you may tell yourself, it still helps, you know, to tell [00:23:00] yourself like, you're gonna be all right.
Andrew: It's gonna go fine. Maybe it won't go so badly. Maybe I'll, maybe, maybe my boss does like me. Um, mm-hmm. Yeah. And, um, beyond that, you know, therapy really helps. Um, yeah, I, I work pretty extensively with emdr. That's a one leading method of treating trauma. Um, you know, actually with emdr, you're rewriting the way the neural pathways in your brain, the way that memories are stored.
Andrew: Um, So that's just one form of therapy that really, really helps. And it's evidence-based. It's backed by decades of studies. Um, so yeah, so for the time being, I would say figure out how to stay regulated, figure out how to take care of yourself, um, you know, physiologically regulate your nervous system. And if it feels like something traumatic is just, um, you know, showing up again and again and affecting you, um, maybe time to reach out to a therapist.
Andrew: Yeah. [00:24:00]
Vidhi: Yeah, no, thanks for sharing that. And like, if, if I had to ask further, do you, what, how would you define emdr? So is it like just a sort of like therapeutic model or?
Andrew: Yeah, it's, um, it was developed in the eighties, but I would say it's really caught on in the last 10 years. Um, stands for eye movement desensitization and reprocessing.
Andrew: Um, and in the eighties when it first started, Um, it was, um, the therapist would have a pen or if the therapist's finger and would kind of move it back and forth, then the client would kind of trek the finger or the pen, um, and that would engage the left side of the brain and the right side of the brain.
Andrew: Alternatingly. Um, I'll explain why that is. Um, I just wanna say real quick, these days there's other methods, um, I have clients hold these tappers, they're like buzzers. Like when you go to a restaurant mm-hmm. They give you like a, a buzzer, you know, to tell you your table's ready. Yeah. So there's two buzzers.
Andrew: They're called tappers and they buzz [00:25:00] alternatingly. Left, right, left right. Um, so what happens is, again, the left side of your brain and the right side of your brain, then attend to that stimuli. Um, and the reason we do that is trauma is really stored in the right side of your brain, um, in fragmented form.
Andrew: So just to use an example of what we talked about earlier, um, bullying. So say someone is in middle school and they're, um, 12 years old and they, um, yeah. And they get bullied. So what gets stored in the right side of your brain, um, are images from that maybe how you felt in your body at the time when it felt really scary.
Andrew: Um, what you believed about yourself. Like maybe I'm not safe. Um, yeah, sights and sounds, smells, all of that. So it gets stored in the right side of your brain in fragmented, undigested form. It, it's almost like imagine like a, you know, a mirror falls to the floor. You know, it's all these different pieces [00:26:00] that are sort of mixed in.
Andrew: And so what happens with emdr, we wanna link all of those pieces, all those fragments with the left side of the brain, because that's where, um, language is. That's, that's where, um, you can develop a story around what happened. And so, yeah. Yeah. So by linking the left side of the brain and the right side of the brain, we integrate all of those elements, all those fragments from whatever was scary, um, with a narrative.
Andrew: And we make sense of it and it's stored in our brain in a more adaptive, healthy manner where we feel like we got past it, like that was then, and this is now I survived, or I am good enough, or I'm safe.
Vidhi: Yeah, no, thank you for sharing the science beyond that that is very valuable to know and how it gets stored and how you also use this and help your clients through processing traumatic memories.
Vidhi: Um, Andrew, why, why do you think the black and white thinking is, does not work well? Why do people need to adapt the gray [00:27:00] level thinking?
Andrew: Yeah. So from working with some very smart minds over the years, um, I've picked up on some patterns in the manner of thinking. Um, and one is my understanding that, you know, to, to do a good job as a coder, you really have to, um, engage in some black and white thinking.
Andrew: Um, you know, you're writing a line of code and it's either gonna work or errors are gonna show up. You know, the feature isn't gonna work, and so you really have to embrace that style, kind of like a, it's a little bit more rigid. Um, Almost like, you know, if then thinking or sort of like a flow chart, a following, like a logical sequence.
Andrew: Um, and I think that leads to a discomfort with, um, like a relativistic statement. You know, in other words, say someone, you know, makes the statement to themselves like, I hate my job. Um, you know, my job is the [00:28:00] worst. Um, that's kind of an all or nothing black and white statement, and, Yeah. And, and so what might be more helpful is to embrace more, more of a relativistic way of looking at it.
Andrew: Like there are certain aspects of my job that I don't like and there are some things that I don't mind or that I do like. Um, yeah. And so that rigidity, um, in like a cognitive style, it's actually a characteristic of a lot of anxiety disorders and a lot of, um, depressive disorders as well. And so it's really helpful to.
Andrew: Embrace the shades of gray. Embrace. Um, yeah. Yeah.
Vidhi: So what would be the solution that you'd say that a person can adapt? Gray level thinking?
Andrew: Yeah, it probably works really well at work. Um, but in relationships when emotions are involved, um, then it's really important to, to tune into the shades of gray. I think it's being [00:29:00] able to form a statement that correctly captures how you're feeling without.
Andrew: Going to an extreme, you know, um, there's, there's catastrophic thinking that kind of characterizes black and white thinking, you know? Um, I'm never gonna make it. Um, I'm definitely gonna be fired, or, you know, my job is the worst. Um, or nobody likes me. Or, um, yeah, I'm not a good, you know, I'm the worst coder ever.
Andrew: Um, and if you can pause and prompt yourself to come up with a more realistic statement, Um, you'll actually feel better. You might, you might think of someone asking you, Hey, Vidi, is there another way that you might think about this? Or what might be a more nuanced way of looking at this more realistic statement?
Andrew: And you might say, oh, well, my boss just gave me a hard time. But, um, I think they know I'm go doing a good job, or I'm struggling right now this week, but I'm gonna work on it and things will be okay. Or, you know, there's some people on my team I like, and there's some others that I don't like. [00:30:00] That would be more, um, um, nuanced, less black and white.
Vidhi: Yeah. So it's making sure that you have a balance and you try to think of it from different perspectives and use that in your everyday living and relationships and how you think about yourself and otherwise. Yeah. Yeah. What would be some other patterns that you see?
Andrew: Yeah, I would say in communication, um, that analytical sense that so many people who work in tech really need.
Andrew: You know, like a logical part of us, like a troubleshooting part of us. Um, it can pull people away from emotions from noticing how someone else is feeling, from noticing how they themselves are feeling. Um, yeah. And in communication that really, um, can be a problem cuz in other words, if you are just so again, say you're having some sort of disagreement or some sort of tense exchange.
Andrew: With a coworker, um, [00:31:00] and you, you're trying to figure out like the logic of this, you know, this must, this has to make sense somehow. Um, but what really might be happening is that that other person feels a certain way and that person is tense and that person you know, is, um, you know, having a rough time and or is in a bad mood or, or whatever it might be, and that you yourself are feeling a certain way, you're feeling frustrated, you're feeling.
Andrew: Tense, anxious. Yeah. Maybe you're noticing that in your, in your neck or your chest, like, you know, real tension. Um, so that those, those, um, those are things that you can notice in someone else, and those are things that you can notice yourself. Um hmm.
Vidhi: Yeah. So with this discomfort of accessing emotions, how do you think this plays out in people's personal lives and even for themselves?
Vidhi: Apart from even work?
Andrew: Yeah, in friendships, in, you know, romantic relationships or in relationships within your, your, your family. [00:32:00] Um, yeah, people are gonna upset each other. People are gonna, um, make each other angry. People are gonna misinterpret or misunderstand what you're saying. You might feel, you know, alone, you might feel resentful, you might feel really disconnected from people around you.
Andrew: And so being able to put, we're going back to name it, to tame it, really being able to put words around what you're feeling and being able to express that to, um, somebody else in a healthy way, in a constructive way is really important. So that leads into, um, what's called the I statement. I would say almost every therapist works with clients on forming an I statement.
Andrew: Um, and what ha what we do, what's really optimal is to be able to convey how we're feeling and what we're needing in a way that's least likely to cause to defensiveness in the other person or cause the other person to criticize us back [00:33:00] or cause the other person to shut down. So I think emotional literacy is really, really important.
Andrew: And it's, it's a different side of our brain. It's not, um, we're, we're back to the left and right brain, left brain, and the right brain again. Um, logic and linearity, um, are, are based in the left brain and a, a sensing of how we're feeling or empathy for how someone else feels that really comes from the right brain.
Vidhi: Yeah. Yeah. No, I think I, I experienced this too personally myself, where, because, and I, I, I'm wondering if this is a very common thing about having a strong analytical brain, which makes it difficult for you to work with emotions and reflect and think, because you're so there in analyzing and reanalyzing and ruminating that accessing the real emotions and the depths of things is harder.
Andrew: Yes. And I think that can be improved with practice. I regularly speak with my [00:34:00] clients about, um, developing a meditation practice where you're just reading yourself, um, putting words to your emotions as we've discussed. Um, just practicing like, Hey, this is what I'm feeling now. Um, yeah, yeah, yeah. It, it, it can be developed over time.
Andrew: Um mm-hmm. And you find that you feel. Good. When you're able to make sense of what you're feeling, when you're able to tell yourself, yeah, this is, this is how I'm doing right now. It's not just gonna affect me outside of my awareness. I can actually put words to it and maybe I could even empathize with somebody else and maybe even say like, Hey, it looks like you're having a rough time.
Andrew: Or maybe I said something that upset you. Um, yeah, there's words for that. So it's, it is possible to practice that and get better at that, where it just becomes more, uh, Just more like habit.
Vidhi: Yeah. Let's continue jumping into the other patterns. What would you say would the other ones
Andrew: be? Yeah, so another pattern that [00:35:00] I've noticed, um, in my practice is a sense of isolation that people are experiencing.
Andrew: Um, yeah, especially people who work in tech. Mm-hmm. Um, they're working longer hours. Again, they're fixated on whether they're gonna be able to keep their job, how they're doing at work. They're thinking about work, they're thinking about performance. Um, and remote work is, um, even is making that sense of isolation even more pronounced.
Andrew: Um, yeah, and you know what? Even when people are in the office, you know, if there's imagine cubicles and like an open floor plan, there's cu cubicles, people are more likely to jump on Slack or, you know, some other form of messaging to, um, message a coworker, then to just like stand up and walk a few feet over to ask the person in person.
Andrew: It's so easy to hide behind technology, cuz that feels more comfortable for a lot of people. So I think, yeah, people don't feel like they have someone to talk to and they're less likely to be [00:36:00] talking live face to face to, to their peers.
Vidhi: Yeah. And you think isolation, I mean, COVID has made this isolation more concrete for a lot of other people who.
Vidhi: Might not be using technology to hide, but now just are bound to do that cuz they've been doing that for the past three years or
Andrew: so. That's a great point. Yeah. Especially early on in the pandemic, we were all socialized to avoid each other. You know, we, we had our masks on and we felt comfortable and safe, you know, behind those masks.
Andrew: And for introverts or for people with social anxiety, that was actually comforting. Um, And yeah, a lot of us lost out on socialization, on practicing social skills. Mm-hmm. Um, there was a lot of, a lot of articles, a lot of talk in the media about how so many people were struggling with just normal social conventions when they were back in the office or you know, when the masks were off.
Andrew: Um, and so, yeah. That's a really good point.
Vidhi: Yeah. What would be the solution that you'd say. [00:37:00] Could be used for people for getting rid of their isolation or just trying to get out of that comfort zone.
Andrew: Yeah, anything involving connection. So joining things, so this can start at work, just engaging coworkers to, you know, to hang out if you're remote, just asking if they wanna, you know, even just do a video chat just.
Andrew: One-on-one. Um, or if you're in person, just take a walk, go for coffee, go for lunch, anything to talk about your experience to, to experience that commonality. You know, you're going through something similar. So it really, really helps to feel like you're in community with other people you know, who are going through the same thing, the same stressors.
Andrew: Um, I would say getting mentoring. If there's anyone higher up at your company who you know, has a good sense of, you know, how to survive, how to, how to sort of hang in there and. Take care of yourself. Mm-hmm. Um, that's really helpful. Um, there's meetups and other groups for people in tech, you know, to, to [00:38:00] really bond with people who are going through the same thing.
Andrew: Um, you can even blog about your experience and just, you know, people are reading it and put it out there, put it on medium, for instance. Um, and it's a way of sharing even, you know, you might hear back from people, but at least you're, you're, you're, you're, you're, you're engaging in some community of like-minded people.
Vidhi: Yeah. And I, I think it's important to point out that somehow people have gotten so comfortable with being isolated that they think functioning like that is okay, but probably a push to get yourself outside the comfort zone is what we all need, especially after the
Andrew: pandemic. I agree. And you know, it, it is okay if people are.
Andrew: You know, more comfortable, you know, curling up on a couch and reading a book, like, that's great. That's, that's what brings comfort. Yeah. That's awesome. Um, mm, health outcomes, long-term health outcomes, um, are improved when we're connecting. [00:39:00] I think in the UK they have a minister of loneliness, like a government official who's charged with implementing solutions.
Andrew: Just to help people deal with loneliness. And I think that's amazing that they're doing that because it, it, it's not only a mental health problem, but it's a physical health problem.
Vidhi: Exactly. Yeah. We need that too. Definitely in the US pretty soon. Yeah. Yeah. Okay. And then what would be the last point that you wanted to cover for a pattern that people that you see in your everyday workings?
Andrew: Yeah, I have seen people, Talk about a lack of a sense of meaning in their work a lot. And so this comes at every single age. Um, yeah. I mean, I experienced this in the law, you know, years ago, and I'm seeing it a lot among people in tech. They're asking themselves, you know, what am I doing? Am I really contributing to society?
Andrew: You know, they sense [00:40:00] all these problems in the world. They, you know, global warming and, um, Yeah. School shootings and political polarization and they, they just get the sense like, Hey, you know, that, you know, our society, our world is going through a rough time. So while I'm on this earth, I really wanna be doing something that's making a difference.
Andrew: So they're asking themselves, you know, this, this product that my company is putting out there, like, do I care about it? Mm-hmm. And this work that I'm doing, like, does it really fulfill me? And what would I really want to be? Doing, you know, how do I really want to be spending all of these working years, you know, maybe 50 years of our life, um, you know, in which most of our days are working.
Andrew: Yeah. So, yeah. People are really, I think the pandemic led people to really go within and ask themselves, like, what am I doing? But I think in tech, it, it's been pronounced where people are really wanting to make sure that they're, [00:41:00] they're, they feel good about what they're doing. Yeah. Yeah.
Vidhi: And how do you help people when they come with this question of, Hey, Andrew, I don't know if this makes any sense
Andrew: to me.
Andrew: Yeah, good question. That, that just comes with exploration. Like therapy can really help with that. You know, everyone has a different, um, flavor of, of, of, you know, what they find fulfilling. Everyone, you know, some people talk about, you know, I wanna, you know, work on the environment, or I wanna. Help people lift people out of poverty, or I wanna make people feel good, or I wanna heal, I wanna be a healer of some type.
Andrew: Um, or I want to entertain people, or it's different for everyone. So I think therapy really helps people identify, you know, wh whether their lack of sense of meaning is significant enough, whether it's really a problem that they wanna do something about it. Um, and if they do wanna do something about it, then what do they wanna move towards?
Andrew: Like, what really speaks to that? For some people [00:42:00] it doesn't mean giving up their day job, you know, especially if it pays well and they're generally okay. Some people can just adopt, um, you know, hobbies and volunteer work, for instance, in their free time. Yeah. Whatever free time they have. Yeah.
Vidhi: Awesome. Okay, so where would you like folks to reach out to you if they relate to you and this entire episode that we've had and want to actually get therapy from you?
Andrew: Sure. Um, so they can contact me through my website. It's just my name.com, so andrew kush nick.com. Mm-hmm. Um, or they can email me firstname.lastname@example.org.
Andrew: Um, and yeah, I'd be happy to explore
Vidhi: that with anyone. Sure. Thank you. And make sure I link it in the description here. And with that, I think we can close this. And I just wanna ask, do you have any questions for me?
Andrew: Um, what led you to start this, uh, video podcast?
Vidhi: Yeah, I think the same thing that you pointed out with the sense of lack of meaning, which is what I could relate [00:43:00] heavily to.
Vidhi: I wanted to. Um, I was starting to realize a lot of people around me were starting to have mental health troubles or people weren't realizing it, and I felt like there was something I needed to do to step up. And I've always been interested in this, um, mental health space for the past few years, and I thought this would be the easiest way to reach out to a lot of folks using social media and using my expertise in tech.
Vidhi: So I'm trying to combine both of those at once and trying to help as I
Andrew: can. That's great. Yeah. I hope people hear about it. I hope people find it and hear. Yeah, you're putting out a valuable service out there on the interwebs.
Vidhi: Yeah, I, I hope it doesn't go into the voids, but we'll just let the tech algorithms play its games and I'll, I'll do my hard work there.
Vidhi: Awesome. So thank you Andrew for such a warm and insightful conversation. Thank you for everything that you do and help people. This is going to help me and a lot of folks in tech, especially my friends. I'm very sure after recording this episode, so
Andrew: thank you. Thanks so much [00:44:00] for having me.
Andrew: This was a lot of fun.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Warning: For information purposes only. Does not constitute clinical advice. Consult your local medical authority for advice. If you or someone you know needs help immediately, you should take one of the following actions:- call 9-8-8 in the United States or your country's emergency number- call the Lifeline at 1-800-273 TALK (8255) in the United States or a global crisis hotlines- text START to 741-741 in the United States - go to your nearest hospital emergency room
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