The Tim Ferriss Show Transcripts: Diana Chapman — How to Get Unstuck, Do “The Work,” Take Radical Responsibility, and Reduce Drama in Your Life (#536)

Please enjoy this transcript of my interview with Diana Chapman, a co-founder of the Conscious Leadership Group and a co-author of the book The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership. Her passion is to help organizational leaders and their teams eliminate drama in the workplace and beyond. She has worked with more than 1,000 CEOs and is a well-respected facilitator for the Young Presidents Organization (YPO), working with their forums and chapters worldwide. She has been a speaker at TEDx, Mindful Leadership Summit, Wisdom 2.0, Stanford Graduate School of Business, and more.

Transcripts may contain a few typos. With many episodes lasting 2+ hours, it can be difficult to catch minor errors. Enjoy!

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#536: Diana Chapman — How to Get Unstuck, Do “The Work,” Take Radical Responsibility, and Reduce Drama in Your Life

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This interview was transcribed by Rev.com.

Tim Ferriss: Hello, boys and girls, ladies and germs, this is Tim Ferriss, and welcome to another episode of The Tim Ferriss Show, where it is my job to interview world-class performers from all different fiends, all different stripes, to tease out the frameworks, the habits, routines, favorite books, all the goodies that you can apply, test in your own lives.

My guest today, I’m very excited about Diana Chapman, C-H-A-P-M-A-N. Diana is a co-founder of the Conscious Leadership Group and a coauthor of the book, The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership, which I am rereading right now, it just so happens.

Her passion is to help organizational leaders and their teams eliminate drama in the workplace and beyond. She has worked with more than 1,000 CEOs, and is a well-respected facilitator for the Young Presidents’ Organization, YPO, working with their forums and chapters worldwide. She’s been a speaker at TEDx, Mindful Leadership Summit, Wisdom 2.0, Stanford Graduate School of Business, and many more. When Diana is not with her clients. She can often be found gardening at her suburban homestead in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California. Sounds nice, doesn’t it? She lives there with her husband of more than 30 years. You can find her online at conscious.is on Twitter. The handle is @ConsciousLG, Facebook, Conscious Leadership Group, and on YouTube, Conscious Is Now, and there are so many different directions I could go, but first, Diana, welcome to the show. So nice to see you.

Diana Chapman: Oh, thank you so much. I’m really happy to be here.

Tim Ferriss: So I thought I was just establish some bona fides right off the bat, and then we’re going to do a little chronological shuffling. So first I want to read a quote from the team portion of the website. So under your name at conscious.is, there is a quote from Dustin Moskovitz. Now, for those who don’t know who Dustin is, Dustin is co-founder of Asana. Prior to that, he was co-founder of Facebook. In 2011, he was, at least at the time, the youngest self-made billionaire in the history of the planet, as far as I know, and here’s a quote. 

“Working with Diana has dramatically changed the way I react to challenges and stress in my life, preserving my energy to direct toward more constructive pursuits. 

“As a coach, she has a gift for guiding me through introspection on the stories I create about events and people in a structured way that inevitably leads to perspective shifts. We can’t control the fact that “bad” things are going to happen, but how we react to those events is what really matters and that we can learn to control. 

“When we have the right attitude and resourcing, adversity becomes strictly an opportunity to learn and grow.” 

Okay. So this is the kind of quote that a lot of folks would kill for, maybe die for, certainly amputate a few fingers for.

Now, before we dig into all sorts of juicy bits that we could pull out of that quote as a jumping off point, I want to go back to 1997. So I did not expect to find this. I didn’t expect to find anything in particular, but this is what I found. This is on criteo.com. 

“In 1997, Diana Chapman was a stay-at-home mom teaching scrapbooking in Ann Arbor, MI — ‘as mainstream a life as they come,’ she says.” I didn’t know any of this. So number one, you can’t believe everything you read on the internet. So is this true, and then assuming some aspect of it is true, could you tell us about the gift from your brother-in-law around that time?

Diana Chapman: Yeah. So it is true. I was the quintessential stay-at-home mom, all things, being with my kids, being part of the school, head of the PTA, all that good stuff, and I was, though, very interested in personal development, spirituality, human consciousness. That was always in the background, but I was very devoted to my children. I was teaching scrapbooking to other moms. I mean, I was so cute. I was really cute. My brother-in-law was a top CEO in the country, and he was very, very devoted to personal development, and he was a connoisseur of finding great coaches. I think the truth was that he and my sister-in-law were concerned about my marriage, and wondered if we were going to make it.

So they recommended that we go out to California and take a training with Gay and Kathlyn Hendricks of the Hendricks Institute. Actually, they gave us five grand. He said, “You can do whatever you want with the money, but I’m going to recommend you go out to California.” So I joyfully could not wait to go. I didn’t know anything about them, but he said “They’re the best,” so off we went, and it was a profoundly life-changing week, and I thought to myself, “Why am I just learning these tools?” and “I’m going to devote the rest of my life making sure people get access to them,” and that’s what I’ve done.

Tim Ferriss: What did you feel or experience, or what changes did you observe that led you to have such a strong reaction?

Diana Chapman: Well, first of all, I learned about this thing called the Drama Triangle, which many people out there may have heard about, but I realized my whole life is running around on this Drama Triangle, and the Drama Triangle was created by Stephen Karpman back in the ’70s, and he defined ways in which human beings get caught in victimhood that create reactivity, and I realized I’m on the triangle most of the time, and there is a big cost to me and my people when I’m on a Drama Triangle. So that was the wake-up call for me, and then I’ve spent every day since looking for all the tools I can for how to keep myself out of that triangle as much as possible.

Tim Ferriss: Since you mentioned it, let’s just jump right into the Drama Triangle. Could you give us an overview of what it is and how you might use it?

Diana Chapman: Okay. So Karpman says many of us got trained to live in a state of victimhood, and there are three unique flavors of victimhood in the Drama Triangle. We call them bases. So the first base is the pure victim, and the pure victim, it’s so hard here. I’m trying. I don’t know. It’s just any kind of a — help. It’s got this very disempowered feeling, and it’s somehow like they’ve got the power, somebody else has it, not me, and I’m very at the effect of things. So I could be at the effect of my bank account, at the effect of this email that just came in, at the effect of the traffic, at the effect of the new policy on going back to work, at the effect of COVID. All those things are forms of being a victim.

Then the next role in the Drama Triangle is the villain, and the villain’s job is to blame. So I can blame me. God, I should’ve known that, or I should’ve been more prepared, or any should’ve over here on me, or I’m not smart enough, or I can’t count of myself. That’s all villaining toward myself, or we can villain toward another. You, you’re the reason why I’m not having as much fun as I could be having, or we could be a villain to a group of people, which is very popular in our culture. So we all know who’s screwing it up for the rest of us. It’s that group over there, and everybody’s pointing to particularly groups who are the bad guys. So villain’s very popular because it gets our adrenaline really kicking in.

Tim Ferriss: I think it’s actually in the terms of service on Twitter that you have to play that role when you use that service. Anyways, it’s a side note. Please — 

Diana Chapman: Right, right. Who’s screwing it up? Who’s wrong? Yeah, you don’t know. You’re wrong. I’m right. Then the last role in the Drama Triangle is the hero. It’s also called the reliever or the rescuer, and the hero’s job is to seek temporary relief. Oh, my god. I had such a hard day today at work. Let me call home. I’m going to drink my alcohol or go do my gaming or get lost in Netflix, or whatever I’m going to do to give myself some temporary relief, and it works. But I’ve got to do it again tomorrow because tomorrow I’m going to come home, potentially burn out again, then I’m going to have to do the same pattern. So heroing is temporary relief over and over again.

So I can hero myself. I could hero another, “Oh, you look like you’re struggling at work. Let me take over some of your work that you’re doing,” and I could do that from a place of real presence, but when I’m in hero doing it, I’m actually creating some co-dependence where I keep needing you to not be able to handle your work so I can keep helping, and then I’ll resent you over time. Then we can hero them. There’s lots of philanthropies, especially in the past. They’re getting better at this now, where we just throw a bunch of money at a population, and then next year they have all the same issues, and they need more money, and nothing ever really changes. So the key thing is temporary relief.

So we all know the story about how you can give the man a fish every night, or you could teach him to fish for himself. So the hero gives the man the fish night after night after night. If you’re off the Drama Triangle, you shift to a place where you see people as empowered and the hero asks good questions to help people get more effective around them.

Tim Ferriss: So my next question, I want to share an observation from my rereading of the book, and then the next question, just to plant the seed, is I’m going to ask you why it’s called the Drama Triangle, what drama actually means here. But in my reread, which I’m in the middle of right now, of The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership, which was recommended to me by Dustin, and I think it was also recommended in my last book, Tribe of Mentors, by Dustin. There’s a section that I needed to reread, which was related to the Drama Triangle, and it pointed out that the villain could take the form of someone in a meeting who to try to resolve conflict, or maybe not resolve, to try to minimize conflict, always take the blame. Eventually, at the end of the meeting they just say, “You know what? It’s my fault. I should’ve done this, this, this, this and this,” and it’s easy, at least for me, to conflate radical responsibility with overly blaming myself for everything. I don’t actually have a great way to approach navigating discerning those two for me, if that makes any sense.

Diana Chapman: Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: So we could try to unpack that, or we could jump to why it’s called the Drama Triangle, but I’ll let you choose the direction.

Diana Chapman: Well, let me do both. So the reason why it’s called the Drama Triangle is because the whole triangle is set up for a “Nah, nah, nah.” It’s “I’m right, you’re wrong, you’re to blame or I’m to blame.” It’s not asking everybody to really take 100 percent responsibility for how their co-creating experience is. So if I’m in the Drama Triangle, the villain, if I’m taking on I’m more responsible, what happens is I’ll say, “Oh, I’m here at the meeting, you guys, and look, it’s my fault, and I’ll take some of your responsibility and take it all on me.” So there is a place to say, “Hey, I have a part in how I’ve co-created this. Let me tell you my part.” That would be me taking my 100 percent, and then I would also know that everybody else has a part to play, too. So I’m not taking on their responsibility as well. That’s the difference between a villain and somebody’s who just simply acknowledging, I have a role to play here.

Tim Ferriss: Got it. Thank you. So we were chatting before we started recording, and you and I have spoken quite a few times before. We’ve met before, spent time together, and you asked me why I invited you onto the podcast. There were a number of answers I gave. One of them was related to kinesthetic awareness or what our mutual friend and your business partner, Jim Dethmer, have called, at least in his notes to me for this conversation, this may be your term for all I know, BQ, like IQ, EQ, but body intelligence.

I feel like you’re very well calibrated for this, and when we spoke maybe a year-and-a-half ago, two years ago, I was working on this “No” book, you might recall, and then as I kept working on it and kept working on it, I kept coming up with great reasons to say no to the entire book, which was very meta, and I ended up stopping. But we spoke a lot about the whole-body yes, and I would love to maybe use that as a wedge to start the conversation because I found this so incredibly helpful, when I am certainly prone to over-intellectualizing everything into some extremely complicated matrix or spreadsheet, or God knows what. So could you lead us into that in whatever way makes sense?

Diana Chapman: Sure. The idea is that we have these different centers of intelligence. So we have our head, our heart, our gut, and IQ, EQ, BQ are some of the ways we might be describing those things these days. So body intelligence is a recognition that I have an instinctual awareness that is known by my sensations, known by how the body feels, and that there’s a lot actually there, that if we start to drop into the body and pay attention, it’s got a lot of guidance for us, as does our emotions, as does our intellect. So I do have a ton of access to my body intelligence. I think it’s what I lead with in my own getting clarity about which directions to go in my life, and I’ve put a lot of attention on it, so it’s very palpable to me. My body screams often, “No! Don’t do that!” even though my intellect might have an understanding of why.

Tim Ferriss: So if you wouldn’t mind, walk people through how they might understand and use the whole-body yes, because for me, when something is screaming, I’m decent at paying attention. But it’s not always a scream, right?

Diana Chapman: No.

Tim Ferriss: Oftentimes, it is a little more nuanced. So could you walk people through the whole-body yes and what the flight checklist looks like?

Diana Chapman: Yeah. Well, I could have people if we wanted to go through an experience of starting to feel what their whole-body yes and nos feels like.

Tim Ferriss: Great. Yeah, let’s do that. Let’s do that.

Diana Chapman: Should we do that? It’s very experiential, so it’ll take about 10 minutes, and I’ll have people, if they’re listening, I recommend they close their eyes.

Tim Ferriss: Wonderful.

Diana Chapman: Does that work?

Tim Ferriss: We have all the time in the world. This isn’t morning television.

Diana Chapman: Okay. So the idea is that your body knows when there’s a no, when there’s a yes, and when there’s what I’m going to call a subtle no, and we say anything other than a whole-body yes is a no, and to your point, it’s easy to hear those screaming nos, but not so easy to hear the subtle no. For example, someone contacted our organization the other day, and he wanted to talk, and it wasn’t clear to me whether he was trying to sell us something or whether he genuinely had clients that he wanted to connect us with, and even in my — I had suspicions that it wasn’t as clean as he was suggesting, and I asked for clarification, and his clarification, still, I couldn’t really tell, but my body did know. I felt this flat feeling in my body when I thought about having the call, and unfortunately, my head said, “Well, maybe you’re not sure, so let’s have the call.”

Indeed, it was a sales call, and it was not a good use of my time, and I quickly hung up. But that was a time in which I skipped over my no, because it was very subtle, and my intellect started to get worried, like, what if I’m missing something, and what if you don’t know? So I use this all the time, and I’m still learning, as I did just last week, to pay attention to the intelligences that are outside of just my intellect. So for you all, if you want to learn more about this, what I’d like you to do is close your eyes, and I’d like you to bring to mind an experience from the past that was deeply valuable to you. It was something that was nurturing. It was something you would gratefully repeat that scene again. It could be a time when you were celebrated. It could be a time when you were in a highly creative state that made something valuable. It could be a time when you were in nature feeling deeply centered.

So I’d like you to go back into that scene as best you can and see the images of that scene, and hear the sounds, and as you’re in that scene, I want you to start to pay attention to the body and see if you can notice just simply how the body is vibrating right now. When you imagine yourself in that scene, seeing those images, hearing the sounds, how does your body vibrate? Is there a particular direction in which energy is flowing through the body? Now, some of you might go, “Diana, I’m not feeling anything here.” That’s fine. Just imagine if you were feeling something. Let it be okay that it might feel like pretend, just for now. Is there a certain temperature that you notice in the body?

For some people, they might feel very specific sensations that might feel like shapes inside the body, and some people might be auditory and hear tones, or see visuals in their mind’s eye. What you’re doing here is getting a map of what does a whole-body yes feel like. You’re just strolling around inside of the body, feeling what you’re feeling, no right or wrong answers here, and everybody’s so unique. We all have our own different ways we feel it. For me, my body gets warm. There’s an uprising of energy. It flows up for me. There’s a push in the flow for me, but yours will be what it is.

So then I’d like you to take one last memory, take a memory shot of this so you can remember what this feels like. Then I’d like you to shake it off and let it go, and then I want you to think of a scene in the past that you don’t want to repeat, and I don’t recommend finding something traumatizing. Find something that you really didn’t feel like was a good use of your time, didn’t serve you, you don’t want to repeat it ever again, or you prefer not to. So if you can bring that image to mind, and again, see the visuals of that memory and hear the sounds. I want you to notice what happens now in the body. Is there a different way the body’s vibrating? How is the direction of energy flowing or not flowing in this version? Is there a difference in temperature? Any other significant sensations or shapes you feel in or on the body, and again, tones in the ears or visuals in your mind’s eye may also be included.

You’re getting a map for what no — this is a big no. I don’t want this. I don’t think this is going to serve me, just mapping the territory in the body for what does this feel like. Take one last picture of that and shake that one off, and then we’ve got one more to do, and this is the subtle no. This is similar to what I was just describing earlier of taking a meeting. It didn’t kill me to take the meeting. It didn’t hurt. It lasted 10 minutes, and I got off the phone, but it wasn’t a yes. It wasn’t an alive experience for me. So this is called a subtle no. So I want you to think back. Everybody’s got in the last two to four weeks something that’s happened in which it was an eh. It wasn’t bad, wasn’t good, eh. See if you can come back and see that scene in your mind’s eye, and hear those sounds.

You’re going to check and see what’s a subtle no feel like for you. How do you experience that scene? What do you notice in the body? How does it vibrate here? How does energy flow, or not flow? Is there a difference in temperature? What parts of the body light up, sensations and tones, or visuals as well? You’re trying on here, and again, if you don’t notice much, that’s okay. Just imagine if you did notice. What would you notice? This is your map for what a subtle no feels like. You want to remember this feeling so that the next time somebody says, “Hey, you want to go out to lunch,” or, “Could you meet me to talk about A, B, C,” that if you feel this, likely, it’s an invitation for you to try no. So you can shake that one off, and then we’ll bring our attention back to the ongoing conversation. How was that for you, Tim?

Tim Ferriss: It was a great exercise. It’s been a long time since I’ve done an inventory like that, and I took notes. I took some notes, and I’ll share a few things just in this helps other people. I noticed that all three had different breathing patterns. The breathing was a very different cadence and feeling.

Diana Chapman: Nice.

Tim Ferriss: So that seemed to be of a very clear variable across the three, and just give an example of the clear no, the strong no was frontal head tension, chest tightness, feeling hot, none of which exists in the yes state, as an example. Then I thought of this subtle no, which I don’t think I’ve spent much time on before, which is hilarious, because of course, it’s probably where I need to spend the most time assessing that. I thought of this experience recently where — I mean, it was the first example that came to mind, because I really try not to say yes to things. But sometimes you say yes to things that seem like a yes, and then you get into the experience and it’s not a yes. The bill of lading was deceptive.

I ended up at this dinner that was play fancy. I didn’t expect it to be play fancy, but it was an expensive dinner and it just was not enjoyable. The food wasn’t great, and I didn’t want to be there. I was thinking of this experience and I noticed that in contrast to the strong yes and the strong no, both of which have a certain degree of focus, I, in the subtle no, have a very — I wrote down shifty energy and fidgety, just like feeling unsettled. That then I suppose becomes your landmark, often the distance where you can orient yourself with respect to decision-making or continuing or not continuing with something.

So I found this very helpful, and I should also just mention that this has historically been what would we call it development opportunity, AKA weakness, and growth opportunity/massive achilles heel, this body awareness. I think that we can spend a lot of time on it. We don’t need to. But just, I learned to dissociate very effectively, really early on in my life for a lot of reasons. And so it’s getting reacquainted with feeling has been a long process. Thank you for that. I found that very helpful. Could you help us connect this to how people would use this inventory?

Diana Chapman: Yeah. I’d recommend starting out using it in really simple ways. Start with looking at a menu. And as you’re looking at the menu, just notice, does that fidgety come in, when you look at the sandwich versus the sandwich? And see if you can start to see what yes feels like. Or you’re driving back home and you’ve got a couple of different routes to take home. Try on, “Okay, I’m going to go this way,” and notice what happens in the body, versus, “I go this way.” And so you’re just going to make this a practice for things that don’t have a lot of meaning that it’s not a big deal. You can also do it with time.

Let’s say you’re thinking about gathering up with a group of friends and they say, “What time?” Try on like, “Okay, well, what if we met at 5:00?” And just notice what happens in the body when I try 5:00 and then 5:30 and 6:00 and 6:30, and just see if you’ve got a place where your body starts to hum like, “Oh, wow. 6:30, that’s where it really hit. Then let’s choose 6:30.” That’s a way to do it.

Then what you’ll notice is you’ll, at least for me, I really liked the results I kept creating in these simpler options. Then I just kept using it more and more with more important decisions. And then now it’s the biggest decisions, this is something I choose regularly. I’ve learned to trust it. I had a client who I thought was in trouble in another country, and I contacted the family and said, “I think you need to go help this person.” And they’re like, “You want us to leave and go check on this family member?” I said, “My body was shaking with clarity about it.” My head was like, “I don’t know. I couldn’t tell you for sure, but my body knew.” They went, and it turned out it could have been a life-saving moment that they went. Intellectually, I had some data, but my body was the one that really guided me to be aggressive in getting that person support.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah. This has been really impactful for me. It seems so simple, and on some levels it is, but very often it’s the simple, valuable things that we neglect perhaps, because we think they are simplistic, but that’s not the same thing. I think that it’s common also for people who are very head-centered, intellect-focused, who’ve been rewarded for that to just end up being a hammer looking for nails, basically. I had a lot of trouble identifying what yes felt like, and I still do, if I’m being honest.

I mean, there are times when it’s super obvious when I’m just like the YES in all caps and marquee lights and neon. Yes. Okay. Fine. Then when it bashes me over the head with awesomeness, I know what that feels like. But if it’s in some cases a meeting or an investment or a person or a dinner with certain people, it’s hard for me to identify what a full body yes feels like, but I know what it doesn’t feel like, if I go from like head to chest, gut, if there’s any tension in one of those three, it’s a no. It’s — 

Diana Chapman: Good. Then I would say your yes is a void of those sensations. So let that be what it is, let yourself go, “That is a whole-body yes.” My whole-body yes is a void of those no sensations, and that’s enough, you don’t need to make it any more than that.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, that’s true.

Diana Chapman: And it makes sense to me that you might not have the whole light up. Some people do have this [inaudible 00:32:11] that they feel as a yes, but some people don’t. And so just trust your own version of it, so you’ll just know, “Oh, my yes is pretty. It’s just is without the reactive patterns I notice in my body when the no is here.”

Tim Ferriss: Well, let’s use that as a segue. In the fact that I don’t have the zing, I’m not sure that the fact I don’t have this zing and I do have it when it’s, again, an avalanche of spectacular goodness. But otherwise, my yes response can be very muted. I do think that I have trained myself sometimes in the name of stoicism, I think often in the hope to protect myself from disappointment to not celebrate. I do think that premature celebration of huge business deals and stuff can bite you in the ass, and that it’s a good idea to temper expectations. At the same time, there’s a cost, there’s a very real cost to training yourself not to celebrate. One of the notes that Jim, as in Jim Dethmer, for people who are listening, sent to me included, I asked him what your superpowers were, and he gave me a number of them.

One was “Play as a way to live life, increase learning, deepen relationships, and lead organizations. Diana is the best of anyone I have ever met at living a life of play and inviting others to play along.” So for those who don’t know Jim, Jim would not say something like this lightly. This is something that I want to cultivate in myself, and I really am not sure of how to go about it. So I would love to explore this, and you can take that anywhere you would like.

Diana Chapman: Okay. Well, when you were talking earlier about not sure you know about that yes, you think maybe you’d like to have more of that, one thing I would say is I think yeses, they’re about igniting our creative energy, and our creative energy is very connected to our sexual energy. And so for me, yes feels very sexual. I feel turned on. And so I think there are a lot of people who put that away for good reasons along the way. And so one of the things that I think is important is for people to start coming back and tuning back into letting themselves be a sexual being, letting themselves have sensations that feel igniting. That doesn’t have to mean that you go have sex or do — they’re very different things. I know a lot of people have been in sex without sexual feelings. So they’re separate, but I want to invite people to feel how good you can feel in the body.

Tim Ferriss: How do you do that? I know that sounds silly, but it’s like, how do you foster/allow that? Because consciously, I don’t have any Catholic guilt or anything that leads me to consciously throttle that. I don’t have a voice in my head that says, “That’s not okay.” I feel like it’s more, if it exists in me, it’s more subconscious.

Diana Chapman: Well, just in general, because just see if you can find one place in the body that feels pleasurable, doesn’t have to necessarily be named sexual, but just where’s the pleasure in the body? It could just be a tiny little spot, or you could feel something like — for me, right now, there’s like a tickle in my chest. I feel some champagne bubbles coming up through my spine. It feels like it’s coming up, floating out of the top of my head. I feel some warmth in my feet. It’s pleasurable. It’s just starting to put your attention on pleasure itself and then keep attending to it, keep giving your attention to it. Then it starts spreading around. Then all of a sudden, there’s this really wonderful, like woo hoo quality that’s happening in the body. Then for me, that’s part of what ignites the play, because there’s so much aliveness, joy, creative possibilities. And then it’s like, “Okay, what are we going to do with this? And then how much fun could we have?” It’s just the water I swim in.

Tim Ferriss: Has it always been that way? Is this Diana out of the box? Or is it something that either you’ve trained more in yourself, or that you’ve seen people — 

Diana Chapman: I think I have [crosstalk 00:37:29].

Tim Ferriss: effectively in terms of turning the tide? Because I’m sure you have a lot of clients, I have to imagine, who are doing therapy, coaching, medicine work, et cetera, and they’re like, “God, I just need more play. I just need more play.” It’s like, “Okay. Well, now what?” Right?

Diana Chapman: Well, I might say, “Let’s play with the fact that you need more play. Can we make that bigger?” “Oh, I need more play. Oh, God.” I tend to say “Let’s exaggerate everything,” because that’s one of the easiest, quickest forms of play is to exaggerate where you’re at. So make wherever you’re at bigger. And so if it’s like, “I can’t play, it’s so hard for me to play.” I go, “Okay. Well, let’s play with that. Make that bigger until all of a sudden now you’re giggling, because it seems funny. Then you just played. So exaggeration is one of my favorite ways. When I am coaching people and they’re in some place that they say they don’t want to be in, I say, “Well, then let’s make it bigger, wherever you’re at.” And then it always pops them through.

Tim Ferriss: Let’s talk about loving pressure. That was a term that Jim sent over. “Bringing loving pressure to relationships. She’s a genius at bringing the right balance of pressure, kick you — in parentheses — (kick you in the ass and love) in parentheses support, understanding, and empathy. And as a result, she’s a black belt in practicing candor. So this is something that has always struck me in our interactions. This is not going to be a perfect segue, but I have to bring this up, because who knows if what I wrote for the “No” book will ever see the light of day, I hope it will. Maybe in a blog post or an article at some point. But could you please describe the voicemail message that you had some years ago? Do you know the one I’m talking about?

Diana Chapman: Yeah. It was something like, “Hi, you reached Diana. I may or may not respond to this call,” and I’m going to just listen to if I feel called, I will. And if I don’t, I won’t. It was just very much of, “I’m going to listen and decide whether I’ll call you back and when I’ll call you back.” And so it was just basically saying, “Don’t have any expectations.”

Tim Ferriss: Your candor has really jumped out as this defining characteristic of Diana for me. That’s the end of this bullet that’s in front of me, but how should people think of loving pressure? Because I find myself flip-flopping often between two polar extremes. This is especially noticeable in my intimate relationships where either unlike the hard-ass Olympic coach, like the coach in the Disney movie Miracle, if anyone’s seen that in ice hockey, or I am from my perspective, extremely permissive and overly supportive to the point of subjugating my own feelings. It’s not entirely dishonest, but I’m disavowing part of me to be really, really supportive. And this is especially true with my girlfriend where there are times too, I’ve learned. I think this is important. There are times for me to listen, to listen for her to feel heard. And then there are times for me to listen to help with problem solving. And it’s very good for me to clarify which she wants in advance. But how do you think about loving pressure and bringing that to relationships?

Diana Chapman: Well, again, I think in order to do that well, you have to be connected to your head, your heart, and your gut. That’s certainly been really clear to me that I have to be fully present to know then what’s the balance of challenge and nurturing. For example, I had a guy who called me recently, was wanting to know if we could work together. And he was very, very depressed. I was asking him questions and he was really stuck, and he had a lot of critical thoughts about himself, and he couldn’t get motivated to do anything. I asked him about therapy. He said, “Yeah, I’ve been in therapy for a year.” I said, “Okay, you need to fire your therapist.” I said, “Because you’ve got a lot of stories in your head that you’re believing and nobody’s challenging you.”

The guy stood up. He sat up really straight, and I felt him pop out of some haze he was in. The challenger woke something in him. The story I always make up about that guy is he was just getting so nurtured, but nobody was bringing the challenge that could help him break out of the state he was in. And so I just knew that, and I was thoughtful from my own presence here of what do I need to say to this guy that he can hear I care about him? But I also say, cut it out, because how you’re organizing yourself here isn’t going to take you to this new place you want to go.

He was really grateful, and he said, “Thank you. I really hear you. I need to question these beliefs I’m holding.” That’s my practice over and over again, is being able to listen to my body. I was with another conversation of the day and people were talking about their opinions about the world. And I just said, “Hey, I noticed I’m contracting, my body’s contracting as I hear you guys talking.” That’s all I had to say. It was just, “I’m just going to report what’s happening over here,” and it was a form of challenge to them. They went, “Wow. You’re right. We’re really in some fear-based thinking here.” My body helps — just sometimes I just report. I notice I’m bored, or I notice I’m drawing or I notice I’m getting confused or I notice I’m contracting. Those are ways I might just express a little pressure by just revealing what’s here and not making it mean anything, but just saying, “Here’s what’s happening. Maybe this is about something I don’t know about yet, but let me just tell you what’s happening.” I don’t think we do that enough with each other.

Tim Ferriss: Let me ask you a question about that example. There are some folks talking about whatever they were talking about, and some fear-based or what they recognized as fear-based thinking in conversation, and you say, “I’m noticing that I’m feeling contracted. I just want to let you guys know.” And they responded constructively, where the — 

Diana Chapman: These are people I know well, and we know we play a similar game [crosstalk 00:44:33].

Tim Ferriss: You’ve agreed to this type of interaction.

Diana Chapman: Yes. I would not do this with just anybody. Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: Okay. So what would you do if you’re in a mixed group or with people who have not agreed or made the commitments? We can talk more about the 15 commitments and commitments in general, but is there a way that you can give voice to that with people who perhaps don’t have the same playbook in front of them?

Diana Chapman: Sure. I might say something like, “What I hear is you believe you’re right that XYZ is occurring, and that could be true, and I’m just wondering if you’re open to another possibility that maybe it’s not as true as you think.” So I might just gently bring a little challenger of asking them to consider that there might be another option. That’s another form of how we challenge each other, is questioning that stories we tell, because we’re all just telling stories all the time, or I might say, “Oh, I hadn’t considered that perspective. I’ve been holding this perspective, and I might share my perspective.” It just depends on how well or not well I know the crowd, that would have me be more thoughtful and how I might respond.

Tim Ferriss: When you’re working with a client, and I’m coming back to the initial quote that I read from Dustin. “So she has a gift, as a coach,” she meaning you, “has a gift for guiding me through introspection on the stories I create about events and people in a structured way that inevitably leads to perspective shifts.” Could you walk us through how you might do that with someone? 

For instance, this guy who was depressed and he says, “You know what, you’re right. My therapist sucks. I’m being handled with kid gloves, but that’s making me remain a kid. So I could use like a occasional slap in the face from someone who’s very supportive and challenging,” and you say, “Okay, great.” So from that point then, what do you do with those stories and this person?

Diana Chapman: I’m a huge fan of Byron Katie, and I really love her work. I do the work with myself and I do the work with my clients, and I say, “Okay, is it true? Is it true this thing you believe? Can you absolutely know it’s true?” I’m wise enough now to know I can’t absolutely know anything. Then what’s it like when you do really believe you’re right? I help people find there’s always some suffering. Then what would it be like if you just couldn’t believe it and people find, “Ugh, that’s nice. It feels good.” And then, “Okay, great. Could we just go look at the opposite? You can keep your righteous stories, but can we also ask you to hold the opposites as at least as true so that the mind can get to neutral and then something else gets to happen?

Tim Ferriss: You’re doing that with turnarounds of various types?

Diana Chapman: All the time. I’m constantly asking clients to do turnarounds.

Tim Ferriss: Okay. Let’s pick a hypothetical or real example, just so people can get a flavor of this. Byron Katie, The Work, I also have found really, really helpful in a number of cases. She’s an unusual and powerful woman, to put it mildly. So there are times when people will interact. And I remember meeting her for the first time and I was like, “I don’t know if I can do what she does.” But when you actually work with the worksheets, and people can find this online, a lot of resources are available for free online from Byron Katie, could you walk through, say, a belief, which I think she defines as a thought we take to be true or something along those lines, an example of a belief? And then how you would do turnarounds on that belief and walk somebody through that?

Diana Chapman: Let’s see if we can find something real for you, if you’re willing to, see if they can find — 

Tim Ferriss: Sure.

Diana Chapman: — something that’s irritated you lately, something where it’s like maybe somebody did something that bugged you, or you’re upset about some policy out in the world, or just any place where you notice you get a little triggered.

Tim Ferriss: This is more of like a paradox of choice issue than anything else for me. Let me see.

Diana Chapman: If not, I can find one. I always have judgments, so I can find something over here.

Tim Ferriss: Well, I’ll tell you. My relationship — we’ll actually use one that relates to the client you mentioned. So I have had extended depressive episodes, the majority of my life. And so I have a lot of fear around slipping into depressive episodes, and have viewed that, whether it’s now, whether it’s a week from now, whether it’s a year, whether it’s five years from now, as inevitable, and scary, and dangerous. So let’s use that somehow.

Diana Chapman: Okay. And it sounds like the judgment bite might be something like, “I shouldn’t slip into depression or depressive episodes.” Is that right?

Tim Ferriss: Yeah. Or — yeah, exactly. I shouldn’t, it’s dangerous, et cetera. Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Diana Chapman: Okay. So which one is it? Is it “I shouldn’t” or is it “It’s dangerous?” Because it sounds like that one’s kind of lit up for you. “It’s dangerous if I go into a depressive episode.”

Tim Ferriss: Yeah. I think yeah, that’s — sure.

Diana Chapman: Yeah. Is that it?

Tim Ferriss: That is. Yeah.

Diana Chapman: Okay. It’s dangerous if you go into a depressive episode. Is that true?

Tim Ferriss: So I always struggle with the first two, the first two questions. The other ones I have an easier time with. Is it true? I think it’s true. Yes, I do.

Diana Chapman: Yeah. I mean, most of the time when I have my judgements I do think they’re true in the beginning, but then I go, “Okay, Tim, can you really, truly, I mean, absolutely know it’s true? Like you’d put your life on the line, that it’s dangerous if you go into a depressive episode.”

Tim Ferriss: Well, it’s kind of tragically comic that you would use that phrasing, so here’s what I can say. I know, I can say for sure that it has been dangerous because I almost killed myself in college. Does that automatically mean that I will be at the precipice in that same way in the future? No, I can’t say that with 100 percent certainty.

Diana Chapman: Yes. You can’t say that with 100 percent certainty. So we’re just trying to get to, “I can’t know for sure. I mean, I didn’t kill myself in the end,” where you’re here, right? And we don’t know if you would want to kill yourself in the future. So we’re just going, “I can’t absolutely know for sure it’s true.” So the first question is, is it true? Second question is, can I absolutely know for sure that it’s true? You’re saying no. Third question is, what’s it like when you do believe that thought? So when you sit here and go, “Whoa, it’s going to be dangerous if I have a depressive episode,” what’s it like for you when you believe that to be true?

Tim Ferriss: It’s terrifying. It’s awful. And anytime I feel even a twinkling of a possibility that I might be slipping into a melancholy state, like I went to a jazz performance recently and they were playing very minor key music, and I felt myself getting very uncomfortable. And actually that was the example I used in my own mind when we were — it was the second example that came to my mind when I was thinking of the whole body no recently, even though there were aspects of the performance I really enjoyed. But as soon as I started feeling myself slip into a sad, what I would call depressive state, there was a level of panic. So that’s who I am. When I believe that to be true, I’m hypervigilant and panic prone.

Diana Chapman: Yeah. Makes sense. I mean, I feel it right now. If I believed the story that if I get into a depressive state it’s going to be dangerous, I feel panicky. I can feel that hypervigilance. I can feel like “Ah!” Like really anxious. Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah. Yeah. For sure.

Diana Chapman: Yeah. So that’s your experience. So let’s just imagine that I have this superpower and your brain is a computer, and that thought “it’s dangerous to go into a depressive state” is actually like a computer program. And I have the ability to delete that program out of the computer of your brain. It’s gone. So right now, voot! I just did it. It’s gone. So we’re just going to pretend for a couple of minutes here, and if you just couldn’t believe that anymore, what’s it like?

Tim Ferriss: Oh, I think I would have — almost certainly would have much more calm, much more presence. Right? I wouldn’t be future tripping and stuck in anxiety. I would be much more joyful. I would have more space for other people because I wouldn’t be stuck on the “me, me, me” show.

Diana Chapman: Yeah. Yeah, and I like to even get yourself even more present, like sit here and sometimes I even encourage people to close their eyes. But let yourself drop in right here, in this conversation. And you’re now a man sitting here who can’t find that thought. It’s a little more meditative this way. Using your breath to keep opening, what’s it like to be here? To be you? To be in this moment without the thought? There’s no thought that’s replaced it, you’re just here without that one.

Tim Ferriss: Relaxed. Optimistic. Energized. Yeah.

Diana Chapman: Yeah. Yeah. And my experience is, the more I drop in, the more I get to experience more states of presence; that if I — especially when you go into that relaxed, you could even drop in even a little more and it keeps opening up, and these states can keep opening to more and more states of wellbeing.

Tim Ferriss: Could I do a quick sidebar?

Diana Chapman: Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: A question, which is, so I think a lot of people listening and even me right now, I’m starting to get a little secondary anxiety by telling myself the story, “Well, wait a second. If it is actually dangerous, I don’t want to just go into a place of denial where I take off my seatbelt while I’m driving at 80 miles an hour, psychically.” That sounds like a bad idea, right? So I think the answer is here — 

Diana Chapman: Good. I don’t want you to stop thinking.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, you’re not — so I suppose I just wanted to get your reiteration, that this is not — the objective is not to invalidate the belief, the objective is to do an exercise embracing other alternatives.

Diana Chapman: And the objective is to understand that at the moment, at least, a depressive state isn’t what’s creating the anxiety for you. It’s the belief that it’s going to be dangerous that creates the anxiety, right? That’s what we’re going after here, is we’re going after the recognition that your depressive state — we actually don’t know how you will or will not be, but right now the danger you’re creating is in your own head by believing you’re right about your story. And so we’re helping you question that so that you can now be aware and present for the possibility that you might be going into a depressive state in the future. And how can you do your best to mitigate that? Right it if you do have it happen so that you’re not at the effect of it.

Tim Ferriss: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Thank you. All right, so what’s the next step?

Diana Chapman: So then the next step is, we don’t want you to get rid of “It could be dangerous” because I don’t know, maybe it could, but we want to help you come back to recognizing that the opposite is at least as true, that it doesn’t have to be dangerous. So we’re going to have you go, “It’s not dangerous going into a depressive state, is at least as true.” Can you give me a real example, one that not just your head, but your heart and your body? Like there’s something that your whole system goes, “Oh, okay. I can see how it’s true, that it doesn’t have to be dangerous if I go into a depressive state.” Can you give me real evidence of how that could be at least as true?

Tim Ferriss: So I’m doing two things here. I’m doing the exercise with you and I’m also sort of providing an overlay for people listening. And please correct me if I’m getting any of this wrong, but what we’re doing is we’re taking the belief as a statement and we’re starting to play with that sentence and the words in that sentence and how it’s constructed, right? I mean, obviously — 

Diana Chapman: Yeah. We’re specifically going after the judgment, so that — your mind judges, “It’s going to be dangerous. If I go into a depressive state, it’s going to be dangerous. I’m right about how dangerous it’s going to be.” So we just want to go, “Can we just look at how the opposite’s true? Is, it’s not going to be dangerous if you go into a depressive state.”

Tim Ferriss: So the evidence — and then, so now we’re coming up with evidence for what we’re talking about.

Diana Chapman: How is that statement, “It won’t be dangerous,” at least as true?

Tim Ferriss: So I’ll start with the kind of present tense, the “It isn’t dangerous,” because the “It won’t be dangerous” is harder for me. But I will say, the fact of the matter is I’m here. And I’ve had dozens of depressive episodes and I’m still here, so if the danger is suicide, at least to this point, it’s abundantly clear that that has not happened.

Diana Chapman: Yeah. Yeah, and I want you to really get that, not just in your head but I want you to get that in your heart and your body, because I feel you get it intellectually. But I really want you to drop down and go, “Survey says I’ve been in multiple depressive states and I’m here. It hasn’t been dangerous in that I haven’t killed myself, if that’s what you’re calling danger.”

Tim Ferriss: Yeah. That would be it.

Diana Chapman: Yeah. And so we want you to get that down, especially in the body, like your breath, go, “Oh, yeah. Oh, God.” I mean, really look and feel that. “Yeah. Okay. Many times depressive states, here I am. Okay. Not dangerous.” Give me another example of how it’s true. “It’s not dangerous if I go into a depressive state.”

Tim Ferriss: I’m having trouble, honestly. I’m wondering if you can help me brainstorm here. Yeah.

Diana Chapman: Yeah. So I imagine people come around you, people help you.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah. Yeah. I need to get better at actually reaching out, but yes, when I do have supportive people around me, and if I’m very lucky to have people who love me who would respond at the drop of a dime to help.

Diana Chapman: Yeah. So I want you to feel that. Feel how, “Oh my goodness, I am surrounded by so many people and experts who could help me, and have in the past so that I couldn’t get myself — it was hard to be dangerous if there’s all these other folks around me who got my back.”

Tim Ferriss: Yeah. Yeah. I believe that. For sure.

Diana Chapman: And so I can see it again in your head, like intellectually. Part of what I want is for you to come back down in the body and really feel that, because it’s a somatic experience that I’m wanting you to get.

Tim Ferriss: How do you — I know this is the remedial class with me, but how do you help people to do that? Because it’s challenging for me.

Diana Chapman: Well, I want you to just imagine one of the last times that you were in one. See all the people who came around you. Really, there were people there. And I want you to just let your body feel that. Feel, “Oh, yeah. There were people who came and asked questions and gave guidance and offered support and listened and just — ” Let your body go, let your breath open up and feel from the body the direct experience of support, of non-dangerous that you did have in the past, that wasn’t just intellectual. It was a direct experience of the body.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah.

Diana Chapman: It’s like, “Oh, my goodness. There was so much support. So much interconnectedness.” Breathe with that. Feel that, all the way down through the toes.

Tim Ferriss: Okay. I’ve got it.

Diana Chapman: Yeah. Nice.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah. Thank you.

Diana Chapman: Yeah. It’s a whole different ball game when you include the body.

Tim Ferriss: It’s different. Yeah.

Diana Chapman: Yeah. Yeah, because it — 

Tim Ferriss: Yeah. Yeah, the brain is — the intellectual side, it’s just like a glancing blow. I mean, it’s not — it doesn’t fully land.

Diana Chapman: Well, yeah. And you’re actually not present here to have the experience of non-dangerous, because if you’re not allowing yourself to come down into the body, you’re not fully here to access the intelligence that’s giving you a direct experience of not dangerous.

Tim Ferriss: Right. Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Diana Chapman: So you go, “Okay, great.” And then we go, “Okay, so ‘it’s not dangerous’ is at least as true.” We had two examples so far, so we’re going to go for one more. And now you might even get more clarity of how it’s not dangerous. If you’re listening to your head and your heart and your body, how is it at least as true, “going into a depressive state does not have to be dangerous?”

Tim Ferriss: Well, it doesn’t have to be. I mean, sometimes the episodes are very short. I don’t know if that’s — I mean, that’s maybe not as overarching a line item as the last two that we did.

Diana Chapman: Okay. Let’s say it’s long, because since long is the one that scares you. So let’s say it’s a long one. How is the long one not dangerous?

Tim Ferriss: I mean, this is something I’ve struggled with my whole life, so I’m not — I could use an alley-oop with maybe another.

Diana Chapman: Uh-huh (affirmative). Okay. I’m just trying it on myself, because I’ve got to go in there. I’m going to try on being depressed and go in there with you. So I can feel, I’m not hurting myself. I can feel I’m surrounded by support. Either way, it’s not dangerous. Could be — well, what I’m noticing is there’s an awareness in you that knows you’re depressed, right?

Tim Ferriss: Yeah.

Diana Chapman: Yeah. So there’s a witness who’s there watching. There’s a part that’s never in danger who’s watching the whole thing. That part’s not experiencing danger.

Tim Ferriss: Mm. Yeah, the witness. The witness is there. Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Diana Chapman: Yeah. So you could go, “Oh, when I’m in the depressive state and I’m in my witness, it’s not dangerous for that one.”

Tim Ferriss: Mm. Yeah, let me sit with that for a second.

Diana Chapman: Yeah. Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, it’s challenging for me. I’m part way there. It’s like, it’s partially landing. Since it’s also the witness who panics, it’s [crosstalk 01:05:58] — 

Diana Chapman: Well, I actually don’t think — I don’t think if you’re the witness — it can’t panic, if you’re in the witness, if you’re truly in the witness, the one who’s just a watcher without a judgment. The one who just says — I have a witness, it’s like, “Oh, check you out, Diana. You’re scaring yourself about being on The Tim Ferriss Show.” That was — I literally said that to myself this morning. “Oh, check you out.” Now, my witness is just watching, thinking I’m adorable that I’m scared and doesn’t have an opinion about it. It just watches. And it’s like, “Oh, there you are.” So wonder, if you have a relationship with that part of yourself that just can watch and observe and welcome whatever’s happening without judgment.

Tim Ferriss: There are times when I do. That is a relationship that I want to continue, and need to continue to cultivate. But I think that’s a good third, sort of third leg of the stool on that.

Diana Chapman: Yeah. So then we go, “Okay, we want you to keep “It’s dangerous.” Sure, it’s dangerous to get in depressive states. That can be true, but it’s also at least as true that it’s not dangerous, and we can see examples of how that’s at least as true. So what we’re trying to get the mind to do is to see, “Okay, we’ll give you both. And they both can be true and therefore they’re both not true. So then what?” Then we get to be with what’s underneath all the judgment. There’s just — what do you notice if you get to say they’re both true, they’re both not true? Then what do you notice when you imagine that you might go into a depressive state at some point?

Tim Ferriss: Well, if I’m able to hold both of those equally, then the likelihood of panic and anxiety about possible panic — it’s like panic about panic — is going to be less if I can hold those two things.

Diana Chapman: Yeah. I call it walking the line. It’s like a walk a line right down the center, where I’m holding both, is equally true. And I value both sides. Sure, because I think, I don’t want to be stupid. I don’t want to dismiss something and be naive. But I want to be honoring that, hey, I’m not right, meaning righteous, about this story I have over here, because if I am I’m going to cause myself some kind of reactivity. So now I just stick with, “Okay. Depressive episode may happen. And when then, ideally, if I can walk that line then all I’m going to do is learn. I’m going to be able to stay present to what’s happening and learn along the way what needs to happen.”

Tim Ferriss: Yeah. Thank you.

Diana Chapman: And then I get to start to welcome — my experience is, I have a lot more trust if I just am willing to welcome whatever’s going to happen. With a preference, I have a preference not to go to a depressive state, for sure. But if a depressive state is what happens, okay. We’ll learn.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah. There’s a — I don’t want to take us too far off track, but a friend of mine actually just showed me a book, which has been recommended a number of times. I have not read it so I can’t vouch for it, but called Feeding Your Demons. But I at least like the title and it’s on this exact subject.

Diana Chapman: Yeah, because you feed the demon every time you believe you’re right, that it’s going to be dangerous, you feed the demon. And so then you’re just going to keep amping up the anxiety. And then of course, you have that much anxiety, over time you’re going to burn out and you’re going to get depressed because the body’s going to get intelligent and go, “I can’t do that. I can’t run this anxiety all the time. Let’s get depressed and just chill out for a while.”

Tim Ferriss: Yeah. Mm. Yeah, it’s — and to connect this also for people with the process. So thank you, Diana, for taking me through that. And also these turnarounds, these rephrasings, with the objective of, or at least the step of, gathering evidence for each of these turnarounds could be applied — and please correct me if I’m wrong. If we took, let’s just say, a belief that’s causing you pain is — who knows?

Diana Chapman: I’ve got one.

Tim Ferriss: “My sister is selfish.” Right? As a simple one. So it could be “My sister is selfish.” Maybe there’s something with your parents and the sister’s not pulling the weight, and you’re pissed off. And so your belief is “My sister’s selfish.”

Diana Chapman: And I actually — 

Tim Ferriss: Could be much worse than that. Yeah, go ahead.

Diana Chapman: And I might change it to “My sister shouldn’t be selfish.”

Tim Ferriss: Oh, yeah. That’s great. That’s great. Right. So “My sister shouldn’t be selfish,” and then you could have “My sister should be selfish.” You could have, I — 

Diana Chapman: “I should be selfish.”

Tim Ferriss: “I should be selfish.”

Diana Chapman: Exactly.

Tim Ferriss: And at the very least — I mean, in my experience, when I am triggered and I’m just so dysregulated that the idea of problem solving or coming up with good strategies is just a joke, because I’m so emotionally dysregulated that doing this type of exercise, at the very least, just turns down the volume on the system reactivity, and then I can just breathe. So I found it very helpful as a pattern interrupt.

Diana Chapman: Yes. And to your point, this isn’t a good tool to use if you are really dysregulated in the moment. I would recommend first using breath and movement to relax the nervous system, to get yourself into more calm first, because if you just try to use this as your first thing you might likely use it as a weapon and just intellectualize it all. And that’ll just give you some temporary relief over and over again. So I do recommend first getting yourself — use some movement, use some breath, calm the nervous system. We say handle your blood and brain chemistry first, and then this is a good tool.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah. For me, it’s just go lift some heavy stuff. Go to the gym. Just stop.

Diana Chapman: Yeah. Well, I also, if I were working with you I’d have you say, “I shouldn’t have a depressive state. I should have a depressive state,” and I’d really go argue for why you should. And do that so that you get it in your body. Not just into your head but, “I should have a depressive state again,” because that’s the other thing I hear is, there’s a arguing with “it would be bad” or “I shouldn’t have it” or “I’m trying to avoid it” instead of, “Well, if it happens, it happens,” and “it should happen” instead of “it shouldn’t” is at least as true. But that would be a good one to go play with because I think that would also help you be more open to life happening the way it does through you.

Tim Ferriss: For sure. For sure. Thank you. I would like to, if you’re open to it, shift a little bit to relationships. And I want to ask you specifically about your partnership with Matt. So here’s one of your superpowers, as listed from Mr. Jim. “Creating and sustaining a wonderful, intimate partnership with Matt, her husband and lover, since they were teenagers. Have her talk about the risks she and they were willing to take to keep the relationship alive and vital, growing, and intimate.” If you are game to talk about that, I would be very interested to hear more.

Diana Chapman: Yeah. Well, it’s a challenge. It’s both a great gift to be with a partner since you were young and get to grow up together. There’s a lot of shared memories and shared friends, and there’s a sweetness that it started out with you get to keep. And there’s also a great challenge of the fact that we are different people who evolve and change. And so several times, at least three key times in our relationship, we’ve been willing to let it all go, and we’ve basically killed it off. Just said, “The relationship as it was is done. Now let’s just check and see, is there a relationship? What is the relationship that wants to happen moving forward? Maybe it’s just friends, co-parents. Maybe it’s lovers, staying married. What is it?” And so we have a lot of courage, both of us, to be willing to let go of what’s not working and trust that the right form of the relationship will reveal itself. And it just so happens that it continues to be us married.

And we play around often. Sometimes we’ll get up in the morning and I’ll say something like, “Hey, you want to be married today?” And he’ll say, “Oh, well, what would that mean? What kind of a husband do I need to be?” And we’ll giggle and play around with, “Well, how about this and this?” And then we choose.

And we are always choosing over and over again, and we always are willing, kind of to the point of using the work with Byron Katie of, I’m willing to open to the possibility that not being married is just as okay as being married.

And what that has created is an incredibly vital, creative, ever evolving, passionate marriage, in which we’re freed up to keep exploring new ways of being together.

And I am really proud of my relationship. I think it’s one of the greatest things I’ve ever done, is the marriage that I have. We get a lot of feedback that it’s an inspiring marriage to a lot of people who look to it. And I do think it comes with the courage to say no.

Tim Ferriss: You mentioned at least — I think you said three times that you’ve had this type of conversation. I would like to zoom in on the first conversation. Were you both already prepared and trained to initiate that type of conversation? Did one side initiate the, “Hey, let’s decide if we want to remain as is, or if we want to take one of these other forms?”

I’m just wondering for people who are listening, who have never had one of these conversations — maybe they’ve been at the breaking point, but they’ve never had this conversation.

Diana Chapman: I initiated it. It wasn’t Matt’s idea. I said, “Hey, this isn’t working for me, the way we’re in a relationship. And there’s a different kind of a man I want to be with than how you are. And I want another possibility.”

And so I didn’t know how to do all this. I was just toddling around, trying to figure this out. And I said, “I don’t want to do it this way anymore.” And so I thought that might mean that we needed to be separated and that we needed to end the marriage.

And I was willing to. We actually got some support from counselors about telling our kids that we were going to divorce. Because that’s the only direction it seemed like we were going to go.

And then I had this great advice from a friend who said, “Okay, Diana, I love you both. If you think divorce is what needs to happen, that’s great. But I hear you complaining that there’s a certain man you want him to be that he’s not.” And she said, “Who is the woman you would need to be to call forward that man?”

And my stomach dropped, and I though “I don’t know about that. What?” And I realized, “Oh, I would need to be a different woman.” So we said, “Let’s kill off this old marriage and let’s see if we can create a new one. And I’m going to keep asking myself, who do I need to be to call forward the man I want to be with?”

And about six months later, I was with the man I wanted to be with. And I remember saying to him, “You really changed.” And he said, “No, you really changed.” And the truth is we both really changed.

But I was really grateful for that first conversation of being willing to let it go, and then getting the feedback of, “Hey, if you’re the creator of who’s showing up over there, who do you need to be?”

And for many months I felt like I was going to throw up 24/7, learning to be a much more vulnerable, needy woman, who called forward the man who could protect and lead, in a way that I hadn’t been willing to be in the past.

Tim Ferriss: Thank you for sharing all this, by the way. Very courageous and vulnerable. And how did you figure out who you needed to be? Who that woman was, to call forth the version of your husband or the man who you wanted to be with?

Did you have help? Was it obvious once you sat with it, in terms of the changes that needed to be made on your side or the things you needed to cultivate or drop? How did you arrive at the answers?

Diana Chapman: At first I didn’t know. I just knew I was really scared when I asked the question. And so I knew that my fear — I believe that fear, when we’re present, is an intelligence that says, “Something needs to get learned. Something needs to get learned.”

So when I had that fear, I thought, “Oh, wow, something needs to get learned. I don’t know something here.” And so that was my first clue that her question was powerful, is the fear that arose in me. And then I just kept asking the fear, “What needs to be learned?”

I just kept being really broad in that curiosity. I got into a state of wonder. “I wonder who I would need to be to call forward the man I most want to be with.” I just kept asking that. “I wonder.”

And I let it be okay that I didn’t have to know, because I didn’t know. I’d been with him for a long time and I didn’t know. So I had to be willing to listen and learn from something greater than my own experience so far.

And so it was in that level of curiosity that I just found my way. And it was just baby steps. A little bit here, a little bit there, and we’ve had several versions of that often. Or not often, but the three versions were all some version of me — something needs to get learned for the next evolution here of this relationship.

Tim Ferriss: Do you have recommended resources or practices that couples can seek out or embrace so that they are better prepared, if they get to these decision points? Or just overall in with respect to nurturing a healthy co-created relationship? Are there any books, any particular practices that you would highlight for folks?

Diana Chapman: Well, Matt and I studied with Gay and Katie Hendricks for years at the Hendricks Institute. They did a lot of relationship work. They still do a bit of it. But I learned so many tools there on how to get off the Drama Triangle.

I learned about personas and about how I get caught in these personas that then unconsciously require the persona of my partner to show up in a certain way, that then I complain about. And I learned about how to unwind those or shift them when I wanted to.

I learned about the importance of feeling my feelings. I learned about really questioning my stories. I learned about polarity and how important it is to honor polarity that shows up in couples, and making sure that I honored both sides of the polarity equally.

For example, a lot of couples argue about money. And almost always there’s one that we call the gas and one who’s the brake, and somebody who’s more free-flowing with money, and somebody who’s more controlling about money. And can we honor these polarities and can we see the value in both of them?

Because usually I was the one who wanted to spend the money and my husband wanted to hold onto the money. And we would get into a battle about, “You’re keeping me from having joy in my life because you’re so stingy about money.” And he’d say, “You’re going to make us all broke because you’re just so unconscious about spending it.”

And so honoring that those two sides of the polarity are actually allies that are here to create just the right balance to take care of ourselves and have fun. And so those are all different skill sets. There’s so many different tools.

And I would say that our book, The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership, we wrote it for leaders, but really it could be a perfect guide book for couples if you just apply a couple examples in there, because that’s what really created the beautiful relationship that I have, are those commitments. And those all have tools and skills that are associated with them.

Tim Ferriss: Could you give us a few examples of some of these commitments? And of course I would recommend people read the book. I think it’s very valuable. But can you give us a handful of examples of what these commitments are? What some of them are?

Diana Chapman: Yeah. We got a lot of these from Gay and Katie Hendricks. They wrote the first two commitments word for word. And the first two commitments — the first one is all around, “I commit to take radical responsibility for the results in my life.” And that’s a cornerstone commitment.

And that looks like, some guy who I was coaching the other day called me up and said, “My CEO is not giving me the feedback I need to grow as a leader.” And so I had him teach me the class, “How do you create the CEO not giving you the feedback you want?”

He’s like, “What? I’m not creating that. I’m not the effect of it. He’s not giving it to me.” I said, “Teach me the class.” So he actually thought for a moment and said, “Well, value the CEO’s time more than your time. Don’t reschedule when the CEO breaks your one-on-one meetings. Don’t ask directly for the feedback you want.”

And he started to giggle and realized, “Oh, I’m the creator of not getting the feedback I want.” That’s radical responsibility. So often we say, the thing you’re complaining about is often the thing you’re committed to creating. And if you could own that, that’s radical.

And then the second commitment is all around letting go of wanting to be right. And what we mean by that is the defending yourself righteously that keeps you from learning and growing. Those are the two cornerstone commitments, one and two.

And I think we even say in the book, “You could stop right here and just practice these for the rest of your life.” But then there’s the commitment to really feel feelings.

And specifically what I noticed — and we talked about this, you and I, a little bit, when you were thinking about writing this “No” book — was how much we’re trying to control each other feeling feelings.

So I don’t want to say no because I don’t want you to have a feeling over there. And I really think I’m right, and you shouldn’t have them. And I don’t want you to have a feeling because then maybe I’ll have a feeling.

And I see how much of our drama in the workplace and at home is coming from suppressing feelings in ourselves and each other. Candor’s a commitment, to be able to say what’s going on rather than conceal it, which then causes me to have to start to withdraw.

And ending gossip is another commitment. Really being impeccable around agreements. So that I do what I say I’m going to do. That’s another commitment. Those first six, really, that’s what we focus a lot in the business world. When we come and work with teams, we have them work on those six commitments to help secure the identity and relax drama.

And then once that’s done, then we have things like, let’s look at appreciation, the commitment to appreciate, the commitment to play and rest, the commitment to live in our zones of genius.

And then the commitments get even deeper into being the source of approval, control, and security, rather than trying to source it outside of yourself, which is probably one of the most difficult commitments of all.

And also the commitment of experiencing that you already have enough, which most people also struggle with, especially, at least in the business world. I rarely ever come across anybody who has enough time.

And then they go on from there to being able to create a win-for-all solution, which one of my great joys, to work with a team where there’s a lot of different needs, and it seems like they can’t come up with a solution where they all win, and helping them do that.

And finally, “Be the resolution to that which you see missing in the world.” So if they’re not listening, be a better listener. If they’re not taking care of things, take care of things.

Tim Ferriss: Do you still use or recommend people use Mind Jogger? I read that at least for a period of time, you used an app — I believe it was Mind Jogger — that would ask you multiple times a day, “Diana, in this now moment, are you above the line or below the line?”

Diana Chapman: I still use it.

Tim Ferriss: You do. All right.

Diana Chapman: I still use it. I use it every day. And I ask that basic question. “Where are you? Are you above the line, meaning are you in a state of trust, or are you below the line, in a state of threat?” So I ask that. I have it seven times randomly per day. It pops on my screen. And I pause, and look and check.

For me, it’s like lifting weights every day. So that’s one. And then I use other questions that I rotate around. Like one I’m really liking right now, “Is this exquisite? Diana is this moment exquisite?” And then it gives me a pause to think about, how could this be more exquisite?

Tim Ferriss: What does that mean to you?

Diana Chapman: Exquisite is whole-body yes, to me. Is this a whole-body yes? Is this, “Yes, I’m in my zone, I feel fully alive, I’m doing what I most want to be doing, I’m on purpose?”

Tim Ferriss: What other prompts do you have? Are there any others come to mind?

Diana Chapman: Oh, yeah. I mean, I have a question for each of the commitments, so I rotate them around, like, “What are you feeling right now?” So if I need to keep checking in with my feeling states.

Another one would be, “What do you appreciate about somebody around you right now?” And then I’ll use that as an opportunity to speak that out loud, because I’m really a big fan of lots and lots of appreciation.

Another one would be, “Do I have enough time right now?” I use that one. “Are you experiencing enough time right now?” As a way to pause and go, “Oh, good. I’m so glad I asked myself that question, because I can feel I’m in a scarcity of time. And let me stop and pause and get back into the present moment, where there’s always enough.”

Tim Ferriss: If you could email those questions/prompts that you have for each commitment — I just downloaded Mind Jogger this morning — I would love to start playing with those if you’re open to it.

Diana Chapman: Oh, yeah. Absolutely.

Tim Ferriss: Maybe we could put them in the show notes as well. And that way people can find them for themselves. I have to say, I really think you are a master of prompts and questions. And we don’t have to go through it at length. I was actually going to read every single bullet. I’m not going to do that because it’ll take a bit of time.

But you have a piece on LinkedIn. It’s an article called How to Assess Self-Awareness in a Hiring Interview. Now, people might hear that and say, “Why the Hell are you bringing that up? It sounds so niche. It sounds so specific. It’s only going to apply to three percent of your listenership.”

But it’s a great example of questions and prompts for uncommon insight. I really just was very impressed with the questions. I’ll give just a few examples.

Describe a time when you were tempted to blame someone else for something, but instead resolved it by owning part of the issue. What percentage of agreements do you currently keep with the people you live and work with? What causes you to break agreements the most? How do you approach broken agreements?

I mean, these are outstanding questions, not just, by the way, for hiring people, but I found these questions and prompts to be outstanding. So I will also link to those in the show notes, and people will be able to find that article.

Diana Chapman: Well, my clients were asking me, “Hey, how do we interview if we want people to come and be in a part of a culture that doesn’t have as much drama? What should we be asking that would make sure that we knew they were a good fit for the culture we’re creating here?

And so that was what caused me to put those questions together. And I use them myself. We just did a couple of big hires at the Conscious Leadership Group, and we almost exclusively focused on self-awareness and people’s ability to have candor, take responsibility, keep their agreements, as one of the primary things we were looking at.

Because they were already very successful candidates, so we knew they’d had a great pedigree already. So we wanted to make sure they were a good culture fit, because we’re really committed to no, or very little drama in our workplace.

Tim Ferriss: Diana, we could go for hours and hours and hours. We might just have to do a round two sometime. I’d love to — because I’m curious, quite frankly — to know what books outside of The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership have you gifted the most to other people? Or gifted a lot. Doesn’t have to be the most, but what books have you gifted a fair amount to people?

Diana Chapman: The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks is probably the book I’ve gifted the most, and the one I’ve recommended the most of any other book. And also, Conscious Loving for Couples, because you asked that question earlier. Conscious Loving, I think, is a fantastic book for couples who are wanting to get more connected, is another one I’ve gifted a lot. And those are the two that come top of mind.

Tim Ferriss: The two primaries. For people who just want a preview, what is The Big Leap about, or what is it for?

Diana Chapman: The Big Leap is all about learning to live in your zone of genius, which I think is just the most fun thing. And to take a look at, what are the things that keep us from living in our zone of genius?

And so I tell every leader I coach to get it, and 100 percent of them have said it was a valuable read. And Gay’s just come up with a follow-up book on the zone of genius — it just came out last month — that I imagine will be another book I’ll be recommending and gifting.

Because I find that inside of all of us is some creativity that, when we are in that place, time and space go away. It’s so fun and makes life so worth living. And I really am excited about supporting people and living as much as possible in that zone of genius.

Tim Ferriss: Well, I think you did a damn fine job of it. It’s been fun to get to know you. It’s been fun to also get to know you in this chat a bit more. And doing homework. It’s always fun to do research on friends, which would otherwise be super creepy and like Google stalking. But I have a pretext and excuse, which is doing interviews.

And people can find the Conscious Leadership Group at conscious.is, and certainly all of the social and so on can be found from that jumping off point. You also have a lot of PDFs and resources for people on the website.

So I encourage people to check out their website. We’ll link to that. We’ll link to prompts. We’ll link to everything that we discussed in the show notes at tim.blog/podcast.

Diana, is there anything else that you would like to say or ask? Any request of the audience? Anything at all that you’d like to add before we come to a close?

Diana Chapman: That’s a great question. Let me see. I want to sit with that because I think that’s — I think I feel pretty heartbroken these days about the drama that is happening amongst us.

And I’m actually grateful for the heartbreak because it’s helping me connect more with love. And one of the things I’m doing is facing. I’m really facing the cost of the drama that we’re having.

And so I think one of the things I most hope people will do is have the courage to face the cost of the drama that we are creating in our workplaces, that has people so overwhelmed at work, the cost politically, environmentally, and that they’re willing to face it, let their hearts break wide open. And then from that place, get curious and excited about, what else could we create together? What else is possible?

Because that really excites me. And I don’t want to argue with the way the world is. It’s just fine the way it is. And I have a preference for a lot more play, and creativity, and togetherness, and curiosity that I find when we drop the drama.

Tim Ferriss: That is an excellent place to close. And what an enjoyable, and I think very helpful for me, conversation. So thank you very much, Diana, for making the time and being so present. Thank you.

Diana Chapman: And my great pleasure. I’m so grateful for all the ways you go out into the world and bring forward things that help people live more connected and valuable lives.

And it is one of the things that I believe your depression has been a great gift, is I don’t know that you would have done this if you hadn’t have had the depressions that you had, and needed to find the tools that you needed.

So I’m grateful for your depression and for your own unique journey that has now enhanced so many of ours. So thank you so much.

Tim Ferriss: Oh, thank you so much, Diana. I really appreciate it. Thank you. And for everybody listening, stay strong, get curious, check out the show notes at tim.blog/podcast. And until next time, thank you for tuning in.

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 700 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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2 Replies to “The Tim Ferriss Show Transcripts: Diana Chapman — How to Get Unstuck, Do “The Work,” Take Radical Responsibility, and Reduce Drama in Your Life (#536)”

  1. Very therapeutic and so simple to understand but that only gets in the head. Her ‘exercise’ with you made it quite powerful to understand that the head is only the start and it requires a full body sensory experience for the greatest and most important impact. Thank you.

  2. When I think of Play – How to Remember What Play is? The first step: go pre sexual energy. I was sexually abused as a child but still learned to Play both in Life and in Sex. The first step for me when I need to remember Play is to free stream everything I loved at a certain age/grade. And to be in that mind/body when I go there. Here is an example from when I was 10: Everything I loved in 4th Grade: I loved science. I loved rocks and lichens and mosses. I loved butterflies. I loved collecting dead butterflies and pinning them to cardboard sheets and labeling them. I loved rare flowers in the wild. I loved math. I loved the times-table. I loved the order of the times table. I loved looking at the 5’s. I loved the table of 5’s because it had a rhyme and rhythm to it. I loved singing the 5’s. And then the 10’s. I loved maps. I specifically loved legends. I loved large legends. I loved reading the legends first and looking at the the visual examples before knowing what was going to be on the map. I loved the idea of distance in an inch. I loved the little visual representations of what was to come. I loved learning new vocabulary words, especially in geography. I remember leaning the word isthmus and peninsula. I loved seeing them on a map 🙂 I loved Jacques Cousteau. I loved the ocean. I loved collecting rocks in my back yard and pretending I was on the ocean bottom. I loved swimming all over my back yard playing that I was Jacques Cousteau, exploring the ocean. I especially loved flipping over backwards from my deck as they did into the ocean. I loved all the sea creatures I created from my rocks. I loved running in the tall fields of grass. I loved falling into the grasses with friends and laughing and looking up and not being seen, and then 1-2-3 someone would yell, GO! then running running running again and falling and not being seen. I loved looking up from the damp ground hidden by all the grass. I loved art. I was told I was not an artist. I loved art. I loved crafts. I loved candle making. I loved decoupage. I loved burning things. I loved burning wood. I loved the smell of burning wood. I loved building things. I loved taking scrap wood and nailing randomly into it with anything that was scrap in the garage. I loved hooking up string and making pulleys in the garage and even from my closet in my bedroom. I was always creating pulleys out of my hangers and string. I loved taking markers and randomly making marks all over the scraps of wood and nails that I had built. I loved thinking they were machines. I loved taking things apart. I loved taking apart my radio and seeing all the wires. I loved wire. I loved collecting colored telephone wire and twisting it into things I could put on my machines. I loved to bake. I liked to make up my own recipes from standard that my mom had taught me. She let me use all her ingredients and her oven. I loved mixing things exactly and then randomly changing them. I loved the picture dictionary that sat at our breakfast table. I didn’t like breakfast. I didn’t like words or definitions, I loved the pictures. I loved that they were alphabetical and imagined what images I would use instead. I loved the 15 number square puzzle. I wanted more numbers. I loved the library catalog. I liked finding the books from the numbers. I didn’t like reading the books. I like the challenge of finding the books. I also loved the drawers that held the cards. Title. Subject. Author. They were oak. I loved how tall they were and how long the drawers were, I loved pulling the long drawers out because I couldn’t always hold it and they might tip over. I loved the stamp that the librarian used to stamp out your book. The little date that said when you got to come back to the library. Yeah. That’s where I start when I need to Remember What Play is.