This is a transcript of Live the 8Wise™ Way Podcast.
Break Free from your Comfort Zone
Welcome everybody to episode five of Live the 8Wise™ Way. Helping you to boost your mental health and wellbeing so you can live a life that you have a healthier, happier mind, a more authentic life, a better quality of life, and you develop the tools and techniques for both recovery and prevention so that you do not become either one of the four who will develop mental health issues in a given year, or you are less at risk when you are part of the three in four of people who could potentially develop mental health issues as well.
My name is Kim Rutherford. I am a psychotherapist and author, I am now a podcast host, and I am also the person who developed the 8Wise™ methodology for better mental health and wellbeing. If you want to read about what we are covering in much more detail, and if you haven’t done it already, then you can get access to my book, which is called 8Wise™ Ways to a Healthier, Happier Mind and it’s been called the mental health manual of the modern world so I’m very proud of that and it really talks through the model in a lot more detail. It really is like having a psychotherapist in your pocket, helping you to resolve some of the challenges you might be having and putting in place some really good tools and techniques to help you moving forward. You can access that book along with the 12-week journal, the 12-month planner, the pocketbook as well, you can access all of those anywhere that sell books online, as well as my own website which is www.8wise.co.uk and on my website, you will also find there are some free downloads. So there are activities in the book to help you move forward with your life using the methodology I’m talking about, but if you are like me, you don’t really like to taint your books, then the worksheets are also available in word format for free for you to download from my website as well, plus there are lots of blogs there to help you out, and lots more interesting things as well with regards to what I do, the services I offer and all of that kind of stuff.
So you can now get all of that from the website and, if you haven’t pressed the button already, subscribe today and that way you will get told every single time a new episode is released and uploaded so you can keep up to date with all of the different tools and techniques from the 8Wise™ model as they are happening. If you’ve been doing that already, and you want a little bit more information and you want some help with regards to implementing a really good 8Wise™ action plan for yourself, then if you follow me on the socials, which is basically @8Wise, @8WiseKim or @8WiseTherapy, if you follow any of those on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, all the usual crowd, then you will be able to get into your inbox every single day a top tip with regards to each of these eight elements so you really can start to develop your strategy for looking after your mental health and wellbeing longer term by what I call Living the 8Wise™ Way.
In the last episode, we talked about the first element of the internal dimension and we talked about spiritual wellness and the importance of developing your spiritual wellness so that you know who you are, you know what you want, you know why you want it, you know how you’re going to get it and you basically create the identity and the purpose and the self-esteem in yourself that just makes you feel like yourself, that builds that self-esteem, that builds that self-acceptance, and you can live your life truly as your most authentic self.
Today, we move to the second element of the internal dimension and the second element is… drum roll please… intellectual wellness. Now, in episode one, I casually talked about intellectual wellness from the perspective of, if you are someone who’s interested in understanding the meaning of life and the meaning of your life, these are two questions that I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about for myself and I came up with my own conclusion, my own belief system and I said in episode one that, for me, there are two core points to the meaning of life. The meaning of life for me was survival on an individual basis and evolution and survival of the human race. I explained that my reasoning for this and my thinking of this is because we have this inbuilt survival system. We know it as the fear fight or flight mode. It’s why we feel stress, it’s why we feel anxiety, it’s why we feel all of those complex and annoying signs and symptoms that come along with it. Because we have this system inside of us that gets us ready to be able to remove ourselves or to fight off any danger we might be in, in order to survive as a single being, to survive as a human being but we also have this part of our brain that allows us to remember things, to hold onto memories, to learn, to grow, to stay stimulated, to share information and that is so that we can learn. We can grow and we can pass that information on to the next generation and the next generation and it’s this learning process and this sharing of knowledge process that allows our human race, the human species, to continue to evolve and it’s that process that really does keep us at the top of, if you look at it from an intelligence perspective, the intelligence tree when it comes to the animal kingdom.
So, from that perspective, if we know we’ve got this part of us, and it’s really important to the survival of the human race, it’s really important that we keep it functioning effectively and that is what intellectual wellness is ultimately all about. It is definitely one of the elements when people see it, the first time they go ‘what on earth does that mean, what could that possibly mean’. But intellectual wellness is ultimately brain stimulation, making sure that your brain keeps as stimulated as it possibly can so as an intellectual species, you can keep developing, you can keep growing, you can keep learning and you can pass on that wonderful knowledge and information to whoever you choose so that we, as a species, can continue to evolve.
The way it starts is, we are always needing, as a human, mental stimulation and the way that I’m going to explain this to you is if you ever experience boredom, what you might experience is when you become bored, you become lethargic. When you become lethargic, it starts to affect your mood and if you start to have a low mood because you feel lethargic because you’re bored, then that low mood can stay for a long time, that low mood can lead to depression.
So an example of this is Covid. One of the biggest things that came out of Covid was we know that mental health has deteriorated dramatically for a lot of people from Covid for lots of different things, but one of the things is that lockdown genuinely brought a lot of, or took away, a lot of brain stimulation. It took a lot of mental stimulation away from people. A lot of people got their mental stimulation from work, a lot of people got their mental stimulation from going outdoors and doing lots of different things and suddenly we weren’t able to do that and then before you knew it, the natural pace of life that we were living started to deteriorate. Our boredom started to come in. So we started to feel slower, a bit more sluggish. We saw low mood. We’ve seen lots of people experience mental health issues and depression through Covid and through some of these things and then, when the world reopened again, we found that it’s actually really hard to turn that around, to suddenly become interested in things again, to pick up our pace of life, to start moving forward and to want to carry on moving forward. It’s very difficult and it’s a very good example of how our intellectual wellness can really affect us.
Mental stimulation is really important for our brain health as well and if you look at any of the information out there with regards to Alzheimer’s and dementia, you will see there’s an awful lot around how to keep your brain stimulated in order to keep your brain as healthy as it possibly can be for as long as it possibly can be.
It’s a little bit similar to how we were talking earlier in, I think it was episode three, with regards to physical wellness and we’re talking about exercise, not just about pumping muscles and looking great, it’s also about being able to make sure you stay flexible and mobile, because that’s what helps you out and keeps you healthy for longer into old age and brain health is the same sort of thing. That’s why there’s so many apps out there that are focused on triggering the brain in certain ways to keep the brain healthy, to keep the brain stimulated so you can keep some of those brain conditions at bay for as long as you possibly can.
So this is what intellectual wellness is all about and one of the big elements of intellectual wellness is our comfort zone. Now, personally, I see the comfort zone as a prison that we create for ourselves and force ourselves to live in. Our comfort zones are called a comfort zone because they provide us with an element of comfort, but what they really do is give us a false sense of security. As a human, as a human species, they prevent us from evolving, they prevent us from learning, they prevent us from developing and so we become bored and we become bored because we don’t get the stimulation that we need and we’re not moving forward and we’re not living our lives from using that inbuilt system that we’ve got with regards to one of these core purposes, one of these core meanings, which is evolution.
So our comfort zones actually stop us from doing what we are here to do, which is to learn and to evolve and so as part of intellectual wellness, it’s really important to reflect on your life and reflect where you are in your life and acknowledge are you someone who’s constantly challenging yourself or are you stuck in your ways, are you living your life in your comfort zone and are you scared of leaving it.
Now when it comes to feeling things like anxiety, anxiety is about fearing things in the future, and it links very closely to our comfort zones. A lot of the time we stay in our comfort zones because we are scared of what might happen if we step outside of them. So we choose to stay inside of them and if you have ever seen the diagram of a comfort zone, I always think it looks a bit like a meteorite, as in a meteorite that’s moving, because you have all of these different levels to these different circles.
First of all, you have the comfort zone in circle number one and this is where, as I said, we develop our comfort zone because in a period of our life that living that way really helped us and we needed to live that way and in our hippocampus part of the brain, we hold onto those memories and we hold onto those emotions and they make us feel good. So then we go, okay, well to feel good I need to just keep doing this type of thing. So that’s where our comfort zones come from. Another reason we stay out of them is because the circle outside of the comfort zone is the fear zone, otherwise known as the unknown, the part of life that we just don’t know what’s going to happen. Because we’ve been doing things the same way for so long within our comfort zone, we know what’s going to happen day in, day out. It’s like people who choose to have the same meals every single day every week, so on Monday they have the same meal, every Tuesday they have the same, every Wednesday they have the same meal. They’re probably absolutely lovely meals, but it’s what happens if they try something new and they don’t like it, and then they would’ve missed what they’ve had. So ultimately, they stay having the same thing, but all of the things that they’re missing out on, those amazing foods and flavours that they are missing out on, because they stay eating the same things all the time.
It’s that fear zone, that fear zone that lives directly outside of our comfort zone, that stops us from moving forward and therefore it stops us from becoming stimulated and having that healthy brain that we need to have in order to continue to evolve and so sometimes when it comes to intellectual wellness, we have to be brave. We have to dig deep. We have to be courageous, and we have to face the fear and do it anyway, because what is on the other side of that fear zone is so much better. We’ve got our development spaces and we’ve got our growth spaces. These zones that really, really push us to our boundaries, where we really get to know who we are, when we are really able to fulfil our potential, which we can’t do when we are stuck in our comfort zones.
So if you are someone who is struggling with your mental health right now, or you know your wellbeing isn’t where it needs to be, ask yourself an honest question and answer it honestly. Are you set in your ways, are you stuck in your comfort zone and is it stopping you from fulfilling your life and fulfilling your potential, have you created a prison that has now trapped you living a way that you don’t want to live anymore but are a little bit scared and don’t really know what to do to get out of it. Because if the answer is yes to all of that, then you know where your starting block is with regards to developing great intellectual wellness, you need to combat your comfort zone. The way that you can do that is you have to start looking at how can I grow, how can I develop, how can I learn more things, how can I be more stimulated, how can I challenge myself. Sometimes we don’t do this for reasons of we don’t think we’re smart enough, we don’t think we’re clever enough, we don’t think we can do it. A lot of it links back into those self-esteem issues we talked about in spiritual wellness. Sometimes it links back to that inner dialogue and that anxiety that we talked about in our emotional wellness, sometimes it links back to our confidence in our ability to do things and sometimes that links back to our physical wellness as well.
A lot of challenges we want to place upon ourselves are physical challenges and sometimes we just don’t do them because we don’t think we can, or our history tells us we haven’t done them before so we can’t do them now. Of course, this is wrong, because the dialogue inside of our heads is completely ours. We can change it whenever we choose to, it takes some work, it takes some time, it takes some effort, but it can be done, and we do feel better when that happens.
So where sometimes our intellectual wellness can let us down, and it’s from society’s perspective more than anything, because our education system works on a very specific way, it means that the school system tells people they’re intelligent if they behave or their brain works in a very certain way. But as times gone by, there’s so many different bits of research now with regards to intelligence and intelligence types, and the fact that we all learn a different way, it’s really hard to be in this world when the school system has told you that there is only one type of intelligence, yet you see people who have thrived outside of the school system, because they’ve been able to navigate the world in a way that works for their brain and the way that their healthy brain functions, the way that they learn, the way they navigate the world.
One of the many theories is the concept of us having multiple intelligence types and that every single one of us has an intelligence type or has an intelligence preference type and that the school system alone doesn’t necessarily function on all of these. It only functions on one or a vague relationship with any of them. So we don’t really ever think of ourselves as intelligence. Sometimes we just think of ourselves, if my grades weren’t great, then I might not be that smart so I won’t go after that job because I’m never going to be clever enough, I’m not going to go and learn that hobby because I’m never going to be clever enough. When the truth of it is actually, we are pack animals and the way pack animals work is that everybody’s got a slightly different skill set and in our cases as the human species, everybody’s got a slightly different intelligence set.
In the book, I talk about intellectual wellness and intelligence types to help people to understand how they might function and again, it’s a bit of self-reflection with regards to what your intelligence type preference might be. When you know what your intelligence preference type might be, then you start to implement challenges that are linked to that. So you suddenly start to have confidence in the challenges that you’re going to face, and you start stretching your comfort.
One of the intelligence types is linguistics, language. I use somebody who finds languages come easy. Languages don’t come easy to me whatsoever. I remember a few words of French, I remember a few words of German, but ultimately, the English language is my language and sometimes I feel really guilty about that because I think I’d love to learn lots of other languages, but it doesn’t come very naturally to me where other people could pick up languages really easily and really understand the English language with so much detail and that’s because they have a linguistic intelligence type. Are you a linguistic, that’s the question you want to ask yourself.
Now another intelligence type, and this is my husband and it causes us many, many arguments at home because he thinks in a logical mathematical way, he’s logical and mathematical in everything he does. If you think about those great minds, these logical mathematical people, they can look at numbers and they can just see the formula and everything makes sense to them. For me numbers and maths are completely a foreign language. It’s just that part of linguistics again, it’s a foreign language to me. So I am so respectful to anybody who can speak in that logical mathematical way and especially in a business format because they help me with my business so much. So, do you know people who are logical, mathematical people, are you one of those people, is that your intellectual type?.
Then we’ve got the spatial people, spatial awareness people, people who can see space, understand space. We’re talking about the builders and the designers and the people who can really get creative in spaces. I’m not that person, that’s why I hate driving because I have zero spatial awareness of what’s going on around me. But are you that person who just sees spaces and knows what to do with it, know how to navigate it. My hat goes off to you if you are that spatial intelligence.
Then you’ve got your bodily kinesthetics, the people who know what to do with their body. This is our sports people everybody, those people who just know how to kick a ball a certain way, and it moves something, those wonderful gymnasts who know how to bend in a certain way, and it will do something with their body. Those people who are so kinaesthetic, their action focus, hands on focus, their ability to physically function at a great level. I’d love to have that one, I would really love to have that one. So again, the bodily kinesthetics, our sports people, our people who are very active because they know how to get the best out of the movement of their body. Is that you, are you a bodily kinaesthetic, intellectual type.
Then we have our musical people, those people who think in song, who think in melody, who can pick up a tune really easily. There’s the Elton Johns of the world who can write music really quickly, who can see the world in music, a beautiful place to be. They are our musical intellectual types.
Then we have our interpersonal people, the people who just understand other people really well and this is possibly where I guess my skillset lies, where my intelligent type is, and I probably link between this one and the next one down the list but interpersonal intelligence types are the people-people, the people who understand the function of another person, they can understand a person, they can read a person, they can interact with another person.
On the other side of that, you are intrapersonal. The people who really understand themselves are an intelligent with regards to their own authentic being and constantly self-developing from that perspective. So are you an interpersonal or are you an intrapersonal intelligent type.
Then we’ve got our naturalists. Our people who just connect with nature, who are down with nature, who understand the names of every single plant, who understand the animals, who completely feel at home with nature, our naturalists and that’s my lovely mother-in-law, she’s definitely a naturalist. We always get our advice and guidance for our garden and everything else from her because she just knows everything naturally.
Knowing your intelligence types and, as I said, there are so many different theories on this now, but this for me has always been quite a simple theory for self-reflection, is really looking at yourself and going okay, where is my intelligence type, maybe I wasn’t academic in school and is that okay, yes is the answer. How do I navigate this world, how do I learn, how do I like learning, what do I find comes easy to me, when I look at my skills, what are they saying to me and how could I use them to push my boundaries, to push out of my comfort zone, to learn so much more that helps to keep my brain stimulated, keeps me away from being bored and helps me to be more intellectually well.
So again, I work with an awful lot of people with low self-esteem who are at these crossroads in their lives and a lot of people come into me thinking I’m not good enough because I’m not smart enough. I’m not good enough because I’m not clever enough and it’s just rubbish, BS is what it is people, it’s BS. There is no one size fits all when it comes to intelligence, that concept is manmade so that they could create an education system that was based on measurement and points. That is all it’s about. There are many, many people who didn’t get great grades at school who’ve gone on to achieve amazing things because they’ve truly followed their path. They’ve truly followed their intelligence type. They’ve pushed out of their comfort zones. They faced their fear zones. They developed the highest level they can develop and they’ve achieved amazing and great things from it and there’s no reason why you and I can’t be exactly the same.
So when it comes to your mental health and wellbeing, sometimes you’ve got to look at it as am I struggling right now because I’m holding myself back, are these thoughts that I have about my intelligence and my abilities, are they holding me back, am I really looking after my mental health and my brain health in the way that I should be.
So when it comes to brain health, again, it is about constantly keeping your brain stimulated by learning new things and you can do this by reading every day, just reading a few pages every day of something that keeps you interested and stimulates you, keeps your brain functioning and we need to do that. We have these neurotransmitters in our brain that are basically developed as we live life and if we become bored and our brain isn’t stimulated, we don’t develop as many of them. Those neurotransmitters are how our brain communicates different parts of the brain, how our body functions. So ultimately, if we don’t develop as many neurotransmitters as we need to have everything working at its best, of course, we’re going to have our mental health and our physical health affected. We need to keep brain healthy, we need to keep stimulated, we need to keep mentally stimulated. We need to be pushing out of our comfort zones and developing and growing as much as we can in order to keep that brain health functioning through these neurotransmitters that communicate all different parts of the brain, because the more bored we get, they die and we don’t reproduce them, which means that we are never going to function as well as we can, which means we can’t fulfil our potential and if we can’t fulfil our potential, we don’t have a purpose. If we don’t have that purpose, it starts to affect everything.
Now you can start to see how each of these elements become interlinked with each other. We started with emotional wellness and physical wellness, healthy body healthy mind. When you had that foundation, you were then able to look internally to who am I, what do I want, what do I need, what life do I want to live, what do I believe in. Who am I, where is my self-esteem and my self-belief. Now we’re looking at, when I know all of those things how do I stay interested in life, how do I stay stimulated in life, how do I live a life that’s pushing me, pushing my boundaries, helping me to become the best version as I possibly can be, the most intelligent version of myself that I possibly can be so I can live a really great quality of life and live a longer, healthier life at the same time. Healthier, happier mind and a lot of that comes from intellectual wellness.
So if you have done your evaluation on intellectual wellness and you’ve identified that you are quite low in this level, then I would certainly start looking at your life from the perspective of, have you trapped yourself, have you caged yourself in, are you living in your comfort zone, is it stopping you from being happy, is it stopping you from experiencing joy, is it stopping you from developing further. Personal development is crucial, personal growth is crucial and that is continuous so have a look at some books that you might be interested in. I know a really great one, it’s called 8Wise™ Ways to a Healthier, Happier Mind, I dare you to give it a try. That’s a really good one. There are a million other ones out there. Podcasts are great, listen to podcast about topics you are not interested in and see if it stimulates you. See if you could suddenly learn about new topics you didn’t even know existed so that you can actually start to learn and become really happy within yourself, learning and growing in this way.
As I said right in the beginning of this episode, ultimately our intellectual wellness is crucial for the development and the survival of the human species. It links directly to our inbuilt system for evolution, which my belief is based on the psychology of the mind and how it works and what it does, is a core part of why we’re really here. What is the human race all about, survival on a one-to-one level, and then an evolution on a species level and intellectual wellness is absolutely crucial.
Definitely focus on your comfort zone, learn to stimulate yourself, do lots of things, reading, writing, podcasts, documentaries, going to talks, going to classes, learning new things. Whatever it is that’s going to stimulate you mentally, is going to prevent you from becoming bored, is going to prevent that lethargy that can lead to low mood, and it’s going to keep your brain really, really healthy.
That is how you Live the 8Wise™ Ways for better mental health and wellbeing using the intellectual wellness elements of the 8Wise™ model.
So I hope you’ve found that useful. I hope you know now what you’re going to do. If you want more information about intellectual wellness in the book, if you are following the podcast with the book, then head to pages 137 and 251 for more information and some of the tools and, as always, if you head to the website www.8wise.co.uk you can access the free downloads that will help you to move yourself forward with regards to intellectual wellness.
So thank you so much. If this is your first episode with me, thanks for joining. It’s nice to have you. Why not go back and check out the other episodes that take you through the other elements of the model and why not just hit that big subscribe button there and that way you will never have to miss out on when an episode comes live for you, and you’ll know what to do to prep for it with regards to which pages to look at and what activities you want to do.
Again, if you want to follow along with this, go to my website or go to any online book retailer, and you can access the book, the journal, the 12-month planner, and also the pocketbook. So many books, it’s hard to remember them all. Again, if you want some daily tips, if you’ve already developed your plan and you know that you need to start improving, whether it be emotional wellness, your physical wellness, your spiritual wellness or now your intellectual wellness, then you can subscribe to my newsletter via the website and you can also look at all the socials that are @8Wise, @8WiseKim or @8WiseTherapy (Instagram, Facebook). There are daily tips linked to each of the eight core elements of the model to help you develop better mental health and wellbeing, a healthier, happier mind, and ultimately a better quality of life way into the future and a long and healthy life I hope too.
So, thank you for listening. Next episode, we are going to start talking about the external dimension so we are going outside. So far you’ve got your foundation in place, healthy body, healthy mind, you’ve gone internal, you know who you are, you know what you want, you know what keeps you interested in life. You put all of those into place and you will start to develop really strong mental health and you might also start to identify where some of the way that you’re living your life or some of the experiences that you’ve had in life, how they’re triggering these specific elements of your wellness spectrum, how they might be increasing your stress and that might be why you are feeling that your mental health is dipping right now.
Thank you for joining me. I look forward to chatting with you again in our next episode. Thank you very much. Take care and bye for now.
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