It’s time to be the author of your own story – Smart Sex, Smart Love

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Are you surviving or thriving during this global pandemic? Are you living your best life right now? How are you responding to so many unforeseen changes? During the pandemic, many of us are facing unique challenges that test our resilience. George Khamis, therapist with The Center for Relationship and Sexual Health in Royal Oak, Michigan, discussed this subject on a Smart Sex, Smart Love podcast hosted by Joe Kort, PhD, psychotherapist and clinical director of The Center for Relationship and Sexual Health. Today, stress and anxiety can seem overwhelming and people are struggling to cope, but we can build resilience, we can bounce back, and we can thrive, not merely survive. In this podcast entitled, “Surviving to thriving in a global pandemic: how do you live your best life in this new normal,” George shares some insights and advice to help you take care of yourself and find balance and harmony in your life again. He believes it is time for people to be the author of your own story instead of following the scripts written for you as a child. George is presenting an eight-week webinar that will help participants examine your life, your relationships, your values, and where you are and where you want to be in the midst of this new normal. You will have an opportunity to be the author of your own story.

Find the Webinar HERE!

Unknown Speaker 0:00
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Unknown Speaker 0:11
Welcome to smart sex smart love. We’re talking about sex goes beyond the taboos. And talking about love goes beyond the honeymoon. I’m Dr. Joe court. Thanks for tuning in. Hello, and welcome to smart sex smart love, we’re talking about sex goes beyond the taboo, and talking about love goes beyond the honeymoon. I’m Dr. Joe Cort. And today, our podcast title is surviving to thriving in a global pandemic. How do you live your best life in this new normal. And today, my guest is George caymus, Georgia obtained a Master of Arts degree in counseling psychology with an emphasis in family and marriage therapy from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan here. He’s currently working toward a certification in LGBTQIA, therapy, affirmative therapy. He is within us with modern sex therapy Institute’s he specializes in LGBTQIA plus affirmative therapy, sex therapy and depth psychotherapy for individuals, couples and families. He uses a cognitive, behavioral, psychodynamic and family systems approach to guide how he supports his clients. And he most recently joined our center, the Center for relationship and sexual health here in Royal Oak, Michigan. And we’re here to welcome you today. George, welcome.

Unknown Speaker 1:30
Thank you, Joe. Happy to be here.

Unknown Speaker 1:32
Yeah, it’s a pleasure to have you here and to have you on my podcast and to talk about this global debt pandemic, because this is this is important. And you’re going to be running an eight week group over this and helping people you know, find their new normal, it’s a great, it’s a great thing. You what why did you want to do this? Do you think, where did this come from?

Unknown Speaker 1:51
Well, I think there’s so much collective stress and anxiety in our society today. And I think there’s, there’s so much great psycho educational material out there. And I’m just trying to put that in the hands of people who need it.

Unknown Speaker 2:05
So important. How do you? How do you envision people being able to grow and become a better version of themselves at a time of such great stress? Yeah, well,

Unknown Speaker 2:15
I think in situations like these, when we’re thrown into something that we weren’t prepared for, we don’t really have any choice but to adapt into change so that we can make the most out of what we have. And so I think that so that we don’t get caught in this victim mindset where we think, Oh, I can’t do anything I can’t, I just have to wait it out. Which in some sense, yes, it is true. But I also believe that there is a lot that we can do to make the most out of what we have, while we write out this pandemic for however long it takes.

Unknown Speaker 2:49
Yeah, I love that. You know, I have to say that I have my own reactions. When I hear people, it’s on tik tok, or friends, or I’ve done it myself. People are like, you know, I can’t stand this. This is horrible. When are we going to be able to? And I’m like, Listen, I feel I understand. But you know, most of the people I know, you have a nice house, you have unfinished things you haven’t done in your house, you have a relationship to focus more on, like, let’s not take that victim position. And and while I say that, I want to appreciate that it can also contribute to mental illness, you know, to feeling suicidal, depression, anxiety. I’m not talking about those people. I’m talking about people that just like you say, have a victim mentality and can’t I mean, we’re such a privileged country, that it’s like taking away some of our privileges. People get upset about it. Is that what you’re talking about?

Unknown Speaker 3:37
Yeah, it’s in. Yeah, I agree. It’s not that we’re trying to say that depression doesn’t exist or that, that this time, the difficulties that we experienced, aren’t real for some people. But to just blindly put that victim mentality over such a large spectrum of our life, I think that is a really terrible thing to do. Because, you know, it’s like that serenity, prayer, you know, a God grant me the ability to know what I can change. I’m kind of watching it here. But God grant me the ability to know when I can change know what I can’t change and the wisdom to do something about it.

Unknown Speaker 4:21
Absolutely. And so that speaks to when you talk about your webinars focusing on resilience. Can you talk about what that is and what that means?

Unknown Speaker 4:29
Yeah, so resilience is the idea that we can bounce back from an extremely adverse event. This could be something like a traumatic car crash, you know, it could be something over the long term, like a pandemic that we’ve been in for 10 or 11 months. And so, I bring up the idea of resilience because for one, it’s important to understand that we can build resilience in ourselves, that we can build in ourselves, the ability to to bounce back from these extremely adverse situations. And while I also talked about stress in the webinar and stress and resilience is, it’s really related. And I say that we can’t remove stress, but we can reduce stress. We live in a world where stress is inevitable. So I don’t think it’s realistic to understand. I don’t think it’s realistic to say that we can completely remove stress, but we can reduce it with where possible.

Unknown Speaker 5:33
And I think this class is going to be about managing stress, right? Because that’s the biggest thing and stress comes in our lives. And we actually have a lot of obviously, in this pandemic, but it’s how do you manage it? And people don’t always have great coping skills?

Unknown Speaker 5:46
Yeah. And, and that’s what we’re gonna be talking about in the webinar, too. How can we cope with stress? And how, how do we identify healthy stress and unhealthy stress? You know, unhealthy stress is a type of stress that is overwhelming. It, um, it debilitates us, it makes us feel like we cannot do anything about it. healthy. Stress motivates us to do something like if I, you know, if I need if I need money to pay bills, that’s stressful, that’s going to go motivate me to go out, get a job, make some money to pay those bills. And so there can be healthy stress.

Unknown Speaker 6:20
Yep. And my husband is better at this than me, you know, he’ll say, I don’t want to do that. Now. Let’s not start that now. I’m not in a place where I can do that now. And it has irritated me for 20 years, because I just do it. I’m like, Okay, I’ll just do it. Oh, no, I’ll just go do this. And then I’m all stressed out. And he kind of has a sensibility about what’s going to stress him and what’s not. And that would imagine most people have to have that. I don’t always have that I’m always so eager to do something, that I missed the cues that no, now’s not a good time.

Unknown Speaker 6:48
Right? Right. We, you know, it’s like a balance, you know, um, and there’s a lot of neurobiology that goes into it too, with the the flight or fight system. We don’t want our our fight or flight system, or our parasympathetic nervous system being so overwhelmed and shutting down our body shutting down our brain. We want to balance our lives, we want to balance ourselves, so that we are attending to the stress we need to attend to. But we’re also taking time, you know, doing things like mindfulness meditation, which we’re also going to be talking about in the webinar, so that we are taking time for ourselves.

Unknown Speaker 7:30
Yes, and in the webinar, surviving to thriving in a global pandemic, you say you talk about being the author of your own story. tell people what that means.

Unknown Speaker 7:39
Yeah, so being the author of our own story, this kind of comes from how I think about childhood and how our mind works. I believe it comes a lot from our childhood. We often live out scripts that we wrote, as a child, we assimilate things that we learned from our parents, we assimilate things, such values we learn from our community. And a lot of time these these scripts are the story that we’re living out. It’s not the most healthy story. And so some

Unknown Speaker 8:16
oops.

Unknown Speaker 8:20
I think George

Unknown Speaker 8:24
logged out

Unknown Speaker 8:30
of his computer died.

Unknown Speaker 8:35
Let’s say How about phone?

Unknown Speaker 8:39
I can send him a voice. If he wants to call from the phone.

Unknown Speaker 8:44
Yeah, I just sent it to him on his phone. Oh, you did? Okay. Just log into the zoom here on your phone and it’ll come back.

Unknown Speaker 8:52
There’s a phone number two, does he want the phone number? Okay,

Unknown Speaker 8:54
guys coming back on one second. Usually, it’s really good with technology. Yeah, what’s the phone number?

Unknown Speaker 9:00
Second here?

Unknown Speaker 9:07
Um,

Unknown Speaker 9:09
yeah, you want me to text it to a long string?

Unknown Speaker 9:15
Oh, I owe you the whole thing.

Unknown Speaker 9:16
What

Unknown Speaker 9:17
do you mean that just the phone number?

Unknown Speaker 9:19
Yeah, the phone number is just a long, it’s a long string because it’s a texted text to tap or areas. Okay. So sorry about that.

Unknown Speaker 9:29
All right.

Unknown Speaker 9:31
All right. So I’m going to ask the question again, so we can start from the beginning.

Unknown Speaker 9:35
Okay, sounds good.

Unknown Speaker 9:36
All right. Wait, let me find it. Oh. So in the webinar that you’re going to be doing, Ali’s surviving to thriving in a global pandemic, you talk about the importance of being the author of your own story. What does that mean?

Unknown Speaker 9:50
Yeah, so being the author of your own story, it kind of goes hand in hand with what I think about, about how our mind works about how a lot of How we think comes from our childhood. We often live out scripts that we wrote, as a child, we assimilate things that we learned from our parents, we assimilate values from our community. And sometimes these scripts that we live out the story we live, it turns out not to be the most healthy. And so in this webinar, we’re going to be talking about reviewing the scripts that we wrote, reviewing these values that we’ve assimilated to see, is this really serving us? Is this something that you want to be a part of your story, so that you can write your own story with awareness with intent with the mind of an adult versus the mind of a child?

Unknown Speaker 10:41
I love that because I feel like even in my own life, my mother and father had an idea who Joey courts should be. And I had an idea of who Joe court should be. And I had I spent my whole life trying to find my own voice in my own dream and not theirs.

Unknown Speaker 10:54
Yeah, I think that’s, that’s kind of the adult journey, figuring out who we are versus who people are making us out to

Unknown Speaker 11:02
be. Absolutely. You also in the webinar, and I’ve heard you talk about the difference between being a victim or a survivor. And I think about Astaire parral, she talks about this, that people she was raised by parents who survived the Holocaust. And she said that there were two kinds of people that survived the Holocaust, those that just survived, and those that chose to live. So how do you separate these two out? How do you make sense of them?

Unknown Speaker 11:29
Yeah, well, I love, I love that you brought that example up, because I wanted to start saying, start with being a victim as really, as a very real thing, you know, especially in the case of a Holocaust, that is something that people did not have a lot of control over. But I love that that asteroid took the viewpoint of a survivor versus a victim. And what a survivor is, as a survivor takes responsibility for the situation that they that they are in, they take. They’re not blaming their, their circumstances on other people. They are doing the best that they can with the situation that they found themselves in. And so basically, being a victim, well being being a victim is is putting all the blame and responsibility on someone else. I’m not responsible for anything that that is in my life. versus a survivor saying, Yes, I’m, I have lives. Man, can we actually query do that?

Unknown Speaker 12:38
Yes. How do we, I just don’t know how to tell Dave where this was. Do you, Brett? Because Dave’s not watching, so we’ll just have to let them know that there was a break.

Unknown Speaker 12:54
Yeah, he writes down the blips and stuff. And we’ll keep track of them as well.

Unknown Speaker 12:57
Okay. All right.

Unknown Speaker 12:59
Yeah. Okay.

Unknown Speaker 13:04
So,

Unknown Speaker 13:07
so don’t ask me the question. One more time, Joe.

Unknown Speaker 13:12
Yeah, look, what was it? Um, yeah. So I’ll just do it all start again. So in this webinar, you’re going to be talking about whether you’re a victim or a survivor. And I always think about str parral. Because she talks about Holocaust survivor, she was raised by parents who were and she said, there were two kinds of people that survived the Holocaust, those that survived, and those that chose to live. So how do you what’s How do you make sense out of that?

Unknown Speaker 13:37
Yeah, well, how I make sense of that is, how I think of a victim mentality is a victim mentality is, is when you’re putting all the blame on somebody else, you’re saying, I’m not responsible for my life. I’m not responsible for the situation I’ve put myself in, while being a victim is a very real thing, especially in the sense of the Holocaust, you know, a lot of people that they didn’t have a lot of choice over what happened in those situations. But being a survivor is saying, Okay, I’m here. Now, my future is up to mean. They’re taking responsibility for their future take, they’re taking responsibility for what they can change in their life. And I think that’s what I like to differentiate in the in the webinar, you know, we’re in a pandemic, there’s not a lot we can do. But there are on the other side of things, there’s a lot that we can do. And so I want to help people to change the mentality to that of a survivor, so that they, they’re able to move forward move from these events and move into a future that they want to write for themselves.

Unknown Speaker 14:47
And I think you’re describing basic therapy, which is, you know, as therapists we can’t help we can’t change somebody’s circumstance, but we can change how somebody experiences their circumstance, paradigm shifts, thinking differently about something Managing themselves better. That’s kind of what this webinar is going to do for people it sounds like,

Unknown Speaker 15:05
yeah, I think you’re right.

Unknown Speaker 15:08
And then you talk about values, you know, and how they can impede your endeavors in life. Can you discuss this for a minute?

Unknown Speaker 15:15
Yeah, so I talk about values and one’s philosophy of life in similar ways. Um, values are what motivates us in life? Is it family? Is it relationships? Is it making a meaningful difference in our life? Or is it money? Is it just that feeling good is it you know, being alone, and you know, drinking, for example, those are sort of two extreme examples. But basically, what that, that what I’m showing there is that our values sometimes cannot be the most healthy in our life. And so, yeah, and values, they can impede us in life, you know, if our values are, to feel good momentarily, to be alone, that can really impede us from a long term perspective. So in the webinar, we’re going to be looking at what values we have, what values we adopted from our family and our friends growing up. And I suspect that when our participants analyze some of these values, a lot will realize that many of these are some of these maybe don’t serve them in the long term. And they might want to reassess some of those values.

Unknown Speaker 16:32
And I think it goes along with, you know, the scripts, right? The values I have, are they mind what they taught to me? Were they from religion? Were from my parents, were they From where? And and now I get to decide which values I want to keep, and which values don’t work for me anymore.

Unknown Speaker 16:47
Exactly.

Unknown Speaker 16:49
What do you think about this? You know, in the last part of your webinar, you want participants to talk about goals that they want for themselves in 2021. And I’ve been hearing people say, I just hope that 2021 isn’t the ugly cousin of 2020, which is a horrible thing to say, right? But what they and I feel like, I hope not either, but I feel like it’s really your choice, you can decide, you can’t decide what is going to happen in 2021. But you can decide how you’re going to interact with it with 2021. What would you say to that?

Unknown Speaker 17:20
Yeah, well,

Unknown Speaker 17:22
I think, no, we don’t know what’s going to happen in 2021. But if we take the stance of just being a passive observer, I think we are missing an opportunity where we can really, we can make something out of this, out of this unknown situation that we are moving toward, you know, I think it’s Lewis Carroll that says, you know, if you don’t have any goals, it doesn’t matter where you’re where you’re going in life. You know, so I think setting goals and figuring out how do you want to live 2021 is extremely important, because otherwise you’re going to be pushed and pulled by the, by the energy that’s around you. So people

Unknown Speaker 18:07
are going to be challenged in a positive way in your group on looking at their values, looking at the scripts they grew up with, how to become the author of their own story, you know, how to go forward into 2021 with their own new goals, they’re gonna, they’re gonna walk away with lists of things that they’re going to create and co create in that room.

Unknown Speaker 18:25
Yes, yeah, we’re going to be talking about how they want to how they want to see 2021 and beyond what goals do they have? And we’re going to be talking about even how they think about goals. How do they write a goal, if you write a goal, that’s something like, I want to be happy, that’s actually not a really good goal. Because how do you know when you’re going to get there, it’s not a measurable goal. Awesome. And so we talked about the importance of defining goals. And we talked about the importance of laying out a plan so that you can actually attain the goal, which is going to be really important. Moving forward.

Unknown Speaker 19:03
In the amago. work I do we do to make a goal or behavior change, we do positive, measurable, specific, and time limited. p m, s t, so it’s very specific, and it’s not negative. I’m not going to do this anymore. I’m not going to do that anymore. It’s over the next month, at least twice a week, I’m going to go to the gym. NET without any expectations. So that’s positive, it’s measurable. It’s specific. It’s time limited. And it’s like you say, you can’t just make this generalization because you can’t step into it. You have to know exactly what it’s going to look like when the goal is met.

Unknown Speaker 19:37
Yeah, and you know, it might be uncomfortable to, you know, for someone you just met to ask you, okay, what’s, what’s your goal for this next year, this these next five years, right, but sometimes it’s the hard things that we really have to do that are beneficial. Yes. It’s easy to just sit back, watch the news and, and just say that you’re waiting it out. It’s much harder to sit down and Write out a plan for how you’re going to navigate this unknown.

Unknown Speaker 20:03
I always hate that. What’s your five year plan? I used to ask my niece and nephews that when they were five and eight and 10, what’s your five year plan? You

Unknown Speaker 20:09
know, like, they’re

Unknown Speaker 20:09
like, What the fuck are you saying, you know, well, they didn’t say fuck, but um, you know, the idea is, who knows? I mean, I have an idea. But you know, things happen. And, but but you have to have a plan and a vision. I think that’s what you’re talking about a vision?

Unknown Speaker 20:21
Yeah, a vision, something, who do you want to move into, because I’ll be talking a lot about, you know, unconscious scripts versus conscious scripts and reacting versus acting intention intentionally. And so I’m trying to help the participants to move from a place of just reacting unconsciously in life, or just living out their unconscious scripts, to a place where they can live, and act intention intentionally with goals with purpose, that and so that’s what we’re going to be accomplishing in this webinar.

Unknown Speaker 20:59
That’s awesome. It’s so important, I hope people are listening to you and will want to sign up and want to be and want to have this because people are so isolated and alone. And while this is all going to be on zoom, right, it’s all going to be online, at least a way for people to connect with one another.

Unknown Speaker 21:14
Hmm, yeah, it’s a safe way to to be social, there’s not a lot of ways nowadays, to be social, besides zoom, and I think it’s going to be a great, it’s going to be a great community, it’s going to be a safe space where you can talk about, you can share a little bit about your stories, about your struggles, it’s not therapy, you know, if you need to talk about something, you know, you’ve talked to me on the side, you know, I’m available for coaching, consultation, therapy, but it’s really it’s a group where we’re going to learn how to better ourselves, and we’re gonna be supporting each other through that.

Unknown Speaker 21:51
Yeah. And it’s psycho education, that’s important that people know, it’s psychology based, but it’s education. It’s not psychotherapy, where and I’ve done these before, where somebody might break into something that’s psychological for them, and they they need to purge that, that won’t be the place to do that. They can address it and bookmark it, but then they need to go see a therapist.

Unknown Speaker 22:11
Right. Mm hmm.

Unknown Speaker 22:13
Right. I’m glad you mentioned that. That’s important. Yeah. Anything else you want people to know about this group, your practice you anything?

Unknown Speaker 22:20
Um, well, one thing that I think people might like to hear is we’re also going to be talking a lot about relationships. And we’re going to be talking about the baggage that people carry from their past into the future. And I think one of the questions that we are that we are considering it for this webinar, is, is like how is the pandemic related to the baggage that people carry from the past to the present is how does the stressful and pandemic kind of influence that, and I think when we experience greater stress, our wounds and traumas from our childhood began to float to the surface. You know, when we’re happy, when jobs going good, when family life is going good, it seems to be easy to kind of push those down. But especially when we’re facing facing a future, which for the most part is unknown. Many people use these unconscious ways of thinking that they learned as a child to attempt to navigate these stressful and unknown experiences. And the reason why that as a child well, as a child, when we experience unknown stressful situations, just like we’re experiencing this pandemic, we use certain ways to try to cope with that. And right now, when we are in a stressful, unknown situation, we use those same ways of adapting that we use as a child. And a lot of people don’t realize that they are attempting to cope with the pandemic in the same way that they attempted to cope with things as a child, with those same sort of stressful, unknown situations.

Unknown Speaker 24:11
Yes,

Unknown Speaker 24:12
no, some kids might say I’m in, I’m in control of the situation. Or they might say, Oh, I need mommy and daddy to help me through this. Or they might get trapped in uncertainty, unable to make any choice at all. So we are still using these thinking patterns we learned as a child to attempt to navigate these uncharted waters in the same way we did as a child. And for the most part, those won’t work because they came from the mental programming of a child. And so we need to become aware of these thinking patterns, and then change them, update them, upgrade them to the thinking of a mature and intelligent adult. And so in this webinar, we’re going to be using psychoeducation to do that.

Unknown Speaker 24:55
That’s awesome. I’m hoping people look forward to it. How can they find it? How can they find you?

Unknown Speaker 25:01
What do they do?

Unknown Speaker 25:02
Yep. So if you go on the CRS h website, we have the webinar posted there.

Unknown Speaker 25:09
So it’s Wait, it’s CRS h.com for the Center for relationship and sexual health.

Unknown Speaker 25:14
Yes. And you can even just just search center for relationships and sexual health in Royal Oak, you’ll find our website. And there you can either call us to sign up, or you can sign up through our website. I live online, right. And it’s going to be a Sunday nights 7:30pm. Eastern time. And I believe our first session will be on January 24. And we’re probably might even depending on the amount of people we can get in, we might have a second session on another day, another time. But you’ll have to check back in with us to see if that happens.

Unknown Speaker 26:01
Yes, right. We’re getting a lot of response, a lot of interest. We’ve already started promoting and publicizing it. And people are just really eager to be a part of something like this. So I hope you look forward to it. I hope they look forward to it. I think it’s a really important thing. Thank you so much, George, for being on the show.

Unknown Speaker 26:17
Thank you Dr. Cort. It was a pleasure and I’m so excited to to work with all the participants. I’m excited to to help people to navigate these uncharted waters.

Unknown Speaker 26:29
That’s awesome. Thank you, George. Hopefully, if you liked this, the session, this podcast, you’ll listen to me further if you’re new. Keep on listening. I hope you enjoyed it. You can find me on Twitter on Tick Tock on Instagram On Facebook. All at the at sign. Dr. Joe court. And please stay safe and stay healthy. And I’ll see you next time. Thanks for listening to this episode of smart sex smart love. I’m dr. john CT. And you can find me on Joe court.com. That’s joekrt.com See you next time.

© 2019 • Smart Sex, Smart Love Podcast Series