Recording #77:

Beth Stallwood 00:00:00 - 00:01:47
Welcome to the WorkJoy Jam podcast. I'm your host, Beth Stallwood and in this episode, I'm joined by the wonderful Dr. Rina Bajaj. Rina is a counselling psychologist with loads of experience across many, many different forms, helping people with what's going on in their minds. What I particularly love about this conversation with Rina is how practical some of her suggestions are. About how we understand what's going on our heads, how we can understand the red flags and the green flags and be able to have a more balanced perspective of some of the things that happen, where maybe we're triggered, where we have some fear responses, where we don't know what to do, where we're trying to step out of our comfort zone. So for me, the practical application and some really good tips are what I loved about this conversation and I hope you love it too.

Welcome to the WorkJoy Jam podcast. I am delighted today to be joined by Dr. Rina Bajaj and I'm really looking forward to this conversation. But rather than me introduce Rina, can I get you to tell our audience who you are, what you do and a little bit of your story about how you got to where you are today?

Dr Rina Bajaj 00:01:47 - 00:03:59
Hi, Beth. Thanks for having me here. I'm really excited to be here and to chat to you. So I'm a counselling psychologist by background and at the moment I run my own practice where I see clients for one to one sessions, couples therapy, but I also deliver training to corporates and then I do lots of other interesting things like write books and contribute to media articles. My journey has been really interesting and it probably links in with my philosophy to life, really as I've sort of chopped and changed. I've worked within community settings, so grassroots organizations, working a lot with BME communities, those affected by substance misuse and domestic abuse. Then I moved into working within the NHS and was working with vulnerable young people. Then I moved into the employment side of things, working within the employee assistance welfare to work side of things. One of my most interesting jobs, though, is probably a millionaire matchmaker, which sounds a little bit out there, but that was basically working with ultra high net worth people, entrepreneurs, but then also helping them to think about their approach to life, their values. So it wasn't just matching people on the basis of love, but also helping them to think about some of the limiting beliefs that sometimes come up when you're on that journey. Then I took a completely different turn and went down the forensic route working within a magistrate's court and probation and then went back into working with children. So I've taken all of that information and all of that experience and now put it into my private practice. What I found is that everyone has their pain point, everyone has their vulnerability, everyone has their triggers so at the moment, I'm really passionate about helping people to align with their authentic selves and challenge some of the stuff that they've learned. So to kind of unlearn that and then relearn it to make it work for them. So it's been a bit of an interesting career path I would say.

Beth Stallwood 00:03:59 - 00:04:46
It's amazingly interesting and one thing I'm just really reflecting on here is how many people you have been involved with from all different stages of life and all different backgrounds and different situations that people find themselves in, different environments, different challenges. I'm really fascinated about this because working with people who have challenges of substance abuse or working with people who've been in domestic violence and then working with millionaires and understanding that actually as humans, we all have the same challenges, right? Whether we've got a really challenging situation going on. I think it's really easy for us to assume I'm not a millionaire, that millionaires have life easy, but their same struggles go on internally with our minds, right?
Dr Rina Bajaj 00:04:46 - 00:05:39
Definitely and I think sometimes with people who are entrepreneurs or who are perfectionists, there's an internal battle that goes on in their head and sometimes it's when they reach a point where they've achieved the goals they set out to achieve, where they realize that they can't keep running from themselves. I think this is a common theme across humans, really. There comes a certain point where you realize that these are the things that work for me, these are the things that I've tried to run away from actually this is what I really need to address if I want to live a full life. I think sometimes with success, however we define that, there can sometimes be lots of shame associated with either not feeling happy or not feeling grateful all of the time or not being positive all of the time. Sometimes people can go inwards because of that and feel like they don't have a right to feel emotions.

Beth Stallwood 00:05:39 - 00:06:24
Yeah, but we're all human and we all have them wherever we are at and I love this thing about running away from yourself. Actually when you think about some of the things that we do to not deal with the stuff that we need to deal with in life, it can be really challenging for us to work through some of those things. Maybe we'll come back to that in a little bit because I'd love to get some thoughts and advice from you. One thing you said earlier when you were doing your introduction really piqued my interest and now my curiosity is, I need to know the answer to this question, because you said about your philosophy to life, and then you talked to us about this wonderful, really varied career that you have had working with so many different people. And I need to know what that is. I need to know it.

Dr Rina Bajaj 00:06:24 - 00:07:21
One of my main philosophies for life is it's really important to keep pushing outside of your comfort zone. On a personal and professional level, I really take that seriously because I believe if I'm not willing to take the risks and to challenge myself, how can I really encourage other people to do that and how can I be alongside them in their journey? So for me, it's about walking the talk, really, which is why it's quite easy to stay comfortable in a predictable situation. One of the biggest kinds of emotional risks and one of the risks that brought up lots of my own self doubt was moving into private practice full time but I really do believe that sometimes you have to take the risk because you'll discover things about yourself and you'll realize that there's lots of internal beliefs about what you think you can and can't do, and lots of the things you think you can't do are not really true.

Beth Stallwood 00:07:22 - 00:07:23
You just don't know how to do them yet.

Dr Rina Bajaj 00:07:23 - 00:07:52
Exactly, you discover the tools to discover different parts of yourself, and that's the interesting thing. So whether I am working as a psychologist or not, I think that will always be my philosophy, to keep going to live life in a state of adventure. And sometimes the not knowing is okay, because not knowing doesn't always mean that it's unsafe. Sometimes it can be exciting to not know.

Beth Stallwood 00:07:52 - 00:08:48
It's like the possibilities and the who knows and the excitement of something that might be a surprise coming to you. There are so many things I want to talk about here, so I'm going to kick off and talk about some of them, if that's okay. The idea of this pushing yourself out your comfort zone is one I fully support, because growth doesn't happen in your comfort zone. I find that the more we stick in our comfort zones and the more people I work with stuck in their comfort zones, the more frustrated we actually get with ourselves. It gets harder and harder to do the things that push ourselves out of our comfort zone, because we've created a nice safe feeling but the safety can become frustration, it can become annoyance, it can become that feeling of just being stuck. It doesn't always have to be as big as, I'm going to go into private practice or I'm going to go and set up my own business, or I'm going to go and jump out of a helicopter. Pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone can be the really small stuff that we do.

Dr Rina Bajaj 00:08:48 - 00:09:38
Yeah, I agree. It might be going to a new gym class. It might be going to learn a new language. It might be talking to someone in a coffee shop. It might even be trying a new food or going on holiday. So it doesn't have to be a massive thing but what it does do is it's anything, I think that connects you to yourself and encourages you to reflect in life. Because although we can stay in our comfort zone and we think it's safe, I think a lot of the time that's a false sense of security. What it is, is predictable, but what we essentially end up doing then is living in survival rather than thriving, which we can do for a little while. But then, as you mentioned there, Beth, your resentment can build up, the anger can build up, the frustration can build up because there's less meaning and less purpose in life.

Beth Stallwood 00:09:38 - 00:10:22
And actually that thriving sense, that being able to work through the challenge of whatever it is that you're stepping into. I do think stepping out of your comfort zone often has that feeling of being slightly icky and slightly sticky and a bit scary but in that process, though, that's the process where you learn the stuff that helps you to be the thing that you want to be. So often I speak to people who say, I'm just waiting for the confidence to be able to go and do that thing I really, really want to do, and my challenge back to them. I would be interested in hearing about this from a psychological perspective, how the brain works with this, but my advice to them is always the confidence is gained in the doing, in the action, not in the waiting for the confidence to come to do the thing.

Dr Rina Bajaj 00:10:22 - 00:11:43
If we wait for the confidence, that's just procrastination, that's just avoidance. So what we really want to be working on is not just the action and the behaviour, but also the thoughts and feelings associated with it. Procrastination avoidance, although we might judge that it's just a way to stay safe. So what we really want to start to understand is why am I thinking in this way? What is the feeling that I'm trying to sort of control through avoidance? Then we want to start to lean into some of those feelings and lean into some of those thoughts to really check they are 100% true? If they are factual, then you can do something about them and you can create a plan but most of the time, some of our fears, our thoughts are not really true. They're either a fear or they're an opinion or they're an expectation. And so we can limit ourselves in that way. And I think you can stagger the risk that you take. So start with things that feel less emotionally risky and then work your way up to your bigger goals. But there's a reason why on some level you want to change things and that's probably because you want to be feeling and thinking in a different way and you can start to incorporate bits of that into your day to day life in the now as you work towards your bigger goals.

Beth Stallwood 00:11:43 - 00:12:27
I think that's really interesting, about the fact that procrastination is a way of avoiding the thing that you need to do and it's a way of not having those feelings that you don't want to step into. So often that whole, why am I thinking in this way? I know for certain I would spend ages thinking about that particular question and very little time because I don't like it. What is the feeling I'm trying to run away from or the feeling I want to have that I don't have yet? I wonder if a lot of people do this. We get stuck in our heads with the thinking and totally ignore the fact that this is actually an emotional thing that we need to deal with and we need to work through the feeling to be able to do what we need to do.

Dr Rina Bajaj 00:12:27 - 00:13:41
Our thoughts are so powerful, we have between 70 to 100 thousand thoughts a day. Most of them are also unconscious, so they're probably similar thoughts that we had today, that we had yesterday and the day before and the day before. So even if you can't sit with the feeling, just tune into the thought, even just to check if it's true or not, you can start there and then you can start to get a picture of whether your mindset is skewed more towards negative thinking or fear based thinking, rather than a more balanced way of thinking. I'm not being patronizing here and saying to people, just flip a negative to a positive but I think at least if you evaluate it and you zoom out from your thought, so you just start to balance the thought out. So if I'm making a change, it might be scary, but I'm doing the best that I can, and that might be a balanced thought, or it feels really scary, but I don't have to do everything right now. That might be another balanced thought. Not, don't be so silly, it's fine, I'm going to be fine. That might not be as helpful. So you just want to start to balance your thought and you can be the most positive person in life, but also your thoughts might be skewed more towards fear based thinking.

Beth Stallwood 00:13:41 - 00:14:25
You talk about this whole, I'm doing the best I can, ad it's not doing the, I'll just put like a smiley face on it and say everything's fine, because that isn't actually helpful, is it? It's saying, do you know what? I do feel a bit scared about this or this situation makes me feel really uncomfortable, or what's going on at work right now, I don't know how to deal with it but I'm going to do something about it. I'm doing the best I can. Maybe it's also a, I'm going to go and get some people to help me with this because I don't have to do it alone. There are so many things that we could do that are what would I call small action based progress steps.

Dr Rina Bajaj 00:14:25 - 00:14:30
I suppose what you're developing is probably more adaptive coping mechanisms.

Beth Stallwood 00:14:30 - 00:14:32
There you go. I knew you'd have something proper to call it and something more real.

Dr Rina Bajaj 00:14:32 - 00:15:13
I think sometimes we have to adapt our coping mechanisms. If we look at the whole COVID situation, for example, maybe we had coping mechanisms before that and then we couldn't do the things that we normally did and then we had to adapt. So I think we need to constantly be checking in with ourselves because we are fluid and we are constantly changing and it might be we change due to situations around us or a specific incident, for example, at work, or it might be that we're just internally changing as we discover who we are. So that kind of chance to reflect is really important.

Stallwood 00:15:14 - 00:16:07
I think as well, I talk about this quite a lot in the work joy side of things, is that the gloomy moments, the stuff that feels uncomfortable, maybe that fear based thinking, whatever it is, the negativity stuff always obviously there are examples where there is genuine fear and there are reasons to be scared. But for quite a lot of the stuff, I think that happens in the working context. Let's take it at work, quite a lot of that stuff we end up blowing out of proportion. So the negative stuff has a greater impact on us, even if it is smaller in reality than the kind of positive things that happened in a day. So if you ever had one tough conversation with somebody during the day, you might ruminate on that for the rest of the day and ignore the fact that you've had seven amazing conversations with brilliant people. Because the negative stuff just really sticks in our minds.

Dr Rina Bajaj 00:16:07 - 00:18:08
We start to filter out the positive so that's a little bit of black and white thinking. But also when we're in our thoughts, it's very easy to start catastrophizing and go to the worst case scenario. But if you find yourself doing that, even if you're in the worst case scenario, what could you do there? What's in your control? And a lot of the time that might be your attitude, it might be your behaviour, it might be seeking support, it might be taking time out to ground yourself. There will still be things that are in your control in terms of how you respond and that's why the zooming out and the checking in with your thoughts is quite important, because one client once described it to me, it's a bit like a soup in your head that you can then get stuck into, which I thought was a really good analogy. So you want to just start sorting it out and one of the things that you said there, Beth, I think is really important as a technique, is to start to balance out some of the challenges with some of the positives or some of the strengths that you have in order to be able to manage those challenges. So when we are in an anxious state or we're stressed or we're in that fight or flight or we're on edge, the way that our brain is programmed is we're programmed to look for all the red flags and all the dangers. And at that point in time, our brain can't tell the difference between an emotional threat and a real threat or a perceived threat or a physical danger, because our brain is not that sophisticated to some extent. So where you're looking out for all the red flags, you might be more sensitive to things. So just that kind of activity of balancing out with some of the positive things or some of the good things or things that went well or something that you've learned that day. So building in some reflection helps you to move out of that reactive state, and that will just help to calm your body down, help you to have more objectivity and to be more present in the moment.

Beth Stallwood 00:18:08 - 00:19:26
I think that's so important, isn't it? That bit around being able to calm that sense down and when we get that feeling on the inside that makes us feel like sometimes, I don't know, sometimes physically sick, it gets to that point of really not liking that situation, being able to know, even just knowing that something has red flagged in your mind, blaming it, going, do you know what? I've totally red flagged that my body is reacting in a way that is out of proportion and even just knowing that, I think, can help. But being able to do that quickly in reaction when your body's reacting like that is not to catastrophize, to kind of go, oh, there's some red flags here. There's clearly some triggers that have wound me up, made me upset, got me emotional, got me scared, has done a fear response. If I can just flag it as there's a red flag, then I can sensibly go, okay, what do we do? What did you call them? Adaptive coping mechanisms. I love that. What are those things that I have? Do I need to go and have a conversation with somebody so they can give me a reality check? Do I need to just go and take ten minutes and go for a walk around the block and calm my nervous system down? There must be loads of things that we can do in that moment if we can recognize what it is to help go, okay, let's get some reality back in this situation.

Dr Rina Bajaj 00:19:27 - 00:20:42
The first thing maybe is to pay attention to your body. So there's a traffic light tool which I think is quite useful to reflect on maybe at a time where you're calmer, like if you are in your green functioning, which is optimal functioning, how will you be thinking, feeling and what would you be doing? That also includes how will your body be feeling? How do you then know if you're going into amber or red and what will help to bring you back down to either amber or to green? If you can just think that through, then particularly if like a workspace is triggering or there's a family member that's triggering, or you're going into a situation which might amp up that stress response, then you've already got a bit of a plan, you are more in control. So I think just having a think about what could I use, what's in my toolkit that I can use? Which doesn't necessarily need to take lots of time. Because I think sometimes the misconception is that grounding techniques or relaxation techniques take a long time or you need an hour, or you need to kind of be in a real state of Zen or it's a spa to build all that stuff in if you can. But sometimes you need something in that moment just to come back to the here and now.

Beth Stallwood 00:20:42 - 00:21:11
And those things will be different for everybody, right. I really love that. And it's an old wives tale, isn't it? Just take a few deep breaths. But there's something really powerful about three deep breaths will actually help you press pause on some of that. Crazy. For me, doing things like having a bit of a sing song, dancing around my office, going for a walk, something that kind of physically shakes it out is usually a good thing for me. So there's something about using my body and kind of reminding my body that everything's safe. Because I always think you don't sing and dance if you're really unhappy.

Dr Rina Bajaj 00:21:12 - 00:21:13
Yeah, true. Really good point.

Beth Stallwood 00:21:14 - 00:21:31
You don't dance when you're moody, you just don't, but when you're in that green zone would be dancing around the kitchen, singing along to something on Spotify, having a good time. And if I think, OK, I can force my body to do that and it reminds my brain that everything's okay because when we're dancing, we're happy.

Dr Rina Bajaj 00:21:31 - 00:22:33
Or at least you're safe in the now. That's important as well. And then you can tackle what you need to tackle. So yeah, even little things like I think taking a breath is really useful. There's loads of different breathing techniques. Square breathing is really great where you breathe in you hold, you breathe out and you hold. You have to think about the way that you breathe. One that I love is colour spotting so you could do this anywhere. You can just pick any colour you like, look around the space that you're in and notice everything that has that colour in it. And what you'll start to do is notice the big things and hone in on really small details and that just brings you back to this current moment. So it's a mindfulness based technique because often what happens when we're worrying or when we're stressed is we're either worrying about the past or worrying about the things that might happen or could happen, and we're not really present in this moment. So you can use something like colour spotting or even the Five Senses Exercise where you come back to each of your senses just to orientate yourself back into your space.

Beth Stallwood 00:22:33 - 00:22:50
Love it while you were saying it, I haven't heard that colour spotting one before. I've just done it in my office and I've gone, yellow massive post-it note, yellow flower, yellow card on the notice board, yellow fan, yellow back of the flamingo and yellow on my book. And that's like, oh, brilliant.

Dr Rina Bajaj 00:22:50 - 00:22:55
You probably discover something new going, oh, I didn't know there's yellow there. Totally forgotten that.

Beth Stallwood 00:22:56 - 00:23:03
That was a card from a friend. How lovely is that? And it's kind of like really brilliant. I love that.

Dr Rina Bajaj 00:23:03 - 00:23:42
You can even do it in a meeting or if you're talking to someone and it wouldn't be too intrusive or rude, but sometimes you need things up your sleeve that you know that you're doing and no one else does. So it doesn't feel exposing but even it might be just having a cup of tea or coffee, but really slowing down that process. Or mindfully eating so there'll be things that you can incorporate into your day as moments and then you can focus on some of the bigger self care stuff as you need it. Like going to the gym, if that's your thing, or going for a walk or, I don't know, taking a class or going for a massage. Book those things in, but also top up in the day if you need it as well.

Beth Stallwood 00:23:42 - 00:24:27
You're so right about that. We often think and it's the same actually, with joy when we're doing the research for the book, looking at this idea that we often think these things are big things and they take loads and loads of time and therefore we don't do them. But there are so many things you can do in that instant. I literally did it while you were talking to me, so it's like two sentences worth and I did it and I was like, that's amazing. I love it. So there are so many things that we can do that bring that sense and almost I wonder if we could practice them when we're in the green zone so that we remember what they are. Then if we're feeling going into the orange or feeling the red building, it's like, okay, I've got all these things which one am I going to try and maybe I try four of them because it's a big thing or maybe one of them works, but you've got something there that can really help you.

Dr Rina Bajaj 00:24:27 - 00:25:38
That's one of the major tips that I give the clients that I work with is because what you're doing is you're anchoring your day. So I would say to people, do one in the morning, do one in the evening, and just sprinkle it in if you need to because there's a number of reasons for it. One is you solidify using it when you're not feeling stressed. Then what happens is if you are feeling stressed, your logic remembers that there's other ways to deal with stress and actually the more you practice, you can actually start to change your brain pathways over time. So if you are someone who's maybe experienced a lot of anxiety or experienced stress, it's sometimes really strange that we get used to living within that state. So when people start to feel more relaxed, it feels very strange to them. Like, why am I so relaxed? Or why am I coping with things a bit better? Nothing's actually externally changed, but my response is changing so you can actually change the structure of your brain even as an adult. So the more you practice, the more it becomes a part of your neural pathways. So that's why there's a number of reasons why it's useful just to get familiar with a couple of the techniques.

Beth Stallwood 00:25:38 - 00:26:32
When you're not in the state of needing it. It's a proactive thing. I love that I was just giggling to myself while you were talking about that because that can feel a bit weird when you go into that zone. I have been for the last year or so really trying hard, and it does not come naturally to me, to value and prioritize rest. It doesn't really fit with my brain and how I do things, but I know I need to do it. So I've been working on it and the other day I will tell you this little story. I was sat on the sofa with my husband and I went, I'm resting and he went, yes, you are. You haven't said anything about this and he said, I hoped you wouldn't notice. And I was like, I don't know how I feel about it. And he goes, I know you don't, but this is really good. This is progress. Like not knowing how you feel about it is okay. Yeah, the fact you're doing it is a good thing.

Dr Rina Bajaj 00:26:33 - 00:27:26
It can be challenging because I think you can sometimes experience that as well when you're super busy and you just keep going and keep going and keep going. There can be lots of emotions then that get pushed to the side, or lots of thoughts that get pushed to the side. I think initially it feels a bit scary because when you're resting, it allows space for some of those thoughts and feelings to come in. So that's where you're grounding, you're coping, your self-care comes in as well and even if you start with a little pocket, say ten minutes rest or 15, or even if it's something else that feels relaxing, that's super important. I think sometimes that's why you see that when people are busy in the day, they're distracted, but when it comes to nighttime, they can't sleep and their thoughts start racing. It's because there's been distraction the whole day and now the space is there for the thoughts and feelings to come in.

Beth Stallwood 00:27:26 - 00:27:32
And it's like, oh, I don't really want to have to deal with them right now, thank you. Can I just do something else?

Dr Rina Bajaj 00:27:32 - 00:27:34
Avoid, avoid.

Beth Stallwood00:27:34 - 00:28:32
Avoid button press. Please let me avoid it. And it's so interesting with all these things, is that we all know this stuff is important, right? There's no lack of knowledge around wellbeing being important, around making sure that you give yourself time and space, around the fact that our brains are complex little things that make us a bit challenged in certain ways. But actually building the helpful habits into your day is a process that can be quite challenging in itself, like finding the space to do that, knowing that you've done it. There's always, I think, as well, when you then have a day where you haven't maybe done one of those sprinklings of thinking about things in the right way, of doing those little exercises that can bring up a lot of things, like the failure, things like, oh, I'm rubbish at this, I knew it would never work. And then we end up down back in that negativity cycle of kind of self destruction and self I don't have a proper word for it.

Dr Rina Bajaj 00:28:32 - 00:30:19
Spiral down into that self criticism, that amps up that voice but this isn't about perfection. This is about seeing it as learning a new skill. So when you first learn to drive, for example, you have to learn how different bits of the car work and sometimes you're going to stall if it's an automatic car and then at some point it becomes automatic and it just becomes something that you do. So what I say to people is, don't aim for perfection, but just tag it onto something you normally do. So do a bit of colour spotting when you're brushing your teeth at some point. The more consistent you are, the more it just becomes a part of your routine and you'll start to then notice, like you said, the difference in how you feel, which will then hopefully up the motivation to continue with it. If you notice a change in your feeling, if you're feeling more relaxed, if you're feeling calmer, if there's kind of a ripple effect on that in terms of how you're coping, you probably at some point won't need to do it more. What will happen is you'll start to notice when you're more stressed rather than more relaxed, because relaxation will come your natural default. But it is a bit of hard work, but you can just start small, tag it onto things that you already do, don't try and run before you can walk and just make little subtle changes. It's like a gym for your mind. You're not going to go in and suddenly run a marathon if you've never trained. So you're retraining your brain, it takes a little bit of time, but you've also got to think about your own why. Like, why is it important for you to do that, even though it takes a little bit of effort? Probably because you're going to be thinking, feeling and doing things a lot differently.

Beth Stallwood 00:30:19 - 00:30:39
Working through that change process is always going to be a bit icky and sticky and habit stacking the stuff onto the things that you already do and deciding that it's important to you. So you have that why and you know the reason why you're trying to do it. All of those things can help, I think, allowing yourself a few days where you don't get it right.

Dr Rina Bajaj 00:30:41 - 00:30:45
Yeah, exactly. So what is right and what is wrong?

Beth Stallwood 00:30:45 - 00:30:47
What's your version.

Dr Rina Bajaj 00:30:47 - 00:31:19
Often when we're self critical, if we bring in the compassionate voice, would you talk to somebody else in that way? And sometimes when we tune into what we actually say to ourselves, or we say it out loud, it's a little bit scary, like we'd never probably talk to anybody else in that way, but we just take that critical voice as being factual. So, if you tune into it, just think about, is this something I would say to someone else, and if it's probably not, then you probably want to reframe how you're talking to yourself as well.

Beth Stallwood 00:31:19 - 00:31:47

It's really interesting, this point, and I haven't quite got the answer that I'm looking for, I'm going to go around it, is I think sometimes we bully ourselves because that's the kind of things we say to ourselves. I would absolutely not say to any of my friends or coworkers, just wouldn't ever dream of being that harsh on people but internally we can be quite self destructive.

Dr Rina Bajaj 00:31:48 - 00:32:56
I think there's probably a number of reasons for that. It might be linked to what we've seen and how we've seen other people respond to themselves. Growing up, it might be based on our beliefs and values about ourselves. So whether we think we're worthy and deserving or whether we have to work extra hard to be worth something. So I check in on worthiness and value, like on an unconscious level, but also it might be in a weird way, one of the questions I ask is, what is that voice trying to do for you? Sometimes it's protection, sometimes it's motivation, sometimes it's about helping you to achieve your full potential. So there's a purpose to that voice. Sometimes it's staying safe. Sometimes I'll be critical to myself so that I'm not sensitive to someone else's rejection or criticism. I want to figure out what is the purpose of this voice and is there a way that I can get the same needs met, but in a healthier way?

Beth Stallwood 00:32:56 - 00:33:21
Really fascinating that and really understanding what it's trying to tell you. What's the thing it's actually trying to get you to do or think about or make happen and kind of going, a, oh, actually, that's really helpful. If I know that now I can do something about that. Or a actually you want to keep me safe, but I want to grow. So we're going to have to have a conversation about how we work together, my brain and myself.

Dr Rina Bajaj 00:33:21 - 00:33:41
If you've got your inner critic, you probably want your inner cheerleader as well, so that's the voice you can work on developing. That doesn't mean that voice is always going to say, don't worry about it, you're right all the time because there's something important about accountability, but you can take accountability and not be self deprecating and horrible to yourself.

Beth Stallwood 00:33:42 - 00:33:53
Absolutely right. Moving on a little bit, can you tell us a little bit about your book that you teased us with at the beginning? Tell us a bit more about it.

Dr Rina Bajaj 00:33:53 - 00:35:16
The book is called The Magic in Me and it's a 30 day self empowerment book focused on relationships, but the relationship with ourselves. I use a lot of the therapeutic tools that I'd use in therapy with people and the goal of the book really is to encourage people to build in some self reflection, to start to get to know who they are, to think about their internal world, so things like their inner thoughts, how they start to challenge that, how they regulate themselves, but then also think about their external relationships. I think we're constantly told who we should be, how we should act, what we should be doing in life and hopefully this book just creates a little bit of a pause moment for you to reflect on what it is that you really want and your values and your goals. Every day there's a different activity to do, which will last about 5 to 10 minutes. So it's a little bit of a commitment, but if you're thinking about your self development journey, my starting point, and maybe that is a part of your self care to invest those 10 or 15 minutes in yourself. There's also a journaling section every day if you want to use that, which will give you an insight into your emotions, your moods, and how you can develop healthier coping mechanisms. So it's really about the reconnection to yourself.

Beth Stallwood 00:35:17 - 00:35:30
Sounds great. I love the idea of 5 to 10 minutes a day for 30 days. It is a bit of a commitment, but it's also not a major. You don’t have to have 5 hours a day on this, 10 minutes a day for 30 days is totally achievable.

Dr Rina Bajaj 00:35:30 - 00:36:12
The book is divided into three segments, so your inner world, your outer world and your authentic self. You can also use the book more fluidly and just randomly dip into it but also I would ask people to reflect on, if you can't give yourself ten minutes a day, what does that actually say about your value and your worth and how you're putting your needs on the map or not? Even if you start with one activity a week and then build in a few more, this is about challenging some of those beliefs around what you can and can't do, because you could probably sit on Instagram or any other social media platforms for ten minutes, quite easily scrolling.

Beth Stallwood 00:36:12 - 00:36:47
For sure, yeah. 10 minutes more than that, I reckon. Actually, I did the maths as part of a session I did on how we can build learning into our day. So the maths on ten minutes a day over a year, if you only did it on your actual working day. So it doesn't count weekends or the couple of days you don't work during the week. And it doesn't count the four weeks holiday that you would have over a year if you did 10 minutes a day. It's almost between five and six working days in total per year.

Dr Rina Bajaj 00:36:47 - 00:36:47

Beth Stallwood 00:36:47 - 00:36:58
So it's massive. But you would never go, I'm going to take a whole week off work just to do learning. You're not going to do that, but 10 minutes a day can achieve that for you over a year.

Dr Rina Bajaj 00:36:58 - 00:37:32
Well, that's amazing.. It's a tangible way to do that and I think it's more than just time, it's the value that it gives to you. So if you are in alignment with who you are, if you're living authentically, if you're calmer, if you're more relaxed, there's going to be benefits to your working environment, to your relationships, to how you see yourself, your capabilities. So there's much wider reaching value to spending that ten minutes a day on yourself.

Beth Stallwood 00:37:32 - 00:37:47
It's not just the thing you're doing, it's the bigger picture stuff and how it influences everything that you think about and do and how you feel about yourself almost because you're suddenly giving yourself the value of paying attention.

Dr Rina Bajaj 00:37:47 - 00:38:25
Definitely. I know that one of the reasons I wanted to write it is to make some of the psychological and therapeutic tools available. I know that a lot of people might not enter therapy for a number of reasons, or they might be on a waiting list, or just the thought of leaning into your thoughts and emotions can feel quite scary. So this gives you the potential to do that in a very bite sized way to gain that confidence. It can also work really well alongside therapy if you are engaged in that or finish therapy and just want something to continue with that's also another way that you can use it.

Beth Stallwood 00:38:25 - 00:38:35
Sounds amazing. I'm very much looking forward to reading it. Right, I'm going to move us on to some quick fire questions. Are you ready?

Dr Rina Bajaj 00:38:35 - 00:38:37
I am ready as I’ll ever be.

Beth Stallwood 00:38:39 - 00:38:44
First question is, for you personally, what is always guaranteed to bring you some work joy?

Dr Rina Bajaj 00:38:44 - 00:39:13
I love what I do in terms of working with people, but I think what helps me stay passionate is, actually it might feel a bit boring, but boundaries and balance, that's something I've really had to work on. So I'm quite boundaried with my time. I don't work on weekends because I need that personal time and so I think balance is one of the key things that keeps me in the flow of what I'm doing and keeps me creative.

Beth Stallwood 00:39:14 - 00:39:51
I love those two things and actually we often talk about boundaries, but thinking them as the thing that brings you joy, I think is a really good way of considering them. So often people are like, oh, I need to put some new boundaries and I'm like, well, hang on a minute, let's focus on what the boundaries give you in terms of that opportunity. I'm like you. For the last few years I've really focused on not working on the weekend and it's made such a difference to my brain space and to my level of being really in it when I'm on it and then being able to step away from it as well. Love it. Question two. What book are you currently reading?

Dr Rina Bajaj 00:39:51 - 00:40:36
I'm reading a book, which is probably a little bit out there, but it's called Think and Grow Rich. Not necessarily because I want to be really rich, but just in terms of understanding the brain. I like to think outside of psychology sometimes just to get different people's perspective on the brain and how we make sense of the world. I guess I'm also interested in different philosophies, like, I don't know the law of attraction, but does that then mirror thought challenging? So sometimes I feel like we say similar things in lots of different ways, but people will attune to the language that resonates with them. So it's not a psychology related book as such, but yeah, I like to just be influenced and think about how other people think about life.

Beth Stallwood 00:40:36 - 00:40:48
Love it. Question three, what is one piece of advice or guidance that somebody has given you in your lifetime that you always find yourself coming back to?

Dr Rina Bajaj 00:40:49 - 00:41:32
I think it is, all we have is this moment. A lot of the time we can let fear drive us or we get stuck in the past, or we get stuck in what could happen in the future and I think just coming back to this present moment, I try and do that. If I find myself spiralling or I'm feeling overwhelmed, I try and consciously come back to what do I actually know in the now? What can I do in the now? Where am I being self critical in the now? So I think we can make a lot of assumptions around life as well and how much time we do or don't have. So I think there's something really important about remembering to not take things for granted.

Beth Stallwood 00:41:32 - 00:41:54
Yeah, that's great. It's also really lovely to hear and I know this will sound funny, but I'm going to say it anyway. When you say things like when I'm spiralling or feeling overwhelmed, it's massively reassuring to me that even somebody who has all these tools and techniques and understands the brain and has spent many, many years working with people to do this, that you still actually have those human feelings 100%.

Dr Rina Bajaj 00:41:54 - 00:42:23
I think it's really important to be in touch with that. So there's no shame in naming that, actually. It's empowering because you can say, okay, I understand what's going on here, and I always say this to clients, although I have expertise, the real expert on your life is yourself. I'm not here to come in and fix things for you. Let's think about coping rather than cure, let's think about reflection rather than reaction. And I think we're all a work in progress and that's okay to acknowledge.

Beth Stallwood 00:42:23 - 00:43:09
Yeah, it's great to hear that because so often I think, especially if you look at things like social media, people look like they've got it all nailed, like we've got this life thing nailed. It's like the reality behind the scenes. It's so nice to have that, do you know what, you are there? I love this idea as a therapist that you're there to help people do the stuff that they want to do, but it's up to them, and they're the one who knows themselves well enough, and you're just helping them to kind of see through the dirty window and kind of work out what's really going on for them. That's such a lovely way of thinking about it. Right. Question four, what is one super practical, easy to do thing that you think people could go and do today, tomorrow, the next day, that would help them get a bit more joy in their working lives?

Dr Rina Bajaj 00:43:09 - 00:44:00
I think what we spoke about in terms of habit stacking, so something grounding at the beginning and the end of the day. I think that's really useful in terms of shifting your life philosophy. Also for me, I'm happy to share my personal routine. I start my day with kind of gratitude because I think where the tendency is to kind of look at the red flags, I have a morning routine where I wake up and I start to focus on some of the green flags. So what are three things that I'm grateful for? Sometimes that's internal, sometimes it's external, and on the hard days that's a little bit harder, but it's still really important to try and find at least one green flag. so I actually tend to do that at the beginning and the end of the day. I build in just about 5 minutes of reflective time and that really helps me just to feel a bit more settled.

Beth Stallwood 00:44:01 - 00:44:38
I love that it's hard days and the power of gratitude is well known. There's so much research on how it makes you happier having it. So I'm like, totally makes sense to me. It's just that little moment in time, isn't it? I had somebody on, I think it was Season 2 of the podcast, and I really like what he said here, which is on those hard days when you're going, oh, I can't think of anything that I'm grateful for, he says to try, and I really like this, what is it you could be grateful for? Don't put the pressure on. What are you grateful for? But what could you be? And just to kind of allow yourself on those bad days to go a little bit further and go, oh, actually, I could be grateful for that. Maybe I don't feel it, but maybe I could be.

Dr Rina Bajaj 00:44:38 - 00:44:55
I'll add that that's a really good thing and I think it just helps with that balancing of the brain as well. Even if it's been a challenging day, you can even reflect on what are the strengths that you brought to that scenario or how did you manage and that might also help you with the plan.

Beth Stallwood 00:44:56 - 00:45:28
I had somebody the other day and I'd had a bit of a week of not work wise, but life wise, when life admin just kind of gets up on you and there's so many different things you've got to do and appointments you got to go to and things going wrong and having work people at my house for the broadband and something else that had gone. It was just like a week of it and somebody said, what are you grateful for this week? And I said, I'm grateful I survived it. Yeah, sometimes it's just as like, I got through that week I have the resilience. I did not cry, I did not have a breakdown, I did not shout at anybody. I made it through the week, that's enough for me.

Dr Rina Bajaj 00:45:28 - 00:45:42
Then you can always turn that into an ‘I am’ statement. So if you made it through the week, what does that mean? That means that I am resilient or it means that I am balanced or I am empowered and those are really important ‘I am’ statements for your brain to hear.

Beth Stallwood 00:45:43 - 00:45:56
I love that. I might try that next time I'm doing gratitude stuff about what that means. I am. Yeah, great tip. Love it. And then finally, where can people find out more about you and your work?

Dr Rina Bajaj 00:45:56 - 00:46:29
You can have a look at my website, which is and there's lots on there about the work that I offer, things that I do. There's also a link to the book on there as well, if you're trying to buy that. Then you can also have a look at my social media platforms. The main one that I use is Instagram, so it's @dr.rina.bajaj and I share lots of practical tools, techniques, tips, my thoughts, media articles, etc. So those are the best places to find me.

Beth Stallwood 00:46:29 - 00:46:39
Excellent and we'll pop those into the show notes so that people can click on straight through and find out more about you. It's been fantastic talking to you today, Rina. Thank you so much for being our guest.

Dr Rina Bajaj 00:46:39 - 00:46:41
Oh, my pleasure. It's been really fun.

Beth Stallwood 00:46:44 - 00:49:37
Well, a huge thank you again to Dr. Rina Bajaj for joining me today on the WorkJoy Jam podcast. There are so many great things and really practical tips that I'm taking away here. I'm definitely going to go and do her 30-day book challenge looking at some of the things that we can do in 5 or 10 minutes a day to help our mind, the inner, the outer, real, authentic, us version of things. So I'm excited to go and do that. Some of the things that really landed with me here is how do we understand what we're telling ourselves? How do we move from that survival zone into thriving? What are we doing when we're trying to understand more about our emotions? What's driving those? Is it fear? Is it other people's opinions? Is it expectations? And actually, this stat, which I did not know before, 70 to 100,000 thoughts per day, that's a lot of stuff going on in our minds to filter, to understand, to be able to work through. I love her idea of thinking about zooming out of the conversation we're having in our own minds and really checking in and considering, are those things true or are some things being blown out of proportion to understand that red, amber, green in your mind. So many little great things. Then the one that I really loved was the colour spotting, and I've just done it again now and I'm spotting pink things next, which is lots of flamingos, because I've got a bit of a thing for flamingos going on in my office. So great advice around habit stacking, starting and ending your day, building the coping mechanisms, building the habits that create those neural pathways so that when you need them, when you are in that Red Flag moment, you've got something ready, built in. And hopefully not so many Red Flag moments anyway, because you've been working on those things. So thank you again, Dr. Rina, for coming on the WorkJoy Jam podcast. As you listeners know, this is Season 7. and we have loads of episodes now, I think nearly 100 episodes. Lots of different people, different backgrounds, different experiences, different advice to be able to go and listen to. I like to think of all of our episodes as a bit of a pick and mix. Go and pick the things that appeal to you, the people that are interesting to you, and see where they go from there. If you're looking at how do you get more work joy in your life, always remember we have our freebies available on the website There's one that's called Workjoy: Where Do You Get Yours? which is tracking and understanding where you get it and doing some reflection on that. And the other one is, if you're feeling a bit meh about your work at the moment, is one called How to Fall Back in Love With Your Job. So go and download those totally free and see where it leads. You have a great rest of your day.

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