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Preston Pugmire: On the podcast today we have Dr. Jennifer Finlayson-Fife. She is a licensed psychotherapist and she specializes in relationship and sexuality counseling. She primarily works with LDS couples. I first came to know about her through listening to her on other podcasts. And actually, me and my wife have bought her courses and love, love, love her work. So, Jennifer, thank you for coming on the podcast today. 

Jennifer Finlayson-Fife: Thanks for having me. My pleasure. 

Preston Pugmire: So just kind of introduce yourself a little bit, even though I already did. But tell us about your heart and your hopes and your fears and your dreams. Just get into it. 

Jennifer Finlayson-Fife: I'm Jennifer. I live in the Chicago area. I grew up in Burlington, Vermont, in a large Mormon family. I'm married and have three kids. As Preston said, I am a private practice therapist and I do a lot of couples work and I love the work. It's really challenging, but I absolutely love it. And my hopes, fears, and dreams...let's see. My hopes and fears go together, which is that a stable, functioning society will continue. Those are definitely my hopes and fears. My hopes are very much around my family, my children, and who they're growing up to be, and who they're becoming. And my biggest hope is to just live life well and fully and in a way that I can respect and be grateful for in the end. It's precious and there's not as much time as we sometimes think. And just living my life in a way that I really am at peace with, that's my biggest hope. 

Preston Pugmire: I love, love, love that. It's perfect. What I want to talk about today is how relationships--and our emotional maturity within those relationships--translate to what we do in every aspect of our life, primarily with entrepreneurship, because that's what this podcast is focused on. But from a personal development context, talk a little bit about your philosophy about emotional maturity, what that means to you, and how we can apply that in our lives. 

Jennifer Finlayson-Fife: I think emotional maturity is basically the process of becoming less dependent on other people's approval and validation. It's becoming less dependent on other people to manage our sense of self and growing into more capacity to be autonomous in our functioning. By that, I mean more able to express our uniqueness and our individuality in the world, to be more able to be a force for good in our own unique ways in the world, to be more able to make moral judgments about what we think is good and right, to be able to have a developed inner compass that we use, to be a force for good in the world. I think that's psychological adulthood and it's hard to arrive at sometimes because our native state is to be dependent. It's hard for many of us to grow out of that dependency on other people's approval, on other people validating where we are in the world, and often compromise our ability to express our gifts or develop our gifts in unique ways. 

Preston Pugmire: Beautifully said. I love your verbiage. You're talking about maintaining a sense of self and removing the state of dependency. What is a “sense of self”? Because everybody has this idea of believing in yourself. And it's so trite at this point that it has lost a little bit of its meaning just because people are using it in yogurt ads. Right? So what is a sense of self, according to Dr. Jennifer Finlayson-Fife? 

Jennifer Finlayson-Fife: Well, I think we all have some sense of self. Part of being human is this capacity to forge a sense of self. And when you're a baby and a child, you can't help but borrow that sense from other people. You're looking to other adults in your life--parents, caretakers, siblings--to give you some sense of who you are and who you are not and how you are seen, and so on. And so we start by creating a self-concept through the messages that we're given. For those of us who are very fortunate, those are very positive messages, they're messages of possibility and goodness, and that we're worthy. For those of us that grew up in more toxic environments, they're self devaluing concepts. But for better or for ill, we forge a concept of self that comes out of our relationships and our lived experience. Somebody whose work I follow closely is Dr. David Schnarch, who has done a lot of work in the field of differentiation and differentiation theory. He talks about the fact that we can have a reflected sense of self or a solid sense of self. A reflected sense of self is being very dependent on other people to tell you who you are. You can't feel good about yourself if you don't think you look attractive and need everyone to tell you that you look good, or you need everyone to tell you that you're good enough. That would be somebody who's still in a pretty early state of self-development, they are dependent upon a reflected sense of self. 

A more solid sense of self is you have less dependency on approval, as I have been talking about, more ability to reference your own experience, to reference your own values, to reference your self-respect as a way of judging who you are in the world. And the progression is moving out of that dependency into something that's a little more stable within ourselves. 

Preston Pugmire: Beautiful, beautiful. Emotional maturity and having that solid sense of self. I don't know if you said this or if I kind of gleaned it from all the things that you say, but physical maturity just happens. It happens to us, with nothing on our part. But emotional maturity doesn't just happen to us. We don't get this solid sense of self just because we've gone through puberty or gotten married or graduated college or because we're six feet tall or whatever that looks like. People have this idea that physical maturity and emotional maturity just happen, like, you're an adult now, so you just act like an adult. We don't do these things inside of our own minds.  And one of the ways that I've found, with my coaching clients and with entrepreneurs in general, is that when you don't have this solid sense of self, it prohibits you from taking action because you are still dependent on these external messages for validation. I'm talking about a very specific application. If somebody wants to launch a business or start a website, they don't do it because of this self-doubt, and all of this is tied together. And so that's why it's so important. So how do you get to the point that you reference your own values and find that internal validation and end up taking action? 

Jennifer Finlayson-Fife: So I have a simple answer and a little more complex answer. Maybe I'll give a little of the complexity, but then the punch line in the end.  I think the complexity of it is that those of us that grew up in an environment where your parents were solid enough that they didn't need you to be X, Y, or Z to validate their sense of self.  They were able to invest in you as a unique human being. And they were able to hold for you the idea that you, the child, are worth it. That you're worth taking risks, you're worth making mistakes. You are worth stretching into areas where you feel incompetent because that's the only way you're going to develop. Your development is a form of self-love. To do things that allow you to develop capacity, whether that is skill sets or psychological capacity. 

Those of us that are less fortunate grew up in homes, and this is probably the majority of the people listening, in which there are conditions. Parents need you to comply with them to make them feel in control or feel like a good parent, or they need you to do the things that validate their worldview or their sense of self. And so kids that grow up in that environment will feel a lot of angst about stepping off the beaten path or doing anything that they know isn't going to be in line with what the parents can validate. And another way of saying it is that people will either do compliance or defiance. So if you feel a lot of pressure, sometimes you'll go and do a more rebellious thing. But that can also not necessarily be good for you. You can be doing something that's not compliant but still is connected to the issue of validation from the parents. So whether or not you grew up in the more conditional environment or the more accepting one, what development always requires is a willingness to stretch yourself, to acknowledge what your highest desires are. What is it that you really want? What is it you want to develop, create, become? And a willingness to basically tolerate the potential failure, potential invalidation, the discomfort of growing into areas that are not yet known. You have to be willing to say that it may go bad and yet it matters enough to me to be willing to take that risk. I've heard Dr. Schnarch say that there are two different types of discomfort out there. You can have the discomfort of not growing, of not challenging yourself, and feel bad about yourself all the time. So you get either that discomfort or you can have the discomfort of growth. Either productive discomfort or unproductive discomfort. Which do you choose? 

Preston Pugmire: You get it either way. 

Jennifer Finlayson-Fife: Exactly. So those of us who feel freer and freer and freer through time take the productive discomfort over the unproductive discomfort. 

Preston Pugmire: Exactly. And people want to stay in their comfort zone, but that ends up being uncomfortable because you're stagnant. 

Jennifer Finlayson-Fife: That's right. In my experience with clients, when they feel depressed or have low self-respect, it has really been more around those that coddle their anxieties, coddle their fears, and live in a restricted way. People who've tried and made mistakes and tried and made mistakes, I experience as having a lot more self-respect even though they understand the mistakes have happened and that they've learned from them. And it's been challenging at times, but they respect their basic willingness to stretch themselves. 

Preston Pugmire: Absolutely beautiful. I love that you said we're developing. We're talking about developing your own emotional maturity and your sense of self is a form of self-love. People talk about self-care and self-love in the context of getting a really nice bar of chocolate or getting a massage or something like that, and say, "I'm just doing my self-care" and I love what you said and I'm 100 percent on board. Self-care, self-love is stretching yourself emotionally. Getting outside of your comfort zone, experiencing productive discomfort. I love it. Absolutely love it. You're talking about people having a native state of dependency because when they are children, and that's obvious. You have to have your parents take care of you and you can't change your own diaper when you're 18 months old.  A lot of the things that you talked about where if your parents are x or if your parents are y. So what if somebody did come from a situation where it was less effective?  What do they do then? Because they're at a relative disadvantage in that way. 

Jennifer Finlayson-Fife: Absolutely. So that would be my caseload, right. The people coming for help are generally the people who are in a meaning frame in which they feel stuck, and they don't feel able to work their way out of it. I would say that, if I were to make therapy a caricature for a moment, I think the primary thing I'm doing is helping people to see themselves in context. A lot of times we have these self-perceptions, we feel like they are true and that they are defining because it's the self-perception we've had for a long time. What they don't often see is the pressures that have been on them to see themselves in this way. Whether they're in a relationship with an oppressive parent or an oppressive partner, whether or not they have a sense of self. Oftentimes we create a sense of self that's really rigid and it's rigid for a reason. And the way to understand how it's become rigid is by understanding what role you've played in the network of relationships that you're in and how you got there. And so what I'm often doing is helping people to really see that dynamic, to see how they got pressured into a particular position. 

So an example might be if you grew up with a very critical, demanding father and you always felt inferior and you can't have equilibrium with your father unless you take an inferior position, even as an adult you're still deferring to him and you're still doing what he's asking. And it can sometimes be subtle in the sense that it's not about physical intimidation, but a kind of pressure that's always on the child. They are so accustomed to being in a self-doubting position in which they're looking for their dad's or others' approval that they don't see how their strength and how their capacity is always being limited by this very internalized dynamic. And so if I can help people the best, it’s helping them to see how they have constructed their sense of self and what forces have been upon it, and whether or not they're going to choose to keep positioning themselves in this old position. Such as getting their parents' approval or keeping equilibrium with that parent that keeps them in a more restricted or even childlike position. And when people start to see it, it actually opens up their sense of agency because now they can make choices. “Am I really going to keep living small? Am I really going to keep deferring to everybody around me, or am I going to start claiming my own ability to think, consider, and define who I'm going to be?” 

Preston Pugmire: Love it. You're talking about exposing the internalized dynamic. It's what I call the Wizard of Oz principle. When Dorothy pulled back the curtain and we saw the Wizard of Oz for what he was, and all of a sudden he lost his power. And so when you expose your internalized dynamic, or your limiting belief, and take an actual honest look at it, which is painful, it's very uncomfortable to do because it challenges your sense of self, your perception. 

Jennifer Finlayson-Fife: It does. And a lot of us want there to be a wizard. We don't want just a man behind the curtain. Do you know what I mean? And we want this idea that there are these strong able people out there that we can depend upon, rather than seeing the way that that dynamic keeps us dependent and limited. But also then we have to take more responsibility for ourselves if we really see what's behind the curtain. And that's scary. 

Preston Pugmire: It is. And once it is exposed, what is your process for reversing that internalized dynamic? 

Jennifer Finlayson-Fife: It's really through choices. And I'm often talking to people about what their choices are. I was talking to somebody today and saying, "You know, you don't have to grow up. It really is up to you." And I know it sounds a little ridiculous, but in some ways, he was really overwhelmed by the anxiety of psychologically becoming an adult and taking deeper responsibility for his life, because it's been very handicapped through the way he's been in a one-down dependent position, even though he's a full adult in terms of age. It's scary to start to see the people around him more as just human beings. It's scary to have to start defining his life more on his own terms. And so he keeps, in some ways, wanting to go blind and stay in this old dynamic. And so instead of him trying to please me in therapy and acting like the good client by acting like somebody who wants to grow up, I was saying to him, "I think you're being compliant with me. And I don't think you should spend your money doing that with me. It's not a good use of your time. You already do compliance without me. I mean, you don't have to do this, right? You can keep doing what you're doing or you can tolerate the anxiety of starting to stand up and claim your life. But it really is a decision that's up to you."

I'm a little bit like the ghost of Christmas future and the ghost of Christmas present and past. It's like, here's how you learned it and this is what you're doing. You can keep doing it, but I think this is what it's going to mean for you. Or you can have a different future. Which anxiety do you want? And that's kind of all I can do because ultimately people have to decide where they're going to be uncomfortable and whether or not they're going to start taking more responsibility for themselves or start choosing in a way that they respect more deeply or taking the risks of developing something or creating something or studying something that there are no guarantees around. And yet they are letting themselves be worth that effort. So that's a choice. You know, we talk about how loving others is an important thing to do, and it's an act of courage and it's a moral act to love others. I think it's a moral act to love ourselves. And it's not about feeling good about ourselves as much as what we talked about earlier, which is investing in yourself, doing hard things for the benefit of your development, just as you would do hard things for the benefit of your child's development. And that's what love is. And it takes courage because there aren't guarantees. But I think it's the only way to live. 

Preston Pugmire: Yeah, it really is. You're totally right, it's a choice. Sometimes people just choose out of that because they can't handle the pressure or the anxiety of growth. One thing I've found as a coach is I get to be okay with that instead of trying to be a savior for somebody, because that doesn't work.  But genuinely with no judgment, it's like, “Oh, that is what they're choosing.” And it's not like, “Okay that's their choice, whatever.” It's no judgment, just love and acceptance. But they made that choice. I love the phrase where you said people coddle their own anxieties. Why do you think that people feel comfortable coddling their own anxieties? Is it just because it's familiar? What's going on there? 

Jennifer Finlayson-Fife: Well, first of all, because change hurts, it's uncomfortable. I mean, when I'm up against those moments in my life, I'm like, "I see why people coddle their anxieties." It's easy to want to do what you know how to do and to live at the level you've mastered already. It's hard to break things down. It's hard to step towards things, it's hard to exercise the muscles you don't want to exercise. And so it's hard. That's why love has moral values, because it takes courage. It takes courage. Growth takes courage. It's human to be cowardly, is really the reality of it. And it's pretty human to regress against our fears. So I think sometimes when we make love the norm, we cheapen it.  Rather than, I think, sometimes laziness and hatred are more the norm, if you think about what's easy.

Preston Pugmire: Is it because it's a default state, that everything will gradually decline into that. And so that's its natural state. 

Jennifer Finlayson-Fife: I hesitate a little bit to say it's natural because I think human beings are very much capable of both love and hatred. We're capable of courage and discouragement. But I think that sometimes when we say all humans are well-intentioned, we deflate and devalue how remarkable love is because we push against the natural tendencies in ourselves to not try to not have courage. The things that always touch me when I'm watching films or seeing devastation, or documentaries of devastating times, are the courageous people. It's so touching to me to see people who do morally courageous things in the face of so much pressure to not do it. I guess I should say I certainly can understand why people live in a cowardly way. Although, I have my highest respect for people who don't do it. And I think one reason we do it is we want to kind of delude ourselves that we're justified and delude ourselves that somebody else is more responsible for our choices than we are. 

Preston Pugmire: Justified in what?

Jennifer Finlayson-Fife: We want to feel justified that somehow it's okay that I'm not really trying, because I'm a victim of my circumstances. 

Preston Pugmire: Yeah, definitely right. 

Jennifer Finlayson-Fife: Or “I would be a much nicer person in this marriage if I weren't married to such a jerk”, or whatever. So people are very good at finding ways to justify their own retreat into their anxieties.  And so what I try to help people with is to un-justify it. You're asking for a spouse who's courageous and kind and loving, and yet you don't want to offer it. So why are you asking for something that you yourself refuse to offer? 

Preston Pugmire: I love that approach in the courses that I've taken of yours. You're talking about when I want this situation in my marriage and my relationship. The question you always ask is, "Am I showing up as somebody who deserves that?" And I think that's such a great question, and it's really introspective, and it's hard. It's hard to take that look. 

Jennifer Finlayson-Fife: Yeah. It pushes you on what you do have control over, which is just yourself. Which is a hard part of life because we all would like to control each other. 

Preston Pugmire: Everything comes back to accountability. 

Jennifer Finlayson-Fife: Yes. Accountability for ourselves and what we're willing to do.  Christ talks about, in the New Testament, that love is its most virtuous when it's done in the face of hatred, meaning that you're willing to do hard things even when it would be justified to not do it. You're willing to do courageous things even when other people are not. So I see human beings as being remarkably capable of really heroic, courageous things. But I think our natural state is to resist it because it hurts, because it's uncomfortable, because it's uncertain. So I think the virtues that we often talk about in religious language of faith and hope and charity, are really those core ideas because they are against what is most easy within ourselves.  It's really where you find your own psychological freedom. When I think back on my life and think about the dark, hard moments, as much as I dislike those and thought that something was going wrong and that I needed to get out of those moments, those were often the moments where I found my inner courage. When I wasn't getting validation I thought of it as a bad thing but in some ways, it pushed me for my internal resources to go and create something better in my life. And I think of those times as really where very important things happened inside of me through the decisions I made in the face of the darkness, in the face of the difficulty. And I'm just really grateful to my younger self that I engaged courage often because now I get to live in the benefit of that. 

Preston Pugmire: Yeah, you're playing the long game. You're living in the benefit of courageous decisions that you made decades ago. I think that that's something that people don't often realize is that it's not a microwave mentality. It's not that you do this and then immediately your life is great.  You're setting up a foundation for ten years from now. And that's hard for us to wrap our minds and our hearts around because it's not immediate like everything else is. 

Jennifer Finlayson-Fife: You know, back to the idea of self-investment, you're literally investing in yourself, in your development, in your future, in what you are capable of. And it pays off. It's worthy. I talked about how you get to decide which discomfort you have.  And the thing is when you choose productive discomfort your overall discomfort goes down because you're creating a better reality both within yourself and in the world that you have around you. So the secret is to choose productive discomfort because you ultimately have to deal with less of it. 

Preston Pugmire: Okay, there's the secret. We figured it out.

You primarily deal with couples and relationships. We're talking about all these things in the context of yourself and how it relates to actions you are taking or not taking within a business. But I think they are so related. I would like to ask you about how you have seen your clients and their businesses and their external things increase or shift as they have worked on their own self and their own relationship. How has that rippled out? Let's talk about that ripple effect. 

Jennifer Finlayson-Fife: One client that comes to mind was in a similar theme as I've been talking about. She was always in a one-down position. She was always in an apologetic position, somewhat dependent, being in a relationship in a way in which she was in the more inferior position, but looking for a man that would take care of her psychologically and so on. And she's single, but was dating and constantly getting into these kinds of relationships. So she started to really see where it came from, how much pressure that had been on her to do that, how she was doing it in her relationship, and then really starting to change it. It was like she was saying, "I can see it now. I don't want to do it. It scares me, but I want to step up." And so she started stepping up in her romantic relationship, stepping up in her life. And then what started happening was she was stepping up at work too. She was in situations in which she was clearly being pressured by clients, male clients even, to take a step down. She was sort of getting bullied in the context of the work that they were doing together. And just seeing that she, now had this ability, the clarity of what was going on, and more resource within herself, and don't get me wrong it took a lot of courage, but getting her courage and stepping up and saying, “No, this is what you need to deal with and this is what you need to see.” And just owning her authority in the best sense, doing her job in the best sense, and not stepping down. And her boss, after doing this multiple times over the last year, plus because she's just kept growing and her ability, just said, "I've seen tremendous growth in you professionally.” And they gave her a promotion.  And she was saying, “It's really about getting a hold of the way that I was throwing my strength away and deferring.” And she had to tolerate invalidation to get there. That's the thing. She was making some people upset with her as she did it. But she was doing the right thing and she was doing her job as she did it. And she didn't make people's approval more important than doing the right thing. And that's how she got there. 

Preston Pugmire: I love that, tolerating invalidation on the way there because that takes courage.  You're talking about people in a one-down position and I'm familiar with it because of your courses. But when somebody is in that position, where they're even energetically apologetic about a lot of things, and coming from that space, how do you temper the swings so the pendulum doesn't go all the way to the other side and they're like, "Well, I'm just not going to take anything from anybody." Because that's not a wise decision either, right? 

Jennifer Finlayson-Fife: Yeah, exactly. Having an internal compass or a sense of integrity is not a defiant position either. So it doesn't mean you are unwilling to hear anybody else's point of view or that you don't care at all what anyone thinks. So it's not about, "I don't care. I'm fine if you're suffering." It's not that. It's that I'm not going to run my life by your approval. But anybody who is wise and wants to do wisely is going to be open to valuable or wise input from others.  If you want to make good choices, you're going to be looking to others that have gone before you that have wisdom to offer. But ultimately, you don't go along with whatever they say because you want to be a good girl or good boy. You're willing to really consider their view, consider it against your own sense of right and wrong, and then discern and make a choice out of that clarity.  So it's still choosing, and taking responsibility, but also gathering wisdom and good input to know that you’re making a good decision. It would be dumb to never borrow wisdom from people that have gone before us.  But that's very different from a dependent position, which is "I'll do whatever you say. Just love me. Just think I'm a good person, or I'm going to not have to think for myself, I'll just do whatever you think is right." And that's a weak position. It does matter what your spouse thinks. It does matter how you impact them, but you're not changing it just for their approval. You're changing it because you want to have a positive impact on them, not a negative one.

Preston Pugmire: And that comes back to choice. 

Jennifer Finlayson-Fife: Exactly. Choice and self definition relative to your partner, not just getting their approval. 

Preston Pugmire: Beautiful, beautiful distinction there about being less dependent on their approval and their validation for your own internal sense of self. And that goes with business, too. You change with the market because you give the people what they want, but you're not doing it just so that you can feel a sense of validation about it. It's a symbiotic relationship in that way. I love how you're talking about these things. What are some useful questions that people can ask themselves? Some introspective questions. Kind of like this one I mentioned already, this idea that if you want something, are you showing up as a person who can receive that into their life or who is worthy of that? Like, am I that person? What are some other introspective, useful questions that people can ask? 

Jennifer Finlayson-Fife: I'll just say something more about that question. I think that's a really good one, because I think that a lot of times clients say things like, I want a good marriage. I want to be happy. And I'll say, I guess I believe you. I believe that you want that. But behaviorally speaking, because behavior is a better indicator of our desires than what we say about our desires. Behaviorally speaking, you want to be punitive towards your spouse more than you want a good marriage. So I believe you want it. What I'm not sure is whether or not you're willing to do your part to get it. And so it's just an important question. It's fine to want my business to be successful. It's fine to want to get a master's in whatever. But am I really acting like somebody who is standing up for that reality, who is going to do what she or he needs to do to get it? Because now if you come to yourself honestly and say, no, I'm not. Then the next question might be, why am I not doing it?  What am I afraid of? What am I protecting? Is it some fantasy that at some point this is going to be easy or feel better, or is there some meaningful reason why I'm not doing it? Why am I holding back? And is it legitimate or is it not legitimate in my own view? Am I holding back from things I respect or am I holding back for reasons I don't respect? You know, then you might look at, what are the fears? I don't want to be held back by fear, but what are the fears? So let's think about the fear. I would line up what are my fears and then ask, are there fears in there that are legitimate that I need to address, real concerns, real limitations, real things that a wise person ought to concern themselves with? Or are they just fears that have more to do with failure, invalidation, seeing myself as stronger than I'm accustomed to seeing myself as being, things like that that are more fears that aren't worthy. That would be hard for me to be at peace with if I didn't make this decision. If I didn't make this decision, five years from now would it eat at me as a way of not respecting that choice? And then if you can see it more clearly, it allows you more to say, I don't want to define my life by my fears. Maybe these aren't fears that are worthy of holding back from. Maybe if there are legitimate fears, then what do I need to do to address them? Is there somebody I can get more input from to know if this is the right way to go or not so that I'm actually walking towards it? But I think that the other thing is just letting yourself know that being afraid is normal. Everything's going right if you're afraid or feeling uncertain. I don't think there's anybody that's ever created anything worthy that wasn't willing to step into the uncertain and know it could be a dismal failure and still persevere because they wanted something on the other side. I think those are good questions to ask yourself. And I think it's also wise to seek out wise others to talk through it with and say, "This is what I see in myself. This is what I think is holding me back. What do you think? What do you see in me?" Because oftentimes we can't see ourselves or a situation.  One of the things that's true about being human is that self-deception is really easy.  We create meanings without thinking and we tend to create them in a way that self justifies. And so it creates equilibrium within our life and that can really hold us back. And sometimes getting the input from other people can really open us up to another understanding of ourselves or another view or even allow us to borrow some confidence and say, "I think that I could do this. This person did the same thing. They face their fears. Maybe I can too."  

Preston Pugmire: And I think that both of our careers depend on other people seeking out wise counsel. So it works out for everyone. Everybody wins. Those are phenomenal questions. Jennifer, I'm so, so glad that you agreed to come on the show. I love your work and everything that comes with it. And I know that everybody else has just gotten a lot out of it because you're cracking eggs of knowledge all over everybody's heads. Well, I'm going to kind of close up here by asking the next level five. What is your most important daily habit? 

Jennifer Finlayson-Fife: I think probably the most helpful one, if I had to choose just one, is eating healthfully. As I tend to eat healthfully, I think it makes a big difference in having that energy I need and the capacity I need to do the work I do.  

Preston Pugmire: Yeah, awesome. Awesome. All right. What's something that you have recently bought that has leveled up your life? 

Jennifer Finlayson-Fife: I just bought a monthly membership to an exercise process called Barre Method.  And I just love it. I just absolutely love it because it's allowed me to exercise parts of my body that were sort of underworked and were creating lower back pain. And so I just feel kind of stronger all over. And it's really just made a big difference in my aging body to be able to keep doing all the things I want to be doing. 

Preston Pugmire: Perfect. What was the catalyst for finding it or why were like, "Okay, I need to actually do something." And why was barre the thing that you chose? 

Jennifer Finlayson-Fife: Probably two things were going on. One is that I wasn't, because I'm busy and have so much going on in my life, getting all the way to the gym that I normally go to. It was just happening less and less. So I was getting there two to three times a week as opposed to more. Actually, two to three times was on a good week, it was actually happening less. And I just knew I had to figure out a way to exercise close to every day because my body can't handle it. So I just looked for something really close, and this was walking distance from my house. And so I just went in and started doing it and it was everything I needed. And it was just the right kind of exercise, too. It's like all the core exercises that I need and stuff like that. So I kind of just happened into it. But I'm really grateful. 

Preston Pugmire: I love it. All right. Number three.  Who is influencing you right now besides David Schnarch? And I will say this as a little side note, I love that he is one of your main influences and mentors because I get to hear the word Schnarch all the time and it's just an incredible word. Every time you said his name it put a little smile on my face. It's a great word. Those are not sounds that you normally hear together. And so I love that you talk about him because I get to hear his name.

Jennifer Finlayson-Fife: He really has made a big difference in my life. He truly has. So I was thinking about the question and thought if I say Schnarch, it's such a given. I say that all the time. So, I am thinking about who else can I say. And I think probably the person I would say is, is a woman named Barbara Fairfield. Nobody's going to know her. She's just somebody that I reach out to, I talk to once a month. I just talk to her about clinical cases and so on. And she is an older woman. She's a generation ahead of me. And she's just wise. She has a lot of thoughtful input for me around the clinical work I do, but also just about how to live life well. And so she's just a very valuable resource for me in just doing good professional work, but also in staying reflective about my own life. 

Preston Pugmire: So cool. One of the things that I love about that question is because I like to bring people on here who I consider mentors. I mean, you didn't even know me, but you are one of my mentors and have been for the last year. And I love that the people that I look to also look to others. And it's just this idea that even the people that are top thought leaders are still working with coaches.  It's just cool. OK, so what is the biggest breakthrough that you've had recently? 

Jennifer Finlayson-Fife: I would say a major breakthrough I've had in the last six months, and it felt pretty major, is coming into a deeper awareness of my relationship to some of my extended family and my part in creating some of the dysfunction there. I had not seen myself as having a role in some of the problematic relationships that were there. And seeing that I did have a role and that I needed to repent and change. And that was disorienting and uncomfortable and very good for me. And I think, hopefully, also good for those relationships, it looks like and it's feeling like it is. And so I'm grateful for it, and it was a major breakthrough. You can know a lot about yourself and know a lot and grow a lot and still have blind spots. And the sad thing is I still have them. I'm just kind of teasing that it's a sad thing, because I think it's just a part of being human. You just kind of have to keep going through it. But it's not a sad thing. It's the reality. It's a good part of life. But that was an important part of the last few months.

Preston Pugmire: Well thank you so much for your candor on that one. I love that because you teach about your own personal accountability within relationships and you're utilizing that and implementing it in your own life in a really cool way. And that you're modeling it. It would be weird if you didn't. Thank you so much for that. 

Jennifer Finlayson-Fife: It's where all the joy is. You're welcome. And it is where all the joy is. I mean, to really see it. It's the only way to live, even though it's hard.

Preston Pugmire: My wife and I bought the Strengthening Your Relationship course, and it's just so much of the stuff that we talked about today and it just goes so much in-depth with it. And I love it. And I feel like even if your relationship is awesome, you can always take it to the next level.  The name of this podcast is Next Level Life. No matter where you're at, you can take it to the next level. And that's empowering because there's always more to learn. I think it would be boring if you ever reached it all.

Jennifer Finlayson-Fife: Yeah. And I think a lot of people have the idea that the good part of marriage is the honeymoon. Like it's good in the beginning and then everything kind of gets more resentful and more closed. And I think that is a stereotype because a lot of people do marriage that way, but the way I really think about a good marriage is that it's a growing marriage. And when people talk about marriage being happy, it's because they experience an expansion of themselves within the context of marriage. Those that talk about being unhappy in marriage have a constriction of self. So, again, back to this issue of our relationship to ourselves is we want to feel that we really can deeply belong to ourselves in the marriage that we're in. And the way that happens is through it continuing to grow. Growing for intimacy to become deeper and richer, for developing who you are as a person to become broader and deeper. So I think you're absolutely right. The principles are really there that can help you at whatever position you're at in the trajectory of your marriage. 

Preston Pugmire: Thank you so much. Dr. Jennifer Finlayson-Fife. I really, really appreciate you coming by and talking to us today. 

Jennifer Finlayson-Fife: It's my pleasure, Preston. Thanks for having me.

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