Untying the Anxiety Knot with Mental Health Expert Lisa Sugarman

Imperfect Love | Lisa Sugarman | Anxiety

Anxiety has a way of weaving itself into our bodies, brains, and lives. Struggles with anxiety often begin in childhood and, by adulthood, can become firmly entrenched in our lives. With many mental health issues on the rise–from anxiety, depression, and chronic stress to suicide–it’s time to pause to find actionable strategies to help us diminish life’s stressors and cope in healthy ways. We often feel defective and struggle in silence, yet healing can be found in reaching out for supportphilosophy out there and learning to listen to our true needs. The more we destigmatize mental health problems by sharing our stories in supportive environments, the more we can find the path to well-being. Join Dr. Carla and mental health expert Lisa Sugarman for an empowering and uplifting journey into the art of connection and healing.


Books by Dr. Carla Manly:

Date Smart: Transform Your Relationships and Love Fearlessly

Joy From Fear: Create the Life of Your Dreams by Making Fear Your Friend

Aging Joyfully: A Woman’s Guide to Optimal Health, Relationships, and Fulfillment for Her 50s and Beyond

The Joy of Imperfect Love: The Art of Creating Healthy, Securely Attached Relationships


Connect with Dr. Carla Manly:

Website: https://www.drcarlamanly.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/drcarlamanly/

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/drcarlamanly/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/drcarlamanly

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/carla-marie-manly-8682362b/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/@dr.carlamariemanly8543

TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@dr_carla_manly


Books by Lisa Sugarman:

How to Raise Perfectly Imperfect Kids And Be Ok With It: Real Tips & Strategies for Parents of Today’s Gen Z Kids

Untying Parent Anxiety (Ages 5-8): 18 Myths That Have You in Knots—And How to Get Free

LIFE: It Is What It Is


Connect with Lisa Sugarman:

Website: https://lisasugarman.com/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lisa-sugarman-16925b69
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lisa_sugarman

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheLisaSugarman/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/@thelisasugarman

TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@thelisasugarman

Linktree: https://linktr.ee/thelisasugarman

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Untying the Anxiety Knot with Mental Health Expert Lisa Sugarman

Anxiety has a way of weaving itself into our bodies, brains, and lives. Struggles with anxiety often begin in childhood and by adulthood can become firmly entrenched in our lives. With many mental health issues on the rise from anxiety, depression, and chronic stress to suicide, it is time to pause to find actionable strategies to help us diminish life’s stressors and cope in healthy ways. The more we destigmatize mental health problems by sharing our stories in supportive environments, the more we can find the path to well-being.

In this episode, we’ll focus on this reader’s real-life question, “I feel really alone all the time even when I’m with my friends. When we go out together, I feel super anxious and isolated like there’s a wall around me that keeps getting taller. I drink to help with the anxiety, but it’s always there anyway. I feel defective and can’t share what’s happening with anyone. They wouldn’t understand. Can you help?” With that question as the focus of this episode, this is the show.

Please note. As this episode contains sensitive information, reader discretion is advised. I’m joined by a very special guest, Lisa Sugarman, who will be sharing her expertise as a mental health advocate, loss and grief counselor, columnist, and storyteller for the National Alliance for Mental Illness, NAMI. Lisa is also an author, a crisis counselor for The Trevor Project, and so much more.



Welcome to the show, Lisa. How are you?

I’m great. I am happy to be here with you.

It’s wonderful to share time. I know we’ve intersected before because you, for a period, focused on books on parenting, anxiety in parenting, and all of these wonderful topics. Yet, I realize your life has also taken a very interesting shift as wives sometimes do. Before we launch into the reader’s question and where you are, could you tell our audience a little bit about what makes you you?

That’s a big, open question. One of the biggest things at this point in my life that makes me me is that I’m the mom of two grown daughters. It’s hard to believe sometimes that they’re grown and in their mid and late twenties. I am a wife to the boyfriend I had in high school after all these years. That’s a very special distinction that I have. I’m an advocate. I’m a crisis counselor. I’m a champion for mental health. I’m a lot of different things, but what I am in my life more than I’ve ever been is someone who’s trying to live really authentically and vulnerably as a way of encouraging other people to do the same because there’s a lot of power in that.


Thank you for sharing all of that with us. I like the part where you’re talking about vulnerability and authenticity. I share that with you, living vulnerably and living authentically. What other way is there to live? Let’s lead for a minute before we get into the heavier stuff. For our audience who might not know what you mean by vulnerability, because I know some people think being vulnerable means that you go out and share your story with everyone everywhere no matter who’s present, and gush at the seams with whatever’s happening in your life, could you explain what your definition of vulnerability is?

Sure. I won’t lie. As a content creator, I do share what I’m thinking or feeling, or what I’m working on with the world quite often. That’s what I do, and I do it in lots of different formats on lots of different types of platforms. For me, being vulnerable is more about showing up exactly as I am wherever I am. It goes way beyond being open, honest, and transparent about your life, about the things that you do, and about the belief systems that you have. For me, it’s more about what you see on the outside matches what exists on the inside as a human being.

What you see on the outside should match what exists on the inside. Share on X

It also means being open about the lived experience that I have. We all have our own different types of lived experience. I have a lot of experience with grief and loss that I know you and I are going to talk an awful lot about in this episode. I have a lot of experience with sexuality, having come out only a few years ago as a pansexual wife and mother of two grown daughters. I’ve been in the habit of keeping what’s on the inside as close of a match to what you see on the outside as possible. That’s what I mean by being vulnerable.

If I’m getting you right, we’re also blending authenticity in there. Authenticity is an integral part of your vulnerability. It is being authentic and then being willing to open up all of those parts of the self in ways that feel right and appropriate to you.


I love that. For our audience who might not understand what pansexuality is, give us a brief description, please.

For anyone who identifies as pansexual, bisexual, or asexual, every term has its own little nuances. Most people understand, and I’ll take bisexuality as an example, that it means having a physical attraction to more than one gender. It doesn’t just mean men and women. It means more than one gender. You extend that a little bit further.

Pansexuality, the way that I personally interpret it because we all have our own little micro interpretations that maybe make it a little bit different for each of us, means that when I’m connecting with someone, I can connect with someone both emotionally and also feel a physical attraction to someone regardless of their gender or the way that they show up in the world.

If someone is male-presenting or female-presenting or someone has a different sexuality altogether than what would be considered to be a stereotypical cis-gendered gender in sexuality, that doesn’t change my attraction. My attraction to someone isn’t physical. It’s also emotional. It might be, in some cases, spiritual. It might be very personality-driven. It might be a vibe that I feel from someone. I know that I have the capacity as a human being to be attracted to someone regardless of their sexuality and gender.

I love that definition because it really opens it up to noticing that sometimes, we do feel inexplicably drawn to people. It has nothing to do with gender. We’re like, “Oh my goodness.” Thank you for sharing that definition. It’s very beautiful and also a lovely example of your vulnerability and authenticity. Let’s go for a minute to our reader’s question.

It’s this individual, and I don’t know the gender, who really lives in this chronic state of anxiety. As you and I both realize and our audience likely realize, anxiety can be so pernicious that it can be fairly light at times. For some people, it’s fairly light in passing. For other people, it grows over time. It can lead to agoraphobia. It can lead to really feeling stuck in life. It can lead to panic attacks or even co-occur with depression. It can even become so overpowering that it can lead to suicidality and even suicide.

You’re the expert on this. In the people that I’ve worked with, and it very much fits with what this reader is reaching out about, it can become such this vice grip on the person that they feel as though they can’t go out in public or into any social situation without having the social lubricant of some form of alcohol, weed, or something on board to make them feel as though they can be authentic and safe in their own skin. What do you think about that?

Anxiety Is Relative

I think that it’s a hard position to be in. Anxiety is such a relative thing. What might not even faze you or faze me in the least bit could be completely incapacitating to somebody else on a different level. It’s so subjective and so personal, but it’s very real. In the case of this particular person, if they’re feeling incapacitated, isolated, or there is some kind of a barrier between them and the rest of the world, that’s valid, and it has to be treated as though it’s valid.

It’s a hard way to live. I would imagine you’re feeling like you’re never fully connecting with the world around you or the people around you. It would be like you’re living in a little bit of a bubble and there’s no way to fully connect with the people in the world around you. That’s got to feel really isolating, potentially being in a crowd of people, maybe people who you even know and know well, and still not feel like you’re connecting with them on the same level. That’s got to be hard. It’s no wonder that somebody would try to leverage something like alcohol, weed, or some other kind of agent to somehow make that connection easier to form or help tear down that barrier a little bit. I feel for the person. I don’t think that there’s any quick fix to something like that.

In terms of where you go when you’re in that situation and when you’re feeling that way, I feel like it’s probably a baby-steps situation. What I would suggest to someone if I were having a conversation with them is, first and foremost, pick the handful of people who you believe you are the closest to, you feel safest with, and you feel most authentic around. Maybe start there. Start by sharing how you’re feeling.

We’re talking a lot about vulnerability, but maybe acting a little bit vulnerable and expressing that. See what comes back to you because they might be surprised. They might be surprised to know that they’re not alone and other people feel the same way, and if they do, what do they do about it? People have a very outward-facing persona, and people have a private persona in a lot of cases. Sometimes, people match inside and outside, and sometimes, they don’t. More often than not, people don’t. Starting there and being open and honest about how you’re feeling with people you can trust might lend itself to some interesting answers.

Thank you. You already got to some of the points I was going to bring up by offering such a comprehensive and beautifully grounding response. I love that you emphasized the part of talking with people you can trust and people you feel safe with. I was working with a client who said, “I learned that every time I shared, I was sharing with people who would criticize me and attack me, so then, I feel worse. I felt more alone. I felt this, and I felt that.”

It’s the sad truth. Not everyone is safe to be vulnerable with. We always want to be as authentic as we can be, but we do have to be judicious about who we’re vulnerable with. If we have people in our lives who are going to gaslight us, criticize us, or abuse us in any way for sharing our true selves, it can certainly increase anxiety and stress. The mental health issues become amplified. It is finding that safe place.

I also love how you focused on baby steps because sometimes, in mental health, people think, “I have to make these big leaps.” You and I know firsthand that mental health does not improve in a big leap. It’s not, “Take one pill. Go to one session.” It is, “If you need medication, it’s still going to be a journey because you want to address what’s underneath so that maybe at some point in time, you won’t need the medication possibly.” Also addressing those issues can take a long time and can even be a lifelong journey.

Microchanges Create Change

It’s a marathon. It’s not a sprint. Not to oversimplify it, but I feel like that’s what we’re dealing with here. For most things of real substance, and when you’re talking about how you engage with the world, that’s pretty substantive, it’s not going to happen overnight. Lots of little micro changes combine to create big changes, and that’s what we lose sight of. I know I lose sight of that all the time.

A lot of little micro-changes combine to create change, and that's what we lose sight of. Share on X

I have to remind myself that making little strides and taking those little baby steps is still forward motion. It’s still progress. It’s still taking you to that place that you’re trying to go but at a different pace. Sometimes, taking our time and being really intentional with the things that we do, the things that we say, or the positions we put ourselves in can lead to the biggest change.

I 100% agree with you. You made me think of a women’s group I was running. It’s one of the things I love about group work and working with groups. Sometimes, when we’re on our solo journey, we don’t see those baby steps that are having a snowball effect in our lives. Especially in group work, other people become your witness.

I’d have women come in and they’d say, “I’m not changing. I feel really stuck,” and I would leave it up to the other members of the group. As the facilitator, I would sometimes watch and see what happens. One woman would invariably step up and say, “I remember you when I first came to the group,” or, “I remember you when you first came to the group. You have shifted. You have changed.”

One time, a woman came in. She wanted to share this with the group. She said, “My journey was like a large ship. My nose was pointed at one shore. I couldn’t tell because the turning from one shore to another was so slow that it was only much later that I was able to look back and go, “I used to be pointed at that shore. Now, I’m pointed toward the open sea.” It was such a beautiful image and a beautiful metaphor. That is how the work with any mental health issue can really be something that takes this long, tiny baby step progress.

Sometimes, we wake up one day and go, “I responded to that situation differently.” The time when I went out for our reader’s question, he, she, or they may find at some point that they say no to going out. Maybe that’s the baby step. Maybe they don’t want to go out. Maybe they want to have one person come in instead or have nobody come in and spend the night, reading a book.

All of those listening to themselves like, “What do I want tonight? Do I want to go out? Maybe I want to listen to my anxiety and stay in, do some yoga, some reading, go to sleep, take a shower, or take a bath.” I’m a believer that anxiety is a messenger. All too often, we shut the door on the messenger and we don’t want to listen to it. We respond to it and say, “Let’s cut it off. Let’s not be anxious.”

If we slow down, anxiety has a lot to teach us. We both have experience writing books. My first book, Joy from Fear, is about learning to listen to that fear and that anxiety because it does have a lot to tell us. It can be a big motivator. For the individual who wrote in, what would you think with all of your experience that anxiety might be saying to this individual?


Imperfect Love | Lisa Sugarman | Anxiety


Social Battery

What comes up for me, and it started coming up while you were giving the analogy of the ship, has to do with our social battery because we all have a social battery. I have a YouTube channel and video series called The Suicide Survivor Series. I put out new videos every week. I did a video about our social battery and how some of us have a longer-lasting battery than others. It doesn’t really have anything to do with agoraphobia necessarily, but it has to do with plain old comfort level. The fact of the matter is we are not all wired equally. What works for you might not work for me.

A big part of all of this, understanding who we are and how we function in the world, is really looking at where we’re comfortable, where we’re not comfortable, why aren’t we, and why are we. We should stop comparing ourselves to the people around us who may behave very differently in situations that are different from the way that we would behave.

In this case, it might have a lot to do with this person’s social battery being low, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Maybe take a step back and think of what situations you find yourself in when you are comfortable. It’s like you said. Maybe have one person come to you, or maybe go out and meet 1 or 2 people at a time. Is it when you’re in a big gathering at a big event? What are your triggers? Where’s your threshold? Then, act accordingly.

It could be a matter of paying closer attention to when your battery feels drained and respecting that, honoring that, and saying, “I’m not going to put myself in that situation right now because I know that’s not going to be good for my head space.” That might be a good way to think of it and a good place to start, by evaluating, “Where am I okay? Where am I not okay? Why?”

Thank you for drawing attention to the social battery. I liken it also through the lens of introversion and extroversion. In the middle, we have the omnivert or ambivert. When we look at that as a lens for this reader’s question, it is so important to know where you are on that spectrum. I tend to be very introverted. I sometimes present myself as an extrovert.

When I do get out, I am more extroverted, but I need so much alone time in order to get out that 1 or 2 times a month. It’s not a week, but a month. When I am out, because I am a very empathic and sensitive introvert, it takes me so much time to process all of the emotions I picked up and everything that I saw and felt. It would make sense that if I weren’t aware of that, I too might be drawn to self-soothe or self-anesthetize because the stimulation can be so intense, but I’m aware of my boundaries and my needs around that.

It’s probably a good thing to explain to our audience. This is one of the ways to tell who’s an introvert and who’s an extrovert. The introvert tends to get fueled by alone time or time with 1 or 2 people. The extrovert tends to get fueled by time with other people and socializing. They really need that. As you wisely brought up, this individual may have friends who are more extroverted. If this individual tries to keep up with them, it will be toxic for them

 You said very wisely, “Find out what your social battery is and respect it.” That is such an important point. What else might you highlight for the reader’s question on the walls that they feel around them, that sense of being isolated? I know we have a big loneliness epidemic. Also, the US has fallen out of the top 20 countries that are the happiest for the 1st time in ages. There’s an association there.

You’re right. Give yourself some grace. I feel like I’m saying that a lot in a lot of different situations, but I feel like it applies in this particular context especially. I’m speaking of myself too. A lot of us operate from a place of reactivity. Let’s take this person’s particular situation where they go out in a social setting and they’re overwhelmed. They feel like there’s a barrier and they’re not connecting with people. We react to that. We internalize what we believe to be a defect. We think, “Most people aren’t like that. People can be out in public and can socialize. What’s wrong with me?” That’s what a lot of people tend to jump to. It’s that, “There’s something wrong with me.”

Joy Of Missing Out

There’s nothing wrong with someone who has a lower threshold for interaction. I was smiling a lot when you were talking about yourself and your own social media. I’m the same way. I’ve grown into much more of a solitary person as I’ve gotten older than I ever was before. A big part of that is because when we’re younger, we’re so conditioned to want to be part of everything. We don’t want to miss anything. There’s this whole FOMO culture. I’ve been embracing a whole new concept called JOMO. If people understand what FOMO is, which is the Fear Of Missing Out, there is a whole new philosophy out there called JOMO, which is the Joy Of Missing Out. It’s all a reframe.



I love this.

It’s such a cool concept that, for me, has really taken any stress. I’m speaking directly to the person who asked you that question. That was a game-changer for me when I started to think about my interactions, where I put myself, where I spent my time, and who I spent my time with. You are allowed to discriminate. I don’t mean discriminate in a bad way. I mean in a personal way.

You’re allowed to not respond, “I’m going to the party or the function, or the event.” You can give yourself permission to not go. It doesn’t mean you’re not a good friend. It doesn’t mean you’re not supportive. It doesn’t mean you don’t care. It means that you reserve the right to decide where you want to spend your time and how you want to spend your time. Don’t judge yourself for that. Don’t beat yourself up because of that. Allow yourself to take joy in choosing what you do, where you go, and who you engage with.

You reserve the right to decide where, how, and with whom you spend your time. Share on X

It’s all about how you frame and reframe things. It’s about the whole, “I have to get up and work out today.” When you reframe it, it’s, “I get to work out today, build my endurance, build my stamina, and feel great about myself.” It depends on how we think about things. If the reader who wrote in that question maybe gives themself grace and thinks about it in terms of like, “I’m more content to be in these situations,” then they’ll give themselves a little bit more of a license to enjoy them.

I love the way you reframe it because it is so important to dive inside, find what’s right for you, and not compare yourself to others because we are all unique beings. There are times we will want to be turning outwards and times when what’s best for us is to turn inward. When we do that, it does really reduce anxiety. It reduces stress. It reduces that sense for many people of being depressed because they feel like they are broken.

I love that image of the walls. It’s not that I like it for the person who wrote in, but it was expressed very well. Those walls, for somebody who feels isolated and deficient all the time, when your friends are appearing one way and you feel like you’re very different and you’re trying to appear like them, that’s a road to nowhere quickly. I really appreciate that you brought up the piece about talking and sharing a piece of how you’re feeling. This is such an important aspect because many people will feel the same way this individual feels and say, “I’m so glad you said that. I feel exactly that same way.”

Building And Growing Community

That’s it. There’s strength in that. That right there is the foundation for community. That’s how you build and grow a community. It is when you start sharing it. I’m talking about authenticity, vulnerability, and sharing our stories. I’m talking about all of these tools that we can use to, I don’t want to say level the playing field, but that’s what it is. It’s fleshing out the reality that not everything is as it seems.

There’s a whole optics thing that exists within our relationship dynamics that I’ve learned in my lifetime. Here’s a perfect example. Take a middle school-aged or high school-aged child who is experiencing that fear of being left out or that pain of being left out because they’ve seen all these parties and get-togethers that they didn’t get invited to on social media that look so amazing. They think everybody in the world was invited except for them.

Those images, “stories”, events, or narratives were curated to look a certain way. Those are designed to look like it was the greatest thing that anybody has ever gone to. You’re going to feel bad that you weren’t a part of it, but when you look behind the curtain and realize, “It wasn’t that great,” or, “Not everybody was there,” or, “It wasn’t that big of a deal,” that’s when you realize how skewed things can be from the outside and how much of a negative impact those images can have when we don’t know the full story.

It’s one of those pieces about that voice of toxic comparison. The minute we start comparing ourselves and what’s happening in our lives with some airbrushed, carefully curated image, or whatever it is, we don’t know. It’s so tempting because we’re human. I’m not on social media a whole lot, but every once in a while, I’ll see something and I’ll go, “That looks lovely. I wish I had gone to that or been invited to that.” I then come back to me and say, “You were where you wanted to be because you were where you wanted to be, and that’s right for you. Why are you longing for this?” If we create the life that we want, we end up being in the right place anyway even if that’s cuddled up with our puppy on the couch or whatever it is.

Permission To Be Content

That’s a great point. Too few of us give ourselves that permission to be content doing what we’re doing because we feel that there’s this external compulsion to do all the other things that either our friends, society, or our community tell us we’re supposed to be doing or makes us believe that we’re supposed to be doing. Therein lies the problem, the disconnect, the issue, or whatever you want to call it. That’s the foundation for all of these issues because we’re so conditioned to believe that we’re supposed to do certain things and be a certain way.

I’m speaking in terms of being social, being active, and being part of a community. Who has the right to say that a life with a handful of close friends is any less meaningful than a life with a list of friends that is 200 names deep? It’s all relative. It doesn’t matter. Is it quantity versus quality? No one gets to decide that but us, but we forget that.



Thank you for bringing that up. There’s this researcher, Dunbar, but I might be confusing him with somebody else because there’s so much research roiling around in my brain. He did this wonderful research that can fit perfectly here. His research showed that we are able to have, because of the human brain, five intimate friends. If you have a romantic partner, that romantic partner takes up 1.5 of those people. We have another sphere that might have ten people in it. Those are our friends, but it’s much looser. We see them or we don’t see them. It then goes out in various degrees.

Many of us have come to believe that we should all have this big social network of 300 friends or 5,000 friends. Some people have that many friends, so to speak, on Facebook or whatever. I like to reframe it to intimate friends, friends, and acquaintances. Many of the people that we are so-called friends with on Facebook don’t know anything about us.

We may have dated them at some point or maybe they were a childhood friend, but they don’t know who we are. They don’t know us through and through, or they may have known another version of who we were. I love how you said, “No one should be telling you, not yourself or other people, that you are better, more successful, and more valuable because you have more friends.”

The Gift Of Storytelling

Most of us are lucky if we have 1, 2, or 3 really dear friends in our lives that we can count on. That is what’s priceless and precious. When we cultivate those intimate friendships, they are with like-minded people who aren’t going to pull us out to go to a bar if we’re not feeling like it or to run a marathon if we want to walk around the park. Those intimate friendships are often a big part of positive mental health, people whom we can share our stories with. This is my lead-in to one of your fortes. You are a storyteller. Could you tell us a little bit about the gift of storytelling?

Yeah. I am a volunteer with the National Alliance on Mental Illness, NAMI. I’m here in Massachusetts, North of Boston. I go around the state of Massachusetts and share my story of losing my father to suicide with everyone who wants to hear it, whether it be a civic organization, a school, or a private group. It connects me with people on a grassroots level or on a very personal, intimate, small group basis where I can have a really open, honest, and safe conversation about my lived experience.

This is not a clinical environment. I’m sharing my story with you in the hopes that you connect with some part of it or all of it on maybe something that I’ve done to help myself over the years. It’s getting back to the original way that we all communicated with each other. Before we had all the bells, whistles, screens, tablets, and technology, people would talk to each other. People would tell you in their own words what happened to them, how they navigated it, and where it took them. That’s what I do. I do that whenever I have the opportunity. That’s more of the classic storytelling experience.

I also tell stories in lots of different ways. I do it like you do. I write books. I tell different stories that way. I write a column and tell a micro-story every week in my columns. I write a lot of content that shares little snippets of the different lived experiences that I’ve had in the hopes of getting other people to do the same thing. When we do that, we connect with people on a basic level. It encourages other people to do the same, to have them turn around and share some aspect of their own personal story that could somehow benefit someone else. It’s a domino effect. The hope is that it’s a domino effect in that way.

This is why I talked about group therapy. It’s an ancient way of supporting positive mental health. We didn’t have phones many years ago where people were staring at a screen for hours at a time. We were staring into the eyes of another person. We were staring into the stars or the trees. We were staring into connection.

We spend so much of our days with people who are hyper-connected. We’re staring into something that doesn’t see us. It’s a computer screen. It’s not showing us anything human back in a really palpable way. What could be more lonely than that? What could be more loneliness-inducing than spending the bulk of your day looking at something that’s lifeless? As you can tell, I’m a bit of a Luddite at heart.

We could all benefit from being a little bit more like that, to be honest with you. While we can’t argue that there has been a lot of good that has come out of all of our technological advancements and there’s no way to dispute that, it has also had a lot of negative effects too. You look at kids who are missing out on so much of their lives and so much of their relationships and interactions. There are kids who don’t know how to answer the telephone. They don’t know how to talk on the telephone. They don’t know how to carry on a conversation and maintain eye contact with someone.

A lot of good has come out of all of our technological advancements, but it also has a lot of negative effects like kids missing out on so much of their lives, relationships, and interactions. Share on X

These little life skills are being lost. We could all benefit from a global movement to get back to a place where we connect with each other directly. We’ve moved from one pandemic into another pandemic. We’re in this medical pandemic and this mental health pandemic. One of the main ways that we find our way back or out of it is to really start connecting with each other in a different way than we have been for a long time.


Imperfect Love | Lisa Sugarman | Anxiety


For thousands of years, humans connected with each other face to face, shoulder to shoulder, and heart to heart. It’s only in the last couple of decades that we have moved away from that. It’s an abrupt and toxic shift. It’s interesting that you brought up the little ones because when I go on my morning walks, you can see there are some parents that are walking with their kiddos and talking about nature, this, and that, and other ones where a two-year-old has their own phone and they’re face down into the screen or whatever it is.

I’m not judging it, but we know the long-term effects. We are wondering why we’re seeing more ADHD. It’s because we’re giving our kids so much of this reinforcement of these little bits. It’s much less likely to feel hyperactive if you’re looking into somebody else’s eyes, talking, connecting, and engaging with other people. You have to be much more present for longer periods of time.

I could talk to you for ages. We’ll have to have you back to talk more about suicide, grief, and loss. I know that is one of your specialties because it’s very real and personal to you. That’s often the best place to come from because there’s such wisdom in lived experience. Thank you so much for blessing us with your grace, your beauty, and your energy. I’m so grateful. Before you share where the audience can find you, are there any other pieces that you think are important for us to be able to offer this reader to flesh out more of the question of the day?

Give Yourself Grace

I would go back to something that I had said earlier and reiterate it strongly and tell them directly. Give yourself some grace. Meet yourself exactly where you are. Put your energy into surrounding yourself with people who are going to bring out the best in you, who are going to support you, and who are going to be there to embrace you in whatever way that you show up. Don’t worry about being what you think people want to see from you. Worry about being exactly who you are and finding a place where you can do that in a safe way.

Give yourself some grace. Meet yourself exactly where you are right now. Put your energy into surrounding yourself with people who are going towill bring out the best in you. Share on X

Thank you for emphasizing that. It’s a perfect point and a huge point. You had talked a little bit earlier about agoraphobia. When we don’t listen to that inner voice, that’s where issues like agoraphobia, that fear of leaving home, and that fear of going anywhere can really surface. I’ll add to that. Listen to whatever you need. When you’re listening to what your body, mind, and spirit want, you can’t go wrong.

If you need help finding out what your body, mind, and spirit want, get some support. We’ve become so far removed. What seems simple to a clinician, someone who does it every day, doesn’t mean that it’s simple for you, our reader. We don’t expect that. You may need some help to find out, “I don’t even know who I am. What’s really right for me?”

I’ve been there, so I know precisely. When I was younger, I didn’t know what was right for me. I felt it, but it was so socialized to do what everyone else wanted that I had to go back and get help. I understood, “What does Carla want? What is right for her?” It’s not what’s right for everyone else. Thank you for emphasizing that and for sharing your life and your story with us, a bit of it. Where can our audience find you?

Everything that I do and everywhere that I am is really funneled into my website. You can go to LisaSugarman.com. All of my books are there. My column archives are there. All of the mental health resources that I’ve curated and tools I’ve curated live there. My YouTube channel funnels in there as well and everything that I put out into the world. I’m on Instagram, Facebook, and all those little social spaces and places. You can find them all at LisaSugarman.com.

Thank you. Her website is fabulous. Don’t miss the toolkit section. Don’t miss her book section. She has great books on parenting. You have such a wealth of experience and wisdom to share. I appreciate it. Thank you for being with us. It’s been such a joy and a pleasure.

Thanks. I appreciate you having me. This was such a beautiful conversation. I’m already excited for the next one.

Thank you, and thank you to our audience for sharing your time with us. This is the show.


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About Lisa Sugarman

Imperfect Love | Lisa Sugarman | AnxietyLisa Sugarman is an author, a nationally syndicated columnist, a three-time survivor of suicide loss, a mental health advocate, and a crisis counselor with The Trevor Project. She’s also a storyteller with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and the host of The Suicide Survivor Series on YouTube. Lisa is also a Survivor of Suicide Grief & Loss Facilitator with Samaritans. She also writes the opinion column We Are Who We Are and is the author of How To Raise Perfectly Imperfect Kids And Be Ok With It, Untying Parent Anxiety, and LIFE: It Is What It Is, available on Amazon, at Barnes & Noble, and everywhere books are sold. Her work has appeared on Healthline Parenthood, GrownAndFlown, TODAY Parents, Thrive Global, The Washington Post, LittleThings, and More Content Now. Lisa lives and writes just north of Boston. Visit her online at www.lisasugarman.com.