#003 – Entrepreneurial trauma happens more often than you’d think. In this episode, Lexi Eliades and Joey Randazzo discuss what trauma is, how trauma lives in the body, and how entrepreneurs can overcome their trauma by developing their resilience. She shares 3 actionable strategies to help entrepreneurs increase their resilience.
Victor Frankl’s book titled Man’s Search For Meaning: https://www.amazon.com/Mans-Search-Meaning-Viktor-Frankl/dp/0807014273/ref=sr_1_1?crid=1Q6IPLN40M9Q7&keywords=man%27s+search+for+meaning&qid=1573572081&s=books&sprefix=man%27s+sear%2Caps%2C232&sr=1-1
Wim Hof Method: https://www.wimhofmethod.com/
Here are some links to the scientific research that shares all the findings about meditation, journaling, and cold exposure:
This transcript was done by a machine. We apologize for any errors.
Joey Randazzo: Victor Frankl spent three years in concentration camps and during that time his wife, mother, father, and brother died. Yet even through this incredibly traumatic experience, he found meaning in his life. I’m going to ask later about if he experienced despair in these camps. Here’s how he responded.
Victor Frankl: Let me present you, confront you with a somewhat a strange definition of despair. Despair can be explained in trumps of a mathematical equation. D, capital V equals X minus M. what does it mean? This sprayer is suffering without meaning.
Joey Randazzo: In this episode we hear from Lexi Eliott Les about what trauma is, how entrepreneurs might experience trauma more often than they know and how surprisingly, overcoming trauma by building resilience might have more to do with the body than the mind. Hello and welcome to overcoming the mind. My name is Joey Randazzle.
Joey Randazzo: Trauma is a word that has been thrown around a lot lately. Honestly, I never knew what it meant until my conversation with Lexi and basically Lexi told me that I’m not the only one that doesn’t understand what this word means. What trauma means actually depends on the person,
Lexi Eliades: the trauma. I feel like as a very weighted word on its own. So when you say trauma, I imagine that as you’re saying it, you have an idea in your head of what that looks like. The audience is probably thinking of variety of things that they would consider traumatic. So that’s a very weighted word.
Joey Randazzo: And trauma definitely is a weighted word. So when Lexi hears trauma, uh, she thinks of the first responders and veterans that she works with. These are people that have seen combat situations, but to others, trauma might not mean the same thing as it does to Lexi. So what does trauma actually mean?
Lexi Eliades: An acute stress reaction is the response to, um, an a is a normal response to an abnormal stressor. And that’s probably the simplest way you can define trauma.
Joey Randazzo: A great example of trauma is a car accident. So after a car accident, you might be afraid to get back in a car or very anxious whenever you’re in a car. But trauma is not that simple because as Lexi puts it,
Lexi Eliades: it’s definitely
Joey Randazzo: something that exists on a scale. Trauma can even come from regular day to day activities that you don’t even think about.
Lexi Eliades: Sometimes even the news can be a disregulating for people, um, or watching things on the TV.
Joey Randazzo: And so trauma probably exists in our lives more often than we think. And to understand how trauma works in our lives and we need to understand some of the different types of trauma. One type of trauma that affects your nervous system for a month is that acute stress reaction that Lexi was talking about. If the trauma lasts for more than six months, then it’s known as post traumatic stress disorder or post traumatic stress injury. Uh, there’s another type of trauma called complex trauma, which is when a traumatic event happens over and over again. And there’s even more types of trauma than that. And according to Lexi entrepreneurs might face trauma during their entrepreneurial journey.
Lexi Eliades: But when we talk about entrepreneurs like their, their stress level is, is not to be dismissed. Like right? You could rate that as 10 out of 10 on any given day.
Joey Randazzo: It’s probably not the same type of trauma that a first responder might experience. But it still is on that trauma scale. Michael A. Freeman is probably the leading researcher on mental health and entrepreneurship, and he’s quoted as saying there are traumatic events all the way along the line, and he’s saying that in terms of, uh, the entrepreneurial journey and some entrepreneurs are regularly using the phrase of startup trauma. The point is, is that if you’re an entrepreneur, trauma might be impacting your life in one way or another. If over the course of your entrepreneurial journey, you’re experiencing more and more day to day anxiety, especially if that anxiety is due to a recurring theme, say payroll. Maybe it’s asking investors for more money or losing clients, then trauma might have something to do with it. So how do we overcome trauma?
Lexi Eliades: Well, we can’t talk about trauma without talking about resilience.
Joey Randazzo: Resilience like trauma is another word that I’ve heard thrown around a lot. And I learned from Lexi that resilience is really interesting because some people naturally have way more resilience than other people do. But what is resilience in the first place?
Lexi Eliades: Part of resilience is what we call meaning making or making meaning of the experience, um, and your worldview. Um, and a lot of that also ties back into spirituality, not necessarily religion, but that could be what that means for some people.
Joey Randazzo: And everybody starts at their own baseline of resiliency.
Lexi Eliades: You kind of start at this base of like, how do you view the world? Um, what is your spirituality with the world, with how, with your life, that existential thought process and then what meaning do you make out of the things that happen in the world.
Joey Randazzo: You can think about it like this. So take two people. One is named Rachel and the other is named Charlie. And let’s say that both of them fail to get the investment they wanted at a pitch competition. How they react to that situation determines their resiliency. So let’s say that Rachel immediately follows up with the investors, asked for feedback and advice and immediately starts revising her pitch deck. And Ron on the other hand, he immediately thinks that his product sucks. He gets in a funk for two or three weeks and stops putting in the work that he should. Rachel and Ron have different levels of resiliency as you could tell from this story. And you could also probably tell that resilience really impacts a, an entrepreneurs at mental health. And what’s super cool about resiliency is that we have the ability to change it. And I asked Lexi how Lexie says that there are three things that she recommends to improve your resiliency as an entrepreneur. And we’ll get to those in a little bit. But before we do, it’s important to understand Lexi’s underlying beliefs about resilience and how it affects you as an entrepreneur.
Lexi Eliades: The other thing with resilience that I think doesn’t get talked about enough is like I said earlier, it is so body related, but anything sematic meaning body, um, is super helpful.
Joey Randazzo: If you experienced trauma, you, you probably noticed that you have physiological changes going on. You might get warm, sweaty, your blood pressure might go up, your heart rate might increase. And what Lexi is saying is that to an extent, trauma exists in your body.
Lexi Eliades: The point that I want to hammer home the most is just how much trauma exists in your body. And if you don’t help your body out with that, in addition to reframing and shifting your perspective and making meaning and all of those mental gymnastics that you knew, then it won’t be as effective.
Joey Randazzo: And those mental gymnastics she’s talking about, that’s simply the perspective that you have of the world and the meaning you derive from external situations. It goes back to Victor Frankl,
Lexi Eliades: he basically someone basically they asked him like, how did you kind of, weren’t you very angry with the people that did those horrible things to you? And he, his response was basically, um, no, I feel bad for them and I, I feel good that I as a person, um, do not feel the need to do that to other humans. So the meaning that he was making from that was how lucky am I to be of a purr of a human that like doesn’t want to hurt others.
Joey Randazzo: In order for you to increase your resilience from a mental standpoint, you have to be extremely conscious of your thoughts. It’s about controlling you. So when an external stimulus hits saying employee that you have keeps making mistakes or you’re low on sales for the month, you’re able breathe and
Lexi Eliades: look at the situation objectively and ask, okay, what are the facts here? How am I in control of this situation? What is this situation trying to teach me? But as we mentioned, early resilience might have more to do with the body than we think trauma lives in the body. And in order to have more control over how we deal with trauma, we have to have more control over our bodies. So Lexi recommends three things. And the last thing is probably my favorite right now. I’ve been doing it a lot. The first is meditation of meditation daily. I know that it gets a bad rap. It kinda has this like froofy hippie reputation and people are like, Oh, I’m just going to sit and breathe. And they’re like, well, yeah, you know, you’re, what you’re doing is you’re training your brain, um, to, to stop worrying and to quit dwelling. So depression, anxiety past future, um, and being in the present is a, is a really effective skill on dealing with, um, stress.
Joey Randazzo: And what’s cool is that the clinical practice and epidemiology and mental health recently published a paper that says that meditation improves mental health and the effects are mostly on relieving semantization. I remember that that has to do with the body symptoms of the body and anxiety and it says that the favorable outcomes of meditation appear to be independent of age, sex, and marital status. So it can really affect everybody in a positive way. The second thing that Lexi recommends is journaling.
Lexi Eliades: I think journaling, I’m getting your thoughts out, um, and being able to process thoughts and, and kind of reframe them. Like we were saying, there’s lots of like journaling prompts online. There’s, you know, you can just write on your own. Lots of people kind of have a sense of what they like and don’t like about that process. Um, one of my favorite things to do with people is to have them do what I call word vomiting. Um, and so you just set a timer for like a minute and you just start writing the things that come to your head. So, and there’s no grammar or syntax requirements around that. So it might just be like blue dog today. I brush my teeth, like whatever pops up into your head first gets written down and you just do that for a minute. And eventually I think what people find and I find when I do this, is that towards the end you start to become more focused in what you’re processing. So you might start to write some things down that are actually bothering you.
Joey Randazzo: And a study from the university of Iowa says that journaling about a personally experienced, stressful or traumatic event may facilitate positive growth from the event. And so while science has not conclusively stated that journaling will positively impact your mental health, uh, the evidence is definitely pointing in that. And the last thing that Lexi recommends, which is, which is different, but it’s something that I’m really into right now is called exposure.
Lexi Eliades: My new favorite thing is ice baths. Part of why that’s such a great thing for people who have any type of trauma, any type of anxiety disorder is because what you’re doing is you’re turning your nervous system on with control in a safe environment. And so your body is able to practice becoming activated and then you’re able to spend the time deregulating it. And so you’re reteaching your body how to, how to do the system. Normally
Joey Randazzo: in science from Wayne state university suggests that cold exposure might allow people to develop higher levels of control over key components of the autonomous system. And remember the autonomous system is that system that we are supposed to not have any control over because it’s supposed to be autonomous. And because we are able to control that system at a deeper level that has implications for lifestyle interventions that might allow a more control over things like trauma and anxiety and depression. And this is something that I’ve been doing a lot lately. Every Monday I go to a yoga studio and we do deep breathing for about 30 40 minutes on the Wim Hof method. And then we go up to the roof and we do an ice bath. And right now it’s, you know, 35, 40 degrees outside and then we’re, you know, we get into an ice bath up there and then we go straight into a sauna and it just allows you to have a way more control over, over your body. I get into that ice bath and two months ago I would be, uh, my body would be freaking out. I couldn’t breathe, you know, breathing really, really fast or holding my breath, my body tensing up. And now I’m able to get in that ice bath in, in kind of relax. It’s really strange.
Speaker 5: [inaudible]
Joey Randazzo: and so again, there are those three simple things, all of which are free, that you can do each day. Um, and combine it takes probably between 10 and 15 minutes that Lexi says and science says could massively increase your resilience. So the first thing, find a five or seven minute guided meditation on YouTube. Really easy to find there. Second, set a timer for a minute, two minutes, three minutes. And as Lexi said, do a word vomiting, journaling, exercise. And then lastly, when you’re in the shower each day, just turn that shower knob to cold and as cold as it can go for the last 60 or 90 seconds. Then these things will allow you to have more control over how you react to external situations, and it’s really likely that to boost your mental health and resilience as an entrepreneur. Thank you for listening to this episode of overcoming the mind. I want to thank Lexia Eliana’s for taking your time and sharing her experience and expertise in this field. As always, please subscribe wherever you’re listening and also you can go to overcoming the mind.com to get access to our BI monthly newsletter where we share resources, UpToDate, science, and interesting news, all about mental health and entrepreneurship.