Podcast Episode 4 – When Life Throws a Curveball – with Zach Spafford

Apr 1, 2020 | Podcast

I’m Diana Swillinger, and you’re listening to The Renew Your Mind Podcast. Episode Number 4.
Sometimes life is strange. Not what we expected. Today I’m joined by my friend and fellow life coach Zach Spafford, and we’re going to talk about when life throws us a curveball.

DIANA: Hey. Hey. Diana here. How are you all doing today? I want to tell you all something before I get too far. You like my intro song. Lots of podcasts have intro songs, so I really wanted one, too, but I didn’t want to go get one that I’ve heard elsewhere. I actually know of a podcast where the intro song I was racking my brain of, like, I’ve heard this before, I’ve heard this before, and it turns out it’s the same song that plays on repeat on a kid’s app that my daughter plays.

Not only did I not want to. End up, uh, with an intro anyone’s heard elsewhere, I wanted an original. I also had the opportunity to showcase my son’s work. My son John is a music major at UW Wisconsin Whitewater, and he’s a composition major. He’s composed for symphonies and wind ensembles before. A few works, not too many yet. Maybe someday he’ll be a famous music composer. You know, you’ve all heard of John Williams, right? While my son is John Swillinger, a lot of his high school friends called him John Swilliams because of his work composing. So, anyway, I asked him to make me a jingle and to make it reminiscent of one of his compositions that I just loved called beyond the Valley. So he took some parts from that song, reworked them and made me a jingle. So I just think it’s awesome. If you know John
and you’re listening to this, tell him his jingles awesome.

All right, before I introduce my friend Zach, and we have a discussion about life throwing us a curveball, I have to say, I have felt the curveball. I’ve had the ups and downs just like everybody else. Sometimes I think I’m totally going to conquer this and everything’s going to be great. And other times I think my family is going to get sick and we’re going to have all these struggles and we’re not going to be able to work, and we’re going to lose money. And then other times I think the media is blowing it all out of proportion. And then other times I’m like, I’m fine being at home. And then other times I’m sick of not seeing my friends, and my kids are home all the time. Groceries are being delivered. I’m not even getting out and going on the walks. I should, but I’m going to go on a walk as soon as I’m done recording this.

And the other thing that’s strange is I kind of gave up cooking four years ago, but I have cooked dinner for my family four times in the last week. So I’m telling you, things are weird and in these weird times. My brain can certainly go on spins and make up all sorts of stories about what could happen, what should happen, what shouldn’t happen, the problems that are going to come, how frustrating everything is now.

So I’ve been doing my own thought work. And so I’m just going to give you guys this little tip of mine on anytime you have a thought that’s creating uncomfortable emotions, you get to examine that thought and see if it’s working for you at all.

Here’s three things you can ask yourself about any given thought you have. Number one, is the thought true? We talked about this in my second episode of the podcast. Is the thought true? Can you actually prove it in a court of law? Is it that kind of true? Or is it just something you’re saying in your brain and maybe it’s not even true? Consider that number two. Is the thought serving me? Does this thought make me feel better? Is it providing positive emotions? Is it helping me process emotions in a healthy way? Is this thought making me a better person? Is it helping me show up better in my life and for the people I love? Is this thought serving me? Number three, does this thought honor God if the answer to any of these is no, is it true? Is it serving me? Does it honor God if the answer is no to any one of those? Maybe you want to drop that thought and get a new one.

All right, so that’s my little tip on what to do with our thoughts and our spinning brain in these strange, strange times. And without further ado, let’s get to that discussion I had with Zach Spafford. Uh, we actually had this discussion in March 2020 a little bit before the coronavirus shutdowns have gotten as vast as they are now, but I think it’s all still relevant. Here we go. My discussion with Zach.

DIANA: Hey. Hey. This is Diana Swillinger. Welcome to The Renew Your Mind Podcast. We all need some extra mind renewal these days because life has thrown us a curveball. So I’m, um, bringing in some reinforcements. My life coach friend, Zach Spafford. How are you, Zach?

ZACH: No, I am super freaking amazing.

DIANA: I thought you were going to say, I am super freaking out.

ZACH: Oh, no, I don’t usually freak out. Very rare that I freak out.

DIANA: I do sometimes freak out. I’ve been self coaching a little bit lately because this is a timely episode coming out in the spring of, uh, 2020. It’s coronavirus season.

ZACH: Okay… So I’m freaking out about that a little bit.

DIANA: That’s why we’re talking about curveballs of life, because this isn’t just one curveball. Like, there’s a virus coming and the schools are closed. Well, for me, you home school your kids, right?

ZACH: Yea, we homeschool, so…This is usual. My wife actually sent a text to all of her friends. She’s like, welcome to home school.

DIANA: So my friend Zach Spafford is a life coach. We met at a master level training by life coach Jody Moore.

ZACH: Yeah.

DIANA: So you have eight kids.

ZACH: Only eight kids.

DIANA: And I have four.

ZACH: Which is an extraordinary number of children.

DIANA: When people say to me, oh, my gosh, you have four kids, I’m like, not a big deal. Zach and Darcy have eight.

ZACH: Zach and Darcy have eight. And they’re constantly with them all the time.

DIANA: People are freaking out right now with Coronavirus for different reasons because schools canceled. Some people are losing their jobs if they’re working at a stadium or at a theme park or at a concert hall, and they’re not sure how they’re going to get money. Some people can’t buy meat at the Grocery store because

ZACH: or toilet paper.

DIANA: Yeah. Because people are buying all the stuff.

ZACH: I was at Walmart the other day. This is a true story. I was at Walmart the other day, and I was just walking through the, um, drink aisle, and there was a lady trying to get she was a little bit shorter than me. I’m not a tall guy. There was a lady trying to get the bottled water jugs that were up on the very top shelf. She could not reach them. She was like, literally, can you get those for me? And I climbed up the Shelving, and I pushed all the water, uh, jugs down so that we could reach them from the ground. I was on top of Shelving at Walmart because of the Coronavirus.

DIANA: Yeah. So it’s strange times. I think curveball is not what we expected. We didn’t expect all this stuff to be happening. And I saw somebody else on Facebook where their child was so excited to get a part in a musical that they’ve wanted to be in for years. And it’s canceled. And people’s basketball championships are canceled, and vacations are canceled, and kids are at home when we’re not expecting it. People are worried about the stock markets and investments and paychecks. So some of the emotions I was imagining are going on now are disappointment, overwhelmed, worry, fear.

ZACH: Fear, for sure.

DIANA: Uh, what do we life coaches tell people with all this stuff? I did start freaking out when my kids when I found out they were going to be home with me for a month, I cried a little. I felt ahead of time. It was a Friday night. They were all supposed to be here on Friday night. Anyway. In that moment, nothing was different.

ZACH: Right.

DIANA: But I was imagining them being home, and I was imagining I was going to feel overwhelmed. And naturally, when I was thinking all those things, I wanted to cry. So I did.

ZACH: Yeah. Well, the truth is that this is just a circumstance. Yeah. People are losing their jobs, and people are I mean, I’m not saying that nothing within that realm is something that we’re dismissing, but the truth about every single one of those things that we described is that those are circumstances, which means they’re neutral. And what we choose to think about them is really what creates all of this emotion. Somebody losing their job at the stadium. Well, this might be their moment that they say, great, now it’s time for me to work on my side project that I really wanted to do, but I haven’t had the time or I haven’t been willing to take that leap. Right. And so the idea of us, uh, all collectively freaking out and losing our minds because the world is ending, which I don’t think it is, but the idea of that, that’s all a construct within our own heads. Like the stock market is just about people’s thoughts, right? It goes up and down because people think maybe the president did something good or maybe the president did something bad.

DIANA: Well, uh, in the toilet paper aisle is stocked or not stocked based on people’s thoughts, too.

ZACH: Totally. Absolutely. 100%. In fact, I saw a post on social media the other day and they said, I can’t believe that people are buying all of this toilet paper and then trying to resell it. And I said, well, that’s just basic economics, right. That’s supply and demand. Right. And the idea that supply and demand works in a capitalist society shouldn’t surprise anyone. But their thought was, everyone should just be fair about toilet paper.

DIANA: Yeah. Is that true, though? Should everyone be fair? I mean, I’ve kind of found my kids say to me all the time, that’s not fair. Guess what I tell them back.

ZACH: Life’s not fair.

DIANA: Right. Yet we still, even as adults, we want equity and fairness. Like, nobody should be without their paycheck now. Nobody should be without toilet paper. So, anyway, we’re facing these things, but we’re saying it’s all in our thoughts. Is that what you’re telling me? I mean, uh, that’s what I believe. I teach that there’s situations in life that are factual and how we go forward with them and how we feel about them and the emotions we experience. So what comes between the facts of life and our emotions is our brain.

ZACH: Yeah, well, and the reality is that no matter what is going on, your willingness and ability to deal with that has, uh, a lot to do with what you choose to think about that situation. Right. So in the scenario that we’re talking about, we’ve got this huge issue. It’s a nationwide issue. It’s a worldwide issue. And everyone is essentially pulling together and pulling out all the stops. Closing restaurants. Like, Chicago just closed all of its restaurants. You can go and get takeout, but you can’t stay here. All of that that’s going on is to resolve this issue. Now, if instead we said national leaders or whoever or government leaders were saying, let’s all just freak out and run around like chickens with their heads cut off because there’s nothing we can do about it, then I think our response would be different and the results would be different. Right. And when you face something like this, whether it’s coronavirus or just something terrible happens in your household, what we think about it and how we act afterward is what we have control over.

DIANA: Yeah.

ZACH: And choosing why we want that, that’s a huge component of that. We don’t want everyone to buy all the toilet paper.

DIANA: But they did.

ZACH: Right. But we do want there to be enough for everyone. And so we have those conversations about fairness in effort to kind of adjust that. But we have to think about these things in terms of why do I want to behave this way?

DIANA: What we learned from experts is that our brains are constantly trying to solve problems.
They are good at it. But if we don’t have a problem right in front of us in the moment, our brain is going to
start scanning for some other problems. So if we’re watching the news constantly, our brain is going to take on, um, the problems it sees, and it’s going to be spinning, trying to find solutions, or if everything’s actually
fine in the moment. But we’re thinking about what’s going to happen when my kids are home. This is why I was spinning out. I was imagining the future. I was creating potential problems in the future that may or may not happen. And then my brain was going to work spinning out, trying to solve, and feeling overwhelmed when there was nothing overwhelming happening in that moment.

ZACH: Yeah. And when we worry and we get bogged down in worry, we create a reality that’s just unpleasant.

DIANA: Okay, so for all the moms that are listening to this episode and their kids are home, leaving their socks everywhere, making a mess in the kitchen, what are we to do to manage our brains? My goodness. My brain wanted to latch onto kids home as a problem. Kids home is a problem until I had to consciously decide I don’t want to think that. Because when I think that, I feel overwhelmed. And I’m not going to show up as a good mom while the kids are home at this time, if I’m feeling overwhelmed. So I want to clean up my thinking. So I don’t know. I’m still working on it. But I guess part of it I’m thinking is, they’re home. What do I want to think about that? Glad they have a safe place to be.

ZACH: Oh, for sure. Yeah. Because think about those people whose kids have to go somewhere during the day.

DIANA: We can tell our brains whatever story we want. A, uh, good friend of ours, Natalie Clay, another fellow life coach, she was coaching somebody once, and the person was saying, uh, you’re asking me to think that. I don’t even know if that’s true. She’s like, well, what you’re thinking now, you don’t know if that’s true, but how is it making you feel? And she’s like, well, it’s making me feel terrible and anxious and angry. And she said, well, you don’t even know if the thoughts you’re thinking are true now. So you’re being delusional and being afraid and angry. Why not be delusional and feel some peace and comfort, some compassion, right? Uh, so what if the situation that life has brought us right now is the perfect situation for us and our families?

ZACH: it could be, very much so.

DIANA: And when we tell ourselves it’s not, we don’t know. We’re just either way, we’re pretending.

ZACH: 100%. And the reality here is that you get to create whatever you want. I like to use this example. Like all the things that we used in our daily lives houses, for instance, cars, TV, computers they were all thoughts at one point.
They were just a thought at some point. And then somebody was like, I’m going to think this and now I’m going to create it. And the reality for all of us is that whatever we think is what we create. When we think negative thoughts, we create a negative life. I have a friend and I don’t think she’ll listen to your podcast so tell you the story, but she’s just a negative Nelly. Nothing goes right in her life. They’re millionaires. They have uh, everything that you could possibly imagine in terms of financial stability and home life comfort. And yet when you talk to her, nothing is right. Never is anything right. It’s never an opportunity to learn, it’s never an opportunity to grow. It’s just the world is conspiring against me. And we all know somebody like that, right? But those are the kinds of people who they create a negative reality in their life, uh, because they believe those thoughts, right?

DIANA: This might not be a direct I don’t know if anyone will follow me, but I kind of picked out of
that we create our misery when we create expectations for what we think life is supposed to be like. And then when something happens and life is happening in the moment in a way, or we’re predicting it’s going to happen in a way that we think that is totally not supposed to happen. Like me, the, uh, kids are totally not supposed to be home from school for a month. This is going to disrupt everything. This isn’t supposed to happen. That’s when I felt overwhelmed and disappointed and worried because I was fighting against the reality of what is.

ZACH: Yeah, it is. There’s nothing you can do about it. Yeah, let’s just figure out how we can make the best of it. That sounds like a whole bunch of Stewart Smalley. Like I’m good enough, I’m smart enough and gosh darn it, people like me. You remember that from Saturday night?


ZACH: Right. It sounds a little bit like that. But the reality is that you can create whatever you want. And if what you want to create is that you are good enough and that you are smart enough and that your kids are going to have a good time when they’re at home or not have a good time when they’re at home. But you’re going to make the best of this situation because you can, and that’s what you create. If you don’t do that, then you get what you get. And that’s that.

DIANA: Yeah. One of the thoughts I’m thinking on purpose is if we run out of toilet paper, I’m m sure we’ll figure something out.

ZACH: For sure you will. Yeah, of course you will.

DIANA: I’m creative. I’ll figure something out. If we lose income because of job restrictions or unpaid time off or whatever else, we’re going to figure it out.

ZACH: Yeah. Do you want to? Is that the thing that you want? No. But when the circumstance presents itself, rather than thinking, woe is me, the world is falling down around my ears thinking, I can figure this out, it’s much more valuable, at least to me. That’s how I choose to see things.

DIANA: I agree. And then I also believe we should give ourselves space to feel like I let myself feel overwhelmed aheadof time about the kids being home, and I experienced the feeling and it felt tense. I could feel it in my body and then I decided to move past it. And if I’m disappointed because of something that happens with the coronavirus or not being able to go on a vacation or whatever else, it’s okay to feel disappointed and allow that.

You guys are going to love it. I have Zach. We just recorded it. He’s coming up on another episode. I’m not sure when it’s going to air about pain pursuing pleasure, but we get into a lot of this and experiencing our emotions good and bad, and Zack shed some light on that, so you’re going to want to check that one out when it comes out soon. But there is a lot of value in allowing yourself to process uncomfortable emotions on purpose because then you get to move on from them. Do you have anything else you want to add about our curveballs of life at this time, Zach?

ZACH: More than anything, I think that people just need to recognize that it’s an opportunity to grow. It’s an
opportunity to figure out something new. I like to call this creative destruction. Life destroys things. It just
happens that way. There are going to be businesses that are destroyed by this. There are going to be things that do not go back the way that they were, be prepared for creativity on the other end. Something cool is going to come out of this. And if you can just think that and believe that, then you’re going to be part of creating that something cool.

DIANA: Yeah, I’ve heard there’s a lot of stories, businesses and inventions, medical advancements and all these things that have come out of tragedy. It’s ebb and flow in life and it’s natural for sure.

ZACH: 100%. Awesome.

DIANA: If you want to know more about what Zach does from me, listen to that upcoming podcast. Keep your eyes out for that. But, um, how else can they find you?

ZACH: In the meantime, you can go to Zachspafford.com, or you can find me on social media at, selfmasterycoach.

DIANA: Awesome. Thank you so much for hopping on so we can address this strange time with the Coronavirus. And you all know how to get a hold of me.
Just go to Rympodcast.com and all the ways that you can connect with me are there. Just check the podcast notes for links for me or Zach. I’ll talk to you next time.

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