2021 was a turbulent year for many organizations. Lockdown measures fluctuated. Offices tried to reopen; some did while others were forced into ongoing delays to their reopening plans. Throughout it all, the LifeSpeak podcast provided key insights and important discussions with leading experts on mental health and wellbeing to HR professionals and the people that they support around the globe.
Recently, the LifeSpeak Team sat down with Marianne Wisenthal, the host of the LifeSpeak podcast. We discussed her biggest takeaways from the most downloaded podcasts of the year. For her, there was one clear theme: empathy—for yourself and for others.
“These are all professionals, and it can look on the outside like they have everything together, but even in that context, they could be experiencing enormous pain and struggle behind the scenes,” Marianne says. “Sharing those experiences inspires empathy and compassion. It helps people feel like they aren’t alone.”
“I was super impressed by the resilience of everybody, and I felt incredibly grateful and inspired to be talking to these people.”
Without further ado, here are the top LifeSpeak podcasts of 2021!
When Your Adult Child Isn’t Talking to You (And What to Do About It)
In his book When Parents Hurt: Compassionate Strategies When You and Your Grown Child Don’t Get Along, clinical psychologist Dr. Joshua Coleman talks candidly about his own experience being estranged from his daughter.
“I was surprised by how increasingly common this is, and I thought it was incredibly brave of him to be so open about it,” Marianne says. “He’s somebody who is a prestigious psychologist, and people think he should have everything together, and yet has experienced this as well. That brings an extra layer of compassion to his practice with his clients.”
Marianne’s biggest takeaway from her discussion with Dr. Coleman? Radical Acceptance.
“Some of our readers may be familiar with this term, but it was new to me. Radical acceptance means facing a problem, accepting it, and still managing to find happiness.
“There isn’t always going to be a perfect bow tied around everything like there is in the movies, but you can continue to have a good life and have happiness in your life even when you’re experiencing something like an estrangement from a family member.”
Listen to Marianne’s full discussion with Dr. Coleman and learn more about radical acceptance here.
Is the Physical Office Dead? – How remote working is reinventing how we work alone and together
Author Lisette Sutherland had begun working on her book Work Together Anywhere: A Handbook on Working Remotely — Successfully — for Individuals, Teams, & Managers long before the pandemic began. She released it just a few months after the pandemic started.
More than 18 months later, her work is as relevant as ever—and maybe more. Remote working arrangements show no signs of disappearing. Hybrid work arrangements are only becoming more common.
“I was really excited to talk to her because at the time working remotely was still such a new thing for many of us,” Marianne says. “Lisette believes the future of work is choice, and I think we’re seeing that now with offices moving toward a hybrid model.”
One of Marianne’s key takeaways was the concept of a shutdown ritual, which replaces the time we used to spend emotionally distancing ourselves from work over a commute.
“Lisette did certain things like going for a walk and closing her computer at a certain time. I started doing some of these things myself, and I find them extremely helpful.”
Listen to Marianne’s full discussion with Lisette and learn more about remote working here.
Techniques for Tackling Your Inner Critic (Once and for All!)
After working as a television producer for 20 years, Jenny Tryansky realized the career she had chosen no longer felt meaningful. She started to work with a personal development coach and then eventually became one herself.
Jenny has noticed many of her clients suffer from a feeling of unworthiness—a critical inner voice that tells them they just aren’t good enough, no matter what they do. Being so hard on yourself all the time is exhausting.
To defeat this inner critic, Jenny recommends giving it a name. Once you acknowledge the critic is there, you need to build a case against it. For example, if the critic is saying you don’t deserve to be in a role at work, you listen and then build a counter by looking at where you’ve succeeded before. You can say, “Of course I deserve it, I’m really strong in this area, and here are some wins I’ve had recently.”
Jenny’s observations deeply resonated with Marianne. “I one hundred percent could relate to this feeling of perfectionism and being so hard on myself and how so many of us are hard on ourselves.”
Listen to Marianne’s full discussion with Jenny and learn how to conquer your inner critic here.
So-Called Normal: A Personal Story of Mental Illness and Resilience
Mental health advocate Mark Henick first experienced anxiety in the second grade. He was just a teenager in Cape Breton when his depression and anxiety prompted a series of suicide attempts. One, in particular, stands out.
Mark had climbed onto an overpass. It was nighttime. As his feet touched open air, a man grabbed his chest and pulled him to safety.
Everything wasn’t better suddenly. Mark didn’t realize he was recovering until more than ten years later. He didn’t realize how far he’d come until he was forced to look back.
“The thing that stood out to me most is that Mark talked about how you can’t wish yourself to be happy,” Marianne says.
“He spent a lot of time wishing he didn’t have a mental illness but realized there really is no such thing as normal. Everyone’s trying to figure things out as they go. Now he wishes mental health challenges were given the same weight as physical challenges.”
Listen to Marianne’s full discussion with Mark and learn more about depression and anxiety here.
Marianne’s Bonus Pick—Physician Heal Thyself: Doctors and Burnout
At the end of our discussion, Marianne brought up one more podcast from 2021 that stuck with her—an examination of burnout and physicians with Dr. Jillian Horton.
One in three physicians experience burnout. More experience depression. Dr. Jillian Horton believes that introducing compassion to medical education is the key to addressing doctor burnout. Her book We Are All Perfectly Fine: A Memoir of Love, Medicine and Healing sheds light on the rarely acknowledged stresses doctors experience.
“We don’t think about doctors as being fallible in any way,” Marianne says. “I don’t think of my doctor’s personal life, and I don’t think most people do. Thinking about my doctor as a human being, I found interesting. It made me approach my interactions with everyone differently.
“We often don’t think of everyone we interact within our lives as human. We just see them as someone we’re having a transaction with. This podcast made me try to have more compassion for other people as often as I can.”
Listen to Marianne’s full discussion with Jillian and learn more about burnout here.
What’s coming next?
Marianne will close out 2021 by discussing picky eating and alleviating the guilt parents feel feeding their children with dietician Nishta Saxena. In January 2022, she will talk to psychotherapist Janna Comie about pandemic fatigue.
“This podcast was really intended to get into the personal stories behind everything,” Marianne says, reflecting on the past year. “I strongly believe in storytelling. I think it’s where I get the most emotional fulfillment, hearing about how people work to overcome an issue—not how they have overcome it necessarily, but about how they continue to work to overcome it.
“I would encourage people, whether it’s the LifeSpeak podcast or another podcast, to step out of their comfort zone. Listen to something that you never thought would be interesting, and I bet you will find something in there that will touch you in some way. And that was the case for every person I spoke to over the past year. Even if it wasn’t a topic that I had direct experience with, I got something out of it that I was able to apply to my own life.”