Therapy Roulette

The Secret Struggles of High Achievers w/ Leadership Coach Rob Kalwarowsky

May 06, 2021 Michele Baci / Rob Kalwarowsky Season 1 Episode 130
Therapy Roulette
The Secret Struggles of High Achievers w/ Leadership Coach Rob Kalwarowsky
Show Notes Transcript

Michele is reading the book Burnout by Emily and Amelia Nagoski and taking steps to recharge, relax, and plan a goddamn vacation.

Today’s guest is Rob Kalwarowsky, a certified leadership coach, mental health advocate, and podcaster based in Alberta, Canada. Rob shares his struggles with depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, and PTSD. He tells us how he opened up a pandora’s box of trauma that he’s currently processing and how he suffered for a while with depression before seeking help. He discusses his experience with EMDR, IFS (Internal Family Systems), how it’s common for men to be reluctant about seeking mental health treatment, and what it’s like to work with a trauma specialist. Rob also talks about winning a water polo championship in college and the sense of helplessness he felt after achieving such a large goal. They discuss how intelligent overachievers often have trouble asking for help when they most need it and other problems with perfectionist tendencies.  

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Theme Song:

Therapy Roulette Consent to Vent / Trauma disguised as comedy / Therapy Roulette: Consent to Vent / If you dont have problems, then youre likely repressing sh*t and you should find a therapist / (Whos not me)

Michele Baci:

How are you? I hope you're good. My name is Michele Baci. I'm back with another episode of Therapy Roulette consent to vent. Not much has changed in the past two weeks, because, you know, the world is kind of the same. We're sort of ending major pandemic vibes over in LA, but it's still pandemic vibes for sure. So, I booked a trip home next month, and I can't wait to go home to New York. So excited for that. I have got my second vaccine coursing through me Madonna What up. So I'm giving myself like the month of May to let that vaccine take effect. And then I'm traveling to see my family in June, I can't wait. I've been reading this book, or listening to this book called burnout by Emily Nagasaki and Amelia Nagasaki, they're twins. And it's about coping with burnout, coping with never ending stress. And I didn't realize or haven't really been admitting to myself, how burned out I am, like with this podcast with COVID, and my job. And a lot of like life changes that have happened in the past year. I keep saying, Oh, yeah, I'm burnt out, I'm tired. I'm exhausted. But I'm fine. I'm fine. I'm fine. And truth is, I am dying on the inside and really needs like, takes 10 steps back and change some things in my life, like change the way I've been living my life to heal from burnout, and never ending stress. Because I i've been like this for like, at least the length of the podcast, if not the length of the whole pandemic. So I have to like, reflect and reorganize to get better. And the book is really good. I recommend it. It's hot pink on the cover. So I think they do say it's intended for a female audience for more feminine energies, because women suffer from burnout a whole whole lot more than men do. Because we're natural givers. Like our whole instinctive drive is to give to take care of to be a mother essentially. And you know, that can make a bit tired. So read burnout, if you're feeling that way. As I read the book, I like wanted to do exercises or suggestions that they mentioned. And even thinking about the mostly Oh my god, what am I gonna have time to do a writing exercise, but I have made the time to do at least a couple of them and it feels good. To actually spend time on myself, I'm going to get better about spending conscious, you know, specific time on myself and not just on work. I'm in work mode constantly. And productivity mode constantly and I don't rest, I don't relax, I don't recharge and I have to fix that. I took off this Friday from my job. So I'm gonna take the weekend off for myself. And really, you know, my calendar, I blocked it off and I wrote, relax, do not do too much work. I do have to do my taxes. But I'm almost done with them. So besides the taxes, I'm going to go to the beach, go and hike. I'm going to actually like take care of myself for at least a weekend. a three day weekend. I owe that to myself. Do you know if you don't sleep enough like you could die. That's what I learned reading this book. Sleep is more important than pretty much anything else. Make sure you're getting enough sleep. Okay, I promise. They say nine hours is enough. But everyone's different. So nine hours is a good starting point. And you can adjust from there like is this too much is too little. For me. I like a good nine hours. I like least eight hours, less than eight hours. I don't feel good. But we're all different. So, housekeeping reminder, please write into the podcast, email us at Therapy roulette@gmail.com. That is also down in the show notes. If you forget, I would love to hear some stories about therapy or if you're looking for advice or you want to share a story with the podcast, email me. If you think you'd be a good guest for the podcast. I am looking to book some new guests coming up. So pitch yourself in an email, maybe I'll reach out. And yeah, that's about it. This week on the podcast, I talked to Rob Kalwarowsky and we discuss how he is also kind of a high performing person, which is synonymous with productive, you know, like high achieving, tries to do at all. So we didn't specifically talk about burnout, but he does talk about the perils of pushing yourself too far to achieve and not taking care of yourself. He is a certified leadership coach. He is an engineer, and he's also a podcaster. I'd like to welcome Rob Kalwarowsky

Theme Song:

guest interview / a friend for you / strangers whose issues are relatable / guest interview / They're the voice that's new / this person has problems and they don't mind discussing it, but they still need a therapist / (Whos not me)

Michele Baci:

Who's not me? Hi, my name is Michele Baci. Welcome back to Therapy Roulette consent to vent. I'm here with Rob Kalwarowsky. That's my Long Island, New York butchering his last name, there's a W in there. He is a mental health advocate and a leadership. Teacher. Is that correct?

Rob Kalwarowsky:

That's right. Let's go.

Michele Baci:

My short term memory has been it's at zero with this pandemic. Sorry. And I have the COVID vaccine freshly me I feel like my health is like in 50 different places.

Rob Kalwarowsky:

At least you got yours. I'm up in Canada. And we're we're still I think in in Alberta, we're basically vaccinating at 40 plus right now. So we're still, I'm still a few years away from from getting mine.

Michele Baci:

A few years. Yeah, that's crazy. The Canada rollout has been night and day from the US. Yeah, it's been you angry? Are you cool?

Rob Kalwarowsky:

For me, I want to I want to get a vaccine because I want to get out of my house and get really, I mean, ideally, I'd like to go on vacation because it's been, like we were talking before we jumped on, but I've been working from home probably about 13 and a half months now. And and like I it's been a kind of a slog. Because my partner, she goes to work and she was she's been working basically on site throughout the whole pandemic, like she works at a senior's home. And so she's been working a lot, especially at the beginning of the pandemic, she was working like 1213 hour days and stuff. And so like, I was sitting at home, kind of stewing in my own juices.

Michele Baci:

So do you get bored if she's out of the house like doing her old life?

Rob Kalwarowsky:

Well, I don't it's I mean, there's, there's an element of boredom. The hardest part for me, and this is where the mental health stuff takes in is like, I have very strong loops in my brain. And so if I get on a train of thought around, like anxiety, or depression, or suicidal ideation, or these types of things, like it's very difficult for me to break those, and like having her home, helps me break them. And I just, we got a puppy probably a few months ago. And he's helped me break them as well. But it's like, for basically a year I was sitting at home alone, and it's like you, you, they would just get me real hard. And yeah, it's tough.

Michele Baci:

Yeah, it's like, way too much time to think. And without structure, like you're kind of left to the demons in your own mind.

Rob Kalwarowsky:

Yeah, and a lot of the stuff that I like to do, like go to the gym or go to the pool and do these things, like they were taken away. And so I'm sure like, like everybody listening also, like a lot of the stuff that we like to do is gone. So it's very much not only that, like, not only was it hard in terms of isolation, it's also hard in terms of like, the coping mechanisms that you had in place.

Michele Baci:

Yeah, the whole like, the fact that the gym like I feel like the gym is still unsafe in my perspective, like exercise, hiking around all these other people like a lot of outlets to get out pent up energy have been taken from us and we haven't really replaced them. So I'm just like drowning over here.

Rob Kalwarowsky:

Just gotta keep keep afloat somehow. And then you'll get your next vaccine soon and you'll be somewhat back to normal.

Michele Baci:

Right? I got the the second dose yesterday. So today of all like, wow, woozy wobbly. But I think it'll just take a day to be in my body and hopefully tomorrow will be better. So. So tell us about your podcast, high performance narrative that's relating to the Mental Health Leadership.

Rob Kalwarowsky:

Yeah, absolutely. So the podcast is called dismantling the high performance narrative. So available on all podcast platforms. But really, it's geared towards these high achiever, high performers, who also struggle. And so kind of how it started was like I went to MIT, I played waterfall on the junior national team when I was growing up. And like, I started struggling with depression, when I got into the working world after college, and it was very much like, and like the high performance community as a whole, we don't talk about our problems were very much like, suck it up, do more stuff. And even like that is literally coached into you when you're like, especially as an athlete, like it was all about just like, suck it up, put your head down, swim back on defense, like, do what you have to do. And even some of the treatment that I received early in my mental health journey, like I had a psychiatrist Tell me, I wasn't depressed enough. Because I could get out of bed. And I could go to the gym and go to the like, go to the pool, go to my work and do my job and do all these things. And yet, like I was thinking about suicide, basically all my waking hours. And so like, even in a treatment aspect, some of the higher achievers, high performers, we don't get treated, because our symptoms aren't manifesting themselves, or, well, they're manifesting hard, but we're able to like push through the pain in a way and show up anyways. Yeah. And so I wanted to like create a venue where we could have these conversations and kind of like, also another story is how we started it was I told this, I told the story about my suicide attempt in a private group that I was in, and my co host, Laura, and she shared her story with oppression about when she was trying out for Team Canada and women's hockey. And yet every night she was crying in her closet, in the like dorm room. And I was like, I understand that type of depression. And

Michele Baci:

yeah, like it's hidden from everyone else. The world's can't tell, unless you're explicitly saying like, Hey, I'm the most oppressive ever been, I kind of want to stop living. But if you're functioning, you're showing up to practice work. It looks like you're fine.

Rob Kalwarowsky:

Yeah. And it's so hard, right? Because even like even mean, right now, like I work full time, I consult part time, I run two podcasts, and I, we just launched a leadership program today. And so basically, I have like two and a half or three jobs, depending on how you do the math. And like, my therapist said to me, when we started probably about six months ago, she's like, Rob, you're the only person that I've ever had as a client, who has PTSD, but still cares about where they are in the world, and still cares about getting better soon. Because for me, I was like, I'm going to do therapy twice a week. So I can be done in like three months. Because I want to feel better today. I don't want to wait a year and do trauma therapy for a year. I want to do it now. And I'm like, this is like the inverse of apparently most people who get treatment.

Michele Baci:

Yeah, I feel like I've heard therapists offer that to me, where you know, you have the first console and they say, if you want we could do this once a week, we could do it more. So it seems like people do sometimes do it two or more times a week, if you're looking for that. For me, I heard that and I was like Absolutely not. I barely want to be here. Like I think just like going to the appointment is trepidation for me at least when I was getting started. So that's awesome. You're like jumping right in?

Rob Kalwarowsky:

Yeah. Well, so it took two years, right. So for me, I started doing therapy in 2013. It actually led to the suicide attempt, not the therapy aspect, but the medication aspect really messed me up. And yeah,

Michele Baci:

that'd be a bad rap for therapy, if that led you to suicide attempts.

Rob Kalwarowsky:

Whoa, but but like I started seeing a psychiatrist, they put me on different medications and like the medications made me worse, like it took it I wasn't able to sleep, and then the mood got worse. And like, basically, I started having violent thoughts worse than before, but to myself and others. And like, it led to a suicide attempt. And then because my therapist that I had was unable to really connect with me and resonate with me because he was telling me stuff like maybe you're not depressed enough. And then like the last literally the last session I had with him was Rob, all you got to do is move and get a new job. Right and I was like, Well, I'm done with you. Like that's the advice I'm gonna get. I knew that walking in the door. Like, but I was looking for something that would actually help me

Michele Baci:

Do you also feel like I feel like once I'm there, I want to give it a chance. So you probably want to stay and like, really see if this is worth your time with this therapist.

Rob Kalwarowsky:

Yeah. And I mean, that's kind of the thing, right is like that doc just pushed me out the door. Like those things, they added up, added up, added up. And I kind of lost fear.

Michele Baci:

I mean, he sounds terrible

Rob Kalwarowsky:

faith and trust in Him. And so basically what happened was, I was like, I'm out. And then I just basically disconnected from all emotions for about six years.

Michele Baci:

And to get amount of time to be numb.

Rob Kalwarowsky:

Yeah, and I didn't know, like, I didn't know, I still had so much pain, it was just like, life was just like, Man, it's okay. But like, you know, whatever. And I did some new jobs, and I did some other stuff. And then what really happened that like, what really happened to trigger it was, I hired a coach to help me like launch a business. And she opened up a lot of the emotions that I had just like, buried. And then it got real bad. And it still is bad. But it's like, it got real bad in terms of anxiety, it got really bad in terms of like depression and suicidal ideation, all these things opened up again. And basically, I went back in to find different doctors, and they prescribed me more medication that didn't help. And then, and then I got in with a Finally I found a trauma specialist. So she does like a combination of EMDR of imfs of ego state therapy, and like she does some somatic stuff as well. And, okay, it's been a slog, but, but I mean, I think it's helping.

Michele Baci:

So my, my boyfriend's doing EMDR right now, to deal with trauma he has to process. I don't know what the second thing he said is,

Rob Kalwarowsky:

it's called intra family systems. And so the concept of it, so it was invented by Dr. Richard sweet Schwartz. And the concept of it is he's like a psychologist. And he worked primarily with couples. And there was there's like therapy that's out there called inter family systems, which is like between, like someone like you and I, more in a family context, but But either way, it's like an interpersonal thing. And he started, so

Michele Baci:

would be between two people, correct? or multiple people. And so he

Rob Kalwarowsky:

started thinking about, like, how can this apply to one person, because he started seeing his individual customers sort of embody different personalities, depending on where they were in their journey. And it's really interesting, because what my therapist has sort of opened up for me is that you have, like, somewhere, it could be up to like 40 to 50 different personalities that are inside you. And the GFS model, basically, you go in, and you talk to the different parts of yourself. And it's kind of like that movie. There's that movie from Pixar called, what's it called? Where they have the emotions? And like, there's those characters in the brain, and they have the inside out. Yeah, there you go inside out. So it's very similar to that. And actually, Richard Swartz consulted on that movie. And so that's why it's like very similar in those elements. But basically, that's it, you go in, you talk to these different characters in your mind, and you're trying to make them all work together for the betterment of the system, which is you.

Michele Baci:

That's cool. And so you you're doing that with someone else then with like, someone close to you.

Rob Kalwarowsky:

No, I'm doing that with my therapist. Yeah. Oh, just with your therapist, okay. Okay, but it's normally done with couples or maybe family members. So that one No, but he like he got the insight to apply, like an interpersonal model for an individual person. So he

Michele Baci:

said he's like, adapting, correct. Your own treatment? Correct. Okay, cool. When you when you first started your whole therapy, psychiatry journey, did you go to the psychiatrist first?

Rob Kalwarowsky:

So actually, well, for me, I walked into a hospital. So I then I

Michele Baci:

started at level 10.

Rob Kalwarowsky:

No, I didn't have a family doctor, and it was in a small town. And, like, had really it I probably was depressed for about nine months before I did anything. And I talked to like a friend of mine and she's a social worker, and she's like, you know, you should go get help. And so yeah, like I walked into a hospital like eight o'clock on Saturday morning, and I said, like, Hey, I'm depressed. I need help. And then one of the most and I still I still look at it and go, this is like ridiculous what happened, but the doctor who was on call she printed off The Bex anxiety scale and the Beck's depressive scale off the internet, and she handed them to me and I filled them out. And then she wrote me a prescription for an SSRI and sent me home. And like that was it. It was like, Hey, you know, here's some, here's some pills, go home. And like, you'll be, like, she said, to me, she's like, if it gets worse, I come back. And like I was living alone at the time, I could go basically three or four days without speaking meaningfully to another person. And like, it just sent me down this rabbit hole, like I went from sleeping, I don't know, six, eight hours a night to somewhere between two and four. And like, the depression got worse, the suicidal ideation got worse, it all got worse, until like, basically two weeks later, like I had, like a really bad breakdown. And like, I went back to the hospital, and like, they put me on short term disability and like this other stuff, but Yeah, wow. That was really the catalyst to get therapy was the second one. And then they put me in a group therapy, and they put me in with a psychiatrist.

Michele Baci:

Yeah, well, good on you for recognizing needed help and showing up to the hospital at 8am. That's pretty impressive. Um, and you had a social worker friend, so Was there anyone else like in your social circle? You could reach out to and, and like, really talk to?

Rob Kalwarowsky:

Yeah, there was there was, there was a couple people, but basically, yeah, it was I mean, it was limited. And I think like, that's another element that I talk about a lot is men and mental health, or there's very much an element of fear of being vulnerable. And like, even even a lot of my friends like, the surface conversate. I mean, the conversations are very surface level. It's like, Hey, what are you doing this weekend? Like, what's going on? How's everything going? Good, I'm good. I'm okay. You know, like, everything's wrong. And yeah, it causes a lot of pain that we don't realize. So it's

Michele Baci:

Yeah, like keeping that mask on all the time. Do you? Do you think like, you got better after that, like, did all this stuff start to help? At some point? What was the impetus like it started to connect, I think you were mentioning it before, but I'm just getting lost in the details.

Rob Kalwarowsky:

It didn't connect for me early, right. It didn't connect for me early. And then even this last, you know, year and a half where I basically gone on another treatment journey. None of that helped, like, again, like it was like seven or eight different medications. The last one, like, I was like, take it and then I would start throwing up about 30 minutes after I took the medication. So I'm, I'm like, 15 medications in and I'm not going down that road anymore. I just don't see the point in continuing. But yeah, finding my new therapist has really helped like she, she's a trauma specialist. And so she does the more like EMDR is the leading therapy for PTSD right now. And so it's,

Michele Baci:

it seems like it really helps people. Yeah.

Rob Kalwarowsky:

And so like, I think that's been, you know, vastly game changer for me versus what hasn't really helped me, which is CBT.

Unknown:

Hmm.

Michele Baci:

Yeah, I hear about this a lot from people I know, who've been through like boatloads of trauma, or they're like CBT is garbage, in their opinion, because they need something different, you know,

Rob Kalwarowsky:

you're looking for something different. And I think it makes sense, right? Because CBT is very much frontal lobe logic informed. So you're looking at a belief and you're saying, this belief is wrong, because of this evidence. And this is the true belief based on the evidence that I have. And so that makes sense, right? But like, if you look at it logically, like suicide is not a logical thing. It like lives in the trauma center of your brain, which is like your limbic system. And basically, like, for the most part, and this is going to sound incredibly counterintuitive, but suicide is meant to protect you. It's trying to protect you from further pain is trying to protect you from shame is trying to protect you from all these other elements that it thinks it's going to help you by protecting you from that pain.

Michele Baci:

Yeah, your brain presents it as a solution, but it's really like game over.

Rob Kalwarowsky:

Right. And so it's like, if that was like, if you actually thought of it logically, like, obviously, suicide would never happen because like, logically, your brain is there to keep you safe and alive. And this is doing absolutely inverse. And so it's like, yeah, it kind of falls. That CBT wouldn't help that.

Michele Baci:

Did you feel stressed by you said like, after school, you really got into depression, did you feel stressed like while at MIT, because that's a huge high pressure environment.

Rob Kalwarowsky:

There was stress, but it was never. For me, it was never depression, or even like significant amounts of anxiety. And like, what I've come to learn is like, because of the way I was raised, and because of like the athletics that had gotten into early on, I crave those types of environments that are high pressure, deliver, and then get seen as a result of you delivering. And so the working world for me, like I work an engineering job. And I've worked an engineering job my entire career. But it's like very low pressure. And like, the environment is like things chug along, and like, it is what it is. And so it hasn't fit those needs that I need. And that's why it's really hurt me in the long run.

Michele Baci:

Because I brought that up, because I see more stories about like Ivy League schools, or schools of that caliber, where like, the students struggle significantly, because they're just kind of told, like, you better adapt you better, like do your work. And, you know, maybe there's mental health resources, but they don't seem like they're very plentiful or helpful. So I feel like for college students who are kind of living on their own trying to prove to themselves, they can handle a big workload or a big degree like engineering, you can get lost in that.

Rob Kalwarowsky:

Yeah, and the vast majority of people who get into those colleges are perfectionist. And so I knew a fair amount of people who, like you get into college, and like, basically, in high school, like, you don't need to work that hard. And you're getting, like incredible grades, or you're working and you're the top of your class. And then basically, now you're dropped into a college where it's the top of the classes across the world. And like, yeah, like, I was a C student, my first semester, and like, it was really hard for me to adjust. But like, eventually, I figured it out. And like, eventually, you know, you learn how to study to me, the new requirement. And I think like, that's the piece that like, is I mean, that transition is hard. Now, I'm not gonna say it wasn't hard, but it's hard.

Michele Baci:

Yeah, and I feel like perfectionist are like innately. They don't like asking for help. They don't like admitting things are wrong. So it makes sense that like people in those situations struggle the most with mental health sometimes.

Rob Kalwarowsky:

Yeah. And I mean, you're going from like, in high school, I was getting like, 90s on basically all my exams. And then you walk into college, and like the class average on some of these exams was like, 30%. And you're like, literally, like, these are the smartest kids in the world, and everyone's getting a 30. So it's, it's a big blow to your ego.

Michele Baci:

Yeah, it's like humbling, but almost too much. And then you do, did you start doing engineering right after school?

Rob Kalwarowsky:

While I was, I was unemployed for about six months. And then I got a job as an economist for a couple months. But yeah, basically, I was I started engineering in 2011. And I've been at, like, for the last 10 years.

Michele Baci:

Very cool. That's a rewarding work.

Rob Kalwarowsky:

Well, I'm transitioning out right now. So to get, hopefully get more into the people side and the leadership side of it. And like, that's where we launched this leadership program this morning. And actually the co host of dismantling high performance narrative, Lauren, she's going to be like, we're partnering together to host this group. And basically, for me, the impetus for this is I see a ton in the heavy industrial world, where people don't feel seen and valued in their work. And yeah, I mean, I see it in heavy industry, but it exists in every organization across the world. And really, like, I want to do this because I think that some of the struggles that I've had, is because I felt like I didn't fit in at the office. And I think like by doing this leadership work, other people will, will create environments at their workplaces that where they can feel like everyone belongs and and so people can feel like they belong. And that will improve. Not necessarily like like obviously you have PTSD is not going to help you but it's gonna help you from going disengaged to engaged and like that level of happiness is going to increase in the world.

Michele Baci:

Yeah, it's it's funny that you You said you're in now. Berta. So I was just reading, I was reaching out to some other potential guests who was in Alberta. And then I was reading about Canada for some reason. And it seems like the work culture in Canada is also a little bit polar from the US where in Canada, you're seeing a little bit more like as a cog in the wheel. Like maybe you show up, you punch your card, and like you do your job. And that's great. And do you ask, maybe we like, baby people a little bit more and say, like, you know, you know, we're so lucky to have you, you're, you're great to the assets of the company. Is that how you felt a lot of your professional career like more like just a part of the machine?

Rob Kalwarowsky:

Yeah, I see that. And I've seen it globally in the heavy industrial space. So mining, oil and gas, like, right now I work in pipelines. But I've seen it in manufacturing power plants, shipping, the whole whack is, is this very much, you're a cog in the wheel. And like I work a lot with maintenance people, and they're like, basically mechanics. And so they are like, literally, I'm sure a lot of organizations, if they could replace them with a robot, they would, because it's like, their job is to go out and just like, fix something. And so they're very treated in this. It's almost like a factory way from like, the 1920s when we invented factories. And it's like, yeah, it just, it's very dehumanizing. And the cultures are very much like, get it done now. And even some of these environments, I mean, you're flying in flying out of like, the middle of nowhere. And so like, the lifestyle also is incredibly difficult.

Michele Baci:

Yeah, yeah. And I feel like it's hard. Sometimes, like people in different professions to communicate with each other, or really speak their feelings or like, say, like, I don't feel like I belong in the workplace. So tell us how your, your program with your co hosts, how that's gonna help people.

Rob Kalwarowsky:

Yeah, so it's, it's like a leadership program, but we touch on mindset. So some of the stuff about, like how you're feeling and like creating empowering beliefs for where you want to be as a person. And also, as a leader, it's really going to help you kind of get into that stuff and start understanding like where your road blocking yourself, and where you want to go next. And then also at all, align you more on your mission of like, where you're going to impact the world. And so for me, like, specifically, like, it's really, this work helped me go from somebody who was like leaning into engineering and like technical, like nuts and bolts stuff, to more like realizing that my place is really to help people and like to lead people to a better way.

Michele Baci:

Like, you don't have to design bridges forever, you could also talk to people. That's cool. My boyfriend's an engineer. And sometimes, like, I can only talk to him for so long, where my brain just explodes. And I'm like, you're talking too much engineering? I can't. Like, we need you guys. But I don't understand how your brain works.

Rob Kalwarowsky:

Yeah, and it's like, I'm not saying that, like, engineering is bad. And like, nothing like that. It's it's, it's people, it just wasn't for me. And the reason I think I chose it was, it was very much like my parents, were giving me this feedback, which was like, your degree needs to have a return on investment. Like you need to be able to go to college, and then get a degree. And that degree needs to get you a job. And so like, engineering was a way to go like four years, you get a job, like, basically, that's how it works. And so yeah, that was what it was really, like, taught to me and conditioned into me, not like, you know, just learn and develop as a human. Like, that was not a thing.

Michele Baci:

Yeah, they taught you to its practicality. You know, a little too early, maybe. I've heard that from a lot of parents. In my like college friend group. They're like, they said their parents would only accept so many different degree paths. And I'm like, really? Like that's, that's harsh. Yeah, it's brutal. But I get it, I get it, where the parents are coming from because they want their kids to be okay in the world.

Rob Kalwarowsky:

Yeah, that's, like, it's something that's tough, right? Like, as a parent, I mean, I'm not a parent, but as as someone who I have been thinking about being a parent, but it's like, you have to really walk this line, because basically, your beliefs are conditioned between your zero and seven. And so there's a lot of stuff that you may believe when you're my age, like I'm 32 now, and I'm in therapy, because of stuff that happened around me when I was five. And it wasn't even necessarily the event itself. Like my parents never beat me. They never sexually abused me. Like there was no huge events. It was just like my perception of something that happened, created a belief that now I have to dig out and fix when I'm 30. Right, right. If you start thinking about trauma in that way. Like that is trauma. And it wasn't like trauma that we think is trauma. Like it wasn't like someone got killed or anything like that. It was like, these perceptions of events. And yeah,

Michele Baci:

it's Wow. Yeah, it's like emotional trauma or you didn't, you didn't process what was going on at the time. And now it's like affected you throughout your whole life. Yeah, that's kind of that's my trauma, too. I'm just like, I was alone for too long. And I didn't have friends for too long. And now, you know, whenever I think of what I would tell my younger self, it's like, just live more like, just speak up and you know, take more risks and stop living in a closed little shell. Because I yeah, grew up with depression and anxiety. And just, I was just afraid of everything. You know, as a kid, how do you articulate that?

Rob Kalwarowsky:

You don't, right. And that's the that's the tough part. And I think like, for me, for people listening, at least from a mental perspective, like, get educated on what trauma is, because it's going to help you just understand what you're going through, and then also understand what help you need to get better. Because like, when I walked into therapy, and I've been asked this question 100 times, but they go like, oh, how's your childhood? And I was like, Oh, it's good. Like, my parents paid for everything. They loved me. You know, like, they didn't hit me. They didn't like, you know, basically, like they put me in school. I was doing sports, like everything was good. And then like, once you start learning about trauma, you go like, wow, like, somehow I internalized a lot of trauma.

Michele Baci:

Yeah. Well, even that, that answer you just gave it's like very much like, oh, on paper, great childhood, like, we checked all the boxes, I did all the activities. But then you wonder like, what, what else is going on? Yeah. Yeah, I feel like I had a mixed childhood where it was just like, very sad as a 10 year old to you know, 15 year old did not know how to cope with depression. But the childhood overall was fine. I just didn't, I didn't know how to speak up and ask for what I needed.

Rob Kalwarowsky:

Yeah, that's hard. I mean, I mean, asking for what you need. is hard, even. Like, forever, basically, I think it Yeah. And I always talk about the couraging asking for help, because like, so just first a statistic for you. Like I saw an article yesterday, and it was about men suicide in mining, or started in May, in constructions sorry, in Australia, and 93%. So they have a suicide in in a construction worker every two days in Australia. So there's like 190 something a year. And they have basically they did they pull the study, and they did some research. And they found that 93% of the men who killed themselves didn't ask for help first. So it wasn't about the programs. It wasn't about, like having these programs that people could get help. It was more about how do you create an environment where asking for help is not only safe, it's also encouraged. And that's where the leadership stuff comes in for me. And it's like these concepts like vulnerability and psychological safety. It's huge. And just making a space where people can feel heard and seen. And having a space where they can say, Hey, I'm not doing well, versus just baring it all, and like, leading leading in these really dark places.

Michele Baci:

Yeah, cuz maybe from the onset you think in your head, like, if I don't tell anyone about this, if I just try to power through that I'm stronger for it. That's what I used to think. But really, that just like poisons you. And it makes everything harder. So talking about it is the way to go. Absolutely. Asking for help. How do you plan to do these leadership sessions? Are they going to be online or used to like working out how the meetings will happen?

Rob Kalwarowsky:

Yeah, so they're there. It's an online program. It's a 12 week program. If you want to sign up, go to high performance narrative.com slash leadership. There are some details there is starting in June and it will be a combin. Well, it's all going to be online. But there's a combination of like pre recorded learning that you'll get like videos of Lauren and I and some exercises. And then there'll be group coaching calls where the group of us will get on the on a zoom and we'll be talking about like the lesson for the week. You know how to your ex your homework, like all these different things. And then there's also some elements of one on one coaching with either Lauren or myself. And you'll get to jump in and ask any in depth questions and get like some real one on one leadership mindset work in

Michele Baci:

huh? That's cool. And how did you how did you start working with Lauren Was it just because you guys met in a group therapy place?

Rob Kalwarowsky:

Yeah. So so I was like the coach that I told you who opened up a lot of the emotion work for me as Lauren's boss. And oh, so we met through that go through her. And then we started the podcast, basically, because of that story I told you before. But yeah, Lauren's great. I mean, she is, she has a master's degree in mental health from Springfield college. She works right now as a high performance coach. And she like has an extensive career. Well, I mean, she has an extensive athletic career, she she was played for years. at University of Wisconsin, she played professional hockey for a while too. And so she's, she's great to get in the high performance. gym.

Michele Baci:

Yeah, and I bet you guys like bond over that to the former athlete mindset.

Rob Kalwarowsky:

Yeah. And so Lauren's gonna bring a lot of the like, mental health and like mindset coaching to the group where I'm gonna bring more of the leadership and the experience in corporate while corporate america i guess, corporate Canada, but but the real corporate side of it, and I think it's like a really good kind of combination to cover the I always still lack of experience.

Michele Baci:

Yeah, it sounds like you guys are bringing different stuff to the table. So that's awesome. Do you have any anything else you want to say about therapy before we spend the roulette wheel? Well,

Rob Kalwarowsky:

I'm excited about the wheel. So let's go.

Michele Baci:

Okay, we'll see where it lands. Yes, spin. says a memory from childhood, it could be any kind of positive or negative. And if you don't like that one we could spend again,

Rob Kalwarowsky:

so I'll give you I'll give you a memory. That's, that's kind of interesting, from childhood. And this is sort of the reason why I've gone down this road again. And so a lot of people in the high achieving community, we believe that like, our next achievement is going to make us feel better, we're going to feel fulfilled, we're going to feel seen. And

Michele Baci:

right, like your terrible therapist telling you to get a job somewhere.

Rob Kalwarowsky:

And like, I mean, I still struggle with this, right? And when I get really dark, it's like, for me, I go, do I really need a win? And I'll feel better, like whatever that win is, like, if it's a game or whatever, it doesn't matter. It's like, I need a win. Yeah. And so this story is like, basically, like when I was 15 years old, I won the national title and water polo in Canada. And I remember sitting on the bench, holding the trophy going, like, what do I do now? What's next? Right? I had this like sinking feeling going, like, what like, what it like, I should be like, I've literally spent five years chasing this moment. And like, I don't know what I'm supposed to do. And that was really like, the catalyst. I mean, it wasn't the catalyst because it was like, but it's, it's a memory that I look at now and go like, this is the reason why you can clearly say that achieving your goals does not make you happy. And if there's other elements that you need, that that align with your values that you'll need to really find that fulfillment.

Michele Baci:

Yeah, cuz it's a short lived like, were you even happy at all when you're holding the trophy?

Rob Kalwarowsky:

Yeah, I was like, I think I was happy. Like, I was happy in the game. And then when the game ended, it was like, Yeah, awesome. And then it was like, oh, what am I supposed to do now?

Michele Baci:

Yeah, like you didn't plan for what would happen next. So you're so fixated on getting that trophy. And then they always say, like, reset your goals when you meet your goals. But you're right, if you just keep chugging along, chasing the next thing, like when do you actually get to enjoy your life?

Rob Kalwarowsky:

Yeah, and it's funny, right? It's like, you know, like, Jeff Bezos, like he's the richest man. Well, I guess. I think he's the richest man. But anyways, he's the richest man in the world.

Michele Baci:

We'll call him the richest man.

Rob Kalwarowsky:

It's like, he could have stopped when he was a few 100 million, maybe a billion, like, at some point, you can stop. And yet it's like, no, I need more. I need more. I need more. I need more. And maybe he like maybe his mind sets different or whatever, like, we don't know. But it'll never be enough. Like if you have some void inside you. You cannot fill it with more money. Like money. I like you know, the studies say something around $75,000 is like the limit of happiness. In terms of money. There's Oh, is that the limit? Like that's what they say? I would say there's probably another level somewhere where it's like, you don't need to work in a job you don't like, there's probably somewhere there. But basically that 75,000 is like, I can pay my bills, and I can live like a decent life. And so, you know, like, if you're between one and 2 billion, I doubt like, there's much difference in your lifestyle. And there's also very marginal difference in terms of like, what you can and can't afford. And so it that I think is a lot driven by insecurity or feeling like you're not worthy, or, or these other beliefs that you get into. And so, yeah, it won't work.

Michele Baci:

here that Jeff Bezos, you could go home, you can call it quits. I find that's true, too. Like, as I I'm 30 now and as I get older, I get like jobs that pay me better, that are more secure. And they're cool. Like, I like having a steady paycheck and feeling secure. But the money has like, by far, it doesn't really make me happy at all just like, Oh, it's just going into my bank. It's just money to buy things with. So that's not a driver for me at all. Yeah, like you get confused. Some people get chased something like that. That's monetary. And it's like, well, how are even like, if you're trying to get numbers of fans or followers, whatever? How are you going to feel when you have a million followers, you're gonna feel the same?

Rob Kalwarowsky:

Yeah. And that's like, that's the other concept that we're we're teaching and the leadership program is very much about finding what you want to impact and really connecting meaning to your work. And so like, exactly what you said, right? It's like, it's not only money that people Chase, like people can chase status, they can chase, you know, wins, in whatever sport they play, or like wins as an entrepreneur, like, it doesn't matter what that is, but very much like, it's not going to fill that need. But what fills that need is connection, is is feeling like you are good at things feeling like you belong, like all these, like Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Like that's what you're really looking for. And achievement is one of those needs, but it's not the whole pyramid.

Michele Baci:

Yeah, like it's, it's cool to have achieving habits, like you'll you'll learn a lot more, you'll move a lot more efficiently. But you have to realize, like, why are you doing this? Like, what is your driving force? Like that's making you Ace all those tests or become the waterpolo National Champion, you know?

Rob Kalwarowsky:

Yeah. And it's like, a lot of it is driven from low self worth. And so you're trying to prove that you're worthy. And that in itself is, is tough.

Michele Baci:

Yeah, it's like an existential problem. I think we have time for one more roulette wheel question. Yes, Ben. So if you could have any superpower, what would it be? And why? Oh, that's

Rob Kalwarowsky:

a good one. So I think I mean, teleporting would be awesome, obviously. But there's also I think there's another element of like time travel, which would be really cool. I don't know if that counts as a superpower.

Michele Baci:

Sure, anything that's like, not attainable right. Now. You go for it.

Rob Kalwarowsky:

I mean, I mean, either one of those I think is really cool. Like, teleporting would just give you so much freedom in terms of where you could live. Versus like, where you could work or travel to, like, you could literally like, Hey, I'm going to dinner in Paris or something like,

Michele Baci:

Yeah, that'd be cool. Gonna have to book all these planes or take roads. Yeah.

Rob Kalwarowsky:

I hate airports.

Michele Baci:

Yeah, I could skip that whole thing.

Rob Kalwarowsky:

Yeah. And then like time travel, I think would also be cool. Because like, you could go back and see, like, very interesting events in history, like, things that I mean, you can watch but I don't think you can experience and I think I had this conversation with my girlfriend the other day is like, she thinks we're living through like a moment in time right now. And we don't see it. And it's like, because I don't think you can actually fully understand what you're going through while you're in it. But like imagine you could go back to like, I don't know the I Have a Dream speech or or like some of these like, or like the moon landing and like really see these moments as like, what they are. I think it'd be just really cool.

Michele Baci:

Yeah, are these like parallels to what we're seeing now? Or, like, go back to the Spanish Flu go back to a different what was Black Lives Matter back in the day protests like you could see like what came before us and I feel like we are in a moment in time like, I see it. When I got my vaccine appointment driving around, and there's these terribly made signs are like vaccine here, like Do not turn until this street and it seems like we're in a disaster. But living in my house, I don't really think it's a disaster all the time. So we'll we'll dig out that trauma 10 years down the road.

Rob Kalwarowsky:

Now. Yeah, that's the other piece of it too, right is like, this has been a deeply traumatic year for a lot of people and especially, like, children, or even teenagers, like I was reading an article the other day that like, suicidal ideation in teenagers is up a significant amount. And then eating disorders in teenagers are up a significant amount as well. And it makes sense because, like, to be honest, like an eating disorder, a lot of it is to cope. And so, yeah, it's just going to be incredibly hard. And and like kids have to really work parents out there. I assume. I assume teenagers aren't listening to this, but maybe they are. But parents out there. Like, like, definitely get your kids some support, and really lean into that because they're going to need it.

Michele Baci:

Yeah, like if you see them glued to their phone, like, try to take the phone away. Like they're probably just developing a disorder in that moment. It's like that the perils of Instagram, it's just killing all of us.

Rob Kalwarowsky:

Yeah, yeah. That's another story for another day.

Michele Baci:

Rob, thank you for coming on. Tell us where to find you and how to find your podcasts and all that good. Absolutely. Yeah.

Rob Kalwarowsky:

Thanks for having me, Michelle. And, of course, yeah, you can if you want to listen to my podcast, it's called dismantling the high performance narrative. That one's about mental health and performance. I actually have another one called the leadership Launchpad project. That one's about basically people centric leadership. So you can find those on Apple, Google, Spotify, wherever you find podcasts, those are all there. If you want to check out my website and check out the leadership program, you can find it on high performance narrative Comm. And for me, specifically, the only social media that I use is LinkedIn. So you can find me there, Rob Calvin, brosky. You can find me there.

Michele Baci:

Very nice. Yeah, I scanned your LinkedIn before we set this up. Very impressive. Okay.

Rob Kalwarowsky:

That's what I do all my

Michele Baci:

high performance. Well, thank you. I hope to talk again soon.

Rob Kalwarowsky:

Thanks, Michele.

Michele Baci:

This has been Therapy Roulette consent to vent!. If you enjoyed this episode a few very quick things you could do to help the podcast are leaving a review Review, you can leave me a review on rate this podcast.com slash therapy, or you can leave a review. Wherever you listen to podcasts. It only takes a couple seconds to do and it really helps spread the word. tell a friend about the podcast, anyone who's into mental health or comedy, or who needs to, like, hear about mental health and comedy. If you think they'd like the podcast, tell them text them share the link. It really helps. It's just tell people about the podcast. Thank you so much for listening. I'll be back with a new episode in two weeks. So not next Thursday. But The following Thursday.

Theme Song: Therapy Roulette:

Consent to Vent / Trauma disguised as comedy / Therapy Roulette: Consent to Vent / If you dont have problems, then youre likely repressing sh*t and you should find a therapist / (Whos not me)