Episode Summary: The Gray Areas of Life with Kari Schwear

Are you stuck in the gray areas of life? Struggling to find balance and fulfillment? Join me as I host an illuminating conversation with Kari Schwear, the founder of GrayTonic. We'll be engaging in an eye-opening conversation about the concept of the life wheel, an enlightening tool that helps identify areas of fulfillment and those that may feel draining in our lives. Throughout the conversation, this episode reminds us that while we are not born unshakable, we all have the capacity to become unshakable. It requires effort, self-reflection, and consistent action, but with the right tools and mindset, we can navigate the gray areas of life and emerge stronger and more resilient. Join us, and let's navigate the gray together.

10 Questions to ask you yourself about the Gray Areas of Life

  1. How does our identity shape our outward behavior? Can you think of any specific examples from your own life?
  2. Have you ever observed someone's grocery shopping habits to determine their appearance and confidence? How accurate do you think this method is in assessing someone's identity?
  3. What are some emotional attachments you have to unhealthy foods? How do these attachments affect your behaviors and consequences?
  4. Do you agree that successful individuals have a clear identity that is reflected in their behaviors? Why or why not?
  5. How can we apply the concept of making daily intentions in our own lives? Do you find it more effective than solely focusing on long-term goals?
  6. Have you ever found yourself repeating the same actions and expecting different results? How did you break out of that cycle?
  7. Can you relate to the speaker's experience of denial regarding a behavior that didn't negatively impact other aspects of their life? How did they eventually come to terms with it?
  8. Have you ever had an experience where traditional solutions or approaches didn't work for you? How did you find an alternative solution or seek help outside of the norm?
  9. How do you differentiate between reacting and responding in your own life? Can you share an example of each?
  10. Do you resonate with the idea of questioning your own behaviors and creating narratives to justify them? How can we become more aware of this and make changes if necessary?

Quotes We Loved from "The Gray Areas of Life with Kari Schwear"

  • "Our feelings are what drives our actions, and we've not been taught how to sit with our feelings and we wanna act upon them. Nobody wants to not feel good. We're trying to escape it, we're trying to find a way out of it, but yet it's okay to not be okay. It's okay to honor those feelings that we do have and to recognize them and to label them." - Kari Schwear
  • “You can see that they have decided that discipline equals freedom ..., but you can see it clearly that their decisions and their commitment to themselves is showing up in their behaviors." - Kari Schwear
  • "So the key is everyday, and what I like to say is everyday effort equals expansion. If we do something every day and we have the effort, it will help get us to this expanded version of ourselves." - Kari Schwear

Guest Bio & Links for Kari Schwear

Kari Schwear is an Executive Lifestyle Coach, Author and Speaker. She founded GrayTonic in 2018 after her own experience of “living in the gray” led her to the service of others. Her zone of genius is in habit creation, communication, leadership development and intentional living.

Read Transcript

Kari Schwear: [00:00:00] So I look at the gray area as this beautiful place, which is an opportunity. It's an opportunity for someone to go, yeah, where in my life do I feel like I'm stuck in this gray area? Whether it is my marriage, whether it is my relationship with alcohol, maybe it's my relationship with my kids. Maybe it is my career.

Maybe I don't even know what I believe in anymore. Maybe I don't have a faith. Maybe I did at one point, but I don't anymore. And that doesn't feel good. Maybe I don't like where I'm living and there's so much stress with, I live in this apartment complex and all this noise, whatever's going on for you.

Take that as a clue and as an indicator that it's time for you to look inward and look at it as an opportunity for you to be able to grow and expand into the person that you truly were designed to be. Are

Intro/Outro: you ready to break free from your old habits and create a better life for yourself? Welcome to [00:01:00] Unshakable Habits, the podcast dedicated to helping men be better husbands, fathers, and leaders by prioritizing their physical and mental well being.

Each week, we'll look at health from a 360 degree perspective with inspiring stories and practical strategies for building unshakable habits that'll transform your life. Join Stephen Box, a board certified health and wellness coach, and let's change the world together, one habit at a time.

Stephen Box: Hey everybody, welcome to the Unshakable Habits podcast. I am your host, Stephen Box. And today, we are going to be talking about the gray areas of life. If you are someone who finds yourself... in environments where temptation is all around you and you [00:02:00] feel like it's difficult sometimes to avoid that temptation.

Maybe other times you do great with it, but you would like to be more consistent with, you know, not falling into some of those temptations. This is going to be a great episode for you. Um, and even outside of those situations, maybe you're just at a point in your life where things aren't really bad. But they're also not great, and you're not really sure on which direction you want to go.

So my guest today is an expert in this area, or as she calls them, these gray areas in life. So I'm looking forward to that conversation. So with that, allow me to introduce you to my guest today, Keri Swear. Uh, the founder of Gray Tonic.

Kari Schwear: Thank you, Stephen. I'm so glad to be here with you and your listeners today.

Stephen Box: Yeah. So, you know, you and I talked a little bit, uh, I do these pre interviews for, for [00:03:00] everybody. And we talked about your company really kind of started with, you know, alcohol is, is the primary focus. And I think that really ties into your personal story, which we'll kind of dive into in a little bit. But I also love the fact that.

You have this recognition that the things that you're talking about don't just apply to alcohol, right? They apply to other areas in your life. And that's something I teach people all the time is that the principles that we learn, they can be applied universally. The skill sets for each individual thing might be a little bit different, but the principles are the same for every area of your life that you want to improve.

Kari Schwear: You're right. I started this coaching practice really centered around gray area drinking, which is a significant gray area for a lot of people who do choose to drink alcohol about 50%. maybe in this gray area. So it's a wide spectrum of drinkers. But what I found was there's other gray areas that we do have in our [00:04:00] life where we start to self examine like, why don't I feel great about my life?

Why am I not happy when I quote unquote should be, you know, I, I have the success, I have the job, I have the income. That I've always dreamt of having. I have the spouse and partner that I've wanted. I have the kids, so why am I not happy? What is this feeling that I have inside in this hole that I'm trying to fill?

And that's what leads to more gray areas in our life. And once we get down one path of a gray area, it can really influence other areas and then it snowballs. And that's really what my message is, is how do we stop moving too far into the deeper shades of gray in all areas in our life, whether that is with drinking alcohol, or it could be with, you know, you're married and your spouse now has become a roommate at best, and your kids are starting to drift away and your career is stalling, or you're just not, you know, fulfilled with it.

And you're asking, you know, time's ticking. What's [00:05:00] next for me?

Stephen Box: Yeah, and I think so often people try to fix one single area in their life and, you know, I, I teach this concept of connected health, which looks at not just your physical health, but also your mental, your emotional, your relationships, your environment, and even your, you know, connection to something bigger, or some people might call that their spiritual health.

And, you know, It's this idea that like what you just said, that by improving one area, you impact other areas, but we can't just only focus on just one area because then we're left to wonder, well, why am I still stuck in these other areas, right?

Kari Schwear: Yes, yes. So most people are familiar with a life wheel or heard of the concept of life wheel where we're looking at different areas in our life where we're feeling the most fulfilled and the least fulfilled.

We're trying to understand, you know, where's that balance and The whole work life balance and having balance is a joke in my opinion. We're [00:06:00] never gonna be completely even on all these areas in our life, whether it's with relationships or it's with family, or it's with the purpose that you have for your life or your career or spirituality or how you feel about contribution.

Like we have all these areas and it's really hard to be at a hundred percent. all the way across the board. So when we feel depleted, it is good to take inventory. Like where am I feeling that, you know, right now I can share personally that in the social aspect, I'm feeling a little depleted on that arena.

So it's, it's an area that I'm going, okay, I see that my social life isn't where I'd like it to be. And it is causing me to feel depleted in this area. So what are the steps that I can do? To be proactive so I could start to change that and contribute in those areas. Oh, I don't know. Maybe call a friend and make a plan and schedule something, you know, so we, we have some avenues that we can take, but far too often.

I think what we find is a lot of people aren't actually. [00:07:00] Looking inward to ask those questions, you know, really getting curious about why do I feel this way? You know, what is truly going on inside? And that's the crux of the work that I do with my clients is to help them see where are those areas they can feel that way, that they are feeling that way.

And what can we do to start filling in the gaps? And most often I'll give

the, what is missing for you. You know, what is that hole that you're trying to fill? Yeah,

Stephen Box: I think, you know, when you kind of look at it, you know, like I mentioned this idea of connected health and three of those areas you just kind of mentioned, right, the mental, which is like your thoughts, your beliefs, your emotional, your reaction to those thoughts and beliefs, and then relationships.

So maybe something even as simple as you think, oh, I'll call a friend up. Now all of a sudden we start getting in our heads, right, where it's like. Oh man, you know, I'm really busy. Oh, they're probably busy. I haven't talked to them in so long. It's going to be awkward, [00:08:00] right? We start telling ourselves all these things mentally and then we have an emotional reaction to those thoughts.

I think that's at least part of why people continue to live in these gray areas.

Kari Schwear: Yes. And you know, you brought something up timing wise. I just recently did a reel in a, in a blog post about being okay with not being okay. Because everything that we do behaviorally is stemming from how we feel. Our feelings is what drives our actions.

And we've not been taught how to sit with our feelings and we want to act upon them. Nobody wants to not feel good. We're trying to escape it. We're trying to find a way out of it. But yet, It's okay to not be okay. It's okay to honor those feelings that we do have and to recognize them and to label them.

I think once we take like this big shining light on our feelings, we take the stigma away. We take the fear away of, you know, why am I feeling this way? I shouldn't feel this way. You know, there's gotta be a way out of it. [00:09:00] Instead, we have to be okay with going, all right. What are the thoughts being associated with this feeling and what do I do with those thoughts?

Because you're right. We tell ourselves stories. We create a story in our mind that 99. 99 percent of the time is just a made up story that we're telling ourselves because our brain is. Doesn't like open loops. We're trying to find a way to reconcile these unknown and trying to figure out why we're feeling this way.

So we, we do, we create these stories. Like you mentioned about a friend calling up, you've already created like, oh, they're probably busy or they don't want to be with me. Or, you know, I'll just hang out at home. Like we tell ourselves all these crazy things. That aren't true. So part of the process to work through that is acknowledge what you are feeling, being okay with not being okay, being willing to sit through it, understanding, labeling it, looking at the feelings, asking yourself the questions, why do I feel this way?

What I'm [00:10:00] thinking about this. True. Is it really true or could there be something else that is true? Which is always the answer is yes on that, by the way, there's always something else that could be true, not what we believe. And so we have to realize that that's actually stemming from a belief about.

ourselves, about what we believe for us. And that can really cause some stress for us when we, when we really look at that. But that lies the answer because we all have a story. We all have a self identity and that identity that we believe about who we are is. driving those feelings ultimately, which drives the actions, which creates the behaviors and the habits that we're trying to shake.

Stephen Box: It's a crazy loop to get caught in. Right. Yeah. And I think one thing that people maybe don't stop to think about a different perspective on emotions, especially a lot of guys, cause as, as men, we're taught to not have [00:11:00] emotions, right? We're taught that emotions are bad, that that's a, that that's a feminine trait.

And. So I think as a result, a lot of men avoid their emotions and our emotions really a lot of times are our body's way of communicating what needs to change. Yes. You don't know what to change. Yes. Thank you for saying that.

Kari Schwear: That's so true. It's like pain. When we feel pain in our body, it's because we need to pay attention to why that pain is there. You know, the word disease, you know, dis ease, we have pain because there's dis ease. And so the same thing with an emotion that comes up for us, what we would consider a negative or bad emotion.

By the way, there's no bad emotions. We're all human. We, we are to experience these emotions, but we put a label and a meaning on them. And. Like you said, men particularly, and I work with a lot of men, so I know this to be true, is that we have a hard time, they have a hard time separating, [00:12:00] you know, what is considered acceptable in this moment for me to feel this way?

And am I able to be vulnerable and still feel like I'm the man? And there's this question of like, where do I go from here? And so, We, they tend, we meaning me too. And everyone, we tend to stuff those feelings because we don't want to express them because we're afraid of expressing them that we're going to be looked upon differently.

And, and again, that, that creates more pressure and stress on us. And it actually starts to pack our nervous system to a point where eventually we're going to explode. We're going to expel that in some way, shape, or form. And a lot of times it is. Our health, we find out like, you know, we have a heart condition or we have anxiety that's causing you not to sleep, or it's causing weight gain because the cortisol is overproduced and you can't get rid of the cortisol in your body.

So that shows up in other areas that we can't even imagine.

Stephen Box: [00:13:00] Yeah, and it's just, it's so amazing that. When we start to ignore these things, we, and we start to focus on what we think with our logical brains needs to be fixed, right? We get ourselves in trouble, right? And I think this might be a good time to maybe kind of revisit your story because I have a gut feeling here.

Uh, we didn't talk about this, but I'm, I'm taking a leap of faith here. Hopefully your, uh, your story ties in. That. You probably, when you started feeling like there was something needed to be changed in your life, you probably took a logical approach at first, I'm assuming, because that's what most of us do.

And I would love to kind of just hear your story about where, where did this kind of start for you? When did you start realizing something needed to change? And ultimately, like, what didn't work? And then. How did you figure out what would work?

Kari Schwear: Well, what, what didn't work was me trying the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

We all, we all know that that's the [00:14:00] definition of insanity. I mean, I, you know, I think we're allowed, I believe this a hundred percent, we are allowed to go around the same mountain as many times as we need to, to learn, and it's not until we actually are willing to go through it. Or over top of it, not just around it over and over again, because we can circle it again as many times as we need to in order to get that lesson.

So, for me personally, with my relationship with alcohol, it was one of those where I knew it was an unhealthy relationship. I knew there was something that needed to be done, a decision that needed to be made. But I was in this gray area, so it wasn't that bad. I mean, nothing ever happened. My marriage wasn't on the line.

I showed up to work every day. I was an amazing, uh, it, my job. So there was no issues anywhere. The issue for me became how it started really enforcing this deep feeling of, I don't love myself. I don't fully accept who I am as a human [00:15:00] being. And that was something that was being clouded over with the drinking.

The drinking was part of the fueling for that feeling, but it wasn't until I got really crystal clear on what that was. So yeah, quitting drinking, you know, I went the traditional route of going to AA. wasn't a good fit for me. It's a great program for a lot of people. Millions of people. Wasn't a good fit for me.

So it wasn't until after I left the program, I worked with a coach and he helped me start to unpack a lot of these truths about myself and some of these thoughts I was having and the beliefs that I was having, those limiting beliefs. And you know, We throw around that word so often now, limiting beliefs, you know, but it truly is, it's, it's almost detrimental beliefs in my opinion.

They really hold us back. And it wasn't until, you know, again, I started working with this coach and unpacking that and become very crystal clear on what that looked like for me. And, you know, I use this analogy [00:16:00] a lot and I've already said it once. It's sort of like taking out this big, bright light and shining it on myself, my thoughts, my feelings, my behaviors, the way that I show up for not just me, but my family, my, um, work, my, you know, friends as a daughter.

All these things. How am I showing up? And I wasn't happy with that person. Yeah. So it was buckling in, it was investing into myself. There's a difference between self investment and self-care. Self-care we're like, oh, you know, go take a bath, go for a walk, get a manicure. No. Self investment is saying, you know what?

I believe enough in me, and I'm willing and ready to love myself enough where I'm gonna put some skin in the game and I'm gonna figure this out. Because I don't want to strap in for another 30, 40, or however old you are, years, to get to this place where I can finally be happy one day, that [00:17:00] one day is now, you just get to decide.

Stephen Box: Yeah, I love the fact that you kind of hit on it, you didn't directly say it, but you kind of hit on what we touched on earlier, which is... You didn't have the usual signs that people might think about when it comes to alcohol about why they need to make a change, right? It wasn't your marriage falling apart.

It wasn't you performing poorly at work. It wasn't, you know, those kind of big, gigantic warning signs. It was that emotion. It was that feeling that something inside you was saying you're using this as a coping mechanism and you need to stop and at the moment you didn't think of it as a coping mechanism is just, but there was just that, that feeling of, I just need to stop, right?

There's something that's not right about this.

Kari Schwear: Yeah, no, I loved wine. Are you kidding me? Wine was my jam. I mean, my whole life surrounded around wine. I started a wine club in my neighborhood. I [00:18:00] went my 20th anniversary. I went to Napa Valley and Sonoma just so I could be at all these fabulous wineries.

You know, I, I coined myself the wine connoisseur. And I own that new label because to me, it was about sophistication. It was about elegant and etiquette and all the things, you know, I, I really fit that part. I mean, after all, I'm a professional, don't you know, Stephen and, you know, wine is a big piece of this.

This was a story I was creating for myself that I'm, I'm just like everyone else that has a glass of wine or two. You know, frequently or every now to whatever, like I'm no different from anybody else. So yeah, there were no outward signs outside of me starting to have those internal questions. And that's what I ask people to pay attention to.

I'm not against, I'm not on a crusade against alcohol. I could care less if someone drinks or not drinks. What I care about is somebody starting to pay attention to those voices inside of your head. And. And I mean inside your gut when I say that those [00:19:00] in the inner spirit, that, that inner guiding system that we're all capable of listening to, we don't always listen to it, but we have the capacity to really tune in and listen to it.

And if we're listening. And we're listening carefully. If you're having some of those, like, I think I might be drinking too much, or I don't like the way that I feel about this. And I, I'm not as clear, sharp minded as I once was. I wonder what the difference here is. It's those questions that you're saying to yourself internally.

That's where the magic happens. That's where you need to start paying attention. And far too often we're so busy in our own stories that we create like it's normal. This is just what I do. This is part of who I am. We tell ourselves these stories over and over again. We actually start believing it. And then we squash that inner voice and that inner guiding system to be quiet.

So we don't have to deal with it because [00:20:00] that then is going to be a hard thing to overcome. So we call ourselves and then we stay on this cycle over and over again. And that's why I call it this gray area. It's not just me, the gray area in itself. We do the same thing over and over again, where this is a cycle.

It just continues until we decide one day, like I did with my drinking. I've had enough. I've had enough.

Stephen Box: And the thing you just touched on actually several things that we kind of need to go back on. But one of the things that you touched on there was it's. Not just alcohol that we're talking about here, right?

There's, you can apply anything. It might be you sit down and you're, you're eating a rather indulgent meal, and you have that thought of. Do I really need to be eating this? Do I need this much food? Right? Like it's, you start thinking about it that way, or maybe it's, you know, I don't feel like I'm being present enough in my marriage, or I don't feel like I'm really engaged [00:21:00] enough with my children, right?

And there's, there's all these little thoughts that sort of pop into our head and they're popping into your head for a reason. That's right.

Kari Schwear: That's right. And you know, one gray area that I had was, and I'm, you know, want to share and it's out there and I've shared it before is my marriage. I've been married 34 years.

It'll be 34 in just a couple of weeks. But on our 30th year, I went to my husband and I said, I'm no longer happy in this marriage. And I rocked his world. It was devastating. It was devastating for both of us, not just him, but for me as well. And it. We talked about it. And the reason why was the reason what led me up to that was he was unhappy.

With his position at work, the things that was required of him at the time, it was, there was a lot of shake up during that time. And he was, he became very downtrodden, if you will. And he had his head down. So he was [00:22:00] not paying attention to anything except for being consumed by his work. So in a sense, he was in a gray area with his work.

This is a career he's always been in and he loves and he loves the company he works for, but he was in a, in this deep, severe gray area in his career. And it was impacting and affecting. Everything, our marriage and everything else. Well, that was his contribution to it. Plus he wasn't, there was no, there was no energy left for him to give to me.

And this is when I was building the business. I was in my first, you know, I was going on my first or going into my second year, but the first full year I was in business and I wanted his support. And I wasn't receiving it. So I was feeling rejected. And then there was some other things, you know, we weren't, um, we weren't communicating at all.

We weren't, um, being close. If you know what I mean, it was, there was, it was like, we were roommates at best. Yeah, barely. [00:23:00] And so this becomes another serious issue, especially for couples that have been married longer than 10 years. You know, especially the 20 year mark, the 30 year mark. Whoa, things completely shift at that point because you become different people over a period of time.

If you're not growing together. You know, which, which is hard to do. It's work. We got to stay consistent. And we were slowly starting to separate. We're slowly starting to go our own direction. We both contributed to it. It wasn't just one or the other. And I had the nerve to stand up and say, I don't want this for another 30 years.

Not this, at least. I want you, but not like this. We need to figure this out. And so we buckled in, and it was, it was some serious work that we had to do. A lot of communicating, and uh, we refocused, but I'm really proud to say that we're in a better place now than we've ever been. And it's because we've gone through the hard times.

We were able to get through that. It wasn't easy. [00:24:00] I'm not saying it was because it wasn't, but I'm so grateful for it. And I think that's the lesson here is that we will be allowed to go through the tough times to help strengthen us, to help strengthen our faith and strengthen who we are as humans.

Because if we're not being tested and we're not going through the hard things, we stay idle. So I look at the gray area as this beautiful place, which is an opportunity. It's an opportunity for someone to go, yeah, where in my life do I feel? Like I'm stuck in this gray area, whether it is my marriage, whether it is my relationship with alcohol.

Maybe it's my relationship with my kids. Maybe it is my career. Maybe I don't even know what I believe in anymore. Maybe I don't have a faith. Maybe I did at one point, but I don't anymore. And that doesn't feel good. Maybe I don't like where I'm living. And there's so much stress with, I live in this apartment complex and all this noise, whatever's going on for you.

Take that as a clue and as an indicator that it's [00:25:00] time for you to look inward and look at it as an opportunity for you to be able to grow and expand into the person that you truly were designed to be. Cause you get to decide. That's the best part. We get to decide who we want to be, how we show up and what we're going to contribute.

Stephen Box: Yeah. Yeah. I remember in college reading. This, um, I don't know if it was like a poem or what it was, but it was called you create it all and the general idea here was that no matter what happens externally, we have the full capability of choosing how to respond to it. Oh, yes. And that's exactly what you were just describing there, right?

It's like, we can't stop the person from cutting us off in traffic. Yeah, we can decide how we respond to it. Oh,

Kari Schwear: I got to jump in here. Let me tell you. So something I, something I really spend a lot of time talking about is reacting versus responding. And so when we react, we do [00:26:00] so with judgment. And I want you to really think about that for a second here.

Like if, if someone cuts you off in traffic, since you use that as an example, right away, we're reacting. Because we're like, what a stupid jerk, right? We are already placing a story. We're doing it with judgment about the other person. We have no idea what is going on with that man or woman. But when we respond, we do so with curiosity.

We could respond by, Hmm, I wonder what caused him to do that. I wonder if something's wrong. I wonder if he's racing to the hospital right now because he just got bad news. I'm wondering if. His boss just let him go or her, you know, let her go. I wonder if, you know, she's in pain of some sort and mentally distraught.

We don't know the stories. And when we respond with curiosity, we have so much more compassion and we have understanding. And it takes us [00:27:00] out of the equation and it puts all the care and the concern onto somebody else. And we could look at things so much differently. And when we do even body language, when we respond, we sort of, you know, we have more of an openness, like our bodies, our chest widens, we kind of put our hands out, like, I wonder what's happening versus stupid jerk, you know, like, and we, we get like this angered feeling and response, um, of, of anger.

And so I really. like to caution people when you find yourself in those emotional tug of wars, like you want to react is to stop and pause and reflect before you do and take that step back and look at the situation and say, how can I best respond here by being curious and asking myself some questions before I jumped to the conclusion and placed judgment on this other person or the situation or.

Stephen Box: I even, uh, a technique I teach [00:28:00] a lot of the guys I work with, especially in those, um, intense reactionary moments, right? Because there's a difference, I think, between when you're in a situation where you kind of see something happening and you have that time to sit there and think about it versus like the example of somebody cutting you off in traffic where our reactions tend to be a little bit more instinctual.

Yeah. Yeah. I teach people to start thinking about it after the fact a little differently so that in the future we can react differently. Right? So one thing I do is, and it's very similar to what you were just saying about this idea of kind of thinking about what are the other possibilities and then, and then saying this to yourself.

I'm choosing to allow this person cutting me off to ruin the rest of my day. I'm gonna tell you, if you can honestly sit there and say that out loud to yourself, it would still be bad. [00:29:00]

Kari Schwear: Look, I'm laughing because it is, it's like so ridiculous,

Stephen Box: right? We definitely need to talk. You're still mad after saying that to yourself.

Kari Schwear: Well, because it's humorous. I mean, I think, I think if we're honest with ourselves, when we do get into those tirades and listen, I'm not perfect. I just had one of these episodes over the weekend where I was so frustrated. I have a, a year old now, not a puppy, I guess, technically, but to me, she's still a puppy and she was really frustrating me.

Let's just say that she wasn't going out and doing her thing. And if she doesn't go outside to do her thing, she's going to do her thing inside the house. So I was getting very frustrated and I started yelling like a banshee outside. And I thought, and I came back in and I was like, Kari, you're, you know, what the heck was that?

Like, and I almost started laughing because I thought if my neighbors were out there, they would have been like, what is up with her? Like she's normally not like that. And then it didn't make me laugh because I thought. Really? It was just trying to get her [00:30:00] to go potty in the, in the yard. Like, and I'm out there yelling at her, like, that's not going to do any good.

But you know, I, it was early morning. I didn't get a good night's sleep. I was tossing and turning that night. And it's like, you know, he could come up with all the excuses in the world, but these are the facts. And so we all do it. We all tend to, to get frustrated and being frustrated is okay. Like it's okay to be frustrated.

It's okay to have all these emotions. It's just how we handle ourselves. And then if we can laugh at it, because of course I'm not going to do that again. That was like so silly. But at least I can laugh at myself and go, Oh my gosh, like, really, you know, but it's all good. We're human. We can, if we can't laugh at ourselves, then we're in big

Stephen Box: trouble.

Yeah. I mean, I think it happens to all of us at some point, right? I mean, I can give an example where, uh, last week, uh, my wife and I went out to lunch and we went, we're sitting at the table. So we had [00:31:00] placed our order online and they. You know, they have you like put in your table number or whatever when you, when you sit down and they bring the food to you.

So they come over and they're bringing us somebody else's food. So I'm guessing that maybe what happened here is that somebody had ordered and they just like put in a random number to say they were there. So their food, you're ready when they got there or whatever, or maybe somebody ordered at a different location and put in, they just happened to be sitting at the same table as us, whatever the case was.

Right. I don't know what happened, but. For some reason they had basically two orders for our table and so they bring the one over there and we're, you know, first of all, they're walking around and they're just calling this person's name over and over and I can just feel myself getting irritated. Right?

I'm like, they're clearly not here. Stop. Just stop calling this person. They're clearly not here. This is like the fourth time you've walked by. And so they didn't start bringing the food to us and like, Oh, is this you? Is this you? We're like, no, it's not us. Right? Like, this is what we have. And [00:32:00] so. It's. This goes on and the next thing I know there's like three people around me.

And they're all confused. They're all trying to figure out what this table is, where this person is, who the order is, what happened, why is our order not ready, and they're like, oh, what do you mean you ordered on the app? The app's supposed to be turned off. And like, I just had this moment where I feel like I was herding cats.

And I had stayed composed for the most part this whole time and finally I just went, look, this isn't ours. Get away from me, you know, and it's like, afterwards, I was like, did I really need to react that way? But it's like, even in thinking about it, like, even just being aware of what was going on and, you know, composing myself, there, there came a breaking point, right?

Yeah. And it comes from this deep rooted idea that I've worked on for, for a while now, but still there's that little tiny part. And it comes from years of management and everything else, where [00:33:00] when there is chaos. Sometimes I feel like I need to be the person to get everybody to go, all right, stop. Let's get our lives together.

Let's do this. And there, there's still that part of me, even though I don't manage people anymore, there's that part of me that still exists. There's that little tiny bit of that identity that's still in there that in those stressful moments comes out. Yeah,

Kari Schwear: it's very common. It's so human. We're so human.

And it's, it's about being. Right? Being present in the moment is, is one of those things where we have to really get ourselves a, like, cue into. And, and in that moment, it's like, we can see people are working, they're doing their best, they're only doing their job. Like, nobody's at fault here. Like, every, you know, all the things that could have gone wrong or happened and it's happening.

And then, now looking back on it and telling the story, you're probably like, oh my gosh, like. You can laugh at it because everyone's just doing their own, their own thing, doing their job, doing the best that [00:34:00] they can and trying to get this order. And, you know, at that point I would have been like, well, what did they order?

I don't know. Is it good? Maybe I'll just eat that then, you know, like good to go. I don't know. And we can just laugh. We just got to laugh. I think we're missing humor. In our life.

Stephen Box: We definitely missing some humor in our lives sometimes. Yeah. I also shared that story to tie back into something that you that you talked about earlier, right?

Because you shared this you know, idea that not only were you drinking the wine, but you started to develop this entire identity around it, right? You're this wine connoisseur and this is, this is what professional people do. And, you know, you, you even started like connecting like social stuff to it by having the club and other things.

So now this really became a huge part of your identity and, you know, just like I was sharing that, like, in hindsight, I can now see, like, there's no way I would have been able to. To know this a few years ago, but I can now see like this ties back to my management [00:35:00] days and me feeling like I need to sometimes take control of the situation.

Right? So that's still part of my identity to an extent. And for you, this whole identity started kind of merging around alcohol. And I think a lot of people can relate to that, you know, whatever their specific vice may be, they can probably start to relate to the identity they've started to forge around it.


Kari Schwear: right. Yeah, that's exactly right. And again, what we believe about ourselves, our identity shows up in our outward behavior. It's, it's very clear. I mean, you can look at somebody and, you know, not to be judgy, because here we go back to judgment, but if we go to the grocery store, and you watch people pack their stuff with their cart, and then you look at them, and you clearly see that what's in their cart is obvious in their outward appearance and how they carry themselves.

And I, and I, I'm not putting anybody down. I'm not, you know, I'm [00:36:00] just calling out some facts here. You could see if their cart is filled with cookies and processed food and things that aren't healthy, and they shop in the middle of the store versus the parameters of the store. 9 out of 10 times they're, you know, they're typically overweight.

They might not appear to be very confident about themselves and it's showing up because they're emotionally attached to some things that aren't good for them. So there's a lot of stuff going on. So therefore they're choosing. Some of these negative foods that are going to hurt them in the long run. And we can see this, you know, on the flip side of that, if we see somebody at the gym, who's super buff and ripped and everything like that, not saying that they're perfect, cause they're not, trust me, they have their own issues too.

However, you can see the discipline. You can see that, that they have decided that discipline. Equals freedom for them to be able to do like eat a pizza every so often and those sorts of things. But [00:37:00] you can see it clearly that their decisions and their commitment to themselves is showing up in their behaviors, which is to stay connected to their bodies and how they want to present.

We can see that with the top 5 percent of the most successful people. What are they doing differently? That's who I like to look at and study because, you know, I look at somebody like Steve Jobs who's now passed, of course, you know, he wanted to eliminate decision fatigue, which is why he wore the same outfit over and over again, because his brain was so incredibly brilliant that he wanted to focus his energy on the things that was most important to him, which was how does he expand and create better products?

And so we look and we study people that are highly successful. We can see that their identity. on who they believe they are is showing up in their outward, not just so much of their appearance. That's an opposite side of appearance. And what I just said was with Steve Jobs, but we can see it in his [00:38:00] performance, which is still a behavior and how we show up.

So I really like looking at different people and getting an idea of what makes them stand apart. And I'll tell you right now, it's an intentional living. That's the answer. I'll give, I'll give it away right now. It is intentional living. When you make daily intentions for your life on a daily basis, you will, your life will change.

Because if we're so goal driven, we're not going to get there. It's the intentions that provide the daily fuel to actually get you to the bigger goals. And so when I work with somebody, especially when it's around habits, let's not make this big, big, lofty goal that is going to be so hard to, to get to.

Let's start with what are your intentions for today? That's going to help us get to that, that big lofty goal. And if we could take bite size. winds that provides momentum. Momentum provides more momentum. And here we go. It's like a rocket [00:39:00] ship. It takes more fuel to get up and off the ground and lift off.

Then it does once it's out circling the earth, right? So we need to have that momentum and that's what intentions will do. We become very intentional with what we're doing, what we're saying, you know, wanting to do with our life. It becomes super hyper focused around that. Yeah. I

Stephen Box: think for a lot of people too, it's, you know, when they think about their behaviors, right?

A lot of times we maybe aren't aware that. All of our behaviors are really either an expression of who we are, or they're an attempt to solve a problem, right? And I think especially when we talk about alcohol, that's one that for a lot of people, it solves the problem of stress. It solves the problem of fitting in, right?

Um, and so once we start to have that realization around it, it becomes easier to let those things go if they're no longer part of the identity that we want to have. Because like you said earlier, this isn't about like... You should stop drinking, [00:40:00] right? It's about if you're at a point where you don't want that to be a part of your life anymore.

This is how you go about doing it. Um, but I think we can apply it across the board, right? I mean, you mentioned, you know, people at the store, the things that they have in their basket. You know, this isn't about, you know, someone having six pack abs or not having six pack abs or having a little extra weight on them or whatever, because I'm a firm believer that there is no such thing as a, the right body type, right?

Agreed. But what I do believe is that there is healthy and unhealthy. That's right. And you can be 40 pounds overweight and be actually pretty healthy because You are consistently active when you're, you know, if we were looking at your basket at the store, yeah, there might be some cookies or something in there on occasion, but you've also got some fresh fruits in there.

You've got some vegetables in there, right? You're actually on the outside of the store buying fresh foods, not just loading up with a bunch of [00:41:00] processed stuff. And that's what we look at. When we're looking at how people are doing these things, we're looking at their total behaviors. Do the behaviors that you have line up with the person that you said you want to

Kari Schwear: be?

Yes, right there. If, if, if they're not, then it's, then it's a self examination. And a lot of times what happens with people in the gray area is that they aren't living in congruence with who they say they are. And this causes stress. And this causes a huge gray area for people because. For example, let me hear, I'm thinking of a specific client that I'm currently working with.

He runs a very big business, very successful business. He does a lot of speaking. And when we started working together, alcohol was one of the things he wanted to work on. But he also said, you know, Kari, it's people look to me as a leader in my industry. And when I'm on stage or I'm doing presentations, all I keep thinking is they're looking at me going, Oh [00:42:00] my gosh.

Look at how overweight he is. Look at how he doesn't, you know, throw his shoulders back and he doesn't have this confidence. He said, how I feel about myself is not how I think people perceive me, but I want to be in congruence with that. I want to be the, the leader and the man that my organization.

things that I really am. Like I need to step into that role. I need to like climb into that version of myself that they believe I am because I don't believe it right now. And I want to be in congruence that I want to look and feel good about me. I want to get my alcohol under control so I can be clear minded, lift the fog and be sharp as a tack when I am speaking and when I am leading this business.

And I want to really be the best man possible. I want to be a good father for my kids. I want all those things, not just say that I am or be on paper. I want to live it. I [00:43:00] want to be it. And that, oh, I can't tell you when I hear that type of languaging coming from someone, I know they're my people because that's the heart of somebody who gives a damn, who actually wants to change their life, who knows that they're capable of so much more and that they have the capacity to do it.

They just need the roadmap. to get there.

Stephen Box: Yeah, I love this example because it perfectly highlights something that I see a lot, which is we get in our own heads, we tell our own stories. And we assume them to be true, right? And then at some point, the light bulb goes off and goes, okay, maybe other people don't see me this way.

Maybe this is just a story in my head, but I realize I'm not living in alignment with the person that, that other people see me as, or as a, as a person that I think I'm, you know, trying to be. And, [00:44:00] Rather than focusing on the behaviors, like what we were just talking about, they start trying to just fix the problem and now all of a sudden it's okay.

If my, if I feel like I'm overweight, I need to change something about that. Now we, Oh, I'm going to go do this diet. I'm going to go do this thing. And the problem with that stuff is you're a. Just applying something that may get you some short term results, but you're not changing your core behaviors.

You're not getting in alignment yet. And so you're just doing something that's a specific result driven activity. And as soon as you stop doing it, as soon as it gets too hard to maintain, you'd lose the result because you never changed your core behaviors.

Kari Schwear: That's right. Yeah, you just nailed it. If, and it takes time, right?

So I love Robin Sharma because the way that he breaks down habits, um, and it's actually from University of London had did this study, which is it takes 66 days [00:45:00] to automate. a habit. We've all heard the term 21 days, but it actually takes 66 to automate the habit. And the way that Robin describes it, which I think is so brilliant.

He says the first 21 days, we start anything new or change something. It's hard. It is hard. It's new. It's a new thing. And we need the rhythm and we have to know going into it. You know what? You got to have this deep why about it. Or it's not going to happen. And then he talks about the second 21 days or 22 days.

He calls that period messy. This is where we start to, and I've been through this and I know with my clients, you know, especially if they're in the 30 day program, it's, it's like you cross over the 21 now you're, you're going into the 30, 45 days. And what happens is we start to tell ourselves like, oh.

I've been doing great with that. Like I got that under control. You know, I can, I can, in my case, you know, drinking, I can have a drink tonight. Like I'll be fine. I'll just go back tomorrow. I'll be totally cool with it. [00:46:00] And that's, and that's where it gets messy. We have to stay diligent to our why. I'm committed to that.

And then the last 20, 21, 22 days, he describes as, um, what does he describe that as? Now I've lost my train of thought on that. I forgot what he calls that. He has a specific term, but it's, it's almost like, Oh, it becomes, because it now starts to become automated. It's almost like, ah, now you're starting to see the reward behind it.

And if we Stay consistent. It's the every day consistency that gets us there. Just like the book Atomic Habits talks about that. If once we miss one day, okay, okay. We can get back on the train the next day. We miss two days. Oh my God. It is like doubly hard. We missed three days and it's like starting all over again.

And then you have this feeling of like, I failed. I must be the worst person in the world. I, you know, suck at this. Like we're telling all ourselves this negative thoughts again. And then it [00:47:00] creates. More shame, more guilt. And guess what? You're back on the cycle again. You get to start it all over. Yeah. So the key is every day.

I mean, what I like to say is everyday effort equals expansion. If we do something every day and we have the effort, it will help get us to this expanded version of ourselves. We just need to be willing to put in the work and remember to tie your why, why, why are you even wanting to do this? If that's not big enough, you're not going to go very far.

You have to be really connected to that why it's your driver for your driving course. It's the anchor. It's the guiding north That is what gets you to where you need to be.

Stephen Box: Yeah. Yeah, you know you mentioned, you know, Steve Jobs earlier And the one place I would disagree with with Steve's idea about decision fatigue here is that I feel like we we need to embrace a the decisions, right?

Because making change is not a single decision that we make [00:48:00] one time. Yeah. It is, it is a decision or thousands of decisions that we make over and over and over and over and over again. Yeah, everything is a choice. Yeah, it's, it's, it's a daily commitment. You know, it's like, you know, you, you mentioned this idea from Atomic Habits about, you know, if you miss two days and, you know, what I, you know, will tell my clients a lot of times is not so much about missing the two days, right?

It's about. Your identity. Um, and the example that I will give people a lot of times is I hit rotator cuff, uh, surgery a couple years ago. And I was literally not allowed to exercise for six weeks because of the stitches. Like, couldn't get any sweat in them or anything. So I was not allowed to do anything other than like, Not, not even brisk walking, just like very easy walking and I couldn't even do that outside for like the first couple of weeks.

So like literally I'm limited in what I can do, but what I did was [00:49:00] every single day in my head, I told myself I'm working out. Like, literally, I just thought about it. Like, I pictured myself in the gym, pictured myself doing things. When, when they had me doing, like, the little exercises where I'm swinging my arm or whatever, trying to get that range of motion back.

I considered those workouts, right? Which was kind of hard for me because they obviously weren't, you know, near the difficulty level what I was used to. And at the end of that six weeks when they took those stitches out, the very next day, I was at the gym. with my sling on, like a dumbbell on one arm doing leg exercises.

Like, because I had stayed locked in that entire six weeks by making a decision to think about exercise every single day. So,

Kari Schwear: You know what? You did so many things right there that's worth noting, which is, you know, visualizing and feeling it [00:50:00] as if it's already occurred really does help orchestrate in our mind and the thoughts that the action can occur.

And so that was brilliant on your part. Um, just to, even if you couldn't physically do it to mentally picture yourself there, therefore you were doing it. You know, Dr. Joe Dispenza talks about this, about stamping. Those thoughts into our, uh, into our nervous system, into our mind, and it becomes real if we repeat it over and over again, which is why we need to be so connected to that and really feel the feeling, feel as if it's already happened.

We're creating a memory, you know.

It's amazing how this all comes to pass and it becomes easy then if we picture it, you know, I, I just, I just deadlifted the most weight I've ever deadlifted before on Monday and I remember my trainer saying, you know, Kari, this is going to be one of the hardest weights you've done. I know you can do it.

I want you to in my trainer. So good for me. She goes, I want you to, you know, [00:51:00] drive with your booty and your legs and your heels. I want you to really own it. I want you to know you can do it because you can do this and relax and get your game face on. And she gave me this pep talk beforehand. And I looked at myself in the mirror and I was like, Oh hell yes, I'm doing this.

And she's like, you can give me three. I'll be so happy. I banged out 12 that first rep there. That first set. I was so proud of myself because I envisioned me doing it, you know, even in those moments that she was saying that to me, she was gearing me up and she's like, I know you can do it. I know you can do this.

I just need you to drive. I need you to tap into this inner part of yourself that you have not yet tapped into and I believe you can do it and I need you to believe it. And so we can do anything. We really can. And we can do hard things.

Stephen Box: I love that example. Congratulations on your, uh, Thank you.

Kari Schwear: Don't ask me the weight because I won't tell you.

Stephen Box: The weight doesn't [00:52:00] even matter, honestly.

Kari Schwear: That's right. It doesn't. But it was hard. It was hard for me, but I did it.

Stephen Box: Yeah. Something I heard as someone who used to, uh, do personal training, personal training is how I actually started off and I have this suspicion that your trainer probably knew you could do way more than three.

and I love, and I love the fact that she just said three, because what it highlights is something I teach all the time. And I think we've kind of hit on it, but we haven't directly said it today is don't. Try to do the big thing, right? Start small. Because I heard telling you, look, if you can do three, I'll be like super ecstatic about that.

If you do 12, like you're like, you finished every rep after three, you're like stronger and stronger. You're feeling better and better. Right? Yeah.

Kari Schwear: And the second set was funny because I, I did five and then I was like, I could barely do the six and she said, okay, just take a, take a mini break here, take a mini break, come back.

And she goes, just give me five more. And so [00:53:00] we got, I got to 10, you know, I did five more and I knocked out five more, 10 in a row then. And I was like, she's like, look at you go, giving me 15, you know? So it was, it was so exciting. And that's really. That's what a good trainer or coach does. We know what our clients need and we can be that cheerleader.

We can be the encourager and we see the path forward that a lot of people can't see for themselves. We know what's ahead for them. And that's what my coach did for me years ago, when I first worked with him, you know, when AA wasn't my gig. He was like, Kari, I really think that you could be a coach someday yourself.

And I believe that you're going to start your own business. And I believe that you're going to tell your story and share your story with the world. And which I busted out laughing, go, that's never going to happen. But what he did was he planted seeds for me for the possibilities that were there. And I never sought out to start my own business.

It sort of unfolded as it needed to. And here I am today. And, but if he didn't plant that seed for me, [00:54:00] I don't know if I would have believed it for myself. So we see things that are possible that others can't see for themselves. Guess why? Because we all have blind spots and we can't always see the forest through the trees.

Sometimes we need the guide to walk us through the forest so we can find our way out to the valley.

Stephen Box: Yeah, absolutely. And I love that fact that you kind of just highlighted there really what a great coach does. They don't tell you what to do. They're not there to just give you the instruction manual.

What they do is they help you to remove those limiting beliefs. They help you to get around those negative thoughts that you have about yourself and start to see what's possible.

Kari Schwear: So good. So good, right? It's just so good. I love it.

Stephen Box: So one final thing I want to talk about before we wrap up here is you have on your website a, uh, freebie, um, where it's Mastering Self Regulation 10 Ways to [00:55:00] Stay in Control in Stressful Times.

Yes. Yes. And I love this idea because I think something that, especially as men, that we are not always aware of is how our stress has not just a negative impact on how we feel, right, because it can affect everything from your sleep to your diet, to your ability to exercise, to your ability to focus.

There's all kinds of problems that stress causes physically, but also. When you were stressed, your decision making is poor. And I think this idea of being able to give people some tools to help figure out not how to get rid of stress. Cause we need some stress in our lives, some stresses, but being able to regulate the stress, being able to figure out where is that sweet spot of just enough, but not too much.

And so I just wanted to kind of highlight that and encourage people to go to your website, graytonic. com and download. That [00:56:00] freebie and I'll have a link to it in the description as well. Um, and then that way they can. Actually, go ahead and get some of these tools because we didn't talk a lot about stress today, but it is a huge component of all of

Kari Schwear: this.

Oh, yeah. We all have stress. We all do. I mean, you know, it's, it's part, it's part of living. We, you know, we, it will, the key is how we deal with it. Like, how do we respond to it? So this guide, you know, there's some, there's some obvious ones on there, like. exercise and drinking plenty of water and eating really nutritious foods.

But there's some things on there that might be a surprise that someone's never heard of or thought of. And it's simple, simple strategy, simple tactics and tips for you to use. There's also a breathing exercise on there that I did a YouTube video on. It's just, there's no video. It's just basically the audio, but it's a really good seven minute Guide for you.

It's me taking you through a, just a very beautiful, um, uplifting way for you to decompress. It works [00:57:00] every time. I've done this with, you know, hundreds and hundreds of peoples and workshops and they just, when, you know, they open up their eyes are like, Oh my gosh, I need to do this all the time. And I'm like, yeah, why don't you, you know, so breath work is, is a big piece of that.

But the video is going to be really helpful for those that, you know, need just a couple minute break throughout the day, just Open up YouTube, listen to it, get yourself in a good place and you will be feeling like a million dollars. So I hope that really helps those that need it.

Stephen Box: Oh my goodness, I could do an entire episode about breath work.

Yeah. As someone who does a lot of speaking, as someone who does a lot of physical exercise. It's, it's such a huge thing. I, I've, ever since I incorporated Breathwork into my routine, it's, it just has made so many changes. I can't even, like, we don't even have time to go into it right now, but it's like, guys, trust me, like, it, if you, if you think, like, oh, that's too woo woo and all that, it has nothing to [00:58:00] do with any of that.

This is the most Connecting to your body and learning to breathe. That's all it

Kari Schwear: is. It basically, it is your nervous system. You're calming your central nervous system and it, it works and we don't, we, we don't even realize our breath, how powerful it is, how we can move from fight or flight into a calm, beautiful place within minutes.

just using our breath, just centering ourselves. One of my best clients, my one, my long term client, he's been with me a year and a half. You know, when he first started working with me, I said, do not get out of your car in the garage. Like I want you to sit in your car and do some deep breathing before you walk into the house.

Because he would come, he would walk in and he'd be a tirade to his family. And I said, you're not going to do that. You're going to leave the work behind. You're going to sit in your car and we're going to do this breath work. You know, you're going to do it. And when he started implementing that, he was like, this thing is really working.

Now, guess what he does every morning. He does breath work and [00:59:00] meditation. And he calls those his non negotiables because if he doesn't do that and he doesn't set himself up for the day. He's going to allow everything to come at him and he's going to become reactionary. So yeah, there you go. Breath work is really important.

Stephen Box: Love it. Uh, well, Kari, if people want to get in touch with you, what's the best way for them to do that?

Kari Schwear: The best way you can find on my social channels on graytonic. com, but I'm highly active on LinkedIn. That is my jam. That's what a social platform I prefer. I'm the only Kari Schwer on all social media, so I'm really easy to find.


Stephen Box: We'll love it. And we'll have links to all that in the show notes for anybody who wants to get those as well. But I want to thank our guest, Kerry, for coming on today, sharing your story, your knowledge. I hope people, like, listen to this episode with pen and paper in hand, because there were so many little nuggets they're going to be able to take from us.

So I really appreciate its [01:00:00] value, which you brought today. And I want to remind everyone. That while none of us are born unshakable, we can all become unshakable. Thank

Intro/Outro: you for listening to the Unshakable Habits podcast with coach Stephen Box. Be sure to hit the subscribe button and help us spread the word by sharing the podcast with other men.

If you're ready to create unshakable habits, you can learn more and connect with us at unshakablehabits.com.

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