Anxiety & Depression Mental Health in a Virtual World: Unpacking the Details With Jewel and Noah Robinson Learn about Innerworld—an avatar-based mental health platform By Amy Morin, LCSW Amy Morin, LCSW Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Amy Morin, LCSW, is a psychotherapist and international bestselling author. Her books, including "13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do," have been translated into more than 40 languages. Her TEDx talk, "The Secret of Becoming Mentally Strong," is one of the most viewed talks of all time. Learn about our editorial process Published on March 20, 2023 Print Verywell / Julie Bang Table of Contents View All Table of Contents More About the Podcast Episode Transcript Every Monday on The Verywell Mind Podcast, Editor-in-Chief Amy Morin, LCSW, interviews authors, experts, entrepreneurs, athletes, musicians, and other inspirational people about the strategies that help them think, feel, and do their best in life. Follow Now: Apple Podcasts / Spotify / Google Podcasts / Amazon Music More About the Podcast The Verywell Mind Podcast is available across all streaming platforms. If you like the show, please leave us a review on Apple Podcasts. Reviews and ratings are a great way to encourage other people to listen and help them prioritize their mental health too. Links and Resources Follow Jewel on Instagram: @Jewel Check out Innerworld Episode Transcript Editor’s Note: Please be mindful that this transcript does not go through our standard editorial process and may contain inaccuracies and grammatical errors. Thank you. For press inquiries, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. [INTRO] Welcome to the Verywell Mind podcast. I’m Amy Morin, editor-in-chief of Verywell Mind. I’m also a psychotherapist and a bestselling author of 5 books on mental strength. Every Monday, I introduce you to a mentally strong person whose story and mental strength tips can inspire you to think, feel, and do your best in life. And the fun part is we record the show from a sailboat in the FL Keys. Don’t forget to subscribe to the show on your favorite platform to get mental strength tips delivered to you every week. Now let’s dive into today’s episode. [EPISODE STARTS HERE] Today I’m talking to singer/songwriter, actress, and author Jewel. She’s sold over 30 million records worldwide. But her life wasn’t always great. Jewel experienced a variety of struggles growing up in Alaska –ranging from abuse and neglect to becoming homeless as a teenager. As she rose to fame, she was very open about the mental health struggles she experienced. She’s made it her goal to make mental health help more accessible to everyone, regardless of their income. That’s why she joined forces with Noah Robinson to create something pretty cool. It’s called Innerworld, and it’s a free online platform where you can get support from other people while remaining completely anonymous in a virtual world. In the first part of the episode, you’ll hear from Jewel. Some of the things she talks about are the tools she discovered help her mental health, the barriers that keep many people from getting treatment and what she hopes to accomplish as the co-founder of a new online platform called Innerworld. Then, you’ll hear from the other co-founder, Noah Robinson. He’s a clinical psychology doctoral candidate at Vanderbilt University. He explains his personal reason for wanting to start a virtual world and he describes a bit more about how Innerworld works. As you’ll hear, Innerworld isn’t an online platform where you’ll video chat with a therapist or anything like that. Instead, you create an avatar and your avatar can attend groups with other people on topics ranging from grief to anxiety. You can connect with other people and learn tools from trained guides and you can do it all without revealing your name. I predict tools like this are going to become increasingly popular over the next few years. But listen to what they have to say and decide for yourself if it’s something that sounds interesting to you. Make sure to stick around until the end of the episode for The Therapist’s Take. It’s the part of the show where I’ll give you my take on Jewel’s mental strength building strategies and I’ll share how you can apply them to your own life. So here’s Jewel and Noah Robinson on how you can get mental health treatment in a virtual world. Interview With Jewel Amy Morin: Jewel, welcome to the Verywell Mind podcast. Jewel: Thank you. Amy Morin: I'm excited to talk to you because there are so many celebrities that have come forward and talked about mental health recently, but you were talking about mental health sort of before it was cool for celebrities to talk about mental health, right? Jewel: Yeah, the term mental health wasn't even around. I took massive breaks in my career for my mental health, but there wasn't a word for that. There wasn't even a phrase or a container, a context to have people in my industry understand what I was doing. For me, mental health has always been the priority in my life. I didn't, again, use the words mental health, but I moved out when I was 15, grew up in an abusive environment, and I knew moving out was dangerous. I didn't do it lightly. It wasn't like, "This is going to work out great." The odds of it working out great were incredibly slim. And so I didn't let myself move out until I tried to formulate a reasonable plan that might give me a reasonable hope that I might not become a statistic. And so in my sort of little research period of me thinking about this, the way I thought about it was I knew that I had a genetic inheritance. I'd learned that in school, so as much as you know I might have a predisposition toward diabetes or heart disease, I realized I had an emotional inheritance. And that was fascinating to me because when I sat and really thought about my family emotionally, there were very distinct patterns, and me being a statistic meant that I would also end up cycles of abuse or addiction. And so I realized I needed to learn what I called a new emotional language. Let's say I grew up speaking English and I don't like English. Well, I better go to school to learn Spanish or French or some other language. There was no school like that for learning a new emotional language, but at least knowing that's what my job was, was very exciting to me, this idea that maybe I could piece together a new emotional vocabulary and see if happiness was a learnable skill, was it a teachable skill if it wasn't taught in my home? And so that was my purpose in life, still is my purpose in life. I wrote because writing helped me process pain, it helped me take the edge off of my anxiety, and when I wrote, I became aware of patterns that I didn't realize I knew. Perfect example is this idea of an emotional language and emotional English, and that was something I came up with while I was writing about it. And so all of my songs, all of my poetry, was basically all a mindfulness tool of me on my journey of how do I help myself if nobody else is going to help me? What happens to kids like me that don't have traditional support like psychotherapy and a family? Do I get to be happy? I was willing to fight for that, and I was unwilling to check out of this world until I felt like I could get a grip on it. Amy Morin: I'm curious. Statistically, like you say, at-risk kids tend to go on to have mental health issues, end up in the criminal justice system, substance abuse issues, the list kind of goes on and on. It's fairly grim, but we know that often teenagers or kids who have just one positive, healthy adult in their life can go a long way into preventing that cycle. When you were younger, did you have even just one positive adult in your life? Jewel: It depends on what age you ask me that. The answer is no. I did think I had one. I mean, it's a complex issue, but my mom used to ... Was this heroic figure. My mom and dad got divorced when I was eight, and we went to live with my dad. Nobody told me it's because my mom didn't want to be a mom. She left us, and so my dad took over raising us. I didn't know that at the time. I would hitchhike 500 miles to go see her. I'd show up on her doorstep. She was the opposite of my dad. My dad was this volatile alcoholic that hit me, very easy to identify "bad guy." My mom seemed like the opposite. She was calm, she was soft, she never yelled, obviously never hit me. And I didn't realize I was being abused in another way at the time. If you asked me when I was nine to maybe even in my 30s, I would've thought I had a supportive figure. Looking back, what was actually happening is my mom, let's say when I would show up on her doorstep, she would say, "Your mind is so powerful. Our minds are only tap, we use like 10% of our brain power. Our minds are so powerful and I think you, Jewel, are so powerful that I think you could sit here and stare at this light bulb and you might be able to get it to turn off with your mind." That is such an abusive, effed up thing to say, but I felt so loved. What it actually was was my mom didn't want to stay there and be with me, and she babysat me by having me watch light bulbs. So sometimes the appearance of an attached figure isn't what it seems. The amount of trauma in my life, the amount of neglect, moving out at 15, the amount of adult situations I was in, I was bar singing as an eight year old, I was around predators, I had a very scary life. I had a very terrifying life. And I had a life where adults weren't safe people, being in connection to people wasn't safe. Learning how to remove myself is how I found safety. And so I had a lot to work on. I had a lot to work with, and again, didn't have therapy, but for whatever reason I was very determined that if I could observe and get very curious and look at myself somewhat scientifically, and believe my body, believe that what my body was telling me was the truth, and that if I could come up with a exercise that got my body to feel different, that was a real barometer. I can kind of give you more specifics of what I mean, but the answer is no. I didn't have a safe figure. But that's also why I formed our youth foundation, is because there's real hope for kids like that. And there's also hope for people with affluence that aren't getting changes in their life from their therapist. It doesn't mean they're broken either. There's so many tools and things we can do to help ourselves with a little bit of guidance. Amy Morin: Yeah. Oh gosh, I'm glad that you said all of that. And to know too, I was a therapeutic foster parent for years, and we would know that kids who grew up in abused and neglected homes often had just such complex relationships with their parents because like you say, they still love them and yet weren't treated well, but yet I think all of them that ever lived with me, if they were given the opportunity to go home would have done that in a heartbeat because they wanted to be with their families. And it's such a difficult thing for people to work through. And the fact that you figured it out as a teenager and you started working on yourself without any professional support is remarkable. Jewel: Well, it wasn't like a perfect path. I didn't really realize what my mom was until I was 30-something. I can't remember my exact age, but I woke up and realized she embezzled all of my money, over $100 million. And then as I started investigating the truth about what my mom had told me in my life versus what was true, I had realized that pretty much everything I formed my reality on was fiction. For instance, my dad didn't take us from my mom. He actually did a good thing and didn't steal us. I thought he had stolen us or was blackmailing my mom to not have us, actually realized my mom left because she didn't want to be a mom. Having to go back as a 34 year old and rework your psyche was not fun, but so powerful because the tools that I learned, I could share a tool from that specific time in my life that would help anyone, no matter what they're going through. Amy Morin: Can you share something with us of what was helpful? Jewel: Yes, oh my gosh. I guess while I'm there at that time in my life, I'd love to share tools. If you'll help me remember some of them, I want to talk to you about dilation and contraction. I'd like to talk to you about anxiety as an ally, and I'd like to talk to you about the allegory of the golden statue. And I think that's where I'll start, because that's what I was thinking of when I talked about this time in my life. 34 years old, realize I'm $3 million in debt, realize my mom stole it, realize everything I thought my mom was isn't what she was, very difficult psychological thing to come to terms with. And I realized that my mind had been messed with. And how could I tell the truth in what I thought versus kind of what I was conditioned and groomed to thought by a very sophisticated person in my mom?And I suddenly was washing my hands in the bathroom, and I remembered this story called the allegory of the golden statue. And it's this little story where there's a golden statue in a village. They hear a warring tribe is coming. They cover the statue in mud to obscure its value. The war comes, devastation hits, the war passes through, the village is so mired in trauma and recovery, they don't even think about this statue. Generations pass, there's a tremendous flood one day, there's a small child at the foot of the statue and in the rain, they see it has eroded away some of this mud and they realize it's gold. This statue is solid gold, and it's been sitting in their midst the whole time. Now, the reason that helped me right then is it suddenly dawned on me, what if all the trauma that I endured didn't mean that I was broken? What if it didn't mean I had to fix myself? What if the truth was my soul isn't a teacup, it can't break, what if it exists perfectly on some level we'll never understand, and that all I had to do was actually do a very loving archeological dig to remove the layers of mud and sediment that obscured my worth and my own value that, by the way, has never gone anywhere? So the idea of not being broken and why I called my autobiography Never Broken, comes from this idea that it's a much easier prospect to say, "I exist whole and intact, and now I have to remove that which is not David," if you have heard that quote. Remove the thoughts, remove the concepts and the misunderstandings that cover that intrinsic value, that's much easier than saying, "I'm broken, how do I fix myself?" And it's not true. I really don't believe it. That one concept shift really helped me. The next concept shift that I really learned during this time in my life was what I called making an ally out of anxiety. And again, because now I'm coming from this framework, what if nothing's wrong with me? What if something's right with me? How do I identify the difference between the gold and the mud, as it were? Anxiety, I quickly realized, was my very best friend because what if I was willing to assume that I was anxious for a reason, not because something was wrong with me? What if I was anxious because something was right with me? And so the same way food poisoning, if you eat some bad food, you throw up, it's your body's way of taking care of you. And point is, don't eat bad fish. That's your behavioral takeaway, right? It's not try and suppress my body's physiological reaction. Well, most of us get this wrong with anxiety. We think we have to disassociate, suppress and distance ourselves from anxiety when all it is is your body's reaction to the fact that you're consuming something that does not agree with you. Now, I'm talking about your nature. I mean, you're consuming something that does not agree with you on such an authentic, deep level. It can be a thought, a feeling, or an action. I began to use my own anxiety as this clue. Every time I got anxious, I would go, I'd get excited, this is awesome, this means something's right. This means my body's trying to give me a clue that I just consumed something that made me sick. So I would just write down what was I just thinking? What was I just feeling and what was I just doing? And then I would do that for a month and then I would see what the patterns were. And I got to have my own map to the things that made me ill. And it was thoughts, negative thoughts that were undoing me. It was negative, sickening, toxic interactions. It was feelings that I was eating and putting in my system basically over and over and over that were making me consistently sick. Now, here's where the rubber meets the road. What are you going to do about it? Now that you know every time I have this thought, can I step in and say, "I'm going to replace this with the truth?" And this is where I learned that to me, affirmative thinking doesn't really work in my opinion. I call it the antidote thought. You don't want just these thoughts of, "I'm the right weight to attract the right mate," and I'm going to say it in the mirror. The thought that used to undo me, for instance, is, "I don't know what I'm doing." That one thought could turn me into a full-blown panic attack. And so the truth wasn't an affirmative thought of me saying, "I know what I'm doing," because I didn't. The truth was I didn't know what I was doing. It's just that consuming that thought over and over made me sick, so I would start to experiment. And the way, again, I guess I use my body to tell me the truth. After trying on several phrases of what I'm looking for, what I call the antidote thought, when I say, "I won't quit till I learn," to this day, I'm 48 years old, I developed this tool 100 years ago for myself, it still makes my body react. I have a physiological reaction to that sentence. And so those are the kind of ways that, again, with or without therapy, you can start to train yourself, yeah, without much help. Amy Morin: Did you learn those things on your own? Did you learn them from a therapist? Jewel: I learned them on my own. Amy Morin: Impressive. As a, I'm a therapist, and those are the exact strategies that we all say work. I'm sure you've learned now that those are the things we talk to people about is if you view yourself as broken, you will spend your whole life acting like you're broken, which will then mean you won't really go out there and know what your greatest potential could be, because you've acted as though you're too fragile to try or to do anything. And when it comes to those thoughts, I think there's such a huge push on social media and elsewhere of "No, just think positively. Replace those thoughts with something that's more affirming." Like you say, looking in the mirror and saying, "I'm the best person in the world," doesn't make it so. And if you don't truly believe it, it's not going to change your life. And so that really is the antidote, is to figure out, "Well, what's something more realistic, and something that I can believe and embrace?" And then how does it change your behavior? And I want to ask about the- Jewel: It's also, the, yeah, I just to finish the sort of thought on affirmations versus what I call the antidote thought. Amy Morin: Yeah. Jewel: It's not necessarily about the thought and you manifesting the thought, which I think is kind of the misconception around positive thinking. Somehow people think like, "I am rich," and somehow money will come to them. It's much more about having an antidote thought. It's about putting your body and your psychology into a posture to create change in your life. If my physiology is coming unhinged, I'm having a panic attack because of a thought, I have a thought, "I don't know what I'm doing," it's going to give me an emotional reaction, it's giving me a neurochemical, right, biochemical response. It's going to cause my blood pleasure to constrict, it's going to cause excitatory, cortisol, stress hormones to flood my body. Basically, it just takes you out of the game. So you're in there, you're trying to live your life and you just benched yourself because you're no longer in a physiological or psychological posture to participate. And so what finding an antidote thought is, and to me the truth about whatever you think about affirmative thinking, is you're trying to get yourself into a posture to participate in your own life so that you're not benching yourself, so you can stay in the game and create real change. Amy Morin: I like that phrase, just don't bench yourself, right? Because so often, that's exactly what we do. Like, "Oh, I don't have any business trying," or, "I don't fit in," and then we don't try to do those things. And the other thing I wanted to bring up is you said the other exercise was about dilation and contraction, so I really want to hear that. Jewel: Yeah. Another really formative time in my life was I was 18, I moved to San Diego. It's a crazy story. My mom had heart disease. Turns out she didn't, but I didn't find this out till I was 30. Ended up homeless because I wouldn't have sex with a boss, so refused to have sex with him, wouldn't give me my paycheck, started living in my car 'cause I couldn't pay rent. Car got stolen, it was just a downward spiral. You start looking homeless, you stop having an address to put on a job application. It is a vicious, fast, horrible cycle. And I'm a hard worker. We always have these conceptions, people end up homeless because they're lazy. Not the case. I started shoplifting. I started shoplifting prior. It really started when I was 15 or 16, when I moved out. It was just some way of me trying to take care of myself in a misguided way, really took on a whole new level. It was always food. And now it started to escalate into other things, and I clearly had a real addiction. And I promised myself when I was young I wouldn't drink or do drugs, and I didn't. So how interesting to see that I still had an addiction. I didn't beat the odds. I was a homeless kid with a full-on addiction, and I was going to end up in jail or dead. So, back to the drawing board. It's kind of a longer story, and I want to be conscious of your time, but I wanted to change stealing. It was the very first pain point I decided to really focus on, and this is what got me into now what we would call behavioral exercises. It started with a quote I heard that said, "Happiness doesn't depend on who you are or what you have, it depends on what you think." Well, that was exciting for a kid that had nothing. I had my thoughts. Maybe I could turn my life around one thought at a time. What was I thinking? Well, I was shocked to find out, I had no concept. I didn't know the word disassociative at the time, but I was basically so disassociative. I could not perceive anything in real time, much less my thoughts. I would wake up kind of after I stole and then be just consumed with dread and guilt and shame and all these things. And so I couldn't figure out what I was thinking, and so I came up with what I thought was kind of a hack, and I realized your thoughts control your hands. And so if you want to know what you're thinking, watch what your hands are doing. And so maybe I could reverse engineer into my thoughts by documenting everything my hands did for two weeks. My life plan was I was trying to steal the dress at the time, don't steal the dress, go watch what your hands do for two weeks, and then maybe see if that helps you figure out what you're thinking, and then maybe I could change my thoughts in my life. At the end of two weeks, I sit down to look at my notes and I mean, it wasn't that clear, on all honesty. What I did realize, and one shocking realization, was that my anxiety for two weeks didn't go away. I didn't have a panic attack for this entire two weeks. Now, I had developed a agoraphobia, which is a fear of leaving your home, which when you don't have a home is very exasperated. Panic attacks all the time to suddenly not having one in two weeks, that was the most curious side effect, like a drug trial. Like, "We thought it was going to cure heart disease, but your eyelashes grew," or something. Why on earth did I not have a panic attack for two weeks? And could I make it happen again? What I had stumbled onto was mindfulness, right? The idea of being so absorbed in the present moment that I forgot to worry about a moment that hadn't happened yet. And I didn't know the word mindfulness, but I did know that it worked. And I did know that when I was fully, wholly preoccupied with the present moment, my anxiety really lightened. This led me on a journey of going, "Okay, now that I'm kind of learning to be more present and getting a grip on my anxiety, how can I fix or start to work on stealing?" 'Cause this is the biggest problem in my life. I saw what, I call it a triangle. It was a before, a during and an after. Now that I know more about behavioral science, this is stimulus response and reward. I didn't know those words, but I could see the triangle in my head when I sat and really studied the anatomy of how I stole, when I stole, what happened. I couldn't stop the stimulus, and I could intervene on the response, so I decided to replace my stealing behavior with writing. I loved writing. I was like, "This is a natural. This is going to be so easy." Was not easy. I hated writing when I wanted to steal. And that was so curious to me, why wouldn't I just accept that as a great replacement? I loved, I get huge rewards out of writing. Why didn't I want to write then? Why was it stealing that did it for me and not writing? So I would, again, use my body. And what I realized is when I stole, this is the way I came to understand it then, when I stole, my whole body went like this, got excited, tight, my whole posture leaned forward, and my whole system felt a very specific way. Really excited, I think was the way I would describe it. When I wrote, I felt like this, I would relax, I would sit back, I would soften, and I go, "That's interesting." And so now I started to notice that basically every thought, feeling or action led my physiology into one of these two states, what I'll call contracted and what I'll call dilated. And that's how I came to refer to them. I began to take notes for a month. Every time I noticed my posture get tight, lean forward, get excited, I would write down what was I thinking, feeling or doing. In my notebook, and I teach this to kids or adults, contract it in your iPhone notes, then write three categories, thinking, feeling, doing. Every time you notice you're uptight, rocking, agitating, tapping your foot, whatever your cues are, just stop, write down thinking, feeling, doing, and go on with your day. Same thing with dilated. Every time you're relaxed, you notice your body posture is leaned back, all of your little physiological cues, write down what was I thinking, feeling or doing? So after a month, I realized again that the very specific patterns caused me to come in and out. What I basically learned was how to get into my parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems. I basically figured out my body's triggers of what caused me to get into these hyper-excited states and these relaxed, calm, sympathetic, parasympathetic nervous states. What was really cool about that is you can't be in two states at once. And so I realized the very first time I got this to work was I was about to have a panic attack, I cultivated enough awareness to notice my body cues before it happened. I was able to intervene, look on my list of dilated and choose something. I chose gratitude, and forced myself to focus on it. And that was just will, right, now I'm willfully making myself be, what can I be grateful for? I couldn't think of a thing. I was feeling so sorry for myself this day. I realized observation and curiosity caused me to dilate, so I became just very curious about my environment. It was a sunny day. I saw the sun filtering through some leaves, and suddenly it reminded me of being a kid in Alaska, laying on a meadow, looking at the sun through the trees, and suddenly, I don't know what caused it, but I became so profoundly touched that I was alive, from that little girl sitting on that meadow to everything I'd been through and I didn't want to check out of life, I was suddenly so grateful to myself. I wept, and I was never kind to myself. This wasn't like one of my skills here yet. And next thing I know, a half hour passes, I didn't have a panic attack. First time I was able to intervene and get a panic attack to redirect. That exercise is kind of, yeah, a behavioral exercise. It's very easy for anyone to do, and the truth is what triggers us is so unique. What causes us to have a panic attack is so unique that this kind of mapping for yourself will show you the specific things that can help you get in and out of a posture to basically stay in the game. Amy Morin: That's the thing, obviously back then, and you weren't an expert on cognitive behavioral therapy, but you knew you were an expert on yourself, and so you became a detective who figured out all of these things, the exact same skills that a therapist would teach you in a therapy office, but you did the work all on your own without knowing the technical terms for it. And then we have this proof of, "Hey, these things actually worked for me." So, way to go. I mean, in the therapy office, this is what we often do. We give people these homework assignments and try to convince them to do it, but when they hear from somebody like you who said, "I didn't even know what it was, but I figured it out," it's just so much more powerful. I want to take a minute to talk about Innerworld, this new thing that you've launched. Can you explain to our listeners a bit about what it is and how it works? Jewel: Yeah, Innerworld is a mental health platform. We work in virtual reality or on a computer, just like we're doing now. It scales cognitive and dialectical behavioral tools in a peer-to-peer model. Basically, this isn't one-on-one therapy with a therapist. These are guides that we train in CBT and DBT skills to lead groups, and you can come into a virtual world. It's like playing a video game. It's that simple. It's as easy as using Zoom if you're just on your iPad and you don't want to use the VR goggles, and you can come into a community that is safe, it's troll-free. We have a lot of moderation tools and things to make sure that this is a safe environment, and there's a live guide 24 hours a day, and so I'll run people through the process of what it's like. You set up an account, just like signing onto a social media or setting up a social media account. You come in and you're going to be in a private space that's your personal living room, where there'll never be people. This is for anybody with social anxiety, this was something that was really important to me because I don't like to be in new situations and not know what I'm confronting. So coming into a alone space, you now can look at a community bulletin board and you'll see which group classes are going on. Might be a class on grief or a group meeting on living with long-term illness or living with PTSD. There's hundreds of classes of these group classes and programming. You can enter a portal and now you're in a community space where there'll be a live guide 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They're trained in CBT and DBT. So I'll create a scenario. Let's say I went in here because my pet died and I'm having a tremendous amount of grief, and my therapy appointment isn't until Tuesday at 1:00, but I need help now. I come into the community center, I can tell the guide, "My dog just died." The guide could say, "Would you like to see the grief cycle? Which, do you know about it? Would you like to learn about the grief cycle?" They can pull up instantly a visual aid of the grief cycle, and you can start to talk about it. And then the guide can say, "Would you like to attend a group meeting about grief? There's one on whatever, today at 1:00." And you can now create, there's a real community, which the side effects of just connection alone are very proven and shown to be incredibly beneficial to people's mental health outcomes. And so it's the safe space where you'll meet people from all walks of life, and it's anonymous. You have a cartoon character that is you, and you get to make up your own name, and so you're meeting real people, sharing real-life problems, but in an anonymous and safe setting. And it's really profound, what our outcomes are. We're a clinical research platform as well, just to note. We have a lot of clinical oversight because that was very important to us, to track outcomes the same way a therapy office would or a clinic would. Amy Morin: Any time of day, somebody can sign in, they become an avatar, and they can basically connect with other people and get support and chat about all of these different topics that they want to. Jewel: Yeah, I was just in there before I came into this interview, and there were 30 people in there. One woman was a housewife with five children under the age of seven, and she shared what it had been like for her. There was a gentleman who's a veteran who wasn't getting, very hard to get mental healthcare at the VA where he was. There was somebody else with OCD. There was somebody else that hadn't left their home in five years. She came on the platform and within a month began to, she went to a concert of 5,000 people within one month, and she'd been in therapy this whole time. She's now a guide. She was so transformed by this experience that she trained up to become a guide and lead group meetings now, and so that's the kind of thing that you'll find on them. Amy Morin: Incredible. One last question for you, Jewel. We've seen a lot of people who maybe go through struggles and they get better in life, but they don't take it to this level where they say, "I'm not just going to say, hey, yeah, I used to struggle and now I'm better." But you give so much back. What made you decide you're going to start these sort of initiatives to help other people manage their mental health? Jewel: This has been my interest since I was young, formally at 15, when I really, intentionally set out to see if happiness was a learnable skill. My music career was an incredible side journey. Who would've thought that writing would turn into an entire career for me? I was literally just trying to find a way not to harm myself and make medicine, which to me was writing, and I'm so grateful, but my focus has always been how do I show up for my life? Can I retrain behaviors and patterns that set me up for failure? And my life kept giving me plenty of stuff to heal from. I think that when you have been desperate and brought to your knees with hopelessness and despair, and you found something that made you want to live, you know what people are up against and there's nothing more fun than sharing tools and helping people through those phases. I mean, being a rockstar is super fun, but this is way more fun. Helping people want to live is fun. What else is there in life? What would I do in life? There's nothing more important, and what I learned was so hard, one, I had to come by it the hard way, that if I can teach people the tools I developed and it helps, great. If I can help people get other tools that other people developed, CBT and DBT, great. We have to make these types of tools more accessible. It is unacceptable that misery is an equal opportunist. It is unacceptable that if I want to learn how to not be miserable, that takes learning. That means education, education means money. That's not okay. We have to have scalable, affordable, proven, safe tools, and this is the first thing I've found that I think really gives us a shot at it. Amy Morin: I agree. Well, thank you so much for being on the Verywell Mind podcast, Jewel. We appreciate you. Jewel: Thanks, and if anybody wants to check out Innerworld, they just go to inner.world. They can also find it on app stores. Amy Morin: Wonderful. We'll link to it in our show notes and send everybody to go check it out. Jewel: Thanks. It was a pleasure talking with you. Amy Morin: You as well. I so appreciate everything you've done, and I've checked out Innerworld and it looks amazing, so thank you. Interview With Noah Robinson Before I jump into the therapist’s take to talk about Jewel’s mental strength strategies, I’m going to introduce you to Noah Robinson who is going to tell us a bit more about Innerworld. Amy Morin: Noah Robinson, welcome to The Verywell Mind Podcast. Noah Robinson: Thank you. Amy Morin: So we spoke to Jewel and she gave us a little bit of an idea of what Innerworld is, but I'm looking forward to talking to you to get some of the details about what it is and how it helps. But maybe we can start with the fact that it's based on cognitive behavioral therapy. I happen to also be a cognitive behavioral therapist and love it; however, I agree with some of the things I had read about Innerworld were your concerns that it's not widely available to people? How does Innerworld help with that? Noah Robinson: Yeah, so CBT, cognitive behavioral therapy, is one of the gold standards of treatment for psychological therapies, and part of the reason for that is that it teaches patients tools that they can use in their everyday lives. So instead of just sitting down and coming to a therapy session every week and just talking, patients are actually learning tools that they can bring with them outside of the therapy session. And so it's actually not that far of a stretch to say, if patients could learn these tools and apply it in their own lives, maybe that we can teach them to teach each other how to learn these tools, and that's kind of how we can create this viral, scalable mental health intervention. So that's kind of how we're taking some of the tools of CBT and then other evidence-based mental health interventions like dialectal behavior therapy and bringing them into this peer-to-peer model. Amy Morin: For our listeners who don't know this already, a lot of this podcast is based on CBT skills. Every Friday I do an episode that is based on a CBT skill for my therapy office, and we talk about strategies with a lot of our guests that are often CBT rooted in some way, shape, or form. But why did you pick to do this in a virtual world as opposed to just having people show up in a regular, say, Zoom meeting? You decided to do this alternative metaverse that people would join. What was the theory behind that? Noah Robinson: So the idea for Innerworld came from my own personal experience. When I was 13, I went through my own mental health struggles. I realized I was gay and became depressed and very anxious about the idea of coming out. And I escaped into a virtual world. I define metaverse as any internet connected environment where people can interact as avatars. So it's not just the goggles of virtual reality, but it's what's already out there like Minecraft and Fortnite and Roblox, and I escaped into one of these worlds and spent almost 10,000 hours living in this world. And I was failing my classes in the real world, I was having all sorts of problems, but it ultimately saved my life because it kept me going and getting up every morning, and ultimately, it was the motivation that I had to keep going. And eventually I was able to come out of the closet to my clan in the virtual world, a community that I have where I was anonymous avatar and could interact, and that experience helped me to come out in the real world. And so it was this strange thing where I had this almost addiction or process addiction where I was doing this thing that was escaping reality, and at the same time, it helped me in a profound way overcome a serious struggle that I had. And so the idea for Innerworld was kind of born where I was wondering, well, what if we could build something where people could become avatars, have that anonymous community, but then we could actually have them come back to reality more empowered than they left it each time they log in? And that's really the key design and idea behind Innerworld. Amy Morin: Is there any research, I'm sure you have tons of anecdotal evidence, but on that fact that if we were to go into this place as an avatar, that maybe we talk more about our emotions or we feel more free to discuss our problems because we aren't staring at somebody face to face? Noah Robinson: Yeah. So when I was exploring the idea for Innerworld during my doctoral research at Vanderbilt University in clinical psychology, my mentor, Steve Holland, who studied under Aaron Beck, the creator of cognitive behavioral therapy, and I started exploring just using virtual environments with patients using virtual reality. And I was working at a substance use treatment facility doing CBT with the patients, actual therapy. As you know, I was in training to become a therapist. And I was seeing that, in just one or two sessions, patients were not only acquiring some of the skills that typically might take seven or eight sessions, like being able to reframe their thoughts or change their behaviors or imagining the cognitive model and things like that, but they were also opening up in a much more profound way than any of my in-person therapy sessions, which I had also done, and they reported that they felt so much more uncomfortable opening up because they were in this other world. They were taken out of their everyday environment and placed into this virtual environment. They were immersed in this other world. And so that's why our modality, we call it cognitive behavioral immersion because instead, one, we're taking out the therapy because there's no therapist in our intervention, but then also it's immersing someone in a new environment, a new place where they can learn these skills, they can open up, they can feel more comfortable, and we're seeing some really profound psychological changes when people open up and are vulnerable in a group and realize they're not alone, and then we scaffold the tools on top of that, basically. Amy Morin: So how does it work? Because you don't have therapists in the Innerworld, right? So how is it that people then learn these skills and tools if they're not speaking directly to a therapist? Noah Robinson: So we have groups, all of Innerworld is organized into groups that people can choose to go to as basically a calendar of an event, so across different topics like ADHD, depression, anxiety, parenting, autism, substance use recovery, military veterans, just tons of different topics, and we train guides who are essentially empathetic people. These are the types of people that maybe they thought about pursuing a PhD in psychology or becoming a therapist, or they're the kind kind of person who their friends always come to them with their problems, and we spend time training and evaluating these folks before they're able to lead the groups, and they are the ones who are leading the groups and essentially teaching the tools. And the coolest thing, the reason that we call them a guide instead of, some people call this role like a coach, but really, they're just guiding the discussion and the conversation in this group setting around the topic, and they're introducing the tools, but the group really takes on a life of its own. And it really, people start empowering each other, and the guide is really there to make sure that community guidelines are followed. They have crisis training in case someone is in crisis and we can refer them to other resources. So they're really kind of keeping the guardrails on the meeting, and then they're also teaching the tools as well. They learn every single tool that we have so that they can introduce them at the right moment during the groups. Amy Morin: So if I were to go in there, and let's say I'm struggling with anxiety and I want to attend an anxiety group, is there something that will tell me when an anxiety group starts? Is there something for me to do the minute I log in? Is there a potential group I could go to in the meantime? Noah Robinson: So eventually we do want to have any type of group that you could imagine going on at the moment that you log in. I think that's kind of the holy grail of where we're heading as we have more and more people join Innerworld. Right now, it's all scheduled. So essentially you can come in, you can actually view pre-recorded lessons, so we have lessons on anxiety. So you can consume content. You can go hang out in some of our worlds after you go through the tutorial. That includes a consent process so that people know that it's not therapy, we don't do crisis intervention, things like that. We collect data for research. And then after that, you can go hang out in worlds and things until the event starts essentially, and socialize and get that social support from people. And the cool thing is that, for anxiety, for example, we have people who've been in therapy for years who have a agoraphobia who couldn't leave their home, for example, and they learn a simple CBT tool, the fear form, where they think about what's the worst case scenario, what's the best case scenario, and what's the most likely scenario of a specific situation that they're feeling anxiety about, and it unlocks their ability to leave the house for the first time and things like that. So it's just really exciting to see that these tools that are based on 50 plus years of evidence-based research, when we bring them in and teach them, even though there's no therapists involved, we're seeing these profound clinical changes, and people who are self-reporting that all of a sudden they're able to leave their home or they're able to go to work and overcome their depression and things like that. So it's very exciting. We do need more research, which is what we're working on now, to actually prove that Innerworld is having this effect, but it's very promising what we're seeing so far. Amy Morin: What are the most common problems people are coming into Innerworld to address? Noah Robinson: I would say depression and anxiety are probably the most common, and we know that there's a 40 to 50% overlap and comorbidity in terms of people having ... If someone has depression, they're likely to have anxiety. So yeah, depression and anxiety I would say are the most common. Amy Morin: And are most of the people that come in in treatment somewhere else, are they seeing a therapist or getting treatment in another fashion? Noah Robinson: So we didn't know what to expect when we launched Innerworld and what the ratio would be. It seems about 30% of people are currently in treatment or have a therapist, and then the rest are split between they've been in therapy before or some have never had therapy ever in their life before. Amy Morin: And does anybody ever have concerns about, if we keep having people live in an Innerworld, if they go and live in this metaverse, then they're not going to be able to socialize in person or that we're going to have the opposite effect, that people are going to be less likely to talk about their depression to somebody in person if they're living in this virtual world all the time? Noah Robinson: Yes. I mean, that's my concern. That's what happened to me as a teenager. I was sucked into this world that was designed. Psychologists work on these games to get people to play more and more. They have variable rewards like a casino where you get little popups and dopamine hits, essentially. So there are psychologists already designing these games to suck you in and avoid reality. What we're doing with Innerworld is a little bit different because, while people are in there, we're talking about the real world. Our goal is to focus on the real world. What's leading you to want to escape right now? What's leading you to want to do those things? And we even have tools where, if someone's spending too much time in the Innerworld, we can pull them aside and ask them, "Hey, what's going on? What's leading you to be using this so much?" So unlike other virtual worlds where their key performance indicator is getting people to play as much as possible, ours is improving mental health outcomes, and so we really focus on helping people instead of sucking them into this alternative reality and trapping them there. Amy Morin: So important, because I think a lot of people don't realize that, that there are psychologists behind a lot of these games and platforms and things that know exactly how often you have to get a coin, a reward, something, in order to stay hooked a little bit longer, and they have so many algorithms that are good at knowing what will suck us in and keep us stuck there. What's your ultimate goal with Innerworld? Noah Robinson: We want every single person who needs mental health help to be able to get it. That's our number one goal. And it's so beautiful because we started out, our guides were originally undergraduates at Vanderbilt who were studying psychology or going to medical school, but now most of our guides are people who found Innerworld, were struggling, they got help, and now they're learning to help others. And Jewel and I believe that that's the only way that we can truly scale mental health intervention to reach everybody who needs it. We already need 5 million more therapists in the United States alone, and it's even a bigger problem across the world, and we have a global community of people who are getting help and they're learning to help others, and one of our members called it viral healing, and I really love that term, and that's basically what we're trying to do. Amy Morin: And as of right now, part of it's free, right? But there is something where you can upgrade to pay. Can you explain a little bit about that? Noah Robinson: Yeah, so we've been very close to our community, who are also our customers, in order to figure out what's a model that can scale, but we can also keep the lights on and grow a business, since we have a startup. And essentially what we have is that you can come into Innerworld for free, you can try out the meetings, you can talk to people, be part of the community, and then we have a lot of events that require a premium subscription. So it's $15 a month, or if you pay annually, it's $8 a month, and you can get unlimited access to as much mental health help as you need, whenever you need it. And we are really excited about that. We have a lot of people who are deciding to pay and people are really liking it. This is a completely different paradigm compared to even things like BetterHelp or Talkspace that are $150, $200 a month. We want something to be the same price as like a Netflix subscription, or now it's even cheaper since Netflix keeps raising their prices, but we want something that's so affordable that people can just say, "You know what? I'm going to give it a shot. I'm going to go try a group." And if it leads people to seek therapy or even checking themselves into a inpatient facility, which has happened, de-stigmatize what it means to hospitalize yourself if you're in crisis and things like that, that's fantastic. And eventually we even want to be able to take, we collect outcome data, we want to allow someone, if they want to, to take their outcome data to their therapist. Imagine if you saw a patient who came in on their first day and you had 10 months of their depression and anxiety scores, you had a list of their automatic negative thoughts that they had about themselves, faster that they could potentially start to get better. So that's kind of the future that we see is that [inaudible 00:12:45] care model where everybody who needs help can get it, and then we can also refer people to higher levels of care and they can bring data with them so that the therapist can really hit the ground running if they need that higher level of care. Amy Morin: Yeah. As a therapist, I can say that would be so helpful to have that kind of data when somebody first walks into your office, for sure. That would cut a lot of time off of the amount of time they're in treatment, I would imagine. And, all right, so you have people who are subscribing to this, and for us it seems like this is new, but you've been doing this for years, right? Noah Robinson: Yes. Amy Morin: You've been testing this out and finding out a bit about how it works and probably tweaking things. What kind of changes have you made as you've been experimenting with it? Noah Robinson: So I think one of the most important things that we have is troll control. So basically we're trying to prevent trolls from coming in. We're also trying to create a robust set of community guidelines so that people have the right framework for interaction. One of the things that accounts for the biggest outcome in therapy is called non-specific effects, which is basically the warm relationship that someone builds with their therapist when they're in therapy. That accounts for over half of outcomes in therapy. And we want to build that culture in Innerworld. It's like a social network where we want people to feel warm, empathetic, supported. So our community guidelines that we've developed over the past four years are so important and every word that's in our community guidelines, whether it's the fact that we don't discuss religion and politics, that we don't give medical advice, that people aren't allowed to say anything about themselves, where they live or identifying information or ask people to meet them on other platforms. We've built it all with our community feedback over time, iteratively, to make sure that we can scale a culture of empathy so that we can basically take those non-specific effects that someone might feel when they're with their therapist in a therapy session and create a whole culture and social group basically around that. So I think that's actually ... I mean, there's the technology, there's our AI-based moderation systems, there's all these different things that we've built, but I think the culture is actually the most important thing of Innerworld. Amy Morin: Yeah, that was going to be one of my questions. How do you make sure that people aren't going to be bullied, picked on, made fun of, teased? Because if any of that goes on, it's going to tear it down so that people feel like they aren't comfortable to come in and talk about their real mental health issues. Right? Noah Robinson: Yeah. And actually, one of the things we also have is a kind of tedious onboarding process. We have the tutorial that takes minutes and we have a screening process that someone has to go through. So even trolls who want to keep making new accounts and come in, that's all intentional. We have a process that people have to go through, and we also have levers that we can push. We can direct the stream of new people away from existing members so that we can preserve, basically, the existing community as we grow and scale. So yeah, we've really thought a lot about trolls, and also, one other thing is that I was one of the first 20 people in a large social VR cross-platform experience called VRChat, and now it has millions of people in it, and I kind of saw what happens when a community grows without any guardrails or moderation or community guidelines. It devolves. Unfortunately, the worst of human nature can come out when it's anonymous without any guardrails and things like that. But it turns out, when you place the guardrails, the community guidelines, and create that culture, a lot of people who might even be trolls end up coming in and it turns out, what is trolling? It's a maladaptive behavior that people are doing to get that social validation. They're sharing with their friends, they're streaming, things like that, and it turns out they could also use some help. They could actually use learning healthy ways to connect with other people and things like that. So, it's very interesting. We're seeing that the culture, by setting the ground rules and the culture, just like a therapist might in a therapy session, we're finding that people really do open up and they respect those ground rules. And if they don't, we weed them out pretty quickly. Amy Morin: I like that. And is it available to teenagers or just 18 and over? Noah Robinson: So, we just launched our adolescent version of Innerworld. It's 13 to 17 year olds. And one thing we're really proud of is that we can use our technology to protect adolescents. So a lot of peer-based interventions, like there's communities on Discord, for example, a chat app for gamers, but you can private message anyone on there. So I know a community that tried to create an adolescent peer support platform, and they had predators coming in, messaging adolescents, and things like that. What we've been able to do with Innerworld is that we have a completely separate set of servers for adolescents, and then also they can't connect to a networked environment unless one of our guides is present and can hear them talking. So basically, all of their social interaction is supervised, whether it's a casual hangout or a structured group, and we're really excited about that because it allows us to provide that safe space for social interaction, but again, those guardrails are there to make sure that there aren't predators there asking for personal information or kind of bringing them into these other experiences. We really want to make sure that we protect adolescents as well, so that we don't unintentionally do some kind of harm while we're trying to help them. Amy Morin: I like that too. Do you think parents should be giving this resource to all teenagers, or do you feel like only if they have a concern that their teen has a mental health issue? Noah Robinson: I think a lot of people could benefit from Innerworld, a lot of adolescents. I think in, and I'm sure you know this as a therapist too, not every type of mental health intervention works for everyone, so it's really good, especially for parents who are struggling with their adolescents or just have any kind of concerns, to try out different things. And we do think that this is really powerful. And especially for adolescents who might be escaping into video games already, like I was as a child, this is a place where you can meet them where they're at. They can create their avatar, they can be a little more comfortable, and then we can start talking about the real world, why they need to escape it and things like that. And I'm getting chills right now, because I mean, that's what I wish had existed when I was a teenager. I think I could have maybe come out of the closet after just a year or two as opposed to spending five years and almost 10,000 hours escaping reality. So I'm really hopeful that we're going to be able to help a lot of adolescents. And also, Jewel has an incredible background and experience over the past 20 years helping adolescents, and I visited her foundation before we decided to work together because I was also doing my diligence to see her experience, and completely blown away. I mean, this peer-based model is very, very strong, especially for adolescents who are craving that kind of validation from their peers more so than approval from adults. Amy Morin: I could see it being really powerful for teenagers as a therapist. There's some parents that will bring their teenagers into therapy, and their kids think it's kind of cool to have a therapist, so they're excited to be there, but there's another group of teenagers that have absolutely no desire to be there, and their parents drag them in, and they're really not interested in talking about anything. But a lot of those kids, I could imagine, would be open to the idea of going into Innerworld and talking to their peers. Noah Robinson: Yeah, and getting that acceptance. You asked before about why the metaverse, why these social networked environments with avatars, and part of it is also that when you're talking about a problem and it's a group of 20 people and they're sending out hearts and emojis and ... versus a real life group, where people just kind of have their facial expressions that you have to interpret as positive or judgmental or things like that people might be concerned about, it's very powerful. And I think for adolescents especially who are craving that acceptance and belonging, that experience can be really fantastic, but even for adults. I mean, I love when I'm sharing and I see these pouring of hearts coming out from people's avatars. I know they're listening and I know they care, and it's just a really beautiful thing. Amy Morin: Well then let's shift the focus for a second back to adults. So for an adult out there who's maybe listening to this podcast and wondering if Innerworld is for them, who would you say is the best fit for trying Innerworld? Noah Robinson: I think if you are open to learning a new technology, because there is a little bit of a learning curve of learning how to move around and look around, I'd say give it a shot. It works on iPhone and iPad, Mac, PC, or with the Oculus Quest, so it's really, it's available on any platform, almost any platform, and I think it's worth giving a shot to try, and it could change your life. I mean, that's really what ... People are stumbling into Innerworld, maybe not knowing what they're going to expect, and then all of a sudden they're experiencing these profound changes, so much so that we have therapists coming into Innerworld who've seen their patients transformed by it, and they're curious about it because they want to recommend it to their other patients. And then the therapists stay for our healthcare professional support groups, because we have support groups for healers and people who are helping others. So yeah, I highly recommend anyone to just check it out, give it a shot, and that's what CBT is all about anyway, it's try a new approach, try a different behavior, collect some data, see if it helps or not, and then you learn something and can keep trying things until you find something that works. Amy Morin: That's the cool thing about CBT. You don't have to be experiencing a major mental illness to benefit from it. All of us, every single day, can benefit from reframing our thoughts and finding new behaviors and new coping strategies. So one last question for you then would be, for somebody who says, "I'm just not the kind of person who would maybe do something like this. I don't go to support groups, I don't talk about my problems," what would be your words of encouragement to tell them to, yeah, maybe go ahead and check it out? Noah Robinson: Just imagine for a second if you were able to open up in front of a group of people, you were anonymous, so they didn't know who you were, but imagine sharing your most vulnerable, automatic negative thoughts that you have about yourself, that negative self-talk, and imagine having a group of 20 strangers pour support out for you, or maybe they've experienced the same exact things and you didn't even realize it? Those are the kinds of experiences that a lot of people are having in Innerworld. And if you're comfortable enough, it can be worth giving it a shot. One last thing I'll say too is that people are coming into Innerworld, they're not comfortable speaking, they're just observing groups and things like that, but then eventually they're getting so much help, they're transforming, that they're leading groups eventually, people who couldn't even speak when they first came into Innerworld. So if you just want to pop in and observe, that's completely okay too. There's no pressure and it's really, we want to be a safe space for everybody, or as many people as we can. Amy Morin: That's a great point. You can just go in, check it out, and if it's not for you, it's not for you, but you might find that you like it better than you expect. Noah Robinson: Right. I mean, and again, we can bring what's the worst case scenario, the best case scenario, the most likely scenario. And the worst case isn't too bad. It's like maybe you experience some anxiety, but what's the best case scenario? You could change your life. And then the most likely is that you're not going to have a negative experience, probably. Amy Morin: Noah Robinson, thank you so much for being on The Verywell Mind Podcast and sharing your wisdom with us. Noah Robinson: Thanks. Thanks for having me. The Therapist's Take Welcome to the therapist’s take. This is the part of the episode where I’ll give you my take on Jewel’s strategies and share how you can apply them to your own life. Here are three of my favorite strategies Jewel discussed: #1 - Don’t look at yourself as broken Jewel learned to stop looking at herself as broken. The story of the golden statue helped her realize this as the statue covered in mud was still worth just as much as it was without mud. She said she realized that she was still just as beautiful even though she had been through difficult things and even though she had mental health issues. This is really good advice. I’ve seen a lot of people in my therapy office who viewed themselves as broken or fragile. Because they had concluded they were broken, it affected their choices and how they interacted with people. That belief kept them from living their best lives. How would you treat yourself differently if you believed you’re broken versus if you believed you are strong for surviving tough times? When you act as if you’re broken, you won’t try to do amazing things. You’ll expect to be treated poorly. And you might refuse to do hard things. Changing that belief can shit your entire life. For Jewel, a story about a golden statue helped her change the story she was telling herself. But you might find a new way change the story you tell yourself. #2 - Think of anxiety as an ally. I was glad Jewel talked about her anxiety as an ally. Anxiety is meant to keep you safe. You should have some anxiety. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t look both ways before you crossed the road. But, most of us have faulty anxiety alarms. They go off and try to warn us of danger even when we’re completely safe. You might have a panic attack while you’re sitting on the couch even though you’re not in any actual danger. Or your anxiety might convince you that shouldn’t give a sales report at the next meeting, even though public speaking won’t kill you either. I like that Jewel changed the way she looked at anxiety. Sometimes it’s tempting to think you’ll do a specific task when your anxiety goes away or when you feel better. But, if you have a faulty anxiety alarm bell, it might not go away. But you can choose not to be quite so responsive to it when you realize that it’s trying to protect you–it’s just not always accurate at recognizing danger. #3 - Write down your observations about yourself. Jewel called this dilation and contraction. She started paying attention to times when she was tense and times when she felt relaxed. And during each of those themes she wrote down what she was thinking, feeling, and doing. That helped her recognize patterns in her life that influenced her. From this, she was able to figure out what sorts of things triggered panic attacks and what activities could help her feel calm. This knowledge helped her find ways to manage her nervous system. Quite often, a big part of therapy involves helping people discover patterns about themselves. By writing down various events, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, someone might discover that it only takes one alcoholic drink to send them into a downward spiral for a week. Or they might learn that staying up late sets in motion a series of events that lead to increased anxiety and depression. And while many people will say they’ve been feeling stuck in some regard for a long time, they don’t really realize what’s keeping them there until they start to keep a log. So I love that Jewel figured this out for herself and that her observations helped her develop healthier coping skills in her life. So those are three of Jewel’s mental health strategies that I highly recommend: don’t look at yourself as broken, think of your anxiety as an ally, and write down your observations about yourself to recognize your patterns. Make sure to check out Innerworld to see what you think. It’s free to try. You can sign up here. [OUTRO] If you know someone who could benefit from hearing this message, share the show with them. Simply sharing a link to this episode could help someone feel better and grow stronger. Do you want free access to my online course? It’s called 10 mental strength exercises that will help you reach your greatest potential. To get your free pass, all you have to do is leave us a review on Apple podcasts or Spotify. Then, send us a screenshot of your review. Our email address is email@example.com We’ll reply with your all access pass to the course. Thank you for hanging out with me today and listening to the VW Mind podcast. And as always, a big thank you to my show’s producer, who is a fan of Jewel’s music, Nick Valentin. If You Liked This Episode, You Might Also Like These Episodes: Choose Your Story, Choose Your Life With Bestselling Author Kindra Hall Friday Fix: How to Stay Mentally Strong When Someone Is Gaslighting You Healing From Childhood Abuse With Former NFL Player Reggie Walker Virtual Reality Therapy Is Here—For Some People, It’s a Better Option By Amy Morin, LCSW Amy Morin, LCSW, is a psychotherapist and international bestselling author. Her books, including "13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do," have been translated into more than 40 languages. Her TEDx talk, "The Secret of Becoming Mentally Strong," is one of the most viewed talks of all time. 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