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Episode 104: Susan Friedman Escape, Avoidance, The Corona Virus, and “Easter Eggs”

Dr Susan Friedman is our guest for this very special 2 hour podcast. Normally we would divide up such a long conversation into many parts and spread them out over several weeks so they fit better into the rush of your life. But this conversation is perfect for binge listening. We didn’t want to make you wait, especially given the topic. For this podcast we’ve shifted away from horse training, and we’re looking at how the corona virus is impacting our lives. The question I wanted Susan to help me with is how do we find our power? How do we reframe what is happening to us so our actions are not so fear driven? The corona virus has shown us how fast our behavior can be changed by negative reinforcement. We are staying home, staying six feet apart, washing our hands, wearing masks - all to avoid becoming sick. My question to Susan was: I can certainly see how powerful negative reinforcement is, but for so many reasons it isn’t sustainable. Apart from the emotional toll it puts on us, there’s the paradox of avoidance. The more effective it is at changing behavior, the more ineffective it becomes at sustaining that change. That’s especially relevant when it comes to eliminating a virus. The conversation begins with a discussion of escape and avoidance behavior. Then we make the pivot with this wonderful quote from Susan: “positive reinforcement is such a pervasive actor in our lives.” That’s a gem and Susan gives us many more. We begin with a discussion that’s centered around fear and end with hope. This podcast is over two hours long. Don’t let that keep you from listening. We have divided it into segments so you can listen in small units. Or you can binge listen to the whole conversation. Whichever way you choose, this podcast will give you a lot to think about. Enjoy!

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