With so much buzz at the moment over Prince Harry and Oprah Winfrey’s new Apple TV+ show “The Me You Can’t See,” focus has been placed on mental health in ways never witnessed before in modern history. It’s great that people are even just talking about the topic.
But, the storytellers in entertainment – the directors, the actors, the producers, the production assistants – are often so busy writing the tales of people searching for answers that they rarely get a chance to look at themselves. They don’t really evaluate what they personally need to live a blissful life.
Thanks to a media mogul and a prince we can finally start to do that. And perhaps no one is helping shape this thought process better than a woman known as the “Head Coach for Happiness.”
Dr. Elizabeth Lombardo is the authority on how to crush your inner critic so that you can live a life of purpose, fulfillment and what she calls “True Success.”
As a trusted celebrity psychologist, even Shaquille O’Neal has turned to her for valuable life coaching. On set and behind the scenes, entertainment industry professionals can find self-worth as they take a journey to fulfillment – just like Prince Harry did a year ago.
We recently sat with Dr. Elizabeth to get her reflections on how to get to better days on set and in the real world. Here is what she had to say about getting access to untapped reserves of potential.
The Knockturnal: How would you describe our current state of affairs, especially those working in entertainment?
Dr. Elizabeth Lombardo: Stress levels are still at an all-time high. I like to call high stress – being in the red zone. If you think of stress or the negative emotions associated with stress it is referred to in psychology as distress – sadness, fear, anxiety, worry, overwhelmed helpless, hopeless guilt, and shame. All that goes in the distress pile.
When we’re at 7 out of 10 or higher we’re in the red zone. And in the red zone, instead of, let’s say being in the green zone, we’re using more of our frontal lobe , which is that beautiful structure that differentiates us from other animals and allows us to engage in perspective. When we’re in the green zone at low levels of distress, we can say, ‘Okay, this has been a challenge, and it’s not over yet.’ And I know that I can make things better. We feel more empowered. We can acknowledge not only the negatives, but also the positives.
Then when we creep up into the red zone the 7 out of 10 or higher is where our rational thinking actually gets hijacked by the limbic system – emotional reasoning hits fight or flight and so we’re in a survival mechanism. A lot of people out there are in survival mode without even realizing it and that hinders them.
It’s just the way we’re hardwired when we’re in the red zone. Here all we do is focus on what’s wrong. In psychology we call it negative filtering. We feel like a victim of our circumstances and we tend to personalize other people’s behavior. And so we really feel stuck.
The Knockturnal: Recognizing this seems rather important wouldn’t you say?
Dr. Elizabeth Lombardo: Helping people discover this information is important. It is important to learn specific tools, tips and strategies of how to get out of the red zone and stay out of the red zone. That is then that people can take the steps that they need to move forward with their lives.
The Knockturnal: I think especially in entertainment we have a hard time with finding this balance. You know we tell the ‘perfect story’ as a vision, but we may not necessarily be living out that dream life working on a set or in a writer’s room.
Dr. Elizabeth Lombardo: Vulnerability is a word that’s been thrown around a lot and I think it’s important to be able to find people with whom you can be vulnerable. That doesn’t mean you’re crying 24-7 while you’re at work. Rather, it means that you have a confidant.
Finding someone at work who you can be really real with makes you address your emotional and psychological well-being. It means you are prioritizing that.
The Knockturnal: You sound you like really understand set life and what people in entertainment struggle with at work and at home.
Dr. Elizabeth Lombardo: My personal goal is to guide and to provide what I call digestible bites of information that people can implement immediately.
I really want to help people understand not only that it’s okay to be not to be okay, but here’s what you can do on a daily basis. One of the ways I’m doing that is with a new book coming out in September called “Get Out of the Red Zone.” It’s about transforming your stress to optimize true success. If we can all get out of the red zone and stay out of the red zone, then that’s going to make a huge, huge difference.