Rise & Shine Interview: Bethany Butzer, PhD

I’m excited that Bethany is sharing her thoughts with us today about perseverance. I found her by chance on Facebook and I am so glad I did. I really admire her career and accomplishments. You should check out her site after you finish reading her interview. Thank you, Bethany, for taking part! You taught me a lot! I'm proud of you for speaking up, being authentic, and sharing your story.

Bethany Butzer, Ph.D. is an author, speaker, researcher and yoga teacher who helps people create a life they love. She offers tools, techniques and resources that promote wellness on all levels: mind, body and spirit. She serves as a catalyst for positive change and a guide on your path toward living in authenticity. Check out Bethany's book, The Antidepressant Antidote, follow her on Facebook and Twitter, read her blog posts on Positively Positive, and join her whole-self health revolution here. Read her interview below.

(c)  The Last Forty Percent Photography
(c) The Last Forty Percent Photography

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received? Who did you receive it from?

I think one of the pieces of advice that has had the most impact on me lately comes from life coach and author Gabrielle Bernstein's teachings from A Course in Miracles. Gabrielle's basic premise is that each moment presents us with an opportunity to choose love or fear. When we choose love, we experience a miracle, which is simply a shift in perception. So for example you can perceive the loss of a job as a scary life event that is going to have a horrible outcome, or you can see it as an exciting new beginning. It's all about perception. As Henry Ford said, "Whether you think that you can, or that you can't, you are usually right."

How important is mentorship in terms of your success?

I think that mentorship is extremely important. When I was struggling with anxiety and depression, I saw many different therapists who served as my mentors. Now that I'm an entrepreneur in the health and wellness industry, I seek mentorship from others in my field. I specifically look for people who are just ahead of me - people who are where I would like to be in terms of my business - and who also live with integrity and authenticity. I was a part of an entrepreneurial MasterMind group with life coach Rich German for quite awhile and I most recently hired Gabrielle Bernstein as a coach. It's important to keep in mind that you don't have to work with someone personally for them to be your mentor. Your mentors can also come from books, lectures, videos, etc.

What has been the best moment in your life so far?

This is impossible to answer! I would say that in general, the best moments of my life are the times when I feel happy, relaxed and free. When I'm doing things I love. These moments can include anything from eating lunch in Santorini overlooking the ocean with my husband, to going on a hike 5 minutes from my house. I've made it my mission to fill my life with as many of these moments as possible.

What tips would you have for living a healthy life?

If we really want to live a healthy life, we need to commit to making our health and well-being our #1 priority - above everything else. This isn't easy to do, especially considering that we all live in a society that values ambition over self-care. I believe that self-care is a sacred practice and I make as much time for it in my day as I possibly can. I meditate every morning, do yoga a few times per week, take time to make healthy meals every day, and make sure I spend lots of time doing things I enjoy, like hanging out with my husband and friends, being in nature and reading. This requires a major shift in perspective from evaluating my worth based on my achievements, to taking excellent care of myself because I know I'm already worth it.

How do you motivate yourself to persist despite setbacks?

Whenever I feel low energy I try to make sure I take a break. I'll stop what I'm doing at that moment and do something I love instead. As an example, last week I was working on something that I didn't feel like working on. So I decided to go pick strawberries instead. I felt re-energized afterwards and so much happier. I also think about two specific things: 1) The life that I'm fiercely committed to creating for myself (a life where I fill my days doing what I love), 2) People who have experienced major setbacks and continued moving forward. For example, my stepfather was shot in the face at age 22 and blinded for life. He went on to inspire people to turn their lives around based on his experience. He could have given up and spent the rest of his days depressed and alone but he didn't. He kept going, which reminds me that I can, too.

What has been your biggest setback? How did you deal with it? What did you learn from it?

My biggest setback was being on antidepressants for six years. On the one hand it felt like a setback because I was depressed, anxious and going through a lot of turmoil in my personal relationships. I kept trying to go off the medication but always ended up right back on it. I was really frustrated with myself and with my behavior, and felt like things would never get better. I now realize that those six years were a blessing in disguise. I learned so much about myself, my ability to heal my mind and body, and the fact that "This too shall pass." Without those six years, I never would have written a book about how to get off antidepressants, and I wouldn't be doing the work that I'm doing today.

How do you deal with critics?

I believe that every relationship is put into our lives for a reason - even the difficult ones. Whenever I'm dealing with someone difficult, I always try to remember to ask myself, "What am I supposed to be learning from this person?" For example, I once received a very negative Facebook comment about how I shouldn't be helping other people heal their lives if I wasn't completely healed myself. My first reaction was a desire to respond negatively. But I took a deep breath and asked myself, "What can I learn from this person?" I ended up creating a YouTube video called Confessions Of A Yogini, where I admit that I don't have it all together by dishing all of my "dirt." My community loved seeing this authentic side of me and that little video helped grow my audience quite a bit. If I'd gone with my impulse to react negatively to the Facebook comment, I never would have experienced the wonderful things that came out of making that video.

How important is social support in overcoming obstacles?

Extremely important. There's a ton of psychological research attesting to this. I make a point to spend lots of time with friends, especially girlfriends who will listen to me vent for hours if I need it!

What advice would you give others about goal setting?

I think goal setting is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it's good to have goals and aspirations. On the other hand, I think we put a bit too much emphasis on goal setting in modern society. Sometimes I think we need to take a more easygoing approach to life, where we listen to our intuition and do what we need to do in the moment, instead of having a 7-year plan. Sometimes when we spend too much time planning, we end up losing the creativity that comes from following our heart.

What life lesson have you learned that you would like to pass along to others?

That even when life feels difficult, don't give up. I've been through some pretty dark times in my life. Abuse, abandonment, burnout. Messy relationships. Unexpected, heart wrenching tragedy. There were times that I was told I would need to take antidepressants for the rest of my life. But I kept listening to the small voice inside of me that said, "You will get through this. You deserve an amazing life. You have the potential for happiness." Sometimes this voice was a barely audible whisper, but I kept listening. Pay attention to what your heart is asking you to do. It will never lead you in the wrong direction.

Thank you Bethany for sharing your thoughts on perseverance with us! Keep up the amazing work you are doing. I love the quote "What Am I Learning from This Person?" - it is one that I will keep with me.

See you at the beach!