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Blossom Your Awesome Episode #18 - Laughter To Heal And Thrive With Laura Potter

by Sue Dhillon
October 24th 2021

We've all heard the saying don't take life too seriously.

Occupational therapist Laura Potter embodies this with her life, her therapy practice and her patients.

As a ... More

Hello and welcome to the blossom, your awesome podcast episode number 18. Today on the show we have got occupational therapist laura potter, She has been doing this work for more than 15 years and is the founder of simply creative therapy which offers creatively powerful solutions for healing recovery and tapping into joy. She has found through her work that cultivating laughter and light heartedness makes the recovery process so much easier and patients do so much better when they take this approach. We are talking about the power of laughter and learning to take it all with a grain of salt. I am so delighted to have laura hair sharing her insights and wisdom. Laura, thank you so much for being here. Welcome to the show.

Hi, Thanks for having me. Oh you're welcome. I am just so inspired by your story and usually how I start is just you know, with a little bit of your background, let's just kind of get into how you ended up in this profession and then working with people to help them lead you know, happier, more prosperous lives. Sure. So I am by trade. I'm an occupational therapist and I got an occupational therapy because I wanted to go into a field that was that helped others. I didn't realize kind of what that meant when I started out when I was when I was younger and I kind of have grown grown from there and kind of turned it into something that's kind of all encompassing and more than what I ever thought it would be mm hmm And I'm sorry, continue. No. So, so yeah I'm I'm an occupational therapist but I'm I'm a little bit different. I'm more kind of a holistic kind of person rather than just working on certain aspects of people's lives.

I kind of like to look at the hole and the person as an individual and a whole right? And now tell me with your work do you find what are your own results with that when you're kind of taking a more holistic approach versus just helping somebody with like physical therapy or occupational therapy and then taking a broader approach. How how is that for you? So I think you know when I first started out I worked in outpatient orthopedics and I was you know I was super successful in that field and I would get someone they had this physical injury and there were these people that would do great and there's people that wouldn't do great. And so they started making me really think you know what else what am I missing, what else is there? And I started realizing with that that there's more to just the physical there's an emotional piece as well. And so I started really getting into more of a holistic approach. And I found with having someone get just more than just O.

T. And as you know I would collaborate with other practitioners. It really helped heal the person fully. And so we I'd have better outcomes. I'd have you know people that that were actually, you know, like wanting to work on on things rather than here just fixed me, they were more of an active participant with that. And so I kind of branched out from that and I got out of orthopedics because I became a mom and working long hours just wasn't for me and I started kind of like dabbling and other things and that's what I really came back to and what I do now is I really help people improve their full, their life fully. So it's not just about the physical stuff, it's not just about the emotional, it's a combination of everything and a lot of times it might even just be reaching out to others to collaborate with to help the person as well, so I don't want to be the one stop person that is like yeah, just come see me and everything will be fine, it's you know, what can we do to create this community of healing, wow, I love that.

And you know, I've been, I'm an energy worker and I've been having conversations with different people about this and it's just so powerful, so so you clearly see this in your work, like how the positive attitude or attitude makes such a huge difference in someone's recovery or healing. Yes, I know right now I do a lot of work with teenagers and I'm helping them with what's called executive functioning skills, which is the fancy word for the cognitive skills that you need to be successful in life. So organizing, planning, um, time management and the problem with that is teenagers sometimes have a bind and sometimes don't, so really getting to know the individual and really looking at, you know, how, what's the buy in for this and also what's the big picture with us? What's holding them back? What are the obstacles? What are the things that, you know, I'm missing because I can give them all kinds of skills and strategies, but they don't use it or they don't feel that it's useful, then they're pretty pointless, right?

And now, you know, do you find, I mean, doesn't it seem like adults, A lot of adults have the same kind of issues that yes, I never thought I would get into working with teens. Honestly, I've worked with like all ages and when I got approached by by this contract with the school right now and I was like, uh teenagers, I don't know. And I've actually like really embraced it and really like it. And a lot of it is adult problems, but we're having teens with these adult problems that, you know, if they don't figure it out now, it's like, oh no, what's going to happen later? But it's also super, it's made me grow as a person and super. Um, a positive thing in my life where I'm like, okay, let me, I like to be challenged. All right, Let me and let me accept this challenge. And these are things that adults struggle with as well, right? And now I love that you say that it's it's helping you grow now, Do you?

Is there an aspect of this where you have found through your work that okay, there's one part of teens that could, you know, pose certain challenges because they might be, you know, less open to whatever right guidance for things, but versus some adults who are maybe kind of more set in their ways. So correct. Is that what it is? You know, I don't know if it's necessary necessarily set in their ways. One of the things I think about is we don't know what we don't know. Mm hmm. So sometimes it's even thinking about, you know, is the person being resistant to change or is that they just don't know any other way and then really helping that person kind of grow and see other ways. I always, a lot of times I use like fixed mindset, growth mindset and we all have a choice. You know, when I have a student I'm working with and they're kind of really rigid and like this is how I am. I'm like, all right. So you're picking the fixed mindset, you know, how does that look versus a growth mindset? How does that look? And then it's your choice on what you want to do with it.

So a lot of it is like informing people of things, a lot of people have no idea what they're doing is getting in the way of them succeeding and being happy in life. And so I it's I'm almost like a problem, like, you know, I try to sit there and analyze things and look at things and try to figure out, okay, what is it that's holding them back and you know, what are some strategies and it's up ultimately, it's up to the person to accept it or some people just say, you know what, I'm fine, this is fine, I don't, I don't want to change this and that is totally fine as well now, what do you find that does, you know, and this is, I know you're working now with teens, but I know you've, you've also worked with, you know, like you said all ages, so what do you find is kind of like the most common thing, um that holds people back from kind of living that optimal life, you know, I think a lot of times it's fear and it's not just fear of failure, it's also that fear of success because with success there comes consequences as well and sometimes it's figuring that out of, you know, what is it, that that you're, you know scared of or that you're fearful of because sometimes that, you know, especially with the teens, I see a lot of times that success piece Well now mom and dad know I can do it are now, you know, the bar is set up higher and that what if I don't and then that that that fear sets in a failure then too.

And so a lot of it is just figuring out, you know, what's important to the person and also what are what are those obstacles and what are some solutions overcoming them? Right? And now do you, you know, this is interesting that you say this because I was having a conversation with somebody the other day about this and um you know, and he was saying kind of two things in one sentence where he knows he could just achieve optimal success, but he, you know, he might not right? So it was like, so is that like what is that? I mean really isn't that like an underlying insecurity there that a lot of us, most of us that fear of successes, it's almost like this fear of um like a lack of self worth or something? Yeah, sometimes, I mean sometimes I think of it as that, I mean sometimes it's just too confidence, you know, if if if you're a person and I look at like a lot of the students that I work with have had past trauma.

So if you look at it in that kind of viewpoint of that lens, you know, having the, if you've been in a situation where you've been told you're worthless. So you've been told certain things that are kind of false and you start believing those and then you have people telling you that that's no, no that's not right. You can totally, you know, do this, it's kind of scary and and really gain, you know, a lot of the teams that I work with is really getting that self confidence back and but it has to come organically, you know, me telling a student they're doing great, means nothing, you know, that's how do they know that? I'm I'm telling the truth and so it's working with people to start seeing that within themselves and starting to really kind of blossom that in their own in their own life. And what does that look like? I mean it's scary to some people that I haven't experienced a positive with that, right? And now what does that look like for um people who are, you know, fearful, what what advice do you have for them to kind of tap into that own inner, you know, greatness.

So a lot of times and I use humor a ton and so we, it's just really even being able to be vulnerable with yourself and being able to, you know, see something and be like, oh my gosh, you know, that is so silly and not taking it where oh my gosh, I'm a failure, I stuck in life and so it's really, you know, starting out with these small little things and you know, I call them the kind of the glimmer of the gleam um in people's eyes, okay. And you know, if you look at the big picture that's kind of scary. But we start looking at little things like what's one thing that you were proud of of yourself for? What's one thing that you noticed, you know, that you did well? And so it's starting out with these little tiny things and then get the glimmer and then you start seeing, okay. And then that was all of those add up to the big thing. And so a lot of students I work with, we, we take time and sometimes it takes a while to really get them to see that, okay. You know, this is okay, alright, wow, I'm proud of myself for this. Some people have a hard time being proud of themselves and just in general.

And so it's really working and we use a ton of, we laugh all the time and I'm constantly using humor and, and um, showing them that, hey, I'm a, I'm a human as well and I make mistakes. So so they, they laugh at, you know, we, we have this like laughter is kind of this universal language was like, oh, it just kind of breaks ice and it, it makes life less serious. And so it's really finding out, you know, those little things instead of the big thing, I think students always think and people and when I work with adults, they always look for these big things and sometimes it's these really tiny minute moments and then those little things add up and that helps fill our buckets with happiness or however you want to visualize it. I do a lot of visualization as well, right? And now walk us through some of um for those of us who might be sad or stuck or whatever help us walk us through, filling our buckets with happiness.

Um, so I started thinking about, you know, we all have mistakes, mistakes. I always think of mistakes is what matters most is how, how you deal with them. So sometimes if I'm sad or if I, if I dealt with a mistake, it's just knowing the fact that I have control over what I deal with it. So I could, you know, I could choose to just sit and dwell in it or I could choose being to it, what did I learn from it? So a lot of times what I do with students as we start looking at the more, you know, sometimes you just need to sit and dwell on it and that's okay and I just sit and kind of, you know, reaffirm that, you know, hey, it's okay and other times we start looking at what are the things that you learned from it, both positive and negative because there's always positive negatives to everything is kind of the yin and yang of life, but what, you know, focusing more on those learned lessons or if I'm sad, what's getting in my way, what are my obstacles and what can I do to overcome them if I choose to? And so it's always a choice and it's, it sounds super simple and easy and it's not, I will say it takes practice and time to get, you know, really good at having that kind of um cognitive flexibility of okay, you know, what are my choices and how do I want to deal with this?

And so it's just really getting to know obstacles and solutions to those obstacles and sometimes there might not feel like there is any and that's okay, you have to be in the right mindset, but I think overall it's that control of you decide how you handle things and you decide how you want to be in the moment. I love that, you know, I love um that you've said this a few times now, the, the fact that we have choices, right, so many people kind of when they get in this stuck place or something happens and you just, there's no hope you don't see any of your other options, you just feel like that's it, right, like you can work your way out of this. So what is that? Like first little actionable tip or baby step for somebody who's just like down and out and cannot see the light, So this sounds super goofy, but I like, I like visualizing things and picturing things.

So one of my little um kind of props that I use a lot when I'm working with students, I'm on zoom right now with most of my clients, but I have a little thought bubble and so one of the thought bubble and what I like to prompt with the thought bubble is what do you want to look like right now? Like what, what would you, if you want to be happy, what does that look like? And then we start going over the sensory stuff like how, you know, like what do you smell? What, what do you feel? Um what do you hear, What do you see? And sometimes I have, this sounds really goofy, but sometimes I even have um people dropping, they sketch it out, we use sketch, I use future sketching a lot with planning. So we sketch it out like what does that look like? You know, if you're, you know, what is that ideal image? You know, kind of that image of what you want it to be. And then let's talk about some steps, what can you do to get that? And with that a lot of times it kind of starts you start thinking a little bit differently. So you start thinking about more of, okay, how what am I going to do to get there and realize that it's not just going to happen in the snap of a finger, it's, you know, fingers, it's gonna take some work.

So what what do we need to do to get you there and just being able to kind of like visualize something different than what you are feeling or what what the situation you are in now and it's yeah, it seems super silly and simple, but it's what it just kind of gets you in this different mindset of, you know, okay, what? Alright, I have a choice again and what do I want, what do I want that to look like and how do I get it? And what are the obstacles that get in the way? And let's talk about? Let's do some problem solving what happens when those come up, what can I do? So it's almost like, you know, you're planning backwards but what you want, you know how you want to be and how you want to see yourself, right? I I love that and now talk to us about, you know, you are a leader and creator of living a happy, simple and hilarious life, which I just love that um how is that so necessary to be tapping into joy?

How necessary is that for us? You know, I think joy is one of those things that, you know, some people underestimate in life and or they think it's cookie like, you know, you know, really, but I think ultimately is that's just the angle, you know, we we enjoy as you know, happy as all these emotions like joy, happiness, all this? They're they're not, they're fluid, right? We we have times where we we feel happy. We have times where we feel sad. So it is something on this continuum and it kind of like a pendulum that swings back and forth. But I think of joy as more, you know, just more of a peace of mind and and just a calmness versus a happy, you know, I think, you know, when it's funny, when I tell people, you know, what does happy look like? You know, and it's always just like over the top, kind of, whoa. And I'm like, all right, I'm like, there's sometimes in life where you are very like that, but most of us are not so, you know, with joy, it's like, what does that look like? And it's more of a calmer, more of a balanced, you know, when I, when I feel joyful, I feel more balanced and just grounded versus these bigger emotions that happiness can bring up, right?

And now laura, I feel like, okay, you and I are similar in this way where I can just sense your your just a happy person in general right now, you can laugh things off you like being just, I'm the exact same way, right? Like life happens, things happen, it can suck at times, but I generally will just even laugh at, you know, crazy stuff. Um so how was that? Have you always been that way? Is there something you did to kind of learn to lean more into happy laughter, you know, joy or were you just kind of always like this? Um you know, I will, I will be very vulnerable and honest with you, I have dealt with lots of trauma and I went through a period of very deep depression and I kind of got stuck in that cycle and I just you know, I was life just kind of kept happening and I was just kind of like this like person in it and I remember you know thinking to myself back then of you know like okay, you know, I always just thought okay it's never going to get better, but this is just how life is and I went to therapy and I you know, and that helped a little, you know, it helped, I mean and I finally was like you know what, maybe it's my mindset, maybe it's the way I'm looking at things and what can I do to change that and I kind of decided you know, let me try something new, something different.

So I went outside my comfort zone and just started you know, being more like not taking things as more serious, I think that this is this is gonna sound weird to some people, but I think one of the things that really helped was I did this um session of, it wasn't necessarily hypnosis, it was just, it was a mindfulness session with somebody that just kind of learned to let things go and something inside of me was just kinda like all right, got this, let's let's look at life a little less serious and I know when to be serious and most you know, and and a lot of times I'm I'm pretty goofy, I'm pretty easy going and pretty happy, but I used to not be, I used to be really perfectionistic, super, but I think a lot of that was my control because I felt so out of control of my situation because of my past trauma and so it really was getting to learn that you know what I do, got some control in life and I do, I do have choice and so it's been a journey right, right, I love that now for somebody who's there um and I know I kind of asked a similar question but kind of going with that, you know, someone who is really just struggling to laugh and doesn't, you know, things are not happy right now Yeah, you know, I think a lot of it is because I've been there, I've totally been there and I knew how to, I think when I was depressed, I was really good at being a chameleon and showing the world what people thought the world wanted to see of me and so I think it's just really being able to be vulnerable with you and yourself and I mean, I started watching silly movies.

I mean, I didn't really know how to like, like laugh and be myself. You know, I knew what people wanted, but really thinking about, you know, what does that really actually feel like to me? And so it just started, you know, I started experimenting with different stuff of, you know, how what? All right, what does this feel like or what does this emotion feel like? Or what is that? And being and being around people that I trusted, you know, to to play around with that and be open minded. I think being open mind has been my biggest um factor of success with my own self. Um because I mean if I can be closed minded, but then that doesn't really get me anywhere and I was pretty close minded back when I was really depressed, but being, you know, learning how to be open minded about things that there's, you know, there's always this or that there's always it for them. You know, there's always two things, you know, that that a lot of times there's more, but there can be two different ways to look at something. So I think that's what's helped me grow the most and I used it a lot, you know, with, with with my clients, I, you know, I really get to know them, they get they really get to know me.

So we cut we build that trust and that rapport and I think that opens up the door to then, you know, like be more vulnerable with each other, but also learn and grow within that right now. I think this is so beautiful what you just shared. I mean for one, I think you're just so amazing and the fact that you're kind of sharing with us the trauma, you know, I'm in a similar boat where I don't know, maybe it's some, you know, like deeper thing where you have such extreme grief and pain, you know, and then you're kind of, you discover how to laugh and all of a sudden it's like it awakened something in you and you know, it's, it's like it seems like you embody laughter and laughing and being happy even though, you know, you have that moment where you say you didn't know how to laugh. Yes. Yeah. And I think, I mean even now, you know, life, life is always throwing lemons that, you know, um if it's, you know, it's like looking at, you know, a lot of times I looked at the lemons, I'm like, okay for real, that's it, that's what you got like, okay, bring it.

Um and it's a lot of it is just, you know, my mind, you know, my mindset or students will come out and they'll be super, you know, onto a zoom meeting with me and they'll be, or and I'll be like, okay, let's look at this, let's let's start analyzing this and and then all of a sudden they start laughing and they're like, wow, this really isn't a mountain. And I'm like, no, it's really not. But you know, hey, you discovered that and so same with the Lemons, you know, people you they like to use that analogy and but it's like okay, is this really the stinky yucky lemons? Or are they just little little key limes? Um you know what's being thrown at me and a lot of times, you know, start to think about things that we use a lot of um just talking and so all right, let's talk this out. And then they start hearing themselves and then they start giggling and they're like, oh wow, they're like okay. And I'm like, all right, So a lot of times it's just, you know, really, you know, seeing things for what it is and you're always gonna have things thrown at you and situations, I mean there are still times, you know, I have days where you know where yeah, I might cry, but sometimes you need that and then and then looking at things, you know, with my a different lens on, okay, what is this, what am I going to do about it?

I think my biggest thing that I've learned through all of this is obstacles are meant to be overcome. So I always tell people, you know, you can jump over them, you can crawl under them, you can kick them over, you can dance around them, you can limbo underneath them, you know, like there's obstacles in life, but what are you going to do to overcome it? And that's my, the focus that I tend to focus on is the solutions and the problem solving a lot of times you have to go to other people to help and that's where you build your tribe or you go to people that know people that can help and say, hey, I'm struggling with this, do you know someone can you help or do you know so on and that's where that connection begins because a lot of times it's connecting people to the who, who can help you with that, you don't have to figure out the how yourself, who do you need to help you with that to figure it out, wow now laura you just, you know, um the more I'm listening, like there's just so much wisdom here to everything you're sharing, so for you personally you were at that, you know, dark place where you couldn't laugh, you didn't know how to laugh and then you learned how to laugh, you learned how to overcome that and how what else did you do?

Was there a lot of deeper soul searching nature, I know that's something you're kind of into and you talk about, so what else helped you, you know overcome your biggest obstacles thus far, you know, I think the biggest thing is really figuring out that me as this person on the earth, I'm not the only person dealing with this and I'm also not the only person that's ever had a problem solved ways to get out of the situation I'm in. And so the biggest thing, because I used to, you know, growing up a female, you know, where we have these like societal norms of, you know, you gotta be look like this, you gotta do this, you gotta, you know, all this stuff and so I, you know, and I'm, you know, we, I there's no boys in my family, it's all girls and so I would try to prove myself worthy and so I was always this Kindle that and person growing up that you know, to prove my worth meant I had to figure out everything on my own and I think the biggest thing that's helped me overcome hurdles in life is that no, I don't need to be the person that knows how to do it all and I don't need to be the person that has to figure it out myself that that growing and you know, I always would hear about community and I was always like whatever, I don't need that, I'm going to be the superwoman to prove to the world that I can do it all and now it's like, no, that's just foolish and the community community is important, so knowing connections and knowing people and knowing that, hey, I don't have to tackle this myself.

And I'm not the only person going through this has been super, super helpful. I mean when I was super down and depressed from trauma, it was, you know, I felt like I was the only person that was dealing with that type of trauma in actuality I wasn't, but you just feel so alone and just, you know, hopeless. And then now it's like, you know, when I start feeling that way, I start thinking about my brain instantly goes to, okay, who do I need? I call this person for this? I call this person for this. Like, here's my, I know my cheerleaders and I know the people if I want advice of who's going to listen and give me advice and I know the people that, you know, if I don't know something who I can go to for great resources. So it's connecting those dots to the who's in my life and so I don't have to be the person that just knows everything. I love that. You're like, why don't people say this more? I needed to hear it back when I was, I'm older now, But back when I was in my twenties, I'm like, oh my gosh, and I'm like, I wish I, you know, it's like, I wish I knew what I knew now through trial and error.

I always think of my life has been this big trial and error and if something doesn't work okay, what else can I try? But I wish I knew this back then, right, would have saved me a lot. My God, Yeah, we, I mean we get stuck in that like, oh, it sucks and I can't do it and I'm just going to quit and I'm going to give up and it's never going to get better in. People don't, like, I think this is so powerful, what you're sharing with us here is saying, hey, it's not going to get better right away. It might not even get better or whatever, but they, you know, reach out and ask for help, asking for help. I think you asked me earlier was like a big kind of hurdle that gets in a lot of people's way and asking for help. I've seen across the lifespan as something that is difficult because sometimes people don't know what to ask help for. Sometimes they're just so set in their way that they want to figure it out themselves and sometimes we just, you don't even know what you're asking. And so I think that is one of the things that I've really learned in life and I really work with the clients I work with on asking for help.

Like how do you ask for help? What does that look like? We do a lot of role playing. Where, because I mean, even if you if you're a person that's never asked for help, it feels uncomfortable and you start thinking that, you know, a lot of people go to that, I'm going to ask for help and they're instantly gonna know what they're gonna say no or they're gonna say I'm stupid. You know, we we go into these like negative narratives and so role playing it out, which sounds silly, but it actually helps because what do you do when you're faced with that? Because there are going to be times where people say no, there are going to be times where people will say I can't help you or or it's uncomfortable. So what are you gonna do about it then you can't let that destroy you. If one person says no, then go to another. But what does that look like and how does it feel? And I mean we're not really, a lot of us aren't taught that, right, wow. Oh my God, laura, you are just like a what is that term? I can't even think of it, A whole thing of wisdom and abundance, what is that?

I'm thinking of something, there's a word for it, but I can't think of it, I know what you're saying, but I can't think of it either. My brain is like what a body of knowledge or wisdom or whatever, but this has been amazing. Now, I am going to say in closing leave us something powerful. What is just some powerful insights for us here in closing, okay, I think powerful insights never take yourself as too serious laugh at the mistakes you make. Because you can learn from them. And when in doubt ask for help. Like grow your tribe to include people that don't just give you, give you praise and give you what you want to grow your tribe to include people that are going to challenge you and that are going to connect you to the coos. Because you always don't have to be the person that knows how to do something. Mm I love it. Oh my God, Laura, thank you so much.

You were so you're welcome. Thank you for having me. This was a blast. I love it. Oh, that's awesome. Thank you so much. Yeah. Okay. Mhm, mm hmm, mm hmm. Mhm. Yeah. Yes. Mhm.

Blossom Your Awesome Episode #18 - Laughter To Heal And Thrive With Laura Potter
Blossom Your Awesome Episode #18 - Laughter To Heal And Thrive With Laura Potter
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