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Double Chaos - Double Calm
Episode 85th October 2020 • Calming the Chaos • Tracy Kenela
00:00:00 00:56:53

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Episode Title: “Double Chaos, Double Calm”

#chaos #coaching #anxiety #depression #relationship #stress #trauma #coachingthroughchaospodcast

Intro: In this episode, Tracy interviews Dr. Colleen Mullen, PsyD, LMFT of “Coaching Through Chaos” (Podcast and Counseling Practice). Colleen describes the work she does and the different projects she is involved in. Tracy reviews some of the chaos that has happened thus far in 2020. Together, Tracy and Colleen brainstorm some ways that people can calm their minds, cope with their emotions, and behave in ways that help improve their mental health. Lots of ideas here, so this is a longer podcast than usual!

I. Introduction to Colleen Mullen, PhD of “Coaching Through Chaos” Podcast / Counseling Practice II. Changes in systems cause chaos! Here are some changes we, as a people, have experienced in 2020: • The Presidential Impeachment • The US and North Korea • COVID-19 and Ebola • Worldwide deaths • Fires in Australia • Fires in California, Oregon and Washington • Police and Black Lives matter (Protests, Minneapolis, Kenosha, Atlanta) • An asteroid headed to planet Earth • Murder hornets and deadly mosquitos • Sports cancelled • Stock Market Fluctuations • School closures • Unemployment • The upcoming Presidential Election

Colleen Suggests: 1. Identifying Obstacles: What are the biggest obstacles that are preventing you from effectively managing chaos? 2. Present-Focus: This is temporary, so keep your mind on what is happening now, getting through day to day 3. Problem-Solving: Coming up with ideas to cope that focus on eliminating barriers and keeping a present-focus 4. Adaptability (or how well you adapt or adjust to the changes that happen in systems) will be the most relevant skill that will help you survive, thrive and move through chaotic times Tracy Chimes in with a story about how difficult it is to be flexible 1. Expectations: Chaos can happen when things don’t go the way you expect them to happen 2. Pause: Taking a step back and making flexibility an intention can help 3. Analyze and Assess the situation 4. Creativity: Be flexible and creative as you figure out what to do to calm the chaos Colleen and Tracy agree that seeing alternative answers and solutions is very important when calming / coping with chaos.

III. Calming the body down • Dealing with shock (fight, flight, freeze) • Systemic Trauma, Individual Trauma, Pre-existing Trauma and Current Trauma • Coping with the fear that “We will get stuck with any new ideas developed (like telework, home schooling and mask-wearing). IV. Developing Psychological Flexibility: How do you do this? (Brainstorming Session) 1. Tracy: Gathering support and resources to help people feel comfortable and safe through changes 2. Colleen: Talking to someone like a friend about what you’re struggling with and distraction and taking breaks. Focusing on things that are NOT changing and are stable, normal and not chaotic (“normal.”) 3. Tracy: Focusing on stability, routine, grounding and focusing on what is present. Boundaries. 4. Colleen: Not getting stuck in the fears and / or uncertainty. Knowing when the negative information gets to be too much and taking a break. Practicing gratitude and positivity. 5. Both: Move beyond your expectation that things “should” be a certain way. The reality is that life ebbs and flows, and that the natural progression is for hard times AND easier times. V. Colleen’s “Past-Present-Future” model of managing chaos • All these things happened in the past • You want certain things for the future • How much energy do you spend on past script, and is this the script for your future? • Past: Women: The self-concept when we were 12 is likely the same as when we are 45 • Challenging / re-writing old, negative scripts • “You’re at a choice point: do you want to hold these scripts or re-write them?” • SKILL: “Re-writing” the traditional narrative to something more truthful and helpful • Future: What is the worst thing that can happen to you? What are you giving up if tomorrow you feel differently or give up this fear? (“The Miracle Question”) • Challenging Beliefs: Is the worst thing really so bad? The existential angst that happens when presented with something scary is sometimes death! VI. Chaos and Existentialism: is death the worst thing? Or is it humiliation / shame? • Worries and negative reinforcers • Is this your mind just being creative? The past is the best predictor of the future. “You’ve gotten through some hard times and you can do it again.” (Tracy) • How can we live the best in our major life domains? (Physical, Social, Emotional, Mental, Spiritual, Vocational and Relational). VII. Chaos Lightening Round: What do you do when Chaos hits? • What does Colleen do? i. Moving body (walks) and breathing fresh air as a ritual to work out energy ii. 30 minutes of sitting on the patio, reading, meditating, getting sunlight (vit. D) iii. Processing what is in your mind while taking a break iv. Notice your surroundings, describe them and be curious about what is going on in your body v. Sound machine apps with white noise • What does Tracy do? i. Dialectical Behavior Therapy skills in mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation and interpersonal effectiveness ii. Taking care of the shock (getting out of your mind and into your body) such as using the five senses (sense of smell) (to combat “reptilian brain”) iii. Release the energy while keeping yourself safe iv. Positive self-talk and asking for help “Talk to yourself like you would talk to your best friend.” v. Dawn-Simulator alarm clocks can help usher you into the day with light


Beck, A.T. (1976). Cognitive therapy and the emotional disorders. New York, NY: International Universities Press, Inc.

Ellis, A., & Grieger, R.M. (1977). Handbook of rational-emotive therapy. New York: Springer Publishing

Harris, R (2007). The Happiness Trap: How to stop struggling and start living. Boston, MA, Exisle Publishing Ltd.

Linehan, M. (1993). Cognitive-behavioral treatment of borderline personality disorder. New York, NY, Guilford Press.

Zimberoff, D., &Hartman, D. (2014). Overcoming Shock: Healing the traumatized mind and heart. Far Hills, NJ, New Horizon Press.


Colleen’s Website

Colleen’s Podcast:

Colleen’s Free Book:!AuqjTBFPkHqMhZgbQgztXrKwExEE3A info page about the book:

Relaxation APP: White Noise Lite is the app with the various sounds, including snoring kitty

Tara Brach’s Website has a LOT of free resources, including guided meditations: Listen to Calming the Chaos!

Main podcast website:

YouTube (Videos):

YouTube (Playlists):

iTunes and Apple Podcasts: Podbay: HubHopper:

Visit Tracy’s Website at

Tracy also created a mindfulness CD called “On This Day.” This CD teaches you how to practice mindfulness in less than 10 minutes throughout the day.

Practicing mindfulness has been shown to reduce stress and increase clear thinking in times of chaos.

You can purchase the CD on Amazon at or in digital format at

Follow Calming the Chaos!

Facebook Page: Facebook Group: Twitter (@the_calming) Instagram (calmingthec) LinkedIn (

Thanks for listening, and take care!




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