When a choice is to be made always choose the most uncomfortable choice. We only grow mentally and physically when we are outside of our comfort zone. Like the choice of becoming an entrepreneur and starting your own company which is going to be more uncomfortable than walking into an already defined role within a company. You must embrace and welcome being uncomfortable to expand on your performance.
Resilience has been described as the ability to withstand adversity and bounce back from difficult life events. Times are not easy now. How do we develop greater resilience to withstand the challenges that keep being thrown at us? In this interview series, we are talking to mental health experts, authors, resilience experts, coaches, and business leaders who can talk about how we can develop greater resilience to improve our lives.
As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Paige E. Roberts.
Paige is a sports psychotherapist, athlete mental health advocate and a peak performance expert. She holds a degree in Exercise Science, a Master of Social Work and is a doctoral candidate of Integrative Medicine. She is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker, Certified Light Therapist, Certified Brain Health Practitioner, Certified Brainspotting Practitioner and Consultant. Paige has a private practice (On Point Performance Neuro Training) where she specializes in helping athletes overcome life hardships, beat performance anxiety, recover fully from sports injuries or failures, and rebound from performance slumps or blocks so they can reach their full potential in sports and in life.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your backstory?
I grew up in a small Colorado Rocky Mountain ranching and coal mining town. My father was a crane operator at the local coal mine and my mother was a “stay at home mom” until I was in middle school when she went back to work as a high school teacher. I have an older brother whom I was very close to growing up as we were country kids who spent all our time out exploring nature together. Growing up in the mountains our family vacations consisted of camping, white water rafting, snowmobiling, skiing and visited a new national park every summer. I was exposed to live music through my dad and his friend’s playing together at a very young age. This exposure instilled a great love for live music and dancing. I started playing organized sports and skiing when I was four, ran and swam in high school, ran in college and I currently try to ski as much as I can. Throughout my adolescent sports career I had multiple sports injuries and the rehabilitation which came with recovering from the injuries. This experience sparked my interest in sports medicine, so I earned my bachelor’s degree in exercise science. During my young adult life, I battled multiple addictions, survived an abusive relationship, and experienced multiple losses which lead me down the path of wanting to help others beyond the body. Therefore, I obtained a Master of Social Work, and I started my private sports and exercise psychology practice in 2014. I have had the honor and privilege of assisting athletes of all ages and sport backgrounds regain and reach their peak performance in sports and in life. In 2017 I moved my practice and my basset hound Daisy from the small Colorado mountain town to the greater Seattle area to broaden our horizons. I am currently on a mission to end suicide of athletes.
Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
The first international conference I spoke about my clinical results with athletes was in Bouzios Rio De Janeiro Brazil. I had never been to South America, and I did not speak Portuguese. I didn’t know anyone in Brazil, and I didn’t know anyone attending the conference. I took a bus two hours through the country side to the small Bouzios village from the Rio airport. When I arrived, I checked into my hotel which had lizards all over the walls which made me question if this was in fact a good idea. The following day I walked through the small village on the cobble stone road and checked into the conference. There were clinicians from all over the world. The conference was being translated into three different languages. It was an international community of clinicians regardless of their age, race, gender, country of origin or practice specialty were already connected by the belief in the neuroscience-based technique called Brainspotting. It was like we had all known each other for years. The sharing of the client success stories from the use of Brainspotting and other techniques was combined inspiring. The presentations gave me a whole new understanding of the power of this technique as well as how clinicians in other countries practice. BY the end of the five day conference the five hundred plus clinicians were hugging and exchanging contacts to stay connected and to be able to support each other. My experience in Brazil made me so grateful for all we have in the United States. Especially clean water within our showers and sinks. But the professional experience will forever shape how I view humanity. It is a given there are educational and research institutions all over the globe aimed at expanding our understanding of how to better serve individuals struggling with diseases. But who was represented at this conference were individual providers investing their own money and time into traveling the globe to learn the most innovative ways to treat their clients. The clients they sit with daily struggling to recover and move forward. The dedication of the clinicians to the clients they care for was nothing less than moving. To me this was the most impactful experience.
And I met a doctor who had a practice in Seattle. I had never been to Seattle before. He invited one of my athlete clients in need of his concussion recovery techniques and myself to Seattle. Immediately following my return home to Colorado, I travelled with my concussed athlete client to Seattle. My client instantly felt relief. It was a successful trip. As well as I had been advised by my mentor to move to a larger city and I had considered moving to Austin Texas, Las Angeles California or down to Denver. But after seeing Seattle it was clear I needed to relocate to Seattle.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
I guarantee my athlete clients will get both a mental health and sports performance result. I use only neuroscience-based modalities. Every modality I use has the most current peer reviewed research studies outlining their effectiveness in promoting nervous system optimization. It’s not easy finding these modalities. You must be willing to travel all over the world to find the scientists doing the most innovative developing research. I have travelled to four countries now and numerous United States cities. One of the most advanced conferences in the United States takes place at a ski lodge in Montana. This is an annual conference called The Big Sky Athletic Training and Sports Medicine Conference. I was originally drawn to this conference from one of the presentation titles “Do Sports Concussions cause Athlete Suicide”. I started my practice to figure out why athletes complete suicide and how to prevent the completion of suicide. This was exactly what I was looking for. And it was a validating presentation. But what I didn’t expect to find was another treatment modality called photobiomodulation light therapy. At first, I thought the modality was too good to be true. But I can assure you after nearly seven years of using this modality within my practice it is that good and so much more. As well as five years ago and I found one of the most advanced WAVI QEEG brain health measuring device available. This device gave me a tool to measure the effectiveness of the techniques I use. These are the conferences where legendary mavericks in the field like Dr. Mickey Collins PhD of the University of Pittsburgh freely share what they are doing in their clinic with athletes. You can’t just read their book or even take a course of theirs. It’s all about getting to have intimate conversations and shared hypothesis and mutual validation of how to best serve athletes.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Right after I started my practice I was on a quest for knowledge. I wanted to figure out why athletes completed suicide and how we could stop it. Therefore, I began attending numerous conferences on neuroscience, sports injuries, athlete mental health and sports concussions. It was at an American Academy of Neurology Sports Concussion conference in Denver Colorado, I met Charles “Bucky” Zimmerman. He was a lawyer working on a sports concussion lawsuit against the National Hockey League at the time. Not only was he passionate about changing the sports culture around how we view and treat sports concussion. He was as obsessed as I was with finding the most advanced treatments for sports concussion to prevent athletes from suffering. It was his law firm which had worked on the National Football League concussion case a few years prior. I surprised to learn their firm’s initial interest in investigating the link between sports concussions and neurocognitive decline stemmed from a lawyer who had been a partner in their firm named Fred McNeill. Fred was a former National Football Player who had put himself through law school while still playing football. Apparently, Fred had been struggling to keep up with his obligations to his clients at work and they had to let him go. Which they later learned was the early signs of him developing the neurocognitive disorders which eventually took his life. Following his death, it was confirmed he had Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). Most thought the lawsuits were all about money. But they were simply about trying to help treat the former players and change how we identify, treat, and monitor sports concussions for generations to come. I admired how every case Bucky’s firm took on was about getting justice for those who had been harmed or treated unjustly by large corporations. He was a legend in mass tort law and had numerous law offices in different states. It wasn’t I whom proclaimed Bucky as my mentor. Bucky told me he was going to be my mentor much like Wayne Dyer had been a trusted mentor of his for years. He saw how much I cared and how passionate I was about the fight I was fighting against ending the stigma around athlete mental health. He kept me accountable by meeting up with me at sports conferences. I would text or call him when I felt defeated or when I needed advice. He is the reason I moved from the small mountain town in Colorado to Seattle. He framed it as “you can’t push a boulder up a hill alone” which was reference to I needed to move to a progressive community where I could find like-minded professionals who cared about and help support me with my mission to end suicide of athletes. He was proud of me for leaving all I’d ever known and my comfort zone of Colorado to continue my fight. Bucky was diagnosed with cancer in December of 2018 and died in February of 2019. My takeaway was you never stop fighting for those who need a fighter in their corner. And as Bucky did you fight for what you believe in and what you stand for until the day you die. He was my mentor for over four years, and I miss him terribly. But I can say when I feel defeated or lost, I still pull from the saying he told me and advice he gave me. So, it’s like he is still in my corner helping me fight my fight.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the trait of resilience. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?
Resilience is built from persistently pursuing your life mission and purpose no matter how many obstacles arise in your path. With every day and even decision we are challenged by uncontrollable mental and physical adversities. We all have a choice to either fold from the challenge or face the challenge head on. Resilience is what exists after we rise up to and surpass each challenge. Without the presence of challenges, we would never get stronger mentally or physically. We cannot control what happens to us but we can control how we react and act to the circumstances. Therefore, the most prominent traits of resilience are perseverance, emotional control, and adaptability. Some circumstances you overcome and some circumstance you must adapt to. For example, we overcome addictions, we adapt to the loss of a loved one and we deal with disappointments like not getting into the college of our choice by continuing to pursue college with our second choice. No matter what occurs you simply keep moving forward toward a greater level of achievement and success.
Courage is often likened to resilience. In your opinion how is courage both similar and different to resilience?
Courage has to do with every choice within our lives we must make. Each of the choices you make dictate your life trajectory. It takes courage to choose a harder option or to dream a bigger dream. Every action in your life can be linked to either a comfortable or uncomfortable choice. It takes courage to choose the uncomfortable option when making life choices or when faced with an uncomfortable challenge outcome. Without at least some courage in our convictions we will not become as resilient. The more courageous you are in your choices the greater resilience you will build. Both courage and resilience are components of building mental and physical strength. Courage can vary from one life circumstance or challenge to another. Resilience is gained over time. To maintain our resilient, we don’t always have to make the courageous choices. But to continue to gain resilience we must make some courageous uncomfortable choices.
When you think of resilience, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?
Rosa Louise McCauley Parks the first African American female civil rights activist. When she was faced with a choice that day on the bus to stand up or remain seated. She chose the courageous choice and just choice. She chose the choice which meant she would be very uncomfortable with the outcome. This did not frighten her into changing choice. She instead met the challenge and many more as she began one of the first civil rights movements in America history. The challenge was a huge challenge it was one of breaking the law which meant she could have been physically harmed and it was one of challenging the current America culture. Without her resilience so many changes within the United States for citizens of color would not have occurred. Rosa Parks was one of the most admirable, courageous, and resilient women to live.
Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us?
When I decided I was ready to start my athlete mental health specific private practice. After I graduated from graduate school my previous supervisor of my Master of Social Work field placements told me I couldn’t start a private practice yet as I was too young. As well as he said I could never make it specializing in sports and exercise psychology no one really cares about athlete mental health. He said I needed to come and work within his practice and then someday I could start my own practice. I started my private practice the following month and was successful within the first month and have expanded on my successes within my business for over seven years now.
Did you have a time in your life where you had one of your greatest setbacks, but you bounced back from it stronger than ever? Can you share that story with us?
I was in a mentally and physically abusive relationship from age twenty-three to twenty-six. I finally found the courage to leave him after my second semester of graduate school. I had finally gained back enough confidence in myself and my worth to leave. It sounds cliché to say you really don’t know what it’s like to leave or not leave unless you have experienced an abusive relationship. But you don’t. Today I look back and think why didn’t I leave immediately as I would never tolerate someone treating me that way now. But living with an abuser breaks down your soul. Daily you are told you are worthless, nothing, not good enough, ugly, crazy and no one would or could ever love you. They isolate you by either upsetting your friends or not letting you leave the house without them to make any. They get angry if you talk to your family, so you just stop. This on top of the violent rages which ended in you hiding or being hit. Then they deny anything even happened and will be so kind, loving and buy you flowers as if nothing ever happened. I remember the time when I felt like I could never leave. I was afraid to leave. Leaving was and is one of the most courageous things I have ever done. I know I would be dead had I stayed. I did it I left and I began to regain and rebuild my sense of self. I made friends, reconnected with my family, and started doing activities like rock climbing and rafting as I had done prior to meeting him. Two years later I graduated from graduate school and shortly after I started my own private practice.
How have you cultivated resilience throughout your life? Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share a story?
I am dyslexic and I was told when I was in first grade I would probably never learn to read and may never graduate from high school. My parents didn’t accept this and found a tutor with experience in dyslexia who taught me to read the way my brain was intended to learn to read. By the time I was in third grade I was getting straight A’s and by the time I graduated from high school I had completed two years of college at the local community college. I then graduated with my Bachelors of Exercise Science in three years. Went on to obtain my Masters of Social Work, passed my clinical licensing exam on my first try and will finish my Doctorate of Integrative Medicine within a matter of weeks. I learned at a young age I didn’t have to achieve success the way others did. I instead needed to find my way to achieve success. I live by the motto where there is a will there is a way.
Resilience is like a muscle that can be strengthened. In your opinion, what are 5 steps that someone can take to become more resilient? Please share a story or an example for each.
- Mind and body care is the foundation of resilience. Without physical health and mental health, we cannot reach our full potential in life. Push your physical body to the limits via fitness training every day. When we train our body’s, we are concurrently training our brains and extended nervous system to be stronger. Sleep is paramount to productivity. We often think resilience and success are only gained by working nonstop. When in all actuality recovery and down time is just as important to productivity as hard work. And we know our neurotransmitters do not recharge from the day before if we don’t get at least eight hours of sleep. Only consume food packed with nutrients. If we are eating foods which cause inflammation and is full of toxins our mental acuity declines. We must eat foods which will keep our mind and body healthy so we can achieve our desired aspirations. Exercising, sleeping and eating healthy all ward off degenerative diseases which could keep you from reaching your full potential.
- When situations occur which are outside of our control we must learn to adapt. Just because hardships or disappointments happen, we must look to the next option or step to take. We cannot get hung up on disappointments. We instead adapt and move in a different direction. Much like if we don’t get the job, we had hoped for than that job wasn’t the best option for us and it’s time to find another one which aligns with our desires and try again.
- If we find ourselves using negative habitual resourcing behaviors like drinking, using drugs or eating unhealthy foods we need to address these addictions with psychotherapy. We must get to the bottom of why we are masking our feelings with substances so we can overcome the negative habitual resourcing behaviors. Using substances damages the mind and body which inhibits us form reaching our peak performance.
- Face challenges and adversities with courage. Growth is scary because we don’t know what is next. All we know is we must have the courage to face fears head on, so we move forward. Fear can be paralyzing but all it takes in taking the first step. Once the first step has been taken things are set into motion.
- When a choice is to be made always choose the most uncomfortable choice. We only grow mentally and physically when we are outside of our comfort zone. Like the choice of becoming an entrepreneur and starting your own company which is going to be more uncomfortable than walking into an already defined role within a company. You must embrace and welcome being uncomfortable to expand on your performance.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂 I really admire
Apolo Ohno because of all the activist work he does around bringing awareness to athlete mental health and he’s a positive role model for youth athletes look up to in my community of Seattle.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
My website: www.robertsneurotraining.com
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!