Emotion is always a strong motivator of one’s actions, therefore human beings always have a tendency towards impulses brought on by any of the many emotions they’re feeling. This is why working through your emotions is such an important skill to learn. Dr. Erica Risberg is a cultural heritage consultant, voiceover talent, and host of All Things in the Name of Love. Together with Rodney Flowers, Erica takes a look at the origins of these emotional impulses. Join Rodney and Erica on their journey as they show you how to control these impulses.
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Working Through Your Emotions With Dr. Erica Risberg
You are in for a treat. I thought it’s best to do this particular episode with Erica Risberg. Many would consider her a historian due to her PhD in Cultural History. Others were saying that she’s a voice-over professional due to her work experiences. Others were saying that she’s a dog lover, but like many of us, she’s the compilation of experiences, biases and beliefs. What’s special about her is she believes in doing everything in the name of love. Even overcoming challenges, which is intriguing and fitting for the Game Changer Mentality community because that’s we’re all about changing the game. We’ve got to talk to Erica about changing the game in the name of love. Welcome, Erica, to the show.
Thank you so much, Rodney. It is such an honor to be on your show.
It’s an honor to have you. I’ve heard so much about you. When I got the opportunity to read up on you and learn about what you do, I was intrigued because you do everything in the name of love. The fact that you use love to overcome and change our perspectives about problems and challenges, that intrigued me. I said, “I have to have you on the show.” I want to dive into your mission, which is to provide ideas and resources to help others open up and see concepts and problems from the perspective of love instead of fear. I’m ready to unpack that if you will.
As human beings, our amygdala is surrounded by the fear that we’re going to get eaten by a saber-tooth tiger mentality. That’s part of our brain. We don’t have tigers anymore. We have tigers but they’re not going to be eating us. That part of the brain isn’t as helpful as it used to be a couple of hundred thousand years ago when we were getting chased around. There’s another part of our brain, the prefrontal cortex and there are a couple of parts in the brain that feed into that deeper love. It’s a process of being aware of your fears. Most of your fears are subconscious. Becoming aware of them and recognizing that they’re all based in the amygdala, “I’m going to get eaten by a tiger.” Let’s say you’re running late, that triggers the same depth of fear as getting eaten by a tiger. This is not useful anymore because you’re late. It is not that big of a deal. That requires awareness and tuning into your subconscious through meditation, slowing down and becoming aware of what your mind is telling you versus what is actually happening.
This is a hard thing for a lot of people. It’s giving yourself compassion because when you’re compassionate and you love yourself, that’s a nebulous concept. When you love yourself, you’re going to show up differently everything in your life. To me, loving myself is loving all the hurt spots as well as all of the amazing parts of me. That requires me to sit with myself and not be distracted, which is hard to do in our world and let me feel my feelings. If I have something that scares me, I’ll give you an example. A lot of my wounds come from my inner childhood. I had a pretty good childhood but I was born with a dislocated hip. I was in traction at six months.
I had a visceral fear of being trapped that my adult self couldn’t understand. One day something triggered my fear and I sat with it. I felt my six-month-old fear, which I had been avoiding for most of my life. When I feel it and didn’t run away from it and sit with it, I was terrified for 90 seconds. I doubled over in pain and sobbing hysterically. I’m saying it calmly now but I was in the full feeling of what my six-month-old must have felt like because I was feeling that. I allowed myself to be there with that emotion. I don’t have it anymore. I don’t have that fear of being trapped anymore because I allow myself to fully feel the fear. That’s a huge component of loving yourself deeply.
I get that but the way you’re describing loving yourself and even the bad parts about yourself is accepting it. It’s not so much loving us in a great way. It’s loving us up enough to accept the bad parts of you so that you can process it. A lot of times, it’s like loving it to death.As human beings, our amygdala is surrounded by the fear that we're going to get eaten by a saber-tooth tiger. Click To Tweet
You’re loving it so much that you’re seeing it and then it doesn’t have to hide inside you anymore. It’s like, “She’s paying attention to me.” That’s all the feelings we want is to be paid attention to.
I love that because you brought up the word, avoiding. We do that so much because anything that we identify as not good or not great about ourselves, we tend to avoid that. We don’t want to face that. We don’t love that about ourselves, but when we can accept everything, it’s liberating. There’s a sense of encouragement that goes on with that because when you can accept everything about you and love it, it also gives you an opportunity to deal with the process and to change it. Some things changed from the mere fact of you dealing and facing it instead of avoiding it.
I see that all the time. I’ve seen my perspective change. I’ve been practicing my spirituality for several years, so this isn’t an easy thing. I had a trigger and I felt my fear. I allowed myself to breathe into the feeling and then I got a different perspective that wasn’t my ego. It was like, “Instead of this, why don’t you see it from this perspective?” All of a sudden, I was like, “That is so different than the pattern that I learned from my parents.” It’s a healthy perspective that I wouldn’t have if I didn’t allow myself to feel it in the first place.
You believe in also viewing things through the lens of love, even when it comes to personal challenges, obstacles and things like that. Explain to us how do we do that? What are we looking for when we do things from the perspective of love?
Slow down because when you slow down, all of a sudden, you’re not reacting. You’re responding because the reaction is your trigger. If you say something that offends me, I could easily get triggered by it or I could sit back and say, “What is it within me that is expressing fear?” and pause. If I can’t process that emotion now, I write it down because I want to deal with it. I don’t want it to go away. What would a higher perception be? What are the deeper messages coming to me that I can hear and accept it lovingly? What you say that triggered me might be coming from a place of love and I can’t hear it because I have my filters. If I sit and say, “I have filters, let me take a step back and listen to it again from that non-ego place.” It’s a practice. It’s not easy. It’s necessary because that’s the only way we’re going to start hearing each other.
Is love a sense of presence?
Definitely. It’s stepping beyond that ego or the voice in your head telling you that you should be fearful into that greater state of grace for yourself and for the person that you’re communicating with because they’re loved too. We’re all love at our core. We have to remove all the layers to get to it.
Your model here, “Do everything in the name of love.” Is there a connotation to be divine in that statement?
I was given that title. I was like, “I have all these great skillsets. I’ve worked at a cultural history program. I’ve been doing interviews through that. I do voice-overs. I have all the equipment. I should do a podcast.” That concept never occurred to me, but everybody has one and it’s a matter of tuning in. I know this is going to sound a little wonky, but I have a non-physical spirit team. My team through my intuition gave me the name of my podcast. I was like, “That’s a profound thing because everything at its core is love.” How do I get myself to see that way? That’s been a process. It’s not like I have a switch that says, “I’m going to see everything in the name of love.” It’s been an interesting process and it got deeper when I took a bow of peace a few years ago.
I was overwhelmed with what I thought was external violence because so without as within. I have this tendency where I snap and I’m like, “I’m done with this.” I go cold turkey. I divested myself of movies, the news, violent music and action books, which were my staples. For six months, I had no idea how to occupy my time. I was like, “What did I do? I’m not reading Clive Cussler anymore. What can I read? What is there now?” I live in Portland, Oregon. We have Powell’s Bookstore. We have another place called New Renaissance, which is a massive repository for anything spiritual you could ever hope to find.
Do I think of those places? I even have a library. Can I think of what am I going to read? What am I going to do for six months? What I had to do was sit with myself and that’s when I learned that the peace I’m looking for is in me. It’s not going to come from my phone. It’s not going to come from all the distractions I have. It’s going to be with me sitting with myself, quieting myself down and tuning into my intuition. It’s evolved to the place where I’m plant-based now, which I never would have imagined years ago. I have TerraCycle boxes and I compost. I shop based on what the ethics of the manufacturers are for clothes.
I did not imagine that but for me, because everybody has their place to be. For me, anything that hurt the planet, I couldn’t participate anymore. Tentree is a clothing company that plants ten trees every time I buy something. I love Tentree because I can get a wallet and plant ten trees. I can buy a hat and plant ten trees. If I could get away with wearing outdoor clothes all the time, I would have an entire wardrobe from them. That’s where my trajectory has shifted because I took the stand and said, “I’m stopping the violence from without.” As I’ve kept growing, I’ve removed more and more layers of that.
You’ve taken on a whole new identity with it.
I couldn’t recognize myself.Listening and reacting from a non-ego place is necessary because that's the only way you're going to hear everyone else. Click To Tweet
I can relate to that. After getting hurt, having a spinal cord injury and being paralyzed, I’ve spent a lot of time in isolation. I’ve spent a lot of time alone. You were talking about the distractions, the level of presence, being grounded in awareness and the sense of love that I have for myself. I realized that a lot of that came from having that time away from all the distractions and the things and being in that place where it seems so dark. Because it was so dark, you didn’t have anywhere to go but internal. Because you’ve spent so much time in that internal spiritual space looking for answers, what I found was me.
I found the divine in me and I found all of that love. Many people don’t have that opportunity and when people asked me about the accident, that’s one of the things that I’m grateful for. I realized and you see a lot of people that were busy with the day-to-day, the hustle and bustle. I’ve even found myself getting wrapped up in that and realize that you need to go back to those peaceful moments. Taking that time off and spending that quiet time, that time in stillness. A lot of people don’t have that opportunity to do that.
I think they do if they look at their distractions. Let’s say you get home, you watch the news for an hour and you play with your phone for an hour, that’s two hours.
I think I said it wrong. I stand corrected. They do have the opportunity to do it, but they don’t take that opportunity to do it. That’s what I mean by that.
The crisis is usually when people change.
You’re looking for something to solve the problem at that point. When things are doing great, you don’t feel like you need to look internal. You’re too focused on what’s going on externally anyways. It’s not until something happens that external can’t fix. It’s like the only way this can be fixed is through something divine or spiritual. It has to have some miraculous intervention for this to change. That forces you at that point to get into stillness because that’s the only place that you could find that sense of love, which is unfortunate.
I’m pretty much disconnected from our culture because I don’t watch TV anymore and I don’t go to movies. I sense as an inner knowing that there’s this tipping point that’s starting to reach the apex. People are tired of where they’re at and they’re looking for something more without the crisis. I feel that. I can’t tangibly show it but feel it.
I feel like there is an awakening. People are becoming more aware. As technology evolves, the definition of what it means to be human is going to change. It’s not so much intangible characteristics that we’re discussing here are going to become more important, more significant and more demanding. If machines are taking care of some of the day-to-day activities, how do we communicate? How do we interact? What does it mean to have a relationship with people? That is going to take on a whole new deeper and more significant meaning in the way we work together and all of those things. That will be the difference-maker. Being in tune with that and the love that we have for each other in the workplace as well as in family becomes more important. It’s important now but the awareness of the importance is going to change. What are your thoughts about that?
Because of all the technology that’s coming, we have to go deeper within to find that divine expression. For example, one of the gifts I have is alchemy. That shows up in my cooking, my baking and my mixes with essential oils. It’s a gift I have. As I let myself be in that present moment, I create amazing things. I’m not being conceited because it’s not me creating it. I’m being inspired to create it. That’s why it’s amazing. That is not something a computer can do. What can I do for myself that lets me express the joy within that is innate in each of us? That’s how we’re going to start connecting. It’s when we tune in enough to feel that energy right and what sparks us up. When you can feel your energy shift because you’re doing something you love, that’s your connection to the divine.
When you went on your quest for peace and you take that vow for peace, how did that affect your life?
In many ways. First and foremost, I started reading a lot of spiritual books because I can’t have violence anymore. I have to switch my understanding of what to read because I was reading action books. I was reading these crazy novels that were filled with violence and people getting shot. I can’t do that anymore because it hurts my soul. I started reading spiritual books. I started reading nutrition books. I started opening up this part of me that my curiosity led me to. I’ve always been a ridiculously curious person who has turned into obsessive-compulsive with my PhD, but pulling that back to the curiosity.
That’s one aspect. I followed my curiosity into these realms. I call myself an armchair nutritionist because I’ll find a supplement. I’m like, “I’ve got to find out what this is. What are the energetic properties?” I go to Google and like, “How is this going to affect me?” After I’ve spent about three hours looking at it, I’m like, “I’m going to experiment on myself and see how this response in my body.” That’s one of the ways that it expressed. I’ve felt this deeper calling to push myself out and giving up all of these food groups.
My identity was around coffee. My grandfather put coffee in my baby bottle at eighteen months. By the time, my doctor said about a few years ago, “Your blood pressure’s too high. You’ve got to give up coffee.” I was like, “That’s my identity. You’ve got to be crazy. There’s no way I’m giving up coffee. That’s insane,” but I had this inner sense like, “You need to stop the coffee.” I gave myself the grace of six months of cutting the caffeine down to decaf. Once a month, I put an extra scoop of decaf and after six months, it was all decaf.
That was part of my identity. What I’ve realized is food is a huge identifier of who you think you are. I used to eat beef and I loved my burgers. My body decided it didn’t like burgers anymore. It didn’t like gluten anymore. It didn’t like sugar anymore, dairy, soy and I can have fish once every three weeks. My ego’s got, “You can’t eat everything,” because we think that these are major food groups. I have many different vegetables I can eat right now. It’s embarrassing that I didn’t know it existed. I think about how I shop. I don’t use plastic anymore, which is a huge thing in our culture because it’s hard to avoid. I’ve changed the cleaning products I use because I don’t want toxins in my life anymore. I have a podcast. I am starting a coaching program. I have all these things that are dramatic for my ego’s perspective but in tune with who I am at a deeper level. While on one level, it was hard. On another level, it made so much sense.See everything in the name of love. Click To Tweet
I can relate to that because you talk about plant-based. I haven’t made a public announcement about this, but I went plant-based about a few months ago. I was in summer. I don’t eat a lot of meat, to begin with. I did eat my chicken or fish. However, when I’ve seen The Game Changers, which is a movie that came out, it talked about the benefits of plant-based foods not just for the earth, but for the body, etc. When I was watching that, something is going with me that connected and made complete sense. From that moment on, I don’t need to go on like, “Do this in moderation.” I don’t need to say, “I must cut back on this and cut back on that.” The very next day, I got rid of every piece of meat like chicken in my fridge. I gave it all away. There’s a friend of mine that had a good laugh because I gave it all to them.
I haven’t looked back. I don’t feel like this is a major challenge for me. It feels so natural and when I think about it, I’ve never thought that I would be vegan. The fact that I am feels good. It makes perfect sense and I’m not questioning it. It’s still surprising that I’m doing it, but in terms of the execution of this way of life, it’s who I am. I feel good about it. I can relate to that taking on a new identity. I’ve heard people say it and I’ve experienced this myself when you’re trying to accomplish something. I’ve taught this before. Losing weight for example. A lot of people want to get fit. They want to get fit, but being fit is not their identity. They struggle with their diets and all of that because the person you’re trying to be is not the person that you are.
In order to be that person, you have to experience the results of this type of lifestyle. You got to be that type of person. If you can first, get it in the inward part of you. If you can change that to be a fitness person. If you’re a fitness person, then you start doing what fitness people do, the diet and workout. It becomes a secondary thing because it’s who you are. You’ve taken on that identity. Here, it’s the opposite. My identity caught up in tune with the way I was living. I didn’t even think that it was an issue. When I’ve seen that, I was like, “That makes sense. Why am I not doing that? Why am I still eating meat?” I can stop that. I’m going to stop that now. I’m not doing that anymore,” and then go with it.
For me, it was a little different. I had a conversation with a mentor about it. My tongue decided it didn’t like the texture of chicken anymore. I said, “What’s is that?” She said, “Your tongue has consciousness.” I’m like, “What does that mean?” My tongue was communicating with me on a different level saying, “You’re done with this.” I had a little fit because I was like, “I’ve already given up beef and pork.” My tongue was like, “You’re done.” I was like, “I’ll just ignore it.” I got sick like my tongue was telling me something. Because of my practices, my body is very communicative with me. It will tell me what I want and what I don’t want because I slow down enough that I can hear it.
Slow down the message so that you can hear it. Isn’t that a takeaway? A lot of times, things happen in our bodies and we feel like, “I’m getting old or I’m tired,” or whatever story you would make up, but it could be communicating something that’s very life-changing to you.
For example, in acid or any stomach issues, your body is telling you to stop eating something, “Stop it right now because it’s not processing properly in me.” One of the things I’m doing is writing a food log. Track your food and track how you feel after you eat it so you know what’s good for you and what isn’t. You’ll learn how to pay attention to your body. It’s a skill like anything else. It’s a practice. It’s a habit. You have to do it so you can learn it. There’s no easy, quick fix in terms of practice.
How can people connect with you to learn more about you and listen to your podcast?
The podcast is called All Things in the Name of Love. It’s on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, iHeart and Google Play. I have a coaching program that you can find at All-Things-In-The-Name-Of-Love-Coaching.MyShopify.com. You can send an email to me if you’re so curious. That is Erica.L.Risberg@Gmail.com. You can find me on Twitter @EricasVOs, LinkedIn at Erica Risberg, Instagram, @DrEricaRisberg and Facebook at Erica Risberg.
You’ve been on a quest your whole life to break down the illusion of separation externally and internally. Let’s talk a little bit about that. What have you discovered so far?
There is none. There is no separation. My little self knew this. My three-year-old self walked into a gaggle of geese at our family cabin and I was safe. The geese were my friends. I’m walking in between them. They surround me. They’re all like, “This is one of us.” My parents are freaking out because Canadian geese can be aggressive. I felt them and they were safe. They were my friends. I finally walked back to my parents. They’re like, “Don’t you ever do that again. This is scary. They could have killed you. They wouldn’t have because they sensed me. I went from that to numbing myself out because I’m an empath.
Empaths in our culture have a tendency when they get overwhelmed to shut down. It’s too hard to navigate being sensitive in the United States. Let’s face it. That’s the reality. I lived my life that way, yet kept making these forays in academia going, “What makes me different from somebody else?” I’m curious like, “What’s American studies?” American studies is this blend of the history, arts, music and literature. How do I understand people? I studied that for a few years. I studied revolutions because it’s like what makes somebody get so mad that they want to create change? When I got my dissertation, it was like what is it that creates culture and how do I break that down? How can I relate with somebody who is from a different socioeconomic educational level and get back to their humanity? Academically, I took it as far as I could. I’ve got to find what is it that makes me? Why is there another? I don’t understand it.
My dad died when I was 40 and I felt his spirit leave his body. I went, “This is much different than I thought life was.” I started meditating and forgiving myself and forgiving others. When the Paris Bombing happened, that’s when I took the vow of peace because it was just killing innocent people. I know other people have been killed, but something about that particular incident hit me at the right time. I was like, “I have to change how I see everything.” As I’ve gotten deeper into me, I feel the energy from the divine. I feel the energy of my team. I have that intuition.
I have a deeper knowledge about things and then I can say, “You’re a reflection of me. You’re not separate.” If I feel it and you have it in you, I’m connected to you. I was feeling that come in. I was like, “Is there anything else that wants to be said right now?” When I get these amazing inspirations like, “This is profound,” and it’s not me. It’s more than me. It is my intuition, it’s my connection with the divine that’s calling me to say this. It’s this amazing sense of knowing that my little ego-self can’t comprehend, but I know inside and it’s profound, peaceful, loving and it’s not me. It is me and it’s not. It’s more than me.
What is the game-changing message you would like for us to take away from this?Food becomes a huge identifier of who you think you are. Click To Tweet
To fully love yourself, love your wounds, love your limiting beliefs and love the illusions because when you do, you’ll get a deeper sense of connection with the divine.
How do you feel about those obstacles and challenges? What purpose do they serve you?
They serve to awaken us to our divinity. If we were carrying something that we don’t love, we can’t fully love ourselves. It’s a process I’ve been doing for several years of finding this part of me that’s in my subconscious and I work with a practitioner who does body talks. She helps me access my subconscious and looking at it and saying, “Instead of going, ‘I can’t believe I did that,’ that mindset, it’s like, ‘I didn’t know you were here.’” They talk to it like a person because it is part of me and I want to acknowledge it as a thing. It’s a thought and thoughts create reality, so it’s a real thing.
It’s like, “I have no idea you were here. Come here.” I mentally hug it and I tell it how much I love it because it’s showing me something that I didn’t know about myself. There’s something graceful about that because you’re not getting down on yourself anymore. You’re not judging yourself anymore. You’re saying, “I didn’t know I was carrying this within me. I didn’t realize that. I thought that my teeth needed to be straightened or something.” “I love your teeth just the way you are.” When my hair is ridiculously curly because it’s humid and raining outside, “I love your hair. You look ridiculous and I love you anyway because you’re my hair.” You’re expressing yourself instead of getting mad at myself for having disgusting hair because it’s part of me.
We can also say, “I love your hair in its current state but at the same time, I’m going to fix you. You look a little out of whack, but it’s okay because we’re going to make you look better.” It’s all about that attitude. The attitude can make all the difference. I love what you said about loving the challenges because as painful or uncomfortable as they may be at times, they are part of life. No one is exempt from them. You’re going to have some days where there’s sunshine. You’re going to have some days where there’s rain, you can’t black out the rain and the clouds. They are coming. We know that and there’s no point getting mad about it. A challenge or a problem is as symbolic as a rainy day or a cloudy day. You wake up and it’s cloudy outside. There’s nothing you can do about it. Even if you planned your picnic on this particular day, there’s nothing that you can do about that other than change the way you go about your day.
When a problem comes, you have to change the way you go about your life at that particular moment. Getting attitude or feeling down about yourself as you explained, whatever the case may be, it doesn’t serve you well at all. If we can look at it through the lens of love, it serves us. That’s the thing that I’m taking away from this. It serves you in every shape and way better, your attitude, your perspective and your outlook. That then transpires into your health and the way you deal and approach others. It changes the trajectory of your life. When you can do this daily like what you’re saying, all things in the name of love, that’s game-changing.
Imagine if you love yourself so much that nothing would affect you and you can show up love for yourself and every single being you encounter. That would be an amazing world to live in. I’m working hard to bring it.
That’s the challenge that we all should accept. You talked about purpose and that alone is a purpose. Erica, I want to say thank you for coming on the show. It’s been a lovely conversation.
Thank you, Rodney. I truly enjoyed it.
Thank you as well. If there’s anything that we can do to support you, please let us know. What I’ve taken away from this is that challenge that I mentioned, to attempt to look at all things through the lens of love, to fulfill that purpose is truly game-changing. Until next time, peace and love.
- Erica Risberg
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About Erica Risberg
Dr. Erica Risberg has over thirty years of experience as a cultural heritage consultant, producer, and researcher as well as over 10 years as a voiceover talent. As a passionate nutritional advocate and pacifist, she produces and hosts a podcast (All Things in the Name of Love) focused on inspiring listeners to live as their authentic spiritual selves.
She has served as a Producer, Project Manager, Casting director, and Principal Investigator overseeing a variety of cultural and historic studies. Her experience includes communication, anthropology, cultural analysis, development of content for educators and tourists, and coordination and management of cross‐agency interdisciplinary studies.
Dr. Risberg earned her doctorate in cultural studies and has applied that knowledge to create educational and tourism content for cultural heritage organizations. In her role as a voiceover talent, she lends her voice to create compelling narratives for commercials, explainer videos, audiobooks, and the occasional game. She has a firm understanding of how to combine history with multimedia productions to make it both germane and relevant. She has produced content and cast talent for her project with the Oregon Historic Trails Advisory Council (OHTAC), a state government-appointed agency. OHTAC is charged with promoting and preserving Oregon’ 16 historic trails.
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