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Dr. Rhonda Rodgers Embraces the Beauty of Mental and Emotional Self-Management

Dr. Rhonda Rogers

“Many of us bury our bodily sensations in thought,” says Dr. Rhonda Rodgers, executive director of the Los Angeles-based company, Way of Well-Being, who has a Ph.D in organizational behavior from Claremont Graduate University, as well as an MBA.

“The goal of living mindfully is to experience the present moment as it actually exists – free from habitual thoughts which cloud our experiences,” she explains. “One gateway to the experience of mindful living is through sensations in the body.”

Rodger’s business partner, Vanessa Kettering, Ph.D, is a positive developmental psychologist, and well-being mentor, who is committed to a life well lived full of good work, community and connectedness. She is dedicated to helping her clients create the conditions for flourishing in their lives.

Vanessa Kettering, Ph.DEach modality she uses encourages parasympathetic nervous system activity (think: relaxation, rest & digest), which in turn allows the space for minds and bodies to heal. She specializes in patient empowerment. Helping to heal the healthcare system, one patient, provider or practice at a time. Vanessa earned her Ph.D in Positive Developmental Psychology and Evaluation at Claremont Graduate University.

Together, they designed a mind-body wellness programs for K-12 and higher education, as well as for those who support learning.

“A stream of research in mental and emotional self-management (MESM) suggests that measurable changes in well-being can be achieved in a few short weeks, leading to positive changes in distractibility, emotions, and biomarkers of health,” they explain (Rodgers & Kettering, 2017)(Rodgers, 2018).

Learn more about their work here:

And be sure to check out her blog, including this fabulous entry that asks: Have you thanked your frontal lobe today? Scroll down to check it out.

Life With a Frontal Lobe

Have you ever wondered what life would be like without your ability to plan, make decisions, and self-regulate?

Imagine a few common scenarios: The archetypal young person who believes they are “invincible.” The person who engages in impulsive or risky sexual behavior or substance abuse. The teen driving through your neighborhood doing donuts and drag racing at midnight. Now place yourself in the middle of an epic meltdowns characteristic of our tiny humans, you know the ones I’m talking about, we chalk it up to the “terrible twos” or just the joys of life with a “threenager.” What do each of these scenarios have in common?

It is now better understood that our frontal lobes, the portion of the brain associated with decision making and impulse control does not develop fully until the mid to late twenties in humans. We have many sophisticated methodologies for studying the various outcomes associated with brain activity in this region. Although I am a developmental psychologist by training, this article is not about that (OK, maybe a few sprinklings…). This article is about the qualitative shift that happens in the years, days and months before the brain has completed these important developmental processes and the subsequent portion of the lifespan, life with a frontal lobe.

Of course, this is misleading, we always have a frontal lobe, it is just that the neuronal connections continue to strengthen and broaden across the developmental process. Think back to being a sixteen year old, or how about your 21st birthday? What horrendous decision did you make and live to tell the tale? How many people did you cut off with your ’97 Chevy, or in my case, 2003 Saturn Coupe? Or perhaps you haven’t reached these ages yet and you think, “I am wise beyond my years, so why listen to another old head telling me that I’ll think, feel, and know different when I’m ‘older.’” Well, because, in a sense, you will.

As with most things, brain development goes better with our conscious attention toward the activities, foods, and behaviors that support optimal development and the avoidance of those that hinder. To add insult to injury, the use of drugs and alcohol during the teenage years can further impede the healthy development of those frontal lobes we need for things like making good decisions, planning, executing, and higher order cognitive processes and abstract thought. And Lez-be-honest, so many of us establish habits of substance use or at least experiment during this developmental period. So what does this mean for us? Give up on ever being able to finish that damn project you keep putting off? Keep being a jerk to your friends and co-workers and just say “my frontal lobe made me do it?” Or more accurately, my frontal lobe was not sufficiently developed to inhibit that awful thing from coming out of my mouth.

The ability to follow through with plans and goals, as well as to stop ourselves from engaging in harmful or injurious behaviors all tie into our self-regulation skills. Furthermore, emotion regulation, a special case of self-regulation has an enormous influence over our quality of life. It may mean the difference between becoming another road rage statistic or living to useful purpose into old age. So shall we just throw in the towel and chalk our bad behavior, lack of follow-through (insert statistics about how many gym memberships go unused here!) up to too many bad decisions during those “formative years.” Well, you could do that but honestly, I would suggest an alternative. Neuroplasticity. We have tremendous potential to radically transform our minds and our lives through intentional practices that strengthen these skills that might be sounding good right about now.

Speaking now from personal experience, I did not know what I didn’t know. We go through life doing the best we can in any situation with the tools we have at the time. It is impossible to uncouple the effects of simple maturation, with my decade or so of sporadically consistent (or consistently sporadic) meditation practice, countless hours spent in yoga asana, self-help groups and books.

Exactly the type of pursuit my discipline of health psychology and positive psychology may try to understand. Although this is certainly a meaningful pursuit, from my side, I will say I do not much care whether I would have gotten this way just by virtue of growing older or if those hard fought moments of working to the edge of my resistance really moved the meter, or rather, strengthened that lovely frontal lobe of mine.

Of course, I care, because if I could have gotten the benefits of growing wiser just by sitting it out, watching TV, and passively coasting through this life, I may have chosen that door. However, research at the aggregate level indicates that this is not the case, conscious self-development, practice and strengthening of self-regulation do change our trajectory.

I, for one, know that my trajectory needed a mid-course correction which did happen to take place as my frontal lobe was locking into place, sticking the landing, right around my 27th birthday. This is not to say I have irreversibly set out on a better course, no, in fact, it might be quite the opposite, I see how the choices I make in every moment, day to day, are what will truly shape this life experience. Each moment is one that will never come again so what is your choice now? Now? How about now?

You get the picture: If you are seeking additional support for learning and practicing self-regulation skills, visit one of our courses, we are here for you. And you (and your frontal lobe) are worth it!

Read more here.