Inside Out & Purple Pen Podcasts

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14th April 2018

This week I’m reflecting on a podcast that I did recently with Purplen Pen Podcasts. You can listen to the recording here.

The podcast was organised in advance of the Life Long Learning in Pharmacy conference which will take place in Brisbane, July 2018. I am invited to be a keynote speaker at the conference and this podcast was arranged by the conference organisers to serve as a “taster” session.

During the Podcast, I enjoyed the conversation with Jane, Dan and Bronwyn and the experience prompted me to reflect on a number of issues. For example, isn’t it amazing what we can do with technology? Who would have believed that we were sitting at opposite sides of the world while recording this? This prompted me to think about how we could make use of podcasts in other ways. They certainly seem to be in-vogue, and a quick internet search made me learn more about “the podcast explosion“.  Admittedly, I felt a bit weary reading Sidney Pierucci’s blog, The Rise of Podcast and Why “You” Should Start One. I’ve only just got my head around blogging!

Although I never find it pleasant to listen to recordings of myself, I forced myself to listen to the Purple Pen Podcast, once it was published. This was an excellent, if quite uncomfortable (the best type!) reflection exercise. Listening to oneself speak is an exquisite way of revealing oneself to oneself! The exchange that occured 9 minutes and 19 seconds into the recording has been incredibly enlightening for me and has prompted rich personal reflection.

What happened? Well essentially I fell apart a little.  In steering the conversation to reflection, one of the podcast participants, Bronwyn said the following “You are really hot on reflection and you’re good at teaching reflection, aren’t you Catriona”. As part of the question, she specifically asked me about the website, although that part of the question was edited out in the recording. 

Have you ever seen the film “Inside Out”? If so, this is what happened inside my brain…

Nobody was in control at the emotional control panel in my head! Imposter syndrome kicked in. My discomfort is plain to hear in the recording. I muddled through, and quickly steered the conversation to the safer territory of website names and subsequently the new Irish CPD system. Fear had taken the controls and brought me to safety!

I’ve reflected on this to try to make sense of it. What happened? I was engaging in a podcast about life-long learning and Bronwyn’s statement was reasonable. Why did I freeze? What made me uncomfortable? Why did I react the way I did? What could I have said instead? What will I do to avoid sudden feelings of discomfort again?  These are just some of the questions that have been swirling around my head over the past week or two.

Here are my answers to some of those questions.

Why did I freeze? There are two parts of my life, the personal me and the professional me. I’m good at both (I don’t think anyone else is qualified for the “personal me” job!) and I’m pretty good at mixing the two parts together. My colleagues know both parts, my friends know both parts. People frequently say of me “What you see is what you get”, which I think indicates that the two parts of me sit comfortably together. However, sometimes I rely more heavily on one part of me than the other. In an important meeting, I’m definitely in professional mode. Playing with my children, I am 100% in personal mode. The morning of the podcast, sitting in my office at 9am on a Friday morning, I was in “professional mode”. I probably unconsciously view as part of the “personal me”, and it caught me by surprise to be discussing it during the podcast. It’s plain to hear how I steered the conversation back to professional issues and spent a considerable amount of time discussing the Irish CPD system. So basically, I was caught off-gaurd, in what I viewed to be a “professional” situation, to be asked about, what I viewed as, a “personal” interest. (Of course this classification of my blogging as a personal interest is a purely aritrary, internal categorisation. The idea that others view it as part of my professional work is fantastic and ultimately what I want to achieve. I just hadn’t realised that this was already happening!)

What made me uncomfortable? Now that I think I understand what happened, I have to try to understand why it made me so feel so uncomfortable. I’m the biggest advocate there is of “bringing your whole self to work”, being the “authentic you”. I’m also a strong advocate of reflection. Surely I should have been delighted to have Bronwyn ask me about reflection and compliment me on my work in the area. The truth of this issue is almost laughable… I didn’t realise she was talking to me. If you listen to the recording, Bronwyn is speaking to the hosts, Dan and Jane, about the Australian CPD system for pharmacy. She then progresses into her statement “but you’re really hot on reflection…” and I honestly thought she was talking about Dan or Jane. In my mind, my antennae shot up and I remember myself thinking “Oh cool… someone over there is hot on reflection. I can’t wait to hear what they say”. And then Bronwyn used my name at the end of the sentence!!!!!. My brain went “Woooaaa. Hang on. I thought you were about to introduce someone cool. You were talking about me???!!!  Little old me? I’m not hot! I’m not even sure I’m really any good!” A throw-back to old, unhelpful feelings of inadequacy that I thought I had conquered. Apparently not fully. It is at that point that all the “Inside out” characters frooze at the controls, frantically trying to figure out who should have taken control.

Who should have taken control? The answer is easy. Joy.

I love the topic of reflection and it’s rare that someone invites me to speak on the topic in such a complimentary way! I could have happily talked about the power of reflection, the importance of thinking about things that happen and the value of that insight. I could have talked for hours! (Jane and Dan are probably glad I didn’t)

Who did take control? Fear.

Fear of what? Fear that people will think I’m stupid. Fear that I’ll be laughed at. In essence all the fears that I had before I started writing the blog (I wrote about these in my first blog). I thought I had conquered those fears when I started blogging, but they bubbled up again in the podcast as I took another new step. It’s very easy to imagine my blog is hidden … tucked away in a tiny, obscure, infrequently-visited, corner of the internet (even though I know there’s no such thing!). I can kind-of convince myself that no-one is reading it! Therefore I was surprised to be asked about it during the podcast.  Instead, I should have been delighted. If people in my professional sphere feel that it’s worth talking about, that’s fantastic. In fact, that’s ultimately where I want to go with it. However, I’ve mainly focussed on personal reflection thus far in And that’s why I froze!

What could I have said instead? I could have taken the opportunity to talk about reflective practice. After all, that’s what I am trying to promote. It was fantastic to have the opportunity to talk about it in a public way with pharmacy colleagues and I should have availed of the opportunity that they generously created. Instead, I got in my own way by letting fear take over. It wasn’t a conscious decision. It was an automatic one. It caught me unaware. In future, I will be on alert and recognise when I experience fear around this issue. I’m sure the Australian audiences would have preferred a discussion on reflection to hearing all about the Irish pharmacy CPD system!

What will I do to avoid sudden feelings of discomfort again? Awareness is the key here. I had no idea about what was going on at an unconscious level during the podcast. I just answered the questions to the best of my ability and we had a pretty interesting discussion. Initially, my reflections were completely focussed on the technology of podcasts. Through listening to the recording, however (something I could easily have not done), I realise that I can still feel shy and can feel that I don’t really belong in the world of bloggers. I imagine bloggers to be vocal, opinionated, talented writers. I still feel like a bit of an outsider… like I don’t belong here. Some friends tell me that I need to be more edgy, more controversial, more opinionated, if I’m going to make this blog a success.

I don’t want to be edgy, I want to be calm.

I don’t want to be controversial, I want to be unifying.

I don’t want to be opinionated, I want to open-minded.

I do want to be a success, but maybe we have different ideas about the definition of success. In future conversations about my blogging, I’m going to be more aware of my reactions and will be better prepared to be braver. The very fact that I have reflected on this issue is likely to be enough to address it. Awareness is the key. If I’m aware that I may feel uncomfortable, I’ll be more likely to detect it as it occurs and I will have Joy on the ready to elbow Fear out of the way on her way to the control panel.


The result of this reflection is that I now understand more about myself. I’ve raised fears and thoughts from the unconscious to the conscious, where I now can do something about them. I’ve dealt with something that was holding me back and I am now going to be more effective in my efforts of promoting reflective practice. Hopefully I’ll stop getting in my own way on this issue, and will be able to engage in “personal” conversations in a much more meaningful way when I get to the Life Long Learning in Pharmacy conference.

Thanks to Bronwyn and the guys at Purple Pen Podcasts for facilitating this reflection!

Reflect to prosper

Have you ever done something that you wish you had done differently? It’s always valuable to take time to reflect on those occassions. There are pretty standard coaching questions that you can use that can be great at raising awareness of an issue. Here are some examples, but you’ll be best placed to develop your own.

What happened? Why? How did you feel? Why? Why did you do what you did?

What would you have preferred to have happened? Why? What would that have looked like? What would you do if you had the chance again? What do you need to do differently next time?

Is there anything you need to do now? Either to change your mindset or to avoid a similar situation in future? What will you do? When will you do this?

Thanks for taking the time to read this. Good luck with your own reflections. Keep the comments coming. They’re a great source of encouragement.