Unleashing the Power of Respect: The I-M Approach

BOSTON, Massachusetts – Human beings all want the same thing: to feel valued by another human being. Sometimes we don’t feel very valuable at all, and this can make us angry, anxious, or sad. Those of us seeking mental health services may especially perceive ourselves as less valuable—as having a disorder. Often, we worry that those around us—our family, friends, and colleagues—see us the same way, depriving us of a supportive community when we need it most.

Enter Dr. Joseph Shrand and “Unleashing the Power of Respect: The I-M Approach.” This book, releasing on Feb. 19, 2022, will change the way you think about mental “illness.” Instead of thinking of individuals living with mental illness as disordered, Dr. Shrand encourages his patients—and all of us—to take a closer look at who we are and why we do what we do. Instead of being broken and less-than, we are all at our I-M, doing the best we can at this moment in time, with the potential to change in the very next second to a different “best we can.” This fundamental but simple change in the way we see ourselves and each other is all about respect. Respect leads to value, and value leads to trust.

Through a series of riveting stories, Dr. Shrand explores the deepest mysteries of people diagnosed with depression, attention deficit, bipolar, schizophrenia, trauma, borderline personality, addiction, and autism. Using his innovative I-M Approach as a road-map, we can all begin to make small changes that have big effects, and recognize we control no one … but influence everyone.

“Unleashing the Power of Respect: The I-M Approach”
Dr. Joseph Shrand | Feb. 19, 2022 | Books Fluent | Nonfiction / Self-Help / Psychology
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-953865-23-6
Ebook ISBN: 978-1-953865-24-3

Dr. Joseph Shrand is Chief Medical Officer of Riverside Community Care headquartered in Dedham, Mass. He has been a Lecturer of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, and an adjunct Faculty of Boston Children’s Hospital. He is triple Board certified in adult psychiatry, child and adolescent psychiatry, and a diplomate of the American Board of Addiction Medicine. Dr. Shrand hosts a weekly radio show on WATD 95.9 FM, The Dr. Joe Show: Exploring who we are and why we do what we do. He is the author of Manage Your Stress: Overcoming Stress in the Modern World, Outsmarting Anger: Seven Strategies to Defuse our most Dangerous Emotion, the winner of the 2013 Books for a Better Life Awards, 2013 Psychology self help category, The Fear Reflex: Five Ways to Overcome it and Trust your Imperfect Self, and Do You Really Get me? Finding Value in Yourself through Empathy and Connection. Outsmarting Anger has recently been republished in paperback due to demand. Among colleagues and staff, he is affectionately called “Doctor Joe,” as he was “Joe” in the original children’s cast of the PBS series “Zoom.”

Find out more about him at https://www.drshrand.com/.

Follow Dr. Joseph Shrand on social media:
Facebook: @TheDrJoeShow | Twitter: @DrJoeShrand

In an interview, Dr. Joseph Shrand can discuss:

  • The concept of the I-M Approach and how it can unleash the power of respect
  • Moving away from self-criticism to self-esteem
  • Recognizing that the common thread that binds humanity is the need to feel valued by another person
  • How we can move away from increasing our own value by decreasing someone else’s, and recognize that every time you remind someone else of their value, you increase your own value
  • How the I-M Approach can help each of us become reflective instead of reflexive
  • How you can apply the I-M Approach right now and make a small change that can have a big effect
  • How this strategy can help manage the national anger in our country, and how the concepts in his books are particularly relevant in this social and political climate
  • How the I-M has two truths: Small changes can have big effects, and you control no one but influence everyone: you get to choose the type of influence you want to be
  • How the I-M is applicable to everything, everyone, every business, and every country. By applying the
  • I-M Approach, you can move closer to your own definition of success
  • His childhood experiences on the PBS series “ZOOM” and how that shaped his life and career as a psychiatrist. The show will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2022

What is the I-M Approach?

I believe that no one is broken but that we are always doing the best we can at every moment in time with the potential to change in the very next second to another best we can. I call this our I-M: this Is Me; my Inner Me. This is who I-M (I am). We are always at our current maximum potential. There are four domains: 1) the Home Domain, 2) the Social Domain, 3) the Biological Domain of our brain and body, and 4) the IC (I see) Domain: how I see myself and how I think others see me. Human beings are very interested in what other people think or feel; we call that empathy. But what we really want to know is what are people thinking about me? Do they see me as valuable?

We respond the best we can to the influence of the Four Domains. Something happening at home can influence the way you behave at work. Waking up with a pimple on your nose can influence the way you see yourself and the way you think others see you. A Supreme Court decision or a change in the climate thousands of miles away can have an influence on every aspect of your life.

The I-M Approach does not say you have to like your current maximum potential. It does not say you have to condone your I-M. Your I-M is not a free ride: just because it is the best you can do does not mean you are not held responsible because everything you do has a natural consequence. The I-M Approach does not even say you are going to win and be successful.

But instead of judging yourself as broken, less-than, not doing as well as you could, should be doing better, let’s look again at why you do what you do based on the influence of the Four Domains. Think about the words “look again.” Reverse them to “Again look.” Again, to repeat something, look like a spectator. The I-M gives you a road map to respect why you do what you do as influenced by and responding to the Four Domains.

When was the last time you got angry at someone treating you with respect? Respect leads to value (which everybody wants), and value leads to trust. And with trust you can be yourself, make mistakes, learn, and not fear you will be judged as less valuable.

Respect leads to value and value leads to trust. But the opposite is also true. Disrespect leads to feeling less valued, which leads to mistrust. This is the pattern of all conflict in the world, on an individual or national level. On a racial level. On a religious level. We have spent millenia increasing our value by decreasing the value of others and are then astonished we have anger, conflict, inequality, war.

But we don’t have to do that any more.

Every time you remind someone of their value, you increase your own value.

When you use the I-M to wonder why someone does what they do in response to the influence of their four domains, you can respect instead of judge. That has an influence on the Biological domain of the other person through their IC domain, as they see you not judging them but just interested in who they are and why they do what they do. I can discuss this in a lot more depth as we explore together the immediate application of the I-M Approach and unleash the power of respect.

We all want the same thing: to simply be valued by someone else. When you feel valued you feel safer. And when you feel safer you have a foundation for discussion. Just because you don’t agree with someone does not mean you have to disrespect, value, or trust them less. When we are reflective instead of reflexive we can move away from increasing our value by decreasing someone else’s value.

The I-M Approach unleashes the power of respect. I have lived it, seen it, both in my professional and personal life by seeing people as doing the best they can at any moment in time.

You ask an important question in your new book, “Unleashing the Power of Respect: The I-M Approach:” “When is the last time you got angry at someone treating you with respect?” Can you elaborate?

Anger is an emotion designed to change something, but being respected feels great so the brain does not activate anger. It just can’t. This is the power of respect: it can calm another person’s angry brain. Respect encourages you both to wonder rather than worry, to be reflective and not reflexive, to be cooperative and not just competitive. Respect enlarges the social group, and a larger group is a safer group.

Respect leads to value, which is what everybody wants and value leads to trust. The I-M Approach can help an individual have a different perspective on another individual, leading to a more productive interaction and relationship.

The I-M Approach is also applicable to entire systems. When a group feels disrespected by another group, they feel devalued which leads to mistrust. Ultimately this leads to racism, religious intolerance, bigotry, bias, prejudice, and ultimately war. Even these are an I-M, so instead of judging the people that make up these groups, let’s respect why they do what they do based on the influence of the Four Domains. This is the roadmap to a rekindling of value, which can lead to trust. We can apply the I-M Approach right now to our fractionated country and conflicted global community. This is the power of respect.

In your book, you discuss how increasing the value of others in turn increases our own value. We enhance our success when others feel more successful. Can you give some examples of how this can be done?

Do you say “thank you” to someone who is helping you in a store? That has an influence on their Biological domain, and they feel differently than if you did not thank them. That is such a small thing, but when you really think about what is happening, it is amazing. Through their IC Domain, they recognize you see them as valuable. This influences their Biological Domain and they feel a rush of pleasure. You are part of someone’s Home or Social Domain. You control no one but influence everyone. You get to choose the kind of influence you want to be. When you show gratitude to someone else, you increase their sense of value. And they are more likely to reciprocate and do the same for you.

You can do similar things at home and at work. Find opportunities to remind someone of their value: you will be amazed at what can happen. It’s the little things that matter, as small changes can have big effects. Putting up the tea or coffee in the morning if you are the first one awake. Saying “I love you” to your person activates their Biological Domain through their IC. They feel better, and so do you. Be creative: how can you remind someone of their value today?

You radiate hope and positivity. Have you always been that way?

I had an amazing opportunity as a kid: I was chosen to be one of the original “ZOOM” kids on PBS. Talk about being reminded of one’s value! But “ZOOM” happened at a very difficult and sad time of my life, where there was a lot of anger in my Home Domain as my parents were in the midst of divorce. And there was a lot of anger in the Social Domain stemming from racial injustice, the Vietnam War, global and local conflicts.

And there I was, several times a week, able to find a place where I could just have some fun. Where I felt respected and valued. That led to a trust among the seven “ZOOM” kids, a lesson I did not appreciate until about 10 years later in 1982 when I first created the I-M Approach.

I am hopeful and optimistic about the future of humanity. I truly believe we are on the cusp of an evolutionary leap. We now know enough brain-science to shift our own brains from our primitive limbic system to our prefrontal cortex. We have the ability to anticipate the future, and can work together to ensure the best possible I-M for ourselves, each other, and our globe. I have faith that in our heart of hearts human beings are good. The I-M Approach provides a roadmap so we can safely assess who we are and why we do what we do, and make a small change that can have a wonderful influence.

So yes, I am extremely positive and hopeful. I believe in each and every one of us, and that each and everyone of us can unleash the power of respect. How cool a world will that be!

How else did “ZOOM” impact your life? Did it shape your career?

It is an interesting experience to be nationally famous at the age of 13. For some people it could make you feel invincible and entitled. That was not my experience, nor the experience of any “ZOOM” kid of the 1970s. Instead, I felt humbled and grateful to have that experience. We had an opportunity to show millions of people that kids of all ethnicities and socioeconomic strata could hang out and play. That we could be friends, that we could look at each other as people and not as a Black kid or a Jewish kid or an Asian kid or a Hispanic kid. Not as boys are better than girls, or girls are better than boys. But that we were one group, and that there was always room for one more. I had a career in the theater for many years after “ZOOM,” but then decided to go into medicine after working as a writer for CARE, the international aid and development agency. Us “ZOOM” kids still keep in touch, almost 50 years later. It laid the foundation for all of my work regarding respect and value and trust. It laid the foundation of the I-M Approach, seeing each of us as doing the best we can with the potential to change. “ZOOM” laid the foundation for seeing the good in people, and embracing differences as a pathway to deeper insight into who we are and why we do what we do.

In your book, you discuss how small changes can lead to big effects. How have you applied this concept in your own life?

I think this excerpt from one of my short stories called “Medical School Does Not Hug” is a great example of a small change with a big effect:

In the summer of 1978 I was working as the camp counselor of a cabin-load of 7 year olds who had been sent to overnight camp in upper state New York. The counselors had arrived a few days before the campers to “team build,” and I found myself sitting in a large recreation room, one of many strangers in a circle of strangers. There seemed no interesting prospects for a summer romance, and I resigned myself to a long and uninspiring summer.

And then it happened. Across the room, with sun streaming behind her, entered a new camp counselor. She was beautiful. Long hair the color of a warm russet topped gently by a black beret, a rainbow shirt with the promise of hidden treasure, jeans and multicolored sandals she sat in a metal back chair as did I, but far away across the room. I was riveted, as was every other male counselor there. Summer became more interesting by a number of magnitudes!

The group leader ended this one exercise and asked us to break into smaller groups for the next one. I wondered how I was going to get across the room to sit next to her. And then, to my astonishment she fixed her gaze, walked across the room, and asked me if she could sit in the empty steel back metal chair next to mine.

This was my moment to be cool. So I looked up at her and said, “Bluhbbbllmummnph!”

She sat down anyway.

And that is how I met Carol. Both of us 19. Both of us far from home, but remarkably our homes only 45 minutes apart. Imagine. Here we were, six hours drive away, with other campers from all over New England and New York State, and we lived less than an hour away.

Other small changes with big effects: Every time I work with a patient/teacher I hope we can make a small change with a big effect. Sometimes this may be changing a medication, a small change in the Biological Domain. Sometimes it may be using the I-M Approach so a person can explore what is going on with them without the overlay of judgement and the fear that they will find they are broken.

For me, small changes happen every day, each with a potential effect.

Why is it so important to have open discussions about anger and respect today, during an unprecedented health crisis and an era punctuated by fear and resentment?

Respect leads to value, and value leads to trust. With trust you can begin exploring what the angry person wants to see different, and begin a conversation and negotiation that leads from anger to peace, from competition to cooperation, from the three F’s of fight-flight-freeze to the three F’s of a social animal: Family, friendship, fellowship. Respect is the foundation of reuniting our society that has been so damaged and fractured by anger. I want to know why people are angry, what do they want to see different. Are they envious or suspicious? Do they feel less valued? Using respect we can have that discussion, as respect leads to value, and value leads to trust.

A virus is a small change that can have a big effect. The pandemic has shown that human beings across the globe have more in common than separates us. We can use the pandemic to rally together: having a common “enemy” unites the individuals in those groups. The common “enemy” right now is the coronavirus and its variants. (One day I believe humanity will be able to unite with a common goal rather than a common enemy).

Why do people dismiss or try to avoid feeling anger? And what impact does that have on the person?

A lot of people do not like to see themselves as angry. It implies that they are less-than, and are not in control of their emotions. They are afraid their anger may be expressed as violence and aggression. In some ways, this worry says a lot of good things about a person: that they still care about how their anger will influence another person. It is still an I-M. Using the I-M Approach you can look again at why you do what you do instead of judging yourself as less than and broken. Suppressing anger can lead to depression and anxiety, to feeling inadequate and with less value.

There’s nothing wrong with anger: it’s what you do with it that matters.

Tell us about your podcast, The Dr. Joe Show.

The Dr. Joe Show uses the I-M Approach to explore who we are and why we do what we do. I have guests from all sorts of areas, from psychology, to law, to theater, to bee keeping! People who have survived cancer, death of a loved one, racial inequity, loved ones with Alzheimers, and windows into so many aspects of our human condition. We apply the I-M Approach to appreciate the influence of these events on the Four Domains. At the end of the show my guests recommend to our audience a small change that can have a big effect, and tell us what kind of influence they want to be by telling their stories.

I truly believe we are always doing the best we can, but influenced by the Four Domains. The Dr. Joe Show explores the influence of those domains, so a listener can apply a small change that very day and move closer to their own definition of success. We remind the audience that they control no one, but influence everyone. They get to choose the kind of influence they want to be. Using the I-M Approach, at every and any moment in time you can remind someone of their value by wondering why they do what they do instead of judging them as broken wrong, less than, (which will only make them angry!). Whenever you remind someone of their value you increase your own value. And everyone wants to feel valuable.

What is Drug Story Theater?

Drug Story Theater is a 501 c-3 that takes teenagers in the early stages of recovery, teaches them improvisational theater, then uses psychodrama to help them create their own scripted shows about the seduction of, addiction to, and recovery from drugs and alcohol. The teens then perform these shows for middle and high schools so “The Treatment of One Becomes the Prevention of Many.” All the audience members take a pre-show neuroscience quiz, then watch the show. In between each scene the performers step out of character and present three short interactive PowerPoint presentations to the audience teaching them about the adolescent brain and why it is at such risk for life long addiction, more than any other age brain! We are teaching kids that addiction is not about morality, it is about mortality. That based on the brain science, you can get high but the price you pay is trust: you decide which pleasure is more important to you. And that the greatest risk factor for first time substance use is low self-esteem. But at any and every moment you can remind someone of their value. And whenever you remind someone of their value you increase your own value. That’s positive peer pressure!

After the show the audience takes the same neuroscience quiz, and are asked questions about perception: how much do drugs and alcohol influence school, relationships, and do they think marijuana is addictive. Following that there is a talk-back between the audience and the performers which I moderate.

We have performed for over 40,000 kids and adults in Massachusetts. For more information go to www.drugstorytheater.org.

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