My Favorite Therapy on the Citadel

#303: Lara leads a discussion about leveling up inspired by Mass Effect and a really good therapy session. We discuss the various ways we metaphorically and literally level up in life, and how we experience feedback systems.


Link Keller 0:11
Welcome to Geek Therapy radio on the Geek Therapy network where we believe that media matters and we care about it. And when we talk about it, we understand ourselves and other people better. I am a host, not the one maybe you were expecting. But I am a host, Link Keller, and I’m joined by my two glorious High Definition co hosts, Josué A Cardona.

Josué Cardona 0:40

Link Keller 0:42
and Lara Taylor.

Lara Taylor 0:44
I just can’t even.

Josué Cardona 0:47
This wasn’t bad.

Lara Taylor 0:48
This wasn’t bad.

Josué Cardona 0:49
This isn’t bad

Link Keller 0:50
when I tell you how quickly I got sweaty.

Josué Cardona 0:54
I don’t hate it

Link Keller 0:55
just immediately.

Josué Cardona 0:57
Yeah, yeah. No, I’m good. Welcome, everybody. You okay, Lara?

Lara Taylor 1:03
I will be.

Josué Cardona 1:05
Okay. Good. It’s your topic, because we need to. So whenever you ready?

Lara Taylor 1:12
I’ll do some breathing, you know? Yeah. Okay. Yeah, it is my topic. So I want to talk about leveling up. Does that mean? What does that mean? Yeah. I mean, you know, in games, we level up. Why can’t we level up in real life too?

Josué Cardona 1:27
Amen. No, let’s do it. Let’s do it.

Lara Taylor 1:31
I spend a lot of time leveling up. I’ve been playing Mass Effect one, I just beat it like, a week ago.

Josué Cardona 1:38
Now you you reset to zero?

Lara Taylor 1:39
Now, I reset to zero. It’s okay. It’s okay, I got a bunch of benefits for importing my level 45. Shepherd. So

Josué Cardona 1:47
I like in real life a lot more like in real life when you start a new job, but you have all that experience from the previous experience? And then and then yeah, yeah, it helps, you know,

Lara Taylor 1:57
um, but this topic came up, because I, when I’m working with clients, there’s some times where they’re like, I spout a lot of bullshit. Sometimes, you know, therapists, there’s a meme, I’ve seen going around, like a therapist will open their mouth, and you never know what’s going to come out. And but there are times where I drop little kernels of wisdom that I cannot remember as soon as I say them. But I had a client this week, one of those kernels of wisdom came out of my mouth, like, Whoa, I never thought about it that way. And then they had this realization, and then it was like, I feel like I just leveled up. And I was like, That’s amazing. Um, how’d that go, conversation about like, now I have more experience, or now I’ve got these skills and things like that, um, we stretched the metaphor quite a bit in that session. But I think about things like, there’s those kinds of breakthroughs and things like that can be leveling up, but also, other ways we can level up in life. Oh,

Josué Cardona 3:07
yeah, yeah. Yeah. So so so they they said, like, I feel like I leveled up like, yeah, like, I mean, of course, don’t go into detail about about what it was. But like, from your perspective, when they said that, what that? First of all, why did you immediately understand what they meant when they said, Because?

Lara Taylor 3:27
Because I’m a gamer, and because they’re a gamer. And I think, at that point, we, earlier in the session, we’ve been talking about, like, we’d both been playing Mass Effect. And so that was a, that was a thing, too.

Josué Cardona 3:42
Did you understand, like, what they meant by leveling up, again, conceptually, but like, what they leveled up in, like, which stat suddenly went up?

Lara Taylor 3:52
Not necessarily, I think what we kind of compared it to, and this is earlier in the weekend, like I said, in most of the stuff just like things go out of my head, I’m dealing with like 35 people a week, it’s, it’s okay. Um, or 31 people a week now. Um, so one of the things that happened was like, thinking about like, what I said was like, when you go and talk to somebody in an MMO or something and you get like an item that you need to turn in a quest, and then in their brain, they had like, experience points go up, and then I leveled up DING above their head, you know. It’s great. I love it.

Link Keller 4:37
They had a quest, the quest was to go to therapy. They went to therapy, they got the XP points. That was enough boom! level up right there. that was it.

Lara Taylor 4:40
That was exactly, exactly just just a little bit, just a little bit. But I think that you know, this client’s been seeing me for a while so they’re getting experience points every time they come to see me and we Have a moment like that or, or similarly, like, just doesn’t have to be like, Oh, I just leveled up and I don’t always drop these like wisdom bombs, but like, just gaining skills and things that they can do and information to perceive situations differently. So if it was a stat that something got dropped into, probably wisdom.

Josué Cardona 5:27
I like it

Lara Taylor 5:27
just saying

Josué Cardona 5:28
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Lara Taylor 5:30
Yeah, I was I first my brain was like going to intelligence but like, no wisdom, wisdom.

Josué Cardona 5:37
They had all the information already. This wasn’t new information. It was it was definitely wisdom

Lara Taylor 5:42
seeing it in a different way. Yeah,

Josué Cardona 5:43
yeah. Yeah. I like this. I like this a lot. Yeah, we talked about a ha moment and, you know, understanding stuff, but I have been good. Leveling up. Yeah. You know, Jane McGonigal, his books, the one she did super better when she designed that game. She talks about this. In the super better book, there’s, there’s this concept of a powerup. And I’ve always used that language. And with clients, even ones who aren’t gamers, they kind of get it right. It’s like, What’s something that energize you fills your batteries blah blah, etc. But like, what’s a powerup? But But pumps you up, but makes you feel better. But that’s different, right? That’s like something. It’s like a like a temporary stat boost. It’s like, it’s not actual leveling up and going up. And that’s a that’s such a, but it is it is a feeling that I don’t I think about that all the time. Like in my head. I’m like, oh, like I just leveled up in this. And but like, it’s hard to count, what would be the non gaming? What non gaming terms? Would I use, or have I used to describe that?

Lara Taylor 6:53
you learn something?

Josué Cardona 6:56
No, because it’s

Lara Taylor 6:59
the other parts of the metaphor I want to get to don’t necessarily have to do with learning something or gaining knowledge.

Josué Cardona 7:06
There’s more? Go for it. Oh,

Lara Taylor 7:08
I mean, we’re talking like, what other ways are there in our lives that we can level up like, I can now that I’ve been hiking every week, and hiking every other week with my dad, and he pushes me a little harder, because he likes to hike more than I do. I can go for three, four miles now. And the beginning of the pandemic, I could barely make it one mile without being exhausted. So that’s leveling up. I’m about to possibly take a promotion at my job, and I feel okay about it. And that’s leveling up. I feel like in some way.

Josué Cardona 7:47
So what I want to stay on that,

Link Keller 7:48
the promotion and also the

Lara Taylor 7:50
feeling okay

Link Keller 7:52
feeling a way about it.

Lara Taylor 7:54
Yeah. Yeah.

Josué Cardona 7:56
There’s, there’s something it’s a little it’s a lot easier when the levels are defined?

Lara Taylor 8:03
Are designed, Yeah, right. And they’re a hierarchy.

Josué Cardona 8:06
Yeah, exactly. It’s like, Okay, I’m literally going up a level, I’m moving up the floor, like something like that. And even even with the with the trail or with hiking, if it’s whether it’s time, or like, there’s some

Lara Taylor 8:17
distance, time, you can measure things differently. Yeah,

Josué Cardona 8:20
there’s a quantitative version of that. But there definitely wasn’t that for your client. Right? I think a lot of times, like, it’s just, it’s just, like, just kind of feel it. It just kind of happens. There’s, there’s a difference. I can’t think of one right now. lately. I haven’t. My memory hasn’t been good when we’re live recording. But the there games where you see the XP bar, right? And it’s filling up and you’re like doing all these things. There’s other games where like, you don’t see that at all. And suddenly, like something happens or something, you did something that was so big that it filled up that bar and you weren’t expecting it to fill up. And suddenly you get that like, like, level 53. Like you just got there. Like, it’s like, it’s surprising, right? I think I feel like that’s kind of those moments that your client went through, right? Like, I didn’t know that today, I was going to level up, I didn’t know that I was going to feel this way. I didn’t know that I was going to unlock new abilities.

Lara Taylor 9:18
And in that same vein, like my company does, like weekly surveys, I can’t always get my clients to get the surveys done. But it’s usually like assessing anxiety and depression levels, and we track it over time. That’s the more quantitative whatever, and we can see that but that is very different from like, like they’re, they can see that they’re feeling better, but sometimes they still don’t notice it. And so in the session having that like, Oh, I didn’t think about that way. Now I have this other perspective and my worlds opened up that is like, Oh, no, that’s very different from Like, oh, yeah, I noticed my depression anxiety is different.

Josué Cardona 10:04
Yeah. Or Congratulations, you just did 10 sessions of therapy.

Lara Taylor 10:08

Josué Cardona 10:09
That’s not that doesn’t necessarily feel.

Link Keller 10:13
brrrt [horn noise]

Josué Cardona 10:13
Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Right.

Lara Taylor 10:16

Josué Cardona 10:16
That’s kind of thing, right? If there’s no app, there’s bad design, right? Like, if you just level up and then nothing happens, that that kind of sucks. Or sometimes, like, oh, but you know, even even games where you just get one point to put into your stats or to put into something. At least that’s something right, that you’re like, you’re still looking forward to leveling up, because it’s not just a number, something changes something, you know, the experience moving forward changes. Sometimes also,

Lara Taylor 10:49
I was gonna say is interesting playing d&d, my favorite levels are the ones where you get like, new abilities or whatever. And then I’m like, eh, I just get to move put another point in an attribute or whatever? wah wah. I want some cool, like, I want new sneak attack skills, or I want new this skill. Like, yeah, it’s cooler when you get a little more.

Josué Cardona 11:12
Yeah, that’s, that’s why I like some games way better than others. Like when that when that happens. I’m actually in in Mass Effect. You have two options for for your levels. Do you know what the differences are between the two?

Lara Taylor 11:26
In or you’re talking about the new legendary stuff, right? Because there’s, there’s you can go to level 60, which I think is the classic one, and there’s level because I never played the original. And then there’s level 30, you can get 30 is the max. So you get the same amount of skill points, but

Josué Cardona 11:41
in a shorter amount of time. Is it? Is it a shorter amount of time? Or is

Lara Taylor 11:46
it time is it’s distributed differently? I think, yeah.

Josué Cardona 11:50
Yeah, I looked this up at first, and I wasn’t sure what it meant.

Lara Taylor 11:55
I don’t know what the cap was for the original one. But that if I had a level 45 I thought I did it the way it’s set up for legendary, so I don’t know, anyway.

Josué Cardona 12:05
Yeah. Yeah. Well, but that’s kind of what it is. Right? They redesigned it for the for the new versions. So it’s, I believe that’s right, I think it’s half the levels. or it’s the other way around? Anyway, there’s one option is 30, one option is 60. And, um, last year, I was

Lara Taylor 12:23
basically each time you level up, you get like double this stuff, but it might take longer to level up.

Josué Cardona 12:29
Yeah, I don’t know. If that’s true, then I don’t I don’t, I don’t like that. I hate when you spend a long time without leveling up. Last year. Last year, I was I was studying Japanese and I was doing a program to learn kanji. And there’s 2000 characters that make up the the Japanese kanji alphabet. And that was the program I was doing had levels and had 60 levels. But sometimes it took so it took weeks to go from one level to another, even if you were studying every day. And it does not like that just kept dragging on right. There was like something about like, not making, it’s not even about like, Oh, I didn’t. Because the truth is usually when you level up, like, you know, you just got a promotion, like, sorry to break it to you. But that means more responsibility. Like, like you just like, things get harder, right? Like, the game levels up. You know, that’s one of those games that you know, usually the world there’s world leveling, so it doesn’t necessarily get easier. There’s maybe there’s new enemies.

Lara Taylor 13:29
everything scales with you, everything scales with you

Josué Cardona 13:32
that’s one of those again, it depends. It depends. Often when you get a promotion

Lara Taylor 13:36
shhh going to it’s going to scale with me.

Josué Cardona 13:38
No, no, I’m saying sometimes the jobs, it doesn’t scale with you. And again, it gets easier, your job actually gets easier. But that depends on the job. It depends on the job,

Lara Taylor 13:51
it depends on the job.

Josué Cardona 13:53
So but there’s something there’s something about the reward of it, there’s something about the feeling of progression, there’s something about you know, unlocking new things and so if that’s designed properly, like you know, it’s meaningful, I feel like you know when take Okay, now I can do something new or things are changing. I can see things that I couldn’t see before and

Link Keller 14:17
so those are those are all different different things. those those are all people respond to those aspects differently.

Josué Cardona 14:29

Link Keller 14:29
I know. It’s what it sounds like to me that you are saying Josué is that you prefer some sort of consistence perseverance level up. Versus versus

Lara Taylor 14:47
you don’t want to play Wow, where you level up, level up, level up and then you get to the cap in there and it takes weeks to level up.

Link Keller 14:54
The idea of being like small but consistent rewards versus inconsistent but larger rewards and different people are going to be drawn to those contextually, right, there is a difference in, you know, if we’re talking about jobs is like waiting several years and and working and then building up to the big promotion and that’s the level up versus the other way of framing that would be like, you know, oh, every six months when you have like a check in with your supervisor and you know,

Lara Taylor 15:31
get a small increase,

Link Keller 15:33
or Yeah, small pay increase, you know, you get

Josué Cardona 15:38

Link Keller 15:39
you get a certificate added on to whatever. And those are, those are very different types of leveling up. And I think is really interesting. When we put them all together. It’s like, yes, leveling up, conceptually.

Lara Taylor 15:56
but there’s so many different ways

Link Keller 15:57
but there’s so many, so many different ways for that to be rewarding, like, like you said, Josué like there’s the aspect of literally new things novelty, like you unlocking new power, and it can be novelty in the way of having new things to explore. Yeah, yeah.

Josué Cardona 16:18
So So I’ve talked about Genshin Impact for a few episodes, that’s one of those games and like, there’s other games like this, but sure you have your so there’s a world level that goes up. And he does this thing where every 10 levels or so after a certain place, there’s like a gate. And you can choose whether or not you want to pass that or not, because the world will scale up, and all the enemies will get harder. So it gives you the opportunity, like there’s some control over that you don’t automatically reach a certain next thing. And then guess what everything is super hard now. But then the game has other systems and in it, where every individual character that you possess, has a character level, each of their attributes, has a level, every weapon that they can use has a level. And they can each hold up to five artifacts, and each artifact has an individual level. So there are tons of systems in there that let you kind of fine tune what you want to do and what you want to accomplish and kind of progress where you want. There’s also multiple currencies and all these other things. I love the game for that reason. Because if one day I’m in the mood to like, I just want to I just want to level up the world, I want to level up this particular character or I want this weapon to be stronger, I can choose my actions to to kind of build up that particular thing. Um, again, we’ve we talk about Jane McGonigal, his reality is broken all the time, either at least I do have bring it up all the time. Because if life were that way, it would be so much easier. And some aspects are but like your jobs usually aren’t. You know, like, I can’t just choose on Monday, what I’m going to level up, and then you know what I’m going to work on. And then you know, Friday, I can change my mind. But I’m going to set this one aside or I’m going to finish that mission and then do this other one.

Link Keller 18:06
Well, there are jobs that have that kind of structure, right? That’s not the job that any of us have.

Lara Taylor 18:12
No. Although on Saturday, I can put my job aside and I can level up my crocheting or my video game playing or my hiking or whatever it is.

Josué Cardona 18:23
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Has there is there more to the metaphor from your client that you wanted to bring up?

Lara Taylor 18:33
I think I was it. Just want to I think that was it. I think I just wanted to bring that up and like, like, what are some ways we’ve felt like we’ve leveled up?

Josué Cardona 18:45
Yeah, yeah. I think I think um, I think the exercise stuff is an interesting one, because there’s that quantitative part but there’s also just like a feeling that you get right it’s like and it’s very personal. It’s like maybe you are not impressed that I was able to do a chin up for the first time in like 18 years the other day

Lara Taylor 19:03
but you’re like, it’s been 18 years!

Josué Cardona 19:04
I’m telling everybody about the fact that I did a chin up for the first time in like 18 years very excited.

Lara Taylor 19:10
I mean, there’s stuff that’s not quantifiable that’s all I feel like the other night I grilled fish on the on our barbecue for the first time because over the past year, I’ve been trying to learn how to make different things. And it came out really well and I feel like that was a level up moment because I was terrified to make anything other than burgers and hot dogs and now I’m grilling cauliflower steaks and zucchini and portabella mushrooms and now fish which can be really hard. Yeah.

Josué Cardona 19:38
How many skills did you unlock? What happened?

Lara Taylor 19:41
I’ve unlocked all the grilling skills

Josué Cardona 19:44
the whole skill tree? just

Lara Taylor 19:45
the whole skill tree. The grill skill tree and it just but I think fish might be at the top. So

Josué Cardona 19:53
okay, okay, interesting,

Lara Taylor 19:55
but I made some Mahi Mahi tacos that were Mmm delicious.

Josué Cardona 20:00
Hmm. Okay. Okay.

Lara Taylor 20:03
So there are different ways that we can look at these things. And like I have used this metaphor with clients before in different areas where they they felt like they were struggling in certain things. And then all of a sudden, like, oh, there’s there’s a milestone and like, Yeah, you did the thing you leveled up. Okay, cool. What did you learn from that?

Josué Cardona 20:25
Yeah, yeah, it’s a yeah. It’s such an, I think about this stuff all the time. Like, I’m managing projects for Geek Therapy and at work. And in my personal life, right, you’re in, you try to map things out to make them. You can see milestones, like the idea is okay, so you can monitor that you’re actually making progress, but also keep track of things that you’re trying to do and want to do. If there are clear milestones, that’s great. If there aren’t, I think it’s helpful to build some in some, even, even in. But even in therapy, one thing you can do is just create arbitrary checkpoints. So it can be once a month, then you do a check in and then you compare that to what you were doing before. And it’s like, hey, guess what? That was? Good job. Actually, that reminds me of Overwatch. One of the things I like about Overwatch is that as you play in Overwatch, you’re always being compared, like, you know how in a lot of first person shooters, you finish, and there’s a ranking at the end. And it’s like, Oh, you were the worst one on your team, congratulations. Or, like, you were the best one, you had the most kills, you have to, you know, there’s that there’s a point system, but an overwatch every time you finish, it compares your score to your best score previously, or to your previous score. So it’s designed in that way. So really, you’re always being compared to yourself, and you’re being shown how much you improved, either over time ever, or, or recently. And I think that’s really cool. That’s one of the things that I that I love about Overwatch, because I don’t I don’t really know of any games, any other games that do that i’m sure others do. But that, I think, Oh, I love that so much. It has it also has things like it has an overall, you know, XP system and you unlock things. And there’s a number that other people can see. But as far as like performance, you’re just you’re really just being compared to yourself, which I think is the best way. And especially in this context, right to see that you’re doing better. Like if we’re learning like right now I’m learning a language. If, like, lots of people know the language fully they compare myself to other people who know the language is not super helpful. It’s comparing it to how, how much I knew two weeks ago, or a month ago, and monitoring your own progress like that. That’s that’s where that’s where the secret sauce is.

Lara Taylor 22:46
That reminds me of a conversation I had with another client who was who was going back and playing a video game from like, high school hadn’t played. I can’t remember what the game was, but it was really hard game to play. And they were like, when I was playing this game before I died all the time of his boss took me like hours to try and beat. And now they’ve they’re revisiting things. And they’re able to like, they’re like, Oh, this is so much easier. I went through and I beat the boss and like only a few minutes. And like we talked about like, what do you think’s changed? Well, I know more, and I have more skills now. And we compare that to their life where things have been, had been rough, and they weren’t doing well. And then now with new skills, they’re doing the same things they tried before, but a different way. And that I that moment was another one of those like epiphany moments like, oh, maybe I should think about life in that way that if I try things with new knowledge and new skills, I can do it.

Josué Cardona 23:58
Wisdom level up. Yep.

Lara Taylor 23:59
Wisdom level up.

Josué Cardona 24:00
ding ding ding, bonus points.

Lara Taylor 24:00

Josué Cardona 24:04
I like I think Monster Hunter a lot when I started playing it, because it was it wasn’t the typical game that that I play where I’m leveling up. It’s like, Oh, it’s really all about your skill that’s improving. And, and then instead of levels, it’s like, oh, you need to beat this one monster and then this other monster and then and then oh, this is a harder category, and then you’re farming and you’re building better armor and better weapons, which technically doesn’t make it doesn’t make the game easier. And in a way it makes it a little easier, but like it’s still the same monsters, you’re still the same person, the damage being done and the resistance that you have changes a little but really that just makes it so that you can beat other harder things. within the time limit which is like an hour is a monster hunter is ridiculous, by the way I’ve never played but it’s like you have an hour to beat this monster and sometimes that’s not enough. So sometimes you just want more armor and stuff not because that’s the necessarily just hit harder. It’s like, you can do it in less time. But it’s a system that I really liked. Because it doesn’t there aren’t levels. Exactly. It’s really a bunch of milestones and things that you have to beat

Lara Taylor 25:13
milestones and like difficulty levels, and

Josué Cardona 25:15
yeah, it’s like it, but it’s very clear, like, You got it, you want to beat this monster, like, go for, like, try it over and over again, try this, maybe there’s other things that you can use that will help you beat it. But the monster doesn’t necessarily get more, more difficult. It just you just keep getting better. I love that game so much. Because of that, I love that so much. But there’s still a lot of there’s still a good feedback system there. And I think I think that’s the that’s the thing that the core thing about it, right? It’s like, sure, your, your client had that moment, it felt like they leveled up. But most other times like we need. If we don’t have that kind of feedback system, we don’t know that that has happened. Right? At the very least, you provided some kind of validation is other than the word thinking of

Link Keller 26:09
encouraged self reflection.

Josué Cardona 26:11
no, no, like that you could confirm, right? It’s like, oh, like, what would this? Did? I just have a moment. And you’re like, yeah, yeah, like you just you just get up onto something. Right? That’s right. Without a feedback system, it’s really hard to to gauge that. To get to that, that progress. Yeah.

Lara Taylor 26:29
Well, and sometimes I talk about this with clients, because we’re in our heads all the time. We’re with us all the time. So you don’t see as much of the micro changes. It’s like when you see a kid, every day forever, they grow and you don’t notice how big they’ve gotten until you look in like, oh, you’re you’re, you’re like, up to my shoulder? Or in the case of my nephew, like, oh, you’re taller than me. And when I see kids at summer camp every year, like, oh, wow, they’re big. like they’ve changed a lot, because I only see them once a year.

Josué Cardona 27:09

Lara Taylor 27:10

Josué Cardona 27:11
there are a lot of changes. It’s It’s, um, like, when you’re losing weight or working out or doing things like that they talk about taking pictures often. Because otherwise you you have, it’s really, really hard to gauge. Even even sometimes your weights not changing but your body is is you know, there’s a recomposition happening

Lara Taylor 27:27
as muscle and fat shifts and all of that.

Josué Cardona 27:31
Yeah, your body’s changing, but you can’t tell if you’re only going by by one measure. That’s good. It’s good. I think there are lots of examples of bad design of leveling up. But yeah,

Link Keller 27:51
as we’re having this conversation, I am considering Dark Souls and Dark Souls and I’m actually really appreciative of it in this framework of the conversation that we’re having.

Josué Cardona 28:10
Explain, please,

Link Keller 28:12
Dark Souls, infamously takes away

Josué Cardona 28:16

Link Keller 28:17
notoriously takes it when you die, you lose your your points your souls, which is how you level up, you use souls as both money and experience points, currency. And I’m thinking about how having like, the game does have literal experience points and literal levels like you can spend your experience points to level up. But that’s not really leveling up in Dark Souls. Leveling up in Dark Souls is coming to understand how the area is set up, it’s coming to get the the memory control of the perfect timing for dodge rolling a specific monster in a specific area that now you have this whole internal mind map of the area and how the areas connected to each other. And none of those are expressed through literal level, like that is all internalized. And so the game having both the traditional gaming leveling system, but also having a whole aspect of the game is very much disconnected from that aspect where it’s like, you are going to lose these numbers that all these games throughout your gaming experience has told you like this is the proof of you doing well. And we’re going to put a blockade there and make it so there is an extra layer of you leveling up can’t really be truly described through these numbers, because that’s not your experience of the game is not just those numbers. And so I’m thinking of things in my own life. Where had I framed things in the the more traditional need experience points and then level up? That would have been maybe not great of a way to frame things. Especially when you’re a kid and a lot of things are out of your control. Yeah, I think I yeah. Lara, when you when you sent us the slack message saying, Our topic was gonna be leveling up, and you wanted us to bring examples of ways that we felt we had leveled up? My immediate response was like, I don’t. I don’t feel like I’ve leveled up personally. The more I thought about like, honestly, right now I feel not like I’m you know, I’m not leveling up not like I’m stuck or grinding or whatever. I feel like I have done like a sick 360 no scope in the corner of the room and busted through the wall. And now I’m sort of floating out in the 3D

Lara Taylor 29:36
are you glitching out

Link Keller 31:09
I have glitched out

Josué Cardona 31:24
the floor.

Link Keller 31:25
Yeah, I think I think COVID melted my ability to brain. But yeah, and I think in having this conversation, and then thinking about dark souls and talking and talking about it with you guys like this, I feel

Lara Taylor 31:40
like shit, my leveling up was like I grilled fish.

Link Keller 31:44
But that that is like that is a practicable skill. And there is an output that not only can you experience, what other people can experience and respond to. there, you know, there are things like practicing, you know, better self talk in my own head is like, there’s no way for me to get feedback on other people, other people can’t hear what my self talk is. And that kind of stuff. And so

Josué Cardona 32:11
ideally, a therapist would help you practice these things. Ideally, yes,

Link Keller 32:14
obviously, that and that’s sort of what I’m getting at is like, instead of having this sort of external level up system, I’m like, okay, instead of framing it that way, how can I do more Dark Souls, Dark Souls, it’s like, what have I learned from going through this castle 87,000 times that I didn’t know like, the first time I came to the castle, the first time I had, you know, negative self talk and suicidal ideation, I did not have the mental map, and experience and practice and losing hundreds of 1000s of souls over and over again. It’s like all of that does add up. So even if you don’t have like, the number to represent that, like that growth is still happening. But I don’t know if that made sense to other people. But I want to, that was a good conversation for me.

Josué Cardona 33:04
This is good. Because Because Monster Hunter, because a monster hunter is very similar to dark soul, except that it doesn’t have that aspect of you losing stuff. Like Monster Hunter, everything you you earn, you keep. And when I’ve done game based learning things, right, the design, I could I could see it in my students and I and I felt it myself. And it’s why I don’t like to play Souls games. Because I don’t like the feeling of losing something that I earned. Like it doesn’t it doesn’t feel good.

Lara Taylor 33:40
And behavioral studies show it doesn’t work. Like that take a behavior or something they’ve earned away. Yeah,

Josué Cardona 33:48
right. Yeah. Yeah. No, it is it is extremely demotivating. Right, in the case of except, except, right, the way that the way that the Souls games do it, there’s a there’s a risk reward piece to it. That, that it’s basically like you’re placing a bet every time. And really you’re placing a bet on yourself. You’re like, if I go a little further, right? There’s, there’s a larger there’s a bigger reward at the end. Right? And and again, that feedback also like when you beat a particular you know, enemy that you you’ve that has killed you 50 times and you and you beat them. There’s the sense of like, people always talk about that sense of satisfaction, right that it goes because I think like like from the first example from your client, like that was super meaningful because they felt it nobody had to tell them you reached a new level. It just you felt it you knew it because it happened you experienced it and in the Souls games that that happened again, in Monster Hunter, it’s the same thing. It’s like oh, what what we did it

Lara Taylor 34:59
Like when they experienced it themselves, like when in Borderlands game, the level up in the thing pops up over your head and all your friends are like, whoa.

Josué Cardona 35:12
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. The, um, I, I like this Link, because it also made me think about how there are many things, things literal like material and money and reputation and degrees and certificates. And sure people can take that from you. But what does that even mean? Right? Like, in many cases, like, Sure, you can be like, Oh, I’m actually you. You didn’t finish paying your tuition. So we’re not giving you a degree or we’re taking it back or something like that. It’s like, okay, but I already learned everything they can take the knowledge from me. You can’t take

Link Keller 35:58
not yet

Josué Cardona 35:59
the experience.

Link Keller 35:59
not yet, they’re working on it.

Josué Cardona 36:01
Yeah. What’s the same thing with the jobs? Right, like, you can lose a job. And you feel like I just lost status. I just lost security. I just lost the ability. I just lost income.

Lara Taylor 36:10
you still have all those years of experience.

Josué Cardona 36:12
Yeah. I mean, I mean,

Lara Taylor 36:14
in most cases, you can apply to a new job,

Josué Cardona 36:17
ideally. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Yeah. It’s like, well, you got to start again. Sorry, because the world sucks. And it’s unfair. By Design, just like, just like the souls games. But you can. Yeah, you can then go forward. Also, I mean, this is this is a whole other thing, but like, sometimes you’ll have Well, it’s like you’re going from Mass Effect one to Mass Effect 2 right, sure. You’re getting some benefits. But nobody

Lara Taylor 36:45
the game leveled up the game leveled up I’m just saying,

Josué Cardona 36:50
Yeah, yeah. The game went from one to two, literally,

Lara Taylor 36:54
like, literally, the graphics don’t creep me out when they’re talking to me. Because of staring into nothingness. The the menus are better than everything. Its Link is doing a wonderful impersonation of their dialogue from the first game.

Josué Cardona 37:12
Yeah. But this, the game doesn’t care that you finish Mass Effect one, it still still started level one. Right? Then you have to start, like your skill trees unless

Lara Taylor 37:22
you unless you import the stuff and then you get the money.

Josué Cardona 37:27
Right. Right

Lara Taylor 37:27
and Thing from before. Yeah.

Josué Cardona 37:28
Right. But it’s like, but I mean, that’s like, you start a new job. It’s like, Well, you know, you don’t necessarily get to carry over a whole bunch of stuff. You You have to start meeting people again, from zero, you have to, you know, build trust, you need to, you know, the you starting a lot of projects from zero, again it depends on the work, but you know, you start a new job, you’re basically starting from zero. Sure, maybe you started at a different tier, or you unlocked a new position, because of what you did before. But you’re still starting on day one, you’re still a new employee.

Lara Taylor 37:57
You still aren’t you don’t, you might know the job, but you don’t know how to do the job at that place, or the people or the politics and the culture and all that. Yeah.

Josué Cardona 38:06
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, in many jobs, you get hired because of what you did before, to do something completely new. Where it may or may not be helpful, that you just proved that you can, that you’re allowed to, you know, come play here. Now, we trusted you enough to you know, give you a shot here

Link Keller 38:25
we’re very impressed with your skill set A now please come and do skill set B.

Josué Cardona 38:31
Yeah, I don’t know if I talked about this recently, but a YouTube video came up and they were talking about how you become you become as an employee, you become very skilled and very good at the job that you do. And then your reward for that is that they make you a manager, which is something that nobody ever trained you to do you have no experience to do and and you know, you’re starting from zero. And then

Link Keller 38:52
and it’s a very different skill set.

Josué Cardona 38:54
And you one you probably didn’t want to do and and that’s kind of how it works, right? Like nobody groomed you to be a manager now. And now you’re expected to manage people. And then you and then that’s when you realize why you had so many bad managers, because nobody taught the managers how to manage.

Link Keller 39:12
cough parenting cough.

Josué Cardona 39:15
Mm hmm. Yep, didn’t have to pass a test or anything. They just they just let ’em Yeah,

Link Keller 39:23
I am. I am currently living with the baby. And so

Lara Taylor 39:28
that baby is in the beginning stages and leveling up every day..

Link Keller 39:31
As much as as much as like coping with my own feelings of growth and leveling up or whatever. It is fantastic to get to watch a baby like daily level up like getting to watch that happen and getting the little confetti over their head every time they do something. And they’re like, oho I figured it out!

Josué Cardona 39:51
does and you don’t have to answer this question. But thinking of what you said before, but how you feel like you haven’t leveled up in a while. How does it make you feel to see A creature that is leveling up, sometimes multiple times a day.

Link Keller 40:04
I think it’s awesome.

Lara Taylor 40:06
Link I think it’s like, in WoW. Like the babies like in those level one to five levels and you’re like at the end game almost. That’s why it’s taking so long to level up.

Link Keller 40:17
Yeah, I mean that’s that’s probably what it is is this Yeah, I’m just I’m just so high level already that like yeah you know I gotta get like a billion XP before the next one you know how it is? No, no I mean, I think you know what you said earlier Josué about like it being really valuable to recognize that we can only really compare ourselves to ourselves past versions of ourselves and

Josué Cardona 40:43
don’t compare yourself to babies

Link Keller 40:45
don’t compare yourselves to babies

Lara Taylor 40:46
unless it’s baby you

Link Keller 40:48
unless it’s baby you. I mean I do I do like to I do like to make fun of Roz and be like, haha, look at you, you can’t do that thing. I do that thing. You can’t do that thing. Then she bites me. So it’s like Joke’s on me. There are two teeth.

Lara Taylor 41:07
Yeah, she has you had look at all the teeth I have, I can eat all these things you can have

Link Keller 41:13
I made fun of her the other day, and then I about how many teeth she had. And then I remembered, oh, wait, technically, you have all of your teeth And they’re just inside. So you do, you do win, you win at number of teeth even though you can see more of mine. you have more teeth

Josué Cardona 41:32
know, I worked at a school once where one of the teachers was not doing well. And it told their students how they quit, basically, and decided that the reason they cited was because they were sick of seeing their their students progress and their life was completely stagnant. Again, don’t compare yourself to other people. That’s a that’s that’s never, never helpful. But a lot of people feel that way.

Link Keller 42:02
Asterix it can be useful as a starting point for reflecting on where you are and where you would like to be. But that should not be the only step.

Josué Cardona 42:13
Well, I see people use you can see people as motivation, you can see them as models, you can learn from other people’s experiences, but to like gauge your progress as an adult and a teacher, you know. And then suddenly, they get angry with your students because they did the studying and the quizzes and the tests and passed the grade and someone you know, move them to the next number grade and nobody moved you anywhere. I mean, I but I understand how many how it doesn’t feel good. It doesn’t feel good to not make progress is kind of what I’m saying. And it feels very, very good to feel like you’re making progress. And sometimes I think the best way is when you’re able to internally realize, Oh, this is this is meaningful. Like I’m I have acquired something, I can do something new. That’s great. But I think it’s also helpful to have the external piece. And there’s, most of us live in the middle like we can we can design things in a way. And we don’t think of things like, Oh, I’m going to save up to go on vacation, right as a like a milestone in that way, but it’s the same way. Same way you can acquire knowledge and just have a goal set up so that you can achieve them. It feels good. I think I think if you if you don’t have any goals set up, it’s really really hard to feel like you’re you’re making progress. How can you know? How would you know?, how would you know? Well, there’s another way you can level up.

Lara Taylor 43:57
Well, I was gonna say Geek Therapy leveled up.

Josué Cardona 43:59
that’s what I was gonna say.

Lara Taylor 44:00
We were just. We were just, we were just, that’s what I’m saying now. Okay,

Josué Cardona 44:05
I guess. Okay. Fine, I guess you took it from me,

Link Keller 44:06
I would just like to cut in here and say, Did you know that Geek Therapy has recently leveled up?

Josué Cardona 44:12
damn, Okay. Yeah, no, no, it’s okay. take it from me. Link took the intro you take this one, go for it, Lara be my microphone.

Lara Taylor 44:19
The only thing I wanna to say is that we were just a bunch of people doing some podcasts. And now we’re an organization and we’re nonprofit. And that means we leveled up!!

Josué Cardona 44:31
Yeah, yeah, I’ve been I’ve been I’ve been bringing that up. I’ve been saying that a lot lately. Like, we used to just be a group of people. And now we’re an organization. But that happened before we were an organization. Right, like,

Lara Taylor 44:42

Josué Cardona 44:42
Like, literally

Lara Taylor 44:43
like we became in organization before we were on paper.

Josué Cardona 44:47
Yeah. Like we’re literally a 501 c three nonprofit organization now But before that, right, I think like, I don’t know when it happened, but I was like, Oh, no, like there’s a there’s something happening. There’s a group of People and we’re doing things and there’s like people, you know, there are projects and there are outputs. And they’re all of these things and there are goals and there are aspirations and the things we want to do. And they’re things that we can do because we are more organized than just a group of friends doing doing stuff. And yeah, yeah. And that that, that was that felt really good. Which was another way you can level up.

Lara Taylor 45:26
There is?

Josué Cardona 45:27
Yeah. With money. That’s why we’re fundraising.

Link Keller 45:35
Great delivery.

Josué Cardona 45:36
Thank you. Thank you. We

Lara Taylor 45:37
were talking about numbers and numbers going up,

Link Keller 45:39
you have leveled up in your delivery.

Josué Cardona 45:42
Thank you. So we’re we’ve got our level up campaign is what we’re calling it’s our fundraising campaigns, our first big basically, some people call them capital campaigns. The thing is, the reason why we’re calling it a level up campaign is because we do a lot of things with few resources. And

Lara Taylor 46:02
we want to do things with more resources. If we had more things,

Josué Cardona 46:05
if we had resources we could, if we had the XP, we could cash it in to buy better armor and weapons and unlock new areas on the map. And

Lara Taylor 46:19
get better skills.

Josué Cardona 46:21
Better. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Recruit, recruit allies, to help with some of the tasks that are kind of hard to do on your own. And so yeah, so that’s why that’s why the level of campaign is going on from from now. Like, also, I mean, I don’t look, the 10th anniversary of Geek Therapy is the first time in my life that a birthday felt like it meant something. I don’t care about birthdays. I hate that people make a big deal out of them. I don’t I feel like just surviving another 365 days isn’t, in my case is not wasn’t that great of an accomplishment. So, but Geek Therapy’s tenth anniversary felt like a big deal. Like I was very emotional, I was very happy about it. But that’s just like, that’s just one. That’s just one of the ways to, to level up. There’s a whole bunch of other things that we can do. And and yeah, I think we’ll take it as far as we we can go. So if you go to Geek therapy.org, there’s this. There’s this cool button in the top right, Have either of you seen it? Have either of you seen the donate button?

Lara Taylor 47:29

Josué Cardona 47:32
I’m very, very proud of this, of that of that button. And it’s flashing. to Insert Coin donate, check it out. It’s very cool. And that’ll take you to a page where you can make a donation or a recurring donation. And there’s also information for a whole bunch of other stuff. You can take a little bit, a little bit from Jeff Bezos every time you make a purchase. If you just purchase on Amazon, it all goes to Amazon. But if you use amazon smile, and you choose geek therapy

Lara Taylor 48:02
that you can now put on the Amazon app. You just have to keep re-upping it

Josué Cardona 48:07
it doesn’t work on your iPhone. It only works on

Lara Taylor 48:10
it does

Josué Cardona 48:10
no I’m sorry. It doesn’t work on your iPad. It only works on your iPhone. I don’t know why it doesn’t work on iPad. I even have instructions on the website. We have instructions about how there’s there’s a Chrome extension that will automatically if you go to Amazon and not smile, it’ll automatically reboot the page into smile. So if you have a chrome

Lara Taylor 48:28
that’s amazing

Josué Cardona 48:29
Yep, no, I needed that. Because so many times I bought something and I was like, oh no. So I cancel it and redo it. So so Geek Therapy gets a gets a small donation. So that’s that’s a that’s a win that’s one that’s a way to again, not only are you helping Geek Therapy, your your that’s a little less in Jeff Bezos pocket. Mm hmm. Feel good? Doesn’t that feel good?

Lara Taylor 48:52
I bought this new camera and I offer Prime Day and it felt so good. Bezos didn’t get that little bit of money. And it went to us.

Josué Cardona 49:01
Went to Geek Therapy. Unbelievable. It’s great. And there’s other there’s other ways there you can you can there’s humblebundle there’s, there’s delta phi for streaming. There’s other things. Well, we’ll keep adding stuff there. Yeah. So we’ll be more will have like more milestones and things further throughout the rest of the year. But for right now. That’s, it’s all of that is getting go to level up Geek Therapy. I think we’ve accomplished so much without ever doing a big push like that. And yeah, who knows? Who knows? What. When we, you know, we look back, a little Geek Therapy, and then and she’s like, look how you’re taller than Lara now. You’re so you’re so yeah,

Lara Taylor 49:50
they’re so big.

Josué Cardona 49:51
You so big. You’re so big.

Lara Taylor 49:54
It’s not that hard to be taller than me. Two out of The three people on this podcast are taller than me. And I can’t be taller than myself.

Josué Cardona 50:04
Look, but you know, we’re online. The internet is the great equalizer. And height doesn’t matter here. And I don’t know what I’m saying

Link Keller 50:12
on the internet. No one knows how tall you are.

Josué Cardona 50:15
Yeah, yeah, I’ve started seeing people in person who only see me on zoom. And it’s mind blowing. When you start. It’s just Yeah. That’s another episode. Is it? No, it’s not an episode.

Link Keller 50:33

Josué Cardona 50:33
Maybe.Maybe. Alright, any closing thoughts about all this?

Link Keller 50:38
uh, yeah. Yeah, yeah,

Josué Cardona 50:43
I feel like we should process more with you Link. But I don’t know if he should do that on the show or after.

Link Keller 50:47
I think that’s another episode, we’ll see. There is a I wish I could remember his name. But there is a tiktoker I follow who talks about plants a lot. And growing plants and is always very poetic in using plants to talk about people. And he he said at one point, a lot of the times it can feel like we’re not seeing any changes in ourselves. We’re not seeing any growth. But our roots are the things that’s growing the parts of yourself that you can’t see that are hidden from others and maybe even hidden from yourself, but you’re still growing. And that growth matters. And I think about that sometimes, right? Both for myself and for other people, and sometimes you don’t you don’t see the growth, but it’s still happening. It’s just down in the roots.

Lara Taylor 51:54
That’s great

Josué Cardona 51:55
I love it. It’s beautiful. Also Geek Therapy’s roots need money to grow. So go to go to Geek therapy.org

Lara Taylor 52:03
both the roots and the leaf and the flowers. all of it.

Josué Cardona 52:07
Like Like, like a nonprofit doesn’t that doesn’t you know, that’s all that is true, but also just bring it back. It’s good. It’s good. I know who you’re talking about. I don’t remember his name either. His videos haven’t gone for me in a while

Link Keller 52:21
just it just played Settlers of Catan the other day and I just keep saying he’s like between the three of us. We got bricks. We got wheats, we got rocks, but we need your sheep listeners. We need your sheep. Do you have sheep? Please send your sheep this way.

Josué Cardona 52:40
Mm hmm.

Lara Taylor 52:41
That’s a great, great metaphor right there.

Josué Cardona 52:44
Don’t get don’t give your sheep to Jeff Bezos, give them to Geek Therapy.

Lara Taylor 52:49
All we need is the sheep and we can make something great. Like, what is it? Is it the city that has all the things you need? Yeah,

Link Keller 52:58
yeah, we got to upgrade to a city.

Josué Cardona 53:02
Yeah. That sounds scary. But yeah, let’s do it. I mean, we’re moving. Yep, that’s it. That’s just get there faster. Yeah. Anything else? Like closing thoughts? I think No, no. Okay. Well, thank you so much for listening. Go to Geek therapy.org. For more information on Geek Therapy. What else did we just add? We’ve never had a super official way to do referrals. And that’s something that we we’ve kind of set up this week. And we’re testing out, we often get people contacting us asking for referrals for someone in a particular state or you know, parents asking for their kids or people looking for therapists with themselves. And, you know, people reach out and we try to get them connected. So we’ll we’ll have a forum on the site for that. Email us if you can’t find it, or if you have any questions about that, I would love to tell you more. And hopefully that helps some people out because that’s something that that keeps coming up. links in the show notes to all of the ways to participate in our community spaces, and reach out to us. Thank you so much for listening. Remember to geek out and do good, and we’ll be back next week

Link Keller 54:16

Josué Cardona 54:19
Geek Therapy is a 501 c three nonprofit organization dedicated to making the world a better place to the geek culture. To learn more about our mission and become a supporter, visit Geek therapy.org

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

Characters / Media
  • Commander Shepard / Mass Effect Trilogy
  • Genshin Impact
  • Reality is Broken by Jane McGonigal
  • Superbetter by Jane McGonigal
  • Dungeons & Dragons
  • Overwatch
  • Monster Hunter
  • Dark Souls series
  • Borderlands series
  • World of Warcraft
  • Settlers of Catan
Themes / Topics

Conversation Topics:

* Exercise
* Improving skills
* Feedback systems
* Milestones
* Change
* Finding Oneself/Identity Development
* Problem Solving
* Resilience

Relatable Experience:

* Gaining experience
* Clarity/Understanding
* New Life Event (New Rules)
* Promotion

Questions? Comments? Discuss this episode on the GT Forum.

Links / Social Media

Check out the GT Network: network.geektherapy.com

GT Forum: forum.geektherapy.org

GT Discord: geektherapy.com/discord

GT Facebook Group: facebook.com/groups/geektherapy

Find us at www.GeekTherapy.org | @GeekTherapy | Lara: @GeekTherapist | Link: @CHICKENDINOSAUR | Josué: @JosueACardona

Ask us anything through the Question Queue and we’ll answer on the show: geektherapy.org/qq

Join the Conversation!

What is a time you felt the DING of a level up in your own life?

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