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EpisodesGuest InterviewSeason 3

“Just Do Nothing” with Joanna Hardis

Episode 53 | February 6, 2023

"Just Do Nothing" a book by our guest, Joanna Hardis, cognitive behavioral therapist, who shares ways to get more comfortable with thoughts and our feelings surrounding them.

Joanna Hardis, LISW-S discusses ways to cope with uncomfortable feelings, taking a step back, and learning how to change.


Welcome to “That’s a Hard No”the podcast about learning to say no and set boundaries to live our best lives. 

Follow along with me as we learn from fellow strugglers and experts, so that you too can start saying no without feeling fear, guilt, or FOMO. 


Joanna Hardis, LISW-S, author of “Just Do Nothing” discusses how human beings can handle thoughts & thinking in productive and healthy ways by getting comfortable being uncomfortable. Joanna’s expertise sheds light on how often we are avoidant of feelings or distress and ways that hinder us truly coping.

The Book: “Just Do Nothing” by Joanna Hardis

Key Takeaways

“This is how you’re going to f*ck up. These are all the ways you’re going to mess up and what to do when that happens.”

[00:05:14] Listening Instead of Fixing

  • The value of listening versus trying to change the situation
    • Remember especially as a friend or parent

“These skills are meant to be practiced as often as you possibly can. We cannot lay new neural pathways, which is what we’re trying to do, without a ton of practice and repetition. I cannot stress this enough”

[00:08:07] Beyond Anxiety Disorders

  • This book is for all people – any feeling that is unpleasant or uncomfortable, we can struggle to experience. It provides ways to better understand or work through them
  • Learn how to behave differently with certain feelings
  • How to change our relationship with distress which can be covering many feelings
    • Anxiety, shame, vulnerability, boredom

[00:09:11] The Difference Between Having a Thought & Thinking

[00:12:18] Identifying Emotions & The Difficulty of Change

  • Realizing being stuck in our ways is also a reason for certain feelings/distress
  • Being comfortable can get in your way]
  • Understanding your why, clarifying goals
  • “There is a space between where you are now and where you want to be”

[00:13:23] The Stories We Tell Ourselves and Behavior Change

“What we do, what we think is helping eventually becomes our real problem. The leaving, avoiding, drinking, sleeping, overthinking, shutting down, procrastinating, all the coping behaviors become the problem.”

  • There is a difference between having a thought and thinking
    • We cannot control what thoughts pop in our heads or the presence of the thought
    • Thinking is engaging with the thought
  • We cannot control a sensation in our body, but we can control it’s narrative or story
  • What we believe may be coping is actually creating more difficulties for us

“So what they think is helping…Googling, seeking reassurance, worrying, talking about it, actually makes them more anxious.”

  • How can we accept what we are doing and not make it worse – that’s “just do nothing”

[00:21:06] Getting Back in the Driver Seat

  • We need to decide that we are in control of our how minds react to being uncomfortable
  • Similarly to training a puppy, we need to train our brains.
    • Take the time
    • Consistency and repetition is most important
  • Take out “what if” and find yourself at “what is”
  • Sit, set timers, really promise that energy and time

[00:22:09] The Process of Building Skills

  • In settings beyond therapy really pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone
  • Practicing or “faking it” can be a productive way to start
  • Talk therapy can be another form of ruminating – the importance of putting in the work day to day is most valuable
  • Remember change is hard, it doesn’t always feel good but it is necessary
  • Find compelling reasoning
    • It has to be bigger than just wanting to feel better
    • Have tangible goals and plans

“So to change our behavior in any measurable way is incredibly difficult. And to do things that scare us, to do things that are hard, to do things that take us out of our comfort zone is hard.”

[00:31:23] Distress Intolerance in Mental Health

  • Well known construct within the field of mental health – has two parts
    • Someone’s perception that they can’t tolerate negative internal states
    • Behavioral, then person attempts to avoid those states
  •  More likely to develop many anxiety and depressive disorders
  • What drives the decision?
    • Not comfortable being bored, can’t deal with the pain, etc
  • Building the distress tolerance muscle, how to work through those feelings

[00:44:05] Book club discussion THURSDAY

“I love this book. I highly recommend it.”

Where to Find Joanna
Read Full Transcript Here
Credits and Thanks
  • Many thanks to our friends and families (our “villagers”) for listening, and for your continued support.
  • That’s a Hard No is a production of Clever Girl Marketing
  • Marketing and Production Coordinator, Maura Del Rosario
  • Production Support, Evergreen Podcasts, Noah Foutz, Producer
  • New Rock Anthem Music: Written by Noah, and performed by his band, The Big Leagues
  • Videographer, Kae Holmberg