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Liz Fosslien on Big Feelings: How to Be Okay When Things Are Not Okay

Liz Fosslien (@lizandmollie) – Big Feelings: how to be okay when things are not okay. | Brought to you by Raycon ( and Athletic Greens (

Liz is an expert on how to make work better and the co-author (Mollie West Duffy) and illustrator of the books Big Feelings and No Hard Feelings. Liz also leads content and communications at Humu, a company that uses behavioral science to make it easy for leaders and their teams to improve. Her work has been featured by TED, The New York Times, The Economist, The Financial Times, and NPR.

Overwhelmed by Big Feelings

Uncertainty. Anger. Despair. Envy. When you’re overwhelmed by big feelings, it can seem like you’re the only one who is struggling. But having difficult emotions doesn’t mean you’re malfunctioning. It means you’re human. Weaving surprising science with personal stories and original illustrations, each chapter of the new book Big Feelings examines one uncomfortable feeling—like envy, burnout, and anxiety—and lays out strategies for making it manageable.

Big Feelings is an insightful and approachable Illustrated Guide to Handling our most difficult emotions.

When we feel envy, we do all these mental gymnastics, to convince ourselves we’re not envious because it’s not a friendly, nice emotion. But actually, by listening to what it’s telling us, it can often steer us towards a life that is more personally meaningful.

Liz Fosslien

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Please Enjoy!

What I Discuss With Liz Fosslien On Big Feelings

  • We discuss why big feelings are “negative” and starting at a young age we are taught that feeling bad is bad.
  • Why her publisher was initially skeptical about the idea behind Big Feelings and why Liz felt it was so important to write the book.
  • Why our self-narrative both helps and hurts our identity and how do we create the ability to get rid of those negative emotions.
  • Why it is becoming harder for people to find balance and alleviate burnout?
  • Effortless Perfection and Susan Cain’s Bittersweet.
  • We discuss how do you go about tackling the topic of uncertainty, the myths around it, and how you work through it.
  • How to let go of what you can’t control.
  • We discuss her popular Instagram page and how she found her passion to be a writer and illustrator.
  • Have any questions, comments, or stories you’d like to share with us? Drop us a line at [email protected]m!
  • And much more…
128 | Big Feelings | Liz Fosslien | Passion Struck with John R. Miles
128 | Big Feelings | Liz Fosslien | Passion Struck with John R. Miles

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More About This Show On Big Feelings with Liz Fosslien

I ask Liz Fosslien how does she think our self-narrative both helps and hurts our identity and our ability to get rid of those negative emotions?

Big Feelings by Liz Fosslien and Mollie West Duffy for Passion Struck

Liz replies, “This is actually a myth that we bust, which is people often will tell you, you should be strong enough to think your way through hard emotions. But one of the things we say is that just thinking differently doesn’t actually guarantee that you’ll feel differently. So there are definitely mindset switches you can adopt that can help you. But it’s not always going to be the cure-all. And so for example, if you’re in a work environment where people don’t listen to you, people are taking credit for your work, you don’t feel included, you can do all the mindset shifts you want, it’s probably not going to make that a great environment for you.

Unfortunately, identity often plays a big role in that and how people perceive you like you can two different people can display the same emotion and get two very different reactions just because of who they are. Which is, again, still sort of an unfortunate piece of our society. And so in the book, we try to do two things, we do offer some of these mindset shifts, as part of like a big toolkit of things you can try, because again, it’s not a one size fits all. But we also say like, you might need to really change your environment, you might need to distance yourself from some people. And if you’re a leader, a manager, a parent, or someone who’s creating an environment for others, here are things you can do to make it easier for that person to feel better to move through hard emotions. So we look at it from both the individual perspective, here are a couple of things you can try. And then from the perspective of if you are someone who has more control over some of the structural forces, here are some things you can do to make it easier for people to be resilient to move through hard emotions.

How Effortless Perfectionism is Impacting Our Feelings

I asked Liz why effortless perfectionism is becoming such an issue for adolescents and young adults.

Liz replies, So there’s a misconception that if you strive for perfection, that is the best way to be an achiever, but perfectionism has been proven to inhibit your performance. So when you’re a perfectionist, and the key difference here is perfectionism is about the fear of failure, it’s not actually about becoming perfect, healthy Stryver will aim for 100% on a test, get 94% and feel pretty good about what they accomplished.

A perfectionist will strive for 100, get a 99, and then really beat themselves up for not getting that last 1%. And that’s just not a positive way of operating. That closes you off to seeing mistakes as growth opportunities are less likely to look for feedback. And you’re more likely actually to have performance anxiety in the moment, which again, is going to hamper how well you do in a certain situation. It’s really important to identify within yourself, what is this causing the undue stress? And how might that actually be inhibiting me because one of the dangerous parts of perfectionism is that you think that’s what’s making you successful, and in fact, if you were able to step back from that a little bit more, you’d probably be more successful?

Thanks, Liz Fosslien!

If you enjoyed this interview with Liz Fosslien, let her know by clicking on the link below and sending her a quick shout on LinkedIn or Instagram:

Click here to thank Liz Fosslien on LinkedIn!

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Click here to let John R. Miles know about your number one takeaway from this episode!

And if you want us to answer your questions or you have a topic you would like John to discuss on one of our upcoming weekly Momentum Friday episodes, drop us a line at [email protected].


Please note that some of the links on this page (books, movies, music, etc.) lead to affiliate programs for which The Passion Struck podcast receives compensation. It’s just one of the ways we keep the lights on around here. Thank you so much for being so supportive!

Lis Fosslien quote from Passion Struck on why not making change is making a choice

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*Big Feelings by Liz Fosslien and Mollie West Duffy:

*No Hard Feelings by Liz Fosslien and Mollie West Duffy:

*Susan Cain Interview:

*Claude Silver interview:

*Solo episode on work-life balance:

*Solo episode on overcoming burnout: 

About Today’s Guest Liz Fosslien

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Liz Fosslien is an expert on how to make work better and the co-author and illustrator of the book Big Feelings and the Wall Street Journal best-seller No Hard Feelings. She also leads the communications and content strategy teams at Humu.

She regularly leads interactive workshops about how to effectively harness emotion in the workplace. She has spoken at organizations including Google, NPR, and Viacom, and my work has been featured by TED, The New York Times, and The Economist.



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John R. Miles is a serial entrepreneur and the CEO and founder of Passion Struck. This full-service media company helps people live intentionally by creating best-in-class educational and entertainment content. John is also a prolific public speaker, venture capitalist, and author named to the ComputerWorld Top 100 IT Leaders.

John is the host of the PassionStruckPodcast. A show focused on exploring the mindset and philosophy of the world’s highest achievers to learn their lessons to living intentionally. Passion Struck aspires to speak to the humanity of people in a way that makes them want to live better, be better and impact.

Stay tuned for John’s latest project, his upcoming book, which will be published in summer 2022.

Learn more about me:

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