You Are Your Biggest Experiment: Developing Your Intuition with Lee Chambers
Developing your intuition is the first step to self-actualization. In this episode, Lee Chambers sits down with us and explains how our entire life is one big science experiment on ourselves. Infused with Lee's expertise in environmental psychology, combined with his past of losing the ability to walk and overcome all odds through his mind's power. Suppose you're looking for insight into overcoming the challenges that life threw at you while also developing your intuition. This is the episode for you!
TODAY'S GUEST: LEE CHAMBERS
> Who is Lee Chambers and what's an environmental psychologist? (02:15)
> Lee shares how he lost the ability to walk, and what this experience taught him (08:37)
> Lee's reaction to not having a specific diagnosis of what happened, and how this helped him find the way to recovery (18:48)
> Tips for all of you that struggling when developing your intuition from Lee (27:00)
E040 You Are Your Biggest Experiment: Developing Your Intuition with Lee Chambers
In this episode, we’re talking about developing your intuition and what it takes to really step forward in your own life and take control of your healing and treatment process.
Lee Chambers is an environmental psychologist and also certified life coach. He really knows what it takes to get individuals of inactivity, passivity, and even victimhood, and transition them into an individual who is the author of their own life.
We talk about chronic illness in this episode. In addition we talk about self-intuition, self-acceptance, self-efficacy, and belief that you can do this.
Amy: [00:01:28] Welcome back to this episode of What We're Not Talking About. On today's show I speak with an environmental psychologist, certified life coach. and founder of Essentialise: Workplace Wellbeing, Lee chambers. How are you doing today, Lee?
Lee: [00:01:45] I'm doing well. Thank you. It's a pleasure to be with you, Amy.
Amy: [00:01:47] Thank you. I'm excited to talk to you today.
Now, I hate to admit this, but when we first connected, I actually had to look up what an environmental psychologist was. Because I wasn't a hundred percent sure of the actual definitions.
Let's go into this conversation with what your explanation or what being an environmental psychologist is to you and how you got into that. And then also your career in life coaching and becoming the founder of the Essentialise: Workplace Wellbeing.
Lee: [00:02:25] Yeah. So, in many ways, a lot of people generally are stuck.
They hear it and they think, “Is it something to do with the environment or is it more behavior?”
Really the best way to help people understand is, it's the study, understanding, and application about how human beings interact with the environment.
So, how that changes, alters, and amends people's feelings, behaviors, actions, and emotions. And to kind of help people understand that there's three main pillars that you will find yourself in as an environmental psychologist. And developing your intuition helps with that.
The first pillar and the one I'm heavily involved in, is looking at human made environments, and how human made environments can be altered and created to really help humans become happier and become healthier. We naturally look at ways that we can create spaces that are actually regenerative for wellbeing.
These spaces actually make people more productive. They make them more creative and really feel at ease in the places that they are. Because psychological safety is important, in so many different aspects, but also the way we interact with our environments.
Another pillar is the one who looks at our instruction with natural environments. So, they are very much focused on how we as humans interact with nature, how being exposed to nature changes how we behave, how we feel, and our neurotransmitter and hormone levels. Also, how spending an insignificant amount of time in nature changes our behavior towards nature itself. And that is an interesting cycle that we look up, especially from an evolutionary perspective, before we had many human made structures and places.
The final pillar, probably the most interesting, really looks at environmental behavior.
They look up why one neighbor is considerably concerned about climate change and being an activist in that area to try and make a difference. While the person who lives next to them might deny it even exists. How do you start to understand how we can look at that across a wide scope of beliefs, understandings, and behaviors and actually start to help people to move to more environmentally friendly behaviors?
It might be through punishment and fines for littering. Or it might be through making littering less attractive by making putting your waste in the correct place more attractive. A lot of different nuances and looking at the psychology of social norms, social proof, group theory, and psychodynamics.
Ultimately those free pillers come together to form the body of environmental psychology. And for me, it's always been something that I've been really interested in. How our environments change, how we live our daily lives, and how, for some people, they're really fine in a certain type of workplace and actually really struggling in another.
They might design their own home in a way that they feel works for them, but actually they start to find that it doesn't. We're looking at everything from colors to designs to the way things are laid out. For me, it's always been a very interesting topic to see how we do quite a lot of work on ourselves. And developing your intuition really helps with that.
But, our everyday experience is in our environment, the people and the places that we're surrounded by.
Really, as I've gone on my own journey through mental health challenges, through redundancy. I've got quite a varied journey. I mean, I've set up and launched a video game company, which was very successful, that I've recently exited from. Plus, I've coached in elite sports. I've also worked in corporate finance. And really, I've kind of been in a lot of different environments and seen how that's affected people's performance and health. And working in so many places can help you with developing your intuition.
Pulling all that back and realizing that I've been in all these different places, doing different things, but starting to weave together some really interesting points that seem to underlie... And really a congruent across all these different places, even though they're all looking to achieve different aims or make different impacts.
So, for me, I suppose my brain is very interconnected. I see things in a much wider scope rather than in isolation. I actually like to see and understand that the world is deeply interwoven together. For everything from our own minds, bodies, spirits, emotions, so the other people that we then connect with in the whole planet itself.
That's obviously taken me from being in those different environments to wanting to set something up. I set up a company that looked at the elements of developmental coaching moving forward, of incrementally improving people's health so they can perform at a high level and become happier and healthier.
Really bringing it together of my own lived experience of the challenges I've had.
I lost the ability to walk in 2014, and I had to relearn.
That was a long and challenging process at times. But I learned a lot of lessons through really becoming my first client and really working deeply on myself. That kind of thing can help you with developing your intuition. Now, I feel that I'm in a position to help people through adversity to value their health before the hit crisis.
I think having set Essentialise up this year, there's probably no better time for me to be trying to make a positive impact on people's lives.
Amy: [00:08:21] Absolutely. And it sounds like you have had quite the experience.
Now, I have a few questions, but first I wanted to just ask you a little bit about how you lost your ability to walk? If you don't mind sharing.
Lee: [00:08:37] Yeah. So, I was 29 at the time. And from a societal point of view, I had this wonderfully comfortable life. My business was successful. I had been working nearly spore and spending time with people from all around the world who were performing at incredibly high levels.
And I had the car up at the house. I had my son and a wife. We were on holiday in Florida and cruising around the Caribbean. It was an all encompassing, “This is what life should be about.” And yeah, I suppose I was blind to the fact that I wasn't actually that happy at that time.
But the world had a real way of telling me to stop and reassess and reflect where I was at. All of a sudden my immune system started to attack my joints. At first that was my wrist.
Then a day later attacked my knee and it was locking my joints in place.
I had always been very healthy. I looked after myself, exercised, ate well, and I had never been to the hospital. Unfortunately, my immune system attacked my body so harshly that it put me in the hospital after a week.
It ultimately attacked my knees with so much force that I had a significant amount of fluid drained off them. But it really had moved to about a lot of my ligaments and tendons. It really moved my patella in my knees to where they shouldn't be. And I couldn't weight bear or hold any weight.
Really that was hard to process because it happened so quickly. I've gone from fully mobile, fully independent to not being able to wash myself or eat properly in the space of a week. My wife was six months pregnant, and my son was 18 months old. I felt in a lot of ways they were reliant on me as the father and as a husband.
I was in shock. And once that shock wore off, I felt the anger and frustration of, you know, “Why me, why now? It doesn't seem like the best timing.” It’s never a good time for that kind of thing. But I honestly felt that it just wasn't meant to happen now. Not right now, anyway, not when I was young. And that can start the journey of developing your intuition.
I express that as helpful as I could to my friends and family cancer visit to the medical staff who were dealing with my dad today. Now, starting to kind of move away.
We moved through grief, really started to grieve for my mobility and physicality as a young man.
But going through that and expressing that rather than suppressing it helped me to get to a point of peace.
After about two weeks in hospital, I got moved up onto a longer-term ward. The realization started to dawn on me that I might have lost the ability to walk right now, but I can definitely have a really, really good chance of relearning. It all comes down to my own mindset.
I need to see this, not as a threat to my health, but as a challenge to step into and grow. I need to be proactive and take ownership of my own health outcomes. And be consistent and really do everything in my power to recover because I want to play with my children. I want to be walking again.
That really fueled me through rehab, through intensive physio, and it took me a year to walk again.That kind of thing helps you with developing your intuition. But in that year, I grew so much as a person mentally through having to really start to understand myself, my own awareness, and emotional intelligence more.
Just start to learn how to really anchor in to understanding how you're wired, how you work best, and how you can optimize your own life. So, actually recovering quite a strong way, given the challenges that I've been through.
Amy: [00:12:31] Wow. Yes. I've never even heard of what you experienced, so I'm not shocked, but just processing the information.
Do you know what caused it? Was it a biological makeup? Or was it a certain thing? Was it completely random?
Lee: [00:12:51] So, unfortunately, I had a lot of testing, as you can imagine, because they knew it was serious, but we weren't sure what it was. And in all our tests what we found is nothing genetically that they could identify.
They were then searching for previous bacterial infection, which might have lodged certain debris in my joints and caused my body to attack that particular type of tissue. Nothing came back for that either. What I was left with was not really any particular answers.
I was bundled under the conditions of autoimmune arthritis which basically means you've got some kind of immune system condition that's joint-related. I was told that ultimately the treatment path is the same, so there's no point testing you any further. Now, since that point I've been for further genetic testing and was still nothing even with the current advances in technology.
That really signifies why it happened. That's something that I suppose I kind of sit with, and at first it was a bit frustrating in not having something that I could attribute it to and then research further and understand more.
But, actually, instead of looking at it from a conditional perspective, I looked at it from a personal perspective, realizing that I'm a bio-individual human being. So, really it's up to me to start to learn myself rather than trying to isolate an unknown disease. Why don't I look at myself holistically and start to work on that? I thought, “Why don’t you start developing your intuition in your body?”
That took me on a process of optimizing my nutrition, my sleep, my movement.
All for five years of constantly tracking things in and out of my diet, tracking my sleep and challenging environments, timings, looking at bio rhythms, and looking at routines. All those things go into developing your intuition.
Through all that I've actually managed to, you know, become quite well, to really start to control the disease because it's a chronic disease. Ultimately, it will affect me for the rest of my life. But in June this year, six years after being admitted to the hospital, I came off of medication which was suppressing my immune system. Obviously, given the pandemic, it wasn't a particularly pleasant thing to be on. It's also something that is very difficult to stay on for a long period of time.
For me, that was massive because still six months later, I'm controlling it by my lifestyle alone. That for me is absolutely massive because I want to be as well as I can be. And if I can take, you know, ownership and accountability over that, then I really feel that that's where I want to be. And that's where I'm currently at.
Amy: [00:15:33] Well, congratulations for coming off of the medication. I know that process for a variety of different ailments can be quite draining. So, congratulations for that.
Now, I'm the type of person that thinks of a situation and looks at it and sees the positive.
So, what I hear from your explanation of what happened to you is it's almost as if you got, in my opinion, thrown a bit of a bone. Because when it comes to information, we are the type of individuals that like to know what's wrong with us, then go to the internet, figure out how to fix it, and then do that.
But with you, although you had some framework in which you could go through it, it was so inconclusive as to why you had gotten to the place that you had with your joints and the knees. What's the actual? Is it, I don't want to say illness, but what is the auto-immune disorder called?
Lee: [00:16:38] I've not actually got a specific diagnosis.
It's referenced as autoimmune arthritis, so that's an immune system condition that affects the joints.
Amy: [00:16:52] Yeah. And that's such a...
I have an autoimmune disorder as well. It's not arthritis. I've come to understand if they say it's auto-immune, it's them politely saying, “We have no idea.”
You know? They say, “Something's wrong with yourself. You're attacking yourself.” And you're like, “Oh, okay, cool.” Which probably helps you with developing your intuition, since the doctors don’t know.
But yeah, so for me, I was so overwhelmed by all the information that I had access to when I first started to unpack my childhood. So, that's one thing that I found to be quite overwhelming at the time. I thought it was helpful, but now in retrospect, I see it wasn’t so much.
Being able to have access to the internet in a time when we were all and we still kind of all are our own doctors was helpful in which it calmed my mind in the sense that I had options to attempt for a course of treatment.
But what I found was incredibly difficult for me was to actually get in the action of it. There's so much information about it. Like, this could work and this could work and this could work and this could work. And the overwhelm of like, “Oh my goodness, I have to do everything in order for this to be okay.”
It was really scary for me. Again, it felt at the time, like I was okay. But once the reality set in, it was a very different experience for me. I had to learn how I could start developing your intuition.
Now with the amount of information that's on the internet when it comes to treatment of a variety of different ailments... What do you find to be the most detrimental aspect of this when it comes to mental health treatment?
Lee: [00:18:46] Yeah. Unfortunately, the internet is pernicious in that respect. We have a medical system that kind of runs through a bunch of categories. We also have a lot of medical practitioners that they kind of go through a system of ensuring that we don’t diagnose incorrectly by a lot of checks and balances between your symptoms that are present and not.
That's something that we don't do when we look at the internet ourselves. The reality is that the side effects and symptoms that we are faced with are prevalent whenever we kind of have some element of disease.
For me personally, what happened is not having a specific diagnosis actually caused me to search inside myself and not anchor onto one particular thing and start to research.
I kind of ended up because I didn't have an answer.
I ended up really thinking, “Okay, so why do I want to become well?” instead of thinking, “What have I got?” That changing question was massive for my own recovery. Then all of a sudden I was looking at where's and listening to my own body rather than reading the internet.
We're the biggest experiment we'll ever undertake. And when you kind of look on the internet, that other people's experiences. There's medically accredited sites and they have to be very, very careful about how they articulate things to ensure that they are not held liable for causing people to misdiagnose themselves.This is where you must be careful when developing your intuition.
Because of that understanding what you get is nonmedical sites that can say pretty much whatever they want and very structured medical sites that are very, very low on information. They’re very, very closeted. Truth be told there is always going to be a place for a medical system to look and understand people's situations and symptoms better.
That doesn't stop you from researching and understanding your own body more. But that, generally speaking, doesn't require you to search on the internet. It requires you to start to listen to your own body and actually start to understand yourself a little bit better.
Unfortunately, especially with mental health, there's a lot of health anxiety caused by reading the internet. That has become something that it's actually become quite prevalent. Especially over the past few years, as people try to diagnose themselves based on information on the internet. If you type mental health into Google, for example, you get billions of results.
How many of them are going to be relevant to your situation right now?
You can almost go on a bit of a spiral chess. And, we as human beings, if you're in a challenging place, especially with your mental health, you're gonna take this information and start absorbing it. You’ll start actually feeling like, “Yeah, this is me. This sounds like me.” And you start to actually almost build a bank of information that you believe to be you, but it's all information that you've actually consumed.
When you consume it, especially medical information, we don't tend to critically think about it a lot. We want to believe that people wouldn't put information out there that wasn't correct in terms of human health, because it's one of the most precious things that we do have. And yet when we're not able to sit and critically think about the information that we consume, it can actually be quite challenging to refine what is correct and what's not. Especially with our own mental health. You need to use caution when developing your intuition.
We all have mental health, but it can change day by day and your symptoms one day may not be the same in 24 hours. Depending on exactly where you are in that cycle, when you search and use that terminology and communication... Another thing to consider is that how we articulate a question to a search engine will completely depend and ultimately decide what results it shows us.
Depending on how we articulate it, how we're feeling at the time, we could get a whole different bunch of results.
People do try and self-diagnose more and more. But when it comes to mental health, it's incredibly complex. And we need to actually sometimes take a step back and realize there's so many different therapeutic interventions for mental health.
Why? Because number one, everyone is different. Number two. Different treatments work for different people and not ranges all the way from medication to talk in therapies. Even realizing that a lot of mental health is impacted by sleep, nutrition, movement, hormonal imbalances, neurotransmitter shortages, and there's just so many different things at play.
It's incredibly difficult to type something into Google and find it is going to give you the answer. It’s better to try in developing your intuition.
Amy: [00:24:25] Yeah. And I've been at fault for doing this. Luckily, I believe that I'm pretty critical when I think about this stuff. Or I at least go into the dark spiral of trying to figure out what was wrong with me at the time.
But if you type in four or five symptoms, it will give you a list of thousands of options. I think that's very indicative to what your point is about how we're all different and how our symptoms, as well as who we are, is such a fluid factor. Our identities, our personalities, it all changes and morphs into the good and the bad over the course of our lives.
Our symptoms mimic this.
Because a lot of us aren't thinking of that, that clearly, because we want something to fix it. We want that quick fix that just makes everything go away. And they taught us in Western cultures that our doctors can do that.
And I really like how you brought up the idea of how a certain treatment that's on the internet from people like us that we're talking about may not work for you at that moment. I think it is important to say that it's not that it might not work ever for you, although it might not work ever for you. But it also might work at a later time. Developing your intuition will help you figure that out.
So, there were certain aspects of my treatment that when I first started, I couldn't even go there. Because there was so much information running on and around in my head that I had to place into a story, into a narrative that helped me understand what was going on.
So, sitting down and meditating for 20 minutes was not an option for me. The biggest struggle I had, and this is something that I'd love to talk to you a bit about, is the idea of turning inwards and how the biggest experiment in our lives is ourselves.
Now, you mentioned that you really challenged... well, maybe not challenge yourself, but you really chose to go inward and try to figure out, “Okay. What can I do for me to help me with my auto-immune arthritis?”
But so many of us are disconnected from that intuitive side of us. You need to go into developing your intuition.
Now, I know you work with clients and I assume that this presents in some of your clients as well.
And I'm wondering if there's some tips or tricks or words of advice that you can give for individuals that are struggling to turn inward and struggling to connect to that intuition. Those who don’t know how you start developing your intuition.
Lee: [00:27:11] Yeah. So, I think the first thing I always bring to the table when talking about this is, a lot of it on the surface, it’s not your fault.
The culture that we live in has that expert bias, where there are people out there who definitely know the best answer. The gurus, the people you should go and speak to. And we do live in this disposable culture. We are in many ways hardwired to see the negativity and also to seek a level of instant gratification.
The way that the modern culture is, again, as you alluded to, especially in the Western world, is to try and find that shortcut to try and have someone who really knows the stuff to help me get here more quickly than working on myself. However, the fact it's not your fault means you still do need to be compassionate and kind with yourself when we start to consider looking inwards.
The beauty of it is that you can be the authentic person that you are.
But the roots of the word authentic is offer, which means for you to become authentically you, you need to ensure you have hold of the pen that's writing your story. And you can go about developing your intuition to ensure that.
So, when we look at that a little bit more deeply, you have to be able to start to build that self-awareness and emotional intelligence to navigate yourself. And that will then start to almost give you the keys to own what those little bits of yourself that you were finding difficult to access before and find that we have all the answers inside of us already.
But we spend our whole lives searching for answers. And so much of that comes from the education system that we've passed through, where we had to understand how to do things and then present an answer. Then they marked it, “Well done. You marked the answers you needed to get. Welcome to the next stage of your life. Here's a piece of pepper.”
Well, what education doesn't tend to teach us is how to ask ourselves questions. It's being able to ask ourselves a question that allows us to start to experiment on ourselves, allows us to dig a little bit deeper. I mean, many of us go through education and then we come out the other side. We're scared of failing because failing is bad. Because we’re scared of failing, we can't pick apart our failures and find the lessons within there.
But also we continually search for answers and solutions all the time.
But, as we alluded to, you could type anything into Google and get some kind of answer. It doesn't mean it's going to be right. But Google has 95% of the answers in the world already for anything that you're looking for.
When it comes to developing your intuition, the ability to ask ourselves questions, it's quite challenging. At first, you'll ask yourself quite poor questions and you'll get really bad answers. And that's not always a great place to be. That represents itself so often in negative self-talk when we are most not compassionate and kind to ourselves, but actually very critical. But so often that is actually how we frame the questions to ourselves.
The biggest tip that I can give anyone who wants to go inward and start to explore is to start practicing asking yourself questions and start to actually get stronger. The more you practice, the better questions you answer. And for some people that requires doing additional things as well that help them to be able to articulate that. Maybe it might be writing or other creative tasks.
Sometimes it does require the ability to look to be more mindful, our mindset, and give ourselves a bit more space to find times to ask ourselves questions. But a massive part of it all is learning how to reflect, because we've all got so much experience. We've all got so much within us already.
If we start to reflect on the past, instead of ruminating on what happened previously, we can find so much treasure to be excavated from our past experiences that we can utilize. Not only in the present, but in the future.
And those are the shortcuts that we're looking for. They're all within us. And you find that with developing your intuition.
All the shortcuts and all the instant gratification more often than not comes in our failures. But if we're able to actually go back, to touch that emotion, break them up, and find that in every situation there is some lesson learning. Or even something that's actually really essential to us.
The way that I often put that to my clients is, there's a lot of oysters out there in the water. They live a life where more often than not they end up at a seafood restaurant. But for a few oysters, a parasite attacks them, gets inside, irritates them, makes them uncomfortable, it makes the future uncertain. But they are the oysters that create the pearls.
And that pearl, through that failure, through that struggle, through that discomfort, that pearl is your piece of treasure. And if you can get to the end of your life with a pearl necklace full of lessons and bits of treasure from your failures, you'll be in a place where you probably pass on with no regrets, because you’ll have lived a fulfilling life.
Amy: [00:32:56] That is a beautiful analogy and I've never heard of it nor did I know that that's what happens to oysters that produce pearls. I feel like I've learned something outside of psychology and mental health. So, thank you.
Well, thank you so much, Lee, for chatting with me today and explaining a bit about your life and what struggles that you've had to overcome, as well as the insight on turning inwards.
And to really start to believe that we have all the answers inside. All you have to do is start developing your intuition.
I am a student of this theory or mythology. I am truly trying to learn to really trust myself. So, I know that many listeners are going to take a lot from this interview.
Now, before we sign off, I would love it if you would share a few places that they can find on the web, if listeners want to connect with you.
Lee: [00:34:05] Yeah. So the best place is to find me on the web would be my websites. Which are Lee Chambers dot org, and essentialise dot co dot uk. At both of those websites you'll find my services, my blogs, and all my social media handles.
Amy: [00:34:26] Perfect. And I'll also make sure that those links are available in the show notes in the description below.
Now, Lee, before we sign off, I always get the experts to leave the listeners with some more words of wisdom. Now, my question to you. For everyone that is struggling to regain motivation to really work and become the author of their own life, what do you have to say to them?
Lee: [00:35:00] I will say that it so often starts with being kind to ourselves and being kind to others.
That puts us in the most amazing place.
Because even if you drop your pen, when you're kind to other people that will pick it up and help you start a new chapter. Once you've got hold of that pen, you can decide who contributes to your story. For so many people right now in these challenging times it's very easy to not know how the star is going to end.
But if you’re trusting yourself and trusting other people, trust in humanity, even in these challenging times, people are coming back together. And there's always going to be aware for you to continue to write your own story. That will require you to get out of your comfort zone sometimes, but don't be afraid.
So often behind that door of fear that you don't want to move through, if you open it and move through it, your potential, your growth, and the things that you truly want in life around the other side of that door.