Compare & Despair — Ever had a bad day? Yes, of course you have. Everyone has bad days. It is part of life. Sometimes we want to feel bad (deaths, breakups, job loss) and process that emotion. Without community and support these experiences become unmanageable. A big issue with millenials is that they are avoiding their bad emotions by sitting on social media. This means at their lowest point, they are scrolling through platforms where their peers are showing their best 15 seconds of their week. Not knowing truly what is going on in these other people’s lives, our brains fill in the blanks. Assumes they have a perfect life and our happy all the time. This is when people start to compare that photo to their own life, in that moment. This has led to increased anxiety, depression and suicide.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Vikki Yaffe. Vicki graduated from the London School of Economics and worked for finance and tech companies across London and NYC, before turning her personal development hobby into a successful career as an Anxiety Coach. Her style of coaching is tough and successful, it is a no BS approach. She hosts the F*CK Anxiety & Get Sh*t Done podcast available on iTunes. Vikki is also CEO of SipScene, offering a new way to meet new people and build community in real life. The future of relationships is OFFLINE, and Vikki is committed to creating an easy way for people to build community in real life.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share your “backstory” with us? What was it that led you to your eventual career choice?
I am an economist and a problem solver. For me, every problem has a solution, so it is up to us to find a problem we care about and set about solving it. For me, it has always been about people. As a Life Coach, I teach people how to manage their minds, their anxiety and their self doubt so they can overcome their pre existing brain programming and find what they want to solve in the world. I have also lived on four continents over the last ten years, each time arriving somewhere alone and looking to build community. This is why in 2017, after leaving a successful career in finance, I launched SipScene, a social project to connect people in real life at intimate pop up events in people’s homes. Over 400 events later, I have met thousands of people that are experiencing loneliness, and looking for an easy way to build community just like I was!
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
If you have worked in events, or founded your own company, this probably won’t come as a surprise to you. Running hundreds of events and connecting people in real life was so fun, but I found myself waking up in the morning with panic attacks. I didn’t know that is what they were, because it isn’t something I had spoken about in my life. I was already a certified life coach, and people had come to me for help with anxiety and I had always refused. In my mind, anxiety was a serious disorder, requiring medication and therapy, and not something I felt comfortable coaching. I mentioned to a friend what was happening and she told me it sounded like anxiety. I was shocked. I was still able to get up, work, and function in my life. This went against everything I had heard about anxiety. This is when I started applying my coaching tools to myself, and learned to manage my anxiety using those tools. Today, I teach other people to do the same. It was such a monumental point in my life, and by far the most interesting breakthrough I have had.
I also have a story about pitching to a room of investors, and before I spoke I experienced high anxiety, but instead of fighting it, or trying to change my thoughts and resist it in any way, I leant into it. Something wild happened. I felt like I had a superpower. The energy flowing through my body was powerful and by embracing it I felt tingly all over my body, stood taller, performed better and learned that anxiety is a superpower. It comes from our brain sensing potential threats and protecting us. Once I saw it this way my experience with anxiety shifting completely. Now I teach others to explore what their anxiety means to them and teach them how to manage their own superpower.
Can you share a story about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson or takeaway you learned from that?
Sure! When I first started coaching over three years ago I took on 10 free clients immediately, from all over the world, at a time when I was travelling through Florida, San Diego, New York and LA. Looking back, it was such an error to go from zero to ten, I definitely set myself up a steep learning curve! I was waking up sometimes in the middle of the night to coach clients still in London and Australia.
On week four, I got on the phone and called the wrong client! Late into their evening on a Friday! It was definitely a learning experience in prioritizing organization — now clients book the same time with me each week and this consistency is easier for me and them, instead of checking a new time each week! I also will no longer work with clients in the middle of the night! It is best for everyone!! Saying NO is a huge lesson I learnt in the process.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Yes! So many coaches focus on doing their sessions via Zoom / Skype so they can coach people all over the world. For a long time, I really enjoyed this. Now, thanks to my experience at SipScene and building community offline, I have seen such a value in community, especially when there are shared interests and goals. I am rolling out a series of retreats with my clients. This way, they are also able to meet offline, focus on their coaching, and build a community around the same interests and goals. This focus on offline definitely ties into recognizing the loneliness epidemic and knowing the solution is to make it easy for people to meet offline.
Can you share with our readers a bit why you are an authority about the topic of the Loneliness Epidemic?
As well as being a life coach, working with hundreds of people on social anxiety, I also have built a community of “lonely” people looking for an easy way to meet new people, across Israel and the US. Through hundreds of events I have had conversations with thousands of people looking to meet new people. I have also been the person looking to meet new people, as I lived on four continents. Meetups, swiping, lectures, bars, living with five roomates (true story), I have done it all.
I am also a researcher of loneliness / technology and anxiety — this is my real passion. People need people, it is very simple. So many of the solutions are forgetting this. As our natural instinct is to be fearful of “strangers” and media focuses on the negative stories, we are becoming less trusting as a society. At the same time, shifts in technology feed our pre existing social anxieties and allow us to connect to millions online, without having a conversation with our neighbors. The on demand economy literally gives us less reasons to speak to other humans, I am the generation that grew up without smartphones, I have lived the changes.
Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the main focus of our interview. According to this story in Forbes, loneliness is becoming an increasing health threat not just in the US , but across the world. Can you articulate for our readers 3 reasons why being lonely and isolated can harm one’s health?
- We are not taught how to feel our feelings. Truly. As with any negative emotions, our human brain likes to distract away from it. This can mean overeating, overdrinking, overshopping, spending hours online, and thanks to technology we can do all of this from the comfort of our sofa, alone in our homes. All of these reactions have a negative impact on health.
- Compare & Despair — Ever had a bad day? Yes, of course you have. Everyone has bad days. It is part of life. Sometimes we want to feel bad (deaths, breakups, job loss) and process that emotion. Without community and support these experiences become unmanageable. A big issue with millenials is that they are avoiding their bad emotions by sitting on social media. This means at their lowest point, they are scrolling through platforms where their peers are showing their best 15 seconds of their week. Not knowing truly what is going on in these other people’s lives, our brains fill in the blanks. Assumes they have a perfect life and our happy all the time. This is when people start to compare that photo to their own life, in that moment. This has led to increased anxiety, depression and suicide.
- Social Anxiety exists and is growing. Being alone is comfortable and safe, and our brain likes to keep us safe (that being its’ sole purpose). This is why you can make a plan to go on a date, or attend a MeetUp, and find yourself cancelling last minute. Your brain wants you to stay at home. The less we are out meeting people, the more we think there is something wrong with us, or that people don’t like us. The idea of something is always worse than the reality. Going to an event alone may be scary, everyone stands around worrying what people think about them, not realizing that everyone is thinking about themselves. Social anxiety is directly related to loneliness, and will grow the more isolated and less community we have around us.
Thank you for all of these great insights!
“Why We Need To Address The Loneliness Epidemic” with Vicki Yaffe and Fotis Georgiadis was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.