Integrated Life Skills for Managing Life’s Demands

By Ross and Jamie Ungerleider 

Our newly published book, Discovering Your Mindful Heart: An Explorer’s Guide.  Developing your internal resources to manage life’s demands (published by Balboa Press), weaves emerging information from the field of interpersonal neurobiology into the pioneering work of Virginia Satir and the experiences of the authors in their careers working with professionals (mostly in healthcare) who are yearning for resources that can help them better manage their relationships (with themselves and important others) in a world that seems to have inexorable demands.  Our experience with numerous individuals who are struggling with the demands of modern life is that they are looking for the solutions “out there” as opposed to “in there.” Many have become attached to the elements on the “rim” that they believe define them (their title, home, car, spouse, wealth, etc.) and they have lost connection with their “hub” or what Virginia Satir referred to as their “self, I am.”  The book is designed to help readers generate their own solutions and choices for their highly unique and personal challenges. It is intended to provide readers with tools and skills to explore their deepest and most authentic sense of self — a sense of self the authors call the “Mindful Heart.” It can be read in short segments or as an entire piece.  

The book also includes 26 beautifully illustrated cards, one for each resource, that the reader can hold as they consider how to invite that resource or renewed perspective into their life.  The intent is to create a “right brain” experience to help the reader escape from the repetitive solutions of their default mode network and imagine or generate new opportunities for growth, healing and choices that support their highly unique and personal challenges. 

We will discuss how the reader can reclaim their five freedoms, their 8 internal resources—resources that belong to everyone, and how people can embrace, develop or manifest these freedoms and resources in their lives.  Your five freedoms are the freedoms to see and hear (what is truly present), to say (what you think and feel), to feel (what you truly feel), to ask (instead of waiting for permission) and to risk (on your own behalf).  The symbols that represent your internal resources are: Your Detective Hat, Golden Key, Yes/No Medallion, Courage Stick, Wishing Wand, Wisdom Box, Heart and Feather. We will also discuss your thirteen growth tools which are designed to help the reader expand their capacity for understanding, having compassion and for improving relationships with—themselves and others. These growth tools are Beliefs, Rules, Trust, Patterns, Parts, Congruence, Compassion, Boundaries, Creativity, Joy, Gratitude, Peace and Resilience.  By reclaiming their freedoms and developing their internal resources, readers can begin to expand their perspectives in the arena of these growth tools. 

The story below, an excerpt from the book, is included to describe what is meant by internal resources: 

Consider two hikers – two friends – who are off together to enjoy a couple of days in the woods. They are both experienced and go forth after having accumulated the appropriate gear, maps and knowledge of the area. As they travel their selected route, they come to an old bridge that crosses a body of water. The terrain on the other side of the river is alluring and they decide to cross the bridge to enjoy the promise of this beautiful site that beckons to them. Midway across, the old bridge, which had not been well maintained and which had slowly deteriorated from the constant exposure to water and the elements, gave way under their combined weight, dumping them both into the turbulent water. 

The first hiker knew how to swim and getting dumped in the water, while unpleasant, did not cause him major concern. He had the internal resource (the ability to swim) to be able to safely get to the water’s bank. The second hiker, however, had never learned to swim – he lacked this internal resource – and found himself in a life-threatening situation. Fortunately, the story ends well, as the first hiker was also resourced with water rescue skills and he was able to help his friend safely gain access to dry land.  

Two hikers, but both very different. The first one is well-resourced and well prepared for the circumstances that are suddenly thrust into his life. The second hiker is simply not resourced for this occurrence on his journey and is more likely to succumb without assistance. Ultimately, it will be in his best interests to learn the internal resource of being able to swim if he plans to continue his hiking hobby. 

During the Webinar, we want to describe how the book is an invitation to each reader to discover and develop the resources they need to help them on their own journey of learning and growth.  We will provide some stories that emphasize the value of internal resources and demonstrate how the cards, which are intended to serve as icons for these resources, can be used to help the reader claim each resource and emerging perspectives.  We plan to present information as an interactive discussion as well as provide some short examples by video. 

We anticipate that there will be something deeply personal, evocative and transformational in this book for every reader, and just like the uniqueness of people (there is no one on this Earth, nor will there ever be again, anyone quite like that spirit that is called by your name), the book will likely be meaningful in uniquely different ways for each reader. 

An excerpt of the book can be seen at ungerleidermindfulheart.comOur book, with its process and the wisdom offered from the stories, research and insights of others, provides some encouragement that we can influence our internal state and with that, control our outlook on how we choose to allow these events to guide our lives. 


Brief Bios 

Jamie Dickey Ungerleider MSW, PhD was raised in Laurel, MS. She has spent over 40 years as an educator, psychotherapist (for individuals and couples), organizational consultant and executive coach. Since 2001, she began working primarily with health care professionals. Her work in these areas have helped her to guide important changes for clients that have translated into more effective practices and more fulfilling interpersonal relationships and life experiences.  She has published numerous peer reviewed articles on work-life balance, conflict management, teamwork and leadership styles.   

Ross Michael Ungerleider MD, MBA received his training at Duke University Medical Center where he remained on the faculty for 15 years, rising to the level of tenured professor in 1996.  After 25 years at Duke, he took leadership roles at Oregon Health and Science University (Portland, OR), Case Western Reserve University (Cleveland, OH), Wake Forest Baptist Health (Winston Salem, NC) and Driscoll Children’s Hospital (Corpus Christi, TX) helping to build children’s heart programs and teach leadership and teamwork at each organization.  He is the author of over 300 peer-reviewed scientific papers and book chapters as well as an editor of two major textbooks on cardiac surgery. He has been named to America’s Best Doctors, Cambridge’s Who’s Who, Castle Connolly’s Top Doctors (receiving their distinction as being among the top 1% nationally in his field), and by Good Housekeeping as one of the best pediatric cardiac surgeons in the U.S.  In 2000, he was the recipient of the James Carreras International Humanitarian Award for his work performing heart surgery on children in Nicaragua.  

Together and individually, Ross and Jamie consult, speak and conduct workshops nationally and internationally on leadership, teamwork, conflict management, stress management and work life balance for health care professionals (including how to manage the demands of marriage when at least one partner is a professional). Their work is dedicated to helping produce healthier and more vibrant health care professionals and leaders, who have more effective, satisfying, and congruent relationships with themselves, with others (including within their family structures) and with the organizations for which they work.