Heidi Swapp: 9 Easy Things Every Parent Can Do To Begin Preventing Suicide Now
Seven years ago, Heidi Swapp lost her 16-year-old son, Cory, to suicide. In the wake of Cory’s passing, Heidi endured devastating thoughts of her perceived failures as a mother. But instead of focusing on what she couldn’t change, Heidi determined to learn as much as she could and then share the things she wished she’d known with as many parents as would listen. One of the most important things she's learned is that suicide prevention begins long before we are ever concerned about someone we love. So on today's episode, she shares nine principles that she believes have the ability to make a critical difference.
Being all in is allowing yourself to figure it out as you go, and to learn and to evolve—to allow yourself to have a question, to allow yourself to have a surety and to allow yourself to be loved by a perfect Heavenly Father and to be saved by Jesus, recognizing that you just don't have to have it all figured out.
Deseret News article Morgan wrote about Heidi 7 years ago
3:08- Seven Years Later
15:35- Don’t Freak Out
22:18- One Day At A Time
27:12- 'Forgive Yourself For Not Knowing What You Didn’t Know’
29:57- Don’t Believe Everything You Think
35:00- The End
39:12- Now Is Not Forever
42:48- Connection > Concern
45:58- The Importance of Evolving
53:35- What Does It Mean To Be All In the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
Morgan Jones Pearson: Last year, Heidi Swapp wrote, "2015 feels like a million years ago. I guess it's because that's when my whole world changed completely in a way that I would have never imagined. On July 9, my 16 year old son, my second oldest of five children, made the decision to end his own life by suicide. Complete shock does not even begin to describe how I felt, whether it be ignorance or optimism. I just didn't even know anything about suicide. Sure, I had known a few stories of people that had ended their lives all of which I carried a certain critical judgment that was completely based on zero facts, 100% lack of understanding, or compassion. So when suicide became a reality in my own family with my own beautiful, funny, charismatic, charming, athletic life of the party, best smile award winning high school sophomore, newly driver's licensed son, I was completely devastated and everything I believed about my family, my parenting and life as I knew it was shattered." Today, we talked with Heidi Swapp about how seeking to help others understand the things she wished she known helped her pick up the pieces in the years since, and how all of us can begin what she calls everyday suicide prevention with the people we love. Heidi Swapp is perhaps best known within the scrapbooking community as she calls herself a memory keeper. She is the creative director of her own Heidi Swapp brand. For years following her son Cory's passing Heidi was the co-host of a podcast called Light The Fight, which sought to bring light to tough topics related to personal and family relationships. As September is Suicide Prevention Month. We are so grateful to Heidi for her willingness to share her story.
This is All In, an LDS Living podcast where we ask the question, what does it really mean to be all in the gospel of Jesus Christ? I'm Morgan Pearson, and I am honored to have Heidi Swapp on the show with me today, Heidi, welcome.
Heidi Swapp: Thanks for having me, Morgan.
Morgan Jones Pearson: Well, this is kind of an interesting thing. I feel like Heidi to be able to circle back around seven years ago, you and I spoke shortly after you lost your 16 year old son, Cory to suicide. And I don't know how much you remember about that interview. But I found myself thinking about it the last little bit as I've prepared to interview you again, and have thought about how I feel like my life is a lot different and circumstances in my family are a lot different than they were then I feel like. I have learned a lot about interviewing people and so I appreciate your patience with me then because I'm sure I was just like a mess. But I also just remember how gracious you were to talk—especially so soon after Cory's passing—that you were so gracious and wanting to share the things that you were learning with other people and to hopefully spare other people the same pain that you were experiencing, which I think is one of the most Christlike things anybody could do. So thank you for that. But second, I wondered how you would say that you are a different person than you were seven years ago when we last spoke?
Heidi Swapp: Well, I appreciate that. You know, it's funny when you reached out and you reminded me that you were the one who interviewed me because we never met, we only interviewed over the phone. And, you know, that was the first interview that I ever gave. It was the first time and I don't even know why I agreed to do that at that time. And I think to your point, I was really trying to find a voice. I was certainly recognizing that I wasn't alone with suicide affecting my family. And I was realizing that I had an opportunity to share that story. And I think that my personal passion, which has also kind of bubbled into my profession is that I believe in the power of stories and the importance of stories. And so I knew really soon thereafter Cory passed away that it would be important for me to share the story. And that's not to say that was my first thought. Because I think that my my first thought was, was honestly like what was a lie that I could come up with that would maybe be easier to talk about than the truth of what happened. And so, you know, thinking back to when we did that interview and you know, for people who don't know me, just a little teeny bit of background that's a little bit interesting is that if you'll pardon this really broad and interesting description i'll give of myself, but people would call me a scrapbook celebrity, which is weird. Very weird I know, just cringe for a second, it's fine. But for the last 20 years, I have been published in magazines back in the magazine world, I've had books published, I've had a blog, and when you're a scrapbooker, you share these really intimate photos and stories. And so from the time, I mean, I started teaching scrapbooking classes when I was pregnant with my son Cory who passed away. And so because in that, that span of his lifetime, I had shared hundreds of photos and stories about him. And the people that were following me, whether they had followed me, there were a lot of years that, that in his life, 16 years that people had followed me and, and grown to know, Cory in that way. And so when he passed away, and I realized it would be necessary for me to tell what happened. And it was still really hard for me to talk about it when when we first chatted. And at the same time, it was really important for me to share the story. Because I knew that via social media and via Facebook, this article would be a way that I could both share the story, and also share my faith, which has always been an important opportunity for me to give a little insight into my belief system. And that always goes along in scrapbooking, no matter where I've been teaching...Parallelism in my life has always gone hand in hand. So I've always talked about my faith. And specifically, that article that you were interviewing me for was in the faith section. But also interestingly, at that time, Harriman, where I live in Utah, was also kind of a little hotbed force for teenage suicide. And there abouts, it had gained some national attention for that very reason. And so I felt like I wanted to be able to share that story, and honor Cory, and what we were then dealing with. You asked me how things are different in seven years and seven years is a good long time. I can remember meeting people there in the beginning and when it was convenient, that would say to me, "Oh, this is very fresh for you." And now seven years later, I understand what that means. Like, for example, when we first spoke it's a wonder that you could even understand me, I'm sure that I was crying throughout the interview, it was very difficult for me to talk without crying. And you know, it still is, I'll be honest, at that time, I didn't have a lot of vocabulary about how I felt about suicide about in general, what I was learning or what I was even facing. And so I can remember still just really having a hard time finding words. I can remember being in interviews, and there'd be just a lot of stuttering and me just really kind of grappling to try to really express myself. Since that time, about two and a half or so years after Cory passed away, I started a podcast with Cory's therapist. And the reason why I wanted to do that was because obviously I knew that his therapist was only able to meet with one person at a time in the confines of a little room and at that time, I'd already been kind of in some coaching with him. Not so much therapy, but more of a coaching relationship that he and I had. And I was learning so much so quickly. And I just wanted every mom out there to somehow have an opportunity to learn what I was learning every time I met with him, his name's David Kozlowski. And every time I met with him, and every time, in fact, that we would have these podcasts sessions, I just would think to myself, I wish I knew this 20 years ago, I wish this was information that I had access to when I was a young mom with young kids because the way that I naturally
interacted with my kids, and directed them and managed our relationships was very much just a spillover from how I had been raised. And never had I been, I've never thought about the way that I was talking, or my body language, or any of the things that I was then learning, that certainly impacted the relationship. And so we have done the podcast for about four and a half years. I've kind of stepped away from it, it's kind of going in a different direction. Now David is heading up on his own. And I do have a lot of vocabulary, I do have a lot of opinions. Since that time, I have been invited to speak at lots and lots of different types of events, whether they were within the church or outside the church, whether they were to professionals or teachers, to students, to elementary age students all the way up through college age students, to missionaries to what is my favorite audience, which is Mother's Day, I have really tried to gather and hone in and focus in on the things that I wish I would have known the most. And the skills and the shift in perspective, this shift in approach that I wish that I would have known about. And if you've talked to my older kids...so interestingly enough, we have five kids, my husband, I have five kids, the oldest three were really close in age. And then there was this five year gap. And we had two more kids that were actually even closer in age, only 11 months apart. And if you ask my older kids, the older set, you know, like, how I am as a mother, now they just think my babies, my littles, as we call them, they're 15 and 16. So they're not even that little anymore. But I'm a very different parent, my approach is very different. The relationships are very different. The way that I approach problems is very different. The things that are important to me are very different. And so I mean, in your original question that you asked me, what is different? And I would venture to say that literally everything.
Morgan Jones Pearson: Heidi, that was so well said and I want to tell you, you're not giving yourself enough credit for that first interview that we did. But it is interesting to think about because I think now, I think I got assigned that story. If I remember correctly, somebody that followed, you said, you know, you should reach out to this lady. And now knowing what I know, in the last seven years, I never would have reached out to somebody that it was that fresh, just because a lot of times I've found you have people that are actually the opposite of your situation where I was the one approaching you. But you have people that reach out because they've just gone through something and they feel a desire, I think to give purpose to that experience. And then they want to talk about it. But I have found that it seems like it's best to let people process a little bit. So I am so excited to learn from you today. Because you were wonderful then, you were wonderful seven years ago. But I think that you have put in the work now. And it's so clear in the way that you talk. You were wonderful. Like I said, wonderful then but you have this confidence. Like you said, you have the vocabulary now. And that's so clear in talking to you. And so I'm so excited to kind of dig into some of these principles that you teach and that you've pulled out from the things that you've learned. You talk a lot Heidi about how it's important to have what you call every day suicide prevention, meaning that it's something that people should be actively doing, whether they think there's a problem or not, just by the way that we interact with people that we care about. So you have eight different principles that you talk about as it relates to suicide prevention. And I wondered if we could just kind of hit these and just have you share the things that you've learned. And certainly, I should tell people if they want to go listen to the episodes of the podcast that you've been involved with, like you said, you're not as involved now. But Light The Fight is where you can learn way more from Heidi. But today, we'll just kind of hit this high level stuff. The first principle that you talk about is Don't freak out. Tell me what you mean by that.
Heidi Swapp: So that's probably my, my number one message to parents, to anybody. And it really is because I am like the the OG freaker outer. Freaking out just came so naturally, in fact, in the beginning, we started doing parent events that we would go to schools, and the name of the events were don't freak out. And originally in the very, very beginning, this was one of the first things that David talked to me about because... I'm a very emotionally charged, I'm a very passionate person, I'm kind of a big personality. And I also just like things done a certain way, I have very high expectations of myself and others. And so when things don't go, as planned, freaking out comes very naturally. And so initially, one of the very first things that he talked to me about actually, even before Cory passed away, was that I had to get control of my response. And one of the things that he would (I'm talking about David Kozlowski) is he would say to me, you know, when the first responder comes to the scene of an accident, it's critically important that that first responder is calm, is totally calm, and doesn't ask a million questions. And so, you know, I would always share with parents, what if a first responder came up, and let's say that you've been in an accident, let's say that maybe you've caused the accident. And this first responders like, Oh, I bet you're texting, where are you? How fast were you going? What were you thinking? Why in the world would you be driving this fast? What were you doing? You know, and and we kind of spew out these questions. And if you can imagine being on the other end of somebody that has some power and authority coming to you and just like asking you a million questions, harsh shaming, triggering alarming questions, that immediately your response to that person would just be to completely shut down, you would be scared, you would feel insecure and safe, you would feel like that wasn't somebody that you wanted to open up to, or even let them help you at all. And so, normally, when a first responder comes to the scene of an accident, the first thing they're going to do is make sure you're okay, they're going to try to get you to calm down, they're going to make sure you're safe, they're going to remove you from the scene of that accident. And then once you've had a chance to take a breath, they're gonna say, can you tell me what happened, walk me through what happened. And in your own words, without feeling condemned, and without feeling scared, you would have a chance to share that in this space to share that from a really young age. I think that we as parents, even when our kids are super young we train them that when they do something wrong, we freak out. We let them know, you spill milk and it splatters all over the entire kitchen. And we lose our cool and you're walking out to church and you can't find one of the shoes and you lose your cool and you leave your bike for the 50th time behind the car and it gets run over. We lose our cool. My favorite one is, Morgan, I don't think you have kids. But there may come a time when you have kids strapped in car seats and you go through a drive thru. And they're like I want a smoothie. And you're thinking to yourself, I'm such a good mom for just driving through this and just giving them a smoothie because they love it. They want it and so you just hand that smoothie back to the car seat. And you know, before you can even pull out that smoothie is down inside the car, see and immediately you're like, Okay, so that's gonna rot. It's gonna stink. We're on our way to someplace that we don't have time for this and you freak out. When you show your kids over and over and over from the time they're super young to the time that when they're 13, 14, 15, they're done telling you the messes that they've made, they will tiptoe around you, they will do everything possible to mitigate any freak outs. Kids hate it when their parents freak out. Parents hate having to freak out. It goes both ways. But I think that this number one first thing, anybody listening to me, in any circumstance, no matter what the relationship is, this is something that you can work on immediately. Right now, everyday suicide prevention is when something goes wrong, slow down. It's okay to use humor. It's okay to take a step back. It's okay to talk to yourself and say, All right, well, not gonna freak out. Give yourself a little pep talk. But perhaps the most powerful thing that you can do to build a relationship of trust with the people who you love the most is to not freak out.
Morgan Jones Pearson: Amazing, that makes complete sense. And I, I will when I have kids will be the voice resounding in my head when this movie gets dumped in the car seat. The next thing that I wanted to ask you about, you wrote on Instagram, "I'm one of those people who sometimes can't help worrying about might or could happen. And by that, I mean, what could go wrong?" I'm also one of those people. Heidi, I wonder why is living in the present, or as you put it, just taking one day at a time so important?
Heidi Swapp: You know, I think that the reality is it every day, especially when, and I'm going to just take a minute and speak to just being a parent of teenagers. You know, a lot of things can go wrong every single day as a parent of teenagers. Certainly, depending on what your expectations are in terms of like, what's going on with their grades, what's going on with their friends, maybe they're driving, maybe they're in an athletic situation, or, you know, whatever that situation is one of the things that we can do that that actually causes us to freak out. And it actually causes us to not be very trustworthy with our kids is that we get into something that that David Kozlowski would call a time machine. And let me explain it to you. And it would go something like this. "Well, if you can't do your math homework, and you fail your test, and you fail this class, how are you going to graduate high school? How do you get into college? How are you going to get a higher than a supportive family? If you can't even do this math assignment. And this is something that vividly I remember, my parents seemed to me, and it could be anything, it could be like, if you can't even make your bed right now. How are you going to take care of a home and a family? Or if you can't even come home at midnight, when you say you're gonna come home? How am I ever going to trust you to do this? What happens is the behaviors that are existing or the fears that we have about the behaviors existing, we immediately want to mentally prepare ourselves for everything that could go wrong. And we do a disservice to ourselves and to our kids, by condemning them to some future fate, based on something that's happening right now. I mean, yes, you can see where those dots could connect. But the reality is, stay in today. Do that for yourself. Do that for your kids. Because if we start putting these mounds of pressure about what kind of a mom they're going to be about what kind of a provider they're going to be for a family about what their high school or what their college experience is going to be like when they're a sophomore in college, or in high school. All we're doing is just mounting pressure, that does not even need to be there. So, you know, I think every mom you put a brand new baby in their arms and immediately you start worrying about is are they going to be made fun of if they're gonna make friends if they're going to be able to learn to read...and the worrying which is very natural, I mean, we really are programmed to worry, it's not a bad thing. What happens is when we start really condemning ourselves or others from Time Machine that just doesn't, even exist. I would much rather believe that every day is a fresh start, and that the possibilities are endless, and that we're meant to make mistakes so that we can do better, be better. And, and be more equipped when the time comes no 15 year old is equipped to face what they're going to be equipped to face when they're 25. And we're the same way. And so I think that the thing that David would say to me all the time is that I just needed to stay out of the time machine. And just be in that moment, dealing with the things that were happening in the moment.
Morgan Jones Pearson: That's so good. And it makes so much sense. I think that that is such a such a great example. And such a good concept to keep in mind. Another thing you said you quoted Maya Angelou, who said something that has made a big impact on you, she said, "Forgive yourself for not knowing what you didn't know before you learned it." How did your experience in the days following Cory's passing teach you this? And how is this applicable in other situations as well, because I think that thought is so profound.
Heidi Swapp: Well, when we were kind of just introducing the podcast today, I kind of talked about this, I genuinely thought every single day, I wish I would have done this 20 years ago, I wish I would have changed this, I wish I would have thought about this. And I would think to myself, maybe Cory would be alive. If I would have done this different, or if I would have behaved differently if I would have talked differently. And that may or may not be true, I don't know, there's no way for me to know that. And so I would literally have to read this quote to myself, or recite it in my head every single day to myself, because first of all, there was no way that I could have even opened myself to understanding what I needed to change or what I needed to learn without that experience, because I never would have been as passionate about about learning or asking myself those questions because I just wouldn't, I just wasn't in that circumstance to even consider those things. And so at that time, me continuously beating myself up was not serving me and my marriage, it wasn't serving me and parenting. The other four kids that were alive. It wasn't serving me in my business. It wasn't serving me anywhere. And so this concept of forgiving myself and forgiving myself and forgiving myself. And giving myself that grace was literally the only way I could move forward.
Morgan Jones Pearson: I think, like I said, I think that is so applicable to so many different situations. We always think what could have been differently had I known this and so keeping that in mind, I think is critical, no matter what the situation in life. Another thing you've talked about is how you believe it's important to talk with kids and to also recognize ourselves that everything we think may not be reality, or as you put it, don't believe everything you think, what have you learned about how you just mentioned talking about thoughts not serving you, but what have you learned about how we should approach thoughts?
Heidi Swapp: Well, I can remember the very first time that David and I keep referring to David so I'm I'm sorry, but he's been my teacher and my mentor. I remember the first time and what we were talking about. And this was really soon after Cory died and I kind of felt like, maybe all of my children should be taken away from me because I was such a bad mom. That was kind of the message in my head. And at the time we were really working with understanding the difference between shame and guilt, which I think is something you know, has been very readily discussed now seven years later, but even seven years ago, that wasn't something...like Brene Brown hadn't like broken the silence of really understanding that and so it was like this mind blowing experience for me, because the shame that I had was this continuous thought of what a horrible mother I was, and that good moms don't have their kids die from suicide. And so this was a core belief that I was entertaining everyday was what a bad mom I was. And I remember when David said to me, don't believe everything you think. And I was like,
Well, I'm right. He's right. And so, I think that was the first time that I started to realize that I didn't, I didn't know everything. And just because I thought it and just because it made sense to me and just because it was what I was taught maybe my whole life, I didn't necessarily need to believe it, I needed to question it. And think about it, think about it from different perspectives, a lot of times, we get into really dangerous thought patterns. And now of course, it makes sense. Because we have all kinds of shameful thoughts that come into our heads, whether they come from ourselves, whether they come from our experiences, or or wherever they may come from. I think that teaching our kids, that every thought that passes through their head isn't real reality. You know, the other the other phrase that he uses is to illustrate and to teach it, as he says, these are real, your real feelings, what you're feeling is real. But it also may not be reality. And we have to have people in our lives that we can trust enough to help us distinguish whether or not what we're thinking is reality or not. And maybe that's a really good friend, when you're saying, Does my butt look fat in these jeans? Or do I actually look okay? And do I believe you, because we can't always even believe what we see in the mirror. And so this is part also of really having relationships with your children that are trusted, they know that you're in control, they know that you're not irrational all the time as well, and that you can start distinguishing the difference between rational thoughts, and really irrational thoughts.
Morgan Jones Pearson: Heidi, I think the thing that's so cool about listening to you talk about these things is that I don't know, I just am so touched by the fact because I'm thinking about it. Like if you're a parent, and you're listening to somebody tell you this is what you're supposed to do. And I can imagine if I was a mom, and had already raised some kids and felt like I wasn't doing everything, right, then I'm like, oh, man, I have not done a good job. But I love the way that you approach this topic and the way that it feels like, it's never too late right to start being the kind of person that you want to be, and to learn the things that are going to make a difference. And I don't know, I just, I have this feeling, Heidi, that Cory has to be so proud of you. And I'm grateful that you're willing to share all that you're learning or have learned. You said one of the most important things that you've learned in the past seven years has been what you call the end, which essentially means two things can be true at the same time. Is that right? Did I get that right?
Heidi Swapp: Yes, this was a big one for me, because I'll even say I think being raised in the church, I was raised by very stalwart parents, and so everything was very much a black and white experience for me. It was wrong or it was right. It was good or it was bad. And there was just really no gray area or room for something to be good, better and best. You know, some of those things were hard for me...I didn't experience like if, for example, if work was going bad for me then it was like, all condemned to hell. Like, I hated everything. And I was super upset. And I didn't ever realize that I could be like, I'm really mad about this thing at work. And I'm also just really grateful for my work and so I'm gonna work through this. I think sometimes what happens, like if a kid comes home from school, and someone has been mean to them. Literally, it means that everything about school is horrible. Everything about them is horrible. Everything about their day is horrible. Everything about learning is horrible. And that might be true for them. Here's another example. Like, if you have a kid that fails a math test, and let's say that that kid probably isn't that great at math, they come home, and they've failed at math. And now they're just stupid. They're stupid, bad at everything, and they just have no hope. And they may as well just give up and now everything is awful and ruined. And I think that it's really important to be able to say, Yeah, you're right. You, you are not thriving in math right now. And you're really doing great in history. And look at you, you just ran the mile in eight minutes. This is incredible. Or you didn't really study, remember. And, you know, so I think that when kids are upset, it tends to feel like, the whole, everything is just awful. And I mean anybody who's listening can probably think of a time where one thing in your life, one aspect in your life has gone wrong, and that just casts a shadow over every single thing. And you can't even see the good because it just like sits right on top of your eyeballs. So I think that it's very healthy to be able to distinguish that one thing that in your life that isn't going well isn't every single thing in your life, and that we can feel different things at the same exact time we can feel happy and sad at the same exact time. And I just didn't even know that that was possible. And it kind of even extended, like I told you, that was a long time that I was really struggling with just feeling like I was a horrible parent. And David would say, you know, you can feel like you're a terrible parent. And you also might not be a terrible parent. And that kind of helped me give space to feeling different things and considering different things and being multiple things at the same time. And I think that it helps you be a little less irrational, and a little less freaking out and having a little less extreme frustration.
Morgan Jones Pearson: For sure. Another principle that you teach that I love is the idea that now is not forever. As I read that I thought it was interesting, because sometimes I think it's like we want our nows to last forever. Like sometimes it's like I want to sit in this moment forever. And other times we want to know that that now will not last forever. So how has that brought you comfort? And how can it help those that are struggling?
Heidi Swapp: You know, I have to be careful every time I talk about this because there are certain circumstances that may be a lifelong circumstance that you're dealing with. But for the most part, everything changes. Every circumstance changes. And you'll hear people say, I always this, or I'm always left out I always struggle, there's always this or that and the fact is, it's just not a true statement. We're never always the same anything. When we're in a really difficult time. It will it can very easily feel like this is always going to suck, this is always gonna be in my situation. You know, kids in friend groups, especially in the teenage years becomes a really interesting thing and you'll have a kid in a friend group and then have some dynamic change in that friend group and it affects the mental health of your child because maybe they're being left out or maybe somebody is spreading rumors about them or whatever and pretty soon this really short period of time, could be a month that they're being left out, or things aren't great with a friend group. And it literally feels like their whole entire life forever and ever is condemned to this friend group hell, and it's never going to change. You can get a zit right in the middle of your forehead, and feel like, it's always going to exist, and you're never going to be pretty again, and nobody's ever going to ask you out on a date. And, you know, whatever. It's really helpful to talk about time perspective in in acknowledging, you know what, right now, this really sucks. And this isn't going to last forever, this will heal, you will grow, you will learn, you will understand, you will not have the same chemistry teacher forever, you will not have the same boss forever. And so even circumstances that won't change, like, this is going to be my mom forever. Or, you know, this is gonna be my mother in law for my whole entire marriage, whatever. Circumstances within those circumstances will change. And it's just a good perspective coping mechanism recognition way to look at difficult situations.
Morgan Jones Pearson: For sure, well, and I think especially within a gospel context, if we look at things with an eternal perspective, we recognize that everything will change. Because we believe in the resurrection. So I love that, when we have somebody that we love who we know is struggling, talk to me about why or even I guess, when we don't know they're struggling, but talk to me about why connection is more important than concern.
Heidi Swapp: You know, this is just a really great concept. And most of the time, and now let's just talk as a parent, when, when you've got a kid comes home, crying, runs into rooms, slams the door, you know something's wrong, or whatever, our immediate responses to it, what's wrong? What's happening? What's going to fix it? We're going in with all this concern, what's happened? And we have no idea what that is, and even if you have somebody that may be there, that negativity or depression that's happening over a long amount of time, maybe it's been going on for a little while, and you just can't get that information, don't know what's wrong. Going about creating a connection first is going to open any type of communication with this person, and it looks something like this. You know, rather than just only focusing on what's wrong, you focus on that person, you know they really love this type of Slurpee or a drink, and you show up with it, and you bring the drink, or when you're driving in the car, you turn on their favorite song, and you have a little dance party. And then after you've had the little dance party, and after you've brought in some of your favorite treats, or after you've sent sometimes I like to text a photo, a funny photo of a shared experience, or even a meme, or funny TikTok, they work really well, too. And when you get that little connection, like okay, we're right here on the same page, then you can say something like, I can tell things are a little off right now. And I just want you to know that when you're ready to talk, I'm here to listen. Period. So what you've done is you've established a connection, and you've opened the opportunity for communication, and it might not come in the next five minutes. It might take an hour, it might take till the next day. But if you just keep on reopening that door of communication without like, what's going on, what's wrong, tell me everything, you're going to establish that level of trust, and they're going to be able to come to you on their terms. And then when they do, listen and just let them share. And that is the most beautiful way to establish and use connection in a positive way.
Morgan Jones Pearson: So well said. I think that what you just said reminds me of the Taylor Swift song, "The Best Day," which I think shows like, what a child remembers about their parents and so I love that principle. Heidi, we've talked a little bit about how you feel like you've evolved as a person over the last seven years. But another thing that you talk a lot about is active evolution and making deliberate efforts to evolve as people. What does that look like?
Heidi Swapp: Well, the definition of evolution is really just to get better over time. And a lot of us, okay, I'm, I'm 50 years old and as I think back to like, how I was raised, I know that my mom and dad did the absolute best that they could, and I know that they were actually taking cues from their parents that they didn't like, and tried to be better. And even though there's a lot of things as I think back to the way that I was treated that I didn't like, I was already trying to incorporate them. And I feel like I did, I feel like I am better in a lot of ways. But I think that it's really important as a parent right now, wherever you are, or in your relationship, that you are to acknowledge the fact that evolution is required of you, and of me, and all this evolution is required. And so not just to sit in the situation where you think, you know what, I am a pretty good mom, or I am a pretty good wife, I'm pretty good friend. I'm a pretty good sister. And so I'm okay here. I think it's important to ask yourself, What can I do better, and maybe there's topics, maybe they're gospel topics, maybe they're [other] topics, maybe there's issues that you and your kid, or you and your spouse don't see eye to eye on. And that is a notification that you need to do some work, like, let's take a difficult topic, like LGBTQ in our world right now. And those of us who are 50 years old have a lot to learn about supporting the LGBTQ community, where maybe our teenager, it's coming a little more natural for them, and it doesn't seem as as difficult to make those changes. Well, we have to look at this, these difficult situations aand ways that we don't see eye to eye with people in our lives, and recognize that evolution is needed. And that means that we need to go and listen to podcasts, and read articles, and educate ourselves on maybe even on both sides of those issues. And we need to say to our kids, how would you teach me? How would you help me understand, so that I can improve, and let yourself be influenced by your kids and influenced by your partner, influenced by the world around you in ways that you can be better and allow for those differences to exist, allow for yourself to be more loving and tolerant and patient and recognize that that's not just going to happen? By doing nothing, it requires freaking hard work.
Morgan Jones Pearson: Most things that matter do require really, really hard work. Okay, the last principle, I have no idea what this one means. So tell me what "Yet" means.
Heidi Swapp: Yet is a wonderful way to end a sentence for a kid who is struggling or for yourself. If you can do it for yourself. But a lot of times you'll have a kid come home angry and upset and say, you know, no one is ever gonna like me. You know, I didn't get invited to the dance. I didn't. I didn't get my roundoff back handspring. I can't understand my math, I don't have any friends.
I can't this, that and the other. And these seems like to us as a mom, you think to yourself, Okay, it doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things. If you don't have your roundoff back handspring, it is not the end of the world. Or we know for ourselves, like if they got broken up with by their boyfriend, that likely there's going to be another boy that comes along at some time and
catches your eye, right? We know this as a parent, but to that child or that person that's going through something, that's really awful. It doesn't help to say, Oh, don't worry, there's going to be somebody else or Oh, that handspring doesn't matter because it does, it does matter. And so what we can say is, you know, you just don't have it yet. You gotta keep trying. You know, you don't understand that math yet. And you haven't found the right guy yet. Or you haven't taken the time to work through this yet, but there is time. And I know it's important to you, and I know you can do it, and I want to help you. Yet is this allotment of possibility that every one of us possess, possesses in every circumstance to be and do and emerge into whatever we want to become. And there is time. And there is opportunity, I think, for somebody who's struggling with suicidal thoughts, it's never just one thing that is weighing on them. It's a million things that is hurting, that is scary, that is overwhelming, that isn't working. It's all of these things on top of each other. All of these things that kind of have gotten tied into a really big knot that feels impossible to fix. And I think that one of the most encouraging and supportive things that you can say to somebody is you just don't know the answer yet. Answers can be found, solutions are out there, possibilities exist. And it might not be right now. It might not be tomorrow. But the possibility is the answer, the solution. Overcoming these struggles can happen. If you get people on board to help you, if you're willing to talk about it, if you're willing to step back off the edge and let other people help you. It's often that we just we don't know the the solutions to our own problem but when we share our concerns, when we talk about them, there are there are solutions that can be found.
Morgan Jones Pearson: I love that, and I will never think of the word yet the same. So thank you so much for sharing that. My last question for you, Heidi, and this is the question we ask at the end of every episode of the show is what does it mean to you to be all in the gospel of Jesus Christ?
Heidi Swapp: You know, I thought a lot about this, this question and I did know that this was the question that you're going to end on and that I would by saying yes to come on this podcast that I would be required to, to answer this question. And, you know, I could probably go on and on for a really long time about what I think. But you know what, the reality is all the things that we've talked about the and the yet now is not forever, not freaking out, the forgiving yourself. Like all of the things I've talked about are also essential, helpful ways to approach being in the gospel and I think negotiating our relationship with our Heavenly Father, and with our Savior. I think that being all in in the Gospel, is being willing to let the gospel allow you to grow and to learn and that you just don't have to know everything right now. Everything doesn't have to make sense. Everything doesn't have to be all checkboxed. Everything doesn't have to be just right. Being all in is allowing yourself to figure it out as you go, and to learn and to evolve. And to allow yourself to have a question, to allow yourself to have a surety and to allow yourself to be loved by a perfect Heavenly Father and to be saved by Jesus, recognizing that you just don't have to have it all figured out. And maybe that's even a little bit contradictory to being all in is giving the gospel a chance to just work in your life. And I think that that's how I approach the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Morgan Jones Pearson: I love that I am what you just said reminded me and I don't usually say anything after people say their answer to what it means to be all in. But just last week, I was teaching my teacher seminary class. And just last week, one of the boys in the class said, is Heavenly Father's plan supposed to be perfect? And I was sitting there, and, and my husband actually was like listening. And he texted me. It's like, yes, the Savior is what makes it perfect. And I think that life and mortality, like you've mentioned several times, things are not black and white. It's not this perfectly packaged thing that we're experiencing here. But God's plan for us is perfect. And that's why we have a Savior. And so being all in means accepting, I think the messiness of life, and embracing the fact that we have a Savior. And so Heidi, thank you so much. I honestly, thank you enough, I'm so glad that we had a chance to reconnect, and I just, I am so impressed and really, really appreciative.
Heidi Swapp:Thank you. It's fun for me to remember back those seven years and it's been good for me to just evaluate my own growth in that in that time, it's helpful sometimes to, to look back and give yourself a little round of applause, maybe for...
Morgan Jones Pearson: Making progress.
Heidi Swapp: Making progress. There you go.
Morgan Jones Pearson: We are so grateful to Heidi Swapp for joining us on today's episode. In honor of Suicide Prevention Month. We hope you'll join us in looking for ways to apply these suggestions in your life. I know I learned so much and I hope you did too. Big thanks to Derek Campbell of Mix At Six studios for his help with this and every episode of this podcast. And thank you so much for spending time with us. We'll be with you again next week.