The Sneaker Experiment

Lisa Gilbar is a Los Angeles based therapist specializing in anxiety and working with creative artists. Prior to becoming a therapist, Lisa worked in the entertainment industry in film, television, and on Broadway for 15 years.

Mo:       Tell me how you got started with The Sneaker Project.

Lisa:       I was lying in bed one night and analyzing my life, ya know, as you do, and I started thinking about how I was always so careful with everything I did. This led me to thinking about how I had always been that careful. How, even as a kid, I was so careful that my sneakers never got dirty. Truly – I used to step on my own shoes to make it look like I had done something “out of the box” when in truth I was too scared to attempt anything that was outside of my comfort zone. This got me thinking about what I would do now if I was to push myself outside of my comfort zone…to get my sneakers dirty.

Mo:   Tell our readers about it.

Lisa:  The Sneaker Experiment is an online community where people can go to read about people’s shared experiences while tackling their own “Sneakers” (Sneakers = actions that push you outside of your comfort zone) and then share some of their very own! It is a place of support, entertainment, and ideas!

Mo:  What inspired you?

Lisa:  I am a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist, and there is this concept in CBT called partializing. Basically, what it means is breaking down lists into the smallest steps possible. The example I give on the site is this: “Do you ever go to the grocery store with a list that says, “Get groceries”? No! You go to the grocery store with a specific grocery list — items you can find and cross off as they’re added to your shopping cart.”  yet somehow, when we make to-do lists in our lives (either on paper or in our heads), we put down the “get groceries” sort of items. It’s no wonder we get so overwhelmed! It’s because, just by thinking about that one item, we know there are a bunch of smaller items involved. So partializing makes you look at all of those smaller items, thereby making it easier to tackle them. I took this technique to heart and started applying it to my idea of getting my sneakers dirty. And voila…my first Sneaker List was born!

Mo:  What things have made you put on your sneakers?

Lisa:  I actually have a long list of “Sneakers”, but two of my most challenging and surprisingly gratifying ones were “Walking in the rain without an umbrella” & “Letting go on a flying trapeze”. Two very different challenges, but both represented control issues that I had resisted overcoming for many years. And accomplishing both of them gave me a sense of freedom and pride that I had rarely experienced before then. That’s what’s so great about this project — the “Sneakers” can be so random, but as long as they do something to push YOU outside YOUR comfort zone, then they are right on.

Mo:  What are your visions with this project?

Lisa:  When I first started this “experiment”, it was just for me. Then I started expanding it to my friends and family. Now, with the Sneaker Experiment website, I am able to reach a whole new range of people! My hope is to reach as many people as I can, to introduce this concept to people who may recognize themselves in my story and will use this as an opportunity to push themselves outside of their personal comfort zone and will be able to really LIVE and not just observe so much of what life has to offer.

Mo:  If you could have 3 wishes granted with this project, what would they be?

Lisa:   1. To reach a wide-ranging audience through the website and other mediums.

2. To hear that people have embraced this Sneaker technique and it is changing their lives.

3. To have “Sneaker” become part of the common vocabulary…as in, “What’s your Sneaker?”

To read Sneaker Stories & Sneaker Lists — and to create your own Sneaker Stories and Sneaker Lists — visit You can also follow The Sneaker Experiment on Twitter at @sneakerexp and “Like” the fan page on Facebook under “The Sneaker Experiment” for fun updates.

1 thought on “The Sneaker Experiment”

  1. So true…accepting some ‘risk’ by going outside your comfort zone is the only way for growth/development! Thanks for sharing the Sneaker Experiment!

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