I Can’t Get No Satisfaction: Dr. Cristina Dominguez On Why So Many Of Us Are Feeling Unsatisfied & What We Can Do About It

An Interview With Drew Gerber

Drew Gerber, CEO of Wasabi Publicity
Authority Magazine
12 min readSep 14, 2022

--

Remember that your mind doesn’t know the difference between what is real and what is imagined. Be mindful of the power of your words and how it can manifest into reality.

From an objective standpoint, we are living in an unprecedented era of abundance. Yet so many of us are feeling unsatisfied. Why are we seemingly so insatiable? What is going on inside of us that is making us feel unsatisfied? What is the brain chemistry that makes us feel this way? Is our brain wired for endless insatiable consumption? What can we do about it? In this interview series, we are talking to credentialed experts such as psychologists, psychiatrists, therapists, brain science experts, as well as spiritual and religious leaders, and mind-body-spirit coaches, to address why so many of us are feeling unsatisfied & what we can do about it.

As a part of this series, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Dr. Cristina Domínguez

Dr. Cristina Dominguez is a native of Miami and attended the Florida School of Professional Psychology where she obtained a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology. She specialized in sport and performance enhancement as well as Traditional Chinese Medicine. She is the founder of Cristina Dominguez, Psy.D., Mental and Performance Coach, Inc. a fully online practice specializing in identifying and managing restrictive belief systems for individuals, couples and families struggling with anxiety and depression related to not feeling fulfilled in their everyday life.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to know how you got from “there to here.” Inspire us with your backstory!

Absolutely! My name is Dr. Cristina Dominguez. I am originally from Miami. I’ve moved throughout the east coast while studying to become a doctor in clinical psychology. I received my bachelors in Psychology from the University of Central Florida in 2011. A quick trip to the west coast of Florida found me in Tampa where I obtained my Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the Florida School for Professional Psychology. In 2015 I matched for an internship in Pennsylvania where I began a concentration in sport and performance enhancement. All throughout my studies I held fast to my dancing dreams. Upon graduation having already found myself in the northeast I made the move to the Big Apple where I trained at the dance school of my dreams while also completing a post doctoral residency at a group practice which is where I received training in Traditional Chinese Medicine. In 2019 I opened my own business providing fully online psychological services in an effort to continue doing what I love in both my professional life with patients while training and performing at dance events throughout NYC.

What lessons would you share with yourself if you had the opportunity to meet your younger self?

Be patient Cristy! I get so excited at times throughout my journey I forget to take a step back and breathe while I watch the seeds take root. Trust in your abilities and the determination to make everything you want in life come true. Everything you put your mind to will come true and then some!

None of us are able to experience success without support along the way. Is there a particular person for whom you are grateful because of the support they gave you to grow you from “there to here?” Can you share that story and why you are grateful for them?

Along my journey my other half and my brother have been the strongest source of support I could have ever asked for. They helped me pull through in moments I didn’t think I had anything left in me. I couldn’t be more grateful for them.

Most importantly, without the vision of my grandfather who came from Colombia in 1966 with the hope of providing the future Domínguez generations with opportunities, none of this success would have ever been possible. My grandfather who came to this country with nothing but his tool box, to then have it stolen during his travels let nothing stop him from accomplishing his dream. A year later he had a stable job, bought a house, a family car, and was able to bring the rest of the family to the U.S. Although he is no longer with us, that undying determination lives strong and is my daily inspiration to keep pushing forward.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think it might help people?

Yes! I am currently focusing on advocating for the importance of quality mental health treatment particularly in first generation POC communities. Stepping away from an overly pathological approach to psychology and recognizing the impact of generational trauma. Bringing awareness to restrictive belief systems within our societal and cultural systems in my opinion is crucial for everyday people such as you and I who are checking off all the boxes in life but still not quite feeling fulfilled. Everyone has the capacity to live an abundant, fulfilling life as long as we are open to recognizing certain factors which may be contributing to our dissatisfaction in life.

Ok, thank you for sharing your inspired life. Let’s now talk about feeling “unsatisfied”. In the Western world, humans typically have their shelter, food, and survival needs met. What has led to us feeling we aren’t enough and don’t have enough? What is the wiring? Or in other words, how has nature and nurture played into how humans (in an otherwise “safe and secure” environment) experience feeling less than, or a need to have more than what is needed for basic survival?

If we take a moment to reference Maslow’s hierarchy of needs you are indeed correct that the basic needs at the bottom of the hierarchy (physiological and safety) are for the most part met in the Western world. Now, toward the middle and top of this hierarchy are psychological and self fulfillment needs. This includes social connection, intimacy, self esteem, strength and ultimately becoming the most that one can be. It’s a conversation I have with patients a lot. We are no longer at risk of becoming dinner to a Saber toothed tiger present day. Yet, despite our physiological and safety needs being met our psyche registers emotional and social threats as if they were life threatening. The mind does not know the difference between what is real and what is imagined! Therefore our bodies will respond with a similar fight or flight response as if we were being chased down. Here is where the chronic anxiety, depression and dissatisfaction lies as a result of years of perceived emotional and psychological threats. We are evolutionarily designed with these protective mechanisms to ensure survival. When you take a step back and think of it, it’s fascinating what our bodies and minds are capable of in a moment of self preservation. Unfortunately the down side of this is we are unable to continue advancing up the ladder toward true fulfillment if the preliminary psychological needs are not being met.

How are societies different? For example, capitalistic societies trade differently than communists. Developed nations trade differently than developing nations. In your opinion, how does society shape a human’s experience and feelings of satisfaction?

There are definitely differences present depending on how societies are structured particularly in regards to interpersonal relations. Given the importance of love and belonging in the hierarchy of needs, social factors account for a significant part of life satisfaction. More capitalistic (individualistic) societies will find it more challenging to meet their social needs compared to that of community based societies. This is not to say it is impossible for feelings of satisfaction to occur in capitalistic environments. Because it is not as prioritized in the foundational beliefs of the society it is more likely to be challenging when individualism is more advocated for than community.

With a specific focus on brain function, how has the brain and its dominion over the body and beliefs been impacted by the societal construct?

The brain is very much like a computer. When it downloads the programming of its environment it will carry out all the functions of that programming accordingly. If we are not mindful of how powerful this programming can be our brains will take control and our bodies will follow suit. If the brain believes that working independently is the ultimate precursor to success it will carry out that goal. In the long run because that contradicts with our foundational sense of being, our bodies will send us subtle hints in the form of anxiety, loneliness, disconnection and eventually pervasive depression. For those of us who live in these types of environments it becomes our normal and we don’t think to question how it could be contributing to reported symptoms.

Do you think the way our society markets and advertises goods and services, has affected people’s feelings of satisfaction? Can you explain what you mean?

I believe it can definitely have an effect depending on the intentions. If societal goals for marketing falls outside of the foundational hierarchy of needs it may result in a conflict of what we actually need and what we think we need. When was the last time you saw something in an advertisement and thought to yourself, ‘I NEED to have that!?’. Did you actually need it? Or did the persuasive presentation convince you that you needed to have it? When we find ourselves adding more “needs” to our hierarchy which may not necessarily pertain to our overall well being this is when dissatisfaction starts to creep in. Greater expectations lead to a greater chance of disappointment. You just overloaded the hard drive by adding more tasks than is possible to compute.

How is the wiring of the brain, body, and beliefs shaped by marketing, language, and how humans trade?

As mentioned above, if marketing is capable of using accurate language and tap into psychological needs such as love and belonging the brain will compute it as legitimate and the body will follow. Beliefs are the main code of our programming. This is where it all begins. The belief system is woven into our psyche which is then carried out by the brain and finally received and acted on by the body. Furthermore every human being has a sense of ego. It is an innate component of our character which developed from evolutionary tactics for survival and preservation. It is what separates us from other mammals. It is what has made us so wildly successful and accounts for our advancement in the human race. But ego can also contribute to the need for status, pride and power. Feeling a sense of elitism feeds this egoic state and the use of proper marketing and product placement can readily access these needs. Wanting to fit in socially, be loved and accepted by others, even to be viewed as important and respected by peers can all play a role in consumerism. The unfortunate reality is buying into these beliefs as sold by marketing ploys, expecting them to fulfill emotional needs with external, material objects to then be met with debt and disappointment in the end.

I work in marketing so I’m very cognizant of this question. In your opinion, how do you think marketing professionals can be more responsible for how their advertising shapes humans’ health and experience of happiness overall?

This is a challenging question because in order to get the sale you must convince someone they need the product. The product must be made to seem alluring which also caters to the need for status and belonging. Making a social statement is valuable enough to make a consumer invest in a product in exchange for being positively regarded by their peers. Marketing professionals would be encouraged to be cognizant of the power behind their skill. Intention is one factor that can be considered. Developing an awareness of how the intention of a product may be contributing to a false sense of social belonging for the consumer. Should the product serve as a vehicle in attaining aspects of true fulfillment of human needs versus egoic needs the product may prove to be more positively influential. Most importantly is for professionals to be mindful of emotional exploitation in marketing. Hitting the heartstrings can prove to be a very profitable tactic but the ethical nature of this approach may be questionable.

For you personally, if you have all your basic needs met, do you feel you have enough in life?

Absolutely. I am a minimalist and invest in only what I truly need. Don’t get me wrong, I indulge in my shopping spree every once in a while but I am always mindful to not confuse abundance with consumerism.

If I have my home, health, food and finances in place as well as healthy loved ones, my self love and my peace of mind I am truly fulfilled. It has taken a lot of time and self reflection to get to where I am right now. It was the most worthwhile investment of my time and energy. I can truly say that I live everyday wholeheartedly and completely fulfilled.

Okay, fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview: Can you share with our readers your “5 things we can each do to address the feeling of not having enough.” Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Saying you don’t have enough will make you feel like you don’t have enough.

Remember that your mind doesn’t know the difference between what is real and what is imagined. Be mindful of the power of your words and how it can manifest into reality.

2. Check your priorities.

Make a list of your wants and needs. Have an honest sit down with yourself and be real about what you actually need on a daily basis.

3. Don’t ‘should’ on yourself.

Setting unattainable goals and expectations that are too much of a stretch is one of the main contributors I hear in session that contributes to feeling unhappy and unfulfilled in life. Make small attainable goals like a ladder leading up toward your main goal. This is not only more realistic but can serve as its own source of motivation after every small win.

4. Stop comparing yourself to others!

Yes marketing campaigns can be at fault for selling us the promise of social acceptance BUT we must also be aware of how we set false expectations of feeling better about ourselves by being better than others. This is a slippery slope to fall habit to as there will always be someone to be better than. One-upmanship is a toxic game one which will leave you feeling increasingly more distanced from what your true nature is.

5. Check your surroundings.

Consider all aspects of your environment as if it were a metaphorical meal. What are you ‘eating’ all day? If you find that you are in a toxic work environment with a toxic social life to then end the day with toxic reality TV shows, that is what you are feeding your body. Empty calories of metaphorical junk food. Your body and mind are not a trash can! Garbage in garbage out lifestyles are not indicative of reaching the best version of yourself, leaving you feeling sluggish and unfulfilled.

Do you have any favorite books, podcasts, or resources that have inspired you to live with more joy in life?

Yes! By far one of my favorite authors that kick started my journey to living a more fulfilling life is Eckhart Tolle. Reading The Power of Now was a game changer and taught me the importance of identifying the ego and how unfulfilling living an egoic life can be. More game changing books that I keep within reach on my shelf are The Four Agreements, The Untethered Soul, and the Gifts Of Imperfection. I also notice a big difference when I meditate everyday. Insight Timer is my favorite App with customizable meditation features as well endless sources of themed guided meditations. Most recently I have made it a point to incorporate some restorative yoga at the end of my day. We live in a very adrenaline induced society and we need to find space in the day to balance out our nervous systems. I bought a yoga bolster and “practice” relaxing every night before bed. Yes we do need to practice how to let our bodies relax to reprogram what society advocates, keeping busy, productive and overstimulated.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

Breaking the misbelief that one must settle for the life you were given. This cannot be further from the truth. My message to people is not give into a narrative of hopelessness and give up on the endless possibilities that life can provide you. Don’t get me wrong systemic discrimination is very real! I do not believe we are all born at the same starting point in the race. But the biggest hurdle we can face in life are the restrictive beliefs we implement for ourselves. Freedom is the greatest form of self love and the best gift you could ever give yourself.

What is the best way for our readers to continue to follow your work online?

I like to keep active on social media, mostly Instagram and TikTok. I have a YouTube channel with episodes of my webseries Level UP! free for anyone to explore. You’re also welcome to visit my professional profile on Psychology Today as well as my website CristinaDominguez.com.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent on this. We wish you only continued success.

About The Interviewer: For 30 years, Drew Gerber has been inspiring those who want to change the world. Drew is the CEO of Wasabi Publicity, Inc., a full-service PR agency lauded by PR Week and Good Morning America. Wasabi Publicity, Inc. is a global marketing company that supports industry leaders, change agents, unconventional thinkers, companies and organizations that strive to make a difference. Whether it’s branding, traditional PR or social media marketing, every campaign is instilled with passion, creativity and brilliance to powerfully tell their clients’ story and amplify their intentions in the world. Schedule a free consultation at WasabiPublicity.com/Choosing-Publicity.

--

--

Drew Gerber, CEO of Wasabi Publicity
Authority Magazine

For 30 years, Drew Gerber has been inspiring those who want to change the world