The ROOT CAUSE Of Trauma & Why You FEEL LOST In Life | Dr. Gabor Maté & Jay Shetty | Transcription
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A tree doesn't grow where it's hard and thick, does it? It goes where it's soft and green and vulnerable. So vulnerability is absolutely essential for growth and for vulnerability. You gotta let go of those defenses such as the best-selling author and host. The number one health and wellness podcast. On purpose with Jay Shetty. Hey, everyone. Welcome back to On Purpose, the number one health podcast in the world. Thanks to each and every one of you that come back every week to listen, learn and grow. Now, I know that if you're listening right now, you're here because you want to improve your mental, emotional, physical and spiritual well-being. I know that you're trying to heal from trauma, from stress, from pressure. You're trying to heal challenges you experienced early in childhood or ones that you're going through today. And it's my job and it's my duty and it's my honor and joy to introduce you to incredible people. That I believe have answers, have insights, have helpful approaches to navigating the challenges we all experience. And today's guest is someone I have been so excited to speak to for a long time on On Purpose. I hope this is not just as only time on the show. I hope this starts to become a regular guest on the show. I'm talking about none other than Dr. Gabor Mate, who's a celebrated speaker and best-selling author. He's highly sought after for his expertise on a range of topics such as addiction, stress and childhood development. Dr. Mate has written several best-selling books, including the award-winning "In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts," "Close Encounters with Addiction," when the body says no, the cost of hidden stress and scattered minds, the origins and healing of attention deficit disorder. Now, today we're talking about his new book called "The Myth of Normal." Trauma, illness and healing in a toxic culture. And we have the link to this in the notes. I want you to go and order this book right now. It is going to blow your mind the insights of this individual about what we're going through as a culture and a society are going to be really powerful. So the book is called "The Myth of Normal," trauma, illness and healing in a toxic culture. Please welcome to the show Dr. Gabor Mate. Thank you so much for being here. Well, it's such a pleasure to be here. Thank you. I love sitting down with people who are deeply immersed and obsessed with ideas and observing human behavior. I admire obsession deeply and admiration deeply, and I admire the ability to sit with something for a long enough time. But I want to start off broad and I want to move in deeper. And I think this is a question that me and my friends often talk about. I think we hear the word trauma more often these days. Yes. It's thrown around sometimes. Sometimes it's used effectively. Sometimes it's used in conversation around things that some people would perceive as small and insignificant. Sometimes it's used to describe life-defining things.
Understanding Trauma And Healing
How do you define trauma? (03:12)
In your words, how would you describe trauma? And why is it so misunderstood even though it's so widespread? It's a deep question because on the one hand, trauma is sometimes used somewhat loosely and promiscuously to refer to things that are not traumatic. So people will have a difficult experience and say I was traumatized. No, they weren't. Did you say that difficult experience? And as one of my colleagues points out, all trauma is stressful, but not every stress is traumatic. So sometimes people use the word to refer to difficult experiences, which is not the same as being traumatized. On the other hand, where it really matters, which is in the area of health that you and I are both concerned in, whether it's physical or mental health, trauma is not understood nearly enough or used nearly enough so that to my mind, a lot of conditions of mind and body are actually very much trauma-related without their healing profession, particularly their medical profession actually recognizing it. So trauma, it comes from the Greek word for wounding. Trauma is a wound. It's a psychic wound that leaves a scar, it leaves an imprint in your nervous system, in your body, in your psyche, and then shows up in multiple ways that are not helpful to you later on. So in its basic sense, trauma is a psychic wound. And if you look at the nature of a wound, on the one hand, if it's wrong, open, it really hurts. So when somebody touches that wound that you sustained a long time ago, but it hasn't healed yet, you will react like you're just being tormented all over again. This happens in relationships all the time. On the other hand, a wound's scar over and a scar tissue has certain features. It's very hard, it's rigid, so it's not flexible, so people tend to be rigid when they're traumatized. It also doesn't grow, so trauma very often stops emotional growth and development. So on the one hand, it's very raw and painful. On the other hand, it's even a lack of sensation because scar tissue doesn't have nerve endings in it. So trauma then, just to finish, is not what happened to you. So trauma is not the difficult incidents, like trauma is not the war, it's not the, in my case, the second more war when I was born, or what happened to me, trauma is not the abuse that people experienced. Trauma is not the pain that they felt. Trauma is the wound that they sustained as a result. So the trauma wasn't, for example, the sexual abuse. Trauma was the wound that the person sustained as a result of having been abused. That's the good news, Jay, because if trauma is the wound that we sustained, it can be healed at any time. If trauma is what happened to me 75 years ago or 78 years ago, it happened. It never will have happened. You know, the partition of India wounded a lot of people, but it never would, it'll never not have happened. But if the wound is what happened to people inside as a result, that can be healed. That's probably the best differentiator that I've heard. And you're right, it is good news because it means we can heal it. Exactly. What do you think are the biggest, going the opposite way? We're talking about a wound and I want to come back to that. But going the opposite way, how would you then define healing?
How is healing defined? (06:32)
Because that's another word like trauma that is also just everywhere now, right? Self healing, healing from this, healing from that. I think healing is such an interesting concept in and of itself, which again is rarely defined or made clear to us. And from your studies, I would love to hear your thoughts in the same ways you did for trauma. What is, what is healing? Sure. So you mentioned to me that you spent some time in my homeland of Hungary where I was born. And the Hungarian word for health actually begins with the word for wholeness. So health literally means wholeness. And the English word for healing and health also come from an animal sex, an origin meaning wholeness. So for some reason, languages internationally have intuited the sense of healing, which is a sense of completion and wholeness. Now, what trauma does is it disconnects us. It splits us off from our two self and disconnects us from emotions, even from our bodies. So that if that disconnection is the essence of trauma, then the healing is that coming together of the self to become a whole again. And healing is often used synonymously with cure, fair enough, but strange enough, in my view and not just in my view, people can be cured from an illness without becoming whole, without healing. People sometimes also become healed without being cured. So in that sense, healing is not the absence of a physical illness, but it's the integrity of a person who's no longer sped up for themselves. I think what we find is that trauma is so, as you said, a wound that is long lasting. It can often be that way. But healing is a process that we want to happen now or today or tomorrow. I'm intrigued by how does time, we've always had time will heal, right? Like that's a whole thing. It won't. So, so let's go back to the wound and talk about is there any relationship between time and wounds or unhealed wounds?
Time itself does not heal emotional wounds (08:45)
And what is that relationship? How is that wound being formed internally? As you said, trauma is not what happens to you. It's what happens inside of you. That which is happening inside of you. What is happening with that wound over time when it's left? What happens is that it may be light dormant for a long time and then something occurs that touches it. It's when we talk about people being triggered, for example, something touches an unhealed wound inside you and you react. You've just been wounded for the first time. And certainly, I can tell you that's been the case for me. For example, in my marriage relationship is that the unhealed wounds, you may think you've gone past them, but then something will happen that touches that wound and you react like you're being tormented all over again for the first time. And time does not automatically heal. Time maybe scars it over, time maybe makes it less available to immediate memory, but should something happen to evoke it? It's going to show up in its full painful impact until you do some work to heal. Time by itself does not heal, not spontaneously, not automatically. How do we uncover those? Because I feel that and maybe this is something to address. It's that at least what I find is that a lot of our beliefs that we have about ourselves and about others are wired to try and make us feel safe to some degree. So I believe and I'm hypothetically saying this, I believe that I am right in my opinion because that makes me feel safe and secure. But often to unearth a wound, we have to be okay with the vulnerability of saying, well, maybe I'm not right. Maybe this response is coming from some wound that I gained in the past. So for example, when you speak about your marriage, you spark something for me, I found that a lot of the love I received when I was younger was then followed by guilt. So when I received love when I was younger, the idea was if I couldn't reciprocate with that level of love, I'd be made to feel guilty that I didn't love someone enough. And I found that I would repeat that in my own relationship with my wife where I would over love and if she didn't match that level of love, I would then make her feel guilty. And it took me years to really discover that pattern. And that's just one tiny pattern. And whether that's trauma or a difficult experience is a different conversation. But the idea that spotting that pattern only came from me saying, well, maybe I'm wrong. Maybe me wanting to make someone feel guilty is not the right thing. How do we assess that? How do we gain the vulnerability in safety to create that future stability?
We are all born vulnerable (11:38)
Does that make sense? It makes the absolute sense because vulnerability itself is absolutely essential for growth. So vulnerability, the word itself comes from the Latin word, woman, or a to wound. So vulnerability is our capacity to be wounded. Now the reality is that as human beings we're all vulnerable from conception until death. But when we're hurt in childhood and the vulnerability is too painful to bear, we will try and shut down our vulnerability. And for example, by being right, if I'm right, then I'm powerful and I can't be a saled anymore. But when we do that, we stop growing. Everything in nature grows only where it's vulnerable. So a crustacean animal like a crab inside a hard shell, it can't grow. It has to mold and make it so very vulnerable to be able to grow. A tree doesn't grow where it's hard and thick, does it? It goes where it's soft and green and vulnerable. So vulnerability is absolutely essential for growth. And for vulnerability, you gotta let go of those defenses such as being right that you develop to the child in order to protect yourself from the pain. So that's why we talk about growing pains because vulnerability is necessary for growth without vulnerability. There's no growth. Wow. What you just said, that is so beautiful. You just said vulnerability is our capacity to be wounded. Yeah, that's an incredible definition of the word. I think we hear so many definitions of vulnerability. That vulnerability, I'm just gonna say that again, everyone write that down. Vulnerability is our capacity to be wounded. How do we develop our capacity? So actually, let's go back to childhood. We'll come back to that. So if we go to childhood, what are the things happening currently that you perceive? And I know you talk about this in your new book, The Myth of Normal. By the way, everything we're talking about is in this incredible book, The Myth of Normal, Trauma, Illness and Healing in a Toxic Culture. If you don't have it, please go and order it now. What is happening in our childhood in society? I guess when you say things are not happening to us, there are still environmental impacts that are imprinting the potential for this wound to grow. What are some of those things that are distorting our development in unhealthy ways in childhood?
The inherent expectations we all have (13:55)
There are two things. One is obvious, like when children are mistreated, maltreated, abused, sexually, physically, emotionally, when there's violence in the family or apparent, this is caught up in addiction or where there's a rancor's divorce and a lot of conflict in the home, children are just wounded, period. But it's more insidious and more ubiquitous than that, because children have certain basic needs. Now, if we understand human, if we want to understand a zebra or a whale, where would you study those creatures in a zoo or an aquarium or a turn in nature? Same with human beings. So you have to actually look at what are the evolutionary determinants needs of human beings as inculcated or instilled in us through our evolutionary history. And so we've all with certain needs. There used to be this belief that children are what are called a tabular rasa, an empty slate. You can just write whatever you want on it, program the child in any way you want. That used to be the prevailing belief. It's not the true. Children are born with not only just certain needs, but certain inherent expectations. So to give an example, your lungs are an inherent expectation for oxygen because they've developed in response to oxygen. If there'd be no oxygen in the environment, we'd have no lungs. In the same way with the human child, it has certain inherent expectations. And you can own kids not just by maltreating them, but by not meeting those expectations. When I ask the expectation, I don't mean a conscious expectation. I mean an expectation inherent in the organism. So children need unconditional living acceptance by multiple adult caregivers, which is how we evolved in hunter-gatherer groups and live that way for millions and hundreds, thousands of years. Children have a need not to have to work to make the relationship with the parents work. So a child doesn't need rest from having to struggle to make the relationship functional. They don't have to be pretty or cute or compliant or clever or successful or any of that stuff. They just need to be and they don't have to work at getting the parents to accept them. That's an essential need of the child. When I say essential, I mean, if it's not met, that'll distort child development. The third need is really crucial and in our society, it's hardly ever met, which is the child needs to feed him to experience all the emotions that nature has endowed her or him with day with. So we have certain brain circuits for anger, for love, for play, for lust, for seeking curiosity. All these circuits are there for reason. We share them with other animals. We share them with bear cubs and puppies and little whales, you know, elephant. They need to develop because they're there for a reason. Evolution gave it to us. You know, society, parents are often advised and taught to suppress certain emotional experiences in the part of the child. That's a wound to the child, which distorts their development and has significant implications for health later on. The fourth need for the essential need is free play out in nature. Free play, spontaneous, creative, imaginative play, but that's essential for healthy brain development. We share that with other animals. Baby elephants play, bear cubs play, puppies play, lion cubs play, crucial for brain development. We know that now. In our society, we put cognitive development way ahead of play and we deprive our children of play by giving them gadgets, which deprives them of imagination. So we're actually undermining their brain development and they're healthy on folding as human beings. So children can be wounded, not just by bad things happening to them, but by their needs not being met. And in our society, when you ask about the environmental conditions that undermine health and child development, these environmental conditions in our society are enemical to healthy human unfoldment. No wonder we have so many children in trouble with anxiety and ADHD and depression and the rate of childhood suicide is going up and the number of kids being medicated with heavy duty medications, multiplicity of medications is going up. Why? Because the conditions for healthy development are less and less available to them, not because parents don't love their kids, not because they're not trying to do their best, but because of the conditions under which parenting takes place in this society. Yeah, just to share some of those stats that are in the book that Dr. Matez is referring to. We have in 2019, more than 50 million Americans, over 20% of the US adults suffered an episode of mental illness, rates of obesity along with the multiple health risks it possesses are going up in many countries, including Canada, Australia, and notably the United States, where over 30% of the adult population reached the criteria. And then this part, millions of North American children and youths are being medicated with stimulants, antidepressants and even antipsychotic drugs, whose long-term effects on the developing brain are yet to be established. So you share all these insights and research and work. What I'm interested by is, let's say a child today is raised in that way. I find it fascinating that if you then migrate that child into the real world, and if everyone is listening, I'm doing my quotation marks, like real world, they walk into this conditioned world that we currently have, if we almost raised a village of children in a, I don't know what the right word is, but I guess in a more natural way, but then they evolved and had to get a job and work in the world, how would they function? What would be your take on how they would do?
The societal standards we try to live up to (20:00)
I mean, is there any research on that? Or what would be your thoughts about how they would deal with the then capitalist society that is drilled around results and performance and being beautiful or smart or cute? How would they react to that? That question has actually been studied to some degree and they would not automatically buy into the values. So they may need to get a job, but they wouldn't identify themselves with the job and they wouldn't judge themselves based on the external values of success. They would also enter the world with a sense of purpose. And I know you, purpose is very important to you. So a sense of purpose can only arise from us if we're in touch with the real selves. So they would be in the world, but they wouldn't be of the world, in a sense, they wouldn't identify themselves with the values that society would push on them. So I think they would struggle, but they would do reasonably well and they'd hold themselves in the process. They wouldn't live a life that's based on what do other people think about me? Am I pretty enough? Do they find me attractive? Have I collected enough goods and objects to make me feel okay about myself? They wouldn't buy into all that. And to the extent that this has been studied and it has been, those people that can be in this society without buying into its values tend to be healthier and more grounded emotionally. The reason why I love hearing that is because it's the first time I've connected these ideas together that when I was born and raised in London, I was born and raised with all the usual pursuits, i.e. of a good education, a good home, a good financial situation, etc. Those were the ways I was raised and success was a big part of my culture. And I chased the validation of my family and the external surroundings and my community and what my aunts and uncles told me. And when that validation was dissatisfying or didn't feel like it was actually coming my way and when I was finally introduced to the monks at 18, I then seeked the validation of the monks only for them to teach me that the issue wasn't who you seek validation from, the issue was seeking validation in the first place. And so what you've just said to me is in three years, I got a crash course in what you're saying where we spent more time in nature. We were trained in unlearning the behaviors and habits that I'd developed for 21 years at the time. And then when I came back into the world, the way you just described that is exactly how I felt. I almost felt like a new person coming back into the same world that I left with a completely different approach and a different map of how to navigate it. And you're spot on. It's still hard. It's not that it's perfect and it's easy. And it's not that I've got it right. It's just that when I am challenged, I have a toolkit or I have some ideas, as you said with purpose that helped me think about the problem differently. You're not governed by the same thing. So when I went into the world of work, and I just want to give people a practical example of what Dr. Mate saying is spot on when I went into the world of work, we were all told that we had to be good at a list of like 10 things in order to succeed. And I looked at that list of 10 and I was like, I can do one of those things really well. And I'm only going to focus on that one because these other nine are not not my nature. They're not my purpose. And it's so strange because that one thing made me extremely successful at the company I worked at and then has become how I built my career. And it's so true that had I had gone in and done what 90% of people did, I would have become 190% of people were doing that really deeply resonates. What is the difference though with, and I can't wait to read some of that research on that. I think that's fascinating. When you have a culture where I think most people who read this book today, the myth of normal will say that they can relate to having trauma, illness and trying to be on the path of healing, especially our community here. They are absolutely going to love this book. This is exactly why we have this show. But I find that we would all agree. I think if I asked everyone to put up their hands and say, how many people feel the experience to traumatic environment at home, I think most people would raise their hands. If I asked how many people felt when they were children that they had unhealthy relationships with their parents to some degree, I think most people would put their hand up. The challenge I find is that I really feel with what you're saying in the book, there's a difference between what you're saying and then the other extreme which is mollycoddling. So there's neglect and then there's mollycoddling. I find that as humans, our brains are wired for extreme. So if we've seen that being mistreated or neglected is really bad for us, we go the opposite way and we go, "Okay, now I'm going to make sure that this kid has like 24 cushions around it." I'd be curious to know. I like to answer that question. This is a very important one.
It’s not possible to love kids too much (25:15)
But I just want to know exactly what you mean by mollycoddling. What I see, and I'm talking about people that I know and people that will speak to me, is that anyone who had a tough childhood are then trying to create a scenario for their child where that child experiences no pain. They no longer respond to their child needs. They're coming from their own anxieties. Yes. So mollycoddling has got nothing to do with the child. It has to do with the anxieties of the parents. That kid is going to download the anxieties of the parents. So mollycoddling has become very anxious and very scared and very ungrounded in themselves. On the other hand, it's not possible to love kids too much. In fact, there's a very interesting study where they looked at a large number of mothers and their infants, very in the early few months. And most mothers in this study were seen as really good mothers. And some were a bit distant for their own because of their own traumas, not as available. In a small group, we're seen as like super loving in how they dorod over their infants. 30 years later, they looked at these infants, no as adults. The ones that were most emotionally grounded and healthy were the ones who received the super loving. So there's a difference in you can't love a child too much. What you can, so the mollycoddling that you describe is not a child being loved too much. It's a child who has to enjoy the anxieties of the parents. And you know, there's a very famous example in world history of someone whose parents wanted to protect him from suffering was the Buddha. He never saw death, he never saw illness, he never saw old age until he goes out and sees a dying person, sees a very poor person, a very ill person, a very old person. He realizes this suffering in the world. So all the mollycoddling he received could not ultimately protect him from the awareness of pain and vulnerability. Although if I talk about the Buddha, I also have to say that his own trauma is often not talked about because his mother died when he was a weak old or right after birth, didn't she? So even they tried to protect her, him, they couldn't. But so anyway, mollycoddling has got nothing to do with the needs of the child. Yeah, that's a great differentiator. It has to do with the unmet needs of the parents. And as soon as parents project their needs onto the child, then long to see the child as they exist. They see their own anxieties, their own their fears and their own fantasies. Naturally, that's going to hurt the child. Yeah, that's such a great differentiator. That's again, it's a trauma response. It's a trauma response. How and when should children, young adults be exposed to pain in order to develop their vulnerability? As you said, the capacity to experience a wound, how and when do we allow ourselves? How should we? What environment is required to allow ourselves to experience pain in a healthy way? Or is it just going to come? Anyway, it's the nature of life. There's no reason to deliberately expose children to pain, because they're going to experience it. The question is, how do we support them? And they do. Why? Because their puppy is going to die. Because grandfather is going to die. Because some neighborhood friend won't want to play with them. Because they're not going to get the toy they wanted. Because some disappoint will happen. So pain is inevitable, but it doesn't have to become traumatic if the child is supported in experiencing the pain and moving past it. So we don't have to impose or bring pain into kids' life to train them. Life's going to do that. The question is, how are we to interact with them while they're enduring the pain? What would you say, those are obviously there's the love power which you spoke about. But when a child is going through something like that, let's talk about loss, because I think that's a big one, whether it's losing a parent or losing a puppy, as you said. Or even if it's not losing a parent to death, it's losing a parent to a divorce. For example, it's a grief and loss doesn't have to be the end of life. It can be everything. Or a loss of a country. What are the steps that someone should take in order to help guide through anyone through loss, not just a child?
Grief is essential for life (29:35)
Well, interestingly enough, when I talk about these brain circuits that we share with other animals, for play and for loving and seeking, we also have a brain circuit for panic and grief. Why do we have that? Because life brings loss. And so grief is essential for life, because grief is coming to terms with the fact that something is gone is not going to come back. So a child experience is grief. And I said that the need of the child is to be able to experience all the emotions. They need to be able to experience the grief as well. And it doesn't matter whether from adult eyes we see that loss is major or minor. It's a question of how is the child experiencing it? And for a small child, even what looks like small losses can be very painful. Well, then we don't make the child wrong for it. But don't say get over it. There's nothing wrong. Think of all the other children who are suffering. All that kind of relativistic shaming stuff. We say, oh, it really hurts, doesn't it? You really wish grandpa would be here with you. You really wish mom and dad weren't leaving each other. It hurts. In other words, you just validate their emotions. By doing so, you help them accept the loss and you help them move through and you help them learn that they can endure difficult emotions without having to become falling to pieces. So we have a circuitry for grief in our brain. For grief in our brains, it needs to be allowed to do its work. I find that a lot of us today are reflecting on that inner child, right? Like that language is again more widespread today or is growing. The idea of like, oh, we have this inner child who has this wound or this trauma. What do you find is the difference between analyzing and over analyzing or thinking and over thinking these experiences and how would you define the difference? Because I am being very honest and vulnerable because it's the only way to have this conversation really. Like I often think about events in my life that happened that would be considered generally as either difficult experiences or as traumatic, right? They could be seen as either or. There are some of them that I've worked through myself or with people that I trust or with guides and obviously through my month life, there were things that I looked at and worked on with. There are certain things that I don't feel a need. I don't feel a desire to dive into. The question I'm asking is, should I dive into them or is that considered over analyzing and over thinking?
When the past dominates the present reactions (32:19)
And I asked that for everyone else who's listening to this going, gosh, if I thought about everything that happened to me, I could be there for a while. Yeah, what's your take on that? Well, first of all, in my world, there's no should. Okay. There's no. There are no shoulds. There's no should. Yeah. So I would never see anybody you should, you know, because that itself is intrusive. So the question is whether it's helpful or not to delve into the past depends on what's happening with that individual. And if some of the effects of trauma, as we said earlier, is that the wounds of the past keep showing up in the present? So from my point of view, there's not so much about delving into the past and dwelling on the past, but on dealing with how the past is showing up in the present, what a psychologist friend of mine, Peter Levine, calls the tyranny of the past, where the past dominates my present reactions. It doesn't matter how many times I go back and think about my childhood story. That's not going to help me. What I have to deal with is what's happening to me right now at this very second, which is a shadow of the past. So thinking about it is not going to be of much help. What's going to help is to deal with the emotions that are arising now as the result of what happened and how those emotions affect my life in the present moment. So it's not about the past. It's about the present. Yeah. So it's really about the choices we have now. Exactly. What's available to us now? Yeah. What's available to us now? Because I feel like we didn't have a choice in the past because we were the two young or two incapable of making a choice. Exactly. But the choices that happen right now can transform everything. It is possible. Some people do make those into victims. They kind of identify with the victim role. All this stuff happened to me. And therefore, I cannot do such and such or I'm hurt and I'll never get over it. It's possible to identify with the victim role. It's even possible to identify with the survival. I'm a survivor. Well, that's not who you are. You survive. But who you are is much greater than that particular experience. And who you are is always much greater than you're suffering. And so it is possible for some people to identify with the suffering and the past to such a degree that they stop moving forward. Yes. I think you've just raised a really important component of all of this. On a deeper level is that what we identify with, right? Even earlier, you were talking about people who would be raised in this hypothetical village we were talking about. But even through research, they won't identify with the values of a capitalist society. Yeah. Identification, you just said people could identify as a victim. They could identify as a survivor. What is a healthy identification? There isn't one.
There is no healthy identification (35:16)
Because if you look at again, the meaning of words, and I just find the words fascinating. Same, yeah. Yeah. Identification comes from a Latin word, edem, which means the same and fachara to make. As soon as I make myself the same as something, like if I identify with my role as a doctor, I immediately limit myself. If you identify with your experiences among, and I don't mean not to learn from it or to grow from it, but if I identify with it, that's what I am. You've now narrowed yourself. So there's no healthy identification. If I identify myself with a state or a nation, I could be loyal to that state or nation. I could love that state or nation or any group. But if you identify with it, such as you have no independent existence, you've limited yourself already. So when you say is there healthy identification, not really. Isn't the challenge though that I think all of us are pursuing some sort of identification? Like that seems to be a massive human need. Like I support this football club, or I'm a fan of this band, or I'm a member of this car club, or I go to this shopping grocery store, or like, I feel like we're all wanting to be members. That seems to be like a human need of wanting to be a member of a community, wanting to identify with something. It is a human need to belong, but can we belong without identifying to the point that we have no independent perspective? In other words, can we be authentic? And I talk a lot about this tension between authenticity, being ourselves, and attachment, which is belonging. Ideally, we can both be authentic and belong. But that kind of identification often leads to suffering. I mean, it's what the Buddhists call attachment, isn't it? And let me give you an example. So you mentioned sports team. So in the 90s, you wouldn't know this, but in the 1950s, the Hungarian soccer team was the best in the world. We never lost. I love soccer. And I didn't know. No, no, we went to Britain, and we beat Britain 63 in Wembley Stadium. The first time that it was a... Sorry, Brit fans. Yeah, sorry about that. There's, you know, and it was a huge national holiday in Hungary. A small country goes to mighty Britain and beats them at their own game, you know. And the next year, the whole country was joyful, and it's still one of the great memories of my childhood. The next year, we're in the World Championships, and we're the heavy favorites, because we haven't lost for years. And we meet the Germans in the final, and we lose three to two. Yeah. National tragedy. I'm telling you, it still hurts. You know, it's just a football game played on the pitch by 22 guys in 1954. So what? You know, but when this is over-identification, then that itself being suffering. Now, you know, yes, you can support your team. In Vancouver, British Columbia, where I live, it's a very peaceful place. But the Vancouver Canucks, which is a local hockey team, made it to the Stanley Cup finals, and they lost. There were riots in the streets. Why? Because people had over-identified. You can enjoy the team and be a sports fan. But the identification that you enjoy or satisfaction depends on whether your team loses or wins. Why? It doesn't matter. Yeah. I love that answer for many reasons, because I've had to go through the grief of letting go of past selves, adopting new selves, and then having to realize that none of those were me as my identification. So as you rightly said, when I took off the gobs of a monk, when I took off my robes, it was really tough, because there was a part of my identity, especially at a young age, that was attached even to the outer covering. And I had to realize that I had to extract the inner beliefs and leave the outer covering behind and the outer name and what that meant. And even in my career today, like, I've had to let go. And even now, I don't even know how to identify in one sense. I'm sure you feel this to some degree in your work as well. It's like whenever they say, "Oh, when you're on TV and they want to put your title," and they'll be like, "J, what's your title?" I'm like, I'm more defined by my purpose than my profession. What I do for people and the service I want to offer in the world is far more important to me than author or podcaster or former monk or like those things don't really define me. Well, I get that totally. I am. But I'm thinking about it as you're telling me, when you left those monks' robes, we talked about the crab. It didn't mean with the heart shell. To grow, you have to go to the shell at some point. So each of those moldings represent the point of growth. But at the time, it's difficult. So when I left family practice to go and work with the highly addicted population in Vancouver, it was the loss of identity for a while. I was a bit disoriented for a few days because all these people, these families that had relied on me to be the kind of the linchpin of their health and all these people that have come to me and trust me and who I would see in the office. And all of a sudden, I left that. Now, who am I all of a sudden? So I totally understand that. No, the reality is that I'm so grateful that I did. Well, then I got to experience in the next realm of work, helped to further define my purpose in life and taught me so much about myself and human beings. But at the time, it was difficult, letting go of that identification was difficult. And there was really that sense of, well, if I'm not that, then what am I? This is what happens when we identify with roles. Yeah, if anyone's listening in wants to go at figuring out what your subconscious answer is, ask one of your friends, ask them and then get them to ask you, who are you? Yeah. And you answer to that question, not an episode of the time when you ask someone, who are you? They'll say, I'm an alloyah, I'm an accountant, I'm a Brit, I'm an American, always the answer is on such a material level. Well, this is one spiritual teacher said, I think, unless I'm making this up. But I think he said that the problem is not knowing who we are, the problem is thinking that you know who we are. Yeah, yeah. It's incredible, isn't it, that the things that are true safety feel unsafe to the mind? Yeah. And I'm intrigued by that, because you've studied the mind, you've studied addiction, you studied healing, you studied trauma, why is it that we seek certainty and stability when you earlier also said that the only time we experience growth is the opposite. When we're vulnerable, why is it that we're so addicted to things staying the same or things not changing?
Why are we set on things staying the same (42:11)
That seems to be a core human addiction. Well, a therapist once said to me that it has to do to nature the mind that you're referring to. A therapist once said to me that if your parents didn't know or hold you, you developed a mind you hold yourself with. So you find safety in this mind that you created. And so the human mind, the ordinary ego human mind is basically a defensive structure. It's in significant ways. It's a response to pain. That's not all it is, but in significant ways, it's a response to pain. It's a fate of pain and it's designed to keep you from experiencing pain. So it's worried and it's anxious and it's defensive. So when it comes to change and vulnerability, the mind wants to defend against it. And so it comes out of fear, which comes out of childhood experience where the pain that you had wasn't held. And therefore you develop these mind structures to keep you from experiencing it. And I mean, one of them clearly is addiction. And Keith Richards, the world's most famous former aeronautics, the Rolling Stone guitarist, said about addiction, for example, his hair on use that the contortions you go through just not to be yourself for a few hours. Oh, why would somebody not want to be themselves? Because it hurts so much at some point to be yourself. And then a mind comes in and tries to protect you on that pain of being yourself with its ideas and its beliefs and its certainties and its endless desires and its artificial needs. And it's a fatal let go. If I let go, I'll be helped as a child again. Well, the mind large is a defensive structure and then often will react that way. That defensive structure obviously sets us up for so much. What is happening inside that makes two people react completely differently to the same thing, right? You could have a parent that's a drug addict and one of the children goes, I'm never going to have drugs ever again, because I saw what I did to my parents. And the other person actually imitates the behavior and goes down the same path. What have you found or seen that at a young age creates that different journey?
No two children have the same childhood (44:38)
Well, the first thing to say is that not two children have the same two parents and not two children have the same child as even though they grew up in the same biological family. Because first of all, one of them came along at a different time. So they had a different set of experiences. This is the birth order that affects our children experience to parents, then there's degrees of sensitivities. So some people are born more sensitive than others. Sensitive again comes on the Latin word, "sensior to feel." The more sensitive we are, the more we feel. Given the right environment, nourishing, supportive, grounded environment, that sensitive child just becomes an intuitive, a creator, an artist, an actor, a leader. But in an environment where there's pain, that sensitive child suffers more pain than the less sensitive one. So it has more very reason to escape from the pain. It's not so much that he imitates the behavior of the adult, it's that he takes the same escape route. And actions are always, in my view, at least, an escape route from pain. So it has to do with birth order, with family circumstances, degrees of sensitivity. Having said that, the other child who doesn't become an addict hasn't necessarily escaped. They just may have developed different coping mechanisms. They might have become one of these people that are going to make a big success in the world of themselves. And they're never going to fail. And they have to be the best. And they're going to suffer too. They just might suffer in a different way. That sensitivity you're talking about is probably one of the biggest questions I get asked right now. And I want to ask it to you because I feel your experience could offer some real light on it. I feel people are experiencing so much sensitivity and empathy that they just can't stand the world we live in today. There are people like that. And I hear this again and again, where it's like, whether it's the political climate or the economic climate or their family, have addictions or friends, like everything that you talk about in the book. And people feel, this can't be my home. This is not the place I want to live in. And so just as you were saying earlier, that someone may have the thought, I don't want to be myself or feel like myself for a few hours. People say, well, this doesn't feel like the world I want to live in. I'm sure you've met many people who felt that way, seen that way or maybe even talked that way. Have I met people? Let me tell you something or worked with you. I had an experience with ketamine a few years ago. This is a ketamine training for healers. And I was injected with ketamine. It was taking me where I was taking me. And all of a sudden I fun with stuff screaming. I hate the world. That was good that it would came out of me. So I totally know what you're talking about. I'm just saying that that person. I personally know what you're talking about. Okay, so here's the thing. I think a lot of that has to do with at first of all, the world is getting more stressed. It's getting more split. I mean, everybody sees that getting more hostile in a lot of ways, getting more less welcoming and more dangerous, more alienating. On the one hand, on the other hand, we're more and more alone with it. Isolation and loneliness are rising. So if people experience pain and change and stress or even danger communally, it's bearable. But when we're alone with it, it becomes less than as bearable. And so one of the major factors driving, I think the sensitivity that you're describing is just how alone people feel, which is not how we're meant to be. So that the capitalist values of aggressive, individualistic, ruthless greed and competition against everybody else, that doesn't reflect human needs or even human nature, not as we evolved. But the more the world gets that way and the more isolated we become, the more vulnerable we are to be heard by the world that we live in. And I think that's what people are talking about. Yeah, I think one of the biggest things for me, I was really fortunate that the clients I coach and the people that I work with, I got to experience a lot of individuals who were vulnerable with me, but they experienced being lonely and successful. And lonely success didn't bring happiness. And I know that one thing that me and my wife were always talking about, especially because we're in a country where we don't have any family, we had to start from scratch in our friendship work. And everything was... I heard you say in a podcast of how important families do your life, for example. For my wife, it's huge. Her personal family is like everything to her. That's her greatest value. But here we had to build our family. And I think one of the things we constantly do is we try and make a concerted effort in order to cultivate and curate our community in LA. And it's fascinating to me because again, perception comes in where most people say to me, "Well, LA is a very shallow place. LA is a very fake place." And also, "Well, I found some of my best friends here and incredible human beings." How much does that perception of a place or a space or a person actually also make us more lonely? Because I find sometimes that loneliness is created by perception. Like, if we're scared of being vulnerable with someone, it's hard that someone will be vulnerable with us, right? So what do we need to do in order to build deeper relationships for healing and in this path that you're suggesting?
Insights Into Loneliness, Human Nature, And Spirituality
The difference between loneliness and being alone (50:19)
Well, first of all, it occurs to me that loneliness is always perception. There's a difference of being alone and being lonely. Alone is just the fact that we can embrace and make decisions about loneliness is got any emotional charge to it. And that's very much a matter of perception. You can be alone and not be lonely. And you can be surrounded by all kinds of people and be completely lonely. So that kind of, "How open am I? How vulnerable am I? Really, really willing to be? What defenses have I erected around myself to protect myself that keeps me from really contacting other people?" So I think we unwittingly generate loneliness. There's also something else that happens and you referred to this earlier. You talked about elders. So in our society, we don't talk about elders. We talk about the elderly. It's not the same. In our society that defines people so much in terms of their economic value, we tend to discard people that are not perceived as having economic value, either as producers or consumers. So this society generates a lot of loneliness, just because it's materialistic values. And in other functioning cultures, elders are not only respected, but they're also, they have a purpose. They have the wisdom. They have the experience. They have the vision. They have let go of a lot of the attachments that youth invariably engages with. They have a lot to offer. So loneliness is also created in a society that has a very rigid and limited set of values. Yeah, I love the change in the language again of the elders and the elderly. And I always go back to that time in my life because it gave me so much, but growing up around people that were the same age, younger, older, and elder gave you so many different visions of life. And when I look back at my childhood or my younger adulthood, I was constantly surrounded by people that were older than me, younger than me, much older than me and wiser than me. And being able to have everyone's vantage point created a beautiful 360 degree picture of life. But most of today, we're only seeing one degree. If you spend time with only people your age, you're getting a very limited viewpoint of life versus if you're spending time with a much wider age range. And you tend to get a much less mature and rounded view of life. One of the books I helped write, Core Road, is called Hold on to your Kids, why parents need to matter more than peers. And the point made in that book is precisely what you just articulated, which is that for so many people, their world begins and ends with their own age group, which is a developmental disaster. Because again, we evolved as creatures in touch with multiple people with multiple ages. And we've spent our time around people with multiple ages. When you isolate people by age, as this culture largely does, I mean, there's sub-gues within sub-gues, within sub-cultures, within sub-cultures, in a society, all based on very shallow identification with age, it just limits our development and limits our possibilities. And with that development, how do you see human nature? Do you see human nature as muddied, trying to become pure, or beginning it pure and then getting muddied and then trying to go back to the world?
How do you see human nature? (53:54)
How do you see that? Well, we do happen to have a chapter on human nature in this book. And pondering that same question that Jesus raised, I'm more or less come to the conclusion is not that there's a definable human nature, not that you can say, because I mean, look, Bora was a human being, Hitler was a human being. One is full of compassion and love and giving the others full of greed and aggression and hatred. They're both human beings. So how can you talk about the defined human nature? However, what I think we can say confidently, that is a certain human potential based on human needs. If those needs are met, development will be healthy and those potential will be realized. If those needs are frustrated, which there severely were in the case of say a Hitler, a terribly abused child, then what you get is the hatred and the rage and the murderous venom that characterized that personality. Now, when you couple that with political power, you see what happens. But that's not human nature. It's just human nature thwarted because the needs of that child were not met in a society that was completely incapable of meeting people's needs, in fact, totally abused them. So human nature to me is not a given what we have as a human potential based on human needs. If these needs are satisfied, we can be reasonably confident that people will be connected and generous. Most people want to be kind. I mean, it's interesting in a society when somebody does something selfish or greedy, we say that's just human nature. Do we say that when somebody's kind or generous? The educator, Alpha Colen, points that out. And if you ask most people, when did your body feel more at ease? When do you experience more peace when you've been kind and generous in giving authentically, not for another sense of duty, but because that was just the impulse or when you're grasping and greedy, when is there more tension and more discomfort inside? So that should tell us something about our nature that our nature wants to be aligned with connection and generosity and giving, because our bodies will tell us that. That is so true. That is so true. I mean, there is no time in life when you're bitter at someone or angry at someone that makes you feel good inside. Gut wise too, I'm not just meaning in the heart space, but in all areas of your body, the tension, the stress, the holding, the tightening. But like we were talking about earlier, society is set up in a way for false identification and divisive identification, whether it be two sets of soccer fans who now hate each other or rioting or whether it be political parties or whether it be businesses that war with each other. Everything's set up in a way to get you to identify with something in order for you to be against something. That's what naturally ends up happening. Even schools, I went to this school, you went to that school, we competed. Competition seems to be something that has been carefully crafted by capitalist society. And then when you see the rise of, and by the way, I love competition, so I health competition is great. So I'm not talking bad about competition, but it's interesting to see how again it's so hard to compete without identifying as that being your worth. And that requires so much mental spiritual strength, in my opinion, to be able to differentiate between identification and attachment. Well, it's really interesting because let's take the example of sports that you just mentioned. What do we call the people who participate in the sports? We call them players. What do we call the process that they're engaging? We call it a game. But we don't treat it like players. We don't treat it like a game, because real games and real play has no agenda. There's competition in the process and you want to do your best. But in the end, it doesn't matter. It was just, it's for the process and for the joy of it, that's genuine play. Well, when you think about these multi-billion dollars, sports industries and the strategy and hype that goes into, these are not players. And these are warriors, almost as if they're engaged in some kind of a battle. And winning or losing becomes everything, like the famous Vince Lombardi. Winning is not the only thing, it's the only thing. Well, that's not true people. That's true for the purposes of playing, as long as you recognize that you are only playing, as long as you don't confuse the game with life itself. But once it becomes a business and becomes cutthroat, that confusion is really prevalent. And people take it so seriously, so many things. Think about it. Like you have these terrible conflicts in the world, like the war in the Ukraine right now. The average person, how much time are they induced to spend thinking about those large issues or say about climate change, that only the blindness of the blind or the wickedest, the wickedest kind of disappoint deny as a reality. But how much of our life do we spend actually pondering and engaging with these larger issues compared with analyzing which quarterback should have played in which quarter of which particular NFL game, you know, so that these so-called games and these so-called players have assumed a far larger importance in their lives. Whereas the real things we tend to ignore. You've just sparked something for me that I was blown away by this experience. I recently went to Rwanda and I went there with Ellen DeGeneres in collaboration with the Dine Fosse funders, opened up a guerrilla sanctuary and a conservation center. And we went there to track with the gorillas, learn about gorillas, learn about Rwanda. And I had never been to Rwanda before. I didn't know if I would have visited if it wasn't for her. And the biggest thing I took away, obviously, tracking with gorillas and being in nature with a form of life that has no interest in us, but we're totally fascinated by them was an incredible experience. And I'll talk about that separately. But the reason I brought it up here is I also took time to go to the genocide memorial museum. And it was fascinating for me to learn that it's been around 20 years from what I remember a tenth of the population of the country. So like a million people of like 10 million people died in the genocide were killed in the genocide. And most of the people who lived there today, it was their parents. It was their ancestors that did this just 20 years ago, which is not a long time at all. And I met some of the survivors. I sat with them in the museum. I talked to them. We talked to the locals. We talked to people that were helping us with our travel and arrangements and the hotels we stayed at. And it fascinated me that the people were so healed. Like there was such a genuine sincere conversation that they've now let go of this to tribe culture. They've let go of the names, the identification that they're living by a principle they call Ubuntu. I am because you are, I believe, or you are because I am like that's, I'll get that right. But Ubuntu is the word that they use. And it was so special. I was totally. I'm curious to ask what did you delve into what allowed them to do that? They said a lot of it came through the leadership. Like they said that that was how they were being like. It's what you're saying. Like when you said like they were asked, you're saying we don't make time to focus on these huge issues because they're too busy wondering which player played in which position. That's, they didn't say it in that way. But that's what they were saying that our leadership encouraged us to think in this way. And I couldn't believe that in 20 years when your parents have probably killed their parents, that you were standing next to each other, not worrying about the lineage that this, this culture was set up. And it was the Europeans who set up part of that anyway. But I just wanted to understand from you like, what does it take to get to that level of healing? Because that's, you know, people would say, okay, well, that's a 10 million population.
Suffering has to be acknowledged (01:02:24)
To me, that's still a humongous win for the world. I was wondering if you've seen cultures, if you've seen even smaller groups or even living through the war where you've seen that kind of healing before. I don't know how the healing happened in Rwanda. Yeah, of course. Really encouraged to hear what you describe here. I think at the very least of it, the suffering had to be acknowledged and had to be heard and fully acknowledged. And then the healing can take place. Yeah. Without that, it can't. Of course, absolutely. Which is why it's so important to understand trauma. The suffering has to be acknowledged. Now, in my country, Canada, like we talked about Rwanda, of course, that tribal hatred didn't just arise from nowhere, nor is it necessary in the nature of those people to be like that. A lot of it was the legacy of colonialism that quite deliberately, and you would know something with British colonialism, it quite deliberately said one group against another. The legacy of which was often tremendous struggle and hatred and violence. In Canada, as in the United States, the legacy of colonialism falls far more particularly on our indigenous peoples. So that to this day, they suffer so much. The addiction rate is much higher amongst them. 50% of the women in jail in my country are indigenous people. They make up 5% of the population. An indigenous woman, they six times the rate of rheumatoid arthritis. They never used to a rheumatoid arthritis prior to colonization. There's been some apologies in Canadian history, but there's been not sufficient acknowledgement of what actually happened, and what continues to happen. I'm saying that an essential condition for that healing would have to be acknowledgement. So the both came to Canada just maybe six weeks ago, because the church cooperated with the state to abduct children from their homes, indigenous children from their homes, for over 100 years, into the 1990s, into these residential schools where our native children would not love to see their parents, where their culture was extirpated. They had been stuck in their tongue if they spoke their tribal language. They were sexually abused. Often they died. They were physically abused. They were starved. And the poor came and apologized. And you know what the apology was? I'm so sorry for what some Christians did to your people. Well, that's he means well as a person, but that was an apology uttered by an institution because it wasn't, or it should have been uttered by the institution. But they said what some Christians, what some Christians, it was the state, it was the church. And what I'm saying is that was a good first step. But until this full acknowledgement and we are fully willing to hear the suffering of the people that we heard. And that's why in the 12 steps, whether they do, they do is more lamentary. How did we hurt somebody? And how can we without imposing on them? How can we acknowledge if that's appropriate? So I think for healing, whether for myself or people that I've heard, there has to be acknowledgement of the suffering itself. I think that's the first essential step. The challenge we have though, right? And society is that I fully agree with you. But for most people, we will never get the apology we deserve. Because again, we live in an unhealed environment where people are not coming out of the woodwork and saying, I'm so sorry for what happened. And even if they do, it's a bad apology or an incomplete apology or a 10% apology. So how do we function in a world where often the closure doesn't come from the person who hurt us or the person who created the wound or that we received the wound through?
Getting closure and start moving on (01:06:27)
And it really comes down to us. Well, that's true. Yeah. So I work a lot with indigenous groups in Canada when they asked me to. And for a story, I often say, who the hell am I to offer you advice? Because in your traditions, there's so much healing and wisdom that the best advice I can give you is to follow your own traditions. But I often say to them as well, don't wait for the acknowledgement from the government or from society because it's going to take a long time coming. But you need to acknowledge your own suffering. You need to acknowledge your own pain. And then there's so many rituals. There's so many traditions, the dance and the chanting and the drumming and the sweat lodges and the sun dancing and they're going back to the land and the wisdom circles and the and there was sort of justice. There's so much wisdom. So what I'm saying to people is acknowledge your own suffering but to look to the wisdom within, to want to healing. And it's there that wisdom to heal is inside culture is in society, people's inside individuals as well. We both have to acknowledge the suffering and not get stuck on it. But then to look for the healing capacity within. And you certainly can't wait for the world to. It's nice, but you can't wait for it. Otherwise, you're dependent on somebody else for your healing. Yeah. And I feel like when you're healing, most apologies are dissatisfied. Like when you're healed or and we'll talk about that, what that means, but I feel like when you're more along the process of healing, you can receive an apology, you can receive a a vulnerable piece of information from someone who may have hurt you or. But when you're in the thick of the healing process, I find that validation and apologies rarely really feel that good. Like, you know, and I'm saying that for myself, I know that when I've worked, when I've been in the thick of like working really hard in my life or trying to make something happen and someone says, yeah, you're doing great. It doesn't feel like anything because you almost feel miss you don't feel fully understood. It doesn't make sense. Yeah. And even they're not quite seeing you. Yeah. And you don't feel seen? Yeah, I don't feel seen. There's seen some aspect of you. Yeah. But we need to be seen. That's that's a human need. There's a psychotherapist here in California called the ETH Egger E.G. Absolutely. Yeah, I know. Yeah. So I read it. Edith was on the same train probably or quite likely on the same train to Ashford, my grandparents were along with her family. She's in her 90s now. She describes because they came from the same town in southern Slovakia and northern Hungary. Her parents were killed in Ashford, says her grandparents. Edith describes in one of her books that she goes back to the Burkhov, which is in the Burvian Alps, where Hitler lived to forgive Hitler. Wow. Which is not to say to make it okay what he did, but to release him from the cage that she kept inside her own heart because that limited her. So the forgiveness wasn't, it's okay what you did. The forgiveness was, I was going to hold this hatred and this resentment in me anymore because it's limiting me. You know, so the work really is internal. Where do you see the connections between you talked about the, you know, the practices and the healing of the indigenous people, etc.
Spirituality becomes commoditized (01:10:04)
How much do you see a connection between spirituality and healing and where has it gone right and where does it sometimes go wrong? So first of all, spirituality is one of these words that... Again, gets thrown around. We get thrown around who knows what somebody means when they talk about it. Yeah. So we can only talk about it in terms of what you mean by it and what I mean by it. So yeah, I liked what you said that there are ancient traditions that focus heavily on inner healing. Yeah. And that I all explain my channel. The challenge I see is that often even these ancient timeless traditions have now become externalized and institutionalized. They've lost their purity of the inner healing that's required. And they become commodified. Correct, right. Yeah, which is what will happen in a materialist society. I spent time with some indigenous people earlier this year in a ceremony. What I was struck by is the deep, deep, deep connection with nature. In fact, even the connection is inadequate a word. I'm talking about unity. Like they just felt so alive, they have a blade of grass and every tree and the mountain that overlooked our ceremony and the bison that were in the field. So for me spirituality, if it means anything at all, it means sense of connection to something larger, which is difficult to define and maybe different for every person or for every group. But it's something beyond the limited confines of both body and the egoic mind. No, I think that's our nature as human beings. I can't prove it, but that's my sense. And I think, and certainly when you talk about indigenous traditions, they talk about the medicine wheel, which is the quadrants involved the our emotions and our physical bodies and our social relationships and our spiritual selves. And we have to be sort of grounded in all four of those quadrants to be fully whole. But I think there's something in that spirituality that is really essential to us. What that is, I think each person has to discover for themselves if they don't have a tradition that already grounds them in it. Yeah, you're reminding me of my time that I spent with some groups in Hawaii and they had a song for the sun and the sea and they had a beautiful ritual where when a child is born, the umbilical cord is placed on the earth and then they carve almost like a pattern there to remind the child that this is your connection to the earth. And I always thought that was such a beautiful ritual. I was wondering whether you've seen or whether you've looked at a tool, any aspects of reincarnation or past lives or trauma across lives or seen any connections or study in that space. I've had people talk to me about their experiences and there's a rabbi I met once who told me that in ancient times he was a priest in Egypt. It was in no way lunatic or psychotic. He was a big grounded, lovely man. He was convinced. My mind doesn't go there. I've read something about these traditions, the Tibetan tradition of the barto and you probably know a lot more but I do but I've not personally experienced it. In my mind, as I've experienced my mind so far, hasn't found a space for knowing what that really means. I understand it intellectually. Yes, yes, yes. But there's nothing in me resonates with it as far as I can recognize. Maybe at some point I'll have some huge awakening or maybe after I died there'll be a huge joke on me. You didn't believe very well, here it is. But frankly right now if you ask me, I'd say nothing in me goes there or even wants to. That's my truth. No, I appreciate that. I've always found it fascinating for people who study trauma, especially when you, as you said, that no child starts at a blank slate. They start with a makeup to some degree and so that's why I was intrigued. Dr. Martez, it's been so beautiful talking to you because I feel like I get to ask you questions that I wouldn't often receive the answers and the quality of answers, the depth of answers that you can provide. I see you as a true elder, as a wise person in our society and I respect you a lot for that. Well, thanks so much. I can tell you quite honestly that it's not an interview like I've ever had before. Thank you so much. No, well thank you and I hope this is the first of many. I want to make sure that everyone has been listening and watching. I would love for you to order a copy right now of The Myth of Normal, Trauma, Illness, and Healing in a Toxic Culture. We touched on subject matter from within the book. We touched on ideas from within the book but as you can see, these are my favorite books. It's a real deep study book. Please go grab a copy. I cannot recommend this more. I will be posting from the book as I read more deeply through it as well on my Instagram. So, if you want to see my notes or takeaways, then they'll be there as well. And please, please, please follow Dr. Martez on Instagram as well. We will put the links in the show notes. Follow him, share all the insights that you got from this. If there's something that stood out, I mean, there were so many beautiful descriptions of words, definitions, clarity between ideas that I think have just words that we use every day and we don't know what they mean. So, if something stood out to you, tag me and Dr. Martez on Instagram, on Twitter, on TikTok. Let us know what you've learned and what you've taken away. And I promise you that this will be a great investment this year. Dr. Martez, is there anything that I haven't asked you before we ask you the final five, which are our fast five questions? Is there anything you'd like to share that I have given you an opportunity? I don't still go, I can't think of anything that you have in us. I love it. Okay. Well, these are five questions that have to be answered in one word to one sentence maximum.
Final Remarks By Dr. Maté
Dr. Maté on Final Five (01:15:56)
So, you have like a very tight, like almost think of like Twitter, DZ or final five. The first question is, what is the best advice you've ever received on healing or trauma? Authenticity. Expand. I'm going to ask you to expand because I want to hear now. Be yourself. You know, when I was a very confused young man and I was acting out all over the place, I had an aunt who herself was a very traumatized person. She was an Auschwitz survivor and she came back weighing 80 pounds. She was an ophthalmologist and she saw me being in authentic and she quoted, she sent me this passage from Hamlet, that famous phrase, "unto yourself be true." And it follows this night today that then thou can't be false to any man. So, be true to yourself. Without going to the details, that poor aunt of mine couldn't be true to herself because of the nature of this culture. But that advice has always stayed with me. Yeah. So, authenticity has been a major theme in my life. It's amazing. I love that. That's a great answer. Okay. Question number two, what's the worst advice you've ever heard or received around trauma and healing? Is it okay if nothing comes up for me? Yeah. If you've never heard any bad advice, that's good. What is something that you once valued that you no longer value? This is almost true. What other people think of me? Yeah. I'd be lying if I said, but at the same time, I can do without it. Though it's still there, but I'm not attached to it. Yeah. Question number four, how would you define your current purpose in life? My purpose is that people are free, be from limitations of culture and also the limitations of their own past and of their own minds, and also free politically. So, my purpose is that people are free. It's beautiful. And fifth and final question, if you could create one law that everyone in the world had to follow, what would it be? One rule. One rule, one law, one principle that everyone in the world had to follow. If I was coercing and creating the impression that one had to do anything that already would defeat its own purpose, because as soon as somebody has to, it's almost like you just lean forward for a minute. Would you? Yeah. And put out your hand. Yeah. What do you do? Some of that push on your hands. Resistant. Resistant. Yes. It's as soon as people sense that there's a hat too, there's going to be resistance. So, I want to decline answering that question. That's a great answer. We've never had that on the show. I love that answer. That's a brilliant answer. That's fantastic. I love the way you think. The myth of normal is out right now, trauma, illness, and healing in a toxic culture. Dr. Gabo Mate. It's been a lot of thank you so much. It's been so much fun. And we'll do it again. Absolutely. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. If you want even more videos just like this one, make sure you subscribe and click on the boxes over here. I'm also excited to let you know that you can now get my book Think Like A Monk from ThinkLikeAmonkBook.com. Check below in the description to make sure you order today.