Turn Anxiety Into a Powerful Ally | Jewel on Impact Theory | Transcription
Transcription for the video titled "Turn Anxiety Into a Powerful Ally | Jewel on Impact Theory".
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So I started using my anxiety as a clue and as a friend. And every time I had anxiety, I was willing to say, it's because I was engaging in a thought that wasn't authentic with my real nature. Anxiety is our body's way of trying to communicate with us what you just ate, what you just thought, what you just did, who you just talked to, whatever it is, doesn't agree with you. - Everybody, welcome to Impact Theory. Today's guest is Jewel, a four-time Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter who has sold more than 30 million albums and had one of the best-selling debut records of all time. In addition to that, she's also a multiple-time New York Times best-selling author, actor and philanthropist who's been on the cover of Time Magazine, had a Cirque du Soleil show made about her life, and written one of the best-selling poetry books of all time. She's now also officially added being at the forefront of the mindfulness movement to her resume by working with large companies to help their employees find harmony in their lives, as well as producing a new documentary with Deepak Chopra on the subject called Mindfulness Movement. Jewel, welcome to the show. - Thanks, the inter I wrote was perfect, you did it great. - I wish, that would be amazing, that would save me a lot of time, but yours was very easy to write, your life story is insane. Reading your book was, it was actually a lot of fun, the prose of the book is extraordinary, as well as the content and the life you've lived is pretty amazing, and I have to assume, and you've talked about it, that that's really informed a lot of what you're doing now, and I'd love to go into that. I wanna talk about this concept that you have of the observer.
Mindset Change And Personal Transformation
Novel Mindset of Awareness (01:31)
Talk to me about that, what is the observer, when did it first start appearing in your life, and how's it been useful? - I was homeless for a year in San Diego, I was propositioned by a boss, and wouldn't have sex with him, he wouldn't give me my paycheck, could make my rent, so I started living in my car. I didn't think it would last that long, I thought it would be a couple of months, till I got a new job and saved up a deposit for a new place. But my car got stolen, I was having pamming attacks, I was agoraphobic, and when you don't have an address, it's hard to get a job, it's hard to have a resume, it's, you start looking homeless, and so, I couldn't even get a job at 7/11, ultimately. And just the amount of time it takes to survive, and find shelter, and safety, and food, and water, is exhausting. I was starting to have panic attacks, and agoraphobia, and I realized I would end up in jail or dead, if I didn't do something about it. And I remember this quote by Buddha, that said, "Happiness doesn't depend on who you are, or what you have, it depends on what you think." And I was stripped of everything else, except my thoughts, and it was the only thing left. And so, I decided to see if I could change my life one thought at a time, and I took it really seriously. But I had so much anxiety that I couldn't figure out what I was thinking in real time. If anybody suffered from that type of anxiety, you're pretty much out of your body. You can't even track your thoughts. And so, I started watching my hands, 'cause I thought your hands are the servants of your thought, it's your thought slowed down into action. Do you remember where you came up with that? I've heard you talk about that before, and that is very powerful, super insightful. Is that something you read? Is that just something that you literally noticed? - It's just something I noticed. As I was sitting there in a complete panic, all right, my job is to figure, turn my life around with my thoughts. Holy eff, I can't figure out what my thoughts are. It was just desperation, I think. And really having the time and deciding to sit down and think about how does this work, and what's another way. And I think part of being a creative person is you start to get really comfortable with problem solving. And you have to, I moved out when I was 15, so my whole life was problem solving, having no option, how am I gonna figure it out? And so watching my hands just seemed like the, it sounds so silly now, that was my huge plan.
Seeing his own anxiety as an observer not as part of him (04:00)
I was gonna watch my hands. Like, it's a ridiculous plan. But it ended up working, not the way I thought. I mean, there was a takeaway after two weeks of watching my hands. I literally just had a notebook and wrote down, I washed my hands. I didn't wanna shake hands, I opened a door. I had no idea what I was doing. At the end of two weeks, I realized I quit believing in myself. That was interesting, that my thoughts were all geared toward, I can't, I can't, I can't. So that was interesting. But there was a completely unexpected side effect that my anxiety disappeared when I was doing it. When I was journaling, it disappeared. In other words, mindfulness weren't around at that time. There were no books about this. But it was such a huge discovery for me that I realized so much that year. I realized fear is the thief. It takes the past and it projects it onto the future and robs you of the only opportunity you have to change. And I wanted to change. I knew moving out at 15, I should be a statistic. I knew that I should end up in jail or dead if I didn't figure this out. And so if I really wanted to change, I actually had to show up in the current moment. And that's what mindfulness does. Again, that word wasn't around. And so I just started to make all these discoveries that year. And the biggest one I started to realize was that when I was observing myself, my anxiety disappeared. And I realized this trippy thing. I had read, you know, Descartes, I think, therefore I am and read a lot of his works that doubt somehow validates our existence, which is a sucky way to go. But what is true, I guess? I realize it's not I think therefore I am. If I could change that a little bit, I'd say I observe what I think, therefore I am. I'm not my thoughts. I'm the observer of them, which gave me some room because it created this magical gap between my thoughts and who I was. If I was sad, I wasn't sad. I was the observer of sad. And at that little bit of distance, that gap, the way I would describe mindfulness is, you know, if you have a thought, creating a gap before you act on that thought. And in this gap is like this magical chamber where you can change. That's where you can step in and form new neurology, new neural networks, rewire new patterns and starve old neural patterns. - Yeah, that's really interesting to me. How much you can go from the poetic to the neuroscience behind the stuff. And I find that really intriguing. I know you've, I don't know if you've worked closely with him or if you just know him or know his work, but Judson, Dr. Judson Brewer, has actually been a guest on the show, amazing guy, really interesting when you start looking at the neuroscience of this stuff. When did you begin to discover that? So that for me, so one I want to talk about the gap that you're talking about. So I read a book called Man Search for Meaning by Victor Frankel, concentration camp survivor. He talked about that gap that between stimulus and response is exactly what you're describing and that your life is essentially that choice. And then going back to what you opened with, talking about anxiety and you, so I suffered profoundly from anxiety for years. I would still say it's a close to daily part of my life. I've certainly learned how to manage it a lot more. And to me, it didn't feel so much like I was out of my body. It felt like I was trapped or a slave to my body because I couldn't get out of the neurology of what was happening. And so when did you begin to discover that? The neuroscience of it all allowed me to visualize it, which allowed me to begin unwinding some of the processes to become more present. Was that something that helped you or did you discover that sort of after you had fought your way through it? It's really fascinating to me that if we do sit and contemplate a problem, we will come to some truth that many other people come to in similar situations, whether they're in a concentration camp or in a lab. It fascinates me. I call it going into the river of yourself to find the ocean of everything else. I realized about the habit loops.
Riches story of change (08:10)
I didn't have that word for it. Again, when I was homeless, I was addicted to stealing. And I was addicted to negativity, and I was addicted to anxiety. I could tell that. And I just stopped suddenly one day, and I was struck by the thought that if our brains are addictive, if we are capable of being addicted, if it's such a natural thing to us, there must be a biological evolutionary reason. I mean, it can't be that this was all a mistake. And oops, sorry about that addictive part of your brain, you know? It just didn't make sense. And so I wondered if I could get addicted to negative things, could I get addicted to anything, to positive things? And so I noticed this, I called it a triad. I noticed I had a problem, and it was triggering me. I knew that word. I probably didn't know that word then. The stimulus, I knew being homeless was really bad for me, my anxiety and my panic attacks. Then I had a response, and it was stealing.
Rewriting Your Brain (Backed By Science) (09:06)
And then I had a reward. And so I realized I couldn't change this first one, but I could change my reaction to it. And so I decided to insert writing. And so every time I wanted to steal, I forced myself to write. And I did it enough, and it was hard. It wasn't fun, it didn't feel good. Stealing would have felt way better. But I stuck with it enough to where I started to get a reward. And then I realized once I could do that, I could start to tackle really specific problems and get highly specific. I look at meditation. I was taught to meditate by an ant when I was about 12, maybe. It was transcendental meditation. I didn't really stick with it, but I knew of the concept. And then I think also writing, being creative, I sang my whole life, and I wrote my whole life, forces you to be present. So it turns out if you're being observant or curious, you're in a mindful state. That easy. So if you're anxious, all you have to do is get really observant and really curious. It can be about the light in the room, it could be the smell of something. But you're forced instantly into a mindful state. You don't even actually have to meditate to do that per se. And then I realized I have to start taking the skill of meditation. How do I describe it? It's like going to the gym and building up a muscle. And if you build up that muscle in gym, it's important, and it's great, and it changes you. But unless you can put that muscle to work in your day, your life may not be fully changed. Meditation was like doing a bicep curl. But I needed to find a way how to take that bicep curl and that muscle I was building and change habits. And that's where I started developing very specific exercises to attack or change very specific problems I was struggling with. And I continued to do that my whole life, my whole career. And then I met Dr. Brewer maybe two years ago. And when he saw the exercises I developed, he was like, those actually work. Those actually rewire your brain. And so on my website, he goes on and actually explains why they work, which was a total trip and really amazing. So I'd love to hear what some of those exercises are. What are some of the specific things that you did then? Have they morphed and changed? What are you doing now? When I was homeless, I realized I had two basic states. I felt like this, or I felt like this. It was open and dilated or it was tight and contracted. And I realized every thought, feeling, and action led to one of those two states. And so a really simple hack was when I noticed a panic attack coming on or a huge anxiety attack, I would just force myself to have a thought, feeling, or action that dilated me. It sounds really simple, but I just used gratitude. So I remember my first time I tried it. It was on the street corner. I liked to live near this little flowering bush. It was like my home. And I was miserable and anxious and heading into a panic attack. And I forced myself to notice the light coming through this palm tree and the way it filtered down. And it looked like a lace dress on me. And I just forced myself to feel the sun, to smell the air, to be profoundly grateful that I was feeling the sun on me. I had a lot of memories of Alaska sitting in the sun. And it forced my entire system to dilate. And I didn't know at the time what I know now. There's a lot of science. Your vascular system does dilate. Your blood pressure does drop. Your blood flow patterns change in your brain. And you get a different biochemical release, which is amazing. I felt it at that time. I didn't know the science, but I knew that it worked. So that's one that I teach on the website. And they're all just three-minute exercises that are very specifically designed to attack very specific in certain things as we try to change. That whole notion of being able to change is literally the core of my being.
Break Your Old Script, and Create A New Paradigm (12:51)
It's certainly the journey that I've been on. It's been the thing with having as many employees as I've had and that have grown apart, that have not been nurtured well. When I was reading your book, that whole notion really resonated with me of, OK, nature versus nurture. If you weren't nurtured well, can you find your true nature? Walk people through that. And I think a little bit, you know, some of the touch points of how you grew apart, why you moved out at 15, would be useful. But really what I want to know is what's the punchline? Like, how much have you been able to re-nerch it yourself? Yeah. So I grew up in an abusive household, moved out at 15 to get out of that situation, knew I should end up becoming a statistic, was hell-bent as a 15-year-old to not do that. And I looked at this concept of nature versus nurture. I had read a lot of Greek philosophy up to that point. And so I think I felt I could think my way out of this problem possibly. And I'd heard the concept of nature versus nurture. We had a bunny that thought it was a chicken when I was being raised. It was raised since a tiny baby with the chickens. And it actually grew up to sit on nests and hatch eggs. And it hopped. It hopped kind of funny like a chicken. And it pecked at its food. And it scared the crap out of me when I moved out. Because I thought, what if I'm a bunny that thinks it's a chicken? How will I ever know my real bunny nature? What if my nurture was so bad I don't ever get to know my actual real nature? And that thought and concept has been a real constant motivation, I guess, in my life. I did well. I got myself through school. I made it through this period of being homeless. I ended up getting discovered. My goal when I was discovered was to be a whole happy person first and to be a musician second. And that was my deal with myself and why I signed the contract. And I've stayed true to that. I've continued my education and developing these skills so that I could change. Because if you take somebody with my background and you add a fame on it, you talk about a whole nother round of statistic. It doesn't end well. You've seen this movie over and over. I didn't want it to be that way. So I took years between records. I did all kinds of things that are bad for your career. But I felt we're the only way to invest in my humanity and keeping good on my promise to myself. But I kept finding myself in similar situations again and again and again. So in my book, Never Broke and I talk about the amount of change I was able to facilitate, which is extraordinary, really. If I think about it, I went from an outhouse and no running water in Alaska to being on the cover of Time Magazine. That's a lot of change. But at the same time, nothing changed. And I'm writing a book right now. It's actually all about change. What don't we understand about that word? Because we grow, we get different. But we don't actually change. On a deep chemical level, it's like water turning into ice or fog and rain. It's still water. And that was me. I was having the same emotional experience over and over in very different settings. So it was like being on the same road. And I got the scenery to change from icy views out my window to green and pastoral to gilded and gold. But my experience was the same. I was on the same road. So how do we get on an entirely new road? How do you actually change your entire paradigm? So the way that I used mindfulness, it did change me. It helped me a ton. But I realized it kept me in the same paradigm. It's like the hammer and nail, right? If you're a hammer, everything looks like a nail. I learned to use mindfulness in my hammer and nail paradigm to help me have a better experience of getting hit over the head by a hammer. But I never got out of that paradigm. And so what this book now that it isn't out yet, but it should be soon, hopefully, is about how do you build an entirely new paradigm? How do we build our reality through interpersonality through a form of emotional connections and misunderstandings that form our entire paradigm? And then how can you find that top domino and actually unplug it and plug it into something else to get yourself on an entirely new trajectory? It is a fascinating topic. And obviously to the point where I wanted to write a book about it. And so what does some of that look like? So you have, I would say, a pretty extraordinary level of self-awareness, being able to turn inward and talk about the ability to look inward as a superpower.
The willingness and the bet to change (17:20)
If you were to turn that into a formula for somebody to follow, like, what does that look like? As an adult, you're looking back. Your life is not going where you want. Maybe you are the statistic. You know what you should be avoiding. You're not able to do it. You're out of your body. You're not-- you're writing the waves of your emotions instead of taking advantage of that gap. How do you begin walking people through a process of change? The new book-- it's funny. I haven't talked about the new book at all yet. You're the first person I've talked to about it. It seems to be coming up. The book really starts to lay out an outline. You watch me discover the process. And it lays out something that you can actually practice. To me, the big part is practice. You can have intellectual awakenings. You can have therapeutic realizations. But until you find skills that you can practice every day, you're not going to build a new neural network. And you're not going to actually create a new thought paradigm for yourself to operate within. So it really is about practice. I'm very into skills. I'm very into giving people things that you can do every day. Because unless you do that, it's not really going to change. The thing I can't do for people is the willingness to do it. The willingness to change. It's for warriors. Change isn't easy. You don't just get to turn on the TV and wake up changed, sadly. I always say being dysfunctional is a lot of work, and it's exhausting. And there's no light at the end of the tunnel. So learning a new way is hard, and it can be exhausting. But there's a light at the end of that tunnel. So to me, that's the bet I'd rather take. But you have to be willing to. A lot of people say they want to change, but they don't at the end of the day. And that's really the truth of it. If you are willing to do that, it really helps to have a series of questions to get asked. This took me so long to discover. I studied ancient wisdom of indigenous cultures. I have a gift for a billion books on neuroscience. To kind of amalgamore, if that's a word, everything together in a way that's a system that really caused a fundamental level of change. And so going a little bit deeper on that system, I think you and I are pretty aligned on you. I mean, it's the age-old adage. You are what you do every day, right? So excellence is a habit. It's the things that you do. And I always tell people what you're trying to do. Like when you think about making a dramatic change in your life, what you're trying to do is change your behavior. So thinking about values, which I know you think about a lot, beliefs, rules in your life, things like that, using my own vernacular. But the whole punchline of all of that for me is, are you doing different things? Are you changing the things that you do? Because once the external manifestation changes, then your life changes, then the neurochemistry changes. So it's like you're doing this work inward for sure. But if it doesn't manifest outwardly, then you really have a problem. So I talk a lot about routine. So for me, working out, eating right, those are huge because they cultivate-- and if nothing else, and there is a lot more-- but they cultivate the physical chemistry that you need to make sure that the new neurons that you're making actually can thrive, right? So just being in a place where, at a physiological level, you're creating the optimal environment for your brain to be healthy, so that you're optimizing cognition. You're at a point where your emotions are like anxiety. I am convinced is largely a function of diet. So it's the microbiome communicating to the brain. So getting people to eat right, getting people to exercise are part of the system of change, as I think about it. I've been very curious to know, like, what are the prescriptive behaviors that either you do or that you tell people to do?
Prescriptive behaviors and routines (21:02)
Absolutely. Diet's a huge one. I always had kidney problems and health problems. And so I had to seek out a lot of alternative care and practically gain a doctorate in everything from apology to Western medicine just to try and figure out how to advocate for myself. Diet, understanding our own body's personal chemistry. I do my blood work every three months because I have the money to do that now. Because I like to see how everything I'm doing is affecting me. I just find it fascinating. Everybody's different. The things that work for me are going to be different than what works for you. And so you do have to find practitioners that are willing to help work with you to see how you're wired, how you metabolize and those types of things. I think that's a huge part of it. For me, it was always finding tools and resources I could somehow implement myself because I didn't have access to help or therapy or these types of things. And that's what I'm really passionate about helping give people as well. If you do have the money for a therapist, but your life isn't changing, you need to look at it. You need to have goals. With change, I actually had to develop a metric for the book of how do you describe change? How do you quantify it? How do you create a metric around it? So that you can look back and go, I have changed. I just didn't get different or kind of grow or put on a different outfit emotionally, if you will. But you're the same person.
The pillars of change - Transformation, transmutation and transcendence (22:27)
I've got to know what is the metric for change. That is amazing. Well, there's three pillars to change. It's transformation, transmutation, and then transcendence. Can you define those? I can. I would love to get my book because I really worked hard on the definitions. I didn't even talk about this. I'll see if I can even find it. It would be funny to see if I could. It might be helpful to define the metrics and mechanics of what constitutes change. To say something has really changed, it has to go through three processes. If only the first or second steps have taken place, you may have become different or grown, but you cannot really say you've achieved change. There are three pillars to change, one, transformation. We must look at what gives form to what we are looking at. We must understand its nature. We must feel motivated to transform it into something else. This is where we identify where you are and where you want to go. Two, transmutation. This is the initiation of energy. It requires sacrificing the energy of what you want to change so you can get to the next step. Sacrifice is an essential part. We must sacrifice an old belief, an old concept. Break down an old paradigm. Let go of the illusions. We have to break it down or digest what we are changing so it can become something else. This is where we put new concepts into action. If we have a new understanding and don't act on it, if we don't use it, it creates inner conflict. We must act on knowledge to transform it into wisdom. What you don't give birth to will destroy you. So this isn't just physical but an idea. If we don't give birth to a new concept, if we don't take action on it, it'll destroy us. Keep us in a lot of conflict. We can't sit on a new understanding and not act on it. If we don't take the energy in, absorb it and break it down, it will create a conflict and make you unhappy. Once we break down old beliefs, we can become pregnant with different ideas. If we don't take time to give them space in our lives, to have a good birth and transmute that energy, it will create a deep conflict that we don't, if we don't, and we won't change. The less judgment we hold, the more we can transmute. Try to see through clear eyes letting go of dogma and paradigms and experiences as energy for what they are. The more we can perceive and sacrifice program detachments to the ideas, we are examining or letting go of, the more we can transmute them to be open to a new way of seeing or thinking. When we don't get rid of our perceptions and old ideas, it creates a blind spot and keeps us from changing. Great, transcending. Viewing a situation with new eyes, becoming open to new paths. When we alter our perceptions, free of old dogma and paradigm, it opens new pathways before us. We can take new pathways that changes our trajectory. This is where we use intention to set a new path that allows us to transcend our past experience. It is entirely possible to change so foundational that our old stories and traumas no longer trigger us. It becomes part of a story of your life that no longer influences where you go next. When we transcend something, we are no longer in relation to it. We are no longer, it no longer has power over us. We're at Liberty to choose where we want to go. Get to the face cup.
Encountered wheel of development - Introspection, death, rebirth, and wisdom (25:37)
- Man, that is amazing. There's a few things in there that you've talked really powerfully about and I'm super excited to read the new book. Again, I cannot tell you how sincerely I mean that you're never broken, the beautiful prose, the incredible concepts, the way that you're able to help people have their own inward look as they live through your life. Really, really extraordinary. That snippet is phenomenal. I think those three things are really interesting. The notion of death and rebirth is something that I've heard you talk about before. That to me is really interesting and I cannot help but notice behind you, you have these skulls with antlers, I don't know if they're deer, elk or whatever. - Deer, yeah. - Is it just that they're beautiful or is there some of this death and rebirth notion and making room for the new energy which I find really intriguing? I'd love to hear more about that and this whole notion of death and rebirth and how it manifests in real life 'cause it's not necessarily literal death but there is still a letting go and making that new space. - Yeah, I was adopted by American natives when I was 15 and they brought me into a lot of their traditions and it got me fascinated with studying indigenous knowledge from all over the world. One of the things I share in the book is what I call a wheel of development. It's thought to go into but on the front, nine o'clock to midnight are some stones on the wheel of introspection, death, rebirth and wisdom. Is it 12 o'clock? And this wheel of development is something each of us travel once in a lifetime as well as with any business startup, with any new relationship. You can look at this wheel as sort of a map or a blueprint and right now if I was to say where we are as a country, we're in death and rebirth. So there's introspection and when we introspect, we now have to let go of things which is a death and then we get to be reborn into a new thought process or way of being or way of relating to the world and then when we act on that we have wisdom. But you can travel the wheel in an encumbered state. So there's an unencumbered state where if you travel the wheel and everything's kind of perfect, you experience it at its highest that it can be. It's rarely true for any of us. And so there's an encumbered pattern of each thing. So the encumbered pattern of introspection is repression. If we refuse to introspect, we suppress or we repress. And so instead of letting go of something and letting thoughts or ideas have a death, we have fear. So we repress the result of that as fear. Instead of being reborn into a new outlook or a new way of seeing the world, we become disempowered. And then instead of moving into wisdom, we start suffering from doubt. So the encumbered pattern is really not comfortable. It's repression, fear, disempowerment and doubt. So right now it's fascinating to me as we look at where we are as a world, as a culture. For the first time every world power is afraid of the same thing and it's invisible. That's never happened that I'm aware of in the history. And so we're either gonna introspect, let go of old ways and systems, be reborn into new way and act in wisdom, or we're gonna repress, suppress, act in fear, become disempowered and doubt every action and step we make. And to me that's where I hope I can step in. I hope many, many people can step in and start helping us move in an unencumbered pattern around that section of the wheel. - Man, we gotta talk about identity then because that's an amazing breakdown.
And I think the reality is, in my gut instinct is everyone will resonate with the sort of apparent truth of this. Some people will take the expansive path and many people are gonna take the contracting path. Literally the words you were using as you were describing and I was like, you're back to those two central things. You were saying things that'll make you expand or they'll make you contract. I think identity is a big part of why people will end up really going in either direction. So my identity is that of the learner. So I'm seeking things that make me feel expansive. I wanna learn. I assume I'm doing things wrong. My identity is not tied up in being right or worthy or any of that. My identity is like, yo, there's gotta be a way for me to get better to improve. I want to get rid of old ideas 'cause I'm like, I've already arrived where my old ideas have taken me and I don't wanna be here in five years, right? I wanna be somewhere better, more productive, more joyful, more whatever. And I think that a lot of people going back to the flip side of that coin of identity is you've got people who, even if it's trauma, even if it's something bad that happened, that is their identity. And you riff on this in Never Broken, which is as long as the words of your abuser are ringing in your head, like you're never going to be free of that abuse. And that was an interesting example. And I think you do refer to it as a death where I don't think most people would think, like you actively have to let that go. You actively have to break your own identity as somehow being tied to that. Like the things that you've had to overcome are immense. And the fact that you have had, and I'm on, so curious to know if this is part of that true north that you alluded to a minute ago, that you've known who you were trying to become and have let the things die away that we're holding on. Walk people through this, I think a lot of people are gonna be stuck in a negative mindset, in a trauma. They don't believe in themselves. They have some sort of trauma from the past that defines who they are in the present, but they don't realize it. Like how do they begin to make that space? - In my book, Never Broken, I talk about this experience with my mom, and I realized I was broke and I was through me in a debt. Nothing I'd ever been told about my life was true.
Understanding Identity (31:27)
- And this is all after selling the albums. And this is like the height of the height. - Yeah. And it was devastating. I mean, it was just, and it was a total brain mess for me. It felt like just having my brain shattered. And it was in a million pieces. I didn't know reality from fiction. Having to go back through your life and figure out what was true, what was false. It was a hard thing to get through. And I didn't press therapists. I didn't trust anybody to mess with my mind. I was just in a really bad state. And I wouldn't have even honestly known who to turn to at that point, 'cause what I was dealing with was so strange and unusual. I quit a tour, 'cause I thought like I was gonna have a nervous breakdown if I went. And I was at my house and I walked out and looked at myself in the mirror. And I don't know what these epiphanies always happen in the mirror. And I remember this Joseph Campbell allegory, the allegory, the Golden Statue. It's a story about a small village that had a prized Golden Statue. They heard a neighboring village was gonna come and attack them. So they covered the statue in mud. And then the war came and went. The statue stayed covered in mud. The entire village forgot its value. Generations passed. One day a child was sitting at the feet of the statue. It was raining, saw a glintry of gold, and they realized the statue had inherent value. For some reason that story came back to me. And I thought, what if I'm not broken? What if I'm attacking this entire problem of trying to fix myself from the entirely wrong perspective? When something's broken, when you feel broken inside, you feel like something outside of you has to fix you. Very daunting to be fundamentally so flawed that something outside of you, outside of your own nature has to help fix you. I thought, what if I haven't realized like I can't be broken? A soul is not a teacup, it's not a chair. It exists permanently for all time. Whatever the nature of that energy is, it is forever. And so what if I'm not broken? What if I'm just covered in layers of mud and silt and abuse and hurt and neural programming that isn't me? It's like a hard casing that I've become entombed in within my own life, but it isn't who I am authentically. And so I started using my anxiety as a clue and as a friend. I started realizing that I didn't have to fix myself as much as I had to do a very loving archeological dig back to who I really was. Get rid of the programming. And every time I had anxiety, I was willing to say it's because I was engaging in a thought that wasn't authentic with my real nature. It was a clue. My anxiety became my best friend because it started being a neon sign that said, you're engaging in a behavior, a thought or an action that does not agree with you. Our anxieties, our bodies way of trying to communicate with us what you just ate, what you just thought, what you just did, who you just talked to, whatever it is, doesn't agree with you. And so I became very diligent. I started taking a notebook around every time I'd have anxiety about what was I just thinking, what was I just doing? And I'd start to write it down. And I started playing a game, it's up on my website, Jewel Never Broken, as one of the mindfulness games which helps rewire you. But it was called Self and Other. Every time I had one of these thoughts, I would write it down and I'd ask myself, what's the truth? And this is different than doing affirmations in the mirror. I'm not a huge fan of affirmations. Hope and fear travel the same neural network in your body. If you say, I hope I do good on my test, you might as well be saying, I'm afraid I won't. So we don't hope, we do, we take action. And so telling yourself the truth isn't affirmative thinking, it's finding the truth that makes your whole body relax, it unlocks you. And it starts to really unwind your anxiety, it's fascinating. - One thing I've heard you talk about that I thought was really powerful is this notion of, okay, when I first started doing this, I would get anxious because I didn't know what I was doing and I identified basically a flip side of that. And to this statement was, no, I know what I'm doing.
feed it the truth (35:43)
But that, you knew, wasn't true. What was the statement that you ended up coming up with? I feel like if people really let this one sink in, it's the kind of thing that could unlock something for them. - Yeah, this is how we take affirmative thought and tweak it so it isn't a hope, but it's the truth. So I think an example I gave in my book was, my best friend was dying, I was under a lot of stress, I was doing a movie, I'd never done a movie before and I was starting to go back into panic attacks. I hadn't had those in a long time. And so I tried everything, I would record myself saying the truth to myself at night and I'd fall asleep to it. I was just, I'd try anything that would work. So the fear was, I don't know what I'm doing. That came to me over and over and over, that was the lie. So I went to the antithesis of it, I know what I'm doing. Wasn't the truth, I had no idea what I was doing. Okay, but it gave me a starting place to refine from and I would just start playing around with different phrases until I felt my whole system relax. And the truth was, I will figure it out and I will. I've never quit, I know that about myself, I have never once quit until I figured something out. And that made my whole system relax. And it let me trust my nature and it let me trust my process. I'll figure it out. And so every time I'd have this paralyzing fear, I don't know what I'm doing, I would say to myself the truth with a breath. I will figure it out and I knew that was true. My bones knew it and it calmed me down enough. And again, I didn't know this at the time, but that re-routes the blood in your brain. It allows you to access a different part of your brain so you can start to problem solve. How did you go through losing someone that close to you?
Coping With Loss And Personal Growth
losing your best friend (37:22)
Like that's something I've seen people really, really, how hard time was. - In my new book, I describe God as five primal powers, life, death, birth, decay and creation. And those five primal powers are at work at all times in the world. We're not supposed to practice our spirituality or our self-betterment, whether you're an atheist or not. We're not supposed to practice and learn to try and control our environments. And a lot of times we do it because we kind of have that secret hope that we can never hurt again and we may never get blindsided again. That was a big one for me. I was always getting blindsided. What I realized is that these powers are working at all the time, right? We're always interfacing with life, death, birth, creation and decay. Something's always being born and breaking down and it's just life. And so if you look at those as colors, 'cause I'm very visual, these colors are coming at us all the time. We don't get to control what life throws our way. We do get to control how it changes us. And so that's really the most productive way to focus your time and your energy. And to sort of look at it like being an artist, I'm gonna take these experiences, these dark and wild energies and colors. I'm gonna weave them into something that makes me a more resilient person, a more giving person, a more wise person. And so it gives you comfort when you deal with loss, when you deal with grief. Something else I talk about in the new book is all feelings come from seven core emotions and I talk about them like the seven primary colors, all emotions stem off of these seven. And grief does something interesting you wouldn't expect. It, it dilates you. If you watch a system, if you will, let yourself grieve and you won't resist it, your whole system will dilate so hard. It is asking you to connect to life in a transformative way. You do need to go through your own death. You're gonna be altered forever. You're gonna change your perceptions and how you relate to life and how you connect to life and how you value life forever. It is asking you to do that. When we resist it and we tighten up, we're gonna drag that experience out, we're gonna repress it, we're gonna experience the encumbered patterns of the wheel that I mentioned before, versus allowing it to make you dilate and connect. It is uncomfortable, but you do get through it.
grief & dilating (39:51)
- That's really interesting. I never, like if somebody had just caught me off guard and said is grief contracting or expanding, I for sure would have said contract, but you're absolutely right in terms of when you try to resist it. Like even I'm not a big crier in fairness, but in the moments where I have cried, it is a sense of letting go. It is a sense of unclinching, right? And to try to stop that is this like really sort of hard, intense gripping, that's interesting. I had never taken the time to think about that. - Yeah, I spent so much time studying emotions for myself and for this book because we've inherited our genetics, but we've inherited a lot of beliefs and a lot of misunderstandings. And so the way we perceive something is honestly a misunderstanding of grief. I inherited the same one. Whether from my family of origin or from me just interacting with life, you can't cry without dilating. You can't get mad without dilating. If you stay mad, that's a grudge and that's something entirely different. You've tightened down around two emotions that bonded and turned into a grudge. This fascinating topic.
- That's really interesting. How have you not, like you have this really interesting thought around forgiveness and what it is? And specifically I will, I have a plant, the answer I've heard you give before, which is around it being like scissors. I'd love you to explain forgiveness as you see it and what you mean by it working as scissors. - I do like shortcuts. The only genuine shortcut life offers is facing the obstacle. I realized a grudge carries everything out and drags it out forever. To me, winning is I wanna completely get past it. So for things like my dad, who was abusive when I was young or my mom, that ended up being incredibly deeply betraying, forgiveness was the best to win. As odd as that sounds. People confuse forgiveness and condoning. Those are two different things. You can forgive without condoning a behavior. I call forgiveness the needle that knows how to mend. If you wanna heal, forgive them because it is like cutting that last thread that connects you to them. Which is sometimes what we don't wanna forgive. It's what connects us to our pain and our pain connects us to that wish that we still have them. Maybe hating a person that hurt your child connects you to your child. The last way that you have. I mean, it almost can make me cry. I said, so tender. I understand why we don't wanna forgive. But if you really wanna be free, if you really wanna have liberty, you have to cut that thread. And the only way to do it is by forgiving and moving on. You never have to see the person again. Again, when I forgave my dad, when I moved out, I never thought I'd see him again. I didn't forgive him so I could get back a relationship. I forgave him so I could figure out how to heal and move on with my life. - Now, is it still true so you forgave your dad and because he has changed so much, he's apologized and actually changed behaviors. You guys have reconnected. Is it still true that you have not reconnected with your mom? - True. Yeah, my dad's incredible. He's like, I mean, you've heard of personality settling and all these different theories about how old you can be when you change. And my dad is living proof that you can profoundly change. And he was in his 60s when he got sober and he's in the 70s now. Happier today than he was yesterday and he'll be happier tomorrow than he was today. It's incredible. With my mom, we don't have a relationship. I haven't seen her as I described in the book since 2003, I think. And I don't know that we ever will.
Growing up in Homer, Alaska (43:48)
- I wanna talk about, so the where you grew up outside of Homer, Alaska, Homer, Alaska itself is not exactly a bustling metropolis. So to be growing up outside that and what you call a homestead, I'd love to hear a little bit about that. And I'm asking specifically because I think your work ethic is insane. I find that as inspiring as I find your seeing ability, which is unimaginable. I've seen you perform live. It is breathtaking to say the least. But your work ethic to me is awe inspiring. - Thank you. Yeah, I grew up on a homestead. My family were pioneers. Born in Switzerland but living in Germany just at the beginning of the Second World War. They were able to escape and make it to Alaska that was giving away free land to anybody that would go up there and promise not to die for a whole winter. My grandmother was an aspiring poetist and opera singer. My grandfather was a linguist, studied languages and etymology. And they raised these children before it was a state. My grandfather actually did helping draft the Constitution for Alaska, which is an amazing, only an America story. My grandmother taught them all to sing and to write, to paint, this very idyllic, creative upbringing in the woods. There's a show about my dad and my family called Alaska the last frontier. Most people don't realize it's my family, but that's my dad and my brother, my uncle and my cousin. It's a beautiful way to be raised. While there certainly were a lot of difficult things, as I mentioned, my dad had to live through the creativity. He calls it the cure was in the disease. Nature and creativity were this cure which ended up helping heal him. And I feel the same way. My family are hard workers. They're gonna be a pioneer and literally forge something out of nothing. That's the original entrepreneur. That's the original gangster of finding a new way forward. And so being raised in the mentality was you had to rely on yourself. There's nobody else who kind of come fix it. You had to figure out how to fix it. There were six ants that I was raised with. So my dad has, there's eight of them total, six were girls. And so the girls are highly capable. In pioneer states, women are not treated differently and the roles are interchangeable. So I wasn't raised with a gender biased system in Alaska. There's no like the women cook and the men do this. I was not raised with that concept. I knew I wasn't as strong as a man, but I knew I was as capable. And that if you put your mind to it, you could figure it out. And I think when I left Alaska, I didn't realize that one single thing was an absolute game changer for me going forward. I never thought I was a weaker sex. I thought I could think as hard as somebody else and figure it out and find my own solution. I was taught that I had to find my own solution. That's how I was raised. And that was a tremendous advantage. When I got discovered, I was on a record label with probably 600 artists. There's no competitive advantage. We're all artists. There's not like a finish line and there's one winner. It's art. You can't say red's better than blue. It's just the preference and a lot of systems to help you get your art forward to see if people like it. So for me, the only competitive advantage I could find was my work ethic. I looked at these other musicians and I believed I could at work them. And that's what I said about doing and it about killed me. I don't know how wise it was, but it did work out. - One of my favorite stories in that is so your debut album ends up going on to smash it.
Jewel's journey (47:27)
12 million records sold. One of the highest selling debut records of all time. But it took you over a year to break it, if I'm not mistaken. Like you were touring, you said you were doing two and three shows a day. Like you said you did 600 shows in a single year, which is literally just thinking about how many shows that really is. Even if you didn't take-- - I didn't weigh more than that, yeah. - That's insane. - And I did it for multiple years. - How did you not do it? - I'm not doing voice. - Luckily, I've always had a strong voice. I grew up bar singing and I think I just built up this muscle and endurance. And I was just very tenacious. I was a folk singer at the height of grunge. So the odds against me were so high. I was singing songs called I'm Sensitive while Nirvana was out. The odds of me making it were not huge. And I made a folk record intentionally because it's who I was. I wanted to be honest. What I just learned while I was homeless was just, my authenticity was my only currency and it clung to it, it was my happiness. I didn't wanna let go of it just to be famous. And I met on a hard road to hoe and I had to be willing to pay for that basically. I had to buy that authenticity with work ethic 'cause I didn't get to take the other shortcut. So I did shows in the morning for high schools and then I would go do one record in store, or go to a record store and play in the parking lot. Then maybe two or three radio shows. This would be multiple, usually two cities a day. I would open for a Bauhaus at night, which is a goth band, which was really difficult. And then I did a midnight show in a coffee shop and I did all this in a rental car. It was grueling. But every time I played, I'd figure out the puzzle, how can I make this audience pay attention to me? How can I make them listen to me? I could see that I converted people. And it just was a grass movement. It was a slow thing, but it worked.
Jewel's wildest streak (49:30)
- One thing that I'm curious to know if you think this is a strength of yours, given the way that I think I think it's amazing, is you have a, I'm gonna prove people long streak in your personality from yodeling at the age of five because your dad said or your grandfather said, somebody told you you were too young for it and then learning to move every muscle on your face because you didn't want to have involuntary muscles. Tell me about that. - That sounds really funny hearing, so you'll say that. It's ridiculous. Yeah, I think, you know, there's something in each of us, some little voice in us that knows I can do that. I don't know how to do it yet, but I can figure it out. And I definitely had that. When you have that inclination, you have to follow it. You can't let that die. That's some truth in you speaking. And it built up a grit, I think, you know, a tenacity, that type of thing. And again, the way I was raised. Yeah, the involuntary muscle things bizarre, but I get it. - Is that something that you value in yourself? - It is. We have different phases in life, you know, and we're young. We're looking for fuel, right? All of us. We're looking for something combustible that can get us to the next level. Perfection, we have healthy ones and unhealthy ones. Perfectionism is an unhealthy one. You know, if you have any talent and you become perfectionist, that perfectionism will be like a rocket booster. But it, how do I describe it? It limits your ability to be genius. It limits your ability to be great because perfectionism is careful, it's calculated. It doesn't wanna look foolish. And so it's this deceiving rocket fuel that gets you this far, but that last inch that's so hard to be great at something, you have to be willing to take huge risks. You have to be willing to fail terrifically on grand scales. Perfectionism will let you do that. And so a very difficult transition, I think a lot of people that are successful don't often talk about is how did they dismantle that perfectionism? And did they? Because if they haven't yet and they've done these amazing things, I wanna see what they can do without it. Because if they can let go of that and take that risk, it's stratospheric, what you're capable of accomplishing. The same thing's true about having a point to prove. You know, I had a point to prove, for sure. It was a rocket fuel, it was a combustible energy that I knew how to tap into, it was visceral and I could channel it and I could just make people listen. I mean, you know, I was intense. And now that I'm older, I don't feel that way. And it scared me once I started learning to let go of having a point to prove because it was like having a knockout punch in your back pocket. And when you start letting go of that, because it limits you, it limits your ability to go that extra inch, what do you use to connect with people? If you're not gonna wow them with these other skill sets, what's so authentic and undeniable about you that you're gonna connect in such a deep way that you get the same result, but not healthier and much more sustainable way. So I think I've really worked on letting go of having a point to prove. It's definitely made me go, it made me search really hard for what's interesting and what's visceral and how do I connect? I had to really redefine it and search for a new and much more sustainable way.
Jewel's Work (53:01)
- Yeah, that's super interesting. The people that you have interacted with from just ideologically somebody like Descartes, which I'm still shocked by, 'cause this is all happening, you know, three internet, either in Alaska or, you know, sort of at the edge of living on our own and homeless, to Bob Dylan taking you out with him on tour. The wisdom that you've been able to coalesce around is really fascinating. And like I'm saying, the way that you've coalesced all of it into shareable wisdom, I think is really extraordinary. And I think using your own clock definition, I mean it with a full weight of that, that midnight straight up is wisdom. And I certainly got that from your first book. I'm super curious to read your upcoming book. You have a new single Grateful Out Now album forthcoming. And if you would, tell people where they can connect with you, where they can find a song, be amazing. And the mindfulness movement, where can they get that? - Yeah. The song is called Grateful. It's up on any streaming platform. For any mindfulness tools, I call it making a habit out of happiness. That's at jewelneverbroken.com. Jewelneverbroken.com. I don't know, I guess you can find me from those two places. The mindfulness movement film, you can find it on Instagram, I'm on Instagram, and it's just jewel. - Amazing. Last question, what's the impact that you wanna have on the world? - Hmm, I think it's a small goal. I want my life to be my best work of art. I don't want my music to be my best work of art or my poetry. I wanna be my best work of art. And if that affects other people, that's gravy. But it's really just starting in here. - It's amazing. Thank you so much for being on the show. Everybody, I'm telling you right now, if you only know her from her music, you have a treat coming your way. It's extraordinary. The poetry is amazing. All of the mindfulness tools, the book, just what she talked about, her life, how she's lived it, how she's gone introspective, what she's made of that, how she's made change. It is really extraordinary. There's so much to learn. I think you will love everything about what she's doing. So seek her out, find the stuff. It will change you. If you let it, if you haven't already, be sure to subscribe. And until next time, my friends, be legendary. Take care. - What was that like? Being an immigrant and then trying to make a name for yourself. - Well, I mean, I was born in Haiti in a small village. And did it imagine a place, so no electricity. No running water.