In today’s age of data and information, our ideas of success are measured mainly by numbers, from social media followers, bank account status, and current weight. And since these numbers are truly powerful despite their fluctuating nature, they can control our thoughts and push us to have this addiction to validation. Jason Wrobel shares his recent panic attacks caused by discontentment with his career and investments and how he believes proper guidance from others can free him from such an alarming phase. On the other hand, Whitney Lauritsen discusses the emptiness one can feel even by having tons of online fans and viewership and how the internet community should focus more on delivering values instead of chasing after mere prominence.
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Panic Attacks & Breaking The Addiction To Validation
One of the things that we enjoy doing is getting direct feedback from the people that we talk to online, whether that’s people on our newsletter list or our social media platforms, or friends in general. Sometimes we get texts from family members and friends weighing in on the show here or the content we’re putting out. One of the things we love to do in getting this feedback is we feel like it gives us a deeper insight into what’s going on inside people’s minds and hearts. It allows us to perhaps craft content that speaks to some of your concerns, dear readers. Some of the things you’re wrestling with, some of your hopes and dreams, some of your resistances and challenges.
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You get the whole smorgasbord then. You get the whole kit and caboodle, that’s a phrase I haven’t used in a while. I have no idea what that even means. I feel like I need to do a search engine search for what kitten caboodle means. I have been using it for 40 years, I still don’t know what it means. I regress or progress, depending on how you look at it. One of the things that popped out to myself and Whitney when we were reviewing some of the responses to this one-question survey on our newsletter was this topic of resistance.
Resistance is something we’ve talked about in previous episodes, specifically referring to one of our favorite authors in books, Steven Pressfield, and his seminal work, The War of Art. It’s always interesting when people talk about what their resistances are in life. One of the responses we got just to summarize was about this balance of feeling way too focused on future goals, dreams and shoulds, and rejecting what’s in the present moment. Perhaps not being present into what’s happening at the moment and feeling too future-focused or the idea of success.
This is something that still resonates with me because this is something I struggle with every day. I feel like this is a common thing, wanting to make sure we are investing in the possibility. There’s no guarantee of a future outcome, but the idea that what we’re investing in, whether that’s our education or our personal growth or self-care, or actually investing. That’s a huge thing. That is a fascinating topic at the time that we’re recording this show, of what’s happening with Wall Street and the investment market. I think this is a difficult balance because we have had this idea of presence, not only from more contemporary spiritual teachers like in the survey, she mentioned Eckhart Tolle. You think about people like Deepak Chopra. There’s a ton of different current modern spiritual teachers. The idea of being connected to the present moment is something that you can go back to the Bhagavad Gita, the Upanishads or ancient Hindu texts, or certain Eastern religions.
It’s tough because for as many versions of the mantra of live in the moment, and the only thing we have is right now, we’re wired as human beings to project possibilities of future challenges or future threats. We want to make ourselves feel safe. “Do we have enough money? Are we going to have shelter? Is there food on the table? Are my children and my family going to be safe and healthy?” This is a constant challenge that even I find with meditation and trying to be present, that I’m still much worried and fearful about future threats that don’t even exist yet. It’s a very difficult thing. I’m glad whoever this person was that responded to the survey we’re not going to call people out by name, but reminding us of the difficulty and the challenge of being focused on the present moment. Also, being worried about future goals, what might happen, and trying to protect ourselves and be prepared for it.
This is something I struggle with day-to-day I don’t know what to do about it. It seems like no amount of meditation, mantras, or anything that I do is helping me to stop worrying about the future. Instead of me worrying about the future, maybe I should be okay with it. I’m going to be worried about the future and that’s something that’s hardwired into our neurochemistry and fuck it. It’s okay to worry. Maybe it’s not the worrying, it’s the beating ourselves up for worrying. That’s something that I’m present to instead of, “I’m worried about some future outcome, and that’s okay because I’m neurologically wired to do that. Maybe I should be okay with that and not make myself feel bad for doing it.” Maybe that’s the actual issue instead of the worrying. It’s the beating myself up for the worrying. That just came up in real time. That’s fascinating to look at.
If you feel comfortable sharing this, I know that you had felt like you were struggling one day. I imagine that some of what you’re expressing now might be connected to that experience you were having. Is that something that you want to explore on the show?
I had a panic attack one night before going to bed. It was fucking awful. My heart rate was going up. I was having difficulty breathing. I felt flushed. I felt hot and I had difficulty sleeping. I don’t know about a history of panic attacks, but one that comes up in my mind was at Expo West when you and I were there, Whitney, in 2017. We were going after one of the show floor days had closed. I think the Plant-Based Foods Association had a meet up after one of the first two days. All of a sudden, I just felt these same sensations. My heart rate was going up. My skin feeling flushed. I’m feeling like I was wanting to crawl out of my skin. My breath was getting shorter. I had to leave the room.
That’s the one that I had in my most recent memory that felt like what was happening that night was I had to get out of there. I remember going out onto one of the outdoor patios to get fresh air, and I had to sit there for about 10 or 15 minutes to calm myself down before I could go back in the room. This was different in the sense that what I was experiencing that night was not necessarily triggered by a room full of people. With that experience, the last panic attack I had was maybe by just being overwhelmed by all of the energy, feeling depleted and feeling like I had to keep giving even more energy. Those show floor days are exhausting sometimes of you and I walking around. I remember sometimes you would do your step-counter and I’d be like, “We walked that many miles in one day.” The idea of going and needing to have some meaningful and positive interaction with a room full of 150, 200 people felt overwhelming. At that time, it was very much triggered by this idea that I had to put on a happy face, and I had to somehow muster this energy to interact with all these people when all I wanted to do was rest.
This was different in the sense that the panic attack I had was brought on by this idea that I’m not doing life right, that I’m missing out on things, that all of these people are making all of this money with all the crazy shit going on with the stuff that’s happening on Reddit, WallStreetBets and people. I read the story about this one guy in Missouri who works at an auto parts store who put $4,500 into this GameStop rally, and now he has over a million dollars. I’m like, “Why didn’t I do that? I’m an idiot. I’m so stupid,” and just beating myself up. I’m feeling like there are all these people doing so well, they’re crushing it, and I’m stuck in my life and running out of patience. I feel like I need to do something because I can’t stay stuck in the place that I am. Mentally, I can’t stay stuck at the place I am. Financially, I’m feeling like an increasing sense of desperation to do something, but I don’t know what that something is.Unfollow people online who don't give you any value and see how they lose their own value. Click To Tweet
The more that I research these kinds of things, the more lost I feel. You go on the internet, you do this research, and you see ten different articles with ten different viewpoints of, “You should invest. No, you shouldn’t invest. These rallies. This rally is not going to last forever. People are going to lose their ass. Don’t pay attention to the auto parts worker who made a million dollars because that’s not you. You’re probably going to lose and the SEC is going to step in.” I went down this research rabbit hole that left me feeling more panicked than empowered. That’s what happened. At the end of the night, I don’t know what I’m doing. “I shouldn’t take my life savings and put it in there because I could lose it all. I feel even worse about myself. What if I’m missing out on this golden opportunity where people are making hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars? Am I just scared? Am I giving into fear?” I’m spiraling like, “Am I chicken shit? Should I do this and have the balls to do it, and not care about what happens?”
I’m trying to learn more about the financial system and what I should do because I feel stuck and I’m losing patience with myself. It’s the fear of losing this opportunity versus the fear of losing all my money. This panic attack was feeling like I’m missing out on the opportunity to make money, but I’m also giving in to the fear of losing because I have this money set aside. It feels like the same episode we recorded a few ago and I don’t want this to become the same episode. Essentially my panic attack was feeling caught between too much information that seems to be conflicting with each other, and then people are like, “YOLO. I’m going to put $30,000 of my life savings in and fuck it. Let’s see what happens.” Is that stupid? Is that ballsy? Is that courageous? What is it?
I feel like me not doing anything might be worse than doing something, but I don’t know what that something should be. I feel like I’m missing out on the opportunity to grow my wealth when all these other people are doing it. Maybe I just don’t have the balls. It spirals into beating myself up for not doing anything. That’s what brought on the panic attack. There was a hummingbird outside my window, which is beautiful. I don’t know that I have a point here, Whitney. You brought on the panic attack so that’s what I think it was.
I think that the risk of losing a lot of money could be incredibly mentally challenging. It might even be worse than staying still because that’s an intense emotion, especially if you went into it thinking you were going to get something, which is probably the only reason that you would do it. Some people don’t care. It’s like going to the casino and they have money that they’re willing to part with. I remember when my grandfather would always phrase it like this, “It’s like you’re playing a video game. You’re probably not going to get that money back and it’s just fun.” If you go in with that mentality and you happen to come away with some money, great. I’ve been watching a lot of videos on TikTok about this because people have been sharing all different opinions. Mostly, people are saying that it’s gambling in many cases, especially now. There’s a 50/50 chance that you’re going to make money versus lose money. You have to be okay with that risk. It’s like a coin flip.
If you are okay with it resulting on either end of the spectrum, great. Other people have said that using tactics like this is not an investment. It’s more equivalent to gambling. The whole point of an investment is putting money in for a long period of time. I don’t even fully know when do you take money out. I guess most of the concept of investments is not taking money out. It’s just going there and making money, and it’s still a mystery to me. Jason, for you and for anyone else reading who’s feeling equally confused and frustrated, what if you invest your money into a financial advisor and they help you make the right decisions? That way it’s less of a gamble and you’re doing something useful. You’re growing your knowledge about something, and then you can make smarter choices as time goes on around.
The real rub is that there are three conflicting motivations in my life. One is to pay down all of my debt. Two is to make sure that my credit score is high enough by paying off my debt to qualify for a mortgage. If I take that money that I have set aside for a down payment and use it to pay off the debt, then I won’t have the down payment to qualify for the mortgage even though my credit score will be higher by using that money to pay off the debt. It’s a catch-22. The third aspect is I do want to leverage the cash that I have because the cash isn’t growing. There’s no compound interest being formed. This cash isn’t doing anything, and yet I want to invest it into tangible assets. To your point, the whole short squeeze that’s happening with GameStop and the individual investors, a lot of them are motivated. They want to stick it to the hedge fund billionaires and be like, “Fuck you. We are taking the power back,” which I agree with. I don’t know that it’s going to work long-term, but as an opportunity for individual citizens to use the same manipulation tactics that these institutions are, and then the institutions crying about it to the SEC and the government. It’s like, “You’ve been doing this same shit for years, but now that people are doing it, you’re going to go cry about it.” That’s a whole other subject.
My point is I’m caught between three conflicting motivations. Pay down all my debt, increase my credit score, have the money set aside to get a mortgage, and then invest in long-term tangible assets that will grow my wealth. To your point, Whitney, maybe I do need to find someone that I know, like, and trust to talk to about this. I feel like the more that I dig into articles, the TikTok videos you mentioned, the Reddit posts, the more lost I feel because it’s 25 different perspectives on the same subject. Who do you know and trust if it’s just random people writing about it and make videos? My challenge is the more that I have this nest egg of cash set aside that I don’t know what to do with and how to leverage it with these three seemingly conflicting aims is finding somebody that I can know, like, and trust to advise me. How do you even do that? I don’t even know any financial advisors. That’s another subject. Maybe I need to get new people in my life that know more about this than I do. It feels like I don’t know who to ask about it. To go on the internet and google “financial advisor in Los Angeles, how do you find someone?”
Ask around, use Facebook or LinkedIn. Ask for recommendations. That’s always a great place to start. Also, remember that we had that amazing session at Capital One a few years ago. You could probably still get in touch with the woman that we had those sessions with, and she could support you with this too. A lot of the answers are generally easier to find by crowdsourcing through your current network.Show value through words and actions instead of going on social media for attention. Click To Tweet
Her name is Joanne. I still have all of her materials. She was phenomenal. You’re right. To your point, that’s a good idea of emailing her because she was so wonderful. She helped me pay down a ton of debt that year that we were working with her. I remember her story too. It was amazing. She was something like $250,000 or $300,000 in debt and she paid it all off. It was a phenomenal story. To your point, leveraging someone who’s already in our network is probably a smart idea. Trying to research this and discern sagacious advice over reactionary advice seems to be difficult on my own. That’s a good idea. After we wrap our show, I’m going to email her and touch base and say, “Could you recommend anyone? Are you doing this?” I loved her. Speaking of knowing, liking and trusting, I loved her energy. She reminded me a lot like a hybrid between my mom but more like my Aunt Mary Lou. I remember her energy being phenomenal.
When you introduced me to her, I remember connecting with her immediately. I guess that’s the thing when we’re bringing new people. She was phenomenal. When we talk about creating relationships, this is an interesting jump-off point, there’s this decision of when we’re vetting people to go with maybe the person who has the better resume or the better track record. They have scaled this business or they have 10x-ed these people, or they have turned six-figure businesses into seven-figure businesses. We see a lot of this on Clubhouse that we’ve talked about. To me, it’s about the energy and how you connect with a person. It’s about the relationships. It’s that someone might not have as flashy of a resume per se, or a lot of things on their list of career accomplishments that aren’t as grandiose or stellar as another person. For me, at least it’s about how my energy connects with that person. I want to feel good about who I’m doing business with and who I’m co-creating projects with rather than going after someone who has better accolades but I don’t connect with as well. Not chasing the accolades or this person can make this thing happen.
That’s also what’s going on now with the ups and downs of the stock market. It seems that there are people who are playing the long game. We talk about social media and brand building. There are people that are looking 20, 30, 40 years in the future versus people who want to get rich quick. I’m being mindful of not falling into the latter category of thinking that if I just take $15,000 in dumping it into GameStop or Bed, Bath & Beyond, or AMC Theatres and try and ride this rally that’s happening, that I’m automatically going to win. There’s some part of me that thinks I will psychologically feel better about myself if I have a big win like that. If I get into the psychology of it, “Why would I take $15,000 of my money and dump it into one of these short squeeze rallying stocks?” It’s because if I win and I make $200,000 on a $15,000 investment, I’ll feel better about myself, “Jason, you did a good job. You had the balls to put it in. You took a risk. You weren’t a wimp. You had the courage to do it and YOLO-ed it. Good job.”
To your point, if I fucked up and lose that $15,000, I’ll feel even worse about myself. It’s this conflict of the fear of feeling worse about losing $15,000 versus the idea that I’ll feel better about myself for making $200,000 on a $15,000 investment. What do I want more? Do I want the potential like, “I fucking did it” versus, “I screwed up. What am I going to do now?” That’s what it is because at the end of the day, it’s not about the numbers in the bank account, it’s what they represent. $15,000 in the bank versus $200,000, how would I feel? I’d feel a lot better about myself. Why? It’s because I’d feel like I’d have more freedom. I’d have more options to reinvest the money. I’d pay down my debt. I’d be able to leverage it. The only reason is that I’d feel better about myself at the core of it. Will I feel better about myself? Of course, I would. Having $200,000 in the bank like this guy I told you about in Missouri who took a $5,000 investment and now is worth over a million dollars? Of course.
I read an article and he’s like, “I’m going to put in my two-week notice.” It’s like, “You think you’re going to put in your two-week notice?” Of course, you’re going to put in your two-week notice. The only reason we want to be rich is that we think we’re going to feel better about ourselves. It’s not the only reason, but if we’re honest about it, that’s pretty much one of the core reasons. I’m going to have more self-esteem if I’m worth $1 million than $15,000. That’s basic human psychology. The question is like, and this is something that I’ve worked on with my mentor, Michael, over the years. “Can I have the same level of self-esteem and feel okay about where I’m at when I have $500 in the bank versus $500,000?” I’m then making my self-esteem and my sense of self-worth dependent on the numbers in my bank account. Having $500,000 in the bank is going to feel better than having $500. I’m not disputing that, but it’s this pattern of attaching our sense of self, our value and worth to numbers, which we’ve talked about previously. The size of our waist, the numbers in our bank account, the number of followers, and it’s easier said than done. This is a difficult process to detangle ourselves from arbitrary units of worth. That’s what I’m falling into if I’m honest about it.
It’s the idea that I’m going to feel better about myself and have more self-esteem and feel like I’ve “won” the game. If I were to put this money into the stock market and have a big win, I would feel better about who I am. The reality is I don’t feel very good about myself right now, just to be blunt. I don’t feel good about where I’m at in my career. I don’t feel good about where I’m at in terms of my creative projects. Maybe this desire to put this money in is like the desperate gambler who goes to Vegas or Atlantic City, and who’s down on his or her luck and like, “I just need that one big win.” Maybe in a certain way, that’s where I am at right now. I need a win in my life because I don’t feel like I’m winning at life. I feel like shit about myself. Maybe this desire is fueled by I just want to feel better about who I am, and maybe more money would help me do that, even though I know that that’s foolish because the money comes and goes. If I’m attaching my sense of who I am and how good I feel about myself, then that’s an arbitrary fluctuating measurement that goes up and goes down. That’s probably why I shouldn’t do this because it’s a dangerous thing. I have my sense of self attached too much to it. Thanks for that therapy session. I feel like I worked it out in real time.To base your entire value as a human being on constantly changing things is bad for your mental health. Click To Tweet
I’ve been thinking a lot about this in terms of social media. I’ve noticed I have these moments where I want to get that hit that social media offers. I’ll go and I’ll check my numbers to get that hit. For some reason I’ve been extra aware of that. Even just talking about it, I’m like, “I wonder what would happen if I opened up any social media platform now? What would I see?” Even if it’s one new follower or more views on something or whatever, it’s like, “This feels so good.” I find myself grabbing my phone and looking for that quick little burst of feel-good energy. When I step away to look at it, it also feels empty. One thing I’ve been reflecting a lot on is how I’ve been doing a lot of things. I was starting to reflect on like, “Why am I doing so much?” Also when I feel tired, I somehow feel surprised at how tired I am. It’s like, “Of course, I’m tired.” My brain is constantly moving so much. As I’ve talked about in some episodes, I haven’t slept that well at all because I’m thinking about TikTok, Clubhouse, my clients and all these different things. My brain is constantly going.
Of course, we’re going to feel burnt out. I’ll then have these moments stepping back from it and wondering what it would be like to be less attached to all of that. I’ll also have these moments where I’ll turn on looking for that hit, but the opposite will happen where it won’t be what I wanted it to be. There won’t be new followers on Clubhouse. There won’t be new followers, views, likes or comments on TikTok. I’ll sit there for a moment thinking like, “This isn’t going so well.” Clubhouse is like a gamble in a lot of ways, not necessarily in terms of where it’s going to go because I feel like Clubhouse is going in positive directions for the most part. It feels very equivalent to what’s happening in the stock market, like a money grab. Everybody’s trying to get on there to prove themselves and to get something. I’ve had fascinating experiences on there.
I’ll share a couple of them. One, I went into this women-based group. I’m trying to put in my head exactly what it was. We move the conversation over to Instagram, and the next thing I know, one of them is pitching me to join her mastermind. I was like, “What? I barely know you? Why are you pitching me to join your mastermind? I don’t need your mastermind. I didn’t ask for it.” It was so off-putting, and now I’m not as interested in her because I didn’t want to be pitched on that. I’m on Clubhouse to connect with people and have meaningful relationships, not to be pitched on shit. People are doing that so much in Clubhouse. Something that left me with a bad taste that I’m still reflecting on is a creator of this neat social media tool hit me up after a Clubhouse room that I was doing on social media. He came and joined. He was adding some great value. I relate to his vibe. He reached out to me on Instagram and said he wanted to have a conversation as I’ve been doing a lot of as a result of Clubhouse, which has made it cool for me. I’ve met a lot of incredible people through that platform. Most of them want to get on a call and talk about partnerships and how we can support one another.
I get on a call with him and he immediately starts pitching me his product. I paused him at the beginning. I said, “Just so I’m clear, what are you wanting out of this conversation?” He gave me a vague answer, then pitched his product, and then wrapped up the meeting half the time that we had scheduled. It was like, “Great, thanks so much.” He jumped off quickly. He has an awesome product, but I can’t use it in the fullness of what I am capable of. I have this weird feeling that he came into my Clubhouse room to schedule a meeting to sell me on something. I don’t want anything to do with him because it feels shady to me.
The number of people that are on that platform bragging about money and fame. I was in another room. I’ve been in so many. I was in a random one and people are up there trying to validate themselves through their numbers or the people they know or whatever else. I’m sitting there thinking, “Why are we doing this? Why are we all trying to impress each other? Why are we trying to get people to validate us so frequently?” I can relate because I get validation from that stuff too. I might not verbalize it in the same way they do, but I completely understand. We’ve been trained to validate ourselves through all of these metrics of success. I see it all the time and I’m becoming so tuned into it. I see it with all the different ways that people talk poorly about themselves. It’s often about money or weight or followers.
The follower thing too, I’ve also been feeling so incredibly sensitive to that. As I’ve been working with a lot of different small businesses or brands or creators. Those are the people that tend to hire me, and some of them are absolutely obsessed with the numbers. One of my clients is like, “I want to get X amount of followers by this time.” I’m like, “Why?” You don’t need them. They don’t serve you whatsoever for this specific person that I’m working with. It does this person no good. It’s not like they’re trying to be an influencer, which I can see why numbers would feel important to an influencer because it’s a huge part of the industry, but this person is not an influencer. This person is a different type of content creator and business owner but still has it in their head that they need to have numbers to prove themselves.
People get embarrassed about their numbers on social media. That’s the type of person where I’m like, “If you’re embarrassed about your numbers on social media, you either have to get over it or you buy them.” If they mean that much to you to have this vanity metric, buy them. Followers are doing you no good if they’re just a number, so you might as well purchase them if they’re that important to you. That’s only making you feel good. You’re talking about all of this, Jason, like if that makes you feel good and it doesn’t harm other people, then maybe sometimes we do superficial things. Ultimately, we recognize that those superficial things don’t make us feel any better. What I’m starting to recognize in my work is this world is so saturated with that. Another instance, the last example I’ll give is somebody that you and I both know, Jason, invited me to a panel about social media. They were talking about other people they were going to have on it. I said, “All right, cool.”
Just so you know, I encourage you to vet people because the information that some people share about social media can be dangerous. A lot of people use anecdotal evidence to talk about results. Anecdotal evidence can vary so much like the stock market, Jason. No wonder you feel confused. Some people get great results through the stock market, some people don’t. If you’re only hearing from people that are doing extraordinarily well, you’re going to be convinced that that’ll happen to you too. It’s like weight loss. I’m not a fan of all these testimonials, the before and after photos. I’m like, “Those have plagued me my whole life.” I have not had the same results as those people. I have felt less than because I’ve been comparing myself to other people who are different bodies and do different things and different on and on.
It’s the same thing with social media. To tell somebody that they can get on TikTok and blow up overnight because somebody else did is not fair because TikTok doesn’t work for everybody that way. If one person has had that experience, they think the same thing for themselves. That’s a huge part of the world that we’re in with money, body, social media, on and on. You get people that have had certain results and they like to sell other people on those results when they can’t guarantee anything. That causes a lot of issues in the comparison trap. Many of us end up living in this world of feeling not good enough. We’re constantly feeling like we should be doing something different because clearly what we’re doing is not working, but we see it working for other people. We believe that is going to work for us too if we push ourselves further.
It’s a difficult thing. Also, practicing self-awareness and asking good questions of oneself is so critical with all this. Whether we’re talking about the three examples we’ve been discussing, whether that’s a certain body shape or how we look, whether that’s our social media followers and social proof, or it’s the amount of wealth that we’re generating or not generating. On the other side of all this, if we take the idea of, “I want to lose 20 pounds and get ready for swimsuit season. I want to get 10,000 followers so that I can get a book deal and then get a New York Times Bestseller. I can put $5,000 into a short rally and make $1 million.” The whole reason why someone would want to lose 20 pounds and look good in a swimsuit or get a certain number of followers, get a certain book deal, certain accolade, or make a certain amount of money is that they think by doing so, they’re going to feel better about themselves. Can we agree on that? If I just have, be or do this thing, I’ll feel better about myself.
My observation for myself is that if we as human beings, this is through my lens, if we keep attaching our happiness and sense of self-worth and self-validation on all of these ever-fluctuating external measurements. The reality with this is weight goes up and down. We age and our body changes. Our appearance changes. The number of followers goes up and down. Mine is doing this weird glitchy thing on Instagram where I logged in one morning and it was 48.8. I was like, “What the heck is this?” I look on my girlfriend, Laura’s phone and it says 36.1. Which one is it? They go up, they go down. Same thing with markets and money. You invest something, you make it big. You invest in another business, you lose your ass. I guess the point from a spiritual sense of self-awareness and being self-actualized is if we are constantly attaching ourselves to weight, looks, status, money, social capital, and how other people perceive us, we will be constantly enslaved and beholden to those external measurements of trying to define who we are and what our value is on the planet.
It’s dangerous because we see so much of the world operating in these mechanisms. You talked about Clubhouse. People are obsessed with their hierarchy in society. They’re obsessed with their vanity metrics. They’re obsessed with how other people perceive them, and why wouldn’t they be? If someone perceives you as a successful influential person that can get them the results that they want so they can feel better about themselves, then they’re going to hire you. They’re going to join your mastermind. They’re going to buy your book. They’re going to do coaching with you because they perceive that based on their perception of you, the social capital, and the image and perception that you wield in the world will get them what they want. Other people make millions of dollars doing that.
To your point, it’s not about the results. It’s about if 1 in 20 people do get the actual results they promise, they take that person and do a testimonial video. They bring them on to their workshops and say, “Look at Judy. She made $1 million in 30 days with my system,” even though 25 other people didn’t do it. That 1 person out of 20 or 25 that did, we’re going to highlight that person for the promise that you too might be able to do this. It’s not that they’re guaranteeing anything. It’s the hope. It’s the idea that you too could be like them. People make millions or billions of dollars on this. It’s not about results. It’s about the possibility and the perception that you might be able to do that too. I’m not saying it’s an awful thing, but we need to be super mindful of what we’re chasing in life.At the end of the day, it is not the numbers on your bank account that matter but what they represent. Click To Tweet
One of the things that I feel depressed about a lot is I’m trying as best as I can to break myself of the addiction to these things. I realized that for so long, I have been addicted to praise, validation, external factors defining my self-worth and my status in the world. When we see many people in our business and our industry, and the world in general, operating on these arbitrary external metrics of a social hierarchy, it can feel fucking depressing when you want to wean yourself. It’s like being a junkie. I’m going to be honest. It’s psychologically and energetically being a fucking junkie who’s attached to these metrics and these external validations. You’re like, “It must be normal.” If everyone else is a junkie and they’re successful, then that’s okay too. I don’t want to be a junkie to that shit anymore.
It’s a difficult, painful, depressing process to try and psychologically wean myself from the things we’re talking about because you’ve seen an entire world of people being addicted to this shit. It must be normal because everyone’s addicted to it. Everyone’s beholden and enslaved to all this shit so it must be okay. Something deep in my soul says it’s not okay. It’s not okay to constantly be placing our sense of self and self-worth in the hands of all this external stuff that’s arbitrary and ever-changing. There’s something about it that deep in my soul is something that doesn’t sit right about it. You feel insane because you see the whole world operating in this paradigm. You’re sitting outside of it going, “This is fucking crazy. I don’t want to be enslaved to this anymore,” but it’s so easy to get sucked back in.
The thing that I’m sitting with is how do we operate in business, social media, financial market, and the world that puts so much emphasis on all of these external markers of value, success, notoriety, and fame when you’re a person who, as you go through life, feels increasingly disinterested with those metrics? Yet you feel that to run a business, to operate in the world, and to have social capital and influence, I’m struggling with how to play the game, but not be attached to the bullshits, the rules, and the results of the game. I still don’t know how to do that. It’s like the old Sufi saying, “How to be in the world, but not of it.” I’m a human being who exists in society who acknowledges that there are arbitrary metrics used to acknowledge a person’s value and worth in the world. How can I play the game but not be attached to those metrics and not give a shit about what they mean? That’s the point I’m still struggling with. To be in the game and still play it, but not care about the results. It’s tough.
It’s interesting because you, Jason, are in a position to easily do that. Many people take you seriously, admire you, and look up to you. You have the advantage of saying, “I don’t want to do this anymore.” Just like the whole conversation we had with Corbett Barr and I see Paul Jarvis. When I see those two completely pausing, stepping away, erasing and changing, I’m excited to see them doing that and I trust them in doing that because they’ve done a lot before that. They’ve experimented a lot. They’ve been in the world and they realized that a lot of it isn’t for them. You are in a very similar position and I find myself in that as well. I had one of my clients one day and brought up that he wanted certain metrics. I flat out said, “You don’t need them.” I remember at that moment thinking, “Is he going to want to work with me anymore?” I’m telling him something that most people wouldn’t normally say because many people are obsessed with numbers, but I think it helped him respect me even more. I feel confident about that because I’ve been in this game long enough. I can tell you straight out that numbers matter a little bit, but not nearly as much as we think they do. They are so fleeting.
It’s like we’re seeing with the stock market. There’s a whole movement on TikTok called Eat The Rich. The big thing that is happening after the whole stock market issue is people started having public dialogues about, “We have a lot of power. What if we start eating the rich by unfollowing them on social media so they don’t have as much power?” That’s a movement that’s building. I’m curious to see where it’s going to go. My instinct says it is going to make some impact. I’ve seen people try to do this a little bit before and it didn’t go anywhere. It depends on how long and committed people are, but it’s true. If all of us made a conscious decision to unfollow people because we’re not getting value off of them, they start to lose their value. That reveals how superficial the whole system has been. As individuals, we had the power to do things like that, but also within that power, we’re recognizing and admitting that those numbers don’t mean nearly as much as we think that they do.
People are looking for a signal that you have value. For you and me, like many people in our positions, we’ve become accustomed to signaling our value through our numbers. We are so much more than that. If we can start signaling in a different way, that’s why I rarely talk about this and I avoid it as much as possible. I don’t talk about my numbers. I was tempted to put some of them in my Clubhouse bio because that’s the big thing that people are doing in Clubhouse. It’s like, “I know I’m new to Clubhouse, but I’ve been on this platform for this long. I have X amount of followers and views.” It’s like, “Who the fuck cares?” I don’t care. When I see that in someone’s bio, I’m a little bit turned off because I feel like they are trying to show me their value. If you are a valuable person, go onto Clubhouse and share something that inspires me, that changes my life, and adds value. That’s all I care about. Talk on stage, write a good paper, record a great podcast episode, show me your value through your words and your actions. I don’t need to see you doing something popular on social media to get attention.
As I said, at the very beginning and as you’ve talked about many times, Jason, plenty of people buy their numbers. That don’t impress me at all. Even on Clubhouse, people have big numbers on there but there are rooms where you can just go sit in a room and get followers by saying nothing. There’s so much that goes into numbers that aren’t fully based on your value as a person. We need to attach so much less importance to that. I believe that there will be a big trend and movement of that happening because at a certain point, it’s all going to even out. It’s like what Andy Warhol writes about everybody having their fifteen minutes of fame. We’re at that point already with platforms like TikTok because anybody could get out on TikTok and be famous.The only reason we want to be rich is because we think we're going to feel better about ourselves. Click To Tweet
We are so conditioned to think that is a big deal, but if everybody has it, it’s no longer a big deal anymore so what’s next? Who knows what’s next could be that we start valuing people for their deeper value or that we start getting even more superficial. To your point, Jason, I think you already know this deep down, but I’m mainly saying this for anyone else reading who needs this reminder. At the end of the day, we’re not going to look back on our lives and be like, “I’m glad that I got a million Instagram followers.” We have no way of knowing that somebody feels that way because they passed away. They can’t come back and tell us like, “By the way, your numbers don’t matter that much.” I wouldn’t be surprised if Instagram dissolves relatively soon. It feels like it’s going in that direction, so then what? I’m thinking about this, I’m like, “What’s going to happen when or if Instagram completely goes by the wayside?” Many businesses are based on it, but look at what’s happening to us right now during COVID-19.
I was thinking about all these businesses that have based their entire livelihoods on things that people aren’t doing now. The number of places that you drive by that shut down temporarily or short-term because the world is different. Nothing is constant. For us to base our entire value as human beings on things that are constantly changing is so bad for our mental health. I have a feeling, Jason, that you’re being brought to that awareness that a lot of other people are going to be in. My thought for you is that you should speak about this as frequently as you possibly can. In a way, you’re a warning to everybody else who’s building themselves up just to get to the same place you are. You have been inspired by people like Jim Carrey. You and I grew up with him thinking he was the greatest star in the world. I think Jim Carrey is an amazing human being, but I couldn’t even tell you what’s the last thing he’s done like his Showtime TV show that I didn’t watch. I don’t think he cares anymore. He’s going about his life. He’s not the biggest star in the world anymore. People go through those phases. I bet you that he would say, like what did it even matter aside from him expressing himself as an artist?
That seems to be the experience that most people have. We spend way too much time focused on superficial things only to be brought down by them into dark depression. It’s up to us to build ourselves up in different ways and find different meaning, which is what you’re experiencing. That’s a great opportunity for you to guide people through this process that’s going to be inevitable for them too. Instead of the work that we used to do years ago, which is how we can help people grow their businesses and all that, you and I realized that wasn’t right. Honestly, what I would like to do is encourage more people to be less concerned about the numbers. I would love that to be more of my value. That’s a bigger value than trying to help people build up their online following. It’s like, “What if we stopped worrying so much about these numbers?” It’s not good for us.
It brings up the idea of how to do that, Whitney. You posited something wonderful. It’s given me something to chomp on of how to assist other people to see what’s real and what is their sense of self-worth beyond these arbitrary and constantly changing measurements. Maybe my struggle, my depression, and my breaking of this addiction that I feel like I’m in is going to hopefully help serve other people. Maybe that’s something we do moving forward with Wellevatr, is helping people break these addictions. To me, for a person’s peace of mind, their sense of self-worth, their mental health, this is crucial. Once people realize that they are addicted to arbitrary metrics, they are addicted to how other people perceive them based on these things, and they realize that they don’t want to be anymore, then it’s the question of how do we break that addiction and replace it with healthier metrics for how we value and love ourselves.
Putting that out there to you, dear readers, if you’re interested in that, if that piqued something in you, as Whitney and I say on the show, we always love to hear directly from you. If this topic resonates and you feel like you’re caught in a cycle of addiction to these things, we always love getting your personal messages. You can always shoot us a direct email. Our email address is [email protected]. That’s also our website where you can find all of our previous episodes and the freebies we mentioned at the beginning of this episode, which is Wellevatr.com. You can always shoot us a DM. We hear from a lot of you on our Instagram feed.
If you happen to be on Clubhouse, we also have something we’re doing on Wednesdays from 4:00 to 6:00 PM Pacific time. It’s called Dolphin Tank with our new friend, Greg Fleishman, where we have a pitch style room with people involved in the natural products industry. If you’re an influencer or a content creator, a buyer, an entrepreneur and investor, anyone who’s involved in natural products, organic, vegan, non-GMO, that is the room to be in. We appreciate you being with us. Thanks for reading. Thanks for bearing witness to these deep dives of the soul that Whitney and I embark on this show. Until next time. We love you. We appreciate your readership and we’ll see you again soon with another episode.
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- Free Resources on Wellevatr.com
- Steven Pressfield
- The War of Art
- Plant-Based Foods Association
- How to Reinvent Your Online Identity with Corbett Barr – Previous episode
- Data Privacy, Social Media and Website Minimalism with Paul Jarvis – Previous episode
- [email protected]
- Dolphin Tank on Clubhouse
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