As adults, we are fully aware of what our personal vulnerabilities are. We take good care of them to give us a safe space, without realizing that the root of it all may have come from our childhood. In this episode, Jason Wrobel and Whitney Lauritsen cover the different activities people knowingly or unknowingly do in social media and in real life, and their subsequent effects on the people involved. They talk about the differences of our past generations and how today, though much evolved, people don’t really differ that much. They also discuss how we, as people going through our own hardships, can connect as a society and assist one another as we go through life in a better and healthier way.
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Vulnerability: From Childhood To Adulthood
We heard the first song that Elon Musk dropped on Twitter from his record label that only lasted less than a day. The song was dedicated to Harambe the Gorilla, the great ape that passed away. It was such an interesting peek into the mind of an individual that is so lauded for his technological and business achievements. It’s opened up a larger conversation and the conversation is about letting ourselves be seen fully in all of our wackiness and all of our glory and all of our bizarre, crazy creativity and how that is something in the human spirit that we want. We want to be seen, we want to be loved and accepted for exactly what we are, all of our quirks and weirdness and bizarreness and crazy stuff in our minds and our hearts, and yet the thing that we want so deeply is also the thing that terrifies us. Do you feel me, Whitney?
We’re recording our first episode in my closet. We had to move in here because there is now a fountain running in my backyard so it wasn’t working sitting in front of the window, but it’s actually cozy in here.
This is actually a lovely place. I feel very secure and very cozy.
It’s like that being in the moon type of feeling.
It’s like after your parents tell you to go to bed, they’re like, “Video games off, phones off,” and secretly you’re under the covers like, “I’m asleep.”
Speaking of being child-like, our topic is about vulnerability, which is a lot about tapping into your childlike side. It’s going back to the things that you did as a kid when you felt less vulnerable. Maybe we felt vulnerable as kids, but we weren’t aware of it in the same way we are as adults or at least in the fear side of things.
There was more willingness as a child to take risks. It wasn’t even courage per se because if I think back on my childhood, I have actually cassette tapes that I recorded when I was super young. I have these cassettes and they still play. I played them a couple of years ago and they’re still there, but its songs, its sketches and its characters. I’m super young. I was five or younger, maybe between the ages of three and five when I recorded these things. There’s a willingness when you’re young. Whatever wants to come through comes through. That’s a beautiful thing that we sometimes have to work very hard to keep alive as adults.To understand one’s self is the greatest quest of our existence. Click To Tweet
There’s this idea that what we want is to be fully seen and fully accepted in all of our weirdness, wackiness, strange ideas and crazy things in our head that we never share with anyone. What if we gave ourselves permission to just play full out and share the weird things on our minds and share the crazy ideas? I’m saying it because I’m reminding myself to do it. There’s a lot of weird stuff I don’t tell people and there’s a lot of stuff that I hold myself back from expressing to others because they’re going to think I’m totally nuts. What if I had just stopped caring? What if we all stopped caring and let those wonderful, wacky, crazy, quirky parts of our personality come out?
In reality, if we get that vulnerable and we get that real about being who we are and showing others, that’s going to be the only way we are going to feel truly loved, seen and accepted. Instead of 75% of us are like, “I’m only going to show you 80% but I’m not going to show you that last 20% because it’s too crazy or too dark or too weird. Maybe I don’t even understand it.” We spend a lot of time together and our friendship and our business partnership and there’s stuff that comes out of my mouth. Sometimes it would be like, “Where did that come from?” I don’t even know. Stuff will come through. To understand oneself is one of the greatest quests of our existence. One of the other greatest quests is to allow ourselves to be seen in all of our glory. It’s allowing that childlike spirit to come through more often instead of defaulting to the fear of, “If I tell this person this thing or share this idea or do this crazy voice, whatever it is, they’re not going to understand.”
There’s so much pain in not feeling understood. Maybe resentment isn’t quite the right word, but it feels like resentment because people feel like they’re angry, that they’re not being who they are and being who they want to be. It’s funny when you’re around children as adults and you see all the weird stuff that they say and do. It’s fascinating to watch a child, especially a child that’s comfortable expressing oneself because a lot of children are also very fearful. That’s often the result of the way that they interact with their parents because some parents shame their children. Sometimes when about shame, I think about my mother and how I felt like that was her go-to tactic for raising children. She used these shame tactics because she was trying to protect me and my sister. She didn’t want us to embarrass ourselves because maybe she was afraid or she believes that if you do something that embarrasses you, then somehow you’re not going to succeed in life.
An embarrassment in her mind would equate to being perceived in a certain way or lack of respect or lack of people perceiving you in a certain way. That was her way of keeping your status safe or your perception of who you were safe perhaps.
I’m still trying figuring out exactly what that meant. My sister and I are very goofy.
I’ve been around them both. It is quite fun and nuts.
Especially when we are together. I see her get goofy with her friends and I feel like I can be goofy with some of my friends, not all of them. I also don’t feel repressed though. I don’t feel like I need to be goofy all of the time, but I’ve noticed throughout my relationship, the dynamic between my sister and I and our mom is how many times we’ve gotten in trouble for being too silly, goofy or my mom getting frustrated. If we’re out in public, there’s always this feeling of, “Don’t do that. That’s embarrassing.” I think as an adult, that was my mom’s way of trying to protect us. She didn’t want us to get into the habit of being too goofy or silly or doing things that she perceived were embarrassing. Maybe that’s what that was about. I feel like a lot of parents or the parents at least that say these things to the children and ask them not to behave in a certain way, it’s a protective measure or it’s that the parents don’t want to be embarrassed. It’s either one of the two or both. If the parent’s kids are acting up, they’re afraid that’s going to make them look like a bad parent.
That’s probably a huge component of that.
That becomes perpetuated. We become very hyper-aware of what we think other people are thinking of us. To be more precise, we become hyper-sensitive and fearful that other people are going to perceive us in a certain way. The truth is we don’t know how other people perceive us unless they tell us. Most of the time nobody tells us what they think of us unless we ask or unless they’re somebody that wants to express it. We’re on social media and on social media, a lot of people are expressing what they think of one another for better or for worse. I believe it’s usually for the worse. I also feel like it’s so interesting on social media when somebody expresses how they feel. A lot of the times, I feel like the very kind things that people say, the great majority of them are these canned responses like, “You’re so cute or that’s funny.” They’re these one-liners that people will repeatedly say.
The same thing goes with the negative. A lot of times when someone says something negative about what they think of you, it’s coming from this weird knee-jerk reaction of feeling judgmental. Is that how they feel about you? Probably not. It’s probably how they feel about themselves or it’s probably how they feel about what you’re doing but it has nothing to do with you. I’m always fascinated by people’s reactions to one another, especially when it comes to judgments because it’s easy to judge somebody and it’s easy to pay someone a compliment, but it’s harder to give a deeper piece of feedback and say something heartfelt. Something that makes me sad is that we’ve gotten to this place, at least in my experience or my perception where it becomes so commonplace to have superficial feedback with other people.
I find myself not even believing that when someone says something nice and then if someone says something critical or mean, I’m immediately going to put up my defense. Either way, I’m blocking myself from a deeper connection with somebody. Ultimately, it’s hard to know what anybody thinks of you. It doesn’t matter what they think of you, but yet we live in this society where we are ruled by what other people think about us. No wonder people have trouble expressing themselves.
This has been a concern since the dawn of humanity. One of my favorite quotes among many was Lao Tzu and he said, “Care what others think of you and you will always be their slave.” There is an opportunity to liberate ourselves emotionally, creatively and spiritually by realizing that we have no control over others’ perception of us. Most of the time we have no idea what they’re even thinking about us unless they tell us or put in the comments. It’s building this mechanism of not requiring or perceiving we need anyone else’s approval or permission to do anything. Growing up in a situation like so many of us have where if I look at my own situation, growing up with a single mom, they think that because I had one parent, there was this idea that if I screwed up too badly or did something that was egregious enough that she didn’t approve of, in my child mind it would be like, “I’ve only got one left. If I screw this up with her, I’m out of parents.”
On a primal level, in terms of undoing a people-pleasing tendency that I have had, mine has been like, “I’m going to be the entertainer. I’m going to be the goofy guy that gets everybody laughing. I’m going to be the wacky person that lights up the room. By lighting up the room and getting people laughing and being the most entertaining light in the room, no one’s going to abandon me.” It was almost like this way of leveraging my innate talent as a child to also get my needs for attention and affection met so that I wouldn’t be left. As an adult who acknowledges these child-like belief systems that are still there, you’ve got to wow people and you’ve got to entertain them and you’ve got to make them laugh so that you can win their approval and affection.
It’s very tenuous because I feel like I’ve worked on this big time in the past several years. Not feeling like I need to walk into public situations or groups being like, “I’ve got to when everybody’s here,” and taking that pressure off of myself. I’m an adult who’s taking care of himself and my needs are met. I don’t need to break my back trying to make people laugh or their love and affection because if I don’t please them it has no direct effect on my day-to-day. It’s acknowledging the little child inside that still thinks he needs that, but the adult version of myself being like, “We’re safe. We’re good. We don’t need to keep doing that.” This whole thing is such a deep exploration into what happened to us in our childhood and acknowledging and being present to any of those mechanisms that are still operating in adulthood because some of them are devious and very subtle.If you care what others think of you, you will be their slave. Click To Tweet
I think these are ruling a lot of people’s lives. Going back to social media, whereas this is one of the massive forms of communication with a great group of people. We have our closer relationships with people that we may privately text, talk on the phone with, get together in person. We have our family members, but then we have all of these people that we could possibly be connected on social media. It doesn’t even matter if you have a lot of followers because anything you do is open to the entire world. Any time that you post something, it’s possible that a stranger is going to see it and actually it’s very likely that a stranger is going to see it based on the way that social media works. Especially if you use hashtags, to use the hashtag, you’re almost guaranteed that at least one stranger is going to see your posts.
They have no context for you, they don’t know you. In a way, that’s so exciting because you think, “Maybe I can matter to that person. I can impact that person.” There’s something so exciting about being able to connect with people all around the world. There’s also the side of, “What if that person judges me? What if that person criticizes me? What if this person shames me?” As we see so much, we’ve been thinking about doing a whole episode on this, but I suppose we could talk a bit about it here is this public shaming. That’s part of what gets in the way of vulnerability. We see so many instances of people making mistakes and then being put up in front of the crowds for something that maybe they didn’t even intentionally do, maybe they thought was okay at the time.
I’m a big believer and everyone’s trying to do their best. We’re all different from one another. Somebody’s best may seem like your worst. Somebody’s best choice may seem like the wrong choice for you. We live in this time where there’s almost always going to be somebody who disagrees with you. Because we can reach people all around the world, you have a much higher chance of being connected to somebody who doesn’t like what you’re doing or doesn’t like the way that you look, who doesn’t like what you’re saying. It’s almost like I have this massive curiosity of how this is going to affect vulnerability in the human psyche because I feel like as human beings, we’re wired to seek out approval. We’re wired to react to base on what other people think of us.
For me especially, I found this incredibly challenging having a YouTube channel and an online presence. I cannot make a single video on YouTube without getting at least one thumbs down. That means that every time I do anything, there’s at least one person that doesn’t like it. Some people I feel like they find it easy to brush that off. For me, even though I’ve been doing this for several years, every time I see a thumbs down, part of me feels hurt by it. Part of me feels a bit less open to being vulnerable. Part of me feels more afraid of being vulnerable and expressing myself because there is this pain that I feel when somebody shows me that they disapprove. I know I can’t be the only one and whether somebody admits it or not. What about you, Jason? How do you feel when you get a thumbs down, authentically? I would love to know the deep answer. The thumbs down on YouTube or a mean comment on Instagram or wherever, how does that affect you?
It depends on the nature of it and the context. It’s a very acquiesce thing. To be honest, thumbs down doesn’t bother me. When there’s a comment, I know that there’s another person who delivered that took time to write this message to me in the comment section. I know that the thumbs down, a human being initiated the thumbs down and was like, “I don’t like this.” What I have noticed does bother me, I’ll give you an example. I’m launching this 40-day cleanse program. I put out a video and I’ve been putting out content about why I’m actually doing the cleanse.
I’m inviting other people to do it with me. Someone commented on Facebook that I was fat-shaming because I was talking about losing visceral fat and detoxing from glyphosate. I gave all these potential benefits of, “The products in this cleanse and what we’re going to do could help you with all these things.” They latched on to the people in the video that was of a very specific body type. Let’s call them fit, not unattainably fit but like, “Here are some fit people.” They wrote a small paragraph in the comment section about how I was insensitive and I was perpetuating a stereotype of trying to keep people in an idealistic type of body. I saw it and it was like, “This was not my intention at all.”
They actually went into a diatribe because someone else was engaging with them in the comment section. I didn’t respond. They even used the word evil towards me. I’ll look back, but I remember that word. Out of everything they said, other than fat-shaming, I remember they used the word evil. I’m thinking, “I could take this to heart or I could take a step back and realize that this person is extremely sensitive about something.” I looked at their account and in their account was something about heavy vegans, fat vegans or something about that of, “We’re a certain body type. We’re overweight. We’re not society’s definition of fit and we’re also vegan and we’re proud about that.”
Whatever I posted, it hit a massive nerve in them. I wasn’t intending to hit a nerve. I felt like I was putting out a very general call of, “Jump in this program with me no matter where you’re at and let’s go in.” It struck a deep chord within them. There was this diatribe with a few people in the comment section. I didn’t jump in, I didn’t feel the need to, I was watching it. To be labeled as evil or my intentions are evil or that I’m being insensitive, I had to sit with that for a second. Not everyone’s feedback is true. We always talk about the wellness community or people are doing conscious work on themselves, “Everyone’s a mirror,” to a degree.
This is something that I’ve been getting very passionate about. I’ve been fascinated by Buddhist perspectives and I’m also interested in some Christian perspectives. I’m fascinated by any big mentality, whenever it relates to spirituality. Because to me, spirituality is bigger than us as individuals. One of the most eye-opening things that I’ve read in my lifetime, the theme of what I’ve read was when I started learning about the ego. I could pinpoint it. In fact, I was at Jason’s place. I might’ve had it on Kindle, but it was the book, A New Earth, by Eckhart Tolle. I read that and this was back in 2015 and it was a huge a-ha moment that’s had a ripple effect ever since for me.
It set me on the path of being able to step away from my reactions more. I haven’t quite mastered that. I don’t know if I ever will. The more I learn about meditation and the ego and Buddhism and spirituality in general and all this, but I did get a lot of tools over the past few years. When you talk about this mirroring, which is something that’s very common in this type of spiritual advice, they say that everything that happens in your life is a mirror. You’re saying, Jason, that you wonder is that true? Is this a mirror? I’m thinking, where’s the mirror? What is it reflecting? It’s not necessarily reflecting that you’re evil. It might be reflecting that part of you thinks that you’re evil. Because sometimes when we get triggered by something, there’s an idea that we only get triggered by the things that we think are true about ourselves.
It could be that or it could be that this person is misunderstanding you and that’s where the pain is. Of course, you’re not evil. When you say not everybody’s opinions of you are true, but maybe they’re somehow shining a light on a darkness that you’re feeling within yourself and that’s why you’re feeling pain. I actually am starting to get excited about those painful moments in my life because when I feel that pain, I can choose to sit with it and lean into it and explore it versus get defensive about it. That is part of the message that I want to share, not only in this episode, but I get excited about this concept. Can you imagine how much less suffering there could be in the world if more people didn’t have a knee-jerk defensive reaction just because something said something about them that wasn’t true?
It would be a vastly different world. To backtrack on what you said, it was my attachment to be understood that wasn’t met. This person doesn’t see that I’m putting this out into the world, offering it because I want to help, I want to support. I want to be of service to help people heal, to get out of suffering. What it triggered in me was, “This person is vastly misunderstanding my intention. They’re vastly misunderstanding my message.” The trigger for me was being grossly misunderstood.
Also, we could flip that around. Another person we can drop in as a resource is Byron Katie who teaches people how to constantly flip around their thoughts and beliefs to get to the root of it. What if that person felt misunderstood by you? It’s the two of you together. That’s where the mirror is that this person saw what you were doing and thinks, “Jason doesn’t get me. He doesn’t accept my body.” Maybe this person was triggered by you and felt like you were not accepting of them. They wanted to show you that they felt that way, but they did it in a way that made you feel that way. Both of you simultaneously may have been feeling misunderstood. The other thing I find interesting is that you said that part of the pain was that you were trying to help people.
That’s the other thing that I’ve learned a lot through being a content creator, a teacher and a coach is that some people don’t want to be helped. Some people don’t want to learn what we want to teach them. As teachers, we have to learn to not be attached to the result. With self-expression, one of the most challenging things to do but one of the most crucial things we can do is to learn how to be unattached to how people react to what we put out in the world. We talked about this in the other episode about expectations. One of my biggest focuses is going through life having less expectations. Perhaps, Jason, when you did this video, your expectation is that people would understand your message and that people would receive your message and they would like it and they’d be grateful for it.We’re all different from one another. Somebody’s best may seem like your worst. Click To Tweet
Perhaps it was painful that somebody was basically rejecting your message. That’s what happens a lot of the times when we express ourselves. We go in it with this expectation that somebody’s going to like the way that we do things and would like the way that we show up. There’s going to be good. We’re going in expecting good. Coming back to more of a Buddhist perspective, don’t have an expectation. It’s so much easier said than done because we’re conditioned to have expectations. We could also look at it from the perspective of the very popular mindset around manifestation. It’s like you always should be expecting good and expect that this is going to happen, which is very powerful. Sometimes when we put so much weight on our expectations, it can also have the opposite effect.
If things do not go the way we want them to, then we feel heartbroken and we feel discouraged and we feel rejected. I want to find a balance between doing things and doing it without expectation but maybe having a slight expectation that it’s going to go well, somewhere in between. That’s my new tactic. The other thing too that I’d love to hear a perspective on is this idea that I’ve been struggling with. I get so in my head sometimes with fear that I’m going to be misunderstood or rejected or criticized. That has led to this cycle of feeling unsure about myself. It’s harder for me to post the type of content that I want to post because there’s part of me that’s like, “Is this what I believe in? Is this how I want to say it? Is this the truth for me? Is this who I am? Am I showing up as my authentic self?”
Honestly, I’ve been struggling a lot with that and I’m pretty sure that the reason I’ve been struggling is because I’ve been feeling sensitive to other people’s reactions. It’s almost like I do this walking on eggshells type of thing where I don’t want to get criticized. I’m going to make sure that I pick the perfect photo for Instagram and maybe I write the best caption and I only post this type of video on YouTube. Even doing a podcast is challenging because people can misunderstand us at any moment and that brings up fear for me. Self-expression can feel frightening, but it’s stifling and I don’t want to be stifled. My method is I have to keep taking it day-by-day and trusting and knowing at my core that like you, I’m not evil and I’m not trying to hurt anybody. I want to be understood and I need to be detached from being understood.
It’s also impossible. We have close to eight billion people on the planet. All nearly eight billion people are not going to understand or get you. It’s undoing the mechanisms or belief systems. I’m not even going to say from childhood, I’m going to say this is a generational thing because I’ve thought a lot about this from my anthropological perspective. Humanity and tribalism and how we interact as a civilization. It wasn’t too long ago that we were living in small tribes, human civilization as we know it is not that old. In some tribes, if you were to do something that would go against the code of the tribe or the rules of the tribe or the religion, whatever it was, there was this possibility that you would get cast into the wilderness.
That the tribe would disown you, the tribe would shun you, you would be an outsider. Back in tribalism culture, a few thousand years ago that meant death. If you didn’t know how to hunt or you were not with the tribe, you are not in the village. If you’re doing something that went against the code or doing something that got disapproval from your peers, then you’re in the wilderness fending for yourself. There still is this primal fear within us from our days of being in a tribal culture. It’s still in our DNA. It’s still on our wiring. I believe that wholeheartedly. This resistance we have to go against the grain. This idea, we might not be understood, this idea that people may disapprove or worse if they disapprove, they shun us. They cast us out. We’re not one of them. That’s a primal fear of death, of being cast out that’s still operating in us. Beyond that, I want to go back into this public shaming idea.
I don’t see much difference in when we were burning witches, lynching people, taking people to the guillotine in the middle of the square and hundreds or thousands of people would gather in the town square to watch someone’s had been caught off or them being hung or them being burned at the stake. Instead of us doing that in the town hall, now we’re doing that in the forums. We’re doing that on Instagram. We’re doing it in Facebook. The lynchings, the beheadings and the burnings are figurative. My thing that I’m meditating on anthropologically is what is it in the human mind? I’m not going to say spirit. There’s some part of us that thrives, that gets off instead of physically killing someone, killing their reputation. That shame, the beheading, destroying someone on Instagram or destroying someone’s reputation, to me, it’s the same urge within people. It’s sick. They get off on it. I’m curious what is in us that feels they need to do that to people?
I was thinking about this too. There was a documentary series about Ted Bundy who I didn’t know that much about. If you were like me and you didn’t know that much about his story, he got the death penalty. I actually didn’t know that or I’d forgotten about it. I was watching this documentary and it’s leading up to it. I kept thinking, “Are they going to kill him?” It gave me this perspective of having a completely different viewpoint on the death penalty for the first time. Maybe not for the first time, I guess I hadn’t thought much about it, but it was perhaps very disturbing to me because in the documentary, they keep showing the crowds of people that stood outside the building where he was being executed.
Even though he wasn’t at the guillotine, they were still a mass of people that stood around the building and then cheered once the news broke that he’d been executed. I found it so disturbing. Even though Ted Bundy did some disturbing, horrible things, the documentary actually humanized him in a way for me. Not to make light of this, I certainly don’t mean to, but I guess it wasn’t too far from how I felt about Breaking Bad and Walter White. You’re watching this series as Jason and I did. At least for me, I liked Walter White, but he did some horrible things. One of the big things about that show is that people were rooting for the bad person.
That was similar to how I felt about Ted Bundy. I wouldn’t say I was rooting for him, but I didn’t think he needed to be killed. It comes down to this idea of culturally, in many societies, if you do something that the rest of the world sees as bad, then you will be punished. This whole idea of punishment is fascinating because is it necessary for humans to be punished? I guess that’s one of the bigger questions. That is certainly a way that we control society is by having various forms of punishment, whether it’s small punishments like you get a fee if you’re late in paying a bill or something’s taken away from you if you don’t do something right. There are so many rules around the consequences.
It’s making me want to go deeper into psychology. What would happen if those weren’t there? Would everybody be running amok? Is this necessary, for example, to know that if you were to kill somebody, that you may be killed as well? It’s like an eye for an eye or that whole idea, but then you start to think about it in a deeper way and it’s like, “It’s so contradictory. You’re saying it’s not okay to kill someone, but the punishment for killing someone is that you’ll be killed.” That’s the other thing when I was thinking about the death penalty. I think about any case where people are on trial for murder or something, it doesn’t bring that person back that was killed. It doesn’t help with the pain of the family or the friends who are suffering from the loss of a loved one.
It’s actually adding to it because someone like Ted Bundy, he has people that care about him, at the very least family members. There’s also the show on Netflix, Making A Murderer. It’s always been so sad regardless of if you believe the main character is guilty or not. At least the second season of the show was so centered around his aging parents and the anguish they had knowing that they getting older and their son was in prison. No matter what, there’s a pain going on. It’s so fascinating that as a society, as you were saying, we not only rejoice in some people’s pain, which is pretty sick but there’s also this idea of not recognizing that we’re causing more pain.
It’s the belief that by creating and causing more pain, it will take away or reduce the original pain. It’s this idea of justice, retribution, self-righteousness. It’s deep in this human psyche. This is as old as civilization. The question is, what is the ripple effect of this? I know we’re using extreme examples of murder here, but it’s the exploration of what is in us that feels the need to punish, have retribution and have revenge. It’s either physically kill a person or what we’re doing on social media is literally killing their reputation. To me, the urge is still the same. You must be punished. You must be killed. We must take you down because you’ve wronged us. It’s like a virus in the human psyche and I don’t necessarily have an answer.
I know we’re not trying to attempt to purport that we have an answer for the audience, but it’s something that we truly need to be looking at in this age of digital connectivity, of people spewing very hateful comments and not taking any responsibility for the energy or ripple effect that creates. What’s at play here to me is there’s a dissociative effect with digital technology. I remember years ago, it might’ve been one of the wars of the last several years when they had the drones for the first time and they released the footage of these drones going to different buildings. These remote-controlled drones launched missiles and blew up these buildings. I remember I was like, “This looks like a video game. How interesting.” The video games that we’re playing as children, especially the violent ones, are creating a dissociative effect so that when you get into the military potentially, we have unmanned drones that can go and shoot missiles and blow up a building.
We’re not seeing the people dying inside the building. There’s no human connection. There’s a disassociation. That is pervasive on social media and the computer and the phone where we can blurt out a comment, “I hate you. I hope you die. How could you do this?” The stuff people say are horrific, but they’re not present of the fact that there’s a human being on the other side of that computer or phone receiving that hatred, that vitriol, and that venom. We think it’s okay to do that, but we forget there’s another person on the other end of that message.Pain is a part of life. What people are not fully aware of is that everybody is experiencing that. Click To Tweet
I don’t even know if people are forgetting that there’s another person. To your point, we become so numb or we become so deep in our suffering and we’re not given the tools to not even heal our suffering, to understand our suffering. Most people are struggling with some pain in their lives almost every single day. Sometimes the pain is very minimal or barely noticeable and sometimes the pain is so persistent and it goes on for days, weeks, months, years for some people. That is part of life for whatever reason, but what people are not fully aware of is that everybody is experiencing that by causing suffering to another being, whether it’s a human or it’s an animal or a plant or anything else that’s alive that can feel pain. You’re not reducing your own suffering as you were saying. It might be a distraction, but it creates a ripple effect. That’s what people are not present to.
I think that person that wrote that comment to you on Facebook is probably very aware that would hurt you, but hurt people. Also, this idea of some hurt people wants to hurt other people because they don’t want to be alone in their suffering. That encourages me to talk about my own suffering more because maybe if more of us talked about and expressed how much we’re suffering, the other people, which is most of us that are suffering won’t feel as alone. That’s the other thing with social media. Hopefully, we’re starting to see a turn. It’s becoming more prominent. Other people are talking about their flaws and talking about their challenges because so much of social media for so long was about the highlight reel. It was the photos where they looked at their best and looked at their happiest.
It was them celebrating the best parts of their lives. That photo is literally a second in their lives. They could have started crying immediately after that photo was taken, but yet we see that photo and we think that their whole lives are as much joy as they were feeling or expressing at that moment. It’s so important for us to let others know that they’re not alone in their suffering. Because maybe that would help others feel like they don’t need to cause suffering to other people because other people are already suffering already. That’s what I wonder. That’s what is probably going on when someone says something cruel. They feel misunderstood. They feel hurt and they’re hoping to either shine a light on how they feel so that you know how they feel and/or they’re hoping that maybe they can pass on some of their pain to you so that they are carrying less of it, or at least that they’re not the only ones carrying it.
That’s profound realization. Everything you said hit me in a very profound and emotional way. The thing that I feel the most is how much pain people are in and how little they’re talking about it, silently suffering. I have talked about my battle with mental health and the struggles that I’ve gone through with depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation and a lot of the things I’ve been struggling with several years. To your point, talking about it and having an honest dialogue reduces the isolation. It reduces the feeling of, “I’m the only one feeling this.” For all of us to encourage a much more authentic expression of what we’re going through gives us permission to have hopefully a loving, open, balanced conversation around a lot of these subjects.
A lot of the pain comes from this illusion of isolation of, “I’m the only one going through this. I’m the only one feeling this way.” People may be feeling like they don’t have anybody in their lives they can express this too. In that, rather than say getting triggered by a comment like this, I start to feel like I have more compassion for whatever that person may be experiencing. Compassion is a doorway to healing instead of keeping this stuff bottled up and hidden and in the shadows, in the dark recesses of our mind. I think of all the myths that we grew up with, all the stories of the dark monster in the cave. We’re so afraid to go in the dark cave and confront the dragon and the monster. Once we get in there, from an ideological perspective, the monster is an aspect of us we haven’t embraced or loved yet. To me, the dragon doesn’t want to be slayed. The dragon wants to be understood. The dragon wants to be danced with. The dragon wants to be acknowledged.
It’s like, “Slay the dragon.” No, the dragon is part of your psyche that has malice, pain, suffering or feels the need to wound others or include them in your suffering. It’s the parts of us that aren’t healed or acknowledged yet. To me, the myths that I grew up with that I love the most are even more compelling the more I understand myself. When I was growing up, it was always like, “Kill the monster, kill the dragon.” No, the monster is a part of me that I haven’t understood yet or loved yet or acknowledged as even there.
That makes me think about how much of a difference it would make if we become less self-absorbed with how other people impacted us and how people treated us and started thinking about how we’re treating others or treating ourselves. We have to start with ourselves. A lot of the times when we feel hurt by other people’s feedback, that’s a selfish emotion. We’re saying, “You hurt me.” First of all, I was taught at a young age that we choose our feelings. No one can make us feel a feeling. Our society has this idea about this in the language. It’s like, “You made me feel this way.” I’ve been working very hard for most of my life to not use that phrase because I’m in some control of my feelings. Other parts of my feelings are maybe not within my control, but regardless, those are mine. Those are not something that somebody else is giving me. As you were saying, they would trigger me to feel something. As you were saying too about that person’s reaction, something you said triggered that person, but you never meant to do that.
First of all, it was never a personal attack, but maybe that person felt personally attacked. That is a very self-centered reaction. It’s saying, “You’ve hurt me so I’m going to hurt you back.” Whereas what if instead when we felt hurt by somebody, we recognize that that person’s going through something completely separate from us. That person has lived a life that we don’t know anything about or we only see a fraction of. They may not be expressing themselves fully or authentically where we could even get a glimpse into what they’re going through. Maybe they’ve got this mask on that’s not even who they are. In fact, a lot of people walk around with a mask on trying to protect themselves. What we see is not the reality of who they are. It would be fascinating. Something that I want to do more is when I’m feeling hurt, it’s not to take it so personally. I can say I’m feeling hurt, but I’m not feeling hurt by that person. I could say those people shined a light on some pain that was already there within me that happened to come out whenever they did what they did. It is separate from that person. The first thing that we can do is separate our emotions and our reactions from one another. We then work on ourselves to the point where we also have the ability to give compassionate to that other person and try to understand them more if we’re choosing to.
That’s always a choice. Do we want to engage with somebody and try to get to know them more? Do we care enough? What if you reached out to that person privately and said, “I’m sorry we had this miscommunication,” or even say, “I noticed we had some miscommunication. I’d love to know more about who you are and what you’re doing.” What would it be like if we had more of those deeper exchanges with people? That leads me to another thing. With social media, when you’re interacting within a group, you can often feel like you don’t matter because you’re in a group. At least that’s something that I’ve experienced a lot is, “My comments don’t matter because there are hundreds or thousands of people here. No one’s going to acknowledge them.”
How do I know that? I could say something kind and that could be the best thing that the person on the other end heard all day. Collectively, as we know, we actually matter more collectively. We have a bigger opportunity to create a ripple effect as a group than we do as individuals. It’s interesting to think maybe that person on the other end didn’t even think that their comment mattered. Maybe they wanted to hurt you and maybe they think, “It’s not going to matter. I can say whatever I say.” If you took the time to let this person know that they mattered, it can create a whole new dynamic there.
That’s facing the discomfort of moving through the pain of being misunderstood and instead of compartmentalizing it or shirking it off, what if I took the time to genuinely understand where this person’s heart and mind are coming from? It’s an interesting perspective.
I think it ties into self-expression because the more that we can create these deeper connections of people, the safer we feel. Simultaneously, the more that we express ourselves, the easier it becomes and we can learn all these different tactics for feeling less hurt by how other people respond to us or feeling completely unattached. The other question is something I’ve been thinking a lot about based on a book that I’m reading. It was a beautiful perspective on pain and how so many of us are trained intentionally or unintentionally to run away from our pain, to escape it, to cover it up or to get it to go away as quickly as possible or to completely run away from it, which is virtually impossible. It’s interesting. If we can’t escape pain and we can’t ever know exactly how long pain is going to last of what magnitude. If pain is always there, there’s suffering going on all the time. What if we accept it and sit with it and be okay with it as opposed to magnifying it and to heightening it?
It’s almost like there are two types of pain. There’s the initial pain that we feel and there’s the pain response. When something hurts your feelings, you could choose to let it be and let it sit with it until it’s gone. A lot of us when something hurts, we get into this place of hurt. It’s like another level. It’s hard to describe. When I think about my pain, it’s like a wallowing in it or it’s almost like I’m trying to detach myself when in a way, we’re just one with the pain. The pain is part of us. That’s why we can’t run away from it because it’s part of who we are. In a way, we’re trying to deny or hide from or run away from pain.
It reminds me of the movie, The Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind. I saw a little clip from it and I remember what I first saw that film years ago when it came out. I didn’t get it. I’ve watched it as I got older and then I suddenly feel like I understood it. That movie is ultimately about pain. It’s trying to escape the pain. It’s these two people that love each other broke up and it was so painful. They wanted to escape it. They tried to physically alter their brains so that they wouldn’t remember the things that were causing them pain, but then they realize that they didn’t want to run away from it because it actually took away part of them that they loved. It’s almost like if you see pain and love is hand in hand, if you cut out the pain, you’re also cutting out the love. That’s what happens with self-expression too. If you don’t express yourself, you’re not fully in the love that you have. You’re denying part of the love. You’re not letting yourself experience or show love because you’re afraid that it won’t be accepted.The monster in your life is the part of you that you haven’t understood yet. Click To Tweet
What you said reminded me of the quote, “Your capacity to suffer is as great as your capacity to love.” If you know what great suffering is, you can also know great love. You meet someone, you fall in love, you have a choice. You can either risk being seen in all your glory and risk showing this person who you are, or get freaked out and run. I feel like our dreams, our creative life, the things we want to do are no different than a romantic relationship. We have this point of choice where we feel magnetically drawn to something. We feel like there’s almost a third force that’s drawing us to a person, a thing, a dream, a relationship. Some people will be overwhelmed by that feeling and terrified by being seen, terrified by taking that risk and they shut it down and run. We always have that point of choice. I think it’s a daily choice to risk being seen in all our glory and who we are or be terrified of what’s on the other side of that.
To me, if about all of the people I’ve been inspired by, if you want to call them heroes or avatars or people that have the great writers, the great comedians, the great musicians, the world-changers, they were willing to risk that. They were willing to risk being seen. They were willing to risk living for something greater. They were willing to stand in the terror of the possibility of suffering and love anyway. Lissa Rankin in The Fear Cure has this amazing chapter. I’m paraphrasing what Lissa has to say in the book, but it was something to the extent of in being relationship with you, I’m giving you permission to break my heart because at some point you are going to leave me.
Through the dissolving of the context of this relationship through divorce, through death, at some point, you’re going to break my heart. That permission and knowing that through the depth of love, I’m also giving this relationship permission to break me open, there’s the courage in that. I’m feeling emotional talking about it. It’s courageous to do that. It’s not something to be taken lightly. It’s not something to be taken for granted and to have that frame on it. I’m choosing you knowing that at some point this is going to be over. It’s brave.
The more that you get into these types of spiritual-based books as we’re referencing, the reason that I’m so drawn to them is because they’re coming back to this core of showing more of a simplicity of life because everything ends. One of the core philosophies of Buddhism is nothing is permanent. Every single thing that we experience, ends. For me and many people, we hide from that or we’re not always aware of that. That to me is where things like the ego and all of this are so fascinating because as a culture, we’re so afraid of things ending. We’re afraid of death, we’re afraid of our youth ending. We’re afraid of relationships ending. We’re afraid of any form of pleasure ending. What can we do to extend it? How can we keep our lives going for as long and our relationships going as for as long? How can we look as beautiful and attractive for as long as possible? How can we keep hold things on? There are so many instances of people trying to hold on. We’ve got hoarders at the extreme or people that don’t want to get rid of something.
The more that you dig into all of this, you realize that everything has a period of time. You never know when something’s going to end. You don’t know when your life is going to end. You don’t know when anything in your life is going to leave you. If you can become more present to it and focus on the love as Jason said, then it becomes a little bit easier. Because being in love and loving anything, in general, is about being present for that very reason you’re saying. It’s going to go away at some point. Some people are so afraid of the pain that they don’t even want to engage in it because they would rather not experience something that they know is going to end and “not have the pain” than have something phenomenal in their lives knowing that it may cause the massive pain.
We never know how much pain we’re going to have. We don’t even know how long the pain is going to last. Everything is unknown in that sense. You might as well go and dive deep in and as Jason is saying, have all this courage. The other thing that made me think too in the books that I’ve been reading, love is something that we feel inside as individuals. Sometimes it is shared in some a mutual way. As we talked about in our relationship episode, we never know exactly what the other person is thinking or feeling because we’re not them. We’re not in their bodies, we’re not in their minds, we’re not in their heart. We assume, “We both love each other the same. It’s mutual,” but it’s actually more of a choice. It’s two people that are feeling love for each other at the same time that seems to be about the same and they’re choosing to be in it together.
Another spiritual perspective on this is that if we focus on the love that we have inside, it doesn’t matter if it’s reciprocated. We’ve been trained to want it to be reciprocated and trained to be upset if it’s not reciprocated. That’s the ongoing pain that has been experienced throughout human history. We look at love and many stories about unreciprocated love. I know for me, I grew up and I’m like, “That’s the worst. I don’t want unreciprocated love.” We don’t have a choice most of the time when it comes to love. This is a big thing that I’ve been learning about myself. I’ve tried to choose who I love and don’t love and when I love them and when I don’t love them and I don’t think I can. The more that I read about this, the more that I’m thinking, “I’m just going to love who I love when I love them for as long as I love them. I don’t have much control over it.” Trying to control it so that I only love people if they love me back, I don’t think that’s how life works.
That was so beautifully expressed. If we’re talking about what kind of love we want to foster within ourselves and extend to others, I’m about how can I cultivate love without conditions, unconditional love. This reciprocation piece, I actually had a conversation about this very subject of looking at mechanisms inside of me and not just in a sense of romantic love. Having launched so many projects, both of us have but within me, I’ve noticed that that fear in me of unrequited love, unreciprocated love is not just about romance or the person I’m dating or seeing or with. It’s about putting so much love into a project, a book, a TV show, all the things and how crushing it felt when I felt like I needed to get something back in return. I put so much love into the TV series. I put so much love into the book. I put so much love into the course. I put so much love into the song. I put so much love into the band. I think about all the creative projects.
I think one of the biggest sources of suffering for me and one of the biggest stumbling blocks that there has been some level of reciprocation expected. The book has to sell. Millions of people have to watch the show. People have to buy the course. People have to buy the record. People have to come see me live and the deep pain I’ve caused myself by expecting something to be returned for the love I’ve given is some of the most deep visceral pain I can possibly imagine. Taking responsibility for the expectation I’ve had in thinking someone needs to give me something back is so painful.
That is one of the greatest sources of pain. The more that I’ve been reading all of these different texts I keep referring to, this is the subject that comes up time after time. We’ve been either trained to think and behave a certain way or we haven’t been trained to do it the “correct” way. For me, I personally think life feels so much easier and so much more in harmony when I look at it less from trying to force things, trying to control things, trying to manipulate, trying to have expectations, trying to get something back. That’s all so self-centered.
The biggest advice you will hear about practically anything is that if you go through life thinking about how you can help others, that’s where the biggest reward is. The other big reward in life is going through life and experiencing as much love as you possibly can. Serving others is love. If you lead from love, you’re unattached from expectations. You’re not unattached to whether or not it’s reciprocated and you’re so focused on how you can help other people. To me, if you could simplify any of the advice that I’ve read over my entire lifetime, I would say it all comes down to that. Love is the answer, as people say. That’s partially what that means. Many of us have been raised inadvertently and advertently. I don’t think our parents are like, “You better only do this if you get something back for it,” but there’s so much messaging in our society through our educational systems, through the media, through our family and friends.
It’s this whole muddled perspective on life of avoiding pain and trying to only get something. It’s basically greed, and yet most religious texts will tell you that greed is bad and love is the most important thing. We still feel so confused. I felt less confused when I think of it more simply. I’m coming at things from love with that expectation and looking at how I can improve other people’s lives instead of how can I improve my own. In terms of coming back to the original subject matter of self-expression, what if your self-expression was unattached to how people reacted to it? What if the self-expression was coming from a place of deep love for yourself and a place of wanting to offer that love to other people? It’s tough to do that because you’ve got to learn how to love yourself and you have to be unattached without those expectations. You have to be putting yourself out there for the reason of helping others.
We see this all the time on social media. Jason and I often talk about this when you’ll see somebody’s social media posts and you’re like, “That’s a beautiful photo,” but it feels like they’re posting this photo to try to get my approval or they’re posting this photo because they want me to buy something. They want to convince me of something. You can feel it when somebody is coming from a place of wanting something from you. I’m definitely guilty of that. Whether it’s coming across that way or not, I know that I’ve posted things many times online in hopes of getting something from someone and I can always feel it not feeling completely right. Part of my aim is how can I lead more from a place of love, unattachment and serving others? What if we woke up every day and have that as our mission and every choice we made, thinking, “Is this a loving choice? Am I expecting something back? Is this improving people’s lives?” Maybe that would make self-expression easier. To wrap up, we should come back to the inspiration for this episode, which was Elon Musk’s song.
We’re driving around and Whitney’s going on Elon Musk’s Twitter account. She’s like, “What is this?” There’s this smattering of random bizarreness that didn’t make any sense. She’s like, “Open up your phone. Look this up.” I opened up my phone. At 5:00 AM, Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla and SpaceX, released a song about the deceased and beloved gorilla, Harambe. You can look it up.You don’t have to be fearless. Feel the fear of sharing your creations, and do it anyway. Click To Tweet
It’s one of those songs that brings me so much joy that I want to keep listening to it until I get sick of it. It reminds me of those songs that we listened to back in 2012, the auto-tune songs and how those were joke songs. The point is that sometimes people do wacky things we look at and say, “That’s stupid. What’s the point of this? This doesn’t make any sense,” but it brought me and Jason so much joy and also reminded Jason of himself.
Yes, because I write a bunch of weird, crazy songs about animals and insane things that are on my voice memos on my phone. They’re just there. Elon is a person who has been fearlessly tweeting as long as I can remember and repercussions be damned, he’s going to say what he wants to say. From a creative perspective, there’s going to be probably tons of people that are like, “This guy’s insane. He released a rap song. That’s not appropriate. He’s the founder of Tesla and he released a rap song? Stay in your lane, Elon.” What was inspiring about it? First of all, I can relate because I have so many crazy songs no one’s ever heard, but second of all, I don’t believe when people tell you to stay in your lane. I’m not taking that advice from people who say, “Stay in your lane, do what people know.”
Has anybody actually said that to you?
I’m saying the social media mavens and entrepreneurs and people who are giving out advice.
That’s not to you specifically. It’s funny that you have seen that advice given to a big group of people, but you still internalized that as being towards you in a way.
No one’s ever physically told me, “Jason, you should stay in your lane.” You’re right about that.
We’re in this time where there are all sorts of advice and conflicting advice. Nobody has the answer. I don’t even think there is such thing as an answer unless it is what I was saying earlier about coming from a place of love. I believe love is probably the answer. Everything else people are saying is a matter of their opinion, perspective and experiences. That does not mean that it applies to you and in fact, it probably doesn’t.
That has inspired me most in any field. There is an element of freewheeling creativity where they don’t stay in their lane, their music, art, film, writing, innovation, whatever is. If I think about the artists and the people that I’m like, “That’s a hero of mine,” there were many lanes. The lanes didn’t make sense and it didn’t matter because they were courageous enough to express something in themselves that wanted to be born. To a certain degree, people’s opinions be damned. Those are the people that inspire me the most. Those are my heroes and the list is too long to name. A common thread is having the courage to say, “This might scare the crap out of me,” because no one’s devoid of that fear, but the love was so great. The desire to birth that thing or the desire to share that thing, they were made more important than the fear. They chose it anyway.
What’s inspired me about this Elon Musk’s rap song is that it was probably him hanging out with his friends or acquaintances. I would love to hear the whole story. I wish he’d go back to the Joe Rogan podcast and tell the story because I feel like Joe Rogan could get him to talk about it. When I heard that song, I was laughing because it sounded like something that I did as a kid. As a teenager, I used to do these things all the time. My friends and I would get together and at 2:00 AM on a Friday night or whenever it was, we’d be making wacky videos that made no sense just for the fun of it. This is before YouTube, but I bet you I would have posted this stuff on YouTube as a kid, just like people are on TikTok, YouTube and Instagram and all these different platforms expressing themselves and doing wacky things as teenagers. That’s the whole fascinating thing about them.
That’s what Elon Musk was doing and it was so amusing because I can relate to it, but not many of us have the confidence to put something out. I don’t know what Elon thinks. I’m sure he gets afraid of something. Who knows if he’s fully fearless of what people think? The difference is that he’s doing it anyway. He got in trouble with the SEC, the Securities and Exchange Commission, because of some wacky things he said online and statements. People can criticize him, but he’s still going. He’s this remarkable human being that is creating incredible things for the world and doing it in a way that other people perceive as very odd because it’s unconventional. If he wants to express himself by making a rap song with his friends in the middle of the night and posting it and then writing some weird tweets about it that don’t make any sense, so be it.
He probably didn’t care what people think, but he made me think more of him. I actually felt like I liked him even more because of it. He brought me joy. It’s a great place to close because you never know the things that you were afraid to show others. The things about you that you’re afraid to express, you may actually bring people closer to you and bring joy to them. There’s a sense of connection to somebody else saying, “I’ve wanted to do that thing too, but I haven’t had the courage and now you’ve given me the courage.” If we’re coming back to love and serving others, maybe self-expression is a huge part of the huge puzzle piece in the grand scheme of puzzles.
We want to encourage you to create. Be fearless with sharing your creations. Show people who you are.
You could feel the fear and do it anyway.
There’s no such thing as being fearless.Live life doing everything that matters to you. Click To Tweet
Maybe Elon Musk was afraid, but he did it anyway.
That is the point. We don’t know what goes on in anyone’s head. I’m a big fan of experimenting with things. Someone said, “The more experiments you make, the better.”
Nobody knows what they’re doing. I actually find comfort in how nobody knows what they’re doing. Everybody’s suffering. Somebody’s going to criticize you no matter what you do. If you like look at all those things, they sound horrific but in a way, you’re thinking, “Damned if I do, damned if I don’t.”
It actually provides a relief. The reason I laughed is even you saying it, I’m like, “I even feel more space around it actually.”
We’ve got to try to run away from suffering, but what if you embrace the suffering, embrace the fear, and realize that everybody is feeling it? In a way, we’re all connected anyways. It’s almost like nothing matters, so you might as well live life as if you’re doing everything that matters to you.
That’s a good way to look at life. We love you. Thanks for joining us and we will see you in the next episode.