The end of the year is upon us, and this time, Whitney Lauritsen opens up about her personal thoughts on the topic by discussing some thought-provoking media. She shares quotes from a Tiktok containing commentary on how capitalism is bad for mental health and a book that acknowledges the trauma brought on by the toxic culture around us. These affect everyone, regardless of their mental, physical, emotional, or financial state. Whitney tackles topics such as disconnection, self-development, healing from trauma, privilege and lack thereof, to name a few. She dares you to reflect on how you can be authentic and cultivate your passions positively while also talking about how capitalism forces us to benefit from the exploitation of others. How do you accept this reality without settling for it? How do you healthily respond and continue to grow as an individual living in this society while helping create change? How do you approach yourself and others without judgment? Join Whitney in this discussion and tune in to this episode for more insights and questions to ponder over this coming year.
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End Of Year Pressure And Disconnection
This is my last solo episode for 2022. If you happen to be new to the show, a solo episode is something I do. I don’t have a guest. It’s me talking about life, thoughts, and lessons. In the previous episode I have done, I remember at the time feeling good about it. Afterward, I started to feel vulnerable, and I even questioned whether or not to publish it.
Right after I have done that episode, I was taking a walk and listening to a book I’m going to share called The Myth of Normal. I felt like I started to get a lot of answers. If you’ve read that episode, this one builds upon that. If you haven’t read it and you enjoy this episode, you might want to go back to the previous solo episode in which I talk a lot about social media.
That episode plays a big role in my life, professionally, or at least it has. I’m trying not for it to be the same as it used to be. Something a lot of us think about at the end of a year is, “Who do we want to be moving forward?” We can ask ourselves this question at any time. It doesn’t have to be at the end of a year or at the beginning of a new year.
As a society, many of us are habituated to that tradition of evaluating. It’s important to remind ourselves that we don’t have to do anything different. We don’t have to have a New Year’s resolution. We don’t have to become different people. Strive for more. In fact, we could remove the pressure that in itself might be a change. We’re constantly growing.
Some of those feelings I felt after the last episode felt vulnerable to me because I didn’t feel quite right or perfect. There were things that I changed my mind about. I wondered if I had articulated them okay. I felt vulnerable because of that fear I have around making mistakes and babbling too, which is a big tendency of mine, but that’s okay. Part of my ongoing work is accepting myself as I am, as a flawed human being who’s constantly learning and growing and taking in new information.
Some of that changes me quickly as I’ve been listening to the audiobook and simultaneously reading the Kindle written version of The Myth of Normal. I feel like I’m noticing and shifting after every chapter of that book. It’s great, and that’s why I’m excited to share it with you and how that ties into self-discovery, reflecting on ourselves, personal development, all of those things that I’m passionate about, and also tend to be something that people are focused on this time of year. Once the holidays start to wrap up, or at least these end-of-year holidays, which seem to have much weight, at least for me, they feel much more intense.
A complete side note is that I’m wearing some makeup. A big goal of mine is to get the videos uploaded to YouTube. I know I will get there one day. I’m at least 90% sure. It’s possible. I’ll never put the videos I record on YouTube, but it is my intention. As of the day that I’m doing this in mid-December 2022, I haven’t yet. I’m behind with it because it’s not a big priority. That’s some of what I talked about in the previous episode about where my priorities are with social media and tasks like this, I bring up that because I’m wearing makeup, which is unusual for me. I feel the desire to be transparent about it.
When I sat in front of the camera, I was like, “It almost looks like I have a filter on my face because I’m wearing foundation.” It’s very subtle. If you didn’t know me and you weren’t used to looking at my face, you might not even notice that I’m wearing makeup. If you see my videos or know me as a person, it would stand out. People that see me regularly always notice when I wear makeup. It’s that unusual. They notice when I do my hair or when I’m wearing different clothing because I don’t spend a lot of time on my physical appearance. I want to be transparent about that because I get a lot of triggers. Things come up for me.
Speaking of pressure in society, as I intend to explore in this episode, sometimes when I see people wearing makeup, I feel this internal pressure to wear makeup. It’s that comparison that wondering because I’m different if that means that I’m not as worthy. That comes up a lot. A little behind the scenes, the only reason I’m wearing makeup is because I bought some. I usually buy makeup once a year, and at least the pattern has been for me the last two years was to buy it during the Black Friday sales. I bought a different brand. I’ve used this brand for a while.
I got it in the mail and hadn’t put any of it on. I felt like putting it on, not for any reason other than to experiment because the reason I wear makeup, which is very rare, is to boost my confidence a bit. Usually, I’ll wear it when I go out in front of people that I haven’t seen in a while. That makes me feel more confident. It is a way of me masking physically. It’s a mask for me putting on makeup and changing my appearance.
A lot of that is the societal pressure that I feel as a woman, especially living in a city like Los Angeles, which tends to emphasize appearance so much. Outside of Los Angeles, I’ll wear makeup when I go out to dinner. There’s something about that tradition, not all dinners, but with certain people, if it’s fancy and I’m wearing a dress or a nice outfit or if I’m not being casual. I’ll wear makeup sometimes when I feel lack of confidence. It’s a little quick boost for me. I’ll wear it when I’m doing some professional things like if I’m public speaking or something like that.
It’s part of the rule that I step into, but it’s very rare that I wear makeup for a show. One of the reasons to build further on the episode about social media is certainly since I don’t enjoy wearing makeup often, I don’t enjoy doing my hair and wearing certain clothing, over time, I felt self-conscious about that, especially on social media. That’s one of the reasons that I don’t do as much social media is because the energy it takes for me to get in front of the camera is a lot, especially if I’m not wearing makeup and I don’t feel as confident. I’m afraid of being judged.
That’s an ongoing exploration, and aging as a woman in this society places so much emphasis on appearance and a lot of cultural fears around aging. I struggle a lot with that too. That topic comes up sprinkled in a ton of episodes. In fact, I recorded a fantastic episode that’s going to come out sometime in January 2023. I didn’t expect the aging thing to come up in it. That’s like a little teaser.
The guest’s name is Tracy. If you stick around or subscribe if you haven’t yet, that episode’s good. I say that a lot. I’ll always acknowledge it. I’m thrilled with the guests that come on this show. Most of them blow my mind in ways I don’t expect. I’m reacting to something. Part of my ongoing exploration too is the mystery of my food reactions. It’s frustrating. I’m in the process of going to an allergist to do some more testing and try to see if I can figure it out. I thought about doing some of those mail-in food sensitivity tests too, but it’s a little skeptical.
I mentioned in some episodes that as I explore my sleep issues, I got an MRI done and some other brain-related things to see if that was causing my sleep issues. All of the physical sleep studies, scans, and things like that that I’ve done thus far have been inconclusive. They all say that I’m fine, which is exciting on a physical level. All my blood tests say that my body is either fine or good. I’m thrilled about that. Knowing that I’m physically okay is nice, but mentally and emotionally, I struggle. It’s frustrating when some of my physical symptoms don’t seem to have an explanation. That might tie in in a very subtle way to this episode.
I came across a TikTok video shortly before I started the show. The way TikTok works in general, is showing you a lot of content from strangers, and I like that. Some people describe it as a slot machine. You literally flick through it. In a slot machine, you usually press buttons or pull a lever, but it’s that similar feeling. Every time that flip through the For You Page, you don’t know what you’re going to get and oftentimes, it’s a complete stranger and that can feel interesting.
Capitalism Is Bad For Mental Health
I’ve been training myself to be conscious of the way these strangers are impacting me for a variety of reasons, the things that they’re saying, the way they present themselves, the way they express themselves, all of that, and extremely sensitive. Sometimes I leave TikTok feeling not so great. I’m trying to set more boundaries for myself around that. This video caught my attention. It hooked me right away with some of the words. I’m going to read the quotes from it. The account is called @Attilathepun. I want to share this with you because I found it interesting.
It starts off by saying, “What percentage of your anxiety would dissolve overnight if you knew that no matter what, you’d always have housing, food, and healthcare?” That caught my attention because I was thinking a lot, especially after a coaching session I did through the well-being coaching services I now offer. There was a conversation around societal pressure and the desire to prioritize health and well-being yet finding that challenging because in order to survive and to have, as Attilathepun said, “Housing, food, and healthcare,” you need to find a way to provide for yourself.
In our society, most of us have to pay for our own housing, food and healthcare. Some of us can get those as benefits if we’re out of work or something. There are systems in place for many people, but it’s a toss-up. If you don’t make a lot of money, you could qualify for certain healthcare, food benefits, or type of housing, but that might not be ideal, or you might feel trapped because now your income has to stay below a certain threshold to get those benefits, but the rest of your life may be compromised as a result.There are systems in place for many people, but it's kind of a toss up. If you don't make a lot of money, you could qualify for certain healthcare, food benefits, or a certain type of housing, but that might not be ideal. Click To Tweet
If you start to make more money, then you can lose those benefits. You have to make more money in order to have the lifestyle that you want. It’s this question of, “What percentage of your anxiety would dissolve if you knew that no matter what, you’d always have housing, food, and healthcare?” I thought was such a fascinating thought process.
I am in a good financial place right now, maybe one of the most stable financial positions I’ve ever been in. I wonder if my income is higher than it’s ever been. It’s all relative. I used to work full-time. I haven’t worked full-time for anybody in that traditional work sense since I quit my last full-time job at the beginning of 2010. I’ve talked a lot about why I did that and the ripple effects it had. I’m generally grateful for that, but I also try to be very transparent that it’s hard working for yourself as much as social media and various people online want to make it seem like it’s formulaic and anybody can do it over time. I recognize it’s hard, at least it has been for me.
It all depends on the way your brain works, your circumstances, and your privilege. There are many factors go into thriving independently versus having a traditional full-time job or even a part-time job where it can pay the bills. It’s interesting now, based on my taxes, when I saw how much I made in 2021, and likely my taxes from 2022 will reflect similarly. My income was much higher than I had realized. It might be the highest I’ve ever made collectively in a year. That feels good, but I still feel stressed about these factors even though I have a different relationship with money now. I haven’t struggled to pay the rent for my housing or buy food.
Healthcare is an interesting thing. There are a lot of private sides of that I’m not going to get into. Overall, those things have not been a struggle but I still feel stressed and anxious. This resonated with me because A) I’m examining the stress and anxiety, and some of these reasons behind it might come up in what I’ll share from The Myth Of Normal.
I also feel heartache for people that are struggling with these things too. Since I embarked upon wellbeing coaching as a practice and now I have all these different clients that I’m working with and seeing their struggles, seeing what other people are going through, hearing the intimacy of their life, it feels like such a privilege and it’s eye-opening to me.
It makes me think about what other people are going through and seeing a lot of collective feeling shared around getting our basic needs met and what we have to do to get that done. The TikTok video continues, “How much of your depression would evaporate if starting tomorrow you had plenty of time to spend with your loved ones? Do the things you find pleasurable and cultivate your own interests and passions?”
The 1st statement is about anxiety. The 2nd one is about depression and being mindful. A lot of people use the words anxiety and depression loosely. I take those words very seriously in general because of the mental health implications. We remove the clinical definitions of depression and anxiety, and think about like depressed feelings, stress, burnout and a lot of those associated emotions. A complete side note, but it keeps catching my eye. There’s a hummingbird floating around my window and it’s odd. I find hummingbirds are a theme for me. I keep getting a little bit distracted because I’m like, “What is that hummingbird doing outside my window?”
Depression is related to spending time with our loved ones, doing the things we find pleasurable, and cultivating our own interests and passions. What I interpret that as are the things that many of us yearn for and yet struggle with because we’re working hard collectively to have housing, food, and healthcare. Even when I was in college and having all of those things taken care of, I was under my parents’ healthcare. They paid for my college housing and food. They were taking care of me.
I still struggled. I first started thinking about depression in my freshman year of college. That’s when I first started going to therapy. That’s when I first experimented with medication for my mental health. I didn’t feel like I had a lot of time because I was focused much on the work of the college. I look back on the school in general.
In high school, I spent a lot of time with loved ones. My friends and I would hang out after school and at school. It was fun, but I did feel a lot of stress and anxiety. I did feel like I couldn’t always do the things I found pleasurable and couldn’t always cultivate my own interest and passions. Acknowledging the privilege I had, the fact that those feelings were still there is interesting because there are plenty of people that don’t have those things. I wonder much about what that’s like.
The theme here is getting our basic needs met and why that is hard. The TikTok video goes on to say, “Here’s the situation. None of us ask to be born. None of us chooses or earns the station in life that we’re born into. We’re all equal heirs to our stewardship of the Earth, yet 99% of us are robbed daily of our stewardship and forced to squander our most precious resource, the hours of our lives, trying to survive so that the most powerful can enjoy unimaginable wealth and leisure while they burn the planet down around us.”
That final part is interesting because even if this is not about the powerful people, maybe it all is. I’m still learning about this. I’m still trying to understand capitalism, what’s going on, and why things are set up the way they are. Are those people intentional? Do these powerful people with wealth recognize the impact they have on other people? I don’t know. I think about people like Elon Musk a lot because I have conflicted feelings about him. Jeff Bezos, I think about using Amazon, some of these tools that a lot of people feel mixed about because they’re convenient.
I am passionate about Tesla, who’s run by Elon Musk. I am conflicted about Twitter, who’s run by Elon Musk. These are things in my life and things that other people utilize as well. It’s hard because what if the way that they are behaving and living is causing people to squander the most precious resource of time just to survive or try to survive?
The fact that this TikTok person is saying that, “We don’t ask to be born or choose this. We have to scramble to figure it all out. They go on to say nobody made the Earth, no businessman, corporation made the soil we stand on or its fruits or the trees that give us shelter and shade that a handful of people see these resources, put a fence around them, guns around them to keep us from having them,” this part gives me chills, “and forced us to work for them if we want to have the things that we need to survive here.”
I’ve been hearing this sentiment a lot on TikTok and I don’t think it’s just on TikTok, but that’s where I spend my time, listening to these things and these emotions that people are feeling around feeling forced to work, not wanting to work but forced. It’s that pressure I meantioned before. People who feel like in order to survive, they have to do things that they don’t want to do. If we go back to what would happen if we had plenty of time to spend with our loved ones, to do the things we find pleasurable and cultivate our own interest and impassion, that’s what I feel people are yearning for.
People don’t feel like they have that time because they’re spending much of it trying to survive, earn their keep and have housing, food, and healthcare. The video says, “Furthermore, to survive in this society, we are all forced to passively participate in the exploitation of others who are also caught in this net. Want some produce? The person who picked it was probably exploited. Jeans? Sweatshops. Coffee? Child labor. Diamonds? Murder, probably.”People don't feel like they have that time because they're spending so much of it trying to survive and earn their keep. Click To Tweet
I want to note that not all of those things are connected. Certainly, they happen. We can make some choices to get things that are not tied to exploitation as to the best of our ability. When I’m thinking about Amazon, for example, and my conflict there, I wonder how many people are exploited. I believe most people are, to be honest, at least the delivery drivers might be in uncomfortable positions. Not all of them, but I’ve heard a lot of stories about what it’s like to deliver from Amazon.
I’ve seen videos of people working at Amazon. Some people like it, but a lot of people in the comments are talking about how they quit because it wasn’t working for them. Amazon is one example. I’ve spent my career since I quit my last full-time job. This is all interconnected. I quit because I was passionate about talking about these things. It was through this lens of veganism and sustainability, but exploitation was at the core of it. Animals, people, and the Earth are being exploited. In order to survive to the point of this TikTok, we are all forced to passively participate in the exploitation. That’s disturbing.
The video starts to wrap up with, “Probably everything from the land we live on to the cell phones in our pockets are part of a long chain of theft, brutality, environmental destruction, and exploitation. We know we’re miserable. We know we’re making everybody else miserable and ruining the planet, but to top it off on a daily basis, we’re gaslit by politicians, the media, and economists who tell us that capitalism is the best and the only way. Anyone who struggles to make it within this system is weak, lazy, stupid, and a loser.”
It’s those words. I identify with that because I’ve struggled. Even though I have the privilege and so much, I’ve struggled. This is why this blows my mind. It’s the amount of time I felt weak, lazy, stupid or a loser. Despite everything I have going for me right now, I have those thoughts on some level or another almost every day. Here I am devoted to working through these things. My career is around mental health and well-being and still, I try to play a role in the vegan and environmental side of things and paying attention to exploitation.
That’s my life’s work right now, and yet I’m still struggling. What does that say? The video has a few more sentences here. It says, “We humans are at our best when we’re cooperating with another and when we’re caring and sharing. On some level, most of us know that. It’s no surprise that our mental health issues are exploding in this country. Especially together as a society, we could have built any world, a beautiful world full of love, and creativity and instead we ended up here. It’s okay to be mad about that or sad. However, you feel about that is normal, healthy, and valid. Accepting that your emotional response to a messed up situation is natural, normal, and healthy is the first step to healing.”
What a beautiful video. It starts off by acknowledging many of the things that we’re struggling with and questioning that, wondering how things could be different, and then it points out some of the reasons that we’re experiencing that collectively or the majority of us, the feelings related to all of that, yet the first step is accepting that your emotional response to a messed up situation is natural, normal, and healthy. I don’t know anything about this TikTok that I quoted.
The Myth of Normal: Trauma, Illness, and Healing in a Toxic Culture by Gabor Maté
I feel like it summarizes a lot of the weight I feel and the pressure that I know other people are feeling. To pivot into this book, I’ve been mentioning, The Myth of Normal: Trauma, Illness, and Healing in a Toxic Culture by Gabor Maté. My therapist often talks about this author. I pulled up a bunch of quotes and as I was reading through these quotes from this book, there are 23 of them I’m about to share with you. My aim is to share them all. I’ll go through each of them like I did with that b that TikTok and talk about them a bit. They might all go in different directions and we’ll see where we end up with that. There are some big parallels to that TikTok.
The first quote is a quote within the book, “The fact that millions of people share the same vices does not make these vices virtues. The fact that they share many errors does not make the errors to be truth. The fact that millions of people share the same forms of mental pathology does not make these people sane.” That quote is from Erich from The Sane Society.
A lot of us normalize the things that I’ve been describing thus far. As the video ended, I often come to it, “It’s okay. These are valid.” It is almost hard to describe. It is a complicated thing because as I learned through my well-being coaching, it’s approaching things without judgment, not necessarily trying to change them to acknowledge them. If we want to change them, that’s okay. This quote spoke to me because just because we’re all struggling with something doesn’t mean that’s okay like we should continue like, “That’s the way life is.”Just because we're all struggling with something doesn't mean that that's okay or that we should continue or that's just the way life is. Click To Tweet
That rubs me the wrong way. That form of acceptance. If you are in some state, sometimes it’s helpful for us to not try to change it. Sometimes it’s helpful to just accept it. However, I simultaneously feel like I’m not a fan of accepting things because that’s the way they are. It’s hard to verbalize that, but that’s always rubbed me the wrong way.
I’m not a status quo person. Sometimes I try to be. As I’ll reveal, this book has shed some light on. It also sheds light on why I developed in a lot of these ways. This is part of why I love this book so much. It gets into the roots of our struggles. I’ll keep reading and this builds upon that quote. Maté says, “We have become accustomed or perhaps better to say acculturated to much of what plagues us.” It has become, for a lack of a better word, normal.
These things that many of us are struggling with have become normal. Are we okay with that? This book touches a lot about around trauma. There are lots of definitions about trauma in this book. One of them that spoke to me is that the meaning of the word trauma in its Greek origin is wound. Whether we realize it or not, it is our woundedness or how we cope with it that dictates much of our behavior, shapes our social habits, and informs our way of thinking about the world.
This book shines light on how most of us are traumatized in big and small ways. Maté says, “Someone without the marks of trauma would be an outlier in our society because it’s common.” I’ve been pondering that because I grew up having zero awareness around trauma. I internalized a lot of it, which is interesting because another quote from the book is, “Trauma is not what happens to you, but what happens inside you.”
Internally, I felt a lot of anxiety without even knowing what that was, depression, stress, all of these intense things, and I blamed them upon myself. That drove me to self-development because I was very curious about it. I’ve been passionate about psychology because I wanted to understand it, “Why am I feeling these things? What’s going on?” I also was trying to control, heal, resolve and cope with it. That’s interesting too because maybe taking too much personal responsibility is not the best option for us.
The book says, “Especially highly sensitive children like myself can be wounded in multiple ways by bad things happening, but also by good things not happening, such as their emotional needs for attunement not being met, or the experience of not being seen and accepted even by loving parents. Trauma of this kind does not require overt distress or misfortune of mentioned above. It can also lead to the pain of disconnection from themselves occurring as a result of core needs not being satisfied.”
I wonder about that. I have a wound around not being seen and accepted. This is one of those sections that having done the previous episode around social media, I think about how I simultaneously want to feel seen and accepted and also don’t feel like I need it or want it or I want to shy away from it. I don’t always like being seen and yet at the same time, I want to be seen. It’s confusing. This book is helping me reflect on that more.
Another point that I found very profound is that among the most poisonous consequences of shame is the loss of compassion for oneself. That ties into a lot of this self-blame. We feel shame a lot. Since I’ve been studying shame for many years, it’s very complex, but if I were to distill it down, we have a lot of this external pressure, and comparing ourselves to other people and trying to meet other people’s and society’s expectations and trying to survive.
The Myth Of Normal talks a lot about survival and I’m going to get to that. In general, our survival, if we don’t feel like we’re good enough, we feel shame or sometimes the shame causes us to feel not good enough. It’s all interconnected and it does feel poisonous and toxic. It’s common for us to lose compassion for ourselves.
A big quote from that book around trauma is, “If trauma entails a disconnection from the self, then it makes sense to say that we are being collectively flooded with influences that both exploit and reinforce trauma. Work pressures, multitasking, social media, news updates, multiplicities of entertainment sources, these all induce us to become lost in thoughts, frantic activities, gadgets and meaningless conversations. We are caught up in pursuits of all kinds that draw us a knot because they are necessary, inspiring, or uplifting or because they enrich or add meaning to our lives, but simply because they obliterate the present.”
“In an absurd twist, we save up to buy the latest quote, time-saving devices, the better to ‘kill time.’ Awareness of the moment has become something to fear. Late-stage capitalism is expert in catering to the sense of present-moment dread. In fact, much of its success depends on the chasm between us and the present. Our greatest gift getting even wider, the false products and artificial distractions of consumer culture designed to fill the gap.”
That’s heavy. That’s big. I have chills. Many people, if not most of us, are experiencing some level of this like trying to save or kill time, trying to distract themselves from the pain at the moment. I know that the TikTok video said like, “Our precious resource is time.” We want to save time, but yet we’re also simultaneously killing time with all this stuff because boredom is uncomfortable or sometimes acknowledging everything that I mentioned in that TikTok video can be uncomfortable.
Going back to this list of work pressures, multitasking, social media, news updates, the multiplicities of entertainment sources and how they induce us to become lost in thoughts, frantic activities, gadgets and meaningless conversations. Those aren’t inspiring, uplifting, or even necessary. They’re not adding meaning to our lives necessarily. Maybe we think that they are, but are they? It’s a big question. That in itself is something to contemplate as we come up to the end of 2022 and move toward the beginning of a new year. Do we want to be caught up in all of that?
An important thing that I’ve learned through my coaching training is it’s okay if we do. I am working on the judgment because for long I would judge that within myself and others. TikTok is a great example. TikTok is my main source of disconnection from myself or from life. It’s my distraction. It gives me a hit of dopamine in a lot of cases, but it also brings up a lot of stress and anxiety. There’s a conflicted relationship I have with it.
Now my brain’s going, “I can’t wait to wrap up this, go lie in bed, and watch TikTok.” I crave it. It feels almost like an addiction. Maybe it is, but I don’t judge myself for that. That’s the big key. I can read all of this and reflect on this, study this and yet still participate. That’s okay because to judge ourselves is not helpful, especially because a lot of this is much bigger than us.
Another section of the book shares a quote that, “Most of our tensions and frustrations stem from the compulsive need to act the role of someone we are not.” That came from Hans Selye from The Stress Of Life. “The compulsive need to act the role of someone we are not.” Need is a big key there. Going back to that TikTok video, we’re trying to survive. That’s a huge theme of this book.
Maté says, “If you go through life being stressed while not knowing you are stressed, there is little you can do to protect yourself from the long-term psychological consequences. Pointing out that overdriven, externally focused, multitasking, hyper-responsibility might be based on the conviction that one must justify one’s existence by doing and giving.”If you go through life being stressed while not knowing you are stressed, there is little you can do to protect yourself from the long term psychological consequences. Click To Tweet
This spoke to me because I’ve often identified as being over-driven, multitasking, and hyper-responsible. As I’m reading this book, I’m recognizing I have felt like I’ve needed to justify my existence by doing, giving, and working, which could be part of doing and giving. I felt that I needed to justify myself in order to work. Much of my work has been around validation. That’s why the last episode felt vulnerable to me because I’m trying to explore and understand my relationship with social media, newsletters, YouTube, and all this content.
I feel content making content as a show. That has been clear to me. Everything else I felt conflicted by because I felt like I needed to justify myself by doing and giving much, which led to being over-driven, externally focused, multitasking, and hyper-responsible and to do that to survive because that work of being in social media requires so much of that. When you’re not working for someone else, when you’re independent, the struggle and the pressure to survive can feel intense. That’s why I was saying, in the beginning, it’s hard because I have clients.
I feel the constant need to have to prove myself as worthy to them to keep them because I’ve lost clients. This applies to my personal life too, losing friendships and losing relationships. I’ve experienced that loss that, many, if not most or all of us have. One of the sections of The Myth Of Normal that deeply spoke to me especially after the social media episode was around authenticity because I talked about that. I strive to be authentic and this book pointed out some angles to that that I had never considered.
Beginning with a definition of authenticity from Maté who said, and here’s one that applies best to this discussion in this chapter of the book, “The quality of being true to oneself and the capacity to shape one’s own life from a deep knowledge of that self, that’s authenticity.” I’ve struggled with this idea of being true to myself and having that deep knowledge. I’m aware that I’m a very self-aware person. I’m very passionate about all this stuff, but I still struggle to feel like I know myself. Maybe I always will. I think speaking of acceptance, it’s like, “I don’t have to know every detail about myself. It doesn’t have to be perfect.” That self-acceptance is an interesting journey.
Am I authentic if I don’t know myself or what is a definition of knowing yourself as part of this too? One of the quotes in this book that hit home for me ties into this, “If the choices between ‘hiding’ my feelings even from myself and getting the basic care I need and ‘being myself’ and going without, I’m going to pick that first option every single time. Thus our real selves are leveraged bit by bit in a tragic transaction where we secure our physical or emotional survival by relinquishing who we are and how we feel.”
This is the first time I’ve read that out loud. I listened to it in the audiobook, but to read it is a whole nother level because I identify with this. How many of us do? I would venture to guess the great majority of us choose to hide our feelings even from ourselves so that we can get the basic care we need because that feels like we’re securing our physical and emotional survival. We would rather do that than be ourselves and go without relinquishing who we are and how we feel.
Maté points out that a lot of this comes from how we were raised as kids. This gets reinforced in us much throughout life. In fact, another quote is, “As these patterns get wired in our nervous system, the perceived need to be what the world demands becomes entangled with our sense of who we are and how we seek to love. Inauthenticity is therefore misidentified with survival because the two were synonymous during the formative years, or at least seemed to our young selves.” In other words, if what I’m describing is inauthentic, that might be the result of trying to survive because we thought we had to be inauthentic to survive. That’s how I interpret that. I mean that hits home with me.
I have seen it much in my career, romantic relationships, and many parts of my life. That’s why this process of unmasking and thinking about myself, wondering about my neuro divergence even identifying my sleep and food issues. What if all these “issues” are linked to this? Maybe that’s also why I don’t feel like I know myself because much is a mystery. Maté says, “Many of the personality traits we have come to believe are us and perhaps even take pride in bear the scars of where we lost connection to ourselves way back when.”
That blew my mind. I’m like, “How much of this is even real? How much of this is the result of disconnection?” That’s a huge transition that I’m at. I pointed this out in the last episode. A lot of these thoughts started for me in January 2020. In the beginning of a new decade, I was faced with like a lot of these thoughts, feeling disconnected and inauthentic. It didn’t make sense to me because I thought I was authentic. I took pride in what I believed to be authentic.
I’ve spent the last few years eye-opening, letting go, and unmasking huge. I wonder like, “What’s next? How much longer is this going for? Is it going to be the whole decade? Is it going to be the rest of my life?” I’m okay with it all. It’s interesting to see the shifts and for me a big shift started a few years ago. I wonder how many people experienced that. That shift was part paired with, partnered with, or coincided with a very traumatic event in human history of the pandemic starting a few months later after I started going through that transition.
That became even harder to navigate or maybe easier. There’s like a collective awakening that seemed to happen at the same time. I’m feeling ready to wrap up this episode. There are still a bunch of quotes. I’ll summarize some of the themes here without reading them verbatim. Maté talks a lot around agenda-free, unconditional attention, which sounds amazing. Similar to that TikTok video of like wondering what life would be like if we’d always had housing, food, and healthcare. What would life be like if we had agenda-free, unconditional intention?
That was a big aim of mine as I started developing Beyond Measure, which came out of this transition I’ve been describing. I started forming that private community that I run. If you’ve never read about Beyond Measure or you’ve never been that interested in it, all of these themes and thoughts come up in Beyond Measure. I started integrating my emotional well-being coaching and Beyond Measure and trying to broaden it as we’re nearing three years of that group. One of my core desires with Beyond measure is to give people agenda-free, unconditional attention.
In fact, there was another part of this book that spoke to it. The quote from Maté was, “To rest from the work of earning the right to be who you are and as you are.” That’s what I wanted to provide with Beyond Measure. That word or phrase beyond measure is like you are beyond measure. You don’t have to measure yourself to get love. That sums up and probably why all this stuff speaks to me much and also why I created Beyond Measure because I’ve been thinking so much over the last few years about how exhausting it is to constantly try to measure up. Constantly, I have to prove my worthiness and earn my existence. Many of us just want to rest. I want to stop trying to earn it.
The book points out how many of us have been put to work from the moment we were born. It’s not literal work. It’s money-making usually, although I suppose child actors and various other stuff like some kids are literally put to work very young. We are put to work in Maté perspective in terms of earning love, attention, and survival. In order to survive, many of us feel like we have to earn love because that’s what we did as kids. We want our parents to take care of us. We have to please them.
That’s one of our core wounds. I don’t know if human beings will ever not feel that unless like there are parents out there who learn how to show love to their kids unconditionally. Unconditional love seems to be there for a lot of us, but not always felt. I yearn for that. Maybe I’ll continue exploring this in an upcoming episode. I haven’t finished reading The Myth of Normal yet. There’s a lot more for me to ponder and I think this is a good place to wrap.
Beyond Measure is becoming one of the few places that I show up communication-wise fully. I get extremely overwhelmed with communication. That’s something I’m still trying to figure out within myself. Often at the end of my episodes, I invite you to email me and direct message me. It brings me the deepest joy to connect with you, hear from you, and hear your thoughts and feelings. Simultaneously, I get extremely overwhelmed whenever I get messages. I don’t know what to do with that. It’s a huge struggle for me.
I don’t have answers. The closest answer I have now is beyond Measure, which is currently free. I am getting closer to a paid element, something I ponder, but I’ve also been saying that for years since I started Beyond Measure. In December 2022, it’s free to join. I want to keep it accessible and yet supportive of me in the effort that goes into it. It’s free and it is a great place to reliably hear from me because we meet every single week as a group. If you want to come and discuss a book like The Myth of Normal, that’s a phenomenal place to do it. You get to connect and discuss with other like-minded people who are there to give you non-judgmental attention, agenda-free.
That feels like the greatest thing to me. It is important for me to not just give that to myself, but to others. Please reach out to me. Know that it can take me a while to get the mental energy to respond. I read every single message. I cherish them deeply. The place I can guarantee to connect with you is through Beyond Measure. One thing I’m wondering is like, “What if I lean more into that in 2023 and own it?”
I feel a lot of shame for not responding to people. I’ve been toying with like, “What if I put myself first like examining all the things that I’ve shared? There’s a reason that I struggle. Instead of feeling shameful, lazy, like a bad person or something, what if I turned that around, thought, and embraced it? I struggle to reply to messages. What if I focus on the show and Beyond Measure and let those be enough? What if it’s okay that I don’t do social media like I talked about in the last episode?”
These are questions I’ve been asking myself. I’ll keep you in the loop. Thank you for reading. Thank you for mentally exploring this with me. I’ll be back with one of those fantastic guest episodes I’ve been mentioning on and another episode with just me in the brand new year of 2023. I’m wishing you a wonderful end of the year if you’re reading in 2022. If you’re reading in 2023, I hope it’s going well for you. You’re in the future because now I’m still in 2022 and whenever our pass cross, I hope that you are feeling good in whatever good means for you. If you’re not, that’s okay too.
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- The Myth of Normal
- YouTube – Whitney Lauritsen
- @Attilathepun – TikTok
- The Sane Society
- The Stress Of Life
- Beyond Measure
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