Going through emails can be a task, particularly if you’re someone who has signed up for too many things or just one who leaves messages piled up. Even with our online stuff, many of us tend to need a bit of decluttering. In this episode, Jason Wrobel and Whitney Lauritsen talk about this kind of overwhelm we face with our online activities and daily lives, most especially in this isolated and pandemic world where almost everyone has migrated behind the screens. They further dive deep into what is called the “pseudo-self” and how we can enhance it using a number of boosters that can help us become temporarily more capable, less anxious, and generally happier. Jason and Whitney then discuss how we find validation from others and how we can overcome that by raising self-awareness, defining who we are, keeping our eyes on our own values, beliefs, and principles instead of the temporary fixes around us.
Listen to the podcast here
Pseudo-Self Boosters: Overcoming Temporary Cures For Self-Confidence And Self-Worth
I came across this email in my inbox called 50 Ways We Fake Maturity. I wish that I could nail one of the voices that you do, Jason, because I’m going to ask you to repeat this in your own way, you go, “Go on.”
My initial reaction wasn’t, “Go on,” although that is apropos of this particular topic. I did the eyebrow raise where I go, “Hmm. Okay,” and then I go, “Go on.” It was the pause, the eyebrow raised up, and then the “go on” on that particular order.
Thank you for reenacting on how you would have acted when you had seen this email. It did come into our mutual inbox but I don’t think you read it because you tend not to read our emails unless I ask you to. A little behind the scenes knowledge, everybody. That’s how things work here. Why is it, Jason, that you don’t like to read the emails?
I’m overwhelmed. This goes back to the conversation of why I feel I need to get off social media because it’s every day, my personal inbox, Wellevatr inbox, Instagram DMs, LinkedIn DMs, and Facebook. It’s too much. I’m realizing that I need to cut away the unnecessary fluff much like I would be if I were to shave my cat, Clawdia. Although her fluff is necessary for the wintertime. During the summer months, one could make a case, her egregious fluff is unnecessary. It’s a fact that too many messages from many sources and I need to do a better job at minimizing and cutting away the things that don’t matter. By removing myself from the social media conversation, that’s going to be a way that I can focus my energy on things that are more important, like the inbox. I know that’s a long diatribe. If you, readers, have been around for our previous conversations around social media and the mental health side of things, I have too many inboxes and many things to do for me. Some people are like, “That’s fine.” Two email inboxes with five DM inboxes. It’s mentally too much for me.
It would be too much for a lot of people. I get overwhelmed as well. I have talked about before how I struggle to find the words to email, text, or message people back. It will often take me a while. It’s common for me to leave messages unread for days, weeks, and sometimes even months because I need to gear up for the energy to craft a response. Looking, receiving, and organizing them doesn’t overwhelm me because I’ve built some systems and I find pleasure in it. I’ve been going through my multiple email accounts. I have a bunch for different purposes like I have two personal email accounts and then I have a bunch of professional email accounts.
One in between, which is where I send a lot of newsletters. I never check that. It’s like an overflowing. I have all my professional emails. I feel stimulated and pleasure when I can get to inbox zero with some slowly making my way towards right now. I have a total of those main inboxes is 305 unread messages. What I’ll do is organize them in different ways. I sometimes put them in my mental categories or put them in mailboxes or folders. Sometimes I’ll sort them by the sender and I’ll go through a bunch of emails because a lot of these are newsletters. I started setting up rules so that emails I wanted to read but don’t want to see in my inbox, I put them in a separate mailbox.
I’ve like to set up all these little systems for myself. I’m trying to become more aware of how an email makes me feel like tuning in to it and using the tactics I learned in the book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, which is, does this spark joy? Does this serve a purpose in my life? Do I need this or should I have it in my inbox? I’m setting more boundaries with myself. If I get an email, read it over and it’s a newsletter email. If they haven’t brought me joy and it’s not doing much for me, I’ll unsubscribe. I’ll know that I can always resubscribe and that helps me a lot.
I go through phases of trying to read through them and sit down. A lot of times, I saved newsletters that are unread because I want to read them. It’s that when they came into my inbox, I didn’t want to spend the time at that moment so that’s when they build up. When it comes to emails from other people, for me, it’s that I don’t know what to say right away or it’s not an automatic yes. That’s interesting as well because sometimes I know what to say and it’s a quick minute-long process of writing an email. It’s when I don’t feel a lot of pressure, I’ve had a dynamic with the person in the past or it comes immediately to my mind.
The more common experience I have that causes me to overwhelm is when I don’t know how to say what I want to say or I don’t know what to say yet. Often, that experience shows me that maybe I shouldn’t even be responding at all, which gives me a little bit of guilt. I don’t like ignoring someone because I’ve been on the receiving end as many of us have of being ignored. As we were putting together our one-year anniversary and holiday giveaway, there are plenty of people that we reached out to see if they would contribute products to it that never responded. I don’t take that personally. In most cases, there is someone where I feel like it’s a little bit rude based on our dynamic that you didn’t respond to me but I have certainly done that to other people plenty of times.
It’s fascinating how our society has conditioned us to feel like we have to respond, expect a response, or thinking that it needs to be quick. The more that I felt this overwhelming and hesitant, the more compassion I have for others. One thing that works for me most of the time is when somebody follows up with me a 2nd time, 3rd time, and does it politely. I will respond to them quickly because I feel bad that they’ve been waiting. It helps me make a decision faster because I know that it’s important to them. That encouraged me to follow up with people multiple times. In the case of our giveaway, you and I had to follow up three times and still never heard back.
Maybe that’s their way of saying no or their inbox is as jam-packed as yours and mine. They never saw it because it’s overflowing or they simply don’t have the energy and don’t know what to say. Some people have a hard time saying no even when they want to say no. Email is a fascinating thing. I’m with you, Jason. As part of a business partnership, it’s nice that you and I can take turns undoing this. I don’t have a problem organizing things and following up to remind you. It’s a long-winded intro to this email I received from a wonderful author named Kathleen Smith. I meant to check to see if we had invited her to the show yet.
Speaking of not getting responses sometimes with people like her, meaning authors or people publishing a lot, it takes a while to hear from them. We have to do a lot of follow-ups to get guests on the show. Some people say yes right away and we still have to follow-up with them a bunch of times. I would love to have her on the show because she shares many great things about anxiety, mental health, and all of that. We referenced her in a previous episode, which is called How Distance Binds Anxiety that was published in August 2020.
This newer email that Kathleen sent talked about how she has been observing maturity and how 2020 has been a lesson in what happens when you dial up the stress and take away all of the relationships and other variables that tend to boost our functioning and self-esteem. For many of us, our capacity to think and solve problems and direct our lives has taken a nosedive in this more anxious, isolated pandemic world. That’s fascinating and true if we step back and acknowledge it. She goes into what the pseudo-self is, which is a term for part of us that is challengeable due to our relationship pressure and how that can make us appear more mature than we are. The functioning of the pseudo-self can be enhanced by a number of boosters that can temporarily make us more capable, less anxious, and happier.
She gives this great list of 50 pseudo-self boosters that would be interesting to examine. She shares some alternatives to that and I’m fascinated. I haven’t finished reading the email because I thought it would be more interesting to do this. Number one on this list, which is one thing that makes me cringe is being busy. We think about that in terms of how that boosts our self-esteem, makes us feel like we’re important, and plays a role in our relationships. This pseudo-self that we create when we tell everybody that we’re busy all the time. It’s a huge challenge for me. We’ve talked about conscious languaging a few times on this show and I wish more people were aware of it but I don’t have control over who says that they’re busy and when. I have to monitor myself and work on not judging people for using the word busy and recognizing that that’s a term people have conditioned themselves to say because that is part of the pseudo-self.Define what quote good work looks like instead of adopting definitions from others. Click To Tweet
Busy is almost like a euphemism and not an accurate description of what the person is experiencing. It’s almost like virtue signaling, as you said about, “I’m an important person, and if I don’t have time to do a Zoom call with you.” I was about to say, “Go have lunch,” whatever lunch, Zoom call. Any meaningful interaction. Busy is a way of a person positioning themselves in like, “I have so much going on that I don’t have time for you.” I think underneath busy if people were more honest about why they’re choosing what they’re choosing. It could be out of this sense of not-enoughness of, “I need to make myself feel significant or perhaps being busy too.”
We might’ve talked about this in a previous episode or maybe not. Once we have this many episodes, it’s difficult to recall hundreds of hours’ worth of conversation. Nonetheless, busyness is also a way sometimes for people to distance themselves from intimacy in the sense that if “I’m busy,” then I don’t have time to have a vulnerable, intimate interaction with anyone whether that’s family, significant others, or friends. That’s holding someone at arm’s length when you say that.
We did address that in that other episode I mentioned where we were talking about Kathleen Smith and that was about using things like busy-ness as a way to keep people at arm’s length. It’s like avoiding intimacy. A lot of the things that show up on this list of pseudo-self boosters are similar to other episodes. We’ll skip over some that we’ve talked about a bit. I encourage you to check out Kathleen’s book called Everything Isn’t Terrible, her website, her newsletter, and all of that. You can check out everything on this list because if we went through all 50, it would be a long episode.
Let’s go for our first three-hour episode.
I don’t think it would be our first. We got close with Luke Storey.
If there are some that jump out at you, pick the ones that make you go, “Ooh. Okay.”
That’s what I’m going to do. I’m not going to pick any that don’t resonate with me.
What’s next on the list that jumps out at you?
This is number five on this list, which is having an impressive job title. This is something that we don’t need to go into depth. One of the episodes we reference the most because it summarizes a lot of our feelings was about the words experts and gurus. Was it that same episode, Jason, where we talked about titles, or is that a whole separate episode that we did?
We’re going to give you a lot of references for a lot of episodes to read to. The next one is number six, getting good grades. That can apply to all different levels of school but it’s similar even in work environments. She even mentioned this on her list but getting good grades is similar to making a lot of money or getting high social media numbers. Any of those types of metrics where you’re evaluating yourself in comparison to other people and your performance. We have dabbled in talking about getting grades before. This comes up in this anti hustle culture mentality that we have. Another thing on the list is receiving attention on social media, which we talk about at length.
You might find number nine interesting, Jason. This might be fascinating because I’d love for you to take a step back and examine what you’ve been talking a lot about, which is not using social media. If we go to this idea about the pseudo-self, do you believe that your desire not to use social media or to take a break is a way for you to feel more capable, less anxious, and happier? Is that something that’s temporary and in this case about your pseudo-self? If you step away from it and not rationalize it but examine it for a moment, could you see how that might be what’s happening here?
Do you mean in the sense that if I were to take this break without end because I’m not necessarily going to do it with a set point to get back on? You talk about pseudo-self like be more virtuous, “Everyone, look at how courageous I am. I’m getting off social media. Look at how much willpower I have.” Is that what you mean? Is it a pseudo-self as a euphemism for ego?
I’m not fully clear on what it means either and that’s why I want to get Kathleen on the show. Maybe we’ll send her this episode and be like, “We need you to come on here and explain this to us.” I did find another article that she published in 2019 titled, I Am Less Mature than I Appear. She goes into this pseudo-self side of things that we’ve been referencing. She gives some examples here. Pseudo-maturity is excelling at work or school when you have a teacher or boss who praises you versus actual maturity is performing well at school or work regardless of the amount of praise from others. Pseudo-maturity could be joining in the latest outrage on social media. Actual maturity, in that case, will be developing and defining your thinking, even when it may promote anxiety and others. Does that help you better understand what she means by this pseudo-self or pseudo-maturity?
This is a difficult thing because if we have been raised in a family, religion, or a system that continues us to chase carrots, which most human beings have to a degree. Disassociating ourselves from, “Look what I did. I did well. Give me my gold medal.” We’ve talked about the many permutations of this. If I follow this formula and do everything the “right way,” then I’ll be rewarded for it whether that’s praise, attention, and significance. The concept of the four dual basic urges of we’re constantly chasing attention, approval, significance, importance, and trying to avoid pain, discomfort, disapproval, and being ignored. What she’s describing as noble in a sense, I would be curious about what she would recommend in terms of untangling ourselves from that system of chasing rewards. It’s difficult to do.
To your point, Whitney, if I’m looking at why I want to stop doing things including social media, and distance myself from certain activities, I could make a blanket statement like it’s not joyful anymore, which is true to a large degree. If I go underneath and I’m like, “Why isn’t it joyful anymore? Is it because of the expectations of a reward that I had on it?” If we write the perfect newsletters, we have the perfect funnel for our courses, we do all these things the “right way,” and then the rewards, praise, money, and success don’t come. That’s a big part of it.
At a certain point, if I’m in business whether that’s cheffing, podcasting, writing books, or whatever we’re doing and engaged in, it’s hard to put in a certain amount of work into something. Especially if you’re attached to feeling rewarded for what you do being self-directed, self-approving or feeling like you can be proud of your work regardless of other people’s interpretation. I find that difficult and I still struggle with that. I ask myself, “If I’m creating whatever it is, music, writing, food or this show and we’re not getting the feedback we want then what are the internal metrics independent of anyone else’s opinion that I measure whether I feel good about my work in the world?” I still don’t have those answers.
What’s my internal process of, “You did good, Jason. Excellent?” I’m not waiting for you as my business partner, my mom, our followers, our newsletter, subscribers to be like, “Great writing. Great newsletter.” I don’t know what those internal metrics are yet. I’m not even sure if feeling proud is what I’m even going for. That’s an interesting word like, “Are you proud of your work?” You hear that a lot like asking people, “Are you proud of what you’ve done?” I’m not even sure that I’m chasing pride if that even matters. As you ask this question, I’m still trying to figure out, what is that barometer inside of myself that can help me feel pleased, good, or content about what I’m creating? I still don’t know what that is.
It’s an ongoing journey of trying to figure this out. You asked about Kathleen’s tips for how we can get around this, she says, “A few things that can help you stay focused on building actual maturity. Number one is to define what ‘good work’ looks like instead of adopting definitions from others.” This is a big thing for me. I’ve been doing a lot of work to reflect on, “How do I even define what is good if it’s not always based on what other people have defined good as?” We think about feeling good enough. A lot of us don’t feel good enough because we’re busy comparing ourselves to other people or defining ourselves based on what other people define as good enough. That’s a lot of unraveling and reflection.A lot of us don't feel good enough because we're so busy comparing ourselves to other people. Click To Tweet
This is one of the reasons that meditation is such an important practice. It’s about coming back to yourself, tuning out the world, and getting clear on what you want versus tuning into the noise all the time. Number two on this list of things that can help you stay focused and building actual maturity is to define your thinking about a challenging situation or issue before you consult with others. This is something I’m working on. I’ve recognized that I struggle with self-trust. When a problem comes up, the first thing I want to do is ask somebody else for advice, “What would you do?” It was a realization that I had that I was not even consulting myself first. I’m working on that. I’m noticing it and that’s part of this process is the noticing. It’s raising that awareness.
The last thing on this list is to try not to seek out praise or approval from others. That’s tricky depending on how you were raised. Many of the younger generations are constantly looking for praise and approval from others because of platforms like social media. You’ve talked openly about this too, Jason. How you’re growing up, you loved being the center of attention. That was a way that you coped and you felt like you were important. Is that right?
For me, it was safety. We’ve talked about coping mechanisms from childhood and how those can create problems for us in adulthood. I realized that by being a naturally extroverted person, gregarious and high energy as a kid, if people in the room were entertained, laughing, and having a good time and I was the cause of that laughter and a good time, then I wouldn’t be abandoned. It was a safety mechanism for me observing that if people are joyful and happy and I’m the giver of that joy or the conduit for it, then who’s going to abandon someone who makes them laugh and joyful? It’s been a coping mechanism that I’ve had to look at and didn’t have the awareness of until the last few years. The other side of it too, this is what I mean by causing problems or challenges as an adult is being the center of attention, choosing that, seeking it out, and finding the same thing. If people are laughing, having a good time and I’m in the center of it directing that, people come to expect it.
When I have been battling depression and anxiety, when I’ve felt suicidal, when I’ve dealt with a lot of dark and challenging emotions, in the beginning, people were like, “What do you mean you don’t feel?” It confused people in the beginning because, in some ways, we are slaves to our own typecasting in society. If we carve out an identity in a specific way socially, people come to expect that side of you all of the time. Maybe not in close relationships but more acquaintances and colleagues that don’t know all aspects of your personality. They’re like, “Jason. He’s the funny guy. He laughs all the time. Look at that smile.” Not knowing that there’s a lot of pain, darkness, and challenge going on inside of me. These coping mechanisms and identities we craft for ourselves for protection, attention, and significance, I have found that they can cause a lot of havoc because they don’t translate well to adulthood.
Another one that ties into this is being perceived as a rebel.
Ding ding ding.
You’ve talked about rebels and the four tendencies. When you say ding ding ding, what does that mean?
This goes back to the Enneagram conversation we had in a previous episode with Jackie Coban, that my particular Enneagram type is striving to be unique, innovative, and rebellious. Even as a kid, there has been this idea that I would look around and see what the majority of people were doing that it would be popular and accepted, I’d go, “I don’t want to do that.” Almost this knee jerk reaction to what would be perceived as the status quo or the norm and then automatically rebelling against that. That’s one of the big reasons I became vegan in my early twenties.
I remember looking around and going, “Everyone’s eating this particular way. They’re eating processed food, junk food, and a lot of animal products. They don’t feel good, they’re sick and they’re getting diseases. How many billions of people are living this way? I’m going to do the opposite.” There’s something in me. I don’t think I’m purposefully contrarian but rebellious is a little bit more. I always had a desire to do the opposite of what I see most people doing. At times, I have been somewhat of a handful to deal with. It’s part of the Enneagram that resonated of I’m trying to show my uniqueness to the world by choosing these things that are contrarian or against the norm.
The funny thing is when you’re a non-conformist and then you grow up, travel the world, go to more places, meet more people and find people are like as an example, “You’re an anarchist, vegan, polyamorous and transsexual too.” It’s like you realize these “weird, unique, rebellious, diverse” things you thought you were choosing or felt compelled by your soul to move toward. I have found that the “weird, unusual, unique” things aren’t that weird, unusual, or unique when I meet more people. It’s like, “There are more people that have had this thought and made these choices. Maybe I’m not that unique after all.”
Another way to look at this too, as Kathleen says, “A lot of people will end up in therapy when whatever has bolstered their sense of self has disappeared. That could be a boss, a romantic partner, and a change in their lives because people are quick to borrow the appearance of maturity from their achievements, their jobs, their relationships, even political or religious groups.” It’s fascinating when you look at this list and reflect on how that plays a role in our lives. My life as Whitney, your life as Jason, you the readers, and then reflecting on how that shows up in people around you. You can start to notice these things. That helps with compassion. When I was saying that I do take issue with people who say that they’re busy all the time but if I can take a step back and realize, maybe they’re trying to bolster their sense of self. They’re trying to feel more capable, less anxious, and be happier. They’re trying to show that they’re mature.
We’ve talked a lot about busy-ness as an indicator of success but what if somebody shows that they’re more mature or something. Maturity and success aren’t that different from one another in a lot of ways. Knowing that our positions in our lives, organizations that we’re part of, people in our lives, all of those things will disappoint us because they do change at some point. When it does change like it has in 2020 and probably it will again in 2021, we might find that our mood, our health, our overall functioning, as Kathleen says, “We’ll take a nosedive.” That’s part of the reason it is incredibly important for us to be talking about these things.
The existential question in all of this is without my awards, my titles, the accolades, magazine covers, TV show, podcast, YouTube channel, the praise, the car, house, zip code, partner, and the people I associate myself with if all that is stripped away because I didn’t come into this world with all those things. You didn’t come into this world. Nobody did. If we take all those things away and we are without our titles, our professions, our money, worldly identifiers of success, notoriety, fame, and importance, who are we? It’s a liberating question and at the same time, it can also be terrifying to ask that question. The reality is we come into this world without those things and we leave it without those things. The big question is without all of those things, who are we?
It’s an incredibly important question. Some people might feel like they have no idea who they are. A number of things on this list are about having children. I have this one friend in particular who seems like everything is about her kids all the time. For me not being a parent, I can’t understand. I have a lot of friends who have children and something about this particular friend stands out for me. It was the timing in which she chose to have her first child and how she wants to have more children all the time. She has more children than most of my other friends do. This is me making a judgment on her. These are my perceptions. When I use these questions, I start to wonder, “Does having a child make her feel more mature? Does that make her feel successful? Does that make her feel more capable, less anxious, and happier?”
When she focuses on her children’s struggles, “Does that make her feel better?” She can show up as a great parent and she’s constantly helping somebody. Perhaps that explains it. I don’t know but it’s something to reflect on. We don’t ever know for sure. It’s hard enough to figure out who we are as individuals. We can’t even begin to understand somebody else unless they share it with us but they don’t even necessarily know who they are. That’s what makes all of this complicated. Another thing that’s interesting about this is number nineteen on this list is obsessing over a celebrity or interest. It’s fascinating to put that into this context because I’m fascinated by celebrity culture in general.
I had noticed a lot within myself, my interest in celebrities especially when I first moved out to Los Angeles, I got excited whenever I would see a celebrity or interact with one in some cases through my jobs. I still notice this. We’re in LA. It’s common before the pandemic. Now, not so much. You see celebrities often at a restaurant, on the street, at a grocery store, it’s like all over the place that we’ve seen them. There’s often this moment of like, “Is that so-and-so?” You want to take a picture of them and then send it to your friends or tell your friends that you saw so-and-so. If you step back, it’s strange that we can get fixated on this.Underneath busy, if people were more honest about why they're choosing what they're choosing, is this sense of not-enoughness. Click To Tweet
I was at Target and I saw this girl. I overheard her talking to her boyfriend about how she saw a celebrity in the store. It was a YouTuber because I heard her referencing this person. She was excited about it like it just happened. I didn’t see this YouTuber but this YouTube person was in the store too. This girl was losing her mind. She was around my age and it wasn’t a little kid. I’ve noticed a lot how we’ve classified content creators or influencers as celebrities now. It is something that we can obsess over. We can become drawn into their lives. You were sharing, Jason, that you were drawn into Johnny Depp’s story. Your context for that was how you were maybe feeling like some pleasure seeing how his career had taken a downfall, is that right?
It wasn’t necessarily about hate following Johnny Depp. We talked about that in this concept of hate following, doom scrolling, looking for things to be angry or enraged about. We called the disaster baiting. I don’t have a vendetta against Johnny Depp. It’s more of a psychological curiosity of here’s a person who “has everything.” He was making for Pirates of the Caribbean at his peak like $40 million per movie. This insane amount of money to be paid for his art. He has been in Hollywood since 1984, dated these incredible women, and performs with Aerosmith. If you look at Johnny Depp from a bird’s eye perspective, I don’t know who he is. I’ve never met him in my life. I have no idea what his demons are, his suffering, his psychological tug of war. To me, it was like, why do we keep seeing this archetype over and over again of a person who’s on a material sense or a level of worldly success “has everything?” I like Johnny Depp as an actor and his work is consistently great. It’s a similar fascination but different when other celebrities have taken their own lives. How could these persons who have amassed millions in wealth, tour the world, have moved millions of people with their art, and take their own lives?
I’m not alluding that Johnny Depp may take his own life but it’s in a similar vein, the schizophrenia nature of our society of chase that, “That’s what you want. You want fancy cars, success, fame, and money, go after that. Keep hustling and grinding.” We see people get to the top of their proverbial pyramid, top of the mountain and they’re in agony. To me, it wasn’t about celebrating Johnny Depp’s agony or failure as much as it is a curiosity of like, “Why is this person doing this? What could be manifesting in this human being that they would sabotage themselves to this degree?” It’s giving me comfort because I’ve sabotaged myself. I’ve sabotaged certain aspects of my career and it’s like, “What is it in us that does that where we have many incredible things handed to us in life?” Johnny Depp is one of the most successful actors in history. One could say he’s sabotaging his career. I don’t want to make that judgment. I don’t want to fill this episode ad nauseam about Johnny Depp. It’s more about the curiosity of when people have everything and they are self-destructive and sabotage what they have.
It’s a whole other conversation but this ties back into this idea of wanting to join the latest outrage. That’s where the media makes its money. If we can get super outraged, we’ll pay more attention to the news and watch it longer. We will watch the YouTube videos. I found myself doing this. There’s this one YouTuber who I’ve been fascinated with for many years. I don’t spend that much time on YouTube these days but I do spend a lot of time on TikTok and this well-known entertainment. It’s more of a gossip person has been posting about this particular YouTuber and all the things that have been going on. I found myself for an hour going down the rabbit hole, the latest outrage.
Coming back to our conversation about email and newsletters, I received this one newsletter. It’s about influencer marketing. It’s like the news source for it. A lot of the time, they’re posting about the latest outrage on social media that I’m not that interested in because it’s a waste of time for me. Now that I have this better understanding of pseudo-self, pseudo-maturity, and all that, it’s like, “Why am I spending all this time joining the latest outrage instead of developing and defining my own thinking?” That reminds me of when that one vegan influencer was caught eating fish. I got irritated by that whole situation. This has happened a few times where I’ve publicly spoken out. I remember many years ago I wrote a blog post when people were outraged that Natalie Portman was no longer vegan. I did this Essena O’Neill. I posted a video about my thoughts on that too. It was me coming out and saying, “I think differently about this,” and the Rawvana case. I don’t make videos commenting on other people. I’m not there to get views based on creating outrage and being a rebel or whatever. The reason that I did make that video on the conscious level is that I was frustrated that people wanted to feed this woman to the wolves.
Something else had resurfaced and caught my interest again, which is interesting that this comes up the same time as Rawvana that the college scandal was going on with Lori Loughlin’s daughter, Olivia Jade. It was that same time and same video that I referenced that we love burning people at the stake. It’s tempting to criticize someone like Rawvana. She’s a beautiful woman and successful. It seems like she’s got it made and the second there is something wrong with her. People want to put all this attention on her. The same thing with Olivia Jade. She’s young, beautiful, wealthy, privileged, and white, on and on. We have an opportunity to tear down and cancel or we do it. You and I, Jason, have spoken a lot about cancel culture.
Looking at this list of examples from Kathleen, “What if instead of joining the outrage, we develop and define our own thinking even when it may promote anxiety in others?” I don’t need everybody to agree with me. What if I see something and define how I feel about it versus going and reading what other people think about it, which is what we tend to do. Much of our society is based on going and reading the comment section and places like TikTok. Can you post something that is what everybody else is thinking or wants to think? Can you convince people to agree with you based on your commentary?
It’s quite dangerous given that culture is growing. As we talked about in another episode, I’m not someone that reads the comments but I got into the habit of it with platforms like TikTok because I knew that the comments section was going to be full of opinions. It was like, “I don’t know fully how I feel about this, or I do know how I feel about this but I’m open to being convinced otherwise.” That’s fascinating and something that I have a tendency to do. My tendency to call up or text a friend when I’m going through something challenging to see what their thoughts are on it and what they would do versus spending more time getting grounded. What I want to do, what I believe I should do, what my intuition is telling me and truly developing and defining my thinking. I wouldn’t be surprised if culturally everyone, especially the younger generations that are a lot more susceptible to these things, what if we’re all being trained to not trust ourselves? What if we are being trained to be in this pseudo mentality and this pseudo-maturity? The more I dig into this, the more I think a lot of this behavior is common. This list is something that everybody can relate to.
It’s the norm. When I say the norm, it’s conditioned versus non-conditioned behavior. This is tricky. In the sense of our conditioning, we’re talking about decades of patterning, mirror neurons firing and observing our parents, religious figures, celebrities, peers and heroes. It’s remarkable when you meet a person in life who has deconditioned themselves to a point of fully liberated to make decisions of their own volition. If we were completely deconditioned, we’d be like an avatar, an example, a Buddha, Jesus or something in that realm.
Conditioning can also be interchangeably used with programming. This is hard work. A lot of people, don’t realize they’re conditioned and programmed. This is life, this is how it is and this is who I am in my particular cosmology and you as well. One of the reasons that we’re doing this is the question, “Is this what I want? Is this how I feel? Is this something I value? What are my values? Who even is I? What is me?” These are the distillation questions of trying to look at all the layers of conditioning we’re talking about. Do we have the wherewithal and the desire to look at the conditioning? Decide whether we want to keep it or not.
The thing is, “Is this conditioning, are these belief systems, and is this programming serving me? Does it make me feel content, joyful and alive? Am I living from a program that’s not even me?” This is where we get into layers of reality. One of the reasons that people don’t go deep down this road is it can feel lonely. When I look at the world, I feel super lonely sometimes. I feel lonely because I feel like the more that I go on, the things that I see society, many people value, put credibility toward and put their attention toward, I have no interest in it. I’m not saying I’m an avatar and some ascended master, I’m not even saying I’m trying to be that but one of the reasons people maybe don’t try to decondition themselves, shed these belief systems or programming is the path gets narrow and it gets lonely sometimes. I don’t know if you feel that way but I feel that way a lot.
We have different definitions and experiences of loneliness. I feel moments of wondering like, “Am I alone in this? Am I the only one feeling this way? Is there something wrong with me? Has everybody got this figured out?” etc. That’s why these conversations are important. I do agree that one of the reasons that a lot of people don’t want to admit these things, share these things or even examine them is because it’s scary. It’s like, “Who am I if I strip away all of this?” Maybe this does need to continue into another episode because there’s more to explore. I feel extra motivated to invite Kathleen on the show because we didn’t even make it halfway through the list scanning it, let alone going through every part of it.
I’m going through every part of it to fire some off here that is food for thought. Things like being the most experienced person in the room, youngest, oldest or most attractive are such common desires. These obsessions with being “the most, best, first being, and the only.” Those things are incredibly common. We’re often fighting to prove that about ourselves on social media. We want to highlight that. If we look at our bios, not just our titles but maybe another subject matter we can dive into is what we write in our bios and our profiles.
We want to highlight the awards that we’ve received and the education that we had. Another thing I want to talk about in the future is how triggered I got when this one person who we invited on the show turned us down because he said that he was being selective about what shows to be on. It’s fair enough but the phrasing of it is hurt and it irritated me. It was like, “You could have phrased it a little bit differently. You didn’t have to point out that our show didn’t qualify or didn’t meet your qualifications.” Not only that, but this person went on to ask me about my qualifications as a coach. I got triggered because I thought, “Is our show not good enough? Am I not good enough because I’m not certified in the same way? Are my education and my degree not good enough?”
All of that not good enough came up for me. I felt like a little of, “How dare you?” It felt confronting and rude to me to ask and state these things to somebody else that kindly invited you to do something with them. This is all based on my deeper issues. This is my way of interpreting which may not have been how this person meant it but it does tie into this like being the most and being the best, etc. Sometimes being super selective is also an indicator of pseudo-maturity. I do this myself too. You and I love to use that phrase, “Dinka, Dinka.” We’re not going to do Dinka, Dinka bullshit anymore. You and I have gotten to this place of either we’re too good for this or we’re past that phase of our life. That’s something worth examining too. Who’s to say that we are too good for something or something isn’t good enough for us? These things are part of that pseudo-maturity within ourselves.
The things that we judge about others are often the things that we are holding judgment toward ourselves. In this assessment of whether we choose to collaborate or partner with people and then you referenced this email you got.
It wasn’t that I got. We got and it was towards us. It was written to both of us.
I didn’t personally get triggered by it but I also understand that I have situations.
Your response was, “What the fuck,” when I sent that to you. Why would you respond that way if you weren’t triggered by it?
My not-enoughness didn’t get triggered by it. The, “What the fuck,” was a surprise in the sense of a person who is openly trying to ask for whether or not you have the proper credentials to interview them. It was not with the not-enoughness but what I perceive is hubris from a person. It was like, “Are you qualified enough to have me on?” It’s like, “Fuck you, we don’t want you.” It’s not because I feel hurt or my not-enoughness was triggered. When I perceive and judge that ego, it might not be from him but my perception of it was like, “Who’s this guy? Who are you?” That’s me trying to deflect the potential of pain by diminishing him through his egoic evaluation of who we are. It’s like a deflection. It’s like, “Who are you, dude, to judge us or ask what our certifications are?” It’s a reversal of me judging him so I don’t feel judged.
We’ve done a few relationship episodes and I remember on one of them we’re talking about a girl knowing that she’s pretty. Did you remember that one? How men could be like, “You’re beautiful.” She goes, “Thank you.” Men could get offended by that or something like, “How dare you to realize and acknowledge that you’re pretty even though I just did.” That also comes back around to when men feel rejected which is like, “I’m not interested in dating you.” A man is like, “Fuck you, you’re not that great anyway. I’m hurt by you rejecting me so I’m going to say something that makes you feel hurt.”Who is to say that we are too good for something or something isn't good enough for us? Click To Tweet
I didn’t respond to this email that we’re referencing because I didn’t want to reject back this person but in my head and then some private conversations with you, I wasn’t getting on that high horse of like, “Screw him. We don’t want him on our show anyway,” even though we’re the ones that invited him on our show. It’s funny when somebody takes something away from you because you didn’t want it or something. It’s that classic line of like, “You can’t fire me because I quit.”
To wrap up this before we do a whole other episode diving deeper in and Kathleen won’t reject us. Hopefully, she’ll take our invitation but if she does choose not to be on our show, for whatever reason, we’ll work on not taking it as an offense. She said that these things that she has on this long list of 50 items can make us temporarily stronger, calmer, and more capable but they don’t necessarily make us more mature. None of them are good or bad. It’s only human to feel great through these situations. It’s that over-reliance on these boosters can make life feel like a roller coaster ride of intoxicating highs and excruciating lows. That is such a wonderful thing when we can step back and look at our decisions. Are they being guided by our values, beliefs, or principles? Are they being guided by relationship pressure and all of these pseudo-self boosters?
This requires us to know as Kathleen says, “What we believe in, what we want and who we’re trying to be. Putting that thinking into action especially in emotionally intense situations where others might disapprove. These are the moments where the self can shrink back or it can step forward and learn to dance with the anxiety of progress. This is when we are challenged to use our internal navigation system to find a way forward, instead of relying on a nod or a frown from the audience.” She has a great book. I started reading it but I did not finish it. It’s amongst many books that I would like to give more attention to. Her book is called, Everything Isn’t Terrible: Conquer Your Insecurities, Interrupt Your Anxiety and Finally Calm Down. She is a doctor, she has credentials and she’s got this wonderful newsletter. Regardless of if you get the book, I do recommend the newsletter. I love reading it. She’s articulate. She gives me a lot of food for thought. This has been a fascinating conversation, Jason.
There’s a lot more to cover with this. Some of these topics are going to bleed into a future episode with Kathleen or without. For you, dear reader, we appreciate you always joining us and exploring these questions. These are some of the biggest life questions. When we talk about deconditioning ourselves, making decisions of our own volition, finding out who we are without our titles, identity, jobs, families, and all of these things that we walk through the physical world thinking that we are. This is some of the most existential and deepest spiritual work we can handle and tackle in this world. It’s certainly not the end of this conversation. It’s never the end of this conversation. That’s why we have more episodes. You can always email us directly with your thoughts, pontifications, smart-ass remarks, or whatever you want to send us. We welcome all of it at [email protected]. We are on all of the social media platforms including Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, and TikTok. You can follow our exploits, especially on Instagram. We’re doing some cool stuff there. We will be back again soon with another episode. Thanks for joining us. As always, we appreciate you!
*We use affiliate links in our show notes. This means we receive a small sales commission if you purchase an item based on our recommendation.
- 50 Ways We Fake Maturity
- The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
- Kathleen Smith
- How Distance Binds Anxiety – Previous episode
- Everything Isn’t Terrible
- Living Out Your Truth: On Independent Media, Freedom of Speech and More with Luke Storey – Previous episode
- Cliche Advice: Are Experts and Gurus Faking It Until They Make It? – Previous episode
- Bridges and Walls: What Titles and Labels Do To Us – Previous episode
- I Am Less Mature than I Appear – Article
- Be the Healthiest Version of Yourself with Jackie Coban – Previous episode
- [email protected]
Love the show? Subscribe, rate, review, and share!
Join the This Might Get Uncomfortable community today: