The Beauty of Grief — Emotion Series #9

Anthropologist and coach Alexa Anderson joins the podcast again for a deep dive with Joe into the emotional and practical value of grieving fully.

They examine several forms in which grief can arise, the relationship between grief and identity, various mysteries of the way grief moves, and how unfelt grief underlies interpersonal and societal conflict.

Alexa and Joe discuss the tools they’ve used to help them move their grief in the wake of painful losses and to pre-grieve losses that haven’t yet occurred. They share examples of deep transformation that followed the processing of grief all the way through.

Tune in to deepen your relationship with grief as an intimate experience of love and care, and a doorway to the freedom available on the other side.

“Without the grief, we recreate the cycle.
Without the grief, we relive the trauma.
Without the grief, we don’t find the freedom on the other side of the limited identity.”


Aaron Taylor — Feel Your Way to Freedom: Growing Up Fatherless, Becoming a Father, and Winning a Super Bowl Along the Way

“Never rob a man of his pain or his gold because both will serve him equally well.”

Super Bowl champion Aaron Taylor reflects on a journey to emotional freedom that continues far beyond his accomplished career in the NFL. For every feeling he'd been pushing away, Aaron came to find that “on the other side is infinite possibility.”

Join Aaron, Brett, and Joe as they talk about performance anxiety, feelings in the locker room, and how faith affects decision-making. They touch on the nature of accomplishment, how to raise children who hear their own voices of approval, and the value of having our identity shattered to pieces. Aaron shares a tearful moment with his absent father that produced an unexpected gem of gratitude. The episode closes with the story of a critical choice Aaron made at age 15 that changed his life.

“At the end of the day it doesn’t matter what we do, it’s about who and what we become in that process.”

Links and references from the episode:

  2. Check back in 16 years for a follow-up interview with feedback from Aaron on the referenced conversation with his son.

About Aaron:

CBS Sports Analyst and College Football Hall of Fame inductee, Aaron Taylor, has a "larger than life" personality, but its roots may surprise you: the former Super Bowl Champion credits his success to the principles of Gratitude, Service, and Teamwork.

Instilled from an early age, these principles became the inspiring foundation for the creation of college football’s only non-individual award, the Joe Moore Award, annually recognizing the Most Outstanding Offensive Line Unit in College Football. Through the Joe Moore Award, Aaron set out to not only preserve the legacy of his coach but also to shift the focus from a “Hey, look at me!” mentality to a culture of teamwork, of putting the greater good above ourselves in society at large.

Aaron was a decorated offensive lineman at the University of Notre Dame from 1990-1993, earning unanimous All-American honors both his junior and senior years. In his final season in South Bend, he won the prestigious Lombardi Award, annually given to the best interior lineman in the country.

In an incredible culmination of his childhood dream, Aaron was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the first round of the 1994 NFL Draft and was a member of the Packers’ Super Bowl XXXI championship team. After a two-year stint with the San Diego Chargers, Aaron was forced to retire due to injuries after the 1999 season.

Off the field, Aaron is a moving and inspirational speaker. His candid approach and sense of humor make him an effective storyteller who is able to weave a powerful message of resilience, perseverance, and the importance of having a championship mindset.

Behind the winning smile and accolades, Aaron finds meaning and feels “most alive” when being of service or bringing value to others. Shortly after retiring from the NFL, Aaron established the Aaron Taylor Impact Fund and recently co-founded The Foundation for Teamwork, dedicated to fostering the most essential aspect of all societal endeavors: Teamwork.

Aaron currently resides in Southern California and New York with his wife and three children.

The Anatomy of Shame - Emotion Series #8

Shame is nature’s way of training us to fit into our culture and society. Like an electric fence, it outlines the contours of the identity we’ve grown into and discourages us from straying outside the lines.

This boundary around our comfort zone is often a poor match for ourselves and the world we live in. When we feel shame, our emotional experience stagnates, dampening our evolution and our enjoyment. People often find themselves stuck in the same shame cycles for years.

In this episode, Joe and Brett examine the structure of shame and how to melt it on an intellectual, emotional, and somatic level.

Transformed through awareness and love, our shame becomes a natural set of guide rails that help us live our life in alignment with our deepest values.

"All we're doing here is freeing the blocking of emotions by feeling into our body and creating love where there was abandonment."

The following is the “wall of shame” referenced at the end of the episode, compiled from Brett’s journal and submissions from our listeners:

  • Shame of being amateur/inexperienced
  • ...of missing opportunities
  • ...of being incompetent
  • ...of backing down or giving up
  • ...of not creating value
  • ...of being wrong, and then being hard-headed about it
  • ...of being an outsider who doesn't speak the lingo
  • ...of asking for help
  • ...of being 'transactional'
  • ...of not being present enough
  • ...of hovering anxiously
  • ...of having shame and hiding it
  • ...of being a 'hypocrite'
  • ...of being a know-it-all
  • ...of being helpless or clueless
  • ...of not 'deserving it'
  • ...of failing as a result of either over- or under-control
  • ...of upsetting people or scaring them with the truth
  • ...of showing hurt or disappointment
  • ...of not following my intuition
  • ...of not being clever, determined, or forthright
  • ...of not being ambitious, or of being too ambitious
  •  ...of disagreeing
  • ...of telling people they are wrong
  • ...of being withdrawn
  • ...of needing people to change their behavior
  • ...of needing time
  • ...of thinking slowly
  • ...of not knowing how
  • ...of not feeling good when others are socializing
  • …of not being enough (strong, present, resourceful, smart)
  • …of freezing when action is required
  • …of hurting the people I love

Send yours with the feedback form on our website to add to this list. Submissions will, of course, be anonymized.

How Do I Trust Myself? (Coaching Session)

Joe coaches a course participant through an exploration of self-trust. Beginning with an intellectual question about conflicted inner parts, our guest embraces the underlying emotional experience and touches the essence of who she is.

"What's the ultimate thing that you're running from?" 
"Some sort of spiral effect -- I've seen people I love spiral into depression or spiral into madness."
"There's an abyss in you that you're avoiding, and your fear is that if you go into that, you won't come out. So let's go."

The Upright Apology: A Tool for Transformation

Apologies are commonly associated with shame, power games, or beliefs about who’s right and who’s wrong. In this episode, we talk about the freedom to be had in making apologies without shame and in full ownership of our experience.

“When you make an apology that's upright, that's empowered, it feels fantastic. You feel strength in it. You feel responsible. You feel empowered."


What We Discuss in Episode 54:

3:52   Why apologies are sometimes used to appease our own guilt.

11:05   How to apologize in a shameless, empowered way.

17:20   The notion of power struggles in apologies — how to recognize when it’s happening and what to do about it.

20:07   Why forgiveness is more for you than the person you’re forgiving.

26:54   Tools and practices for becoming more aware of the relationship you have with apologizing.


**Full transcript coming soon! Check back HERE for the link.**

Follow us on Instagram at @artofaccomplishment to learn more about our guests and share your own experiences.

Emile DeWeaver — Life After Murder: On Fear, Freedom, and Identity

At the age of eighteen — just before the birth of his child — Emile began serving a life sentence for murder. In this episode, Emile tells us how he came to face the fear that drove him to kill a man, and which followed him into prison. He shares how he learned to love himself and see through an identity that might have otherwise imprisoned him in yet another manner. After finding inner freedom, Emile eventually wrote his way out from behind bars as well: his sentence was commuted in 2017 after serving twenty-one years, a testament to his journey and transformation.

"I am under no illusions, right? I cannot make amends to the man I killed. I cannot make amends to his family. I still need to be a north star, right? In my world, in my life. So I can spend my time hating myself, [or] I could spend my time helping to create a world where little kids don't kill other little kids."

About Emile:

Emile is a queer, African-American activist whose life sentence in prison was commuted by California’s Governor Brown after 21 years for his accomplishments while in prison. While in prison, he was a culture writer for Easy Street Magazine; he co-founded Prison Renaissance, and despite the criminalization of organizing in California prisons, he covertly organized in prison to pass legislation that changed the way California treats juveniles in its criminal legal system. Emile is a widely published journalist, essayist, and literary writer. His credits include pieces in San Francisco Chronicle, TruthOut, Colorlines, and the Brennan Center. Emile is available for talks, panels, and workshops on the following topics:

• Power in the Criminal Legal System
• Media in the Criminal Legal System
• Three Principles of Creating Miracles

What We Discuss in Episode 53:

03:51   Emile’s relationship to fear — rooted in a culture of hyper-masculinity and violence — throughout his childhood and early adolescence.

14:53   How Emile came to the decision to write his way out of prison.

19:13   Finding self-forgiveness after murder and redirecting energy to make a positive impact.

25:51  The psychological experience of solitary confinement and how what happens in prison is mirrored in society at large.

31:00  The freedom and power of choice in the face of fear.

41:58   Why welcoming all emotions and aspects of yourself creates the path to an overarching sense of peace and joy.

**Full transcript coming soon! Check back HERE for the link.**

Follow us on Instagram at @artofaccomplishment to learn more about our guests and share your own experiences.

When the Story Falls Apart

Beneath the stories we tell are emotions waiting to be felt. In this episode, we talk about how our stories and emotions interact and how feeling our emotions can help us find deeper stories.

"If you allow the emotions to move you, your stories change, period. Every time."


What We Discuss in Episode 52:

01:34   What stories are and how they impact our emotional experience.

09:14   Expanding the connection of stories to belief systems and identity.

11:42   The intellectual and emotional components of stories — how they interact and how they differ.

18:04   How moving our emotions also changes the story.

26:39   The paradox of stories both pointing to emotions and having the potential to slow down the movement of them.

30:24   The different stages of stories and the purposes they serve.


**Full transcript coming soon! Check back HERE for the link.**

Follow us on Instagram at @artofaccomplishment to learn more about our guests and share your own experiences.

Will Chesney — Reintegrating as a Combat Veteran, Surviving a Traumatic Brain Injury and Transcending an Old Identity

Will Chesney found identity and purpose as a Navy SEAL, one of the military’s most elite teams, where he was required to perform calmly and effectively under the most extreme circumstances. However, years of neurological and psychological trauma left Will in a very dark place. Unable to do what he loved most or connect effectively with others, he turned to drinking and isolation. After hitting rock bottom, a friend reached out and invited Will to join him on a journey of self-discovery that allowed him to tap into his resilience and get himself back on his feet. Tune in as we learn what Will did to find healing and meaning in life after war.

Will served in the U.S. Naval Special Warfare Development Group as an operator and a dog handler in the Osama Bin Laden raid. He was awarded a Silver Star and Purple Heart for his bravery.

"I woke up and it was me again at one point during the weekend. I know I was a SEAL and everybody always says, “Oh, we can't relate to what you've gone through.” But everybody has trauma. Every life is good but life’s hard sometimes. Everybody deals with trauma no matter what."


What We Discuss in Episode 51:

02:41   The challenges of reintegrating into civilian life as a combat veteran.

05:51   The mindset and techniques that Navy SEALs use to remain calm and effective in any situation.

13:25   Navigating the depression and hardships that come with losing a core identity.

20:26   How humility is essential for executing any successful mission.

24:44   The reflection that put Will firmly on the path to recovery.


**Full transcript coming soon! Check back HERE for the link.**

Follow us on Instagram at @artofaccomplishment to learn more about our guests and share your own experiences.

Connection: A State Beyond States

We talk a lot about connection in this podcast — connection with ourselves, our emotions, our relationships and with the world around us. It’s essentially what we’re pointing to in every topic we discuss. In today’s episode, we talk about why that is, and how orienting toward connection in all aspects of our lives facilitates sustained expansion, increases our capacity, and puts us in touch with something bigger than ourselves.

“And the truth is that you're being in connection with yourself and others is not dependent on anybody else because being in connection with what is doesn't require anybody else.”


What We Discuss in Episode 50:

2:13   Defining connection as a "meta state" or a state that encompasses all states.

17:31   How being connected affects productivity and effectiveness in a team.

23:39   The physical sensations in your body that let you know you're in connection.

28:45   How to be with tension and still feel deeply connected to yourself.

32:48   Why connection is all internal and completely within your own locus of control.

38:16   How to drop back into connection when things get tough.


**Full transcript coming soon! Check back HERE for the link.**

Follow us on Instagram at @artofaccomplishment to learn more about our guests and share your own experiences.

Joe Sanok — Living on the Road, Opening to Heartbreak and Parenting as a Single Dad

In Episode 49, Brett interviews Joe Sanok, a business consultant and productivity researcher who, until recently, lived full-time in a camper with his wife and children. When he and his wife decided to uncouple, it changed both Joe’s and his children’s lives in a big way. Learn how Joe used his meditation practice and other self-exploration tools to allow his world to unfold beautifully through surrender to reality as it was rather than clinging to what he thought it should be.

Joe’s latest book is "Thursday is the New Friday,” a book about the four-day work week. He’s also the host of the Practice of the Practice podcast.

"As soon as the sun came up at 5:30, I was wide awake. And so to say, I'm awake, what can I do to ground myself to be the dad I want to be? To be the person I want to be? To be the business owner I want to be? My strongest meditation practice started then and it came from a place of need rather than a place of, 'I should be doing this.'" 

What We Discuss in Episode 49:

2:48   The pivotal moment that changed the direction of Joe’s life.

9:40   Finding an internal locus of control and how it allows things to naturally unfold.

12:22   Parenting as a single dad in the midst of a major life transition.

18:46   Teaching nuance, healthy rewards and handling difficult emotions to children.

24:59   Boosting creativity and productivity by adopting a 32 hour-or-less work week.

29:09   Why slowing down is the first step to productivity.

32:06   Showing children how to find their own purpose without pattern matching to their parents.

**Full transcript coming soon! Check back HERE for the link.**

Follow us on Instagram at @artofaccomplishment to learn more about our guests and share your own experiences.