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."

Healing Shame by Being Ourselves (Coaching Session)

Today’s episode involves a coaching session between Joe and a man in our community who has expressed the desire to have the courage to be himself despite fears of offending the people around him. By exploring triggers and feeling into the shame that underlies conflict avoidance, our guest finds that he can stay in connection with himself, even when others are angry with him.

"To heal my shame, I need to feel it and like feel through it and learn about it." 

**Full transcript can be found here:

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

Allowing Yourself to Change (Joe Coaches Brett)

This week’s episode took an unexpected turn after co-host Brett Kistler had a difficult week, prompting an unplanned one-on-one session where Joe coaches Brett. In this session, we dive deeper into exploring how the relationship with self is reflected in the relationships with the people around us. 

"My mind is flitting around in a million directions, going down rabbit holes, and my body is like hey, we have something important to do." 

"Yeah, that's beautiful. That's always the way it works, right? The relationship with the self is reflected in the relationship with the people around us."

Brett: Okay, so this is going to be a really interesting episode. We started the call intending to dive into an episode on attentional black holes or perhaps on engineering our own heartbreak. But I have been having a rough week, and we ended up diving into what turned out to be a session with Joe coaching me. Here it is, raw and unfiltered. I hope you like it. 

So throughout my life, I have this pattern of diving into something really, really deeply and hyper focusing on it, and then it starts to become hyper focused to the exclusion of other things and then ultimately to the avoidance of other things. Then, I build competence in the thing that I am getting hyper focused in until I start to get a little bit complacent, and then that thing ends up crashing and then I am left seeing the consequences of all of the avoidance in the rest of my life. Somehow, this has usually ended up happening in such a way that has left me better off than I started over time, but it really just feels like extremely wild swings, big ups, big downs. 

Joe: Can you give me an example from like two years ago?

Brett: Yeah, an example from a couple of years ago was in 2017 I started getting, had been interested in, but started seeing a lot of people get interested in crypto, like cryptocurrencies in investing. I started to see all kinds of opportunity, and I just became very deeply interested in it. That seems like a good thing, being interested in something that's new and exciting, and potentially world-changing even if it is such early stages that it might not be world changing for years. But I, like many other people, got really focused on this possible future and kind of hanging my hopes on the financial gain that I was imagining I was seeing and the numbers in my financial accounts. 

Also, at the same time, I was starting to feel like they become more important, higher priority to me than what was going on in my life. The numbers and the financial gain became much bigger than the numbers in my business financial gain. Also, the excitement of it became much bigger than my excitement elsewhere, and this has also occurred in other areas, like with base jumping. Just really getting into something that's super, deeply exciting and enlivening for me, or in a relationship, just getting fully swept up in it and disappearing attentionally from other areas of my life. 

Joe: What makes you say disappearing intentionally?

Brett: Not intentionally, attentionally. My attention draws away from places that it used to be. 

Joe: What would you make you just not say I was disappearing into it? What makes you give the caveat of attentionally? 

Brett: I think I have a little bit of a self judgement around my attention. Throughout this process, there is a part of me that's like no, don't fully go here. There are other things you care about, and then there's sort of a negative feeling associated with not paying attention to the things I care about or finding that I care less than I did a moment ago about them. 

Joe: How does that tie into, say, commitment? What's your experience of commitment? 

Brett: My experience of commitment has over the course of my life been something that generally starts in the same way as I just described with a lot of fire and a lot of excitement. I am a very flowy person. I kind of go from one thing to another thing, and I am following some threat that just cuts across all these different areas of life. Very commonly, for me, the thing that I am following shifts or changes shape, and that doesn't mean that I am not interested in the thing that I was interested in before. But I start to feel like obligated not to change, like put myself into an obligation not to change in order to keep the commitment. 

Joe: I see, so what's the difference between what you are describing as far as going down an attentional rabbit hole and being committed to something?

Brett: I mean going down the attentional rabbit hole is being committed to the exploration of that rabbit hole. It also feels like a disowning of other commitments, and there is shame in that. 

Joe: If we were to ask, let's say, any woman in your life over the last 20 years, what would they say your relationship to commitment was? 

Brett: That's a really good question. You would have to ask some of them. 

Joe: If you had to guess, maybe they even said something to you at some point. 

Brett: I mean they say various things. I would say they say I am a deeply committed partner, and also that I change. Something that they have said is that like when they are with me, they feel the commitment really strongly and then when I am not with them, then they feel the lack of it. 

Joe: So this is the thing you are pointing to. You get into something. You are fully in it. That's all you are focused on. It's like a strong sense of an immediate commitment, but then the things that you have already started to some degree fall by the wayside. You don't feel the commitment towards them in the same visceral way, and they don't feel the commitment from you during those times of going deeply down the attentional rabbit hole. 

Brett: Yeah, which then creates shame around that rabbit hole itself. 

Joe: If you take the shame out of it, what's the problem with all this?

Brett: I guess the problem is that it just feels unstable, and that also looking back through my life, the consequences of it have been just these wild oscillations, which is something that I actually really enjoy. I do really enjoy having a life that just varies wildly from thing to thing, and I just go super deep into a direction that and go farther than most people might go in that direction. 

Joe: Separate for me the difference between what you like about having a highly varied and I will call it intense life, and what you don't like about having a highly varied and intense life. 

Brett: What I like about it is that I learn a lot, and I collect a wealth of different experiences. I grow. What I don´t like about it is there are these periodic tectonic shifts that I experience as painful where there is just a lot of resistance and I go into a period of perhaps months of feeling disconnected but not noticing how disconnected I am feeling until all of a sudden it just shows up, and I recognize how I disconnected I have been from things I actually do love and how much I have actually narrowed into a stressful relationship with a thing I am focused on. 

Joe: Aha, so the thing is, what I am hearing you say is that you love going down these rabbit holes and the fact that you learn and you grow, but somewhere down the rabbit hole it moves from passion to stress. It moves from passion to obligation, and then in that you start becoming so single minded that you forget to live a life that's enjoyable through balance or through some of your other commitments. Is that what you are saying? 

Brett: Yeah, absolutely, and I find myself unaware of basic logistical things that are important for kind of keeping my life together. 

Joe: Right, and I am just curious. What if nobody ever gave you shit about that? What if like you did this and everybody was like that's cool, that's Brett being artistic or that's Brett doing his thing, that's Brett providing for the family, whatever? Whenever you did all that, nobody guilted you or shamed you or said you weren't there for me. How would your relationship with this cycle change?

Brett: Interesting, it's hard to even imagine separating those things because I believe that my doing things this way leaves people kind of left in the dark. There's a way that I am taking responsibility for other people depending on me, and then me going off in a new direction. Whether or not they even shame me about it or even show hurt at me, there is a way that I just project it or there is a way that I just take responsibility that they are experiencing of disappointment or abandonment. 

Joe: I know your childhood enough to be able to point something, so I am going to point directly, which is. Maybe I don't know it well enough. Let's see if I remember correctly. How similar is this you going down a different rabbit hole than your family did on a religious basis?

Brett: Yeah, wow. I had not thought of it that way, but it does feel very much like that. 

Joe: So stop talking about it for a second, and just feel that. Feel that place that you felt when you diverted from the rabbit hole that your family was in and stayed in around religion and you went looking somewhere else. 

Brett: I felt very much like I was letting my mom down, and the pain that she would feel about my afterlife was my fault. I resisted that following, but also still bought into it. There are also other layers. Throughout my religious upbringing, there were times that we changed churches, and reasons that might happen was because we or my mom or I, however it was, would diverge from the prevailing opinion in the church or the group that we were in. That led to a lot of disconnection from friends and people that were really important to me. I am seeing now ways that I have recreated that my whole life, too. 

Joe: As well as the obsession. I would assume that at some point you were obsessed with the religion or God or whatever that relationship was, as a kid. 

Brett: Yeah, I went deep, and it was the basis to my youth group band. I went on revivals. 

Joe: Here this is repeating, and if you feel that feeling in your body of that moment of recognition that you were causing your mom pain or at least that's the way it was told to you, that you were causing your mom for not believing in this and that whole feeling, where in your body does that sit?

Brett: There is an anxious tension in my chest and in my arms. 

Joe: How similar is that feeling to the feeling like you have to do the thing that you are in the rabbit hole with? You have to focus on cryptocurrency over your relationships. You have to focus on air sports over. How similar are those two physical feelings?

Brett: It is the same physical feeling. It feels like the thing that blocks me from sitting down and doing my taxes or registering a car, things that are very mundane. I don't feel. My body doesn't feel in a mundane state to be doing them. It feels like I have to get up and go jump off a cliff. 

Joe: Right, so in a weird way what happens is this natural passion shows up, and then as you start to relive the trauma. Maybe it's happening. Maybe it's not, of disappointing people around you. That creates an anxiety in you that then gets transferred probably both to them, which makes you want to not be around them and to your work, which makes you get more hyper-focused and stressed. Is that what we are concluding? What am I missing there, if anything?

Brett: That sounds very right. One way that I have continued to recreate that is by finding communities and go deep with those communities as I travel the world or whatever and sort of becoming a part of the community, but then also being like I am kind of not going to be there. I am only sort of partially in this community, but I've got all these other communities. I´ve got this other thing I am doing. I might just get up and go to the Arctic for a month. I won't be around, so don't depend on me too much. 

Joe: Right. How much of that commitment or lack thereof is based on the fact that you also learnt as a young kid that you can't trust community? To some degree, there is a way of saying we can't trust you because you left the church, but the other way of thinking about it as a kid is community is stagnant. It can't meet me as I grow into my truth. 

Brett: Right, or that community, there is another mirror to that where I see communities as tending towards homogenous group think and then I want to get away from that or at least keep distanced from it. That relates to something else that is a pattern to me. I really love to be a contrarian and feel very right when I think everyone else is wrong about something. 

Joe: Right, all of this early childhood patterning as if there is a right and a wrong. So today, how does this whole thing cause you pain? From this perspective, from seeing it this way, how does it all cause you pain? 

Brett: One way it causes pain is that this anxious feeling in my body is. I guess avoiding that has made it difficult for me to sit down and do basic things. 

Joe: What's the anxiety avoiding? If you couldn't feel anxiety and you couldn't stay busy, what would you be left to feel over this situation where you are changing and the loved ones around you aren't meeting you? 

Brett: I would have to feel the heartbreak of that I change and I am not stable.  I might be a different person than I am today, and other people might be different than they are tomorrow and that I might feel abandonment or that they might feel abandonment. 

Joe: I don't remember if we recorded the very, very beginning of this when we said hey, let's press recording, but you said engineered heartbreak. 

Brett: Yeah. 

Joe: What would be making you engineer heartbreak to avoid heartbreak?

Brett: I think there is a way that. This might be related to something that I do, where I put myself through difficult things to prove I can handle it. It almost seems like there is something subconscious in me that does that with this engineering of heartbreak. 

Joe: I know in other podcasts this is the coolest thing. We have spoken about the thing that I am about to speak about I think at least three or four times in the podcast along and countless others, but when we are in it, when we are reliving that trauma, it is so hard to see it. But that whole idea of we are creating the thing by the way in which we are avoiding it, it is the way in which we are avoiding the emotional experience that we are recreating it in our life. It is the same thing we have talked about of the cell wants to get homeostasis. The body continues to produce these early childhood patterns until we can finally feel the thing that we couldn't feel as a kid. 

Brett: A layer on that is one of the things that I feel is shame around not feeling the thing, especially now that I intellectually know all of this so well. My body just feels not fully up-to-date on this. 

Joe: You are engineering heartbreak that you then avoid, is what you are saying, and then you get to feel heartbreak/shame for avoiding the thing that you created to feel that it is not easy to feel. 

Brett: It is almost like it's the shame I am creating. It is almost like I've learned to be very okay with the heartbreak itself, but I am not okay with the shame. 

Joe: Yeah, it is beautiful. What's wrong with shame? Literally, how does shame feel in your system? What is the discomfort of shame in your system, physically?

Brett: It feels like resisted fear, which feels like cowardice. That is something that I have judged myself for my whole life. 

Joe: All of that was in your head, in your body, when you feel shame, what's uncomfortable?

Brett: There is a numbing. 

Joe: Numb is comfortable. They even wrote a song about it, Comfortably Numb. 

Brett: Let me get into that and see what I am actually numbing out. There is a feeling of curling up in a ball. There is a slight sickness to my stomach, a tightness in my chest, and an anticipation of rejection or pain and a hopelessness. 

Joe: Just feel all that for a second, like allow all of that to be felt just as it is. You don't have to manufacture anything. You don't have to try. Just as it is, feel it. 

Brett: How did you know that I started manufacturing it?

Joe: I refuse to answer intellectual questions right now. Notice what's happening. Notice what's happening to the discomfort of shame. 

Brett: There is a slight shaking in my stomach, in the midsection. 

Joe: How much more comfortable or uncomfortable is it becoming if you stay with the shame?

Brett: It is becoming a little bit more comfortable, but then my intellect comes in and is like it is just because you are not feeling it enough anymore. You are avoiding it. 

Joe: What happens if feeling it is all that is required? What if it is just like you are a little kid that felt shame? Like when your mom told you you were responsible for her emotions and that her punishment for you going to hell was somehow your responsibility. What did that kid just need at that point? 

Brett: I don't know if it is fair to say that she told me that. I am just a kid assuming it. 

Joe: She was worried for your soul. That was happening. 

Brett: Which is love. 

Joe: Exactly, but the point is what did you need then? What would have made it different for you, better for you in that moment? 

Brett: I don't know. It is hard to say that what I needed was for my mom to happily accept that she believed that I was going to hell. 

Joe: How about just loving attention? How would that have been as a kid? 

Brett: Yeah, my diverging beliefs being given loving attention or being given loving attention in my beliefs. 

Joe: What makes you think that giving loving attention to your shame right now is somehow not enough, but it would have been enough as a kid? 

Brett: I mean it feels. This is interesting. It feels like when I try to give my shame loving attention, it somehow misses. The attention misses the shame in some way. The shame manages to wiggle out from under the attention. 

Joe: Yeah, chase it around the room. I know that sounds weird. Chase it around the room to give it love. I am going to love you. You cannot get away from me. I am going to love you. 

Brett: I can feel it there subtly. 

Joe: It is what kids do, by the way. It is totally what kids do. Kids feel shame, and you go to give them love. They just fucking hate it. No, no, no. Like little ones. They will fight you tooth and nail over it. 

Brett: It is like hiding underneath the couch and peeking out under the skirt. 

Joe: Exactly. 

Brett: When I try to do this on my own, I immediately think I am just not doing it good enough or I am not finding it or that I must not be finding the root of whatever my feeling is. 

Joe: That's the pattern. That's not the truth of it. That's the pattern. Literally, were you finding God? Did you get to the root of it? Did you feel like you weren't quite getting the whole thing? That's the relationship that you were taught to truth, to love, to feeling life. You weren't quite getting it. 

Brett: Yeah, and that's what I feel with everything. I was just not quite getting it. 

Joe: You are also not quite getting it as compared to other people. I think there is some reality to all of us not quite getting it. It would be impossible, but in your mind I've noticed that it is not like you are not quite getting it, like everybody is not quite getting it. No, you are special and you are not quite getting it. Do you know what I am saying?

Brett: This feeling I am special and I am not quite getting it. 

Joe: I am special in my not getting it. 

Brett: Special in my not getting. Also, I was in gifted in classes in school but also I just didn't do the homework. I just somehow managed to barely be scraping by in those classes, and everybody else, even people who seemingly didn't get the material as much as I felt I got the material, had their shit together in a way that just had them be doing the thing, doing the school, not getting talked to about being behind. 

Joe: You are like recreating this pattern of not quite fitting into the social fabric. Now you are in a social fabric full of a whole bunch of people who are really smart and not motivated to follow all the rules and have done a whole bunch of creative things and are living, and you still feel like you are not a part. Probably all of them do as well. 

Brett: Yeah. 

Joe: You are not alone even in that. 


Okay. So this is the time in our podcast when we do something just a little bit different. We take a break from the intellect and incorporate our bodies and emotions into the conversation. We do this because it helps us integrate the information better, and usually it is a bunch of fun. We crowdsource these exercises from our community, so if you have a good one, please share it with us. When doing the exercise, take it as a treat and as an experiment. Just to the activity and see what happens. As always, enjoy yourself. 


Tara: Hi, everybody. My name is Tara Howley. I am going to lead you guys through some nervous system exercises. Go ahead and close your eyes and take a big inhale. You are going to put all of your attention in the souls of your feet. You might notice the texture of the floor under your feet. You might notice the temperature. You might feel your pulse. Just see what you notice with all of your attention in the souls of your feet. 

That’s it. Go ahead and open your eyes, and just notice how you feel now compared to when you started this. 


Joe: Welcome back. I hope you enjoyed the exercise as much as we did when we found it. Before we go back into the episode, I wanted to thank all of you who have been sharing the podcast and signing up for the VIEW course. The interest and support you guys have shown has been both overwhelming and humbling. It´s a pleasure to know that we have something to offer that has been so helpful to you. 

All right. Now let's get back into the conversation. 

Brett: A question that routinely comes up for me is how does it anybody continue to put themselves in a position of working with or relying on me. 

Joe: That's the pattern. There's no truth to that. However you have done it, you have shown up in your business. You have shown up here. You have shown up in your relationships, many of them for years and years. You can say that, but the paper, the data is different than what you are voice is telling you right now. 

Brett: That brings me back to that piece where I can intellectually know a thing, intellectually know what I even on some level want, and my body doesn't line up with it. There is a feeling of despair in that. 

Joe: Prove your body is not lining up. That's the story. Prove it. Your body is stressed when you are ignoring the commitments that feed you, that nourish you. Your body is aware of the shame that's happening. How is your body not participating fully here? 

Brett: So there is a way that I feel that being true. The more I get off track, the more avoidant I am of the things that I care about, the more stressed I feel, so there is a way that my body is guiding me back towards my truth in that way. And yet, there´s something in my body that if that's not happening, there must be some opposing force. What is that? How is that my body being in alignment if there is an opposing force pulling me away from what the rest of my system seems to think is alignment. 

Joe: I think I am a bit confused in the fact that it is opposing forces that keep everything in balance. So what am I missing?

Brett: Maybe there is one of the opposing forces that is getting too much weight in the decision. 

Joe: Prove it. There is this idea that you are stuck on. Maybe it's your mind that is the opposing force. There is this idea that you are stuck on that somehow or another that your body isn't with you. 

Brett: Maybe it is the inverse. Maybe it is my mind that is not with me. 

Joe: In the moment of freeze, what's off line, your body or your mind?

Brett: It's hard to say which, but it does seem like it is true that one of them was offline. It feels like my mind is doing the thing that I describe myself doing to others to my body. My mind is flitting around in a million directions, going down rabbit holes, and my body is like hey, we have something important to do. 

Joe: Yeah, that's beautiful. That's always the way it works, right? The relationship with the self is reflected in the relationship with the people around us. Right now I can sense a desire for resolution. 

Brett: Yeah, there's a strong desire for resolution, which I am recognizing is wanting myself to change. 

Joe: What's the resolution going to get you?

Brett: Alignment, joy, accomplishment, connection. 

Joe: How is that not here right now? 

Brett: Stories in my head prevent me from seeing it. 

Joe: I feel connected to you. I'm enjoying the conversation. 

Brett: I feel like I showed up to do a podcast, and then we just like dove into a session. 

Joe: That's what happened. 

Brett: Because I don't have my shit together enough to do the podcast. 

Joe: Right, but there is a tremendous amount of connection and joy, and alignment in it. So what's the problem? 

Brett: Because my head said there was a thing I was supposed to do. 

Joe: Would it have been better than this? 

Brett: I don't know. We could have had a really vague podcast discussion that I felt like disconnected from and judged myself for not being vulnerable in. It could have been that. 

Joe: Right, exactly. So since the resolution isn't going to give you anything that you already have, what is it that you want the resolution for? 

Brett: To feel like it is done, like complete, like I did it. I got there. It's all better now. 

Joe: What if that never comes? What if there is no complete, no done, no heaven?

Brett: I mean it would be boring if everything was done. 

Joe: I mean it even back in the day. The thing that you dismissed is that there was a finish line when you dismissed the religion. 

Brett: And there was also a way that in the religion I was holding on to this idea of a finish line.

Joe: That's right. 

Brett: When I was a kid, my logical brain was like well, I am a Christian. Ideally, I could just kill myself right now and go straight to heaven. Why not do that? 

Joe: What if this is just the rest of the letting go of the story? The finish line part of the story is now gone. 

Brett: The finish line part of the story has continued to be there all along. At any moment, I'll arrive. 

Joe: What happens to your sense of self if you deeply accept that there is no finish line? You are never done. 

Brett: I just feel a lot more relaxed in my body now. There's a way that doing work and taking on challenges doesn't feel like the last final sprint before the finish, so I feel less pressure. 

Joe: What's left to do about this perceived pattern of abandoning your mom through cryptocurrency and air sports since you are never going to completely resolve it? It's never going to be completely done, what's left to do. 

Brett: It feels okay to follow rabbit holes now. I feel less shame now around rabbit holing. 

Joe: I don't know any human who doesn't rabbit hole. Sometimes it is the post office for 33 years. I don't know any human who doesn't do it. We are creatures of habit. 

Brett: That's an interesting one. I consider myself. There's a way I shame myself for not being a creature of habit. I see people having structured habits in their lives that support them and create consistency. I see myself as not having that. 

Joe: But you do. 

Brett: Despite us having regular podcast recordings. 

Joe: Even outside that, you regularly go down rabbit holes. You regularly get stressed out. It regularly serves you by getting you money, knowledge and wisdom. 

Brett: I regularly create heartbreak by crashing and burning in ways that somehow I survive. 

Joe: Exactly. Regularly recreating the circumstances for you to allow deep heartbreak and shame that's never been allowed before. 

Brett: I feel clear. I am not having like squirmy, shame feelings popping up in my body, and I am not having running thoughts about this. There is a way that feels disorientingly serene. 

Joe: That makes sense. 

Brett: There is nothing to do, but that is in contrast to the story of there is always a million things that I am not doing right. 

Joe: Where it gets even weirder is that the nothing to do does so much stuff. 

Brett: There is a way right now that I have your voice in my head from another time of being afraid something will go away is the first way to make it go away, so I am like don't be afraid this will go away. 

Joe: That is being afraid it will go away. 

Brett: See, I am getting it all wrong. 

Joe: Me, too. It is the fear that the serenity could go away. That's a possibility. All we did was see what was. We didn't do anything. You didn't become a different person. All you had to do was just see what was actually happening, and the serenity came in. 

Brett: But isn't that in some way the state I was experiencing before going away? 

Joe: Yeah, the difference is there is not a doing. There is an undoing. It was like I did something and I need to keep it. It is very different than I undid something and saw the truth. 

Brett: I see. 

Joe: What do you have to do to keep it? 

Brett: There is a way that my way of trying to self explore this previously was a stack of doing things on top of doing things to get myself to feel whatever it was that was unfelt. That was just a stack of layers pushing back and forth on each other. 

Joe: Yeah, they were all just in the way of the truth of what you are. 

Brett: I don't have to do that. 

Joe: Right. Exactly. 

Brett: What's going to happen next? Am I going to do my fucking taxes, or what? 

Joe: I have no idea. I don't know. I don't know what I am going to do next either, so it works out just fine. So just notice that all of the movement, so as you feel the serenity, this is just myself uncovered rather than something that I have created that I need to keep. Notice how much stuff. It is just automatic ways in which we cover ourself, and they are just showing up. That's the really cool part about this process is that you can just start to see, especially in these moments of clarity, you can start to see all the ways that you want to cover yourself up. You just found one of them, how do I keep it? That's one of the ways you try to cover yourself up, and then you just found the second one, which is like will I be able to get shit done. I have to get shit done. Think about mice or rats or beavers or dogs. They never have to tell themselves or be worried about getting shit done, but they are always doing shit. If they are not sleeping, they are doing something. 

Brett: But none of them are building companies or promoting podcasts. 

Joe: Yeah, but you aren't licking your balls. Dogs are. 

Brett: We are not on video. 

Joe: Yes, they are not doing as complicated things. They are not capable. We think we would stop doing the things that are interesting to us. That's silly. 

Brett: I guess the most complicated things I have done have been things that have fallen together as I have been doing whatever. 

Joe: Yeah, exactly. 

Brett: Even the planning that brings me to places that I couldn't just wander to. 

Joe: Just notice every one of these things, and they will come with a little visceral sensation with them. I am making the noise of the sensation. It's [breathes in]. They will each come with that, and that's the habitual way to cover ourselves up. 

Brett: There's like a tensioning that comes with it. 

Joe: Exactly, which is awesome. They are going to come, and then you get to see them and see through them. What if you just sat for the next three weeks because I know you create a life where you can do this. For the next three weeks, just watch them come and see through them. 

Brett: Oh, but Joe, I create a life where technically I could do this but what I have actually been doing is thinking about all the things I am not doing. 

Joe: Just to say one other piece to it, which I think is important. There is a nervous system piece to this, which is if you are operating under stress for an extended period of time, your body will go into a physical depression and not be motivated. That's natural. If a deer gets chased by a tiger for 20 days straight, it's going to definitely need to sit down and do nothing for a bit. There is a physical component to it. 

Brett: Yeah, that's interesting. There is this like sitting down and doing nothing but being stressed about it requires that release, and then the depression. It's like see, I am doing nothing. That's why I am depressed. I've got to do something, and then it loops back on itself. 

Joe: That's exactly how it works. You see this with like big time CEOs and when they sell their company, it is like bathrobe for two years. You see it all the time. It is like it would be a bathrobe for three to six months if they weren't telling themselves they should be up and doing something all the time, but because they tell themselves they have to be up and doing something all the time, it takes three times as long to recover, four times as long to recover. Okay, enjoy the serenity. 

Brett: I am just going to take today to do that. 

Joe: What a total pleasure. 

Brett: Thank you, Joe. 

Joe: Thanks for a great time. 

Thanks for listening to the Life in VIEW podcast. If you enjoyed what you heard today, please subscribe. We would love your feedback, so feel free to send us questions and comments. To reach us, join our newsletter, learn more about VIEW or to take a course, visit 

Father Figures and Authority (Coaching Session)

Today's episode involves a coaching session between Joe and a woman in our community who is experiencing tension around authority figures. The conversation starts out with workplace challenges and very quickly ties into her relationship with her father, ultimately touching on how she can give and receive love. While listening to this conversation, we can observe Joe’s state of mind and how he holds the VIEW principles. These are the kinds of conversations that Joe has with participants and that participants learn to have with each other in the Art of Accomplishment course.

"Joe, I either want to fight myself or I just want to roll over and stay safe. I either want to fight against myself or I don't want to listen." 

Today we are going to share a coaching session between Joe and a woman in our community who is experiencing tension around authority figures. The conversation starts off with workplace challenges and very quickly ties in to her relationship with her father, ultimately touching on how she can give and receive love. We've removed her name and other identifying information for the sake of confidentiality. 

While listening to this conversation, pay some attention to Joe's state of mind and how he holds the VIEW principles. These are the kinds of conversations that Joe has with participants, and that participants learn to have with each other in the Art of Accomplishment course. Let's get started. 

Joe: What do you want to talk about today?

Woman: I notice I freeze around people who remind me of my father, especially in work situations. This is what's happening repeatedly. 

Joe: How do you see them as your father?

Woman: They don't see me. 

Joe: Aha, how do you know they don't see you?

Woman: Because it's very clear they don't know how I tick. 

Joe: What's the evidence?

Woman: I'm doing something. I'm motivated. Then they start to speak to what they think I am motivated by. They will be like good job. This is exactly what we need out of a team member who wants to step into leadership, whatever bullshit they are going to tell me. I'm like this isn't why I am doing this. I am doing it because I love it. I am doing it because I love it, not doing it for money. 

Joe: What if they did see you and you can't recognize it? I am not saying that that's true by any stretch, but if it were true, what would it mean?

Woman: It would mean I am judging the shit out of them. I think that's true. I think it would mean. I do think that's true. It would mean. 

Joe: What makes you judge your father? What made you judge your father?

Woman: I thought he was wrapped up in himself so much that he couldn't see anyone else. 

Joe: How is that not true about you? It's a scary question for me to ask, but how is that not true about you, that you are wrapped up?

Woman: So much that I can't see others. 

Joe: Or so much that you care whether people see you. 

Woman: Interesting. I want to be seen it seems like again by certain people. It's because I am still wanting that one kind of attention I've decided I didn't get. 

Joe: How is that not being wrapped up in yourself?

Woman: I think it is. It's wrapped up in my wanting. 

Joe: What makes you judge people for what you are doing?

Woman: When they do it, obviously, Joe, it is way worse than when I do it. I'm a better person than that. 

Joe: Okay, so you are sitting in the meeting, and the person is like oh, this is exactly what I want from a leader. What are you not seeing about them in that moment?

Woman: I feel like they are affirming what they want. 

Joe: Right, so that's the judgment, similar to you being focused on what you want, to be seen in this particular way, but what are you not seeing about them? How are you not allowing them in? How are you not seeing them as a full person? 

Woman: If they are telling me that that's what they want, I notice there's a part of me that closes to them first. I am like oh, you are not coming to meet me, so I am like tired of bringing myself to try to meet you. 

Joe: One thing I just noticed, and I want to come back to it, which is you didn't answer the question, what is it that you are not seeing about them. You are telling me what it is that's hard to see about them, but I am going to detour for just a second because my curiosity, my wonder just went in this other direction. How is your relationship with your wants affecting your judgment about what they want?

Woman: I believe that asking for exactly what I want isn't very effective, which I think part of what's getting in the way. I'm not just explicitly asking for what I want. 

Joe: Right. It sounds like they are not doing that either in that moment. 

Woman: That's right. That's true. 

Joe: If them not asking directly for what they want makes you feel unseen, what does it say about you not asking directly for what you want, if anything?

Woman: The logic is they are seen. I don't feel it. I don't want to feel it. I don't want to feel that. 

Joe: How does it feel to just say it? I am not seeing anybody clearly. Right now, look at me. Do you think you are seeing me clearly? How clearly do you think you are seeing me? 100%?

Woman: Ah, definitely not 100%. Nothing is 100%. Okay, so but high. I don't know. 

Joe: At what point do I get to feel upset at you for not feeling seen? What's the percentage?

Woman: If I see you anywhere in the 50% or below, or in that range, that's not good enough. 

Joe: That's when I get to be upset at you. 

Woman: Yes, definitely. 

Joe: Whose criteria do we get to use? How do we get the data to know what percentage it is at? So as an example, how true is it that you don't want to be in a leadership position, generally?

Woman: How true is it that I don't want to be in a leadership position, generally? Historically, I have balked. 

Joe: Now. 

Woman: Right now? No, I definitely want to be in charge. 

Joe: So they are seeing you. 

Woman: I really do want to be in charge. No, that's true. They are seeing me, but if they are telling me, then it feels like they are putting power back over of like pat on the head, good job little leader. I am like fuck you. 

Joe: So what they are not seeing is you already are a leader. 

Woman: What they are not seeing is I don't need you to affirm me. 

Joe: I just want it. 

Woman: I just want it. Don't believe that your little encouragements. That's like the opposite. It's creating a power dynamic that I reject. 

Joe: How much of this is about not being seen and how much of this is about your own empowerment? 

Woman: Yes. 

Joe: How empowering is it to care about being seen or about how they treat you?

Woman: It's not very empowering, but I really want it. 

Joe: What I am noticing is there is a want component that's not fully lived. There's the being seen component that's not really lived, and there's the empowerment component that's not being really fully lived. 

Woman: Yeah, want, seen, empowerment. Yeah. 

Joe: How do you undermine the people who fall into that category, fall into the dad category? If in any way, how do you undermine them?

Woman: Definitely there is a way. How, let's see. I could think of a few things. One is I just immediately project that to try to control me or manage me even if they are really doing something that's really normal. 

Joe: Just that thing, one of the ways you undermine them is project they are trying to control you, and what's your action?

Woman: I have trouble being productive. The more space they give me, the more I can be productive. 

Joe: I got it. What you do is you stop performing for them. That's the way you undermine, got it. When that dynamic happens, how are you undermining your own empowerment? I am going to ask you three questions about each of these things, empowerment, being seen and whatever the third one was that I forgot. 

Woman: Want is the other one. I am undermining my empowerment. Just the fact that I am responding to that, it feels like I am still surrendering my power on some level. I am still surrendering my power on some level. 

Joe: To rebel against somebody or to do what they tell you, both of them put them in the control seat. One of the things is that by undermining them you have empowered them. 

Woman: Right, and I have decided I am like helpless to do other. Like it is hard to figure out how to get out of that. Like eh, I am not productive. I want to be productive. It's your fault. Whatever. 

Joe: Then, the second one was want. How is that you are abandoning your wants in that scenario where you are undermining them by rebelling them against them by not being productive because they have patted you on the head?

Woman: I feel like I am getting out of touch with the part of me that just simply wants to work on this project, wants to build this vision, wants to contribute to this company. Like the independent of the authority figure. 

Joe: Okay, and then the third one was, empowerment, want and not being seen, so how is that you are preventing yourself from being seen in this scenario?

Woman: In this scenario, I am reinforcing a story. I don't know if that's right. 

Joe: Let me ask a question. You have somebody working for you, and they've stopped being productive. What are your choices in interacting with them to get them to be productive or to accept that they won't be productive? What are your choices?

Woman: Sit down and talk with them and ask what's happening for them. 

Joe: Right, so that puts you in the control position. What's the next one?

Woman: I can give them space, just say hey, everyone goes through ebbs and flows. Let's just see what happens over time. I could ask somebody else to check in with them, go around the side door. I could take the project away from them. I could adjust the project. Okay, now I need this scope and this time. I could micromanage. 

Joe: How about give them lots of compliments in the hopes that they will respond to positive reinforcement?

Woman: Oh, right, I guess that's a thing. It's not a thing I do. It's not even a thing I think about. I am like that doesn't work. 

Joe: Out of all of these options, how many of them would make you feel seen?

Woman: I do think sitting down and asking me what's up really vulnerably without their being any punishment energy at all. That would feel great. 

Joe: How many people do you know who respond that way? If you were to guess, there's 100 managers. How many would respond in that way?

Woman: None of them, not many of them, maybe one of them. 

Joe: We'll call it one percent of them will. In that case, you have proven that 99% of them can't see you, or what am I missing by saying that?

Woman: I don't feel like I need that all the time. What it really is I am specifically triggered if it is like, again, a man who reminds me of my dad because if it is a woman, no issues. I am like you can do any of those things, and I don't care. 

Joe: There are these three things that all happen, wanting, disempowerment, and not being seen, and overall how do you see if you are creating this in your world, if any way? You might not see that at all. You might actually see it is all their fault. If there is any way you see your creation of it, how?

Woman: One thing I have definitely hit on is I am not letting myself be seen. 

Joe: How would it be to stop right now and let yourself be seen?

Woman: Really scary. 

Joe: How deep are you going right now in letting yourself be seen?

Woman: 20%, there's like a submission quality that's not the thing. 

Joe: Beautiful. How is it to be seen without submitting, without surrendering in your complete empowerment?

Woman: It's so hard because then I just want to fight. It's the two, either I am like one of those. 

Joe: How would it be for you to say to me? This is a scary one for me to ask. How would it be to say to me, Joe, I want to surrender to you or I want to fight you? I don't want to be with you. I just want to surrender you or fight you. 

Woman: Yeah, I want to fight you or I want to roll over. I want to roll over and not get hurt. 

Joe: How much distance did that just create between us?

Woman: How much distance? Something about sharing it felt kind of good, instead of like having an invisible fight happening. It felt like more clarity, like honesty, transparency. 

Joe: How does it feel to say the opposite of it?

Woman: The opposite, I want to fight with myself. No. 

Joe: Let's try that. That made me very curious. 

Woman: Joe, I either want to fight myself or I just want to roll over and stay safe. I either want to fight against myself or I don't want to listen. 

Joe: What's the opposite of fighting? It feels like you are still fighting a little bit. 

Woman: I am. I am totally still fighting. It's just like softer. Maybe if I fight a little quieter, maybe if I do it like this because then I will also collapse the other side. I am like wait, stand back up, what is this? 

Joe: How would it be to try it again and feel the feeling of fight or rolling over and then letting your body feel the exact opposite of those emotions? 

Woman: I am like bringing myself back in. There's some like mild dissociation. 

Joe: I notice you stop looking at me when you are trying to feel like. 

Woman: Yep. I feel like I lose connection with myself when I look at you. I don't lose connection with myself. It's like a thinner path or something. It feels more difficult. 

Joe: What would this feeling be if you weren't resisting it, if you weren't disassociating, if you weren't scared?

Woman: It feels really alive. It also feels like almost so alive that it also feels scary. 


Brett: Listening to this interaction, we can see how she feels like there's a dichotomy between rolling over and fighting. This is a false dichotomy that a lot of people hold. It's an indicator that you are in a power over state of mind, seeing the dynamic as a win or lose, zero sum game that someone is going to win and someone else is not. So many of our conversations are structured in this way, and it can be really hard to move from power over into empowerment. Let's listen further to see what happens. 

Joe: So what I've heard you describe so far is something that feels alive and full of energy and undefended. 

Woman: I repeatedly have things like maybe it's not safe, the things out here. 

Joe: How am I feeling about you right now in your estimation? 

Woman: You feel very calm and grounded. I don't know. You feel about me though. 

Joe: About you. 

Woman: You feel a kind of awe. It's really nice. It feels good. 

Joe: How much of me is fighting you and how much of me is rolling over for you?

Woman: You are not rolling over. 

Joe: If you had to guess, how much am I fighting you?

Woman: Very low, probably a tiny bit is like. Very, very low. 

Joe: What's the fight, that little itty bit? What am I fighting you to do? What's the purpose?

Woman: It's a very light feeling of bringing my attention. There's just a very light touch to it. 

Joe: There's some part of me trying to control you a little bit. 

Woman: A little bit, it's like this guiding tension. Just a light. 

Joe: There's a little bit. Impartiality is, I think, hard to get rid of, but there is a little bit that's like I want to know what the feeling is when it is unresisted. 

Woman: Yep, sure. 

Joe: If that's true, how would it be possible for someone to not some way want to control you? Even that is a subtle way in which I want to control you. 

Woman: I don't think there's a way to not do that. I don't think I take strong issue with everyone trying to control me. 

Joe: When needed, it sounds like it is a good reason to feel like you are not being seen. 

Woman: It's certainly surefire excuse of me, not being seen. You are trying to control me. Yes, of course. 

Joe: I can't deny I am still really curious. What is this experience of non fight, of non rolling over? What's your body's answer to that question? 

Woman: Balance came up. I don't like the word equality. I think there's some bullshit in that. 

Joe: We are definitely not fucking equal. How could we be? Our hand size isn't the same. 

Woman: But like balance, there's still a meeting that feels balanced where it is not you or me or you or me. 

Joe: How can we be balanced with each other without love?

Woman: How can we be balanced with each other without love? In my head, I wasn't tracking love so far. 

Joe: Increase or decrease the amount of love you feel towards me and see how it affects balance, if at all. 

Woman: That was fun. It's so automatic. I feel like just patterns in my face being like distance. 

Joe: Distance, what's that distance? How does the distance relate to fight or rolling over? 

Woman: It feels a little bit like it is still fight, in essence. It's like I am going to keep you at a distance. I will be over here, and you are going to be over there. I'm just going to manage this because if you get too close, it's fight. That's what I have decided. 

Joe: And how does that relate to balance? 

Woman: I feel off balance back. Physically, somatically, my body is defending back inside. I am off balance back. Ooh, I still feel a falling forward. That's the motion I am kind of holding. Love feels a lot like falling forward. 

Joe: What would happen if you took that experience to this authority figure, boss, whoever it is that pats you on the head and says I see you want to be a good leader, that empowered, upright, non falling forward love? Non submissive love. 

Woman: What would it be like? 

Joe: I'll be the authority figure. You see what happens. Speak from that place and see what happens. 

Woman: I have been treating you like a person in my head instead of the person who is here. Wow. I haven't given you a chance to get to know me. 

Joe: Thank you for that. That really lets me know you are ready for leadership soon. 

Woman: [laughs hysterically] Ouch. 

Joe: How much of a relief, how much joy is there in that pain? 

Woman: I go to be like but you are going to misinterpret that. You are going to make it uh. 

Joe: How am I going to misinterpret it?

Woman: You are going to think [redacted] didn't hear me. Let me try to repeat myself. Or you are going to think she's not taking me seriously right now. 

Joe: Oh, if I am the position of the authority figure, if you go ouch, then I am going to attack in some way. I didn't mean that as an attack. I didn't mean to hurt you. Stay in that place, upright and defended love. What happens from that place?

Woman: And it did hurt. And it is absolutely fine that you don't see the way it hurt. It's okay. Oh yeah. It's okay. 

Brett: It was beautiful to see her come out of the session in her stance of empowerment. The stance of empowerment is one where you are open hearted but you are boundaried. It is one where you state your truth with courage and you are not worried about the consequences or another person's reaction. You are vulnerable because that's what's rewarding to you and not because of what someone else is going to do. To be empowered is to be in your truth while being open and loving. 

Let's send some gratitude to our guest for her vulnerability in sharing this session publicly. It landed very deeply in me, and I learned a lot about myself and how I relate to power dynamics. 

I am going to close with a few integration questions. Sit in wonder with these questions for a moment and just see what comes up. 

How is your relationship with authority influenced by your relationship with your parents?

What stands in the way of you loving somebody that you judge?

What are things that you judge about others that you also judge about yourself? 

Thanks for listening.