It's time to rip the cover off. What really works to ditch addiction, depression, anger, anxiety, and all other kinds of human suffering. No, not sobriety. We're talking the F word here. Freedom. We'll share straight from the trenches what we've learned from leaving our own addictions behind and coaching hundreds of others to do the same. And since it's such a heavy topic, you might as well have a good time while we're at it.
(00:35): And welcome back to the Alive and Free Podcast. Today I have another guest with you. You'll notice over the last little bit I'm introducing you to some of the people that not only have had some profound experiences, but actually eventually came to help us out at retreats and other spaces inside of the company, the freedom specialist. And so today I got Jonathan with me. Hey Bob, it's gonna be here. And um, he's somebody that we're gonna talk through his story. His story is very, very unique and also not, it's unique in that his life wasn't falling apart on the outside. There wasn't anything necessarily wrong. His wife wasn't gonna leave him. He didn't have a bunch of kids going off the rails. He wasn't stuck inside of some addiction that he was spending a ton of money on or anything like that. And so he was somebody who was looking for a change in his experience of life without having the outside of his life really being anything that was negative. Would you say that's an accurate assessment?
(01:26): Yeah, very accurate. I always was feeling that things were going really well on the outside, but at the same time internally just wasn't feeling happy. So the simplified version was just, I felt amazing circumstantially, but there is still a need for change. And I didn't really understand how much I was craving out of life. And as a result, the conversation just continued. There was a little bit of a cycle in the midst of wanting to be happy and showing people that I was happy. I was feeling borderline miserable without fully realizing it. Did you feel like you were like putting on a facade for people or like felt like it was an obligation to be happy or anything like that?
(02:10): I think it was more just convincing myself that I was happier than I was because people leaned on me. People saw me as an easygoing kid. My wife was really reliant on my happiness to be happiness, just to both, for us to be happy. We both relied on each other to be happy. So I think it was more just out of a need for me to feel okay with myself. And then as a result, if I was creating a sod for anyone, it was for myself. Yeah. And so those of you listening, if you've ever done that, like you know, I'm fine. No, I'm good, I'm good, but you're not really good. But you don't even know how to be honest with yourself. Sometimes like this, this shows up and inside relationships, you know, Uh, I've mentioned this many times before, the notion that you need each other to be happy ends up being uh, a relationship of cripples, right? You're leaning on each other, but basically you only have two good legs between you.
(03:06): a hundred percent, yeah. Convinced that we could do this on our own, wasn't working out very well. Uh, I knew that I wanted support but I didn't know what that was gonna look like. And so there was just this need for something different. Not this huge change, not this huge healing process. I didn't need to go to a rehab center. It was all just nuanced. Like it just felt there was something missing. But I wasn't willing to really fully tap into that for the longest time, Um, until Sarah just mentioned this event that one of her friends was doing this guy, she knew Bob. And so I decided to check it out cuz I was looking for somebody to just talk to consistently and really didn't know what was gonna come outta the conversation when I called you. And for 10 minutes just needed to make sure that I wasn't gonna lose myself in your work. And it was a hilarious conversation cuz I asked one question, you answered it. And I was like, okay, let's do this. And it was that simple just because my subconscious or my gut instinct knew what it wanted all along. But I was so busy trying to create an escape path that wasn't gonna show up in the way that I thought it was through the facade I had created for myself. So as a result, when I just dumbed it down and went with my gut instinct, it led me to your event.
(04:26): So this is something we talked about a couple weeks ago, guys, if you remember, or maybe it was last week, where the notion of the problem that you're dealing with at the level of thinking you're at, when you see it as a problem, that's not the level of thinking that will get you past it because you're already treating it like a problem. So your planning was like at the level of thinking of this is a problem, therefore I see this as the escape. Is that what you're talking About? Yeah. I thought that I had to make it more difficult than it was to have like a 12 step program for myself then I didn't even know what 12 step was at the time. Just this anticipation that it was gonna be a long drawn out process and whether I was willing to go there or not was really the next question of sounds like a lot of work. And so I didn't necessarily want to go into that because I had spent so much of my life showing people that I was happy. And so it just didn't seem possible. And as a result when I just sat back relaxed, just opened myself up to the possibility of what it could be moving forward, it was a lot simpler. And as a result I actually got what I needed. Yeah.
(05:32): So let's talk specifically about what was going through your head or the things that you were struggling with on the inside since the outside wasn't really a problem. You could be the happy guy on the outside, you could hold it together, nothing was gonna fall apart if you didn't do anything, there wasn't a need necessarily on the outside for you to change. But on the inside, what were the struggles that you were dealing with? So two things. One was I had just recently lost my two younger brothers who were twins in a car accident. Just dealing with grieving, not knowing what that process would be. Nobody can anticipate death in the family. And it broke my family. Uh, it really turned our paradigm we had in place upside down. I remember my mom saying family's forever. And that was no longer true cuz they were gone. And so I didn't really know who I was outside of being the perfect son or a sibling that was easy to get along with. And all of a sudden that was turned upside down. And so I decided I was sick of not being able to show up for myself in relationships that I hadn't built in the past. And as a result, I went through a grieving process, quote unquote faster than most people. I really started to convince others that I had found perfect piece two weeks after they had died.
(06:47): And that was not true. I thought I had it together. And as a result was just finding that it was becoming a burden to prove that to myself, to other people. And was tired of being peaceful, happy and content in the midst of them being gone even though inwardly I was wrecked. And so that convincing, that facade just was starting to get exhausting at that point. And I was just starting to realize when I came across you that that was much less true than I thought it was. The facade was very, I was consistently keeping it going . And so, um, I definitely was struggling with grieving and not knowing how to truly move on or truly come to peace with the fact that they were gone. And What was the, what was the other thing?
(07:45): The other thing was dealing with pornography, which was very light for me. Um, it wasn't as predominant in our marriage. My wife would even say it never defined our relationship. We were always talking, we were always trying to figure out, okay, why does this pop up? Um, she knew fully well that I wasn't lying to her. I was always trying to figure this out, but there wasn't, uh, an area of support in the sense that I wasn't taking ownership of my own choices. I was just approaching it like it was something that happened to me or there's a defect in my own mind or my personality. And so really what I was struggling with was something that felt like a mental prison in that area. Just when I was out on the street, a sexual thought would come to mind and would cause me to spiral out because what that thought meant to me was it defined my very existence. I was a pervert. I was too sexual, I was sinful growing up in a church. And so all of those thoughts created just this downward spiral which felt like a prison day in, day out. And so the combination of those two were getting really exhausting in the midst of just really trying to keep it together in front other people.
(09:07): Yeah. So this is pretty common, not just with pornography, not just with and and the grieving thing as well, but like the notion that there's some thought you have or some some way that you've reacted that makes you unworthy or that somehow means something about you. So if you're listening and you're going like, Well, okay, I didn't deal with pornography so I don't struggle with that, but do you struggle with thoughts of feeling like, Oh, I messed up again or I'm stupid, or you know, you do little things in your life and then automatically the downward spiral will come. So this is a very, very similar train of thought that a lot of people struggle with and don't realize that it doesn't, it's not actually a fact of it doesn't have to continue, it's not actually a fact of life. No,
(09:48): Not at all. And it took me literally one day to realize that the root of it was this belief that I was emotionally stupid. And every time that came up, it came when hand in hand with beating myself up for being quote unquote a pervert. Being somebody that wasn't a good brother, wasn't a good friend. I'm too stupid academically to pursue a career where I can truly thrive and benefit other people. And so once I realized that I was my own worst enemy, my own thought and belief I had about who I was as a person, once I realized that was crippling me, it made things a lot simpler. It all of a sudden shed a lot of light of the ways that I was really defeating my own purpose in life.
(10:34): Yeah, a lot of people, I mean I think that's a really great remark cuz like a lot of people, they look at their situation and it feels like a complicated problem. It feels overly complicated. There's a lot of moving parts, a lot of moving pieces. But when you really figure out what's at the, where it's coming from and even beyond the thoughts, when you start to realize just the reactions and stuff that those thoughts are built on, it's really quite simple. It might take a little time to move through, sometimes less, sometimes more, but the simplicity of it is a good indication. Like, oh, okay, you will feel more free just recognizing what's at the bottom of it. Yeah. Um, so, so talk to me about then. So you came to the retreat and you dove in and did all the things like a man, man, right. Threw yourself at all the things that you felt like you needed to throw yourself into without really holding back, which some people do hold back cuz they're afraid of how they'll be seen or something like that. But you didn't, you came in and you're like, Look, I'm here for a reason, I'm gonna do this thing. Uh, kind of walk me through what shifted for you in those few days.
(11:33): Yeah, and to echo that, I definitely made the decision before he even showed up that I was gonna be there 100%, throw myself into everything. If I really hated something or it didn't feel aligned with who I was, I had made the conscious decision to just throw it in the trash. There was no concept of rules, which I think is different from what I grew up with. So I feel grateful that that's the way I approached it. And as a result of just diving in, everything was much simpler. I wasn't trying to figure out what's right or really trying to understand every sentence that was being said or taking too many notes. I was just there experiencing everything being fully present and as a result was just living, um, within that retreat that was trying to teach me how to fully live. So, um, I really felt that that presentness enabled me to just see my own thoughts, really start to be able to narrate to myself of why I started to take the burden on my own shoulders to benefit other people while they were grieving.
(12:43): Feeling like that was my responsibility for some reason. Like I needed to make up for all of my deficiencies by proving to myself and other people I could be there for them. And that included my wife and the other layer of just feeling like I had let her down in this marriage where we were both truly happy and she was always saying she was happy, but I was always beating myself up for it. And so between those two that no longer became just this constant loop in my head and instead I really started to just live and everything started to become really simple, I started to just feel some patterns of tension throughout my body. And as a result I started to experience this direct link between the thought patterns that I was consistently having before I had attended the retreat. Just the beliefs about being emotional, being stupid, being unworthy of my wife.
(13:42): I was always telling her that I didn't deserve her. So to just start to experience those things within those four days through an environment that I had never been in before, I had never done anything physical. I hated working out. So doing some martial arts stuff and quote unquote playing yeah, within that space was so refreshing that it enabled me to just open up the box and start to see whatever was underneath the surface. And as a result of experiencing all of those things, I was no longer trying to do anything the right way or in somebody else's way or based on an impression that I had of what other people needed. So I just started to feel present to myself and as a result I got to know myself, which I just felt clear, uncluttered, everything felt simple. There was no need to be academically proficient in the way that I explained myself. Literacy was always something that I felt deficient in. And as a result when I felt like everything was simple, again, I could truly just drop shit and feel great about it.
(14:54): Which is usually what happens after you take a dump. If you or someone you know is looking to drop the fbo of freedom in their life, whether that's from past trauma, depression, anxiety, addiction, or any other host of emotional and personal struggles, but they just don't know how or want some help doing it, head on over to the freedom specialist.com/feel better now and check out some of the things we've got in store for you or book a call so we can look at your unique situation and get you the help that you're looking for.
(15:29): So one of the things that we work on in the retreat space, and for those of you who haven't been a while back, I did a podcast episode on the 1, 2, 3, 4 timeline, I think I called it, or the loop or the three four loop or something. Um, so you might look back at those, but we, we really focus on helping people not just understand intellectually, but experience, like directly experience the link between all the mental and emotional stuff that they think is going on and what's actually happening in their body so that they have a concrete lever, not just to change the thoughts and emotion, but also to measure whether or not they're gone. Because a lot of people like freak out and they're like, Yeah, but is it gone well? Well what if it comes back? And all those worries about it, You know, when you have a concrete lever where you can like, well look, look, I can actually test and I can check and see if it's gone and which is what I built for myself. I was definitely nervous about like, I don't want it to come back. How am I gonna know if I'm free? How checking every moment. And so that's one big focus there and that was something that really helped for you. What did you, um, did that help you moving forward? Did you feel like that type of connection did something, um, did it open up other things for you as you move forward from the, Cause you came in what, two years ago? Yeah, August, 2020.
(16:45): Yeah. So, so what, what did that open up since then for you? I was just no longer living in my head, both in the four days that I was with the team at the event. But going forward, I wasn't pursuing this lens of trying to see if the story was still there. If my experience still mattered, if I still needed to hold onto this deep sense of grief or if I needed to identify as somebody that has sexual problems, instead of trying to prove this narrative or find out if it was still sticking after being present and fully living, I just decided to drop it and just take one day at a time. And as a result, what I really carried into my life moving forward was just starting to own who I was in the moment. Really enjoy living. If I wanted to be a shithead for the day, I could, If I wanted to be somebody who truly wanted to honor other people, I absolutely could.
(17:50): But ultimately everything was just a choice and I could enjoy those choices. Um, instead of feeling like I needed to be something I wasn't. And so with being present, I just started to feel in control of my own life and I started to just enjoy what I was doing, really lose myself in things, started to really dive into music and I had been a middle school choir teacher, but the way I had done music was academic and that just wasn't me. It wasn't simple enough. I loved working with kids and so the feeling of music was always something that I was much more interested in identifying with that. And so I really could just move within that and enjoy staying present within that. And that is just an example of every area in my life.
(18:51): Yeah, but let's talk about the music for a second because, so Jonathan comes and he helps out at the retreats in profound ways. He helps with some of the coaching and and whatnot. If you do schedule a call to chat with us, he would be one of the people you might talk to who's been around for a couple years and looked at a lot of the things that we've, we've we we've shared and taken him in his own way. Music is one thing that you, like, you already had a gift, you grew up, you know, music was your thing and the feeling of music was a thing, but it got turned academic. I was an artist. I went to, I got a master's degree in painting and drawing, right? I, and I went to school and art for me was a meditation. It was like a way that I could engage with the world.
(19:28): But then in the middle of my master's program it became this like, no, what are you thinking? Who are you looking at? What are your influences? And like every week was an existential like crisis because like, uh, I don't measure up the, the, our professors think I'm whatever. And so then I ended up throwing away a lot of, like, I, I couldn't even paint or draw or do anything for years and years because it was just voices of criticism in my head. But then, you know, that transformed that sensibility transformed into something else. I still don't do a lot of painting and drawing, but something, you know, maybe it'll show up later, but in your case like we have you come and there was a, there was one retreat where I was like, Hey Jonathan, will you play the piano here? Instead of just playing us just playing some background music while we're doing some of this breathing stuff. And uh, you dove in at that point in time and just had a playlist of songs that you kind of chose out based on what was going on in the group. Walk me through, walk the people through like what started to happen cuz there's been a transformation that started from that point until now where what goes on inside of that experience of the retreats is really profound for people.
(20:33): What shifted out of all of this was I always had those voices of criticism in my head. And so with just no longer caring about those, I no longer paid attention to the right song or the lyrics themselves or perfect tone coming out of my own voice. Instead it was the feeling or even the energy and I use that word loosely just cuz I don't know if what that totally means most of the time. And so what really was being utilized in that moment was just this compassion that I had within myself for other people and just seeing them really dig in. And what I got to experience with that was just being myself through my music. And that just echoed in the room both in sound but also feeling. And what I found was it felt like sound waves were bending towards other people and I could see that it was having an impact and even hearing that was having an impact through somebody's tears as they're processing what they had gone through as a kid or as a husband or as a son. And as a result I just realized there's so much more value to music than it just sounded good or professional. Um, and instead of caring about what other people want or need, I just get to be myself. So music became this really big piece of who I am and just a really big billboard in the way that I showed up within that, um, that kind of shows people who I am underneath.
(22:20): Yeah. So there was a point where, uh, a while back I was having a really rough go je and I were in that second place where we were looking at the possibility of divorce and whatnot and Jonathan happened to be around and so he sat down at the piano and he played and I just did what I knew how to do, which was like, just chase my martial arts, forget about it looking good and I just moved around the room at some dance, some play, some cry, some whatever to try and get this big feeling outta me so that I could move forward. And it was a really profound thing before then, to a certain extent you were trying to like figure out how what I was doing so that you could do that in your life cuz you found it was something big. So the deep tissue work that I learned how to do that came outta my background is something that's really been beneficial for a lot of people for yourself included.
(23:07): And um, so you were looking to that, but that was the night that I realized, oh my gosh, he has a different set of tools and that changed all kinds of stuff. And so since then you talk about sound wave spending, I've watched it happen where I could tell his focus is in a certain area or you're focused on a certain person in the room and then he's playing the piano and I'm watching that person respond just to his intention, right? And so there's this notion that there's a gift inside each and every one of us that all these stupid stories in our head that tell us we, we don't measure up, we should be like anyone else on the planet but us. We need to measure up to a perfect ideal. Those are the very stories that squelch the thing that we are. And so when you were released from those, what I mean there have been hundreds of people now that have benefited from from that and what's cool is on some level, yeah, it's nice to see that you're having an impact, but it has, I haven't seen you like depend on that for your, for your identity. Do you wanna talk about that?
(24:02): Yeah. I don't do my music for other people. I get to just be myself and the byproduct of being clear, feeling myself just feeling so good about how I show up to life, the byproduct is people benefit, people feel loved, people feel supported within a season where they're really struggling. And that is me. Also a big piece of who I am is always that person who wanted to be there for other people. Um, and so like you said, music became my sticks and I didn't need to force it. I didn't need to come up with this terminology behind what that means. It was just an experience that I felt within myself and went out on a limb, started to really play, sing and as a result got to see people feel that impact.
(25:00): Yeah. So, you know, as we wrap up today, like I think a big thing and then I wanted to hear some like final thoughts on this thought process. But a big thing that everything that I'm interested in is from where I started was the ability to finally be free, to be myself and uh, to not feel like I was in some way broken, defective, that I needed to be something other than what I was. And then that led me down the path of seeing pornography as a way to escape that or drugs or anger or trying to go and prove myself by being really good at, at academics or at martial arts or stuff like that, right? I wasn't free to be myself. And once that left for me, what came out of it was a company that has now helped over a thousand people do stuff.
(25:51): And it's not my identity. Like I don't run around being like, No, no, I'm important because of that. I just, I get to be myself. And then people show up and they're like, I don't know why I'm telling you this. Like I haven't told anybody this and it's just because that's who I am, like in some way, shape or form I'm interested in like watching people put down burdens and it's beautiful. And in your case you've been able to show up as the being that you are, the compassion that's there, but with your own set of skills and tools that you've developed over time, even if those skills and tools came out of running away from a story, you know, everything in your life builds to it. And so if you are listening to this and you're like, I don't have any big problems, but I just feel stuck, I feel like I can't be myself, um, what I would suggest is that you have no possible idea how much impact your life could have just by you being you, um, without you having to do anything else or need to be defined by something that you do.
(26:51): So if you're looking for, if you just feel stuck in your life and you're like, man, I just wanna mo like I just don't feel like there's permission for me to be me, that's seems like what you got out of this, which was not we didn't really fix grief, it just sort of went away pretty much. We didn't really fix a pornography thing or the worries, they just sort of went away. All that really happened was we woke up to the the growling beast inside, you know? And uh, and because Jonathan woke up, then this other thing started to happen and other people started to benefit just from that. Any last thoughts on that?
(27:30): Yeah, I love saying this to clients Every time I get the opportunity to speak with someone who's looking at what we do, and the beauty of where anybody is at is we don't need to fix you. You don't need to fix yourself. There's nothing to fix. You can shed any layer you wanna shed. It doesn't define you. And I got to be me through this process. I'm still me as I'm speaking to you now, but you don't need to fix anything about your situation, about who you are. We just need to look a little bit deeper. Who were you as a little kid when there was no concept of what you should be or what you need to be as a professional, as a parent, as a spouse, as somebody who's single in any control of their own destiny? It doesn't matter. We just want you to experience life. And so if you wanna fix yourself, amazing. But instead of fixing, how about living? And that's what I've really embodied for myself and benefited every day because life has just been sweeter each day after that. And so if you wanna truly start living picture that last memory that you had where you just lost yourself completely bli out completely in the zone without any concept of what has to happen moving forward, that's when you know you're living.
(28:55): Yeah. And if you want help accelerating that process, this is why we do these retreats, you know, cuz it can take a long time to try and figure out all the pieces and puzzle. It took me a long time to try and figure out all the pieces and parts of this, but these retreats that we run address the whole scenario. So we're talking mental and emotional and physiological and you know, all of the pieces of the puzzle. You're just, there's habits that have been created in your life. And so if you're interested in accelerating that, come like you schedule a call, we'll talk, we'll look at your situation. Don't feel like there's a problem with you. This is just an invitation to something, to a life where you get to be yourself more fully. And if you're not interested in doing that, then the last thing I want to tell you today is consider the possibility this week that there has never been anything wrong with you from the start. There's never been anything to fix, only social situations that might have gotten a little bit rough. And when you can live in the nothing to fix space, the situations are a lot easier to handle.
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