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, we might as well have a good time while we're at It.
(00:34): And welcome back to the Alive and Free Podcast Today. I want to, uh, I wanna, I'm gonna share something controversial, right? I, a couple days ago, or no, it was, it was a few weeks ago now. I put together a post on Facebook that I didn't expect to blow up so big, so fast. But with like 147 comments over the course of a day or two with people, very vehemently opposed to the very thing that I had put up there, sparked a kind of conversation that I think strikes at the root of where a lot of people learn to suffer. And I mean that very, very specifically, we learn to suffer. Suffering is not a human, it's not a fact of human life in the sense that it is part of the human nature or part of the human condition. There's no human alive that has the authority or the wherewithal to declare what the human condition is.
(01:25): Because everything a human can experience or has experienced throughout the course of time, over the entire globe, over all of the vast different arenas of human experience constitute part of what a human can experience. But just because you can experience something doesn't mean it's part of the human condition or a necessary fact of life. Now, I will admit that most humans on the planet, at least as far as I can tell, live in a fairly constant state of suffering. Now, I'm not in third world countries, uh, very often. I spent a couple years down in Brazil. And those people, were they happier than the people in America? I don't, I don't know that I could say sometimes they seem to enjoy things a little bit more, but they have their own struggles and their own worries and their own stuff. So does that happen in Rwanda?
(02:09): Does that happen in Aboriginal Australia? Does that happen in, uh, the backwoods of India somewhere? I don't know. And so I can't, I can't state that with any level of certainty that this is as prevalent as it seems. But we can say that on the internet, it does seem very, very prevalent that most humans are in a state of suffering a lot of the time, Not all the time. I think that that's also a misstatement. But a lot of the time, humans are in a state of suffering. And by suffering, I mean being pulled by their emotions one way or another, and pulled out of the glorious experience of that moment of life. So they're, they're pulled into imaginations about the future. And I don't mean like deliberately imagining the future, cuz that's an experience people can choose, but they're pulled into imaginations about the future of what might go wrong or what might happen, worries, anxieties and panics and all kinds of other stuff.
(03:00): Or trumping up extra hope that might not actually be there. And so diluting themselves about what it is that they should or shouldn't do based on beliefs that they have, or they're pulled into the past around things that did happen, and they're identifying themselves with their past and reinforcing that identity over and over by retelling their story or deriving lessons from it, and then sharing those lessons with the world, not unlike things that I've done, you know, and, and I'm doing right now. Obviously something happened a couple months ago and I'm telling you about it. So the notion of human suffering as a, as a fact that it is happening, that's great. But to say that it is part of the human condition, that it is how human life is designed is I think a massive overstep on anyone's part. But it's that very assumption and understanding that it's passed around as if it's a reality that keeps people stuck in it.
(03:51): Many people don't even entertain the possibility that that wouldn't be the case. They seem to herald the notion that I sh you know, if I'm not feeling sad, then I have missed out on human life. No, you've missed out on the experience of sadness. But that doesn't mean that human life needs sadness in order for it to function. In fact, if we're just taking biomedical parameters on their own, sadness is not itself very conducive to an optimal organism. Happiness, joy, gratitude, these are the things that make the human body operate at its peak. Sadness. Mm, not so much, but sadness can be a way to get rid of tensions and patterns and built up energy in the system. So it can be a useful tool, but that's only if you've got all that other stuff built up. So what was the controversial thing I shared a couple weeks ago?
(04:36): Well, I wrote a post about validation, right? And you'll notice that the title of this episode is you are not a parking ticket. You don't need to be validated. So this is what I validating your kids or friends trains them to seek validation, a shared experience or outside approval. They might like it, but they never need it. It robs them of the joy of simply being themselves. Now, I think the reason that this blew up so far and so fast was because I used the word kids in there. So all the productive parents on the planet just jumped into the fray and told me their kids need validation, but they're confusing what I'm writing here. Many of them thought that what I was saying is that kids don't need to experience people loving them or caring about them, which is not what I said. I'm talking about validating them.
(05:24): So I have a friend who, you know, takes people on, on, uh, on trips and journeys and helps. He's a coach and he helps them kind of dive into their own dreams and all these other things. And often we would get in, in conversation. And he's somebody who's studied community. He has a PhD in communications taught at several universities. And it's been a long time studying, you know, story arcs and the hero's journey and, and, uh, all different methods of communication. And so he's very, very well known. Like he outstrips me hands down. We would be in these conversations and he would have an idea. And so he would start in on it. And then he would say many times, and I don't know if this has changed since the last time I spoke with him, but, um, many times he would say, Oh, well hold on.
(06:06): I just really wanna validate what you said there because this, this, this, that, and the other. And every time he said that, my brain was sitting there like, Why are you validating? Like I, I'm interested in having a conversation, not in being validated. Now, in earlier times in my life, I might have really thrived on, yes, this person loves what I've said, therefore what I, who I am is something worthwhile. But at that point in time, I was just frustrated cuz it was in interrupting the flow of the conversation. Now, that's an innocuous version of it, but many people all over the planet and in most of the psychological and therapy education today is focusing not on challenging people's world's views, but on validating them, on offering them comfort and consolation and then helping them manage and cope with the kind of worldview that they have and the kind of feelings that they have.
(06:55): And so, validation in this sense, what I'm talking about is the act of validating. Now, I did do a podcast episode a while ago on catastrophic compliments. This sits in the same vein, but this validation is like, your kid comes to you and they did a drawing and they're like, Daddy, do you like my drawing? Do I lie to that child and say, Yeah, it's beautiful even if I don't like it, So that they get a smile on their face. And if so, what does that train them to do? They start to enjoy this amazing emotional hit that they get from the experience of showing somebody something, having them like it, and then having that person reflect back to them some level of excitement or care. If I don't genuinely like the drawing, then I'm lying to my child. Oh, but Bob, but these are little white lives.
(07:45): You mean they're, they're okay. Oh dude, I've tested little white lines in relationship and everything else. They always blow up somewhere down the line. Always. I've never seen one not blow up either because I'm frustrated about the fact that that white line was, And so then I have like, Oh my gosh, that in my head, or the kid later on feels like that's the case. Or it twists the relationship in a weird way. So you may have different experience with it or you may not not have gotten to the end of the rope on some of those little white lies. And then the day of reckoning will come, Who knows? I will just tell you this much. Every time I lie, I set myself and the other person up for a totally different kind of experience. Later down the road, if I don't like the drawing, I will just ask them, Well wow, you sound really excited about this drawing.
(08:32): Tell me which part are you really excited about? And they may tell me it, or I may say, Dude, I really like this mark over here, like this set of colors. Cuz you know, I'm an artist and I kind of geek out on way colors mixes and stuff. So I might find a piece. I'm like, I really like this piece over here. That's kind of cool. But most of, almost all of my effort is focused on reflecting back to them the opportunity for them to be excited about something they've done just because it's something that they did and they enjoyed it. And all of my efforts with all of my children and with all the people we work with is to get them to not need some outside approval or validation in order for them to feel like they're worth something on the planet or they belong.
(09:11): A great many people on the planet struggle because they feel like they don't belong. They feel like they don't fit in. They feel like they're not good enough and they don't meet expectations. And where did they learn that? None of them were born coming out of the womb from mom looking for some outside approval for their life. They weren't. Yes. Their near cortex wasn't developed. Yes, they're, they're conscious cognitive thinking process in terms of language and social groups and stuff had not yet been developed. It's true. And yet they were alive. So we cannot say that validation is somehow necessary or a necessary ingredient of human life and human existence. We can't call it a need. And that's where people tripped up. They thought I was saying, Don't care for people, which if they would look at my life, they would recognize just how much I'm throwing myself into the fray to help other people get out of the things that they're struggling with.
(10:06): Instead, they're taking it in this other way because they need validation. And a great many of them are responding in a way because this statement really rattles something in them that they're still clinging to. Like they need it to be true in some way. And that doesn't mean they're bad people, it's just, it rattled the cage a little bit and that freaked them out. So some of them came out really kind of like curious and wanting to know like what exactly I meant by it to see if it fit with their views or not. Some of them came out like really antagonistic. Some of them came out sarcastic. And one lady came out very, very much like frustrated and at first very sarcastic and telling me it was stupid, and this is opposite day and trying to dismiss what I had written. And then, which you don't, by the way, have to agree with me at all.
(10:49): Whatever is real is real just because, but I wanna lay out the case for why this pension for validation is really problematic. And because you're not a parking ticket, you don't need to be validated, right? You are valid by virtue of your existence. The fact that you're here is indicator is the biggest indicator you can have that you belong here, otherwise you wouldn't have fit and it would've been popped out. You are still alive, the planet is still supporting you with every breath, all the sunlight come into everything. There's no evidence that you don't exist or that you need any extra validation. It's just that we've been trained to look for validation through cultural means, through the way our parents interacted with us and with other people and what kind of validation they saw and mirrored through friends groups and religious instruction and movies and books and podcasts and all the things that we entertain ourselves.
(11:42): What entertains you, trains you. And we've trained ourselves to believe that validation is a necessity for human life. And as a result, we have a world nowadays where everybody is running around looking for some sort of outside approval. My kids, they post a video of themselves doing this incredible flip on Instagram. They come to me to show me the video on Instagram and are more excited about the number of likes and views that they got on it than the fact that they can do a freaking, like double twisting back flip off the ground. Just like that's the amount of training that happens. Social media is a big one. These people looking for validation. Well, where does that go down the line? That can't be harmful, Bob. I mean, it's just enjoying the fact that other people like what you do. Yeah, sure, you can say that.
(12:25): It's the dependence on it, that's the issue. Nothing wrong with enjoying it, it's the preference. That's okay. But it's the dependence on it. It's the issue and the confusion that is somehow necessary for a human to grow up as a well-adjusted adult. All of the quote unquote well-adjusted adults that I work with are not well-adjusted at all. And almost all of them are seeking some form of validation in their life. How did they learn to do that? They learn to do it by watching other people. Well, no, Bob, there's people that don't get validated and that's why they're so messed up older. How did they even know what validation was? I would ask somewhere along the line, they saw someone else get it or they received it in a certain way and then they started wanting it from other people and they just didn't get it from the people that they wanted to.
(13:05): And then they believed that they should have gotten it from them. And as a result they developed a certain long held and harbored resentment and feeling and, and frustration and, and negativity. And then that feeling is the thing that they're dealing with. It's not the need for validation that's messed them up. It's the feeling that they've created because they believed in the need for validation. That's what messed them up. So this, this person, um, they had a child die, right? And, and I've met them and they are absolutely, they're, they're kind, they're loving. They reach out, they try to help people, they're exploring things in their own right. They're not a bad person at all, but they, she had a child die. And because of the environment she grew up in and all of these other things, it felt to her like a huge failure in life.
(13:44): And she struggled with it for like five years. And her example was that she needed that kind of validation. If someone hadn't been willing to say, you know what, that is really cruddy and that's not okay and whatnot, then that was the, the impetus to help her not pull the trigger and end her own life and be suicidal, right? And so I deal with a lot of people who've dealt with suicidal ideation. I myself have dealt with suicidal ideation. And what got me out of it was not validation that it's okay to feel that way because it's not okay. The person knows it's not okay, which is why they're trying to get out of it. So telling somebody you're right agrees with the worldview that produced the feeling in the first place. It might feel comforting. And yet somewhere down the line will come the day of reckoning where they're going to have to confront it again. If you or someone you know is looking to drop the f bomb 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.
(14:59): And I have met many people who have been able to comfort themselves and assuage their deep innermost emotions and fears and, and sadnesses for a long time, decades even. And then they come and it's still there. They're still holding onto it because someone validated it because they were comforting it instead of dissolving it. And so I told this person, That's beautiful and I am not like, as much as you may tell me, don't tell me children don't need validation. It's because I care about people's freedom in the first place that I'm unwilling to back down on on this notion. I'm unwilling to validate the worldview that brought them to this place in the first place. And, uh, so this is what I wrote, right? And, and I'm gonna read it to you because it lays out a certain analogy that might be useful for you.
(15:49): The reason I have been able to help so many people get out of their lifelong depression and suicidal ideation, including my own way back when, is not because I validate them. It's because I helped them get past the ideas, beliefs, and thoughts and thought processes that created that feeling in them. It's those thoughts about self that create the felt need for validation. Validation being one of many pills they pop to calm their upset stomach of feeling alienated and unloved. Now I'll say some of the other pills that people pop are addiction. So not just looking for validation from others, but looking for feel good experiences like addiction and, and outside resources. And some of these are very, very healthy to do. You know, or they'll change diet or they'll move different places and travel and they're doing all kinds of things to help kind of alleviate some of the deep knowing underbelly of the feeling that they have.
(16:40): Okay? The trouble with that pill or any of them is that it keeps wearing off driving the person to keep seeking more and more outside evidence that they belong on the planet. So it might stave off the problem or ease the burden, but never resolve it. So I don't tell them it's okay to have those thoughts because those thoughts are the reason they feel the way they do in the first place. I also don't tell them it's not okay or to get over it or pray more or any of the things that clearly didn't work for this other person, right, Who had a lot of people reaching out and telling 'em they'll just have hope. And it's all, it all work out in the end. And all the platitudes that we offer people trying to comfort them, It's not comfort that they want, they want resolution.
(17:19): And the resolution isn't finally seeing clearly what's really going on, which is what I'm trying to do in these things is like help people jar them loose out of their delusions, for lack of a better term, about to disillusion them from the illusion that there's something wrong in one area, when really what's going on is something totally different. So I said, look, instead I help them identify where those thoughts and feelings reside in them and then give them experiences and tools to help them see just how much ability they have to, to put them down. That has little to do with validation in the sense that I speak of it here, which you may also be conflating with the general notion of love and care. I said it has everything to do with a person discovering that they already have everything they need to resolve, whatever their struggle may be.
(18:04): I'm definitely by their side as they do that, but they don't need my encouragement or words. They simply need to see what was always already there. Their own ability to choose freedom. Now, where did those thoughts about self come from? They came from expectation and culture, not birth. They are trained in over time from their parents' behaviors, the culture they live in, their society, friend groups, nationality, religion, movies, books, and so many other things, including a massive experience like having a child fall from a window and leave this world. All of those come together to create a worldview where that person feels as the lady. So potently described it shitty. Now, what I'll say here is, had this lady been born in the middle ages and been raising kids, then where the probability of a child living past the age of five was one in 10.
(18:54): One reason why the, the, uh, life expectancy is put at is put so low, the average life expectancy at the time is actually because of this infant mortality rate. More infants died by the age of five. So that if you did manage to survive, you actually lived into your sixties, seventies, eighties. Not much different than we have today. Maybe it was a little bit less long, you know, maybe, but there are people dying in these ages right now today too. So average life expectancy was about the same. It's just that the infant mortality rate made it seem like the average was less. So really, you know, if this person had been born at that time and raising kids and one of their kids had died, it wouldn't necessarily have had the same effect on her. But because she was raised nowadays where infant mortality rate isn't that low and where other things are going on and, and religion and culture and society and all the other things, then her particular view about it is different.
(19:49): And that's a result of training. That's not a result of, well, this is the way things should be so we move on. That doesn't mean I'm, I'm saying it's all right or not all right? For a child to die, by the way, uh, everybody in myself included, would do everything within their power to make sure that that didn't happen. But if it does happen and then I continue to carry that wound for the rest of my life, then who am I depriving of? Real happiness? Was that what the child would want one, assuming that they're still around somewhere? Is that what my other children would want? Is that what my husband or wife would want that I now carry with me? This sense of something that has gone wrong and then something that I've overcome and stuff. You may have your own arguments about that, but I'll suggest that that very carried suffering, that burden of suffering and the extra meaning and all the energy that it takes to maintain that is actually robbing you and the people around you of a more profound experience of this moment in life.
(20:47): Life. Cause you're busy thinking about other moments in life and what they might mean. So I continue that worldview is the source of the ongoing pain. The sense that it shouldn't have happened or that it was unfair or life should be different or would not, or would be if not for X, y, z. The sense that a person messed up or did something wrong is stupid, broken, ugly, unworthy, or any number of the other thought processes that I help people navigate on a daily basis. Validation has arisen as one of many attempts to assuage the pain of that sense of self and the world. I never said it wasn't useful or even preferred by many. It is the bread and butter of virtually all therapeutic education right now, but that still doesn't make it an existential need anymore than fast food is an existential need.
(21:32): Fast food definitely does some great things for people. It satisfies hunger, it creates feel good chemicals in the brain and body. It eliminates work needed to grow, harvest, or prepare meals. It makes experiences with the food itself and that people bond over and create lasting memories. It also enables others' experiences like long family road trips and first dates, assuming that person is as cheap as I may have been one time. , we could likely list a lot more enormous benefits that come from fast food. And yet, even though it does satisfy even a basic need like hunger, no one would call fast food a need or we might say a basic need like the energy to run your system of which food is one way to do it. Right. Uh, as I talked about in the notion of need episode a little bit ago, in like manner validation, might it also satisfy the hunger for some form of emotional nourishment?
(22:23): Yes. Might it give rise to some temporary feel good chemicals in brain and body enough in her case not to pull the trigger? Absolutely. Might it also bypass the work needed for a person to discover that they already belong here on the planet and don't require an outside opinion to verify that? Yep. In fact, a lot of validation today makes it so that people rely on that instead of discovering their value from the get-go on the inside. And one of the, and obviously this lady at one point in time was very snarky and was like, Well, good luck with raising your kids that way. We'll see how it shakes down in a few years as some kind of interesting sort of passive aggressive, uh, you know, jab that like, you know, you're wrong and you're messing up your kids. And the reality is like she's still kind of caught in this, uh, obviously this notion about validation shook something in her, rattled something loose.
(23:12): And uh, you know, maybe that's because she's on a similar track but doesn't realize it. Maybe that's because she's still clinging to this, this validation for herself and feels like if it's taken away that something's been robbed of her. That's essential. Who knows, right? Who knows exactly more might it provide deep bonding moments, this validation and clear memories of the significance of specific instances of validation in a purpose person's life. Definitely just because you had a powerful experiences with something doesn't make it a need. This is what I'm pointing out here. It's not a need. We're talking about what you actually need to survive. Cause if you make something into a need, you automatically amp up how much energy you will spend clinging to it, searching for it, fearing it's going away, all the stuff. But what if it's not a need? You don't even have to bother with it unless you're just intrigued by it and like it as an experience.
(24:00): But even that is not so clinging, right? Might validation also helped lay the ground for other experiences? Certainly we've seen this in all kinds of relationships. And by other experiences, I don't mean that they're all necessarily the most positive experiences on the planet, but validation will lay the ground for that. So yet like fast food that doesn't make it a fundamental need of human life. Simply an attempt to fill the basic desire to feel love ultimately, however, that can only ever come from within. So like fast food validation has its consequences. It can train a person to really, to, to rely on external approval so much that if not present, they want to take their own life. I was one of them for sure. Because of that, I cannot in good conscious affirm that validation is a human need at best. It's a useful tool.
(24:47): At worst, it perpetuates long term suffering. This goes both for the giving or withholding a validation. I advocate neither path rather I advocate helping a person discover that they never needed validation in the first place. I say that with the utmost respect for every single person's surveillance. It's because I aim for their freedom that I take such a bold stand. Now, um, just to give you another opinion on this or another view on this, there was a, there's a therapist who, who I interact with quite frequently on Facebook. And, uh, you know, somebody else, obviously this was in one of the many sub threads, uh, around this. And he, he gave, he said, you know, leave psychology to the psychologists, right? And that's, a lot of people say that when, when they just, they're using some sort of ethos appeal to authority as a way to, to kind of trump another person.
(25:38): But their appeal to authority means that they're also just expecting somebody else to think for them. And so with him, I really pointed out, dude, I, this isn't about authority, this isn't about psychology. This is about you learning to look with your own eyeballs and see what's actually there. This is about perception, awareness because when you enhance perception, then what you can do in the world increases, but also your ability to get rid of things that aren't actually problems. Those dissolve all that other stuff. So this therapist was like, look, um, because the guy was like, Look, my therapist says validation needed. And this therapist said, Look, I can give you several psychologists that would completely agree with your therapist. The title of therapist doesn't equate to undisputed proof. It's simply a practice, meaning they find what they believe works best from the entire field of psychology.
(26:23): Unfortunately, many, many therapists simply regurgitate what they were told because it seems to make sense. One, that's a platonic mistake from Plato. He did that too. And massive confirmation bias. And two, the modalities have had some effect on people. All modalities have effect on people. Even the ones that suck really, really badly, they still have affected some people or they wouldn't have lasted longer than the first attempt. Validation seeking reeks havoc on a huge number of relationships. It isn't inherently bad in its own right, but seeking it from others is what keeps us stuck, right? So we're wrapping up this conversation around validation. I really want you to look at this. What is a human need? We, we come down to the basics of it. Life itself is not needed. There's no requirement anywhere. There's no law in the universe that life must exist. It is existing.
(27:10): Happiness is not needed. None of these things are needed. They are opportunities. They are options. You don't have to be alive. You get to be alive. You don't have to have a validation. You can go seeking for it. You all of these things are options and possibilities. And it's this, the second that we step out into the void and make a claim that is pure belief, it's pure fantasy. It's purely a human that has looked at life and decided they understand it all. And, and I fall into this trap and then I, you know, run into a wall or something and then have to be reminded that I don't know everything, right? But it's, we step out in the void, we assume we know it all and then we say, no, this is human need. It is not a human need. What if you could live your life without needing validation?
(27:55): What if you could live your life without ever once having to go chase somebody down or being wounded, or have your feelings hurt because somebody disagreed or they didn't show up when you wanted them to, or they said the wrong thing, or, you know, they didn't come and give you a hug if you'd wanted it or any number of other things. Or you didn't get the award or you didn't get the job. What, what if there was no emotional need to suffer in that place? What if all the energy that you've currently been using into emotion could be spent enhancing your experience of life itself? That's what I'm pointing to. And that's what others have pointed to over the course of human history. And it's only our delusion that it's a need that keeps us stuck. One of the things we do at our retreats is help people get a very real time direct experience of how much their own dependence on others for their emotion is prevalent in their life.
(28:48): We do a lot of partner drills, kind of martial arts and play-based, uh, movement stuff. We use sticks, we use knives, we use, uh, you know, like just pushups and sit ups and all kinds of other stuff. Just whatever we can do to kind of make people like, get involved and get playing and all this other stuff, right? And in the middle of that, they, they realize really quickly that when they are emotionally distressed, when they're seeking to be like, Oh no, I need other people to be okay, they're, they're uncomfortable, then they start wanting to force other people to do things so that they can feel comfortable again, because they're not regulating their own emotional internal state. They're validation in the form of someone saying words to them, someone giving them a hug, someone taking it easy on them, someone giving 'em a compliment that may not have been warranted.
(29:31): All of those things. Validation itself is actually a in the way, right? And they're seeking of it as a way to manipulate other people into making them comfortable because they haven't yet figured out how to manage that on the inside. And then we help retrain that in real time so that they get the experience of seeing, oh my gosh, I actually can shift my feeling and I'm not stuck here feeling this way. And it wasn't them that shifted it, it was me. So it's from this deep experience helping over a thousand people in various ways. Get rid of the stuff that leads to suicide and depression that I'm telling you. And I'm, that doesn't mean I've seen everything on the planet, but I'm telling you from everything I've seen, validation itself, the need to validate, the need to give validation, all of that is a waste of energy.
(30:16): And it ends up training people to seek external validation. And if that went away, imagine how many wars would end because people didn't need a bigger country or to own the biggest resources. Imagine, imagine how many domestic violence conflicts would disappear because people aren't looking for validation in one way or another. Be and ma managing or making other people live up to their expectations. Imagine how many children wouldn't grow up feeling like they weren't good enough because well, their parents always validated 'em. And when they didn't, oh, it didn't happen, or, you know, other people didn't validate it. Just imagine how many things on the world would shift and change if suddenly everyone on the planet realized, You know what, I'm okay just as I am. I don't need to be any different than I am. It might make circumstances better, but in terms of my worth as a being, I can only ever be this and this is perfect. Just imagine how that could change every facet of your life.
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