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Every time an event happens in our life—good, bad, or in between—our brain creates a story out of it. And since your brain is cunning and sly, it connects these made-up stories to other made-up stories in your mind.

While this isn’t necessarily a good or bad thing, most people believe these stories they tell themselves are reality itself.

The result? Your mind creates trauma, suffering, and misery out of thin air!

Not only are these stories false, but two stories almost never have the connective tissue between them that your brain thinks they do.

And by simply questioning these stories, you can free yourself from your suffering.

In this episode, you’ll discover how to question these stories and unlock peace as your default state.

Listen now.

Show Highlights Include

  • The insidious way our brain makes up stories about our life (and how these stories can either be beneficial or harmful) (3:01)
  • How thinking in terms of stories makes your blood pump, your heart hammer, and blurs the beauty of life (8:41)
  • Why believing everything your mind thinks can wreck your relationships, heighten your trauma, and make you miserable (11:06)
  • The “Dumb It Down” secret for eliminating 90% of your anxious, worried thoughts (14:16)
  • How simply looking into this fancy mirror can shatter all the mental projections you have about yourself (25:14)

If you want to radically change how much control you have over your emotions in as little as 20 days, you can go to https://thefreedomspecialist.com/feelbetternow and sign up for the Choose Your Own Emotion course.

If you or somebody you know is looking to drop the ‘F’ Bomb of freedom in your life and break free from addiction, depression, anxiety or anything that’s making you feel flat-out stuck, head over to https://thefreedomspecialist.com/ and book a call where we can look at your unique situation and give you the roadmap you’ve been missing.

If you’d like to buy a copy of my book, Is That Even Possible?: The Nuts and Bolts of Energy Healing for the Curious, Wary, and Totally Bewildered, you can find it on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/That-Even-Possible-Healing-Bewildered/dp/1512336041

Read Full Transcript

It is 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. We are going to do something a little bit different today. Lee has decided he's just going to toss something at me without any preparation on my end to see if I die in the process of trying to answer questions that he's had on his mind for a little bit. And so you and I get to sink or swim in this one, folks, let's see what happens. I don't think it's going to be all that difficult, but I do think it'll provide an opportunity for us to talk about something. I think a lot of the clients run into, you had given me a gift of a painting a while back. It was this tin can and I love it. And it's been quite the adventure, having this tin can in my office and looking at it, and I can see all the wrinkles of the painting, of the metal of this tin can, and I can make out features of your beard and what color shirt you're wearing. And it's just really cool. And there's an element of it that as I'm looking at it, I can almost imagine myself being in the can looking out it.

(01:43): And then in the moment is I can actually see what you're seeing because you've actually shown me what you're seeing in the painting of the picture. And it's cool, and I can make up all this story around it. And there's an element of it. Bob gave me this painting, and I can start to put all this meaning I'm sitting with him looking at this tin can and we're together and it's really cool. But I have found myself also thinking more to this story than was actually there. It wasn't as though when you were painting the picture, you were sitting there thinking one day, I'm going to meet this six 10 guy and I'm going to help him with this trauma and we're going to be friends. And this painting is going to be an expression of that friendship. The reality was is that you weren't thinking of me at all.

(02:50): You know, had an assignment. You were X, Y, Z, you were miserable in that space. Were happy in that space. But I didn't exist at all. And so I'm thinking about this because I think in the idea of writing articles and trying to explain to other people how we make up stories and how in this situation I can make up this story and I get to do that, right? I get to make up this story that make there be value that's not there, either good or bad, either good or bad. I get to do that. And you know, had sent me onto a book called Invitation to Freedom, I believe. And in it the author Muji says that no one has lived the future that they have imagined. And I'm sitting here thinking about this painting and how I am creating all these things around this, and what is the actual reality of what you have given me?

(03:49): It's just like, here's this thing that you did. You spent time on it and you thought that I would value it. So you gave it to me in that regard. And I have the opportunity to make up all these other things all around that and how much that particularly applies to so many people that we talk with and work with. And I was just thinking about that and thought, Mike, I bet you know, could really riff on this for a while. So I just thought that out to you as a starting point to start this conversation. Well, yeah, we could riff on all kinds of things about this. So if we look at the painting, so this is a painting I did in graduate school. I was suicidal at the time. I was struggling. I had just finished a series of self-portraits that were dark and dism. Have you seen them? Yeah, there are reflections on the bathroom mirror. Was it?

(04:42): There was a reflection in the bathroom mirror, but there was charcoal drawings where I was like, half of my face is missing and stuff. Do you remember those? Yeah. Yeah. Okay. So let's just say they're a little bit dark. And so I had just finished a series of those. I didn't know what I was doing. And the reality of fine art education is that there is more emphasis placed on being an artist, philosopher, artist prophet, than on actually developing the skills of your craft. And so even though, yes, I paint very, very well, and if you've seen my paintings, you could see that, right? There's not that many of 'em out there. I've only sold a handful of them a long time ago, but I paint very, very well. And I was interested in the beginning in painting because it was a way for me to, in a sense, just sit there and do nothing.

(05:25): I could just be with the world and draw this thing or paint this thing and it was like this glorious experience. And there was some kind of payoff when it matched what was there. But all that disappeared in graduate school because I was in the middle of an existential crisis. Every week the professors are coming in and they're like, why are you painting this? What are you thinking about? What kind of music are you listening to? Who are your influences? And I was like, I don't know. I don't supposed to have influences. I'm supposed to listen to kind. I didn't listen to any music. I had a knockdown drag out argument with my Chinese, my professor who's from China because he's like, I'm the boss. I am the one in charge. You'll do what I say because I'm the teacher, you are the student. And I was sitting there with a Chinese martial art halberd in my classroom because I was going to, it has reflective surfaces, I'll paint that.

(06:15): And he thought it was stupid what I was doing. But I had had a teacher kind of show me, look, here's how, here's a way to mix paint. And so in the middle of trying to figure this out, I looked around and there can a little dented kind of half dirty can of oil ground, which is one way to prepare the canvas for painting that was sitting there. And I just set it up on top of my easel and I looked at it and I just painted that can. And then I was like, oh, that one professor came in and she's like, oh, let's look at your colors a little bit differently. She's the only one that gave, I had three lessons in how to paint basically. And she did that. And so then I painted the second one, which is the one that you received.

(06:53): And it was basically an act of desperation. It was, here I am just trying to live up to whatever the heck I need to live up to in order to survive this graduate experience because supposedly that's what I need to do in order to get a career, to be teaching art which never happened and to move forward in life and to be able to support my family. And I was just trying to handle the pressures that I was living up to. And that's where that painting came from. And I kept it because I liked some of the features of it and I liked the quality of the painting and everything else. But the reality of the painting is it literally is a board with some white sort of semi acrylic jso painted over the top of it and then a whole bunch of different colored muds smeared onto it with the hairy end of a stick, basically a paintbrush.

(07:40): It has zero meaning at all. And only in my recognition of the way that those patterns of color stack up and my brain making sense of those as light, and then me being able to do it in a way that sort of tricks the mind into making it, oh, I know what that is. And that sort of aha moment of that's a can, that's what makes me have some kind of experience of it. I experienced it on an aesthetic level. Now if I hand that to somebody, then there's another element to it, which is it came as a gift. So now they have the aesthetics of it. Oh, I really like this painting now. It came as a gift from this person. And now their brain gets to layer on top of that everything that they do or do not know or think they know about that person.

(08:21): And then that becomes their experience of the painting to be able to go back down to just the basics of what the painting is often can feel to people like, well, you miss the richness of life. And so we want to hang on to the story. We want to hang on to a bigger story, a better story, a clearer story. Let's reframe the story. Let's make it even more all encompassing because that is where the richness of life is. That's where the juice of life is. Literally the juices of tears fly and sweat fly and saliva flies when you're arguing and talking about things like you get the blood pumping and all of these things going and the heart hammers a little bit faster when you start thinking in terms of these stories, that's the juice of life. And so most people are not interested in getting rid of their stories. And that's not a bad thing. It's just that the belief is that that is really what life is all about. And that if you lose those stories, you somehow lose the beauty of life because why would anybody want to go from having this glorious thing that reminds them of a beautiful relationship and all that stuff to back down to a board with some dirty bits of mud stuck to it in a way that have dried and we hung it on a wall.

(09:38): Yeah, it's like, but I get to do that. I get to do that, and I get to have the ramifications of making that choice to do that as well. The trouble or the problem for me, and I think for many of us is that we begin to see that as reality and don't ever question it. And in many ways we make ourselves miserable. There's one thing to have the story or have different versions of the story and get to enjoy that or be miserable in it, but to not recognize that I'm doing it is a whole different ballgame. And then I make myself the victim or the victor of that story.

(10:22): Yeah, I mean, I think in one on one level, one of the most fascinating things about this is what is it that makes a person give something the stamp of reality? The thing that I've had the hardest time kind of negotiating in conversations with people from time to time is not that I have anything against a person having a story about what's happening in the world. I don't actually have that. It's only when they start begin to impose that story as if it's reality and tell everybody else that they're stupid because their story is accurate and what they've made up in their head is accurate. And then they run around telling other people that. And there's some sense that I still get a little bit reactive to that. So I'm not free of the idea that everybody should see things my way.

(11:05): A cute story, guys, but this is where most relationships run into trouble. This is where people struggle with trauma, is we have a problem with we believe our mind because we think that the mind is the thing that should lead us in our life. And our entire society has built us and educated us this way where maybe in previous years, in previous societies, that wouldn't have been the case. Our society now has trained us to herald the mind over everything else. You look at the structure of who gets paid to do what, and it's the people who think work smarter, not harder. The people that are in jobs where they're thinking more and they're thinking more strategically and they're bigger, and you'll look on Facebook and you'll see all the memes that talk about the hardest thing you can do is sit down and actually think critically.

(11:50): And everybody talking about thinking, thinking, thinking. And there's nothing wrong with thinking, but because that has become how we lead our lives, we trust the brain's assessment of reality and we forget that there are other things going on, that our brain is not actually in touch with the outside world. It's our body that is, and all of the nine human senses. And if you haven't listened to that episode, go listen to it that we are dealing with and that we're working with. And those are the things that are gathering information and helping us to understand what's happening in the outside world. And then the body's reaction to those is what the brain has to deal with. So it's not in touch with what's out there, it's only in touch with how the body responding to what's out there. And then from there, it builds a reality. And if we could don't have the ability to question that reality, then as long as it's going well, , as long as it's a pretty painting, that's great. But I can tell you there's a number of paintings that I quit in the middle because it was not going well.

(12:48): I'm thinking about a situation to maybe help add some more color to this It it's a friend that my friend David, his brother lives with him and another friend. And it was one night that I had off and I, I'm like, I'm going to drive by his house because I was like, his brother's gone, his buddy's gone and his house is to himself and this would be a great time to hang out. And so I pull up and Hey man, what's going on tonight? He goes, I'm not really for sure. And I'm like, well, if you'd love to hang out, then we can do that. He goes, okay, I'll let you know. And I knew on some level that he wasn't going to let me know, but as I drove away and I waited at home and he never contacted me, I started to make up these stories.

(13:37): Well, he got all this free time, but he doesn't want to hang out with me and he just doesn't have the courage to tell me or whatever. And I started going down this road and I've learned to question this story. And so I'm sitting there thinking, okay, what's actually going on? In the conversation, he had mentioned something about cleaning, and I was like, okay, I know he likes to have a clean house. A lot of times when there's other people around, he can't have the clean house. And so maybe he actually just wants to take that time to clean his house and maybe he just wants to be alone because he never has his place to himself. One aspect of the story though is the admission that you don't actually know what's going on. We talked about being vague versus concrete and the reality of what do I actually know? Nothing. Right? And that's really incredible. Well, I don't actually know any of it, and we think we need to know, we predict everything's because of survival and social situations and stuff like that, but you'd be surprised how quickly your social relationships will adapt to you just being honest.

(14:44): And that's ultimately what happened the next day after I'd made myself miserable and then realized I didn't had no need to be miserable, that I actually didn't know anything, I was able to go back to him and say, it'd be helpful for me if you just told me what you want. You don't have to be afraid to tell me. And if you want time alone, just say, Hey, you know what? I'd really love some time alone as your friend, I was talking to him. If you can just trust that if you say what you want, that I will be okay with that. And it was helpful. It's helpful for him because that then he can have the freedom to tell me later on what he actually wants. And then I don't spin out in my head, which is my own fault to do that. So you and I had a situation l yesterday where I love martial arts movies as a kid.

(15:43): On Sunday afternoon, there was martial arts theater, and I just remember laughing my head off, there's this one movie attack of the or revenge of the Buddhist women or something like that. And so all these women were in some sort of monastery and they all wore blue, whatever their garments were, and they were all bald except for the main leader. She was bald except she had this pigtail that came out of the back of her head that had this amazing ability to stretch to 30 or 50 feet and shoot would people would attack and she'd whip her head around and that pigtail would wrap around and she'd snap it at people, and they're like, all these blades would come out and cut 'em all up. And it was just that kind of stuff. It was ridiculous. And I loved it and I laughed. And I had mentioned to you at one point that I'd love to watch a martial arts movie with you. And so we do. A lot of people do. You search for 45 minutes to try to find a movie that you actually want to watch, and then you just pick whatever's there because you're like, I got to pick something. And so you want to take it from there and tell your part of the story.

(16:48): If you or someone 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. I'm not quite sure what part you're referring to, but at this point I was in that boat. Okay, we're just going to pick something. We looked at one show the New Adventures of Monkey or whatever, and I was just done with for me right now, I'm not interested in filling my mind with what some screenwriter somewhere who has no emotional control over his own life. has put on the page as some truth telling whatever. And so I have this weird relationship with movies where I think one day I'll just not be interested in them anymore. But right now I still have this sort of fleeting, but maybe this one will be a good one. So we picked one and we were watching it, and you're talking about Jasmine coming downstairs. So Jasmine came down, she had gotten back with the kids in the middle of it, and so I was like, Hey, yeah, we're watching the show.

(18:07): There's a lot of violence in it. So we've made sure that the kids are the kids that were home, that they were doing something else at the time. And then she came in, and so I talked briefly. I asked her how her jaunt with the children to go get Christmas presents for the kids. This was, obviously you're hearing this in January or the end of January, but this was free Christmas and when we're recording this. And so she had gone and shopped with the kids and stuff. And so then the way that she left was like, well, enjoy your movie and stuff. There was some part of me that was just like, Ooh, ooh, what happened here in the past when this has happened? That's meant that she's somehow upset, but I want to do my thing. And in years past, I would've literally just sat there with this wrestle for the whole time.

(18:54): Why doesn't she let me just watch my own stuff? Why do I always have to give up the things that I want to do? I don't even know that I want to watch this movie, but I want to watch a movie. Dang it. And so I didn't hear anything from her for a bit, and I just had this feeling like, man, is she all right, show up inside me. So I voiced that to Lee in the middle of it, and we watched the rest of the show. I don't remember how much there was left. We were halfway through or something, and we watched the rest of the show. And then afterwards I went up looking for Jasmine and she was nowhere in the house. And so I was like, oh, that's not normal. She hadn't texted. She hadn't like, what is going on here? And I remembered we have a little exercise bike in the garage, in the third car garage. So I went and found her and she was having a good time chatting with her sister, riding on her bike, and I was like, oh, okay. Everything's fine. She's good. She just had talked. She looked at me, she's like, I was just feeling a little blah from eating too much or something, and I felt like I needed to get on a bike and do something. And so the story, the crisis was averted. There was no, here's something that we're going to pay for later because we didn't spend enough time with Jasmine because Lee was over and all the other stuff. But that did happen.

(20:00): Well, and I am sitting here after you mentioned was, I forget what you asked about Jasmine, but I don't know if there's a situation or not. And I'm sitting on my end telling my selfish story, oh, that's your fault. You're taking up too much of Bob's time. You've stayed too long. You need to leave. And in my head, I'm like, how do I make an exit so that I don't cause any anymore issues in the family? And the thing is, there was no issue. Everything was fine. And yet I was creating a story and you were avoiding a story of our own making that was really cute and juicy, and the brain jumps in there as well and makes all these connections to all these other places for me where I had felt like I'd done too much or stayed too much. And even in this moment, I'm like, man, there's so many of those stories that I probably need to challenge that have just gone unan unanswered and unchallenged for me personally. But in that moment, even I have learned enough at this point being around the freedom, the group and the people in you to say, okay, there's something going on here and I need to question what is actually happening.

(21:22): And I think, we'll, we'll probably do another episode just talking about the heart and the mind and their relationship. But what's fascinating about this is as we, what we're doing is we're trying to learn how to see. So when I was in art school, people always are like, I'm not very good at as an artist and I suck at drawing and everything else. And what they don't grasp is that there are two different skill sets that come together with regard to being able to work with art and being able to do artwork. One skillset is simple, physical coordination. Can you move a pencil from point A to point B or a paintbrush to point a, point B and all that other stuff, the other skillset set. So that's that first skillset pretty much anybody can do. I've seen videos of people painting with their toes , like because they don't have arms, and so they pick up paintbrush and they do all kinds of stuff with their feet.

(22:09): So when it comes to physical coordination, that's a skill that can be learned. The second skill is being able to actually see what's in front of you. And this is with regard to artwork that attempts to represent the world in a sort of verisimilitude or some kind of realistic manner. If we're talking about abstraction or something like that, then it's not the same thing. But there are other skillsets that are involved in that. But in the end, we're looking at from the work that I was doing learning to be able to see, and people go like, oh, I can't draw. What they're saying is, I can't see because anybody can figure out the skill. I've talked to hunters who suck at drawing anything that they don't hunt, but when it comes to what they're hunting, they'll tell you, Nope, that next too long. Or That looks more like an elk than a deer, or no, a mule deer looks like this where a white deal, deer looks like that.

(23:01): And they will have very specific details because they have looked long enough to be able to learn to see what's actually there. And so then their ability to represent that world in their mind and on paper, which is what's coming from their mind grows. Now, what's fascinating about this is if we did an experiment where we took you there in the car or listening for wherever you're listening and we gave you a $1 bill and we had you look at it, and I invite you to try this, right? Look at the $1 bill, just give yourself 10 seconds to look at it. You can even know what this project is. It's not a problem. You can know it and still it's still a challenge. 10 seconds to look at it or 20 seconds or 30 seconds. Look at one side of it and then put it away and then draw it, and you'll draw a rectangle probably depending on how much coordination you have.

(23:52): That could be a little bit of a wonky rectangle, but you'll probably draw a rectangle. Will you get all of the wrinkles in the paper? All the places where there's creases and stuff, will you get the exact placement of the figure in the center of it? Will you get where the watermark is? Depending on which country. If you're looking at a dollar bill, that's a us. But if you're looking at any other currency, will you get the particular color of it? Or if you're doing this in black and white and grays, will you catch the tone that's in involved in it? Will you get the individual crosshatched lines that determine the shape and volume of the face that's there? Will you get the number? Will you get the weird metallic seal that's put on it? Will you catch every detail of it? Chances are no.

(24:30): Most people, they draw like a weird looking head in the middle, and maybe sometimes they do a name. Sometimes they pick up the letter. When they do the dollar sign, they do like the dollar sign that they write on paper. They don't actually do the thing there, which means that in their mind, the way that their brain has made sense of the world is all of the symbols that they've made up. Those symbols have come from past experience and from past training, they didn't actually learn to see what's there, which is one reason why drawing something upside down, taking a picture and turning it upside down and drawing it tends to be more accurate than keeping it right side up and drawing it. Because when it's right side up, your brain is busy making all of the different connections around that. It naturally does. I just picked up a true mirror, which they're kind of pricey but I was told about it and I was fascinated by the idea.

(25:20): And it basically flips your head around so that you're seeing the right side as if it were on the right side. So it's not a direct reflection. And what happens is everybody else's face, when I look through that mirror and I see somebody else behind me, I see them just like I normally do. But when I look at my own face it, my own face looks distorted because I'm so used to mentally having all of these projections about who I am and what I'm about and what's twisted and what's not twisted onto my regular reflected image. And when I see it reflected back to me the way other people see it, there's a distortion because of the correction my mind has made for my particular face. And our minds are doing that for everybody everywhere all the time. And what's been fascinating is as time has gone on and I've just taken time every day to look in this mirror and really look and see what's there and line up the eyes and figure out how to get my head centered and all this stuff, the distortion has actually started to disappear because I have been paying attention and learning to actually see what's there and question what my mind has made.

(26:18): There are people that we showed it to when they looked at it, they didn't like looking at it. There are others who are like, oh, that's kind of cool. I kind of like that one better. And there's a lot of different reactions. People have burst into tears when they've seen it. People have gotten really happy when it's there. It's a very different experience to look at yourself in this mirror, and it's getting rid of all of the mental projections in some ways and allowing you to be more honest with what is actually there. And I had an art professor who did this with his class once he set up the figure, the model that everyone was drawing this person in a bathing suit. It wasn't a nude figure drawing class because we were at Brigham Young University and there were a lot of modesty stuff.

(26:57): So they were in a bikini or something in one room, and then everybody had to set up their easel in another room and they'd just put a mark on the floor. So they'd have to go in, stand on the mark on the floor, and look at the model and see it well, and then go to the other room and draw what was there, and talk about a frustrating enterprise, and yet how much it could teach you about being accurate with what you're picking up, instead of constantly interpreting it or saying, no, no, I get it. No, no, I got it. And we do that when with people's words too. They start talking about something. We go, no, no, I get you. And we don't actually. And if we slowed down and paused and really sat and listened to the words, the tone, the body language, everything, you'd be surprised what shows up. It's always been there that we haven't challenged our minds.

(27:42): I enjoyed looking at that mirror. I found myself looking at me, and I just like my eyes got brighter and I started the ends of my mouth started to curl up. I'm like, how you doing? But I did The same Thing, and I'm like, you're not as bad as you think you are. And while you were talking about that, I was reminded, I think it was Dove or some soap company that it ended up being a small documentary, long commercial or something like that. And they brought in these five or six mothers, and they had the mothers talk to, or women, they weren't necessarily mothers, but talked to artists and have them paint a self what would eventually be their self-portrait. And so the women would be like, I've got this big nose, and then it's like this thing here, and my hair isn't very full, and my eyes are deep set, and they're dark and they're portraying this image to this artist and having them draw that image and then left the room. And then they brought in the loved ones, the children, the spouses eye thinking about it because it was just this moment where the kids are like, she's so beautiful, and she's this, and I love her hair and her eyes. I just, I could just get caught in her eyes and the husband would come in and talk about it. And then they brought the woman back and had her look at the picture that she had spoken of. And then the portraits that her family and the ones that were close to her had drawn. And it was just this moment of, I'm not really actually seeing,

(29:26): Yeah, I used to actually have people in the beginning. One of the things I'd had people do was draw a portrait of themselves. Now, I didn't do it for very many people because everybody has this, I'm not very good at drawing and whatnot. But what I would see, whether they did it as a stick figure or anything else, you only have four strands of hair where I would see distortions. If a person would draw themselves really small on the page, then that's the way they viewed themselves in their surroundings. If they ran out of room for themselves on the page, then that somehow is some weird subconscious reflection about how they fit in the space. If their face was way bigger than their body, or their body was way bigger than their face, or they missed a finger on one side, all these weird unconscious perceptions are there.

(30:13): And I would in the beginning, kind of look at them and then start to go through these drawings and talk to 'em about things. And it was very, very revealing stories that they have about themselves that nobody else sees. That's the crazy part. They can see that the person has the story, but they don't see that story in that person most of the time. Now, they might have another story about that person depending on their past interaction. So that doesn't mean that I always see another person accurately. I'm just not influenced by how they see themselves. And since I've been around them way less time, I don't have a backlog of decades of experience to sit there and be loading on this person most of the time unless it's Jasmine. And I've done a lot to continually refresh what is there, what is in front of her.

(30:59): Even as frequently as recently as last week or the week before, I started literally seeing Jasmine's eyes differently than I've seen them ever in my entire interactions with her. And did the eyes change? Maybe, but that seems unwarranted and a little bit odd in terms of timing. It wasn't for my birthday that they changed. It was just some random day and toward the end of the year that this happened. And so I've started to actually visually see her differently as I've continued to question, what am I actually seeing there? Because I used to see in Jasmine, somebody who was displeased with me and who is looking for a reason to be hurt. And as that's dissipated, which I said that totally wrong, as that's dissipated , her features have changed. Not that they've actually changed in her, but my ability to see them has changed. And then how she has seen herself over the course of her life very frequently has been someone who is second fiddle, someone who's always like the second choice, a good backup dancer.

(32:06): And so she has frequently seen my actions as choosing someone other than her when all the actions indicate that, well, we've chosen each other for this long and nobody's actually trying to find a way out. We're trying to find a way in . And as the realization of that has dawned, then the actual visual experience of the other person has changed, and we see things differently in each other. And what you see in yourself, what I see in myself, if that gets to be challenged, you'll actually see yourself differently. We are the hardest on ourselves. Other people don't see the same thing. We are so difficult with ourselves. And if we could just see ourselves, maybe it's too hard to say, could we see ourselves the way God sees us? Or something like that, because that would take a lot of stretch of imagination. I don't know what that would be like, but if I could even just see myself the way that somebody else sees me, especially if it's like my wife or my kids or you, Lee or somebody else, what would that change in terms of all of the narrative that I've had in my head, that I've given the stamp of reality when really it's just an opinion about something that I don't necessarily even have all the facts on.

(33:19): I'm over here laughing because I can imagine you sitting across from Jasmine just looking at her and studying her, and she'd be like, what are you doing? I used to do . I used to do that. I used to spend in the beginning when I was trying to rebuild our relationship, I spent deliberately, consciously as a checkbox item on my daily list, like five minutes a day just staring at her. And she's like, what's going on? Well, I've learned a great deal going to the retreats and doing my own journey with the things that you've learned in our passing on to us. And I've had opportunities to sit with other men. I met this guy just real quickly. I met a guy in July 4th. He was a friend of the organization that I worked for, and he came to this thing, I'd never met him before. And we ended up talking and had a great conversation, and I was relating some of the things I've learned and some of my own journey. And then he came into my office the next day and started this conversation, which very quickly went deep. And he's talking, he's upset about something and questioning these things about himself and or not questioning them enough actually. And at one point he, he's like, well, my dad said this all the time, and one of the things I've learned from you is like, well, what makes you think that your dad was actually an appropriate judge of who you are or had any expertise at all to make that kind of a statement about you?

(34:51): And then he, he's just thinking about it, and he reacts kind of strong, and then he is resistant, and then he starts to cry. And just with some of the simple questions that I've learned, after 90 minutes of talking to him, he looked at me and said, I feel like I've had more healing in this last 90 minutes than four and a half years of counseling. And the reason I wanted to bring up the idea of the painting and all of that is like we need to question what we have as established stories. And it's, it's that just that simple. And if we see it again, people that come to the retreats and do the online coursework or work with the coaches, that just some very simple questions. Just taking a moment and challenging the stories that we tell ourselves is huge. And I'm grateful that I've had that experience and that you've taught me that. And I just wanted to make that one of the options that we talked about as far as the podcast goes.

(35:51): Yeah, I mean, in the end, I think if we're wrapping this up, I think the idea here behind all of it is you get to actually train yourself to see things better. And as you learn to see, then you get to be the artist of your life. You actually get to paint things more clearly or more blurry or however you get to choose how you want to do it. But you actually get, the better you are at seeing, the more you will be in touch with life and not in touch with the stories. And that frees you to create a spectacular life that people walk by and go, wow, I thought it was so real. Because it is in a sense, very real. You describe something to them, they're like, oh, it's like, you know me better than I know myself. No, no. I just have paid attention to my life well enough to know what it really feels like for me.

(36:35): And other people connect with that because they haven't looked at it themselves in a deep way. So for everything just this week kind of question your stories question, what else is there? What's actually there? Maybe what you are seeing is there, but is that the whole picture? Can you really say that it's the whole picture? Or have you gotten kind of myopically swallowed up by one or two tiny factoids that suddenly feel like the whole world? Because well, it'll always feel like that when your eye is only a millimeter from them. But if you back up, zoom out and do the macro switch, which we teach in the mayday moments course, if you don't have that yet, go check it out, . You'd be surprised. You'd be surprised what happens, all from questioning what your mind has made up about reality.

And that's it for today's Alive and Free podcast. If you enjoyed this show and want some more freedom Bombs landing in your earbuds, subscribe right now at wherever you get your podcast from. And while you're at it, give us a rating and a review. It'll help us keep delivering great stuff to you. Plus it's just nice to be nice.

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