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Dec. 22, 2020

#21 Michael Gallagher -Waking up, Leaving a cult, and finding spirituality

This week I want to introduce Michael Gallagher. Michael just released his new book Waking up- A guide for transformation. He was inspired by his time growing up in a cult, struggling with addiction, and overcoming his struggles. I really enjoyed getting to know Michael in this episode and I hope you do too.

You can purchase his book https://www.amazon.com/dp/0578760142

and learn more about him www.michaelgallagherspeaks.com

Support the show (http://patreon.com/candicehorbacz)


0 (0s): <inaudible> 1 (4s): Hello, everybody that you're listening to Chatting with Candice I'm your host Candice Horbacz. Before we get started on this week's episode, if you want to support the podcast, you can go to Chatting with Candice dot com. From there, you can sign up for our patron account, or you can click that little link that says, buy me coffee. Both things help me to continue podcasting increase the quality of the podcast, and eventually start getting some guests in this week. I'm really excited to have Michael Gallagher joining the podcast. Michael Gallagher is a speaker that's nationally recognized for his expertise. When it comes to studying the subject of transformation, he's a bit of a philosopher, a great storyteller, and his new book is called Waking up. 1 (48s): A guide for transformation, please help me welcome. Michael Gallagher 0 (52s): <inaudible> 1 (59s): Well, thank you for joining me this morning, Michael. I really appreciate you giving me some of your time. 2 (1m 4s): Okay. Thank you very much for having me I'm looking forward to it. 1 (1m 6s): Yeah. When you reached out to me, it was pretty serendipitous. Cause I was just watching a documentary on Colts and I was like, this is so fascinating to me. I guess, a how people get sucked in to them and then even more so how someone who's raised and then can wake up and be like, I need to leave. So when you reached out and you were like, Oh, I was a part of a car that was like, Oh my gosh, I have to, I have to talk to you. I have to hear your story first. I think it's important to, I guess, define what a cult is. I tried doing that online because a lot of people are now saying Catholicism is a Colt. Christianity can be a color. And when you start looking at the definition, at least online, like that's true. 1 (1m 50s): So how do you define what a cult? 2 (1m 52s): Sure. That's a great question because you know, I guess at the very root of it, you could define almost any religion that way. However, what I think of as a cult in what, and most of the time when we get into with a definition of it is, is there's about eight criteria and I'll just list a few of them. Robert J Lifton's a criteria and thought control. He was a researcher that came out with this shortly after I believe it was the Korean conflict may have been Vietnam. You'll have to excuse me for my ignorance there. But he came out, it had to do with POW's in a Chinese pow camp. Okay. And how their mindset had shifted by being in there. And they really started to believe what they're being taught. 2 (2m 33s): A few of the things that really religiously come up are generally, it's a group that will follow a central leader or a group that is in the central leadership position, as well as a there's very little room for conflicting belief systems within the group. A lot of cultural pressure is put on the people that are a part of it. So even if the actual dogma, it doesn't teach, like in my own circumstance, it doesn't the actual dog in that may not teach certain things. Like I can't go vote. The culture of the group was such that by giving little hints at that, you just wouldn't do it because of the pressure, the social pressure of it. 2 (3m 18s): And then oftentimes they will practice some form of shunning. If you're not towing the line, if you're not following the steps that they tell you to, that includes within families. 1 (3m 29s): Okay. So you would say like maybe like the social pressure kind of distinguishes like a Colt from a room, a religion would be one of the aspects. 2 (3m 40s): Yeah. I think that it has to do with the way it's used the social pressure. And then we also have social pressure write to live up to the norms. I know I can't walk down the street screaming at people that's right. But its more into like just your own personal autonomy. The pressure, you know, really is a part of that making decisions that should make no difference to other people. Personal decisions are a lot of times taken away. 1 (4m 11s): I was trying to watch a lot of videos of differing opinions on whether or not like religions were a call to her, whether they were, and for me, I think there's more evidence that most of them are than any of them that aren't with that being said. Would you say that there was like a possibility of having like a good Colts, like a Colt that is positive? Or do you think that they all kind of fall in the same pattern of eventually taking advantage of the fall? 2 (4m 36s): That's an interesting question. I think that by my definition of a cult, I don't think that there's a positive to it. But as far as religions go, I believe one of the big differentiators of some religions versus others is there's an allowance for Leaving or changing your beliefs. And when that's taken away, when you're told you can't believe anything else or you're going to die at Armageddon. In my case was the, what was told to us other things when that personal decision-making is taken away, that's really where it crosses the line to be damaging. 1 (5m 12s): I totally agree. I think that's a really good way to put it. You kind of nailed it. I think without having the agency to a question or to leave or to say like, this is the only way. And then if you don't that there is going to be some consequences of sorts, whether it's like eternal damnation or shunning and being ostracized. Yeah. I think that's a, that's a brilliant definition. 2 (5m 33s): Yeah. And I think there's a difference. I'm not to go too far down that road, but I think there's a difference between fundamentalism where it certainly a damaging thing fundamentalism in any religion is not a good thing and a cult because even within fundamentalism, there is some capacity for personal choice where within a cult environment that's taken away through brainwashing mind, 1 (5m 58s): I guess, to start clarifying for the audience you were raised in the Jehovah's witness, religion where you born into it or did your parents go into a, like a younger age? 2 (6m 9s): Yeah. So I wasn't actually born into it, but all of my life that I can remember, I was a part of it. It's my understanding. My mom began a free home Bible study. I put that in air quotes for a, with a neighbor, but when I was about nine months old. Okay. So brilliant young. Yeah. So it was all I ever knew, you know, the social structure there, the things that about that was all I ever knew. It was a person, 1 (6m 34s): I guess to me, a really interesting thing is when you are surrounded by certain ideals, especially from such a young age and you are brought up in this world of these are the truths, how do you start to recognize or even start questioning the things around you, the adults around you and say something's not adding up. 2 (6m 55s): Yeah. So one direct response to that as a lot of people don't and that's the sad, that's the most sad part of it for me personally, what it was is there in that particular organization, there's a standard of following rules that make no sense. It's, it's completely against, you know, your autonomy as a human. That just the pressure of it pushed me to the point that I had addiction issues, alcohol issues, mental health issues from it. And so from that point I left believing still a lot of what they taught, but then time away from the constant pressure 'cause we would go to a three times a week, we attended the meetings that were about two hours long, where you continuously get the propaganda every single night. 2 (7m 43s): You know, we had Bible study or, you know, really what that was, was study or, you know, reading out of the watchtowers publications and their books, things like that. It wasn't much out of the Bible. And then, you know, a family study every week and then three or four times a week, we were out knocking on people's doors. So I was completely immersed in it as a child. So really to move away from that and to be able to question the emersion in the, where you have that constant pressure on your brain has to be removed somehow. However, that is for me, I was eventually I was shunned and disfellowshipped in my family to stop talking to me. It's one thing that is terrible to go through, but I have a lot of gratitude for it today because it gave me an opportunity in my brain and opportunity to just relax for a few minutes, you know, or a few months, a few years and really start questioning things. 1 (8m 36s): So how old were you when you started? I don't want to say like act up or act out, but when did, when did you start, I guess, questioning the influential adults around you. 2 (8m 48s): I think that's two different things and it's, it's, it's interesting when you talk about mind control, because any teenager we did, you know, and we did things that we weren't supposed to and we lived kind of a double life. We live in a very dishonest life. A lot of us were, you know, you would do things you weren't supposed to, but really, truly it wasn't because you were questioning because I truly had the belief system that it was absolute truth, not being able to live up to those things. You know, things like drinking and smoking pot when you're a teenager, things like that, not the ideal, but things today, like if I found out one of my children was doing that, I would be horrified. I wouldn't automatically assume they're going to die at Armageddon tomorrow. 2 (9m 31s): And that we wouldn't be on that level of, you know, how you have to take care of it. So from that perspective, early in my actions were not in line with it, but really into my twenties, really my mid twenties, I still believed it. Okay. And finally the pressure became such that I started drinking too much. That's what a lot, a lot of the information in my book, because it's about, this is about how that lead to addiction and alcoholism. But I guess that answers your question, I think does it? 1 (10m 1s): Yeah, we had, we had a friend growing up that was part of like the Jehovah's witness and we didn't really know a lot about it like that. We knew like, no, you can't celebrate birthdays. We'd never really understood that won. And then he would kind of explain like some other rules. But I mean, aside from that, you would never know that he was like, he very much like partied and smoked weed and definitely wasn't behaving and like the way that you would expect like a religious person to believe. But I was also told that you don't like really, I guess, share as well. And maybe that's different for the Jehovah's because you do actually share a lot of the religion. Right? Like you're trying to constantly be acquiring new members. Like that's part of a fundamental part. 2 (10m 43s): Yeah. The U S proselytizing. Absolutely. As you know, but as a teenager, you don't, I mean, it's like any teenager in high school or in college, if you don't want to be in the spotlight, especially for that. So you're not going to be talking to your friends about it a lot. 1 (10m 57s): Yeah. That makes sense. Did you see like a commonality between a lot of people that were joining? Cause it's one thing when you don't have a choice right. When you're, you're raised in it, but it's another thing if you're one of the people that answers the door and you get someone to kind of convert You if you will. 2 (11m 15s): Yeah. Too, to go into it, eyes wide open. One thing that I think all Hi mind control groups have in common is the people that come to it as adults and make that decision a lot of times have emotional and mental illnesses to the point that they're looking for answers that are just easy to answer it. A problem right here on a platter, we are going to give it to you and you don't have to make these decisions and be responsible for them anymore. And so I think that that is the most common trait that I've seen, especially in retrospect, looking back at it, looking at the people that did come into the organization, I think a very common thing. 1 (11m 55s): Yeah. That's what I, I would kind of imagine as well, especially like if the documentaries that I've seen it's it tends to be someone that wants like a quick fix to a sense of belonging that they're looking for. And I always say like, if you're looking for a fulfillment and like external factors, it's always going to be temporary and superficial and you're not actually doing like the deep work that you have to have that internally and be okay with being alone and be happy and fulfilled internally. So I think a lot of it, it's just lonely people that just want to be loved and accepted and a have like a family of sorts. And then, then you get sucked in and before you know, it you're in this crazy place and it's very hard to know, 2 (12m 36s): Right. That definitely describes my mom who was a wonderful human being in so many ways. She taught us a very strong work, work ethic. She was loving. We didn't have to worry about, you know, going home to beatings, you know, the things that you and I probably think of as well. That's just kind of the foundation, the very basics of being a good parent, but there were other families that I grew up around that didn't have that, but her history, what led her to that was one where, you know, she, she grew up post-World war II where we think of that Ozzie and Harriet kind of ideal or the family that was not her reality while my grandfather was away in the Navy during world war II, her mother, my biological grandmother, I assume she had some mental illness abandoned her for children at one point. 2 (13m 24s): So gone, I guess, social services came in or whatever they called it at that point. At some point when they had been home alone in the house, one, her youngest brother was in a highchair for three days, straight to a County home. Eventually my grandfather came home, got them back. So there was a lot of chaos right. In that early impression of abandonment and, you know, thinking back on it, I think that probably had a lot to do with my mom, really grabbing a hold of a group of people that no in the beginning do a lot of love bombing. We will. Absolutely. 1 (14m 3s): Wow. Yeah. That's horrible. Yeah. You can't deny that that wouldn't affect the rest of your life, especially if you don't deal with it. Head-on for sure. For sure. 2 (14m 13s): It's kind of funny I and maybe it's not funny to other people, but her mother went on to marry and a divorce and remarry, I think five or six times. So she ended up with a total of, she was one of 18 siblings, how that kind of, you know, back and forth, just chaos, you know, looking for any kind of stability and then, you know, being socioeconomically very low, low rung on the ladder that probably had something to do with it as well. 1 (14m 45s): Okay. So how would you say that being a, I guess your experiences led to you having a drinking problem? Like what were like those pressures that kinda built up? 2 (14m 57s): Yeah. So I think probably to explain that I have to explain a little bit about the belief system and when to go down this road, that sounds so crazy to some people I have to describe it this way. If I taught my five-year-old that the color yellow was green, and I told her that over and over and over again, and I told her anyone that didn't tell her that was lying to her and wishes her harm. At some point she would start to believe it. So that that's kind of the way, the way you have to hear that this belief system, in order to understand how a young adult can accept it. So we were taught that any day Armageddon was coming, that all the world governments were a part of Satan's system of things. 2 (15m 42s): He controls all the world governments. And when Armageddon does come, which is any minute, any day, if you weren't one of Jehovah's witnesses, you were going to die, no layer on top of that, the very real belief in wicked or evil spirits that if you're not doing what you should be doing, God would allow to attack you physically, mentally. It was terrifying in those were very real held beliefs that coupled with some other things I talk about in the book, because my father was not a witness, he was a criminal, he was an addict. So I had a lot of PTSD, like symptoms going into early adulthood where I wake up in the night, nightmares, screaming, believing I was being attacked by wicked spirits today. 2 (16m 30s): That sound, although it's very real to me. I know hearing it. It sounds absolutely crazy. I didn't think that 1 (16m 35s): Sounds crazy. I don't think that sounds crazy at all. 2 (16m 37s): Okay. So what I found was a glass of bourbon, two glasses of bourbon. I was able to sleep through the night. Oh, that was, that was the very beginning of an alcohol problem for me because it brought some peace of mind. You know, my mind, my mind could slow down enough to relax. 1 (16m 55s): Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. It's just like searching for something to kind of numb the overwhelming stimulus that you're just having. I always say, that's why it's so important. What you expose your kids too. Even like little things that you might say out of, I guess, habit or reaction, because they're in just such a download phase for like, you know, the first seven years of their life that it's like anything you say, they just take as fact, especially if you're an influential person and like their, their close circle. So if you constantly tell a little boys that every girl is, you look at, what's a good example. Like I would say the me too movement, right? So if you say like, every man is bad, right? 1 (17m 38s): And you tell a little girl, every man is bad. Every man wants to do harm. Every man doesn't want you to succeed. You'll never do as well as the man, yada yada, yada, you going to instill these belief systems into that little girl. So it's a very, very crucial. And I think it's really hard when you have people that are in a religion because you are often told, you know, the internal damnation bar, which is a very convincing where a lot of people, cause it's terrifying. We were raised Catholic. And I remember like run like the Y2K thing. Everyone thought the world is going to end. My aunt was in a super deep and she told us we're going to die. So you better make sure that you do your confessions and the rise you're going to burn in hell forever. I remember when everyone else was celebrating the ball dropping, I was hiding in the closet like hysterical because I thought I was gonna die. 1 (18m 24s): Cause I don't think I went to confession. I want to say I was like nine, nine or 10. And then my mom is like in the closet trying to tell me I'm fine, nothing's going to happen. And like I had all these other adults write like the priest and all of that telling me one thing. And my mom telling me another and I believe Deborah, what else besides my mom, you just don't know, you didn't go to church and I'm going to burn forever. And that whole, you know, looking back, it's ridiculous, but it's a very real, real, real beer to instill into somebody, you know? 2 (18m 55s): Well, you know, like co-opting trusts. I like that. And then using in that situation is terrible. And that's probably just because someone really believed it themselves. Right. And I think that's true. The witnesses as well. I think it's super important. I'm a father. I have four daughters. I think it's super important. Not only, you know, what we teach them by example and by, you know, how we speak to them, but also what we expose them to. Absolutely. I have kind of a funny story about that. My 16 year old daughter, who, whenever I tell this story, I have to start at this way. She's today she's five foot, 10 tall, beautiful girl, long blonde hair, a beautiful green eyes, very accomplished athlete. 2 (19m 37s): And I tell you that because now the beginning of the story is when she was a little didn't. She was a funny looking kid. She didn't grow and her hair didn't grow for like 18 months. And she had this innate ability to pick up on language. So she started speaking to us at about 13 months old, in full sentences. And she can speak to you like you were speaking to an adult, just bizarre, but she had no hair. And she always had this little pacifier. She carried around. So one night I'm laying on the couch with her and we're watching she's asleep. I'm at my shoulder. She was about 18 months old. And we're watching a movie probably you shouldn't have been watching or the kid even in the room. Right. And her pacifier fell out and she startled awake, hopped up, grab you by the color. 2 (20m 24s): And she looked at me in the eye, said, Hey, where's my, and Passy. And even when we don't think some of that stuff is getting in, it definitely is 1 (20m 36s): Sure. I'm actually looking forward to the first curse word because I think it's going to be hilarious. 2 (20m 42s): Yeah. I don't know if our way of dealing with that has been the best, but we have just taught them that until you're old enough to understand the social significance of what you're saying. You shouldn't use that language. 1 (20m 52s): Okay. Yeah. I mean, that's better than a lot of what I see. We talk about bad words all the time and what our approach is going to be because we swear like my husband and I, at least, you know, we're not, we don't have like clean mouth by any means, but how do you explain to a child that some people get offended by what is just a word, right. Or that like, you can't use it because of an age restriction. So we just have to kind of have to say like, you can use it around us maybe, but not at school, around your friends. Cause you're gonna make other people really mad. And I'm going to say, why are you? You're just like, I don't really know. It's a word. Like I don't really yeah. A custom. Yeah. 2 (21m 31s): Okay. And I have no fundamental problem with cursing and a curse. It's the way the idea that my children are going to say it in front of someone is horrifying. 1 (21m 43s): Yeah. Yeah. Definitely. I guess also trying to like protect this stranger from having that awkward moment. Cause they're not gonna know. And it went to Duke. 2 (21m 51s): Well, you know, with kind of, I have a bit of a twisted sense of humor. And when I hear that a kid curse, it is kind of funny. 1 (21m 58s): It's a hysterical. I think it's a great, especially when they say fuck, because it's like, it's just like you, I don't want to say I don't have an argument. Like sometimes there's no substitute for that word. That's the only word that will like satisfy you in that moment. So I get it and I don't want to be a hypocrite. You know what I mean? I think that's like the biggest thing is I don't want to tell my kids to do one thing that I'm doing another, 2 (22m 21s): Yeah. It's a classic comedy when children or nuns curse. 1 (22m 24s): Okay. So are you like, would you consider yourself a skeptic now? Like if someones trying to like pedal you something or maybe like bring you into this new way of thinking spiritually, are you like arms length kind of trying to pick it apart? Or are you still PR like a positive optimistic guy? 2 (22m 46s): Well, I think the one I've tried very hard to build critical thinking skills and because it wasn't something that was taught to us. Oh, for sure. For some people that maybe it is, and that's wonderful that parents can teach them. But I have tried very hard to build that at the same time, what I had to overcome because I was away from that long enough that I went, you know, a pendulum in beliefs can swing from one side to the other. And so I w my, my belief system is swung from that absolute belief in a call to where I became a resolute atheist 'cause. And that wasn't a balanced either. He was like, I don't know, but you know, none of us know. 2 (23m 27s): So today I wouldn't say I'm automatically accepting of what people say, probably the opposite of that, but I definitely have a belief and I write about this and the book. So I definitely have a belief in some kind of an energy that's around us. I meditate as a practice every day, which to me is a way of putting myself into an alignment somehow with that energy. I wouldn't expect someone else to believe that because I say that I did enough of that in my life, but it gives me some peace. 1 (23m 58s): Yeah. I think meditation is huge. I think everyone can benefit from it. And I think it's so wild that it just a short period of time ago, like as you know, Christian at the time, we're a Catholic at the time we were told like, meditating is a sin. It was, you know, he was going against God's work. And now you realize how ridiculous that is. Like, even if you take the spirituality out of it, which I would say there's a huge spiritual aspect to meditating, but even if you want to take that part away from it, even just neurologically speaking, it's so beneficial for everybody just for a regulation for your health, your mental clarity, not enough people do it for you. 2 (24m 35s): Yeah. And it's actually what we do now, what I do professionally, as you know, especially since COVID we released a, a company, a new coaching engagement called my mindset of prosperity, which is using meditation, mindfulness techniques for stress and anxiety reduction on a corporate level. We will come in and coach on that for about eight weeks with employees. And it's completely secular. It's not, you know, engaging. And we are going to teach Buddhism. We are going to teach things like that. I would show up today. I would identify myself as a Buddhist, but the benefits to having that extra thing in your tool chest to help regulate the things that you were just saying is a mince. 2 (25m 19s): It was for a long time in the professional world, what we've done our motto as a sales guy, my, our motto was always worked hard and play heart. And when you translate it, that what it meant was work really hard, make a lot of money, which we did. And then three, four or five times a week, you have happy hours and get trashed. Right? And that was our way of giving, you know, stress reduction to people that work with us, for our customers are. So if we're going to do that, we should be offering some kind of tool set beyond that. 1 (25m 47s): Every of sorts, because the drinking and the partying isn't necessarily like a recovery, if anything, you might be doing even more damage and damage to your body and your body's and be like, no, like I need a break. Like alcohol is not gonna solve this or staying up past a time that I should be in bed is not going to solve this. You see that a lot to on social media, which is like, just this hustle culture. I can't talk today where it's like, if you're not constantly grinding, then you're not doing enough. You shouldn't be doing any, anything, but eating, sleeping, and drinking, whatever your passion project is. And that's how I experienced burnout. Like you have to have some kind of a process that helps you decompress and like reset of sorts and meditating, even for just a couple of minutes is extremely beneficial. 1 (26m 29s): Like they've done studies. It's like even one minute is better than no minutes, but how do you get people started that the typical I'm so bad at meditating? I can't meditate because that's what everyone says in the beginning. 2 (26m 41s): Okay. I'm bad at meditation. And I think that we've done a disservice to people by the description of meditation sometimes because people will go into it. Thinking of, I thought of two things. I thought have a guy in the diaper on a mountain in her. I thought I have a friend in high school that was sitting on his mom's couch getting Hi. He was two things. But really when you explain, you have to explain to people what meditation is and what the practice of mindfulness is. And it's sitting, being comfortable in this moment to sit as thoughts, come to mind, allow them to pass through instead of grabbing on to them and moving on with it. So if something comes to mind, you can just gently nudge it aside. 2 (27m 21s): And you just do that over and over again in the practice is what meditation is. It's not that you're not going to have those thoughts because everyone does try to sit for five minutes without a thought in your mind that it's impossible. You can think of our brains. Is this like super computer that's, you know, really logical in this perfect machine and absolutely the opposite 1 (27m 42s): That helps you with maintaining your focus while you meditate. So for me, like, I really enjoy a guided meditation. Those are the easiest ones for me to feel like I'm doing it. The quote unquote right way, like where I leave the practice feeling accomplished. If I try to do other sorts where there's, it's just like silence. I don't do very well. 2 (28m 3s): It's interesting you say that because I had that same difficulty sometimes and I teach it. I think the main thing is it's like anything else that you have to be adaptable? We have a noisy house. We have four kids. So I try to get up early before it's in a lazy, in that early morning time, your mind is naturally more quiet and I was coming out of bed. So early morning helps a lot. I try to give myself all the breaks in the world. I might listen to some soft music at times, having a really difficult time, just quieting thoughts I would listen to. And I still use like Headspace and calm and things like that. And I think those are great. Fantastic. And then any time you can get outside, you know, when you from noise outside is a huge help 1 (28m 47s): Or do you have like a family meditative practice like to have you, you mentioned that you would now kind of identify as Buddhist to share those teachings with your children, or do you stay away from religion? 2 (29m 1s): I want to stay away from it and my wife doesn't stay away from it at the same time. We definitely don't push anything like that. If they ask us the question, because my youngest, especially who's six now, but our daughters are fairly along and years. And now we have 21, 18, 16, and six kind of a gap there, but we've never pressured them to believe anything in life when they ask us those questions that are hard to answer, like what happens when we die. But I absolutely refuse to give you an easy answer. It's OK. As a parent to say, I don't know. I just don't know. Some people believe this. Some people believe that, you know, at some point you can make up your own mind, but do you think so when you ask, if we have a family meditative practice, no, we don't. 2 (29m 48s): And like anything it's awfully hard to get teenagers to do anything that you want them too. So, 1 (29m 54s): Yeah. I've heard that. I haven't had to experience it yet. So I'm savoring the moments before then for sure. 2 (30m 1s): Okay. And what are the moments before that? How old is your daughter? Did you say 1 (30m 4s): Sun is 11 months. So super, super baby baby right now. Can't even talk. What's his name? I don't say it on socials. Yeah. I've had the craziest story is so like I'll post pictures and stuff that don't show his face or like, you know, blur it out and everyone's like, what's his name? Or can we please see the face if I told you even a half of the stories? Like it is crazy. So I've had, I guess like the re most recent catfish story. Cause there's like a catfish story, like every day, like every single day. And it's people like extorting money, like you wouldn't believe and people falling for it. So it goes back to people needing a sense of purpose and belonging and love so that they do these crazy things. 1 (30m 49s): And everyone's like, how do they fall for it? So this person had sent, I think it was $25,000 to somebody that said they were me stuck in Ghana. And because I don't have any photos online of me and my child, because I'm just trying to like, avoid anything like this from continuing to happen. But the person found a picture of me and Photoshop an Asian baby in my, in my arms and then Photoshop, fake passports with me in that baby and was like, this is proof that I'm stuck there. So I'm like, Holy cow. And it was like, it was so obviously Photoshop that again. It's like, how does this person, I feel terrible, but at the same time, how did you fall for this? 1 (31m 33s): So if there were pictures of me and my child that would just make it that much easier for people to do these crazy kinds of scams, but it is. 2 (31m 40s): Yeah. And that, you know, I didn't think about that with you. No, you're a very public face and very, you know, public profession professionals. I didn't really think about that with your child, but that would be difficult. 1 (31m 50s): It's nuts. It, people are very clever when it comes to manipulating others. Like the sky is the limit with their creativity. 2 (31m 58s): Right. Do you think that we're teaching? I mean, there's a whole generation, obviously, you know, my aunts and uncles and people that are older, my kids, grandparents that will buy in to almost anything they see on Facebook. But do you think we're teaching critical thinking skills well enough to young people when it comes in and what they believe on social media? 1 (32m 19s): I don't think at all period. So I think we're seeing like the utter collapse of critical thinking, especially if a parent and I don't mean to like guilt parents, cause I know not everyone has the luxury of having enough time with their kids to know what's actually happening, right? Like there's a single moms that are working two jobs. There's two parents that have to work, you know, 40, 50, 60 hours a week. And they don't get that quality time with their kid. And that's really unfortunate. But the consequence of that is, is you are leaving these schools and other people to step in as where you're supposed to be as a parent. Right. And influencing them and guiding them and teaching them. 1 (32m 59s): So what I see in schools is just a lot of programming. I think you get almost punished or dissuaded. If you do speak out, if you're like, well, what about this? Or I disagree with this theory, right? Whatever it is, especially when it comes to like social justice nonsense, that's being spewed everywhere. So if you're going against the grain, then you're a problematic. And especially like a young, vulnerable age again, you just want to belong to the herd. So if you're sticking out, then that's not a good thing. I think you're almost rewarded to just go with the flow and drift and that's going to be very problematic down the road. So I think it's important for parents to like, know what their kids are learning and ask, like, what did you learn today? 1 (33m 43s): What are your teachers saying? And then if they're age appropriate, talked to them about what you're seeing happen in the world today and ask what their opinion is. And then just keep asking questions, which will eventually make them start asking questions, right? So you can say, well, I believe you just have to keep asking questions. So it's not critical to get swept up and emotions. You know what I mean? And then just believe in narrative because someone says it because of an organization that's trying to get money, says something. And then what I see online is a lot of young people, like a lot of millennials, a lot of gen Z that are just leading with their emotion and letting logic fall by the wayside. So again, it has to go with like monitoring your kid's and getting them to ask questions and be okay with being the outlier and not necessarily going with the herd because that's not necessarily the best way to go in my opinion. 2 (34m 36s): And I think that you see what you're describing there, you hear the term echo chambers all the time. And that's what we see on both sides of almost every issue now, especially in social media, where if people did have some critical thinking skills to ask, especially why do I believe this? And that's something that I think I try to be have gratitude for almost anything that's happened in my life. Cause there's something you can learn from it in my own experience, it was asking that question, why do I believe This over and over again about so many things since still today, I asked myself to that question, why do I believe this? I hear them saying that to me, but why do I believe it? What are the facts in teaching people to do that? 2 (35m 18s): And question the source of the information and politically, I mean, we've never been more divided in our country than we are now. A lot of it is because it's something that you go through. And I see a lot of it in politics as cognitive dissonance, it's very difficult to have two conflicting values and hold on to both of them. So, you know, if I truly believe in democracy, if I truly believe that elections matter, you know, just to put it in a face right now, what we're dealing with right now. But if I have the emotional, you know, I'm holding on to the emotion of this one candidate that I really want, there was two things don't coincide and you have in an election showing, you know, one president is on his way out when it's on his way in and you see a lot of cognitive dissonance, you see it on the other side as well with all kinds of issues. 2 (36m 12s): For sure. So I think that's a, someone we need to be looking at a lot more. 1 (36m 17s): Yeah. The why is huge. And I mean, I did this probably later on in my life. I think I kind of just accepted my programming and my upbringing. And then that was my belief system until I met other people that were challenging me on certain things. So maybe like unhealthy behaviors towards a jealousy, like I was overly jealous, like to the point where it was harming my relationships. And you have to keep asking like, where are these emotions coming from? And just keep asking why until you get down to the basic principles and then you realize a lot of it has to do with the adults that raised you. And then what they told you is acceptable behavior growing up. 1 (36m 58s): And then when you realize, well, maybe that's not healthy or beneficial and I'm in control of my life and I can change that belief. I think that's also a huge part too, right. Is admitting like when we were wrong. So it's really hard when you have a belief system and then you realize that doesn't necessarily align with like your higher self or who you want to be and then changing that. So a lot of people would rather just say that there is a good quote in game of Thrones. I'm sure I'm going to butcher it. But it's like when Theone decides to kind of turn into the bad guy and he's like, you know, you can still leave. And he was like, after the thing that I've done it, it's too late to turn back now. So it's almost like you've created this persona and rather than have the social consequences of changing your mind, you would rather just stick to your guns on that. 1 (37m 42s): So I don't know if that's just, you know, a hard wiring thing, if that's just a personality thing. Like some people are just more willing to admit their flaws and be vulnerable in that sense, or if that's experiencing enough pain to also change or a combination. I'm not really sure. 2 (38m 0s): Yeah. I think some of it also has to do with whether or not we identify our own values, right? Because it's so easy to live with someone else's values and to be involved in someone else's path, we haven't really done some work around what are my core values, the why, and that gets back in to the why as well. Why do I believe this is why do I act this way? Because when those are not congruent are values and our actions, that's where unhappiness comes from, right? At least that's my belief if I'm not living. And maybe it's what you said earlier about, sorry, I can't remember the term you used, but something along the lines of living to your true self or our higher self, that's it? 2 (38m 44s): I think that's the, that's kind of what I'm saying. They're is when we live in alignment with our own values, that's where happiness comes from to go out and getting to that point. Sorry. 1 (38m 55s): We are fine. Yeah. I think that there's that. And then also what I don't see a lot of now is, is respecting other people's values. And the fact that they're going to differ from yours is like, everyone has a different path and a different purpose. And just because you don't align on anything where everything, then, you know, they must be your mortal enemy. So that's also crazy. And it is, again, it's just leading with your emotions, like your emotions and logic. They don't line up. It's almost like with like a horse or a dolphin. Like the only one of the hemispheres can operate at one time. So one of those operating systems is going to be in charge and then you can flip and then it'll be the other. And that's why meditation is really important as well is because it also helps balance that out with like your emotional regulation. 1 (39m 39s): But that's what everyone needs to do right now, especially on social media in just news in general is like making you feel 2 (39m 44s): Okay. And what you said about, you know, respecting other people's viewpoint, even if their values are different than yours. I mean, there's obviously boundaries, right? Like some things are right and wrong. Right. But I think that so often instead of looking at the person and the value of the person, we value them by their beliefs because that's what we see. But I can respect people, even in my own family that differ from me politically religious, because they have a value beyond that set of beliefs, just as a human. 2 (40m 26s): That was one of my core beliefs about, you know, the universe we live in as we have a right to be here as an individual, just because we are, we're a part of it. And that inherent value in a person doesn't go away because they hold a political ideal or a religious idea that's different than mine. And it's really, we can get it back to trying to look at commonalities in people to the Dalai Lama talks a lot about that in 98% the same. But we, we focus on this 2% that were different. 1 (40m 57s): Okay. That's interesting. I haven't heard that one, but it's true that you, you just find like that one thing and then that's, that's all you want to focus on. So how did you come to like, to find Buddhism after having such an intense experience with the Jehovah's witness? Cause I would imagine that someone, most people that do get out like stay away from all religion afterwards, 2 (41m 20s): I've connected with some ex Jehovah's witnesses, witness groups, just to get a feel for what it's like for other people in that runs the gamut. You, you have people that become atheists, young people that just jump right back into a different religion. And you have people that end up in other form of mind control and you have people like I was who I dealt with substance use disorders. I mean, pretty heavily I drank heavily. I had, I was an alcoholic. I was a cocaine addict. And so I ended up in a treatment center because of that. That's kind of a big bomb to drop it in a minute 50 in that I do talk a lot about this in the book. So I ended up in the treatment facility and though I never found a path in what I was taught in recovery through traditional means, as far as the 12 step groups, a lot of people do a Buddhist path of recovery made a lot of sense to me because it didn't force upon me, the belief in some higher power, some God's and that works for a lot of people. 2 (42m 25s): It didn't work for me. So that's really where I kind of started down the path of Buddhism. 1 (42m 30s): Yeah. That's really interesting. A lot of the new research when it comes to addiction is pointing out and it's not to bash the 12 step system because it does work for some people, but it's definitely not like a fail safe by any means. And it's kind of one of those what persists or what you 2 (42m 49s): Say yes. What 1 (42m 51s): You resist persists. So kind of saying, it's not a triumph to be completely abstinent and like have that in your mind all the time. Like that ruminating, like, am I going to relapse over and over and over again? Like that's not you beating the addiction because a healthy way to look at it would be to not be thinking about it. Right? Like it's not like someone who doesn't have an addiction issue when it comes to any substance. Like, I'm not like worried, like what if I have a glass of wine tonight? Like, it's just, it's just a neutral thing because I, I'm in control of that. So it's, I guess looking at like a new way to heal I'm sorta, but again, no one has like a silver bullet for it yet. 2 (43m 32s): No, I think that something big that I've thought a lot about is identity. The self identity has a lot to do with it. And that follows with what you were saying about 12 steps and what we, what we resist persists in that a lot of the people in whatever program where they begin to get sober and stay sober, they end up really identifying themselves in some way, in some big way. They change their lives. To the extent that what they focused on before is completely different. And that's a lot of times what it takes to overcome addiction. It seems like in my experience, does that make sense? That's the way I said, 1 (44m 11s): Yeah. 'cause to me any addiction, whether, you know, it's drinking or drugs and you can be addicted to anything really these days. So I think it is, it's all a symptom to me, it's, This, it's a symptom, there was something else that you need to face and tackle. And sometimes you don't even know because it depends on like, how spiritual do you want to get? But you know, there's a few studies with epi-genetics and there is family trauma's that happened at a very young age. So when you were talking about your mother, a lot of the times that you don't even remember some of the things that are influencing You as a person now, so it's really doing a lot of introspection and therapy or whatever you're, you know, your outlet is, and then figuring out what that is and then the other things will fix themselves. 1 (44m 57s): So I think when you focus just on the drinking, like, I just can't have a drink that, well, why are you doing that in excess? Like, what are you trying to accomplish by drinking? 2 (45m 6s): I agree with you. And I think that focus of, you know, in a lot of programs with recovery that focus on not drinking or, you know, not using that is the epitome of what that expression that you used, what we resist, persists, focuses on that all the time. And that has to shift. It has to become a neutral. It has to become something that, yeah, I know today I'm not going to go drink I I'm just not going to, I'm not going to take that chance, but it's never, Oh, I should say practically, never on my mind instead it's you know what, or what are the things that can learn about myself? What, what ways can we adjust the way we treat other people? 2 (45m 50s): The way we treat ourselves, how much compassion do we show it to ourselves, to other people, you know, that really fundamentally rewire our brain. That, that has changed my experience compared to 12 step groups. What really that was for me was no, no, no, no, no. And it just didn't work. 1 (46m 9s): Yeah. That's understandable. So given your, like, you're just life path, if you will, what's your opinion on trying to help someone who is in just an unhealthy spot, right? Like they're not everyone you meet is going to be in a cold, but let's say there in a call or let's say that they have like these ideologies that are doing them harm or they have, you know, a substance problem. Like how do you help someone help themselves? 2 (46m 40s): That is such a tough question because there's in both in Colts and in addictive issues, there's a fundamental blindness to the problem and getting the person to wake up to that is so difficult. Even that, you know, I think of my family, I have a brother is still today in that I don't have anything to do with, he was my best friend growing up, but you know, he won't speak to me because of the religion, but there's a fundamental blindness in him to the idea that what he's been taught could possibly be wrong. I'm going to come around the kind of reverse engineer to answer that question if I can. 2 (47m 23s): And I think it has to, it has to start with almost never directly confronting at least when, with religion and with the cult, when it comes to addiction, addictive issues, this is a different thing. But because the walls go up, when you're talking to somebody that's been in a cult and in a religious organization that has their mind, you know, really under a control the shields go up immediately, if you don't directly confront it. So showing them that, you know, a happy, good life can be led away from that, which most of them are taught almost every call teaches. Nobody else is happy except us. 2 (48m 3s): So showing, you know, just by living well and showing them that a successful, happy life can happen helps. But I don't know if there's back in the seventies, there were these deprogramming groups that, you know, would they got into legal trouble because they would kidnap people and, you know, deprogram that for several weeks at a time, 1 (48m 24s): See that happening in China right now. Right. And the deep programming camps, but no ones that are not getting any media time at all right now. So yeah, it's still happening. And 2 (48m 33s): So I don't know that there is a real, I have an answer for what you said, what you ask, but I know that directly, at least with mind control with a Colt directly confronting it and saying to a person, Hey, this is a call to if they're already completely engaged in it doesn't work. So I don't know what the answer is. 1 (48m 54s): Yeah. It's so interesting because that's obviously what you want to do because to you on the outside, it's, it's so clear, right? It's like, how does this make sense? How is any of this make sense? Like, you're part of something. That's not doing you any good at the end of the day, but I totally agree. It's like when you try to just point out the obvious you get very defensive, because it goes back to people not wanting to admit that they could have possibly been wrong or flawed in their thinking. And I think it always comes back to like, that person just has to figure it out on their own. 2 (49m 25s): Okay. And then there has to be some kind of empathy involved, not even on, Oh, I'm going to tell you what worked for me. When I first started questioning, one of my daughters had been born and I was just, you know, I left the group and I had been disfellowshipped or ex-communicated shunned by my family. And my wife asked me a question. And she said, if they told you to shut our daughter, would you do that? It caused me to really put it in a personal light, like I had to. And I, that sat in my mind for a long time. And I went back to it over and over again in, I couldn't make sense out of it. 2 (50m 10s): I could never imagine doing that. And so questions sometimes we'll get to the, you know, and if a person who has the capacity to really think about it, very personal, you know, something like that. 1 (50m 23s): I think so. I think so too, my husband does that all the time to people he can get inside some people's heads, like better than anyone I've ever met. I love just watching and do this with people. So for a while we tried helping my sister out with like everything under the sun. She's just had like a very, and then by all means self-inflicted but very hard life. So we tried to help and step in a bunch of times and I've seen him do it with her. And he just like asked a question after question. And I mean, she's probably one of the most stubborn people I've ever met. Cause she's still in the exact place that she started, but I've seen him do with other people successfully. And it's like, You, he'll sometimes pose a question that you just almost see a light go off in the person's mind. 1 (51m 5s): And they're like, Whoa, like, I didn't think of it that way before, but again, you can't just say, this is the truth or this is what you should be thinking or doing. It's like, well, what about this? Well, why do you think that? And you just keep getting that back down to the fundamentals at some point that they can start by asking a question themselves to themselves. That seems like it would make a big difference. So just curiosity, I'm trying to instill curiosity. Yeah. Well, before we wrap up, do you want to tell our listeners where they can buy your book? Where are they can follow and support you? And step up to date with everything you're doing, the book you can find on Amazon. So the easiest place to get it a Waking up and guide for transformation. 1 (51m 49s): And if you want to go to Waking up in the book.com, it's kind of a back way into my website where you can find all my social media, things like that. But by all means go by the book. It's a good book and the kids keep on growing in their shoes. So I like it when people buy it. Okay. Thank you again for giving me your time today. I really enjoyed our conversation. Thank you, Kevin. So that was a pleasure. That's it? For this week's episode. I hope you enjoyed it. If you have the time please rate and review and you can always hit subscribe to stay up to date with our latest episodes. I hope to have you back. 0 (52m 22s): <inaudible>.