I recently chatted with a performance coach to billionaires, professional athletes, and A-list celebrities. I asked him, “If there’s one question that always works when you’re coaching clients, what is it?”
He said the answer was easy. He simply asks, “How’s your relationship?”
Whether you’re a celebrity or an average Joe, the answer isn’t always pretty.
Too often, when one person in a relationship decides to eat better, get fit, quit drinking, or make any other life changes, the other person tears them down.
When you transform your body and your life, sometimes it feels like you’re going at it alone. Maybe you noticed your drinking buddies aren’t quite as fun when you’re sober.
Change is threatening, and as humans, we’re wired for negativity. On today’s show with my friends Brian and Carrie, you’ll learn a simple daily practice to transform the way you think.
You’re about to learn:
- How to transform your behavior with a simple 10-minute exercise
- How to grow together as a couple
- An easy way to counteract the negative bias of your brain
- Why you might choose candy instead of an apple (and what to do about it)
- And much more…
Carrie Campbell is a counselor, personal trainer, and devoted mother of two. Her husband, Brian Grasso, is a performance coach whose clients include Olympic gold medalists. Brian and I have shared the stage a few times now, and I can say he never disappoints.
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Abel: I’m thrilled to be here with my friends Brian and Carrie.
An eighteen-year veteran of the sports training industry, Brian is a performance coach and author of Mindset Matters Most. Brian has coached Olympic gold medalists and consulted with pro sports teams in the US and Canada. I’ve also had the distinct honor of jamming and improvising on stage with Brian on a few special occasions—we can talk about that later.
Carrie is a clinical counselor, mindset coach, devoted mother, and performance powerlifter.
Since I just read your book, Brian, we’re going to start with you. Not so long ago you weighed, as I understand, 280 pounds; you were living in a deep depression, divorced, broke, and temporarily homeless. So many of us know what it feels like to hit rock bottom in one way or another, but how did you dig yourself out?
Brian: That’s a great question… and my answer won’t be as streamlined as I’d perhaps want it to be. There’s not a single answer.
It’s not a one size fits all, it’s a one size fits one.
And if folks watching or listening remember anything I have to say today, please note that: one size fits one.
There’s not a magic wand, there’s not a goal-setting map, there’s not a tutorial or template that works across the board.
What I had to find was my own solution, something that jived with who I was as a person, how my mindset was programmed at the time, where my emotions were. So “one size fits one” is the key component.
But this works across the board: The number one way to get out of this hole—the number one way to have success and achieve what you want no matter how you frame it—is to truly know yourself. That’s the missing link. It’s the spiritualistic aspect that a lot of the more woo-woo, spiritual end of things has always talked about, but no one ever gives a framework for the how. How do you find yourself? How do you go inside and find that voice? What’s the mechanism to do that?Once we know ourselves, we can start applying tools that work best for us. Click To Tweet
Abel: And when you talk about knowing yourself, you’re not just saying, “Know your best self, the sugar-coated perfect version of yourself in your head.” You’re talking about exposing the underbelly – including negative tendencies – that you need to understand are a part of you. You can channel them in the right direction
Brian: You’re not just a handsome guy, Abel, you’re also very insightful. And I mean that very sincerely, because yes, I would go as far as saying that not just the sugar-coated, but the exact opposite of the spectrum.
We have an unconscious mind, which is an accumulation of stories and perspectives that we have approved through our lives based on experience and influence. That’s the stuff that directs us. It directs our perspective, our actions, our behaviors, and our habits. That’s the stuff we have to get to know very well.
What do you think, Carrie? Over the course of your life, hitting rock bottom, how do you get back up?
Carrie: Everything Brian just said, I stand behind as well. But I think for me the word “accountability” always comes to mind.
Just the other day I was talking about the fact that it doesn’t really matter what situation you’re in, that if we continue to look outward and blame and project toward our external situations, we’re never really going to uncover that true self that Brian was talking about and that you just mentioned. It’s the deeper layer. We have to look inward at what makes us tick in order to change our surroundings. So accountability for me is always the one I go to.
Abel: So for someone listening right now who might be struggling with their health—they don’t necessarily know why, but they do know that on any given night they might wind up with their hand in the proverbial (or literal) cookie jar. Some behavior just happens without even realizing it. But how do you dig a little bit deeper to understand where negative behaviors might be coming from? Because at some point it’s not just a sugar craving anymore.
Carrie: I think I would say more often than not, it’s not a sugar craving at all. I think the sugar craving is there because of the habits to begin with. For us, it always comes down to looking at and understanding the drivers behind our behaviors and understanding why we’re really reaching our hand into that cookie jar.
Ninety-nine percent of adults in North America, and around the world, know a chocolate bar is not the better option over an apple, and yet we’re choosing the worse option of the two. That’s not because of a lack of knowledge, that’s not because of a lack of intellectual capacity, or a sugar craving, even. That’s because we don’t truly understand the drivers behind why we’re doing that, and therefore we have to understand the drivers before we can start to change the habits. Otherwise we’re just changing the superficial.
Brian: Let’s make that practical for a second. The driver matters more than the habit or the behavior. There’s a great body of specialists in the world who are always trying to help people augment, change their behaviors, patterns, habits, etcetera. But again, echoing what Carrie said, the driver of the behavior matters more.
What is the driver? If we’re going to make that practical, the first tool we always give is what we call a dictate journal. Now, journaling is often gratitude, it’s often goal-setting, it’s often positive affirmation; that’s often the way it’s presented. Every morning, write your goals, write your positive affirmations… and we could not dislike that more than we do, because it keeps us at the superficial level of the sugar-coat. It never allows us to penetrate into the driver of why we behave in a certain way.
A dictate journal is so simple. It’s so powerful, though. Three to five minutes every single morning, three to five minutes every single night. That’s it. A grand investment of six to ten minutes a day. Sit in a quiet space, try not to be distracted, and listen. What are you thinking? What do you hear? And what do you feel emotionally? Write it down: dictate, don’t censor it, don’t be embarrassed by it, don’t be afraid of it and do not try to spin it to a positive. If you feel angry, write down that you feel angry. If you feel frustrated, say that.
If the negative words you’re hearing or the words you’re hearing are very harsh, or very scarcely orientated, write them down. Do that twice a day every day for ten days, and then review it. What you’re going to find are trends. You’re going to start to realize human beings have an amazing capacity to walk an entire life without seeing or feeling true. We can be frustrated and angry and sad and never really experience it, because it’s on the undercurve, and our society teaches us to put that away.
“That’s not healthy, so we’re going to ignore it.” Ignoring it doesn’t do anything except elevate it underneath the surface. When you start to see the trends of what you really think and how you really feel, that starts to give you a much more clear picture of what your unconscious mind’s program is currently set to, and therefore, what the drivers of your behavior are. It’s simple math. It’s so easy to do.
Carrie: I just want to add to that. You mentioned the digging deep and going to the negative side, and I love that you said that, because we do live in this world that’s currently all about the positive realm, and manifesting the positive, and so we’ve sometimes met resistance from our clients, in so far as learning how to go to the negative, and dictate out the things that don’t feel so good. Maybe you’re listening to this right now and you’re thinking, “Oh, I don’t want to think about that. I don’t want to think about the negative things.”
What we always tell people is that the good stuff isn’t holding you back. The good stuff is not in the way of you getting what you want in life or losing 10 pounds or finding a relationship or making more money—it’s the negative stuff. The negative thoughts that are in your mind, that you have absolutely no idea are there because you’re positively affirming over them; you’re building a mask and a veil around them. So we have to go to the negative level. And it’s okay to feel the discomfort of that; I would say sometimes it’s almost essential.
Brian: It’s essential. It’s like mold in your house. You can ignore it, but it’s going to become a problem if you do.
HOW TO LEARN FROM YOUR PAST BEHAVIOR
Abel: Right. But it seems that we’re trained to just go after the superficial every single time. When you take a step back and you start to analyze your own behavior, you try to take ego out.
It’s important to understand that we’re in ape-like bodies and we have ape-like tendencies. We’re mammals. When you start to compare us to ways that other things act—like I said, without ego, without assuming that we’re better—then all of a sudden you can start to understand that a lot of times our bad behavior comes from a place of suffering, and we’re seeking a mental state change. We’ll try to change the way we feel with cookies or drugs or some other negative vice-like behavior. And that keeps happening until we take a step back and realize, “Oh, this might be part of my nature.”
But when you realize what that is, all of a sudden you can channel primal instincts into something good. Like myself, I know that sometimes it would manifest as bad behavior—even violence when I was a kid. It was one of the reasons I really enjoyed self-defense.
But now I’m looking for that “state change,” and I realize I can do it with a sprint, with a gentle walk outside with my dog in nature, with a great conversation or just something to get the lymph moving, which enacts a state change in the brain and body. It could be supplements, it could be plants, it could be a great meal with friends and family, laughter—any of those things. It doesn’t have to be that thing that you always go to, almost like an addiction, in your behavior.
What would be an example of negative urges that you’ve channeled in a positive direction?
Brian: First of all, kudos, because that’s a great question and amazing insight regarding nature. Carrie and I have deciphered that we have these polarizing voices inside of us. We call them free nature and bound nature.
Bound nature is very unhealthy ego: it’s the cynicism, anger, frustration, sadness, depression, inferiority. And free nature is the exact opposite: it’s joy, bliss, etcetera. I love that you brought up violence because for me, anger was a massive part of my life when I was younger. And I want to say this properly—it still is, but I’ve learned to channel it well, and you phrased it so perfectly. As a young person who had no understanding of bound nature versus free nature vices or voices, I was at the whim of my anger. It was in control of me, which meant at any moment rage could happen, which could result in anything from self-infliction of pain to punching a hole in a wall to getting into a fight.
You mentioned self-defense. I have been a fighter for many years; I’ve boxed and I do special forces combat. It was a simple channel shift, but what catalyzed the channel shift was exactly what we’re talking about. Bound nature controls us until we recognize it has no control outside of what we give it control of. As soon as I shift that perspective—and that involves dictate journaling and not being afraid of the negative, and recognizing that negative in and of itself—it’s not good nor bad. It just “is” until we define it.
If we’re defining it as bad, that’s giving power away. As soon as we simply listen to how we think and feel, we begin to take control of it; we shift it, we channel it to a different outlet. Everything about the power of that changes, and that, inevitably, is the key.
Carrie: Beautiful question. Just to give you a real example from my own life of how the nature of who I am has been very non-serving and can be very serving. I’m what I will call a “recovering people pleaser,” and that comes from the core of me wanting to give and serve and make the world a better place.
But for a long time in my life that went in a very, very negative direction where I over-gave. I found myself in abusive relationships; I found myself resentful and bitter because I was always doing it for everybody else but no one was doing it for me. Until I came to the realization that that wasn’t on the rest of the world. I spent a lot of time blaming those people, and realized that it was really me, and embraced the fact that I am a people pleaser; I do love to give and I do want to give, and I’ll go out of my way to do things for other people, but I don’t have to do it at the cost of my own self. Once I came into that awareness and took accountability for that, what came of it for me was that my ability to serve, and to coach, and to counsel, and to be a wife and a mother elevated tenfold, because I was able to give more simply by acknowledging that reality.I do love to give… but I don’t have to do it at the cost of my own self. Click To Tweet
Abel: So what would be a positive manifestation of that? How do you find balance?
Carrie: And that’s a great question. I think it comes down to planning, to be honest with you. I think that in life it’s imperative to look at my own intentions and my own goals, and have a balance. And everybody uses the word “balance” in life now—it’s a big thing “find balance”—but I mean that in a very philosophical way about my whole life.
My desire to give to others and to coach and do all of that is built off of a philosophy for myself, my body, mind, and soul. That’s an element of the whole pot, and my days are built out of the whole pot, not just the serving aspect. So at the end of the day I’ve spent one-third of my time serving others and giving to others, but I’ve also spent the rest of the time taking care of me. It’s not a fancy answer, but planning and knowing what I want for my life.
Abel: And so often people fall into that trap. How do you make sure you’re putting the right actions into what you said is your one-third of the time that’s for you?
Carrie: I wish I had the one answer to give you, but the reality is that, in what Brian said a couple of minutes ago, “one size fits one,” right? That depends on you. That is the process of going inward and asking yourself, what, for you, is important?
When we’re working with people, we divide the whole thing into health, wealth, and relationships—or body, mind, and soul. It’s about making sure you’re developing yourself at each one of those categories, but what that means to me, and what that means to mother A and mother B, could be very different things.
For me, I’m a highly competitive athlete. For me, athletics is top performance, and that, for me, is exactly what I want. But for another person that might just simply be being more active in a given day. That’s where “one size fits one”—you have to be able to go and find the answers for what you want.
HOW TO BE A POWER COUPLE
Abel: Let me ask you guys this, because you show up as a power couple in the real world. The energy you bring is very positive and powerful in the true sense of the word.
But when you’re back home, there’s a tendency, no matter how positive you are outside of the home, to let yourself go, so to speak. When you’re worn out or frustrated you communicate that.
So how do you, as a couple, make sure you’re growing together?
Brian: It’s not a secret at all; we talk about it all the time. And it’s one of our most prized examples of how couples grow together. As an individual my obligation to my wife and my family is to become the greatest version of myself as an endless pursuit. There’s no perfection. We always joke that if perfection exists, I don’t know want to know anything about it, because if I ever get there I’ll have nothing left to do. So I would want to continue growing my entire life in the best version of me as an individual. Same for Carrie. So that’s our obligation.
Now, as a unit, one of the most striking things we’ve taught couples that has been profoundly impactful on them is the concept of relate versus understand. Carrie is a recovering people pleaser. I am not. I have learned to transition my anger into very positive outlets, whereas I’m not sure Carrie’s ever been angry in her entire life. So if I try to relate to Carrie as a people pleaser—say she comes to me with a stress, a strain, she’s venting about something related to that people-pleasing guilty realm—since these are things I have never experienced before, my reaction matters a great deal to her assistance.
Now, what does that mean? Seven years ago when we first got together, it was her who would come venting toward me with something in the people-pleasing guilty realm, to which I would say, “I don’t get it. Why do you even care about that? Who cares about that person? What they think is what they think; it shouldn’t affect you. Just say a positive affirmation, blah blah blah.” I would try to solve Carrie’s issue from my perspective, but my perspective is not hers.
That is relating. We don’t always relate to each other on the same level, but my obligation to my wife, to my children, is to understand. I am not born to relate to the emotions she feels of guilt. But I can understand emotion. I can understand, in honor of my wife, that she feels certain things, and my obligation, my desire as a man, is to stand in front of her and support her by any means. And that is the fine line that we see couples missing all the time is that if Carrie tries to fix me from her perspective, and I try to fix her from my perspective, the perspectives don’t mesh. So we’re trying to relate where relatability doesn’t exist.
Just understand each other. That has been one of the most defining aspects of our success as a couple.
Carrie: I’m sitting here enumerating in my head which answers I want to give you. Number one, you have to understand that the topic of relationships is my favorite topic in the entire world, because it’s all centered around love, and I’m kind of a fanatic about love.
So let me say this first: I think that as a society we live in a delusion that we fall in love and we have a fairytale romance and it’s happily ever after. And Brian and I, we do have a fairytale romance. We fell in love, it’s a beautiful story, and about six months into it we realized that there is a lot of work to do, because you’re two people coming together into a relationship who have two pasts, two experiences that are very different, two unconscious programmings. And before you know it you’re essentially bringing together two egos.
I believe there is a large majority of couples in this world who exist primarily in a bound nature state with one another.
It’s always about who’s right and who’s wrong. I don’t see it that way; I see it this way. And that’s really and truly what deteriorates relationships more than anything. So if you can step out of that and learn to understand that process, like Brian just said, you change the game. I say this often, and we abide by it: you fall in love, but you create a relationship. So if you enter into a relationship and you think that it’s just going to “happen,” you’re fooling yourself, and it’s naive.
We always say, “Do the work to make it work.” We are in the position that we are in now because five years ago, when it got really intense and we did have those moments that you talked about, we decided we were going to commit to every day getting better as a couple. And now we sit in a place where—I’ve got to be honest with you, Abel, and I’m not trying to say this in a delusional way—we don’t experience much of what you just described anymore. Not because we’re better than or we’re untouchable—we do have difficult moments—but because we worked so hard to start to decrease the amount of those, and by doing that, we got better every day.
Abel: We hear conventional advice that you NEED to fight, that it shows that you’re passionate and that you care about each other. But there is a good way of channeling that instinct, and I think you guys are definitely on to it… But one thing that constantly seems to happen, especially when people have success with their own body transformation journey or getting their health back, often times the interest isn’t equally split between the two people in the couple.
And these relationships can actually fall apart because one person is having success. One person is suddenly “hot” and the other isn’t, for example. When you look at the relationship, though, they’re both winning. That means one person’s going to live at least 10 or 20 years longer, and maybe they could help the other person grow and learn from what they’ve learned, in terms of how they eat and how they train. But often times that is such a source of suffering for relationships. So how do you make sure that, number one, you’re not directly trying to fix someone else, because that doesn’t work. We know that.
How can we make sure that positive changes in one person don’t come at the expense of the relationship?
Carrie: We’ve experienced a great deal of that in our own work as well as when we’re working with couples, and watching one of them elevate faster than or well past the other one. I think it is a very common issue, and there were times not even six years ago when we experienced some of that. I think for me the first thing that I would say to anybody is to understand and have compassion. Nobody really wants to put up a fight. Nobody really wants to be on the lower level while they’re watching their spouse up here.
Let’s just say I’m the one who’s at the bottom of the ladder and Brian’s at the top of the ladder. I don’t want to be there, and Brian probably doesn’t want me there either, but the worst thing to do in that situation is to make that person who’s at the bottom of the ladder feel worse.
We don’t want tough love. It’s okay to have expectations in your relationship, but the way that we approach it is important. If Brian starts to get angry about the fact that I’m not where he’s at, and brings that to me, all that’s going to do is sink me further down. So for us, that’s where the harmony of a relationship is in communication. Communication is imperative. So being able to learn how to communicate what you’re experiencing and where the expectations lie and how we can ascend together, rather than having one person feel like they’re in a hole and the other one is up on cloud nine.The harmony of a relationship is in communication. Click To Tweet
Brian: We’ve actually danced around this in various things we’ve said, so I want to center in. Carrie mentioned a few minutes ago that in a lot of relationships people live in this bound nature state without realizing it—that’s number one. And Abel, you used the word “suffering” many, many times, which I think is very apropos. So let me sync those together for a second.
The work we do has a mindset foundation. The problem with mindset is that very few people understand what the word means. Mindset is often connotated as, “Just think positive.” Or, “Choose to be happy.” Mindset is really understanding our unconscious, and appreciating the stories and perspectives that we have laid in there through our experiences in life.
Now, a lot of couples live in bound nature. What that does is it becomes a trigger for—let me use the word that you used, suffering. If I am in bound nature, what I start to do is forecast. What if Carrie’s at the top of this hill looking all smashing now, and I’m still overweight, a little unhealthy, and she finds somebody more attractive than me? What if I die twenty years earlier than she does? Or Carrie forecasts, “Golly, I could probably do better than this guy now, but only if he’d come up the hill. I’m still so in love with him. Or what if he drops dead at sixty and I have another forty years to live?”
So when we start to forecast into the future, that’s a bound nature state. And what we do is we take temporary pain and we turn it into suffering. So every time we forecast into the future or we start regretting the past, we take these temporary pains that could be worked out through just proper communication and understanding, and we translate them into suffering… and now they become overwhelming. And they stew for days or weeks or months or years, and boom, they blow up. It all is just a matter of living out of bound nature, and having good communication in the absence of forecasting forward. It really is rather simple, but foreign to so many people.
HOW TO PREVENT SELF-SABOTAGE
Abel: Now, what about self-sabotage? Because that’s another thing that could happen where the couple goes apart for a little while, and one person’s on top of the hill, and maybe they take one for the team and then they start to self-sabotage. But that can happen to people also when they have great success on their own, outside of any relationship, and independent of it. What the heck is going on when someone knows exactly what works, experiences that, and then gives up on it? Why?
Brian: You cannot “out goal-set” an unsuccessful mindset. That’s a key consideration. Our entire society is goal-set crazy. Something like 200 million Americans set New Year’s resolutions every single year, and 8 percent achieve them while 92 percent don’t. And that’s a very reflective statistic on goals in general. It’s not because we set goals incorrectly; it’s not because we all need a tutorial in grade two for how to set goals. It’s none of those things. It’s simply this: our unconscious mindset will forever and always be the thing that pulls us back in life… unless or until we shift that story.
Our unconscious mindset will forever and always be the thing that pulls us back in life… unless or until we shift that story.You cannot 'out goal-set' an unsuccessful mindset. Click To Tweet
The great psychologist Carl Jung said it best: “Unless you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” So unless we make all these stories and perspectives that we don’t even know are there necessarily, unless we bring them to our conscious thoughts and we understand ourselves with them, those stories will direct everything about our actions and habits. And we could find success for a period of time, but then drop out of that success for what we feel like is no reason whatsoever. Which is why we go back to dictate journaling, understanding yourself, knowing your negativities.
Carrie said it best. The positive things in you are not what’s holding you back; it’s the negative things. We can find temporary success, but those unconscious stories will take hold and drag us back down. Self-sabotage and over-thinking might be the two most prevalent negativities that people in our society experience. But that’s the answer; that’s why you self-sabotage. Because it’s like we’re shining the outside of the coin, but inside it’s still murky and dusty, and we really haven’t changed much about it at all except for the exterior appearance.
Carrie: I think it’s really important to take note that most people don’t know when they’re self-sabotaging. You don’t necessarily identify it until after it’s done, or someone’s shone the light in your face.
Everything we do functions off what we refer to as the four A’s: the model of simplicity. We have to have acceptance, awareness, accountability, and adaptation. So in the awareness phase, we educate people to understand the process for themselves. If you don’t know you’re self-sabotaging, how in the world are you going to stop it?
So you have to know that you’re self-sabotaging to start, number one. Then you have to know the behaviors of self-sabotaging, the mechanisms. What’s happening in the moment of self-sabotage? Most people I would say are probably aware of it after the fact. What we want to do is start to close the gap. Because nothing—a car, a human being—none of us go from zero to a hundred kilometers an hour just like that. There’s a process. We don’t go from success to self-sabotage in one second flat.
If we can learn to peel back the process and start to identify, for example, the language in our mind—the thoughts and the feelings that we’re having as we start the beginning stages of self-sabotage—well, then we can disarm. Then we can stop. And that’s how we close the gap on what we really want and how to get it in life.
Brian: Because it’s something we teach so concretely, it meshes with what Carrie just said. Our society is very interventionist. So when we’re very overweight, we have to intervene to become more healthy. When we are drug addicted, we have to intervene. When a child does very, very poorly in school, we intervene. We have become so conditioned to intervening when things get really bad. That’s almost like we walk around waiting for the bottom to fall out.
What Carrie and I love to teach and what she just explained is something we call interruption. So don’t intervene; just learn to interrupt. Patterns start to present themselves along this self-sabotage matrix, like something you’re thinking, something you’re feeling. The beginning stages of you about to self-sabotage are starting to present themselves. If we can interrupt the pattern at 10 miles an hour, it never gets to 100. Self-sabotage doesn’t happen, which will then require another intervention. We don’t want to intervene in life; we want to interrupt patterns. That’s it.
Carrie: I’ve got to just add this because it’s a little bit of a soap box right now. Part of the problem (and when I say the problem, I mean it as a societal influence that we have) is that we’re conditioned for immediate gratification. We don’t want to do the work. We don’t. We want to lose the weight, be in a happy relationship, and have the money in our bank account now—or better yet, yesterday. So when somebody comes to you and says, “It’s a journey. You’ve got do the work,” people start to shut down almost immediately.
That’s why, in what we do, we’ve bridged the gap of educating as well as providing the tools and the strategies. So you get to travel the journey, but then you get sustainability afterward. That’s the reason why, when I listed those four A’s, adaptation was the last one. Because that’s where we live; we live in an adaptive environment. We’re always doing the diets, doing this, doing that. There are so many adaptive processes out there for us, but we have to do the work before the adaptation. Otherwise we’re just putting our head in a cookie jar over and over and over again.
INTROVERTS VS. EXTROVERTS
Abel: I love this part in your book, Brian. You write, “at the microscopic level you are roughly 16 trillion electrons. Give or take.”
That to me is beautifully meta, because it shows you the power that we have in our own lives, and we can exercise that control if we want to. We’re dynamic beings.
We all experience fear. No matter where you are in life, it still happens. You might wake up in the morning and those negative loops start coming out, and you can notice that happening sometimes, but you can do something good with it. It doesn’t have to manifest in bad behavior.
So you could tell yourself, “I’m shy.” I always was “shy”, and still am. Before I do a big performance, I feel that fear. Like a lot of pro athletes do.
Pro athletes are still barfing in locker rooms before the game. That doesn’t go away. You have to learn how to deal with it.
I could tell myself that I’m shy, or I could say I’m a performer, and both of those are 100 percent true. But I want to be the latter, not the former.
Brian: Yeah, that’s a great point. Carrie and I often educate on the splice between extroverts and introverts, and this as an example. I’m an introvert, and no one believes me when I say that because of how outgoing I was. And I am; I love people, I love everything about human contact.
Introverts aren’t shy, necessarily, it’s just I have to regain energy. So at the end of the day, I don’t want to be out with my friends. I’d like to be home with my family, because that’s where I recharge. The funny thing about that is that for years and years and years, I got on myself. I would call myself antisocial; I would call myself a loser. And everybody can relate to this, because we all do it. I would talk to myself in a way that was way more harsh than I would ever allow anybody else to talk to me. I will hit on these names: loser, antisocial, never have friends. And it became my self-fulfilling prophecy.
The whole concept of the 16 trillion electrons is that you are what you define yourself as. That’s the point. An electron doesn’t have a property until it’s defined by whoever is observing it. That’s me. That’s you, Abel. That’s Carrie. That’s everybody watching and listening. So, how you choose those words matters. You’re not shy; you’re a performer. It changes everything about how your 16 trillion electrons respond in that moment.
It’s an amazingly powerful release mechanism. When I realized and started referring to myself as introverted as opposed to antisocial, my whole, the emotionality of me, changed dramatically. So for me it always comes back to self-talk. How we label ourselves becomes what we are in the world. And if I call myself a loser and antisocial, I become that. Every one of these 16 trillion electrons begins to define itself in that way. So go they, so go I. Self-talk and therefore perspective is always the critical consideration. Always.
Abel: And that story is more malleable than we think. Growing up, bad things happened to me, as they do most people. Some more than others, but I felt like I was tortured as a kid, or I had a mysterious darkness in the past, and that was one of the things that defined me.
I think we all might share that, and probably a lot of people listening, too. As life went on, especially as I started traveling the world to see the world other people live in.. The violence, insecurity and lack of safety, or the fact that you could get stabbed or killed or murdered for no reason, completely senselessly, at any given moment in a lot of other places in the world. That’s life-changing.
The more I got out of my little shell and stopped thinking all the things that “happened to me,” when you open your eyes to the way the world really is, you start to see that we’re all blessed. Whether we know it or not.
If you have the technology to listen to this or read this right now, or the phone, or can afford the bills or whatever, you’re probably in the top 10 percent, 20 percent of the world.
And that’s something that is so important to recognize, but so many of us don’t, because we grow up in that place where we think we’ve had a hard life, which may or may not be true. But it’s so malleable.
So how do you define the right narrative, or rewrite your own narrative on life?
Brian: Carrie mentioned our model of simplicity: acceptance, awareness, accountability, adaptation. Let me speak to that brilliant question as it relates to acceptance. This actually jives very, very well with the 16 trillion. I try not to get too esoteric, although I think in esoterics. I try not to put forth messages that are too esoteric, too spiritualistic, far too universal, because they’re not relatable. And although people aggrandize and romanticize this idea of 16 trillion electrons, it’s hard to grasp practically and do something with. I use it as context.
I can also use the universe, for example. The most dominant molecules in the universe are hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, in the same proportions. We are in the universe, we are of the universe, so I am as well. But the real truth behind it all—and this is where it gets a little sloppy for some people, but it’s just the most freeing thing. It’s all just a story. What’s the right narrative?
The one you want to tell. That’s the right narrative. That’s the only condition I could possibly ask you to put on it. What do you want your story to be? Start saying that, and it’s the most amazing thing when we simplify it to this dictate journal.
What do you want your story to be? Click To Tweet
What are you saying to yourself every single day that is translating to an emotional response? That’s your reality. All we need to do is change the story, change the words, change the narrative. In that, what do you want your story to be? That’s the right story. It’s a little bit conceptually large for people because there is some degree of deniability and resistance. “Oh, but Brian, I had a terrible childhood. You don’t understand. My ex-wife.” Or, “You don’t get it, my kids, they…” We have all the diligence possible to remove you from those stories.
For example, we talked about memory. Memory’s the most fallible thing—we memory add, we memory lose, we change perspectives over time. It’s all just a story; that’s all it is. So, change the narrative intentionally and purposefully. What is the best narrative? The one you want. That’s the narrative. And then talk about it, become it, write it, speak it often, daily, multiple times.
The unconscious mind, for all of its power, is innately stupid. What I mean by that is it doesn’t know real from imaginary. So, if I can turn pain into suffering just by imagining what could happen, there’s an example of it. I start to experience emotion, and dread, and anger, and fear, by just imagining what could happen in a worst-case scenario. The unconscious mind does not know real from imaginary. The unconscious mind just says okay, that. So when we dictate journal we start to hear and feel the stories. “Oh, now we know why we’re a little overweight, or have less money than we want, or don’t have a loved one.” But we can change the story on a whim, and the unconscious mind, with repetition and passion, will simply say okay, and that’s what we do. It really is that simple.
Carrie: Every now and then we steal what the other one was going to say, because we’re in sync. I just want to add to that, in case you missed that final point that Brian made, very simply, I want to say this: in order to change the story, you have to know the story you’re already telling.
In order to change your story, you have to know the story you’re already telling. Click To Tweet
So the dictate journal is essential. The understanding of what you’re already talking about in your head is essential in order to change the story. Otherwise, we’re just trying to positively affirm, positively affirm, positively affirm. So that is absolutely crucial.
I just want to share a really quick story about the power of memory, because for me it was life-changing when we started to really, truly embrace the realities that we have memory add and memory loss, and that memory’s not a really reliable source.
So if you’re listening right now, whatever it is that is holding you back in life has been built off something from your past that is projecting into the future. There’s no way you can actually know that those experiences were factual or 100 percent accurate. So you’re essentially gambling your life on the potential of something being inaccurate. Which for me is just like when you hear that, you’re like, “What?” But I’ve had the most amazing experience with this. Obviously we know all that because we teach it.
Just a couple of weeks ago, we went to my hometown, where I hadn’t been in six years and had a beautiful childhood. I have no problem saying that. The memories there were beautiful.
But what was so shocking to me was that the physical memories were completely inaccurate.
Abel, my house was three times smaller than it was in my memory. I have memories of bounding up the flight of stairs, they were like twenty stairs high, but there were just four stairs. I’m not kidding you. I sat there and I stared at the stairs in my house. It wasn’t a small difference, it was a monstrosity of a difference.
So it was so profound, because that’s a physical, tangible memory loss or memory add that I can speak to. But what if what you’re holding on to isn’t actually what happened? I know it sounds so simple to speak that way, but it’s so powerful to realize that we’re holding on to potential inaccuracies.
Abel: That was one of the reasons I loved studying the brain in college—focusing on how flawed our memories are because we think we’re infallible. There have been so many studies where people witness an event, and when they retell it even a minute later—certainly ten minutes later, ten days, ten years later—it’s completely wrong.
Like one person saw two people, another saw 16, and there happened to be a gorilla walking through the experiment that neither of them saw.
Before we go, can you tell people one more time what they can do, because this is very actionable to put that journal you mentioned into action today, or tomorrow?
Brian: Well, let’s finish by counting wins as well. These are the top two things we would advocate everybody do without us even profiling, and we haven’t profiled. We help people understand themselves. But the absence of that is simply this: three to five minutes every morning and every night. Simply sit quietly, no distractions, and listen for what you hear in your head, and what you feel emotionally, and start to dictate them down.
Do that for seven to ten days and then start to review. You will see trends of how you talk to yourself. You will see ways that you dread certain aspects of your life. But the biggest mistake we can make is to assume then that there is something wrong. There is nothing wrong. What’s wrong is the way you’re talking about it, the way you’re feeling about it. So we can change that. The only thing we’d add, Abel, and this is a very simple thing—and I keep forgetting you’re like a neuroscience guy, so you know these things.
The human brain has evolved to be a very negative apparatus. We remember, retain, and respond to negativity with much more passion than we do positivity.
So because of that, people tend to count their scars at the end of every day, not their wins. “Oh you wouldn’t believe the day I had. I got caught in traffic and then the Starbucks line was too long, blah blah blah.” So not only do we remember to retain, to react, to go toward negativity more. We count it; we enumerate it every single night to ingrain it.
The human brain is plastic. It adapts; it becomes what we tell it to become. So because of that, a simple exercise is to count your wins every single night. And after you do the dictate journal with three to five minutes, spend another three minutes on a different piece of paper and just enumerate all the positive things that happened that day. It’s not a positive affirmation; it’s not meant to be silly, superficial joy. It’s meant to have your brain start adapting to seeing and experiencing the positivity in your day, which most people miss ad nauseam for years. When you can get your brain adapting, critically adapting, synaptically adapting to retaining and experiencing positivity more, the whole game of life changes.
Abel: I could definitely vouch for that, Brian, because sometimes I’ll record five or eight interviews in a day. Oddly, sometimes at the end of recording days, I feel like I didn’t do anything. I feel like I didn’t accomplish anything and it’s so silly. I intellectually know it’s silly. But the only thing that consistently makes me feel better is writing down what I accomplished and crossing it off with a pen.
Whatever I accomplished, I write those things down, and I’ll cross them out as I finish. There’s something about writing physically that makes it very real for your brain and attaches it to an emotion. When you do that, when you go through that, only a few minutes is all it takes, and it can absolutely 100 percent change the way you think about not only the way your day went, but who you are. And that it so powerful.
Thank you both so much for coming on the show. Before we go, please tell folks who are listening where they can find you and what you’re working on next.
We’re always working on stuff. Our next thing, though, is that we have a retreat, a live three-day retreat in Barcelona, Spain in February. We’re really excited about that. We love live interaction, so it’s going to be a beautiful experience for us as well as anyone who’s there.
Abel: The website is www.brianandcarrie.live. You can also find them on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.
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bowler hat says
one of the best eps of FBM.
brian and carrie are excellent speakers and impress upon us some very important lessons about identity and the self. listen to it then listen to it again.
“whatever it is that is holding you back in life has been built off something from your past that is projecting into the future. There’s no way you can actually know that those experiences were factual or 100 percent accurate. So you’re essentially gambling your life on the potential of something being inaccurate”
Abel James says
Thank you so much, glad you liked this episode. Brian and Carrie are incredibly inspiring. 🙂