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Christine Hassler: recognizing and managing the stories we tell ourselves

By November 15, 2017 February 8th, 2018 No Comments

“Most of us know we have a roof over our heads and know we’re going to have food to eat, those kinds of things. What fights for survival is our sense of self.” — Christine Hassler

The Unbeatable Mind Summit is coming soon, and you don’t want to miss this extraordinary event. Guests like Mark Sisson, Ashley Horner and Joshua Mantz, among others will be giving presentations, and the Summit gives you an opportunity to build on your Kokoro spirit and work on your 5 mountain training with other members of the Unbeatable Mind tribe. Space is almost gone, so register now. Save $200 from your registration by entering the code “podcast200” at checkout on the Summit site.

Christine HasslerChristine Hassler (@christinehasslerpage) is a coach, speaker, podcaster and author. Her most recent book is called “Expectation Hangover: Free Yourself from Your Past, Change Your Present and Get What You Really Want.” She talks to Commander Divine today about how to control our stories, so that we aren’t controlled by them in negative ways.

Hear them talk about:

  • The confluence of Spiritual Psychology and the Unbeatable Mind approach, especially in the recognition and management of our stories
  • Exploring options around the use of anti-depressants, including not using them at all
  • The difference between healthy anger and just allowing yourself to be discontented without a release

Listen to this episode to get an insight into another approach to the psychological issues that the Unbeatable Mind deals with as well.

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Transcript & Shownotes

Hey folks, this is Mark Divine. Welcome back to the Unbeatable Mind podcast. Thanks for joining me today. I am in studio at the new SEALFIT headquarters in Carlsbad, California and I’m super-excited to introduce my guest today, Christine Hassler.

But before we get going, I just wanted to let you know that it’s not too late to register for the Unbeatable Mind Summit. It is filling up fast. I’m not kidding.

Introduction

02:43

So I’ll give you intro of Christine and then we’re going to get right into letting her tell her story. Christine Hassler is a bestselling author… the one that we’re going to talk a little bit about today is called “Expectation Hangover.” She was a Hollywood agent who ditched that job… probably “thank goodness” considering what a mess that world is… so she could pursue her passion and now for over 10 years she’s been a keynote and a life coach. And an emotional coach. A podcaster. And a term here which I’m really interested to learn more about–a Spiritual Psychologist. Her podcast is called “Over It and On With It.”

So Christine believes that we need to get out of our own way and show up to make a meaningful impact on the world. So near and dear to our heart, and our message.

Christine thanks for joining us. Hooyah. Appreciate it. And it’s good to see you again.

Christine Hassler: Hooyah. It’s so good to see you too. It’s cool to be in the new offices. I feel like I’m at the beginning of the next chapter.

Mark: I know. I think you’re like one of the few visitors we’ve had where you’ve got the tour, so to speak, of the new secret location in Carlsbad, California.

We were talking about how public we were before with our Encinitas, kind of, huge facility. People used to come from around the world. And they would have to stop in, like it was Mecca.

And I’m imagining people still doing that, who don’t know we’ve moved. Who are just walking around down there…

Christine: “Where are they…?”

Mark: “Where are they?”

Christine: “What happened?”

Mark: We’re at a secret, undisclosed location in Carlsbad now, but it’s pretty cool. And inside we now have a studio, a yoga studio, and we’ll soon have a podcast studio. We got the factory and offices…

Christine: (laughing) You’ve got your guard dog.

Mark: (laughing) Place for Danger to hang out. The guard dog.

Christine: (laughing) Who didn’t wake up when I walked in.

Mark: (laughing) My son’s dog.

So anyways Christine, why don’t you tell us… tell the audience a little bit about who you are and where you came from. Your early influences and why you do what you do. Give a sense of the character behind the girl here.

Christine: Why I do what I do. Cause I needed it. I’m my own best client and best student. So give you some context just so you can understand a little bit more as… what my “why” is… cause I think all of our “whys” start in childhood, on some level.

Mark: Yeah, even if it’s because it sent us down the wrong path and then we had to figure it out.

Christine: Exactly. So for me, I grew up in Texas. And was a very outgoing, happy little girl. And then things changed for me when I started to get teased… bullied a bit… left-out. And I formed this story of “I’m not likeable.”

And some other really hard things happened. I had some medical problems. I was diagnosed with depression when I was 11 and put on anti-depressants at 11. And started to see a psychiatrist and all that kind of stuff. So the stories that formed were “I’m unlikable and I’m broken. And there’s something wrong with me.”

And all of us have significant life events in our childhood that hurt us in some way. Make us feel unsafe. Make us feel unloved. Make us feel like we don’t belong. And those are so painful. So painful.

And our ego, to survive it has to come up with some kind of what I call a “compensatory strategy.” Like, some way to feel more than. Or some way to fit in. Or some way to get love when we don’t feel it. And my particular brand…

Mark: So you mean like an exaggerated personality trait?

Christine: It’s more like if we feel unsafe or unloved or less than in some way… we feel threatened. And since we aren’t fighting for like, our basic survival. Most of us know we have a roof over our head. Know we’re going to have food to eat. Those kinds of things. What fights for survival is our sense of self. And our identity.

So it’s like, “who am I if I’m not loved? Who am I if I’m not safe?” We’ve got to come up with some way to compensate for wherever we feel less than or out of control or something like that.

Mark: And then these become out of sync personality traits. Or even personality disorders, such as, like, narcissistic personality disorder or whatever…

Christine: They can go that far. They can totally go that far. But most of us don’t go that far. Most of us don’t develop a personality disorder. We have these compensatory strategies.

I’ll give you an example of mine, and then I’ll give you some other ones…

Mark: Yeah, cause my mind is already thinking about what mine were. (laughing) I think I know, actually…

Christine: (laughing) I think I might be able to guess yours. We might have the same one…

Mark: (laughing) Over-achievement might have been one of them…

Christine: (laughing) Exactly. “Ding-ding-ding.”

So that was mine. Over achiever. High achiever. I thought, “Well, if I’m not going to be liked, and if something’s wrong with me mentally or physically, then I’m just going to get the best grades. And be successful.”

Other examples are…

Mark: And our academic system plays right into that doesn’t it?

Christine: Oh, totally. Totally. But everybody picks their particular brand. And sometimes you have a hybrid. So another example is a “people pleaser.” Like, if at some point in your life you felt unloved or you felt like you got in trouble from one of your parents, or maybe your parents, like, fought a lot. And the way you could make them happy or get their love was to please them. And get their approval that way. Then you might become a “people pleaser.”

Or you might be a “caretaker.” If you found your worthiness by taking care of other people. Coming to the rescue. Solving their problems.

Or you might be a bit of “control freak.” People that grew up in a lot of chaos. Like, a lot of moving or again, parents fighting, or just a lot of uncertainty. Or abandonment. You just want to control everything. You’re type A. If you want something done, you do it yourself. These are just some of the common strategies…

Mark: And these carry in through adulthood unless you take a hard look at them. If you have a hard stop in life, or things are just not working out. Did that happen to you? Was there a certain incident that…?

Christine: Oh my Gosh. There was so many things. And the thing about these is not only do they carry through, but they’re effective.

Mark: (laughing) Yeah, right. They’re darn effective.

Christine: They’re very effective. Like, the “over achievers,” you have success. “People pleasers,” people like you. “Caretakers,” people need you. “Control Freaks,” you have a lot of certainty in your life. So they work on the goal-line. But they’re not very fulfilling on the soul-line.

Mark: Oh, wow. Look at that. Little rhyme there. Trademark.

Christine: (laughing) I think I learned that in my Spiritual Psychology program. The goal-line/soul-line so I can’t own the trademark. But it’s a good one.

So for me the over achieving was highly effective. I graduated the top of my class. I went to a great college…

Mark: Got lots of accolades for the grades. Got into the right schools. Blah-blah-blah.

Christine: Absolutely. And that became my identity. And the thing about these strategies is we think they are our personality. We think they are who we are. But they’re not.

Mark: You know, I see that particular trait as almost dominant in our culture. And a lot of people who come to some of our SEALFIT training has a “wake-up” type of effect to it. Where it can really wake you up to these stories. And I see a lot of people in their 40s, 50s… well into their lives who are extraordinarily successful still living that story.

Christine: And when you live that way, you’re constantly living in “when-then”s. And for the over-achievers particularly the bar keeps getting raised. And enough is never enough. I see so many people… I’m sure you do too… that are highly successful but still feel like there’s something missing. Still feel like there’s more.

People Pleasers end up resentful. Because it’s all about everybody else. Care Takers end up depleted…

Mark: Because they’re pleasing everyone else, but nobody’s reciprocating. Because there’s no requirement to reciprocate.

Christine: And People Pleasers are terrible receivers. They really suck at receiving. Try to give a People Pleaser a compliment…

Mark: Here’s another rhyme. A People Pleaser is not a receiver.

Christine: Whoa! On a roll. You can have that one.

Mark: No, I think I’ll let that one slide.

Christine: But you know what, though? And this is for all the People Pleasers out there. People pleasing is actually selfish. People think it’s selfless, but it’s actually… when we’re people pleasing, we’re the one that wants to be liked. We’re the one that doesn’t want confrontation.

However, it’s selfish in self-depleting way…

Mark: It’s disguised neediness, right? Interesting.

Emotional Coach

10:49

You know, I’m like a hack emotional coach mainly because… and most people know this who are listening… that I’ve been married to a therapist for 24 years. And I’ve been to enormous number of hours of therapy. And some of it because I really needed it badly. And then, as I got a little bit more into it, because I really was intrigued with learning the emotional side. And it’s something that everybody needs… that’s why I don’t like calling a therapist a “therapist.” I look at it as a coach.

Christine: Absolutely.

Mark: An emotional coach. You have a fitness coach, you have an executive coach… why not have an emotional coach? This is a very specific set of skills. Everyone’s got some sort of pattern that they’re… or story that they’re living that an emotional coach can help unwind. And then connect with that emotional maturity, right? Is that your experience?

Christine: Yes. And I feel… and this is based on a lot of evidence too… that humans for the most part, we don’t like to feel. We like to feel the good stuff. But we are really great at suppressing our emotions. And distracting ourselves from them.

And we live in a time when there are so many outlets for not feeling your emotions. And I see time and time again people cope with emotions by being strong, pushing through, having some kind of addiction and work is one of those… society accepts that and reinforces that. We can bookmark this, but the whole, like, to be an entrepreneur you have to work 20 hours a day to earn your badge of honor as an entrepreneur. That doesn’t have to be true.

There’s a lot of this spiritual by-pass. The pep-talk that I’m just going to jump to the silver lining, and most of us, we don’t have tools to really release our emotion. And have a healthy relationship with them.

But our emotions are powerful. They’re really, really powerful. And if we repress them and suppress them, then we end up with depression or addiction. Or we end up, like, I call “leaky.” We’re irritable or we snap at other people. Those are the kind of ways that if we don’t have an emotional coach like you said, we end up kind of these volcanoes that are just about to erupt at any time. Or we completely shut-down. And the key is–I believe in therapy, I believe in coaching–but it’s almost like finding a mate and dating. You’ve gotta find a good one.

Because sometimes therapy can be too indulgent in emotions. For example, if you go to a therapist’s office and you’re just sitting and talking about the same thing over and over and over again and you’re just crying or you’re angry or whatever and there’s no progress. There’s no connecting the dots. There’s no responsibility. There’s no compassion…

Mark: Yeah. Rehashing is not the same as releasing or growing, right?

Christine: Exactly

Mark: And I think that’s right the Gestalt therapy of the past where you just talk about all your problems. You know, like what you see in the movies and on TV.

That’s largely been debunked. Even though a lot of people are still doing it. It’s not to say that you don’t want to identify… but then you use tools to get the source and then to release that energy.

I love the whole movement toward multi-disciplinary, somatic type work, where it’s like, there’s a little bit of talk, but then there’s the breath. And maybe some movement. Or art. You know? Drawing.

Christine: I’m a big fan of ecstatic dance. Anything that like gets the emotion up and out. And good therapy…

Mark: Or SEALFIT training…

Christine: SEALFIT training. There you go. That’ll do it for sure.

Mark: So back to your story now. We can go down this rabbit hole and I wanna come back to tools and strategies.

Christine: Yeah. Got lots.

Mark: I bet. But tell us about kind of where your breaking point was. Did you just have an “a-ha” moment? Did you kind of hit bottom? What was your…

Christine: Oh, I wish. I wish that I had this “a-ha” moment and then in an instant everything changed. (laughing) And I was suddenly enlightened.

Wouldn’t that be nice? No.

I did have a rock-bottom moment but the up wasn’t straight shot. It was step by step by step.

Mark: It rarely is….

Christine: Yeah. It rarely is…

The Right Questions

16:08

Mark: On that note… this Joshua Mantz guy… I did a podcast with Joshua, he was the Army guy I mentioned earlier. So after his incident in Afghanistan it took him 10 years to recover. And he said it wasn’t recovering from the injury and the combat stress. It was actually an awakening that he had. Because not many people face death and get a second chance. And so his whole journey was emotional development. For 10 years, it took him. So that’s about how long it really takes to develop the kind of awareness over those patterns, doesn’t it?

Christine: It really does. Cause we’re having to rewire our brain. We have these neural nets in our brain based on thoughts and emotions. We not only have a default in terms of our thought patterns, we have a default in terms of our emotion. And that’s physiological. Like, we create certain hormones based on our thoughts and our feelings. And we have to really be intentional about shifting that, and consistent about shifting it. And I think that’s one of the myths that I like to bust in the personal transformation industry. Is there’s no quick fix.

Don’t expect to go to one workshop and “boom” you’re done. What I will say is my time between dips or “Expectation Hangovers” like I call them has gotten longer. And the time I spend suffering in them has gotten shorter. Cause I have more tools.

Mark: And probably less suffering…

Christine: Exactly. And it’s even… I have an acceptance of it. The suffering isn’t there. I relate to it as, “All right. This isn’t so great.” But I’m learning something. I’m going to dive right into it. I’m going to leverage it because I know it’s happening for me. And it’s just getting me to the next level.

But the suffering doesn’t have to be necessary. I think humans… throughout our life we’re going to experience upset. We’re going to experience disappointment. We’re going to experience pain from time to time.

But I think that we prolong and create the suffering because we judge our experience. We resist it so much. We want it so badly to be different. You know, you get fired from a job and you’re in regret and you’re thinking about the past, and you want it so badly to be different.

Instead of accepting it. Asking, “What can I learn from this?” The question, “Why is this happening?” I think gets us nowhere. “What am I learning?” That’s a powerful question.

Mark: Yeah. I love that. So the quality of our lives is determined by the quality of the questions we ask. I learned that in my early twenties when I started to ask why was I miserable. And then my achiever self… which was overemphasized had led me to NYU to get my MBA and my CPA and all that kind of stuff. And there I was. But I had the great fortune of learning to meditate with a Zen master when I was 21. Talk about a neural-plastic effect.

Christine: Yeah. At 21? That’s amazing.

Mark: Cause my brain was still developing.

Christine: Exactly.

Mark: And the quietness caused me to see these questions that I was asking almost subconsciously. And when I realized they were all very disempowering questions such as “Why is this happening? Why am I not happy?” “Why-why-why.” It’s almost like a victim mentality. I was able to shift those. Interdict them and ask different questions. And then that literally led me through a transformation process that led me into the Navy SEALs. How cool is that?

So it sounds like you had a similar kind of thing happen?

Christine: Yeah. I guess I should finally complete that story. I just keep going off on tangents. So I… my over-achieving self got me graduated at the top of my class at my college early. Moved out to Hollywood… I don’t even think I was 21.

Mark: Did you want to be an actress? Or what was your thinking?

Christine: No. As a kid I was an actor. So my parents got me into acting classes as a kid because they saw me just retreat. Cause I had so much challenge socially.

So I took TV acting classes, and when the camera came on and I had a script and I could be someone else, I could really be myself. Because it’s almost like I had permission.

But I got scouted at 17, moved out to the Oakwood Apartments in Burbank. And went on auditions and realized, “Wow. This is a lot of rejection. Rejection’s already my sore-point. I don’t know that I want to do this.”

And the over-achiever in me thought, “This leaves too much to chance. I want something I can have more control over.” So I studied TV and film and I moved out to… I didn’t know what, but I thought maybe a producer or something like that. But I ended up at an agency… I ended up at the William Morris agency, which is now William Morris Endeavor.

Mark: Good thing it wasn’t the Weinstein Agency…

Christine: (laughing) I know. But believe me, I had my share of it in the entertainment industry as a young woman. And worked my way up, and eventually became an agent at the age of 25 which was unheard of. To be promoted that young and to be a female as well.

Mark: Did you have any notable clients at the time?

Christine: Most of my clients were writers, producers, directors. So people…names you’d see on screens, but not like famous people you’d know.

But I was living the life, Mark. I had it all. I was making 6 figures by the time I was 25. I was dating the head of a movie studio, so between my life and his life it was private jets and hanging out with celebrities. And Oscars and Golden Globes.

Mark: Yeah, most people would say that is awesome. Well done, Christine, you’ve made it.

Christine: Well done, right? I made it. I remember one New Year’s Eve… it was a very small dinner party and I’m sitting next to George Clooney on one side and Cindy Crawford on the other…well the guy I was with, and then I think maybe she was across from me. Kind of looking around, going, “I’m still not happy. Something’s really wrong with me. I am still not happy.”

And I also started to see that people… not everyone, but that money and fame was not the recipe for happiness. Like I got an early look at that, which I’m glad… And I remember going up to my office one day and the man who owned the agency was a huge art collector. And outside of my office there was this painting that was probably worth… who even knows how much? But a lot of money.

And it was a woman in this negligée who was 9 months pregnant in a yard sale gone awry. With a UFO ship up above. And like a spotlight shining down on her. And she was like, “Take me.”

And I remember one day just staring at that painting, feeling like that woman. And going, “Who am I? How did I get here? I don’t belong.” You know? Again, my whole life I was searching for belonging and searching for meaning and I knew it wasn’t there.

So after a lot of thinking, I ended up quitting. And I thought if you take a leap of faith, you land in the clouds…

Mark: (laughing) The universe’ll provide for you.

Christine: Things work out. Then the movies and everything.

No. My books say when you take a leap of faith there’s a freefall.

Mark: Yeah. Stand-by, right?

Christine: (laughing) And who knows how long that freefall is going to be, but yeah… So, I quit my job, which is my whole identity. Sends me into even a worse depression. And by this time I’m on anti-depressants and anti-anxiety pills. And fighting migraines. And an autoimmune disorder.

Then I am temporarily estranged from my family, because I made a decision that they didn’t approve of.

Mark: It was contrary… that happened to me as well. Little bit.

Christine: And then I went into debt, because I tried to keep up with my Hollywood lifestyle. And then 6 months before my wedding my fiancé broke up with me. So I lost…

Mark: Whoa. Trifecta.

Christine: Well, fivefecta. Whatever five is. My fivefecta. (laughing) I love that we’re just making up words. It’s great.

I had a fivefecta and didn’t have all the things I clung to for identity. And I really hit rock-bottom. I mean I was severely depressed. I was crying every day. I had met my life coach at 22, but so much of kind of what she was telling me I was not really taking to heart.

Mark: It was cognized but not internalized.

Christine: Yeah, and I resisted it. Because it required making changes I didn’t necessarily want to make. But when I finally hit that rock-…

Mark: That’s pretty common, you know? If you’re not ready to hear the message then it’s not going to land.

Christine: Absolutely. Or it does land and then we make the person wrong for it. There were so many times I broke up with her. (laughing) Sometimes we break up with our coaches or therapists. Cause I was like, “You’re so wrong. I’m not going to do that.”

Blue Pill and Red Pill

24:26

But finally, I realized that… and this was my |’a-ha” moment… that the common denominator in everything. My health, my money, my family… the break-up, my job. Was me.

And that’s a wake-up call when you realize that you are the creator of your life. And when we’re in that place we have two choices. Well, actually, 3. The 2 most common places people go to are victim. “My life sucks. Things don’t work out for me.”

Or intense self-blame. “This is all my fault. What did I do wrong?”

Mark: Mm-hmm. Both of those are blue pill choices… (laughing)

Christine: Exactly. Exactly.

Mark: You gotta take the red pill…

Christine: What would the red pill be?

Mark: The red pill would be take responsibility for your actions and then to start learning how to unwind the pattern.

Christine: Exactly. To go, “Why is this happening for me? What am I learning?”

So that’s when I went to Mona, my coach, and I’m like, “Okay. I’m all in. Show me. Teach me.”

Mark: And that’s emptying your cup and humbly asking for help.

Christine: Yeah. (laughing) Desperately.

Mark: (laughing) Desperately. Humbly. You say “desperate,” I say “humble.” But they may mean the same thing.

Christine: They may mean kind of the same.

But that’s how it began.

Mark: And so you were around 24, 25 when this happened…?

Christine: About 26 when it happened. And got the idea to write my first book. And then just started being more open about what I was going through.

Mark: So you hit rock-bottom and then you just come out and write a book? I mean, there must have been some serious growth that happened… maybe it was a pretty accelerated growth? Because you were so ready for it?

Christine: It was definitely accelerated. I was so ready, it was definitely accelerated. I had a great teacher. And what happened is I started talking about this quarter-life crisis thing, that so many 20 something’s were going through.

Mark: That’s interesting. I’ve never heard that. But I do see in our training kind of a couple pockets where people seem to have these issues. And one of them is in the early 20s, when people are like, “This is my life. I was told this is what it was going to be.” And then they’re waking up to that story and going, “Holy Shit.” both of us had that experience.

And then the other one is kind of like the mid-life, which you say is probably even more…

Christine: Well, yeah, it’s just at different points. But I think what’s fascinating about the 20s and my first 2 books were for people in their 20s. There’s so much pressure to figure everything out.

And I believe that the thing that we should be figuring out in our 20s is who we really are. Not who we want to marry or what we want to do with our life. The first step… and that’s why I wrote the books that I did… was really, “Who am I? What do I want, and how do I get it? And who am I independent of this story and what I’ve been told I have to be and all of those things.

I think it’s an incredible time to do a lot of personal reflection. And so that’s… I became obsessed with it. I became… workshops and books and everything I could get my hands on. And that’s when I decided to write the book and become a coach because it was helping me so much.

And then I was a personal trainer to pay my bills…

Mark: Fitness? A fitness trainer?

Christine: Yes. Fitness. Fitness trainer.

And my clients would say to me, “I just want to talk to you. Do we have to work out?” And I started to realize I had a knack for coaching. And for talking to people. And for psychology. My mom’s a therapist…

Mark: Is she?

Christine: Yeah.

Mark: So what about the degree in Spiritual Psychology? I mean, when we had coffee that time when I first met you, we talked a little bit about this. I know some folks who had gone to the… is it Santa Monica?

Christine: University of Santa Monica. Yeah.

Mark: Tell us about that. Most people aren’t familiar with that term, “Spiritual Psychology.” In fact, most people aren’t really sure what we mean by the term “spiritual’ either. Cause everyone’s got a different idea of what that is. So let’s talk about that a little bit. And how does it relate to emotional development?

Christine: Absolutely. I’ll answer… see if I remember all those.

Mark: (laughing) I threw 3 different questions at you. Sorry about that.

Christine: (laughing) That’s totally okay.

Mark: It’s really just kind of one question.

Christine: We’ll see how I answer it.

So I didn’t know what it was either. All I knew is as a life coach I felt like I was doing a disservice to people only helping them with their future and present. Because so much of our past really does influence our present and future. And all of us need to clean it up at some point. So we don’t keep using it as what’s driving us. Or as the excuse for why we don’t have what we want.

So… and plus my ego thought some letters after my name would be good. So I enrolled and I really didn’t know what it was. I was just like, “Spiritual’s cool. Psychology’s cool. Sounds great. Master’s program? Awesome.”

And I had no idea of the experience that I was in for. It’s a highly experiential program. So everything, every skill set that you learn you go right into a trio where one person’s the councilor, one person’s the client and one person’s the observer. And you practice the tool. In all 3 roles.

And so it made me fall in love with experiential learning. As a way to learn. Rather than the traditional someone teaches you something, you memorize it, you regurgitate it back.

Mark: Did you have papers to write?

Christine: A little bit, but they were more about our development. And I learned so much about myself in the program. And the “spiritual” part is really putting the soul back into psychology.

Mark: Mm-hmm.

Christine: Cause psyche that has to do with the soul. And psychology in terms of the practice out there, is just kind of “mind.”

Mark: And the original concept… the Greco concept… it was whole person. And so when you’re talking about psychology, we’re talking about the whole mind. Which included the emotions and a concept of spirituality. As well as how that was showing up in what we would call psychology today. Which has been conflated to “thinking.”

Christine: Well, so like I said…

Mark: usually dysfunctional thinking…

Christine. Exactly. And I saw my first shrink when I was 11. And therapy got me to a certain point. But I always felt like there was something missing. And I always felt like I was broken. And I was just trying to go to fix myself.

And what I learned in Spiritual Psychology and why the program appealed to me so much is because it comes from the belief that inside all of us is this soul that’s unbroken. That’s whole and complete and full of unconditional love and compassion. And it doesn’t… we don’t need labels. And that every single person has all the inner resources inside they need to heal anything. To really heal anything.

And so it was profound for me cause when I entered the program I was still on anti-depressants. And I truly believed that I had a chemical imbalance. And if I was a diabetic, I’d take insulin. So… I’m depressed, I take these drugs.

Even though I didn’t want to. Like, even though I felt like they were preventing me from feeling everything I could possibly feel. And so by putting the soul back into psychology, I found not only my connection to a higher power. That’s my definition of spirituality, is that some connection to a higher power. Call it God. Call it spirit. Call it nature. Call it whatever you want, but knowing we’re not alone. Knowing that there’s this kind of unconditional force of truth and love that literally has our back. And is a guidance system that we’re all connected to. And connects you and I. That creates that oneness.

Mark: So you’ve used the term “soul” and “spirit” almost interchangeably. Is there a distinction between the two?

Christine: I… you know… to me…

Mark: As a matter of opinion. I know you can’t opine as the expert. (laughing)

Christine: (laughing) I know. “Hello, I’m the expert on soul and spirit.” That would be my ego.

For me, I feel like our soul is something we have inside. And “spirit” is more that higher power… expansive…all around us.

Mark: But the two are connected.

Christine: One hundred thousand percent.

Mark: That’s interesting, cause that’s kind of the way that I have described it as well. That there’s a local version of spirit, that we could call “soul.” And that’s the spirit that resides inside of us and that runs through us. And then that’s connected or part of the universal. It’s like the wave and the water metaphor. The ocean is the spirit, and the wave is the soul. That it arises… has a completely unique existence… and crashes again. And that represents a lifetime. But it’s 100% wet. (laughing) just like the rest of the ocean.

Christine: Exactly. Exactly. I love that picture.

Reins and the Mind

34:12

Mark: So that was a two year program and it was really transformational for you it sounds like.

Christine: Very transformational for me. I ended up going a 3rd year and getting another Master’s in consciousness, health and healing. Which is a lot about the mind/body connection. And then I ended up serving on faculty there for 3 years. And taught in the program. So it’s a huge foundation of my life and my work and it was key for me. I mean, I’m off anti-depressants. I have been for quite some time. And that’s one of the things that… I get asked this question a lot when people say, “How’d you get off them?” Because a lot of people want to.

And I’m not here to make a judgment of them being right or wrong. I think it’s totally an internal thing. Most people, when they get on the consciousness… on the mindfulness path… have a desire to not be medicated.

And it was not an overnight thing. I didn’t just stop.

Mark: Cause there really is a chemical imbalance. But the body has an incredible ability to rebalance itself.

Christine: It does. But you gotta come at it from all angles…

Mark: You gotta really hit it from all angles.

Christine: And be patient. And know that, you know, it was an addiction. I was coming off a drug. So I had to approach it physically. Look at my diet. No alcohol for 2 years cause it’s a depressant. Mentally like really rewire my brain. Notice my thought patterns. It has to be… in “Expectation Hangover,” in the book–on the mental level I talk about like our mind is like a galloping horse. But we’re the horseback rider, and sometime we gotta go, “Whoa.” And we gotta take those reins and steer it a different direction.

Mark: You know what? That metaphor shows up in the Bhagavad Gita

Christine: Does it really?

Mark: Yeah. Arjuna and Krishna. Krishna is the charioteer… no, let’s see… Anyways, I’m gonna get it wrong, but the chariot’s being pulled by the horses. The horses represent the unruly mind. And the reins are the ability to take control of that. And Arjuna’s standing there having a conversation with Krishna. It’s fascinating.

Christine: I did not know that. Well, I really do think that we’re all…

Mark: There you go. Patterns show up.

Christine: We’re all tapped in and pulling from kind of the same thing.

And then I really had to approach it emotionally. Like, I had to get… cause the thing, like we were talking about earlier is depression is tied to suppression. So I’ll tell you a story about…

Mark: That’s interesting too, hunh?

Christine: Oh, for sure. Like, so many depressed people, it suppressed creativity, suppressed emotion… So the story I was going to tell was… So Mona, my first coach…

Mark: Which leads to oppression by the way.

Christine: Exactly. It does. None of the “pressions” are bueno

Mark: Yeah. Stay away from those “pressions.”

Christine: (laughing) Stay away from the “pressions.”

Mark: It’s too much pressure. (laughing) All right, back to your story…

Christine: (laughing) I got it. We’re going to have to write all these down.

So, I’m in a session with her and her sessions were always at her house. And picture, like, someone that’s very stuck in 1985. The decor was… like, “cheesy” is an understatement for her style and decor and it… yeah… it was funny.

So one session I’m talking about wanting to not be depressed and so on and so forth. And she’s like, “Hold on.” She leaves the room… and she’s like blond, blue eyes… character. She leaves the room, she comes back with this huge pillow that has duct tape around it, a tennis racquet and gardening gloves. And she’s like, “Put on the gardening gloves, grab this tennis racquet, hit this pillow and scream.”

And I said, “That is ridiculous. I’m not doing that. That is stupid. Why do you want me to do that?”

And she said, “Because you’re angry.”

“I am NOT angry. What are you talking about? I’m just depressed. I don’t have a job I like, or the guy I like…” or whatever I was complaining about at the time.

She’s like, “Uh-huh.” And so she got on the floor and demonstrated. Which was terribly uncomfortable for me. But then it was my turn. And at first I was very awkward. I was hitting very wimpy. I was making little, teeny sounds.

But then she tried to help. She helped me put words to it. Like, “I’m angry because…” Or, “I’m frustrated because…” Or “I want this to be over because…”

And I started to really for the first time in my life… and this is so important for women, because we don’t have many outlets for it. I started to learn how to release anger. And not just a cathartic, but a healthy, therapeutic way.

And I believe in meditation and mindfulness. I think that’s incredibly effective. But for a lot of us, when we have the repressed rage or emotion or sadness or anger, we actually need a physical release…

Mark: It is stuck in the body. The mind can’t get to it and so… The breath can with some different types of breathing exercises. But movement and breath combined–which you’re doing when you strike something…

Christine: Exactly. And when you’re using words.

Mark: And using words. That’s the breath. But the words has meaning, so you’re combining… that’s a powerful somatic practice. I’ve actually participated in that with 6 people watching me. What fun.

Christine: Well, I demonstrate it… in “Expectation Hangover,” I call it the “Temper Tantrum technique.” And then in my online course, I show people how to do it.

Mark: Is it something that people can do alone?

Christine: Oh, 100%. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I take you through the whole process of how to do it. And again, it’s different than catharsis. Cause a lot of workshops out there just have people yell and scream…

Mark: Do some people put a picture of someone on the pillow?

Christine: (laughing) They might. I don’t advise it.

But, hey, way better to get your anger out that way. For me, there were some things that happened in my childhood and my past where I couldn’t speak my truth. I couldn’t fight back. I couldn’t say what I needed to say. And all that gets lodged in your body, and it makes it harder to speak up. And I see this with not just women, but men too… we aren’t… we don’t have a voice a lot of times in our lives. So doing this kind of release work really helps us put words to things that maybe we didn’t have in the past.

Mark: That’s awesome. So what are…? That sounds like a foundational tool to kind of get things moving. Get the energy released. What are… without going into too much detail. We have about 10 minutes left, here. But what are some of the other really powerful tools that you found have been helpful for both male and female clients? I know a lot of your clients are male, as well. Executives and whatnot…

Christine: Yes. Yes. Which has been fascinating for me. Because working with men and creating the space for them to be vulnerable is so powerful and so needed.

Mark: For sure. And I talk about vulnerability as one of the core leadership traits that you have to develop. Or skills, or qualities I’d guess you’d call it. Transparency and vulnerability, and it’s very, very difficult. Especially for older than 40 men. I think the Millennials are having a little bit easier time of it.

Christine: I agree. I agree. Cause they have a little more modelling. There’s a little more out there in terms… More openness. People are talking about it. But I’m finding so many men, especially the more successful they get over 40–weird fears are coming up. Like, fears of flying. And fears of running this big business, but feeling like a fraud. Like, “Who’s going to find out I’m really not qualified? I have no idea what I’m doing.”

And so there’s… this is kind of getting into your question… and so what happens is then the inner critic gets louder. When we don’t have vulnerability. When we don’t have self-compassion, that voice of the inner critic gets so, so loud. And we mistakenly believe that we need that inner critic to drive us.

Because let’s face it, the inner critic is effective. If I’m super-hard on myself, it’ll get me to do stuff. But again, it’s depleting and self-abusive.

Mark: Yeah, that’s like you can, in very select circumstances, use negative energy, negative emotions to propel you to action. But I agree with you. Over the long-term and as your only strategy, it’ll drain you.

Christine: Yeah. It’s totally drain you.

Self-compassion

41:50

So I’m gonna give a tool and there may be some eye-rolls cause people might think it’s cheesy, but it so works. And it’s super-easy. And you can do it and no one even has to know. Okay?

So, we want to get into the energy of compassion. Especially when inner critic is flaring up…

Mark: Compassion to ourselves.

Christine: Yes. To ourselves.

So passion actually means “suffering.” That’s the original definition. Co- means “with.” So “compassion” means just being with our suffering. And being able to hold a space for our self where there’s one part of us going through the experience. The person, personality, ego.

And then there’s the other part of us… the soul level that’s holding space for that experience. And that’s like, “It’s okay. I’m here. It’s okay.”

So one of my favorite tools for when you’re really being hard on yourself or you’re having trouble finding the compassion. Is to have a picture of yourself as a kid. You can have it on your phone, you can have it in your wallet, whatever… Because there’s something that’s so profoundly state-shifting about looking at a picture of us when we’re like 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. That age. Connecting with it. And being like, “Whoa. That’s me. That’s who I’m being mean to.”

Mark: When I see my picture at that age I’m like, “Who is that little mutant kid? What a dork.”

Christine: (laughing) A mutant?! You judge yourself? We need to work on this.

Mark: (laughing) Oh man. Maybe I need a session…

Christine: Yes! You need to like find that place of compassion and be like, “Wow.” Cause when we look at that picture… believe me I can look at some of my teenage pictures… most of them have been destroyed when I had mouth appliances and acne and all kinds of stuff… And be like, “Unh.”

But there’s this sweetness and this innocence that we have. And I’ve given this to some… all my clients. The women take it up no problem. Men are like, “Oh, I don’t know.” But when they do it, they call me and they’re like, “That really worked. It really worked. It’s helping me feel compassion. It’s helping me…” Cause when we’re first vulnerable with ourselves, it’s easier to be vulnerable with other people.

Mark: I agree with that. I was kinda being facetious… this reminds me of a visualization technique that I now use but it was taught to me by a therapist through EMDR. It was to go back in a visualization to find a memory. You can do it both powerful, and also the negative. Something really bad that happened. But it’s important to go back to a powerful moment and see yourself. And then to really get an image and connect. And then to really have a conversation with that earlier–kind of child version–of yourself.

And then you can go back to really negative event that you’re willing to remember. And to see what happens and then to evoke the emotional experience. And then to reframe it there. That’s where you could use that compassion technique.

Christine: Yes. And what’s so amazing, Mark… I’m sure you know this, is the mind doesn’t know the difference between reality and a well-imagined thought or memory. So one thing we learned in the spiritual psychology program is healing is the application of love to the places inside that hurt.

So I use that similar technique with my clients and we actually will set up 2 chairs sometimes. And they’ll go back to maybe a painful memory. And say and let themselves express in one chair… and then say to themselves the things they wish that someone would have said to them. Like, “You didn’t do anything wrong. I’m here. It’s not your fault.” All those kinds of things. That’s how we heal these things.

We don’t heal them by sitting around and talking about it for hours and hours and hours.

Mark: And here’s the point too… you could be a superpower, worth a hundred million dollar, executive… and still be really held back by some of what they call the “Shadow self.” by these shadow things that run… just these emotional patterns stuck from a young age that if you haven’t worked on them, you’re never going to feel complete or whole. No matter… the money’s never going to fill that hole.

Christine: It never is. And often, you know, the most kind of like… I put “successful” in air-quotes. We’ll use maybe the word “wealthy”… people are often those… they’ve gotten there because of their compensatory strategies. So the degree that they’re wealthy, or on top of the world, is the same degree that they’ve been terribly hard on themselves. So that’s why that lack of fulfillment is there because it’s living in “when-thens” and the bar always has to be higher.

And they never feel like enough…

Mark: You know, I would even say… Now I’m thinking about other high-achievers that usually are drawn to our work. And of course, the Navy SEAL candidate. The Navy SEAL operator. The military Special Forces guy. Or generally anybody in that domain is an achiever.

And those who do well in quick recovery from combat stress… cause I think everybody takes stress on in combat. Cause it’s such an extreme negative environment and negative experience. But those who do well are the ones who have the emotional maturity going in either to the military or going into that space.

And that’s kind of the Joshua Mantz story we were talking about earlier. Yes, he had an extremely traumatic situation, but it was the emotional trauma of having not dealt with his early childhood stuff that caused the most pain to him. And so to me… and I’ll run this by you… but it seems like, if we want to teach resiliency, start with the emotional development to clear up this past baggage. Because then it releases all that energy so you can process things in a healthy manner really quickly. And you don’t get stuck back in those patterns, which some of these guys are stuck in these extremely negative patterns, which then get exacerbated by the drugs… Ugh. It’s a downward spiral quickly.

Christine: Yeah, cause resiliency isn’t about plowing over things. And pretending that it didn’t happen. And I see this a lot with high achievers. I’ve had a couple guys in the military and it’s hard for them.

Cause 1) their identity is in accomplishing a task or being there for others. And being perfect.

Mark: Being the strong, being the perfect military, Special Ops guy. Everyone’s giving accolades and you don’t want to be perceived as broken. Cause that’s a cultural label I guess. And we don’t look at it that way. We look at it as a necessity. A necessary part of your development as a human being is to clear up the past. As you grow up into your full potential. They go hand-in-hand, right?

Christine: Yeah. They go hand-in-hand. And I think for men… for the men listening, one thing that I think’s important to say to them is give yourself a lot of “Atta boys.” Like, it’s so important for men to feel proud. And to feel proud of yourself. To acknowledge yourself. Not like from this ego… but proud of yourself not just for your accomplishments, but who you are. Proud of yourself when you vulnerably share something.

That kind of feeling of pride that we kinda want from our father or our leader or our captain or whoever it may be, is so important for men to give themselves.

Mark: Yeah, I agree with that. I think that part of the emasculation that men feel is that a) it’s the emotional… it’s not okay to show emotions. But then that basically cuts them in half.

It cuts them in half, and so because of that they feel like, less than whole. And then they’re… society is basically saying, “You’re not enough.”

“You’re not enough. Because you need to be more sensitive. You need to be a better communicator. You need to be more trusting. You need to be more vulnerable.”

And they’re like, “Which is it? Do you want me to not show emotions or do you show ’em?” It’s kind of confusing for a lot of guys…

Christine: It is confusing. And this is one thing I’ve learned as a woman in my romantic relationships with men. Friendships. With my dad. Whatever. Is… And for the women listening… like, you wanna create a space for a man to be vulnerable. And you don’t do that by picking at it. By being like… digging for the feelings. “How are you feeling about this? Tell me. You never talk about your feelings.”

Or trying to be their therapist or coach. Or fixing them.

Mark: Guys don’t like to be fixed.

Christine: No. No, no, no. You create a space for it.

And also, don’t use your man as your therapist. Or your girlfriend either. So that’s one thing I’ve learned that’s one of the powers of being female is that if you really create a space where a man feels respected and he trusts you, eventually… I’ve noticed… he’ll start to open up.

But I’ve tried it the opposite way… by judging and picking and trying to be the coach and therapist. And dragging my exes to workshops and so on and so forth. (laughing) I don’t advise that approach.

Mark: (laughing) Yeah. That’s kind of ugly, hunh?

Closing

50:30

Awesome. Well we are pretty much out of time. I could talk about this stuff all day long. I think it’s so important and I appreciate you for the work you’re doing.

And how can folks learn about you? Your book is “Expectation Hangover.”

Christine: “Expectation Hangover.” It’s really how to leverage disappointment. It’s a personal development book. So I take you through…

Mark: So a lot of these tools are in the book?

Christine: Tons of these tools. So what we look at is we look at why… an Expectation Hangover is when things don’t go according to plan. Or they go according to plan but you don’t feel like you thought you would. Or life just throws you an unexpected curveball.

Mark: Which is all the time.

Christine: All the time. And they always are illuminating something from our past that we have the opportunity to go in and heal and deal with. And so I take you through the emotional, mental, behavioral and spiritual aspects of healing and transformation. It’s a deep book. Lots of meditations. Lots of exercises. It’s like you… you work your way through it.

And then the podcast, if you want to listen to live life-coaching, it’s “Over It and On With It.”

And live life-coaching sessions every Wednesday come up…

Mark: So you walk through a coaching session with a client on the air…

Christine: Not even a client… I have people just call in. I know nothing about them. It’s not edited. And then after the call, I break down what I did. And I give the listener tools and things like that.

And Saturdays I have “Coaches’ Corners,” which you’re going to be on…

Mark: Have you ever had anyone call in where you just have to kick ’em off after a few minutes?

Christine: No. The only call I didn’t air was someone whose accent and Internet connection was a little too strong. I knew people would have trouble understanding it. But other than that, I haven’t had one call I haven’t used.

Mark: That’s cool.

Christine: Yeah. People share so vulnerably. And there’s some men on the show… I mean, more women call in. But some of the male callers have been so vulnerable and so amazing.

Mark: “Over It and On With It.” Available iTunes… all those places? Awesome.

Thank you very much, Christine. Appreciate your time.

Hooyah.

Christine: Hooyah. I like saying that. Makes me feel super-cool.

Mark: All right, everyone. Thanks so much for your time. If you want some emotional development and I encourage you to do so because we all need it. Then go check out Christine’s book and her podcast.

And of course Unbeatable Mind. Keep your training up. Stay focused. Train hard. Do the work cause the work won’t do you.

And we’ll see you at the Summit hopefully. And if not, then we’ll see you in training someday soon.

Divine out.

Hooyah.

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