“You might even feel more confident. Your life will not change until you act in a way that’s consistent with someone who’s confident. So it really all begins in the actions.” – Gary John Bishop
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Gary John Bishop (@garyjohnbishop) is a Scottish development expert and author who has written two no-nonsense books about self-development called “Unfu*k Yourself: Get Out of Your Head and into Your Life,” and “Stop Doing That Sh*t: End Self-Sabotage and Demand Your Life Back.” Today, he and Mark talk about the ins and outs of personal development and philosophy.
- Gary promotes actions over attitudes
- Doing something well for the first time will often involve doing things despite lack of confidence
- Sometimes creating what you want will involve being “unrealistic” so that you can imagine yourself the way you’d like to be.
Listen to this episode to hear a frank discussion about the philosophy of how to improve yourself.
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Hey folks. This is Mark Divine with the Unbeatable Mind podcast. Welcome back and thanks for joining me again today. Really appreciate your time. I do not take it for granted there’s so much out there vying for your attention. The fact that you’re here listening to this is huge and I’m humbled. So thank you very much.
It does help to review the podcast if you listen to this on a platform the not iTunes then really helpful to review it. iTunes has like 500 five-star reviews but some of these other platforms around like Stitcher, Google Play, SoundCloud, Pandora – we just literally got listed on those, so it helps to review it. Really appreciate that.
My guest today is Gary John Bishop and like a dope I forgot to press record when I introduced him and he started riffing on his background. So I actually press record when I figured this out about five minutes in. So you’re gonna hear him just start talking here but anyways. Sorry about that. I’m not perfect.
Gary’s from Glasgow. He’s the author best-selling author of “Unfuck Yourself.” what a great title. Sold over a million copies. I mean he self-published this, he talks about it in the podcast. Huge resistance. Didn’t have any belief in himself. He published it and had no way to sell it, but with word-of-mouth, within I think three months or six months ago it had sold 30,000 copies. And then HarperCollins and other big publishers came along and bid on it.
And now he’s got a new book out called “Stop Doing That Shit: End Sabotage and Demand Your Life Back.”
So like I said he’s from Glasgow, Scotland. Ended up moving to Florida – lives in Florida. Worked in personal development for many years. Really interesting guy.
So by that way of introduction you’ll get a good sense of who this guy is. He’s a straight talker good with his hands and his tongue like he said in his intro to me which was very useful growing up on the left side of the tracks where they stole the tracks.
Anyways here’s Gary. Let’s have a good talk about how to unfuck yourself, stop doing that shit…
Gary: In my late thirties I was hitting a bit of a wall in just my self-expression and my ability to produce results, in my aliveness, in my vitality… I was a very hardworking and determined guy, but that was pretty much the limit of how I turned out. And relative alignment in fact my brother-in-law – my wife’s brother said to me “you should go do this personal development workshop and the whole idea of it just… I mean it turned my stomach. I was like “are you kidding me? Seriously? You’re asking me if I’ll do a workshop?
And I had all these images of what I was getting myself into. This notion of we’d all be doing Kumbaya around a campfire somewhere.
But anyway, it wasn’t like that at all. It was very, very confronting. And when I say confronting, like a lot of this stuff that I’d been tolerating, pretending, overcoming and just plain flat out ignoring got thrown in my face…
Mark: Do you remember what the workshop was? It sounds like an EST or a Landmark type thing…
Gary: Yeah, yeah. It was that kind of deal. And it was just really like shocking…
Mark: Yeah. It can be very jarring.
Gary: Right, right. You come out of that you’re just rattled, like “what the hell?”
But it lit me up like a Christmas tree. I mean, I just got like shocked to the degree of life that I’d be missing out on. And so I noticed very, very quickly that I was not only into doing this work on myself – but not to the degree that I’m fascinated by myself – but to the degree that I can talk to other people about it. It seemed to be making a difference with them. And so very quickly I actually became a senior program director in that organization. I traveled all over the world delivering those programs to thousands and thousands and thousands of people.
And then it was about four or five years ago I quit. Which you don’t typically do. Like you don’t you don’t quit being a SEAL right? So you don’t quit doing this thing either.
Mark: Why’d you quit?
Gary: I got three young sons, and it just… More and more it seemed to me like a complete lack of integrity to be spending 33 weeks of the year not with them. So I chose to honor the promise that I made to them. And at the time I was flying high. I was one of the most successful facilitators in the organization – at times the most successful facilitator in that organization, in the world. But it was no longer… Just no longer fitted with what I was saying my life was about.
So I started a little coaching business. And it got really insane. It was just to the point where I couldn’t fit another single body in. I had like 28 full-time…
Mark: So you’re doing one-on-one clients? Time consuming.
Gary: Very time consuming. And then I had somebody ask me… Actually, several people asked me, but one person was very persistent about writing a book. And had no real interest in doing such a thing. But eventually I succumbed. And I wrote the book. And I released it myself. And had the initial aim of maybe selling a few hundred copies would be awesome. And anybody who’s ever written their own book and released it themselves knows selling a few hundred copies of that thing seems easy at the beginning, but when it comes to actually executing – it’s a whole other game, right? I mean you might know 500 people – probably 40 of them are going to buy your book at best.
Mark: (laughing) Right.
Gary: So it was a challenge. But it was one I gave myself to, fully.
Mark: When did you put that out? Was that the “Unfuck Yourself?”
Gary: Yeah. It was October, 2016.
Mark: Okay. So not too far ago.
Gary: No and then it… But within the first five and a half months, we’d sold 30,000 copies. Mark: No kidding? That’s awesome.
Gary: Yeah. And it was all just word-of-mouth. It just spread like wildfire. People loved it… They love the tone. They love the simplicity. And they love the depth to it too. Cause it’s simple, but it’s deep if you just give it a little bit of thinking, you’ll see that it’s very penetrative. Which was deliberate, I mean it was absolutely what I was after. And then I got offered… I got like 22 offers from major publishers to pick it up. And eventually went with Harper.
And I think we might have hit it… But we’re damn close to having sold a million copies now. Mark: Holy cow. That’s terrific.
Mark: So let’s talk about that book. What was the first premise of it? Your primary message? And then what did people love about it? Like, when people wrote you letters and emails, said “hey this part changed my life.” let’s talk about some of that stuff.
Gary: So I’m, I guess, like a bit of an old-school existentialist, right? That’s kind of like where I hang out and ponder most. Existentialism. And particularly in a field of existentialism called ontology.
Mark: So explain to a listener what that is. What’s that philosophy?
Gary: Ontology is basically the study of what it is to be a human being. What is it? What is it to actually be, to exist as a being? What are some of those primary ways that you be? And how come? And so… I mean like all good Scotsman I spend a decent amount of my life annoyed.
Mark: (laughing) It’s in the culture, isn’t it?
Gary: Yeah. We’re like perpetually annoyed. Even when we go and see a comedian or something, we’re annoyed. “It’s funny, but I’m annoyed about something.” it’s just kinda like an angry Jerry Seinfeld.
But anyway I was annoyed… Everything I saw in the self-help genre it just seemed to be of perpetuating people’s misery. And through a lot of my training I know how to unmiserable you, right? I mean I know how to get you out of hole. I know how to get you completing your past. I know how to get you to… Actually show you how to forgive another, and leave yourself in a state of peace.
And so I wanted to write a book that would fly in the face of the genre. The genre was all about “trust your instincts” and other bullshit lines like that and… Which I’m not a fan of trusting your instincts… Cause you can cherry-pick them and count all the times for the right, but ignore all the times when you were just so far off it was unbelievable. I’m looking for a little more evidence than like how I feel right? I want a little more than that, right? Because I know just how I feel with a decent martini.
Mark: (laughing) Feelings are tricky, right?
Gary: A slice of good pizza… Like now my radar’s all over the place, right? I don’t know whether to trust it or not. It was all just by the combination of bread, marinara sauce, and cheese.
So anyway I wanted the book that was real for people, that related to people. And I wanted a book that wasn’t filled with either jargon, or some strategy now that I have to adopt. Like some secret code that everybody knows that I don’t know. Or some shit about being a fucking unicorn or something. I didn’t want any of that, right? Like, release your inner tiger. You’re not a tiger. Stop it. You’re a person. Try and work that shit out. You don’t have fur and big giant teeth and claws. You don’t do that, right?
So anyway, I wanted to cut through a lot of that. And what was all my mind was like what if I’m some single mom in Philly, right? And I’ve got two kids and I’m 26. Like, how the fuck do I get out of this, right? What do I do?
Or I’ve just lost my job and I’m 19 and I don’t have any college and leading is not even my thing.
Or what if I’m the other end of the spectrum? What if I’m 47 and I’ve had a successful career, but my wife just left me or my husband just left me… I really wanted to write the kind of book that resonated with people. That they could read it that every page had something. And I wasn’t like giving myself a simple… Just write a book. I had to fulfill on all these different parameters for me. For it to be decent.
And then ultimately it had to be a book that I would buy, right? And there’s not a lot of them. If I was gonna just be completely transparent, I actually don’t buy books that have been written in the last 20 to 25 years. I mostly read old books about philosophy. I’m not really interested in most of that stuff.
Not that I diminish it. It’s just that I don’t want to be like permeated by it. I wanna keep what I’m doing kinda true.
And so I really wanted this kind of real book, that you would pick it up and for all intents and purposes, punch you in the face. Not by saying something like “come on! You can do it!” like it goes a little more than that, right? It calls you out on some of your stuff that you’ve been pretending you’re okay with, but you’re not.
And I think one of the founding principles in the book that managed to shine through was ultimately when it comes down to it, whether you like it or not, you’re responsible for how this thing goes. And if you’re not happy, that’s on you. And you got to find a way to get happy. You gotta find a way to get successful. You got to find a way to get… Whatever.
And so I’ve heard all kinds of brilliant responses from people, what they used it for. One that always sticks in my mind is somebody said “as soon as I closed the book, I checked myself into rehab.”
Mark: That’s awesome.
Gary: That’s just brilliant. That’s somebody just… Something moved with them.
But then of it people… Like I had somebody recently who launched… They’ve been wanting to build this app for a long time. Which I know everybody’s doing that, but this person actually did it. And it’s been wildly successful. Like they’ve made a ton of money out of doing it. Which was brilliant.
And then I’ve heard from like sports people and people who are just stuck in a rut. And people and all kinds of… The cool thing is the age groups it expands. I’m getting messages from 19 year-old kids and from 68 year-old grandmas. It’s like brilliant, seeing people get inspired and take a life on. Ultimately that’s why I’m here anyway so I guess it’s so far the jobs getting done.
Punched in the Face
So getting punched in the face. So what’s the first face punch? Like, give me a sense or some of the principles that you bring out. I mean, I get that the overall message is “you’re responsible, so suck it up and get busy.”
But so what are some of the advice that you give or stories that you tell that really move people to check themselves into rehab or to immediately change their…
Gary: Well, I actually draw a massive distinction between what you think – and that includes how you feel – it includes your outlook and your moods and all kinds of stuff. So that is a particular world that you exist in, right? So every morning when you get out of bed it seems like you’re awakening into the world, right?
Mark: Right. But you’re really awakening into your story.
Gary: You’re awakening into a particular world is another way that I would say. A very specific one. And that world is created in your internal dialogue. One thing that always springs to mind for me is… This happened a few years ago… And I got like a big insight out of it… I woke up and I’m lying in my bed. And I actually caught myself reminding myself who I was pissed off at.
Mark: (laughing) Right. Because it wouldn’t be normal if you didn’t start your day there.
Gary: Right. I’m like lying there and I noticed like and anybody who’s like had any kind of introspection… If you’re in a relationship with somebody – like some things you have to check and to remind yourself whether you’re in a fight or not. Like “are we good? I can’t remember. Oh yeah, yeah. We’re good. Awesome!”
Right? Oh no we’re not. Shit. We just had that big argument. Oh crap.
So I noticed like I had to keep resetting myself into that world. I had to keep putting myself in there. And I noticed that it was really deliberate. Like “oh yeah. That’s right. I am pissed off at you!” Or not. And act accordingly.
Mark: So when we wake up, we basically recreate the world that we think we live in. Based upon our internal dialogue and our emotional states and in a sense we have to remind ourselves who we are every morning when we wake up. Is that what you’re saying?
Gary: Right. Which includes – by the way – all the shit. I mean, it would be great if I…
Mark: And we tend to go there first because of our training. And our negativity bias.
Gary: So I mean if I woke up every day and said “hey, I’m this courageous, loving human being who’s out to make a difference. Let me remind myself of that.”
But I don’t. It’s like it’s my shortcomings. It’s what I can’t do, or won’t do. What I struggle with. Like it all starts to bubble up again.
So in the book I talk about look you can focus on changing how you feel. You can do that. But you’ll get very limited results in your life if you’re giving all your attention to that. You might feel good, you might not. And if you don’t feel good, you might get in some negative state, because you don’t feel good.
And the point that I make in the book is “look if you are out to change your life. If there’s anything in your life… Your life only ever changes in the paradigm of action. So you might read all the books to become more confident. You might even feel more confident. Your life will not change until you act in a way that’s consistent with someone who’s confident. So it really all begins in the actions.
Now from the perspective of… Like a lot of people say “think and you shall do.” which isn’t true. I mean you might eventually get round to the spot where “oh yeah. I’m feeling really confident.” that does not connect itself to “and now I’ll do that thing,”
Mark: Thinking has many aspects to it. You don’t take action until you decide to kill off an old course of action, and choose a new one. And then you apply your willpower, right? To go forward.
Gary well, from an ontological perspective, I take a different perspective. I actually don’t care about willpower. I’m not interested in it as a phenomenon. What I’m interested in is something like having your actions matching your outcomes. Whether there’s willpower there or not. Or desire…
Those are all great when they’re there. The thing is you’re fucked when they’re not, right? What if I wake up and that experience of willpower – whatever that thing is for me – which might be different from what it is for you – but whatever that thing is, if it’s vacated the building. If it’s not here or I’m not feeling the courage. I’m not feeling the joy, or the motivation, or whatever that thing might be for me. What do I do if it’s not there?
And those are the moments – by the way – when things are going to go one way or the other. Now, you’ve clearly developed a muscle over time to be able to produce actions consistently that go beyond often what you even think you can do, right? And that’s the kind of to shit I’m interested. I’m interested in… I’m not interested in what you can do. I’m interested in what you think you can’t do. That’s the good shit right there. That’s when it starts to get interesting.
And mostly as human beings we try and get our mind ready for it. “I’ve got myself sorted here,” right? And I’ve worked with a lot of athletes on this shit. Like they stop working on their shot, they start working on their mind. I’m like “just work on the fucking shot. Take the shot,” right? That’s the action. Take your shot. You don’t get three points for getting your mind straight. You get three points for the mechanics of launching from outside the arc. And it’s sinking right through the net. You get three points for that.
Mark: Yeah, but if you’re taking the shot and telling yourself I’m never gonna make this then you’re never gonna make the shot.
Gary: That’s not true. You can actually train yourself to hit the shot while telling yourself you can’t hit it. And that’s the illusion I’m out to break up for people.
Mark: That’s interesting. I’d have to pick that apart. I mean, that’s not my experience, but I’d love to hear how that works.
Gary: I get it. And I’ll tell you, look – I wrote a best-selling book and almost every step of the way I didn’t think I could do it.
Mark: Well, you weren’t trying to write a best-selling book. You were trying to write a good book. You were trying to you were trying to write a book that met those criterion that you described earlier. Which was your non-negotiable. So you were just operating out of a different set of questions and matching your reality to that.
Gary: But in the back of somebody’s mind, right? There’s nobody sitting writing a book going “well I hope this is a fucking flaw,” right?
Mark: Well, the first time you do anything you don’t have certainty. So you’re gonna have a question Mark:
Gary: Right. Which brings me to this point then – which actually, you just hit the golden nugget right there. Anything… The first time somebody ever hits that three-pointer did they think they can do it?
Mark: Right. Probably not.
Gary: Right. And yet they hit it.
Gary: Right so and it’s the same to like I hear all the time… Sports is a great place to see the mechanics at play. Part of the illusion is like you hear guys say, “His confidence is gone.” but how did he get confidence then? He must have done some shit without confidence and then the confidence arose.
Mark: That’s right.
Gary: So that means that person was operating purely in the paradigm of action. Like their internal state wasn’t consistent with the results they were producing. Until they were.
And then you left with us little nugget of Voodoo…
Mark: But at least they’re operating from the paradigm of possibility.
Gary: Well maybe…
Mark: Or else they wouldn’t be trying it, right? If they were completely in a negative state, working out of that negation, then they wouldn’t even try. But if you operate from the paradigm of possibility, then you’re opening up the field of potential. And then you go for it. And then you hit it. And then you start to develop it.
Gary: Way too much psychology in that for this old existentialist.
Mark: (laughing) That’s not psychology. That’s Mark Divine-cology.
Gary: So my view is that – and I’m not saying just my view… Not only have I done this myself, I’ve coached lots of people on how to do this. But the illusion is that somehow you need to be different to produce results that go beyond where you’re at.
Mark: Interesting. I see. Because you have all the potential within you.
Gary: It’s already there.
Mark: Get out of your own way.
Gary: Right. The question is – can you act on something other than how you’re currently feeling?
Gary: Now that’s what I’m interested in. I am like fascinated by a human being doing something that’s far outside of what they think they can do. Or feel they can do. Or even have evidence for that they can do. And you might have evidence… “Well, I’ve been a loser for 27 years.” I got it.
But so I’ll use example myself, but not only did I not think I could write a book, I actively resisted it on a daily basis. So I would sit in front of that laptop totally… “I’m not doing it. This is shit. Nobody’s going to read this.”
And all the while like I’m typing. I’m typing, right?
Mark: It’s overcoming resistance. I love that. Steven Pressfield talks about that in “The War of Art.” it’s just the constant creative companion.
Gary: Right. So there I am and what’s actually… What’s making those words come up in that screen…? Well sure there’s thinking… But ultimately it’s down to those fingers on that keyboard. And the act of those fingers doing what they’re doing.
Mark: You’re asking people to be unrealistic. To basically create a new paradigm for themselves.
Gary: Here’s what I’m saying. I love positivity…
Mark: To do something unrealistic.
Gary: Yeah I positivity. I love getting the mindset right and all that shit. It’s great, right? I’m more interested in what do I do when that’s not there. How do I handle…? And by the way, now you start to get into where human beings are at the lowest ebb. How do I get out of the bog? Right?
And so you can have somebody say “well, just look on the bright side.” or “change your perspective.”
Mark: So you’re kind of flipping it backwards – so most people would say “if you’re in the tank and you’re all negative then first we gotta work on that. We gotta change your internal dialogue. Start to feel better. That’s the art of positivity – or the science of positivity. And then once you feel better and you’re feeding the Courage wolf – then we can take more powerful action.
What you’re saying is “screw that” – or “fuck that.” just take that powerful action. And then over time, as you develop confidence in that then your dialogue will change.
Gary: All righty. Now we get into the ontology of a human being. This is fucking awesome, right? This is like the best bet of ontology for me.
So ontology begins with some kind of premise that language – that is what you’re saying yourself – and the nature of that language that you’re in with yourself, is having an impact on you physiologically, psychologically, emotionally like all that stuff, right?
Mark: Yeah. I mean, everybody says that’s true in psychology. I mean, Tony Robbins has built his entire business on that.
Gary: Right. Now then… And you could get where people would get the logic… “I’ll just change the language, and the actions will follow,” right? But you already know, given what you’ve done with your life, you’re someone who’s familiar with this thing called “in the zone.”
Gary: Okay. So when you’re in the zone, what’s the language?
Mark: Yeah, the language is quieted. Right? It’s gone. It’s just pure perception of in action.
And the more skilled you are, the more perfect the action which reinforces the zone.
Gary: There’s another field called “phenomenology.” phenomenology is the as lived experience of something. as lived. That thing, right? And when you’re in the midst of some phenomenological experience, it’s you and the thing, all right? That’s it.
Mark: Right. You don’t put words to it until you try to understand it retrospectively.
Gary: Right. So then if I can get myself – and this is what was great about writing. The hardest part of writing from me when I was in that mindset was just getting my fingers on the freaking keyboard. It was just getting him on there. And then get them moving.
And then there was these moments when I got lost in the words, I would get lost in what I was writing and all of that other junk was gone. Like it wasn’t there until I reminded myself that it was there. So I’d have these phases of being lost in the words and then back out again. So in effect – and this is like the flip side of this kind of language and action thing is you can change the language by acting.
And I don’t mean pretending. I mean taking the actions of… So if I’m committed to being – let me say, I’m committed to being a loving man right with my wife – which I clearly am, and I’m committed to being a loving man – I’m not always feeling it my friend, right? Not always feeling it. But if I ask myself, “what are the actions? What would I be doing right now given I’m a loving man, what would I be doing? Well I might be shutting up right now. That might be what I’m doing if I’m a loving man. Or I might offer something, or I might extend myself.
I actually have started to – very much, in a very real way – hold myself to doing what I said I would do given who I would say I am. Regardless of however those feelings go up and down. Don’t always win at that game. But that is the game, right? There are times when the automatic kicks in – like there were times when I was writing the book – the automatic kicks in. Don’t want to do it. Not doing it. And so my actions…
Mark: Let me ask a question. Let’s use your line of thinking here. So you committed to being a loving husband and so you’re going to act like a loving husband, regardless of whether you feel it or not. That’s great.
What if you keep doing that and keep doing that, but the thoughts don’t align. And 5 years later, you still don’t feel like you love your wife, but you’re acting like it.
Gary: All right, but now there’s clearly some other internal dialog coming on me here.
Gary: There’s clearly some other like thing you’re not addressing or pretending isn’t there.
Mark: Because you’re not aware of it.
Gary: Right. And so then you’re using this “what would this loving man do,” to overcome something that you’re not being straight with yourself about.
Mark: Got it.
Gary: If you were straight…
Mark: This is where all that… The psychology of shadow and having these deep underlying subconscious programming that isn’t in your field of awareness. Yet it’s still driving your beliefs and your behavior. So you could have the overt or self-aware thought “I am a loving husband,” but underneath you might be in like a ridiculously codependent relationship. Because your father was an alcoholic and you’ve basically recreated your relationship with your mom. And all of a sudden… You’re just not aware of it. So you gotta deal with that issue.
Gary: Well the latest book – it’s called “Stop doing that Shit,” but we all have these kind of sabotaging behaviors. And just telling someone to stop it isn’t enough. So you don’t just read the title this book and be like “okay, well that’s it. I’m good to go. No more self-sabotage for me. In the book, I actually break down what’s at the heart of it. What yours is really about.
And so you get to do the work in the book. Get to understand like what… And ultimately I call them the three saboteurs. And there are three fundamental points that you’re out to prove as a human being. At a subconscious level.
While at the same time trying to overcome consciously. So it’s getting on one hand and then getting overcome with the other. And that’s the struggle.
Now why do we…?
Mark: What are those three saboteurs?
Gary: Well, I’ll give you one, right? So one of them – cause I don’t want to give you the whole book, you gotta freakin’ buy it
Mark: (laughing) oh come on. I just went I just bought “Unfuck Yourself” on Amazon. I’m adding I think I put you over a million…
Gary: I’ll get the publisher to send you one.
But anyway so one of them is it’s a never-ending persistent criticism of self. And that’s one. And people seem like “I got a ton of those.” no you’ve got one. And it’s like a tree though. It’s got branches to it, right?
So you made a good… You actually gave a really good example, so I’ll kind of jump on that example. So if I fundamentally concluded for myself at a really profound and deep, subconscious level… If I’ve concluded that I’m not loved… Use that as an example… I’m not loved.
And it’s not your criticism about yourself or that first saboteur – it’s not about other people it’s about you. So some people might already…
Mark: Well, let me pause there just for a second – sorry to cut your flow of thought – I don’t think people conclude that they’re not loved. I think people are not loved in the first eighteen to thirty-six months of their life when they have zero differentiation of self. No ego development whatsoever. They’re completely merged with their mother.
And if the love is withheld or not there, then that becomes – back to your phenomenological point of view – that becomes the lived experience.
Gary: That’s cause and effect.
Mark: It’s not a thought though until you…
Gary: That’s cause and effect. Alan Watts would just throw that up. That’s cause and effect.
Mark: No, that’s the mind basically creating a reality out of undifferentiated state of being. It doesn’t have the capacity to identify self versus other, and so it basically… And love is absent. So now the mind evolves into a differentiated self with love being absent. It is not a conscious thought.
Gary: It’s fundamentally inaccurate.
Mark: I’d love to hear why.
Gary: I even talk in the book – you have no sense of coming to a conclusion like that. You don’t notice you did it. But you still do it.
So like how can I know love is absent or there without understanding at some level what it is or it isn’t? You’re kind of going a little bit too into, like, tabula rasa which neuroscience is just throwing out the window. That we’re born a blank slate. Which is not quite accurate. There’s genetic carry forwards from the past – from your parents, your grandparents, your great-grandparents…
Mark: And with that theory you could have lack of self-love epigenetically transfer…
Gary: You might, but it’s not like you would have it. All the science I’ve read, it’s a significant although certainly not as significant as some neuroscientists… Although I do have a few of them on my speed dial if you like.
But really though, you might be predisposed to something. There’s not an inevitability about that thing though.
But if you start with a notion just that what’s going on with you – and you could make a case for its cause and effect – regardless. If I don’t know that to going on with me. I don’t know like what’s going on with me is that I am literally in my life proving that love for me doesn’t exist. And I don’t… It seems like I’m getting into relationships, and I want to be in relationships, and I want love and I have this yearning.
But on the other hand there was even times in my life where it’s there and I’m throwing a hand grenade down it. Which is the self-sabotage part. I’m sabotaging my relationships
I know I’m doing it. And then I hook on to all these other surface things “well, I saw my parents fight all the time when I was young.”
That’s all the surface. So in the book I say “look, what if a fundamental part of your existence is designed to prove something? And the proving of which would now give you something to grind against to overcome that? Like a kind of certainty in life. That your life now has a certain flavor. That your life now has a certain kinda taste to it.
And in your life – if it’s all about having no love – and I’ve got a couple of great examples of that like with clients of mine. They were coming to me and saying “why do I always keep attracting these kinds of people?”
And my answer was “because you’re out trying to find them.”
Gary: Looking for someone to fulfill on something that you subconsciously already decided. And that’s when I really started to see this whole notion of cause and effect Alan Watts talks about so poetically, beautifully. And Watt said “you could just as easily be influenced by the future as you are by the past. But it’s hard to do that. I’m sure you’ve had this experience – the experience of like going through life producing successes and then can hitting that little black pit after you hit it. And then this urge to go on to the next one.
Because it never quite takes care of whatever that thing is that’s burrowing away at each of us. And it’s different for each of us.
So I wanted to give people something that was really simple. Really powerful. And in a way where the life can start to make sense.
But for it to actually make a difference for them, it has to go beyond… As they go beyond knowledge… Knowing why you do what you do is it enough. It’s like knowing what it is to love somebody, without actually experiencing it for yourself. You’ve no awareness of love.
So in the book I talk about like how to take this new knowledge and this kind of state of awareness like what it’s actually starts to permeate. But I actually start to get a sense of the damage that I’m doing to myself, even though I might not be aware of it. But with that awareness, like, I start to see the damage getting done. And then I’ll show you this whole other model for approaching your life. And particularly to those areas of self-sabotage which could be anything… Could be your body, your finances, your career, your business your whatever… But again, what you’re getting it is a very ontological perspective, right? It’s very like looking at someone from the perspective of people like Gadamer or Husserl or Heidegger. It’s not particularly influenced by psychology for instance which will give you a different outcome.
Mark: So you were saying it’s not influenced by psychology… What about spirituality? I mean some of what… Like for me cause and effect is real because of the whole idea of karma and I believe in karma which is like the ultimate cosmic cause-and-effect. And when you said you can influence yourself as much by the future as by the past, I’m thinking “absolutely.”
Because one of the things I teach my clients is to create a new memory of your future which will then shift your reality and be like a magnetic or attractive force that’s drawing you toward that new reality. And so then that’ll change your behaviors and also the story that you tell yourself.
And that is really yogic philosophy, right? That’s where I draw a lot of my wisdom. And I’m like you, I read ancient texts far more than… The only time I read modern stuff is to keep up with all these freaking podcasts. (laughing) But I’m gonna read yours as if I’m reading an ancient yogic text.
Gary: Well, I mean, does everything you’re doing and everything you’re reading empower you?
Gary: Then you should use do that and keep doing that until it doesn’t do it anymore.
Gary: One of the things that I don’t want to do with people is get into this like “oh yeah. Like how I’m telling you this is exactly how it is.”
No I’m saying to people “look, if you follow this path, it’ll empower the shit out of you.” if there’s some other pathway that empowers the shit out of you, you should drive a bus through that thing. I don’t really care what it is.
Mark: Well I’m just what I’m suggesting is they sound very similar…
Gary: I think you’ll find… Yeah, for sure…
Mark: The spiritual traditions are talking about essentially eradicating the negative tendencies in your life – which include emotional and mental patterns. And finding pure presence, so that you can act from that point of pure presence which is love.
And if you could act from pure presence, you are not separated from love at all. Regardless of what story you tell yourself. Whatever the situation is… Defined your childhood or whatever. Psychology is irrelevant at that point.
Gary: Whatever’s in the way between you and loving another is whatever you’ve insisted should be there.
Gary: All right. And somebody might say “well that person beat the shit out of me for 15 years,” and I get that and I understand that and that wasn’t… That was inexcusable and lalalala. But ultimately whatever’s in the way is whatever you held onto about that.
Mark: What fascinates me though – like where my whole paradigm has been coming up through Zen and the traditions of meditation – the meditative path – is that it takes a long time, through training and practice, to cultivate a mind that can be present in pure love. And that’s kind of like awakening, enlightenment.
What you’re suggesting is you can do it instantaneously. Just by changing who you are. Or how you act.
Gary: Yeah, I mean look I’m a great believer in the instant transformation. Because even if you look at… Look all that work you’ve done has allowed you to bring yourself forth in moments…
Mark: And to be fair, a lot of people who do that long meditative path are just greasing the groove of what got them there to begin with.
Gary: Right. But you’re bringing yourself forth in moments for a series of moments, right? I mean, I would suspect you’re probably pretty damn freaking good at it now.
Mark: Working on it.
Gary: (laughing) And then you die, right?
Mark: (laughing) That’s right. There’s no there there. I have no idea. I’m better than I was, but…
Gary: This is a better version of the shit that was here before, but this will be shit by next Friday.
Mark: Exactly. Just polishing a turd every day.
Gary: Very good. So… And again, I take a very straight line through this. Like I’m always asking myself “how could I spring another free?” like I went the Best Buy of all places. And I spoke to somebody. And I was whistling, right? I like a good whistle. I must have picked it up from or something. I don’t think it’s genetic.
Anyway, I was whistling… The person said “are you musical?”
I said “yeah, I used to be.”
They said “you’re a really good whistler.”
Mark: Used to wear green, velvet pants.
Gary: She saw me in the pants, it all made sense.
But anyway I said “yeah, I used to be a musician.”
And so the person thought they’d tell me that they love singing. And then they said, “I don’t sing anymore.”
And I said “why not?”
They said “well, I don’t know, my voice has changed a little. I’m kind of struggling with my life.”
And I said, “Well, you should just go onto YouTube then and get all those free voice lessons on YouTube.”
And they said “oh, it just seems like a lot.” and the person spent about six minutes like talking themselves out of singing. Right in front of me.
And so I said, “that’s total bullshit.” I said, “gimme your phone. Get your phone out. Gimme this thing. Let’s go to YouTube.”
“You can watch that. It’s like a six minute freakin’ singing lesson right there.”
“Yeah, I guess I could.” and then within like a minute or so pf that, the person is like, “yeah, I’m totally doing this.”
Now this is somebody who’s like awakening to something. Having been in some kind of dialogue about it with themselves for how long they’ve been in it – and something’s coming to life. And the person “who are you? What do you do?” I think they thought I was selling them baked beans or something.
“It’s kind of my thing, you know? That’s kind of what I do.”
“Who are you? What’s your name?” I told them my name and they mention me on Twitter later that day and they were saying “I’m so inspired. Ready to take this thing on. It’s great.”
And it was so interesting to see somebody in a moment go from one space to another space that quickly. Just through the power of dialogue, but nothing else. It changed the life right, but in the power to dialogue they were like “oh.”
Like in a conversation, I watched them work it out in front of my eyes. And so that’s why I say to people “look if you’re struggling with a feeling – if you’re struggling with the emotion if you’re struggling your life it’s not quite there – then set it aside and ask yourself one simple question. If I was that way – that way that I’m struggling to get to – what would I do right now? If I was already that way – what would I do? Right now?”
And what you’ll see is opening up in front of you will be a series of actions that you would take if you were already that way. And you’ll notice like right on the tail of it on your interpretations… “Yeah, but I can’t because…” and there’s your shit right there.
Mark: That’s how we uncover our negative neuropathy…
Gary: Very good. So had a guy one time ask me – they wanted to raise their income up by some crazy amount of money like $100,000 a month or something. And I said “well what…? Let’s look at your actions, right now. What kind of actions are you taking?
And they said “well, I’m doing this and I’m doing that.
And I said “yeah, we call that…” and it was a current… They were in business, but the current business was doing about 50 grand a month. I said “all of that, is 50 grand actions. Your life is filled with a series of actions that produce $50,000.” and I said “how many of those actions do you think are $100,000 or $200,000 a month actions?
And they said “none.”
I said, “Well, that’s why you’re not making it. Now that seems simplistic, cause somebody might say “well, what should you do?”
Well, that would be the first action. Working out, doing the research, making the connections, asking the right people what do I do here? Rather than just like I want. I would actually start to break it down for myself.
And so we went through this process of just like omitting certain actions that produce specific results. And risking some of these other actions that opened or exposed them to the potential – as you called it – of these greater results. It took about six months and that person tripled their monthly income.
Mark: What’s the difference between an affirmation and an assertion?
Gary: Yeah, good. An affirmation overcomes something. I know people use affirmations, I have no problem if people use… Like I said, please don’t take anything that I’m saying…
Mark: It’s like a salve or a Band aid. It’s trying to make you feel better.
Gary: “I am good enough.” but that doesn’t deal with what’s under the rug though does it? I may think I’m a piece of shit, but I’m sitting there saying “I’m good enough.”
And that’s my problem with affirmations. At some level I don’t believe it. There’s some other thing burrowing away in the background.
So an assertion means the first thing I do is acknowledge the shit that’s there. So I’ll say “well I’m constantly telling myself I’m not good enough.” And it’s an instantaneous right it’s there for an instant, right? I assert something. I state a case for something. Which means I’ve included the past – I get all that and I get all that shit that’s there and right now I’m willing. Or right now I got this. A moment ago it didn’t feel like I did. I don’t care how I feel about it, I’m going to assert that I got this. Or I’m going to assert that I’m willing right. So it’s basically like sticking a flag in the ground linguistically and I get the moment of time. And you stand for that thing.
Mark: I love that you said that. I call it declaring your stand or taking your stand. So that’s exactly… That’s cool, I love that.
Whereas an affirmation really is a hope that if you just say it enough times you might drown out the noise of the shit, but the shit is still there.
Gary: If an affirmation truly works for them – come on, go ahead, knock yourself out. If it works for you, do it. I’m not asking you to reinvent the wheel I’m just… I’m addressing everything that I say to the people who maybe have tried that stuff and it didn’t ring their bell. And asking them to take “well, how about this as a perspective?” I’m not arrogant enough to think there’s an answer. There’s lot’s of answers, you just got to resonate with the one that does it for you. And – like I said – drive a bus through that thing.
Mark: Right. I love it. Well, awesome Gary. We could talk forever… We’ve been going for 50 plus minutes here, so I think we probably should wrap this up. The book “Stop Doing That Shit,” it’s coming out soon. It’ll be out by the time this publishes, so we’ll just assume that it’s out there. Also published by HarperCollins?
Gary: Yeah, it is. I’ve actually got another three or four books coming out with Harper…
Gary: So we got quite the journey ahead of us here. A lot of this. And if you can take my annoying Scottish accent, I do all the audiobooks myself.
Mark: Okay. I think that’s important – I ended up redoing my “Way of the SEAL” audiobook to be in my voice. People were complaining, “That guy doesn’t sound like you.”
I’m like “okay yeah. Let me redo it.” Good for you.
So “Stop Doing That Shit: End Self-Sabotage and Demand Your Life Back.” great title. “Unfuck Yourself” was your first best-seller. Like I said, I’ve got a copy on its way. I look forward to reading both.
Love to have another conversation with you, especially after I read these books and think about ontology and phenomenology and yoga and try to make some sense out of it all.
Gary: Yeah, you and I could talk forever. You’re clearly educated and smart and into this sort of stuff. So that’s always great to engage in a dialogue with someone about this kind of stuff. Cause it’s fascinating to me.
Mark: Yeah it is. I agree. And I think you’re helping a lot of people so I appreciate that. And I love this notion that you can change right away. It doesn’t have to be 20 or 30 years walking the path of the masters. Might be right here, right now.
And maybe the answer is both. Both are important.
Gary: I think you’re right. I think you can walk the pathway of the master and be masterful in moments.
Mark: Right I love that. Let’s just plan on doing that.
Mark: All right my friend. Thanks so much for your time and go forth and unfuck yourself. Whatever’s left.
Gary: Thanks, Mark. Thanks for having me.
Mark: Yeah. Really nice to have you here. Take care. And I appreciate you.
Gary: You too, man.
Mark: All right folks. That was an awesome, very, very interesting conversation with Gary John Bishop. Check out his book “Stop Doing That Shit: End Self-Sabotage and Demand Your Life Back.” Definitely we’re gonna follow up with Gary. We’ve got… Like we just scraped the surface there. And I’m gonna do some research next time and read his books and I’m gonna try it out. And I’ll report back to see if I can unfuck myself and stop doing my shit, because I got a lot of stuff to stop doing. As we all do. And so on that note – stay focused, train hard, forge that Unbeatable Mind and appreciate your support.