Tim Desmond is a scholar of professional psychology rooted in self-compassion and is passionate about making a difference and providing emotional support available to people worldwide.
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Facing Life WIth More Humanity
An episode you will want to listen to again and again, Tim is here to help us empaths find ways to deal with what is happening in the world right now. If you feel as though you struggle to live in this challenging modern society and process what happens on a daily basis without letting the weight of the world crush you, Tim is the guru you need to quiet your mind and accept your bodily reactions.
The need to constantly seek approval, dismiss your anger or always think about what could make something better is something that many people deal with, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Understanding your capacity to be present with suffering and embrace your emotions in a compassionate way is the key to facing life with more humanity.
By giving your anger your full attention you can become your anger’s ally and understand how to be in harmony with your inner reactions. With Tim’s guidance, you can recognize your pain, bring compassion to yourself and stop getting stuck in your habitual habits to focus on the things in life that are going to push you forward.
Instead of losing sleep over assholes or issues that you are powerless against, learn how to stay more present and in turn, more human.
How does Tim’s approach to self-compassion make you feel about dealing with the monumental issues found in the world today? Share with us in the comments below!
On Today’s Episode
- How to be present with pain without being overwhelmed by it (20:20)
- Tools to face your distress triggers with capacity, tolerance, and acceptance (29:55)
- Ways to avoid overwhelm by understanding your capacity for pain (33:20)
- Developing your ability to be open to all aspects of life despite the assholes (38:42)
- The difference between allowing yourself to be mad and ruminating on a story (41:50)
- The importance of emotional support accessibility around the world (47:30)
Resources Mentioned In This Show
“The need that we are seeking when we seek approval is to have a moment of feeling like I am okay like there is nothing wrong with me like I am loveable.” (12:43)
“There’s really no word in the English language for our capacity to be present with suffering in sort of a beneficial or compassionate way because we all have a limited capacity for that.” (21:38)
“Your only job right now is developing your capacity to tolerate some discomfort in your body.” (28:11)
“If you are able to be present with suffering, aversion, pain, whatever it is. If you are able to be present with it in a way that is open and compassionate, the result if the transformation that we just saw.” (34:35)
“What it all comes back to is being able to recognize the pain in me, my own reactivity, to allow my reaction, to bring care and compassion to myself, and then there will be a lot more options for me in terms of dealing with that person.” (41:05)
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247: Staying Human In A Fucked Up World w/ Tim Desmond FULL TRANSCRIPT
Steph: This is Harder to Kill Radio, a weekly podcast where we explore what it takes to build unbreakable humans through fitness, nutrition, and mindset. I’m your host, Steph Gaudreau. My mission in life is to help women build stronger bodies and resilient minds so that they begin to embrace and really own their inner power. The vision I have is that one day girls will grow up into strong women who appreciate their bodies, know their worth, take up space and live bigger without the pressure of impossible to fulfill bullshit societal standards. That is what it means to be harder to kill. This podcast is one way to explore these issues and you may not always agree with the viewpoints presented here, but I can guarantee one thing. It will make you think, I’m here to lead a community of women and men. We need you to who are ready to define what it is they truly want from their lives on their terms. If a particular guest or episode resonates with you, let us know. Leave us a review on iTunes, Apple podcasts and hit subscribe on your podcast app and also be sure to tune in to my weekly companion show fierce love Friday every Friday. On that note, let’s do this.
Steph: Hey there, welcome to episode 247 of Harder to Kill Radio. I’m your host Steph Gaudreau. I am so thankful that you’re here today listening to this particular episode along with all of the other Tuesday expert guest interviews that I do because I truly believe that the best people in the world find me on this show and we sit down and talk about all of the things that they are doing to make a difference in this world and today’s guest is no exception. But before we jump in and I introduce my guest today, I want to do a little bit of celebrating with you because Harder to Kill Radio has officially crossed the two and a half million download Mark, which is just mind blowing to me that this little show that I decided to create back in 2015 is having this kind of an impact that you listen every week means so much to me that you share with your friends, family and loved ones means an incredible amount and I’m just so grateful to hear all of the ways in which Harder to Kill Radio and the guests that I bring on and the topics that I cover on the Friday show on fierce love Friday have really been resonating, making a difference and I try to get myself to stop, pause and really reflect with gratitude because it’s, it’s such an honor.
Steph: It’s really quite an honor to bring this show to you, to share these guests with you and to see how it makes an impact in your life. I don’t take that lightly. It is something that I really do appreciate with everything that I have to offer. My guest today is Tim Desmond. He is a distinguished faculty scholar at Antioch university teaching professional psychology that’s rooted in self compassion. He has been at the forefront of some incredible social movements. He is pioneering work with giant tech companies who are really looking to make a difference and make emotional support available to people around the world. Tim is such an interesting person and he’s really coming on the show today to help those of us, especially like myself, who are highly sensitive people who are empaths, who are just human beings struggling with what’s happening in the world right now and trying to process this about how we can meet ourselves with compassion, how we can meet other people with compassion and how we can really start to process and live in this world where things are really challenging and not have it absolutely crush the life out of us.
Steph: I’ve been feeling this lately and I know that you probably are too and many people in my community are as well, so when I was given the opportunity to sit down and talk with Tim, we share the same editor at Harper one, but when I was able to get in touch with Tim and we were able to create a time to have him sit down with me and really go through some of the topics that he teaches and some of the things that are coming out of his book, which is How to Stay Human in a Fucked Up World, I just, I leapt at the chance to have him because I feel like this is some of the support and connection and community and the thing that we really need that’s so very lacking right now. So we’re going to jump into the show. I also would love to invite you to join my online community, the Core 4 Club there were talking about this and more and of course it’s really rooted in the four pillars of health.
Steph: Today’s show is brought to you by the nutritional therapy association in 2018 I had the really good pleasure of being certified as a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner through the NTA and they also train and certify Nutritional Therapy Practitioner. What I really learned was the bio individuality and range of nutrition strategies that can really support individual wellbeing. The NTA really does such a great job with providing students with a range of different educational tools, different techniques to really work with people one on one in such a powerful way to uncover nutritional imbalances and what to do about those things as well as different things regarding lifestyle in their clients and of course they also provide training on how to launch a successful career in holistic nutrition. You can learn more about the nutritional therapy email@example.com they also have a free seven day course. I would really encourage you if you’re curious to check it out and you can find that at nutritional therapy.com/nutritional-therapy-101 okay. Without further ado, let’s go ahead and jump into today’s episode.
Steph: Hey everyone, thanks so much for joining me on today’s episode of Harder to Kill Radio. I’m really pleased and I feel so lucky and grateful to be joined by the wonderful Tim Desmond and we’re going to be talking today about hopefully mindfulness and his book, How to Stay Human in a Fucked Up World. And I know that this is something that you do, your listener and myself personally are trying to navigate together as many people who listen to this show are highly sensitive people and empathic and caring and compassionate, and they’re trying to figure out how to do this, how to, how to stay open and present and, and feel and not close off from what’s going on in the world. So I’m really lucky to have Tim on the show today and it turns out we have the same book editor. So I feel like we have a little bit of a connection there, but I’ve read his book and it really left an impression on me and in a short period of time.
Steph: So I’m really lucky to have Tim on the show today. So Tim, welcome to the show. Thank you for being here. Really glad to be here. I’m just again, very grateful. I know that you are somebody who has a lot going on, a lot on your plate, and I’m just really thankful that you’ve made a little bit of time for us today. And so I would love for you to maybe give the listeners a little bit of background. You have a really interesting background and the stuff that she write about in your latest book. I feel like it’s probably the culmination of a lot of life experience. So I’m sort of wondering if you can give us a little bit of your story. How did you come to be somebody who teaches on psychology and, and philosophy and mindfulness and some of the things that you’re really showing up in the world today to teach people?
Tim: Yeah, so I, I grew up in a single fam like a single mom households in Boston. And we were always pretty poor. We were homeless for a little while when I was a teenager. I was pretty depressed and bullied and by the time I got to college I got to college, I went to college on a sports scholarship cause my grades weren’t good enough to get in anywhere. So I was really lucky to have that. I ended up in college and in a political science class, a professor assigned a book by techno, not hon a book called pieces every step. And at that point in my life I was just like a really lonely, angry, pretty kind of oppositional kind of person. And what I saw in tech, not handwriting in his teaching was basically exactly what was missing from my life.
Tim: Sort of mindfulness and self compassion that he talked about was just completely absent, was never anything that I had been exposed to before. And so as 19 year olds sometimes do when they’re exposed to something that really makes sense to them. I just fully dove in, really kind of dedicated myself to learning about these practices and spent my whole twenties kind of going back and forth between following techno Han around just wherever he would go, whatever retreats that he was leading, whatever, wherever monastery he was teaching, spending time with him, usually a few months at a time. And then engaging in grassroots various grassroots protest movements starting with the WTO movement. And then all the way through like occupy wall street. So kind of moving back and forth between training myself in the monastery under technical hon and then engaging politically in, in various sort of social justice movements.
Steph: It’s such a fascinating story. And you talk a lot more about your experiences in the book and I’m kind of wondering, do you ever have any moments or have you ever thought of what your life could be like today? You just, if you hadn’t happened to receive that book as an assignment in your, in your college class, and would you ever think about what, what the trajectory of your life might’ve been like?
Tim: Yeah, I mean, I can think of like my friends in high school you know, there’s a, a people whose sports careers worked out well and they’re either, you know so their lives were a little bit more balanced and then people, you know, getting in a lot of trouble. So yeah, I grew up kind of in and around Boston and yeah [inaudible] like a pretty kind of poor neighborhoods. And yeah, I think that, I think that aside from like, when I, so when I think about the people that I was friends with in high school, it’s, it’s to some degree it’s about like the where my life could have gone badly in terms of making bad choices and but also, and sort of drugs and alcohol and things like that, but also just kind of awesome.
Tim: I feel like I, I didn’t come from a a background where there was really a sense that life could be meaningful, that, that, that there could be a higher purpose that drives you and that kind of makes your life make sense, but that there was any sort of higher purpose than status. Trying to get, basically trying to get approval, whether that meant through like money or jobs or whatever it was. It was just like this uproot this sort of drive for approval. And I think the thing, one of the things that I’ve got from interacting with [inaudible] that was just so radically new for me was the idea that approval isn’t a need. Approval is something that we seek. So like it’s sort of a proxy. It’s a way of trying to convince ourselves that we’re okay, but the need that we’re seeking when we seek approval is to have a moment of feeling like, I’m okay.
Tim: I’m like, they’re like, there’s nothing wrong with me. Like I’m lovable. And it’s hard for all of us to be, to sort of have this sort of message from other people of like, Oh, there’s things I don’t for that you are, there’s things that aren’t good enough about you and to not just fully let that in and filtered and believe that it is true. The thing that I learned is, is that if, if the need that you’re trying to fill is really just seeing that in this moment there’s nothing wrong and that, that everything I need in order to be happy and content is already present. I can recognize that now rather than only in these small moments where someone’s kind of feeding my ego and praising me.
Steph: That makes a lot of sense. I think one of the places that the community, this community of listeners really struggles is the, the dynamic between, there are things about my life that I don’t necessarily like and I wish I could change. So how do I, how do I still find, you know, how do I find that? How do I connect with that feeling that, yeah, you know, I can, everything is, you know, everything’s okay here now RCA, I could stay more present or, or however that manifests. But there’s that, that, that sort of push pull that I, that I think people are really struggling with.
Tim: So in every moment, like the, the, the function of the human mind is to imagine how could the world be better than it is right now? Like that’s, that’s all that the mind does. It’s, it’s a model generating Oregon that that takes in sensory perception sort of looks at the world as it is and then comes up with an idea of how it could be better in order to help us to sort of drive us to improve things. And a lot of the time that’s incredibly helpful. There’s a a saying in meditation circles that the mind is a good servant and a terrible master. That if you, if you let those ideas of like, how could my life be better if you apply them in a skillful way and you can actually make your life better? But if you let that constant generation of like, so you know, we could be having this conversation and then having a, and then I could, my mind might be like, you know what?
Tim: You know, it’d be better than this would be like having this conversation with staff in a hot tub if I were like and then if that, if I actually was doing this podcast from a hot tub, I might be like, you don’t be better than this. If I was like the hot tub in the mountains and then even if I was there, my mind is going to keep coming up with, you know, it would be better. Mm. And that’s this constant thing. And so if we, if we put that in charge, then that’s where it runs away. But I feel like recognizing that I want something different in my life, if I see that that is, that is an expression of compassion, that’s an expression of my mind saying, I want what’s good for you. And if we can hear it not as saying life as it is, is unacceptable. But instead experience as this sort of a gift and affirmation of like, I want what’s good for you, I want, I want even better for you, then you can have the same drive and aspiration without, without feeling like I can’t be happy and tell all of my problems are solved. [inaudible] Cause I think if you, if we believe that
Tim: And then let me know, like I’m curious like how this lands on you for, for me, like I feel like in, in every moment of life, there are infinite reasons to be happy and infinite reasons to suffer. Like there they’re limitless things that you could be happy about and there are limitless things that we could pick at and decide aren’t enough about this moment. And I think that that’s always true. Even, you know, you just like, you know, you just finish your ultra marathon and you know, 10 minutes later it’s like we can come up with things that are like, that aren’t good enough about this moment. And so I feel like it’s, it’s being able to, to have an aspiration about wanting my life to be better in a way that that feels like it’s an aspiration that’s, that’s I’m grounded in compassion for myself, wanting what’s good for me as opposed to denying or feeling like my current realities. Unacceptable. I’m curious how that,
Steph: That makes a lot of sense for me. And I think you’re that that’s so spot on about, you know, if I, if I sort of choose to put the glasses on and see the world as,
Steph: Like you said, infinite reasons why this moment isn’t good enough. You know, I think some people and myself, I see that and I’ve over the years have tried to train myself to look for those things that are good, that I am grateful for, that I am content with. I love the word contentment because I think it’s a like an, a different feeling than the word happiness. So if I can find those, those moments that I’m content with, I can notice those things and I can kind of train myself to be attuned to them. That’s really powerful. I think the place where the people that I work with in my community get stuck is they rationally know that and then putting it out into practice. Right. How do you put that into practice? Especially when there are so many things in life that can dump on you all at one time or that just, you know, it’s a sequence of unfortunate events and you just have the, that my life has gone to shit and like how could I possibly, you know, and I think you’re right about the so well like how can I possibly find joy or contentment or happiness in a moment when there is so much wrong happening in the world and there’s so much crushing sadness and tragedy, right?
Steph: So, yeah, I think that’s a, that’s kind of the attention that,
Tim: That’s really what I try to talk about in this book. And basically it’s this idea that there is a capacity or we could even call it a set of skills that we can develop and grow and strengthen that. And that set of skills is what allows us to be present with pain, to be present with with these conditions for suffering in a way that we’re not overwhelmed by them in a way that we can actually face them with openness and compassion. And the thing that, that’s, that I feel like is that you’re bringing up that I feel like is really important is this, this, it’s not like a fact that you can learn and now you know it, it’s not like, Oh, try compassion here. And then you just can, it’s more like a skill that’s like, okay, well try saying that in Spanish.
Tim: And it’s like, well, you need to, it takes training and practice and effort to learn how to do this [inaudible] and that, that’s like for me, I think that’s one of the, one of the hardest things is a lot of people there is, there’s really no word, and this is the, this bothers me. There’s no word in the English language for the our capacity to be present with suffering in sort of a beneficial or compassionate way because we all have a limited capacity for that. Right? S for some of us, any little small problem is overwhelming for other people, relatively small problems. We can have perspective and we can even respond in a way that’s kind of caring and constructive and then the problem gets big enough and then we get overwhelmed. It’s like at what point do we get overwhelmed by something painful? There’s a training that allows us to grow that, to be able to face more and more of life with our full humanity rather than coming from this reactive, overwhelmed place. It’s like a a resilience
Steph: That capacity. Yeah. Yeah. Like I think of it, I’m a very visual person, so I’m sort of envisioning, you know, this sort of like a tank and then your tank gets a little bit bigger with that practice. At least that’s how I’m doing it. I think that’s really important. And one of the rounds. So I was, we were talking before I recorded, I started recording about, you know, when did the sort of selfish reasons I wanted to have you on the show is just, I appreciated your book so much because as a person who is very empathic and highly sensitive in terms of all the stimulus that I absorb and wow, gosh you know, working with a lot of people, it’s like leaning into those pieces of who I am has been wonderful and powerful. And yet at the same time it’s brought up a whole set of other gaps. It’s like, it’s highlighted the gaps that I have in my own capacity yeah. To, to, to deal. Cause it’s, you know, and you add that and, and I think a lot of people are like me. They’re like, I don’t read the news. I don’t, it’s just all too much. And so one of the reasons, you know, it was very self serving, but also too, because I think this is something that my community struggles with, is wanting to the
Steph: More open to learning, wanting to be more open to, you know, and this is very sort of topical, but a lot of people in my community are dealing with things like body image they’ve had struggles with for a really long time or the realizing the pervasiveness of diet culture and it’s all around and, and so wanting to learn and change and grow, but then also feeling like, fuck, it’s just all too much and I can’t, I just can’t. It’s just too much. It’s overwhelming. Right? So I think that’s one of the things that your book addresses head on. And I’d love to know your thoughts of, you know, how, how do we, where, I know this is a large topic, but how do we work on staying more present? And as you say, staying more human?
Tim: Well, let, let’s do that. Let, let’s, let’s actually do just sort of like a core practice right now.
Tim: So, so think of, think of something that
Tim: What whatever like difficulty, like it could be somebody that you work with, it could be some sort of thing in the news. Like what would be kind of an example of something that is like a thing that’s hard to face
Steph: And let’s like let’s actually look at it. I, the thing that comes to mind is sort of just, I think this is one people struggle with and myself too, is this idea of ecological struggle, right? There’s so much going on in the world and our ecosystems and the environment and I think that’s one more people feel kind of powerless, but they are so effected by our plan, our poor planet, what’s happening.
Tim: So let’s just, so just take a minute and allow yourself to think about that. And as you do, as you’re starting to just become aware of, of the situation, of your understanding of what’s happening ecologically right now on our planet, notice in your own body the reactions that are happening. You just take a moment to pay attention to whatever tension, whatever, agitation, heaviness, lightness, whatever sensations, heat, cold is, pay attention in your body. And as you’re thinking about that, what, what do you notice? Like is it like tension in your face? Is it, you know, what, what do you, what do you notice this when you, when you let yourself think about
Steph: I, yeah, I feel, I definitely feel tension in my jaw and I feel, I feel almost like as kind of a butterflies in my stomach, but not the good kind, like kind of make you kind of feel sick and yeah, just almost all. Also a feeling of hollowness. Yeah. That’s where I feel it.
Tim: So just take a minute and see if it’s possible. See what happens if you try to allow those physical sensations in your body to be there rather than reacting to them. Tension in the jaw and an agitation in the stomach, but have a sense of hollowness. Just see if for a minute you can say to yourself, I’m allowed to feel that. I don’t need to make this go away. It’s fine. For a human being to feel this way, thinking about our planet. It’s okay for me to feel that in this moment. And that your only job right now is developing your capacity to tolerate some discomfort in your body.
Tim: And again, just like even just saying like all that’s happening right now is, I know I can tolerate this. It doesn’t feel good, but I can let it be there and in fact, I don’t even need to let make it go away. And as you do, it might change and might get stronger. What do you, what do you notice? Just kind of giving it permission to be there.
Steph: It’s definitely less intense than it was when you started talking.
Tim: And then now see, just, and we’re going to go just one step further and just that whatever tension is still there, it’s a little bit less now, but whatever tension or agitation, all of those, whatever is still there. See if you can even try, like try saying, almost like you’re speaking to the two, that discomfort in your body to that distress in your body try saying hindered for you. It’s okay that you’re distressed and I can be here for you. You try saying that to yourself. What do you notice now?
Steph: Oh, it feels like a relief. Yeah, like I feel like my body is just like, is it like I just exhaled like fully and just relaxed?
Tim: Yeah. Yeah, so that’s the core of this practice that I teach, which is basically it’s whatever, whatever distress, whatever, whatever the trigger is for our distress. We just come back and give first kind of tolerance and then acceptance and then even care for that reaction inside ourselves and then once, once there’s that release that comes from sort of relating to like being kind of being open to my own distress, being open to my own pain, the trigger is not overwhelming anymore. I can now face something that used to be a trigger with just kind of more capacity [inaudible] I love that.
Steph: That’s one of the things that as I was reading your book really stood out to me as somebody who is studying things like intuitive eating now. And that’s very, very seeped in like connecting to your body and how things feel in your body and yeah
Steph: Strengthening that connection and observing where feelings show up in your body, in the sensations that you feel. And I just found that that was so, I just thought that was so amazing that that was central to what you’re writing about. And the other thing that I saw, I practiced this, I practiced it a little bit. I get sometimes like when I get really stressed out mean my throat just like clinches up. And I’ve practiced this with that, that feeling and it’s made a huge difference for me. I think the, the one thing that people, so I hope, I hope that people listening picked something or maybe they’ve picked the same thing and they went through that exercise along with you and me. But one of the things I’m anticipating people probably ask you all the time or they’re worrying about is if I let it, if I let that feeling be there. Yeah, right. What if it never goes away or what if it’s just so you know, there’s like that, you know, what, what if, what if, what if and how do you, how do you help people
Tim: Make their way through that fear? So there’s an idea that’s part of Buddhist psychology and Western psychology in Western psychology achieve it. A chiefly is talked about around trauma, but in Buddhist psychology it’s, it’s sort of viewed as kind of a core to every practice. And it’s this idea that whatever we call that capacity to be present or capacity for resilience or your tank, you have a limited size. And if you try to kind of bite off more than you can chew that you won’t have the experience that we just saw, which is sort of the experience of holding. Like initially it was kind of tolerating discomfort and then accepting and then really kind of caring for and bringing compassion to discomfort. What happens is there’s an experience of overwhelm and overwhelm comes from the suffering that I brought up is bigger than my capacity to be present with it.
Tim: And so there’s two things that I can do there is bring up my, bring up that pain in sort of smaller increments, like a little at a time. I can, I can work on trying to continue to develop my ability to be open or I can find another person. So this could be a therapist or just sort of coach or whatever. But I can find another person who can help me to sort of facilitate this with me so that if I know that my mindfulness or compassion or whatever we want, resilience, whatever you want to call it, isn’t strong enough to be present with this, then I can sort of rely on somebody else. But the thing that I can, the thing that I’ll say unequivocally, if you able to be present with suffering, aversion, pain, whatever it is, if you’re able to be present with it in a way that is open and compassionate, the result is the sort of transformation that we just saw.
Tim: What happens is if it’s too big and you get overwhelmed, then being present with it does not help at all. Just bringing it up and kind of reliving it and some sort of ruminating on it is not helpful. It’s, it’s when you’re able to be, to be present with it in this open and compassionate way that that’s actually transformative. And so again, we can, we just like any type of training, like, so if, if you wanted to learn how to bench press 300 pounds, we don’t go to the gym and start with 300 pounds. Right? If we know that at some point there’s 300 pounds of pain in you, but you’ve never lifted weights in your life, we’re not going to jump right into it.
Tim: We’re gonna work up to it. [inaudible] And so that, that’s like, so in some ways that into that intuition can be true. It’s like, yeah, for some people it’s not, it’s a, it’s a terrible idea to try to just get in touch with sort of a deepest pain that you have. But that doesn’t mean that it’s not possible to transform
Steph: And you in, in the book go through such a great like series of steps for people that I think that if that sounds interesting, they can dive in there. You know, one of the things that we’ve been having a lot of discussions about in my community as well is dealing with other people who are really difficult. And one of the things I’ve been challenging people to do is to understand or, or have compassion for or try for the briefest of times to, to understand, put yourself in that person’s shoes. Why might they be reacting in that way? And a very common response to that is, but they’re being an asshole. And if I’m nice to them or if I’m even trying to understand why they’re doing this thing, then I’m essentially making an excuse for it and I’m making it. Okay. Yeah. And I’m wondering if you have any thoughts on that?
Tim: Yeah, I mean, there’s fucking assholes out there. Question is I live at a meditation retreat center in New Hampshire and I can say unequivocally, you cannot escape having to deal with assholes much. A, you know, how fucking rarefied you community, you find yourself in it’s part of life. So then the question is what, what do I want to be able to do? And it’s, there’s not like there’s not one right answer, but there’s this question of, okay, so there are going to be assholes in my life. How do I want to be able to interact with them? Well, one thing for me is that I certainly would like to be less hurt, less sort of surprised and shocked and hurt when someone’s an asshole to me. Like that seems pretty clear. Like, if I can, if I could just give you a pill where someone could be an asshole to you and it would, and like, it just wouldn’t bother you as much.
Tim: Like you’d still, you still have the full, you still have just as much capacity to be like, I’m going to avoid this person now. Like that wasn’t fun, but that it wouldn’t, you wouldn’t lose sleep about it. You wouldn’t doubt yourself about it. You wouldn’t, you know, it wouldn’t give you indigestion or whatever. Everybody would want that. So the question is like, for me in my life I’m really interested in developing my ability to, to be open to all of life. Th the, the person that I want to be in the world is someone who can be fully present, fully human. And when, I mean, when I say fully human, I don’t mean like fake smile. Just like someone who, who never gets frustrated, who never gets afraid. What I mean is someone who is open to the entire spectrum of human experience and comfortable in all of it. Like someone who’s really comfortable in their skin.
Tim: And so in terms of dealing with an asshole, the first thing that happened is, I recognize it’s not all that different than dealing with a, we just, what we just did with our kind of ecological situation is the first thing that I wanna recognize is that that hurt me. I’m in pain and I can take care of my own pain so that it’s not torturing me, it’s not poisoning me. And then once it, once I’m not that hurt by it anymore, then however I’m going to be able to interact with this person in a way that’s just, that, that, that, that where there’s more possibilities. I’m not going to be stuck in whatever kind of reactions that I do when I’m triggered. So it might be that I want to try to understand this person. It might be that I want to try to get this person, Oh, as far away from me as I can and then maybe think about trying to understand, or it might be that I just want to get this person away from me.
Tim: And I’m not that interested in trying to understand them, but what I know that I don’t want them to ruin my week. And so what that all comes back to being able to recognize my, all the pain in me, my own reactivity to allow myself to have that reaction to bring sort of care and compassion to myself and then I’m going to have, there’s going to be a lot more options for me in terms of dealing with that person. That’s really helpful. They ever have moments where you, you just want to let yourself be angry though. I mean I think that that’s another question people are like, I just want to be mad. Can you just let me be mad about that? And that’s what I’m saying. I’m saying that like the, the, the very first thing that we did there, if we, if we go back that time when it was just like, what’s happening in your body, let it be there. Don’t try to fix it. If, if there’s anything that’s just allowing yourself to be mad, that’s it.
Tim: What I mean is very explicitly let yourself be mad. There’s a difference between letting yourself be mad and ruminating on a story. Those are radically different things. People think that they’re letting themselves be mad and what what they’re actually doing instead is ruminating on a story that may or may not be true. I am one of ruminating on your story is rarely helpful. Allowing the, the sort of sematic physiological process of your emotion to be what it is is always helpful. And those are radically different things. Yeah, I’m sure there’s a lot of people nodding right now. Like, Oh wait, so the difference then would be that in the, when you’re second the story that you’re perhaps not, well maybe this isn’t right. Like you’re not necessarily feeling that getting connected with that in your body. Yeah. Is that right? Yeah. So your story, whatever it is, right?
Tim: If you, if you’re spinning, I’m like, fuck this person. I hate them. They’re like, well how could they do this? The first thing they do is don’t worry about whether your story is or isn’t true. Just just like it might be and might not be. All stories are usually partially true. And partially not, but just don’t worry about it. Don’t try to convince yourself. Come back to your body. There is a physiological process happening in your body that you can recognize by paying attention to the sensations, the tension, the heaviness, the agitation that’s there. Let that physiological process be what it is. You’re having a physiological reaction. Let it be there, fully. Give yourself permission to feel all of it. And in fact, what we did at the end there was sort of like almost speaking to your anger and saying you can be, you can stay as long as you want. I’m here for you. Whatever you need, I’m here. That’s what I mean by law. Yeah. Fully let that anger be there and be it’s ally. And then what happens is the anger gets that sort of X the for the whole past hour that you’ve been cursing this person out, your anger has not been getting anything that felt like acceptance.
Tim: You then just focus on the anger instead of on the asshole and give your anger, give your full attention to it, and then your anger starts to be like, thanks. And then from that you begin to be able to see the situation more clearly. And it’s, you know, and, and, and it can be a lot of situations in life. And sometimes it is, sometimes you find, you decide, you discover that you were right and that there’s something that you have to do. And sometimes your, you radically reevaluate your story when after you’ve, after that anger is kind of passed. But it’s, you don’t come back to your anger. It’s like, it’s like a, if you have a crying baby and there’s two different ways to try to comfort a crying baby. One is you pick up the baby in a way that you’re like, I’m holding you now, will you shut up? And that’s not a particular, that’s not particularly comforting for a baby. And another way is like where you actually have the capacity to be there, where you pick up the baby and you hold them in a way that’s like, it’s okay for you to cry. I’m here.
Tim: If we come back to our anger and the, and we’re, the reason that we’re coming back is just like, okay I’m listening. Will you stop it? I’m doing my mindfulness now. Cut it. Cut it out. That, that nobody finds that comforting. Hmm. It’s actually giving yourself permission to be angry for that anger to be there in your body. That’s, that’s what, that’s what mammals find comforting is that type.
Steph: Gosh, that’s so, that’s so helpful. I really appreciate you going through all that and teasing apart the subtleties and you’re right, it is that difference between, you know, going through the motions and sort of sound like I’m doing this now and actually being present and, and feeling it and integrating it perhaps wildly different. I would love you know, we have a few minutes left. I would love to ask you about one of the things that you’re working on in your professional life, other than your book and speaking and all the wonderful things that you’re doing, but you know, how important it is it to you that people around the world have accessibility to the kinds of emotional support that they need.
Tim: Yeah. So I, I I actually, strangely enough, so I’ve for a long time wanted to create a way for people to be able to access really affordable empathy and emotional support, like through peer counseling. And wanting to do that for a really, really long time. About eight months ago Google actually offered to fund a project that kind of was researching this idea. And I, I worked with Google for about eight months. I left a month and a half ago or so. And basically we were, we’re, we’ve been developing a way to, to quickly assess potential peer counselors to be able to determine who’s going to be good and who’s not. And so right now I’m in the process of shifting a lot of the research that we did at Google into a new startup. That’s, that’s basically about making high quality peer counseling as online as available and accessible as possible.
Tim: So the idea is that right now there are free volunteer services like hotlines, but they’re almost always overwhelmed. And then between, and then if something’s not free, then it usually jumps up to a sort of professional, $150 an hour kind of level. Peer counselors, there’s a lot of research on this. Most people that are looking for emotional support can get most of the benefit that they’re looking for from peer counselors who are happy to make, you know, roughly $20 an hour to be able to offer empathy. So the plan is to create sort of a platform where we can assess and train a large number of peer counselors to be able to make kind of empathy and emotional support. The idea would be that rather than needing to schedule with a therapist a month ahead of time and pay $150 an hour, what if for let’s say a 30 minute session costs $14 and you can do it anytime day or night. We feel like that would be like a, a, that people would just have a radically different level of access to emotional support. So that’s kind of what we’re working on building right now.
Steph: That’s wonderful. So unnecessary. So needed and I wish you all the best of, I won’t say luck, but just the best of you know, finding ways to make that happen. I think that’s so incredibly important and it will be so, so very valuable. Love it when we are strangely quickly out of time, which is so sad to me because this has been such a wonderful conversation. I would love to have you share with people how they can learn more about you, your books and your different projects that you’re up to.
Tim: Yeah. So I’m TimDesmond.net. You can find me there and there’s a contact option and things like that. I have the How to Stay Human in a Fucked Up World is available anywhere that books are sold. That’s my general sort of general audience book. I also have a psychotherapy text book called self-compassion in psychotherapy if you’re a coach or therapist. And then I turned that into a self-compassion skills workbook that’s also available anywhere that books are sold that is like a, these practices that we talked about in more of a workbook format. So you can find those books. And you can also find me on Twitter and Facebook. I’m just looking for Tim Desmond,
Steph: So wonderful. Tim, this has been
Steph: The so great to talk with you and to just be here in this space with you and I love what you’re doing. It’s already impacted me in a huge way and I know it’s going to be impactful for my listeners. Thank you for your humanity and for being who you are and thanks for being on this podcast and really great. Thank you so much. Thanks. Okay, that’s a wrap on episode 247 of Harder to Kill Radio. I know that what Tim and I talked about today goes really deep and that you might need to listen to this episode over and over again. I know I will to really catch the nuance and a lot of the things that Tim is talking about, but I hope that this was beneficial for you. I hope that this gave you some perspective and a new way of looking at the world, how to be human and still allow yourself to feel without shutting down and shutting off.
Steph: Of course, we’d love to invite you to get the show notes for this episode. You can find firstname.lastname@example.org you will now find a full transcript of each episode. So if you want to dig into the nitty gritty, you’d like to read along with listening or your somebody for whom listening is difficult because of hearing, then I would invite you to go grab all of the show notes there. And that does include the full transcript. So again, at my website, stephgaudreau.com. And before you hop off this episode, go over to your app where you’re listening and hit subscribe. This is the easiest way for us to spread the word organically about Harder to Kill Radio and for you to put your votes sort of in for the fact that you really love and value this show. So hit subscribe. Of course, it’s always free for you, and it would mean so very much. All right, stay tuned. I’ll be back on Friday for fierce love Friday and until then, be well.