487. Letting Go of Who You Used To Be To Become the Person You’ve Been Looking For AMA

Bailey Richardson

DISCLAIMER: This podcast is presented for educational and exploratory purposes only. Published content is not intended to be used for diagnosing or treating any illness. Those responsible for this show disclaim responsibility for any possible adverse effects from the use of information presented by Luke or his guests. Please consult with your healthcare provider before using any products referenced. This podcast may contain paid endorsements for products or services.

Prepare for a profound episode, where we journey into the process of shedding old selves and embracing authenticity. In this AMA episode with my right-hand woman, Bailey, I share what I’ve learned in my quest to become the most real and authentic version of myself.

DISCLAIMER: This podcast is presented for educational and exploratory purposes only. Published content is not intended to be used for diagnosing or treating any illness. Those responsible for this show disclaim responsibility for any possible adverse effects from the use of information presented by Luke or his guests. Please consult with your healthcare provider before using any products referenced. This podcast may contain paid endorsements for products or services.

Prepare for a profound episode, where we journey into the process of shedding old selves and embracing authenticity. In this AMA episode with my right-hand woman, Bailey, I share what I’ve learned in my quest to become the most real and authentic version of myself.

We begin with my personal transformation, starting from the influences of my childhood on my self-worth, to my life-changing move to LA and subsequent struggle with addiction. I recount how letting go of my old identities as a rock star or cool guy, embracing the Vedic teachings that had been sprinkled throughout my childhood, and starting over in rehab led to the most significant moment of clarity in my life. 

We then delve into how to end the habit of dishonesty with ourselves and others, reflect on performative behaviors and roles we subscribe to, silence a negative mind and so much more. 

Ultimately, we discuss the ways in which I’ve been able to create awareness around my negative habits and behaviors over time in order to peel back the layers and find my true self. If you're ready to let go of your old identities and step into authenticity, you won't want to miss this one!

00:00:08 — Early Spiritual Influences & Overcoming Addiction

  • How my childhood influenced my self worth
  • How moving to Los Angeles changed and shaped me
  • Shedding my identity as an addict and starting over in rehab
  • Being exposed to Vedic teachings in childhood and by family members
  • Read: I Am That by Nisargadatta Maharaj

00:37:39 — Shedding Old Identities to Find Your True Self

  • The most meaningful moment of clarity of my entire life in rehab
  • The process of finding your true self
  • How dishonesty with ourselves and others keeps us from knowing our real selves
  • Reflecting on past and current identities I’ve been given or subscribed to
  • What it looks like to keep a balanced perspective of self

01:03:00 — The Benefits of Being Authentically You

  • Read: The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
  • Observing and recognizing performative behavior
  • The real irony of approval seeking
  • Why I believe conventional media is receding into antiquity
  • How to stop the momentum of a negative, hateful mind 
  • Is playing a role a bad thing?

[00:00:00] Luke: All right. Bailey Richardson, here we go. Another AMA.

[00:00:06] Bailey: Woohoo.

[00:00:07] Luke: I'm so excited for this one because, um, I saw you have a few questions for me, uh, from our listeners, but I don't know what they are. I almost cheated and looked at them, and then I decided not to. So welcome to the show, everybody. This is Episode 487. We're going to be talking about letting go of your old self. And I want to inform you that we've got a great episode as well coming at you next week, which is number 488 with Stephen Jenkinson.

[00:00:35] It's called How to Die: Facing our Death Phobia and Embracing our Elders. And if you want all the links, transcripts, show notes, audio, video, and all the goods delivered directly to your inbox each week, here's what you do. Go to lukestorey.com/newsletter. All right, let's do the damn thing. What you got for me?

[00:00:56] Bailey: Okay. I just want to say that I love these questions. So first one we got is, how did you know that you wanted to become someone new? Or did you know when you realized that you needed to change?

[00:01:12] Luke: I think as soon as I had a conscious thought as a baby, I wanted to be someone else, but that would take too long. But no, seriously, as a kid, I think because of some of the traumatic experiences I had early in life, I had, um, what might be best described as a sense of existential loneliness and feeling apart from and separate.

[00:01:48] And of course, as a kid, there were great times riding my bike, and playing out in the woods, and catching snakes, and being a kid, and having fun, but as far as my relationship with who I was, I think that I was really divorced from that relationship with myself because of the trauma I experienced and the reaction I had to that, and disassociating from myself.

[00:02:14] And when kids experience trauma, it's quite common that they haven't yet, depending on the age, uh, developed a sense of self. And the main trauma that I experienced in my life, uh, was probably when I was, I think five or six. And so as I was just starting to come into my own and build a persona, uh, that process was really interrupted.

[00:02:42] And so that's when I started feeling like I didn't fit in anywhere and that I was different. And so wanting to become someone new, uh, when I was a kid growing up through my teens was more about taking on external identities to try to build a composite character for my life. And that would have been based on the other peers of mine with whom I wanted to fit in, and also based on my particular interest at the time.

[00:03:17] So if it was in the karate phase, then it was all about Bruce Lee posters on the wall and taking on that identity, and then getting into music, and riding BMX bikes, whatever it was. Um, there was always a thin line between my interest and my hobby and me forming an identity around that. And so early on, that feeling of wanting to be someone else was pretty strong. 

[00:03:48] And I think it's part of any young person's coming of age. You're trying to figure out what makes you tick, and where you fit in the world, and, um, the people that you fit in with, and finding your tribe, and all of that. And I think that, um, although that's a normal part of our development, in my particular case, it might've been a bit, um, exaggerated because I had so much turmoil going on inside. 

[00:04:15] Bailey: Did you get to the point where you were who you wanted to be and it wasn't working right? 

[00:04:26] Luke: Yeah, I did later on.

[00:04:27] Bailey: Like you needed to change everything. 

[00:04:28] Luke: Yeah, I did later on. When I moved to Hollywood when I was 19 in 1989, I did so because I wanted to live in a city and not a country ass town like I did in Northern California. So I moved there, and, um, basically just wanted to be around the music scene. I don't even think when I moved there that I had hopes of being a musician quite yet at that point, because I thought that it was something that you were just born with and that you would have had to start playing guitar when you're three or something to be a talented musician and to do it professionally.

[00:05:06] And then I moved there, and I fell in with all these musicians that were, uh, considerably older than I was, and they all took me under their wing, and eventually, one of them who was, um, ended up being my best friend and later bandmate for a long time, he said, dude if you want to be like us and be in a band, you just have to learn how to play bass. There's only four strings and only so many notes, and that's the fastest way.

[00:05:30] And everyone needs a bass player because nobody wants to do it because you stand in the back, and many people can't even hear what you're playing. So I grabbed onto that. And, um, while I was doing that in music, I also started getting increasingly addicted to drugs. I was prior to moving there, but I had the availability of, um, much more addictive and dangerous drugs.

[00:05:54] So I took on this false identity of a stoner rock and roll guy. And, um, that was the longest standing false identity that I had. And even though I had no real grasp of who I was, it was the closest thing I could get. It was like a facsimile. It was like an imitation of myself and some of the qualities that were, I would say, inherent to that personality were close to who I am, because I'm a wild, free, creative person.

[00:06:41] But I had such low self-worth at that time that, um, just being me didn't seem like a valid position in the world, and so I took all of this on. Um, but that identity, especially the part, obviously, that had to do with being an addict, uh, became extremely destructive. And even though I fulfilled a lot of my dreams to the point of your question and had arrived, um, at a point or at least as close as I could get to arriving in terms of having some level of success with that identity, that personality, um, what started happening inside was a feeling of an even deeper isolation and a feeling of even being more lost in all of the behavior that I was trapped in.

[00:07:32] And so, yeah, there definitely came a time where I knew that I needed to shed that identity or that collection of identities because it was going to soon lead to my demise. So there was an early midlife crisis and like, cool, I've made it to Hollywood. Um, I'm friends with some of my childhood idol rock stars, um, mostly in the form of selling them drugs.

[00:08:00] That was how I got my way through some doors in those days. Um, and it's like, well, if this wasn't it, what is? And then that led to, um, out of just sheer desperation, and in an act of self-preservation, checking myself into a rehab center, and the rest is history. But that was the biggest, I would say, hit in terms of you got what you wanted, and that wasn't it. It's like having everything you wanted on the outside yet, at the same time, really dying inside.

[00:08:36] Bailey: And so did you have an idea of who you wanted to become? Or was that just like, okay, this isn't working? I have to do something differently.

[00:08:49] Luke: When I checked into that treatment center, which thankfully was the only one I ever needed to check into, knock on wood. I hope to never have to repeat that. It's not a fun experience, but I knew that that old version of myself that had become so self-destructive and dysfunctional had to die.

[00:09:13] And somehow I knew that it had to be a complete overhaul, and that there wasn't any part of the way that I thought, the type of feelings I entertained, the behaviors I engaged in. I knew that they all had to go. I knew that I had to start anew. But when I went in there, I really had no idea what that would look like.

[00:09:38] I didn't have any vision of what my future self would be because the goal was so specific and granular. And that goal was, I need to be a sober person. That was it. I need to get off all of these drugs and this alcohol. So when I went in, it was that. But funnily enough, and I haven't thought about this in a long time, I already started to, during that 28 days, create a composite character of who I thought I might be, which was, it's hard to remember exactly, but something to the effect of someone that does a lot of yoga, eats healthy food, um, is a meditator. 

[00:10:31] I remember having this thought. It's so funny. I was so excited to get out and be a sober person and have 12-step group stickers on the back of my car. So my identity as far as my dreams was just hoping I could stay sober and that I felt like yoga, and meditation, and 12-step groups would be part of the foundation of that. And I think I imagined a character built around that. 

[00:11:04] Ironically, when I got out, um, I found it to be more embarrassing to be part of a 12-step group, so I never put the stickers on my car. Uh, but I was very involved in them. Um, and I did start doing a lot of yoga, and leading a really healthy lifestyle, and meditating. So the vision that I created for myself as a total screw up and just an addict in complete, a complete, um, failure tailspin actually came to fruition eventually.

[00:11:37] Bailey: So you hadn't done those things before? You hadn't done yoga, and meditation, and all that stuff before? You just saw it as a thing that was good?

[00:11:49] Luke: Yeah. And this is back in the mid to late '90s when yoga and meditation was much more obscure, needless to say. But sometimes in life, we have these auspicious occurrences wherein we meet a person, or somebody gives us a book, or takes us to a lecture, or introduces us to a new idea. And what happened for me was, before I got sober, my father's side of the family, his mom, his two sisters, and one of his sister's sons, my cousin Aaron, had, um, begun to go on these spiritual trips to India.

[00:12:37] And they would go to an ashram over there, and they were devotees of, um, a mystic over there by the name of Sathya Sai Baba. And so they would go over for months at a time, sometimes a year at a time and live in this ashram in a little village in Puttaparthi, India. In southern India. And, um, I found that to be interesting, and I liked speaking with them about their experiences.

[00:13:04] I liked the smell of incense that they would bring back. Uh, I liked the look of the clothing they would wear. There was just something about the essence of that India experience that was attractive to me. What wasn't attractive was quitting drugs and adopting anything that they shared with me. 

[00:13:23] But, um, I remember at one point, my cousin Aaron gave me a book. Oh, I think it's upstairs on our spiritual bookshelf called I Am That written by a really powerful mystic named Nisargadatta Maharaj. It took me about 20 years to learn how to pronounce his name and about 30 years to learn how to read his book. But he brought me a copy of that book. And I've talked about it before because it was really pivotal. 

[00:13:51] And it's one of the most simple and concise books about non duality, essentially from a Vedic perspective. And I couldn't really make sense of this book, but I could make some sense of the back cover because the back cover was just a thought. It was a brief thought just about the nature of consciousness. I wish I had the book. I'd read the excerpt. But there was something about what was stated on the back of that cover.

[00:14:23] And it had something to do with, say there's a building and there's a space inside that building. If the building's gone, is the space still there? Something like that. The things that I would contemplate when I was on acid or something. But I would read that, or I would flip the book open and look at the picture of him.

[00:14:42] I knew that there was something there for me, uh, but I just couldn't intellectually grasp the words that were being conveyed. But I understood, I think, the essence of it, and I recognized that there was some really potent truth, um, contained in that book. But it was just over my head.

[00:15:06] And the funny thing is I've gone back to that book over the years and having learned about, um, that non dual perspective from people like Dr. David R. Hawkins, which is written in a much more complex, but a much more Westernized point of view and written more from the perspective of, um, psychology, um, going back to that book now, it's like, oh, duh, it makes perfect sense.

[00:15:35] Not like I've attained the enlightenment that this book espouses, but I understand the concepts, and I've integrated a lot of the principles in that book into my life just inadvertently. So it's funny to look back and look at the old me that saw some glimmer of hope in this dense text that I couldn't quite grasp, but I knew there was some truth there to the person sitting here now that would pick up that book and go, oh, this is the meaning of life. 

[00:16:01] This is how things work. This is the whole premise of how I live right, or at least I do my best to live that way. So I think along the way, there were signposts that attracted me to that philosophy. And that philosophy is not exclusive to Vedic wisdom or the teachings from India, but it is certainly prevalent in that region of the world.

[00:16:30] Like there's parts of Italy that are great for growing grapes, for whatever reason, over the past few hundred, a couple thousand years, India has been fertile soil for really powerful mystics who have emerged from that particular land. And so there was some part of me, maybe an ancient part of me that identified with that.

[00:16:51] And even before that, when I was probably eight years old, around, yeah, 1978, '79, my mom had some friends that followed a guru named Muktananda, and he happened to have an ashram in Oakland, California. And so we went down there for a weekend trip, and my mom took me to the ashram. And I just absolutely loved the experience, and I loved him.

[00:17:15] As an adult, I've asked my mom about what that was like. And she said, oh my God, you were just enamored with this man. And she was just like, yeah, that's cool. Whatever. Going to this event, hanging out, it wasn't particularly impactful or meaningful for her, but her memory of it, um, and what stands out from that memory is how excited I was to go up and receive darshan from him, which is a blessing, and I couldn't stop talking about him.

[00:17:42] And again, I loved the smell of the incense, and everyone had their shoes off, and there was beautiful decor, and all the things that go into, um, that type of lineage teaching. And so there were these signposts along the way, I think, that led me in the direction of becoming some spiritual person that had an affinity toward the teachings from India and the teachers of India.

[00:18:10] And so when I was in rehab, I think that identity started to form itself based on those early times that I'd been exposed. And I can't wait to get into this concept of creating a new you and these false identities because it's really interesting to observe how someone like me, when I was younger, could have built a false identity around being a cool rock and roll Hollywood drug addict. And then finding, eventually, the folly in that.

[00:18:40] And that identity and the behavior associated with it almost killing me to getting sober, and then innocently and with the best of intentions, um, venturing to create a new identity that is this spiritual guy that burns incense, and does yoga, and meditates, and is really into Indian teachers. So there's all these different stages of identities that were maybe part of who I was or part of who I am that eventually also had to be shed to just become the authentic hodgepodge version of myself that I am now.

[00:19:16] But another thing that happened that was interesting, and this just speaks to I think the way grace plays out in our life when we're open to receiving it, um, my family that had been going to India to see Sai Baba, all of those years, they would come back and tell me all of these stories about their experiences.

[00:19:38] And these were experiences that were, I guess, what you could call supernatural. This saint, uh, would perform siddhis, which are miracles or demonstrations of their spiritual abilities and understanding. Now, I'll have to, um, caveat that by the fact that that particular teacher is now shrouded in controversy.

[00:20:09] And some of that controversy is quite damning. There's been accusations of sexual abuse and all sorts of things in the years, um, after his death that have been attributed to him. I don't know. I haven't looked that deeply into it. It's not a teacher that I particularly follow at this point in my life, or ever really did.

[00:20:28] Uh, but another thing that came out was, uh, videos of him where he was clearly faking some of these miracles. However, in his defense, there are other videos, many more of them from earlier when he was younger, where it wasn't possible to manipulate the videos or anything like that. We're going back to probably the '70s and '80s, um, where you can see with your own two eyes that he would do things like manifest someone a ring. He would just go, poof, and a ring would appear.

[00:21:03] Or, uh, the sacred ash called Vibhuti, he would just manifest Vibhuti on someone, and just all these supernatural talents that he had. And so my family would come back and tell me these stories, and they were firsthand accounts of small miracles and sometimes bigger miracles that they had witnessed.

[00:21:24] And I knew for sure that my family members were not crazy, so they weren't delusional. They weren't making these stories up. And I knew that they were honest people, and that they weren't lying to me. So they had to have witnessed these miracles. Now, could they have been duped or tricked? Maybe.

[00:21:44] But there were so many of the stories and so many of them on different occasions from different people seeing similar things. Another one, for example, was, um, he would do these private, um, darshan, blessing, um, events after the big darshan with a few thousand people. He would hand select certain devotees, and they would get to meet with him afterward.

[00:22:11] And one of the stories that really blew my mind, it's crazy. You can't imagine it, but it's quite likely that it happened because I have a couple eyewitnesses. So he would have these small groups, and his devotees were very international. He had thousands, I don't know, tens of thousands of devotees in India, but there were also Europeans and people from all over the world that would come.

[00:22:36] So he'd have these small meetings afterward, and he would be speaking his native tongue, Hindi, or whatever native Indian tongue he was speaking, and the different people in the room that he would speak to would hear him speaking to them in their native language. So there'd be like a couple from Germany, and they would walk out and go, oh my God, we can't believe he knows German.

[00:23:01] And then the Italian over here would be like, no, he was speaking Italian. And like, no, he's speaking German. People would argue about what language he was speaking because each person would hear it in their own language. And there were just endless stories like that. So

[00:23:17] ADMARKER

[00:23:17] what I think may have happened, just as an aside, and I'll get back to the topic at hand, um, because this is known to be true with many mystics and spiritual teachers that do have legitimate abilities and powers, is that, um, at times, they become corrupted, and the ego reemerges and starts to take credit for these abilities.

[00:23:46] Or even in some cases, the more unfortunate cases, um, these abilities are used as a guise to lure people in to exploit them for money or to abuse them in some way, um, which may have very likely been the case with him having these very clear abilities that were provable and documented early in life, and then later in life, having to fake it. Which is pretty clear because there are some videos out there where you're like, it's like a magic trick, where you see some sleight of hand, and it's not the real article. 

[00:24:23] So my general thought, and it's not that I've given this too much thought, so if anyone listening has given it more thought and has a deeper understanding of the whole phenomenon of Sai Baba, which wasn't even meant to be a topic that we cover today, but it's interesting, um, I don't really know what ended up happening in his life and if he was guilty of the things for which he was accused and whatnot, but I do suspect that there was a time wherein he, as a person, uh, and maybe even an avatar, uh, had these talents and also possessed, uh, a level of integrity and purity.

[00:25:00] And then, at some point, looks like was possibly corrupted, and that all went south. But the purpose of me telling that story has to do with the need to develop a new identity in hopes that you might stumble across the person that you really are. So when I was still terribly enthralled in the throes of addiction and was really struggling, I mean, really in bondage, just no escape possible, and my family would come back from India, uh, at the very end there, right before I checked myself into rehab, a few months before that, I was so desperate that I started to pray to this Indian saint. 

[00:25:49] And I remember I had a little book of his. I don't even think I could really read it. Uh, and I had a little photo, and one of my family members had given this to me, and I would just-- because I wasn't raised with religion or any concept of God, no one in my family other than those folks had ever been spiritual. There was no church. There were no Bibles. There was just no mention of spirituality as a concept or practice ever. 

[00:26:17] But because I was so desperate, and I was in so much pain, I thought, what the hell? If my family's going to India and they're witnessing all of these miracles, and some of them were physical healing miracles and things of this nature, divorce is being avoided, and people reuniting with loved ones, and all kinds of beautiful outcomes, uh, I thought, well, I don't have any other choice, and nothing in this realm is working because I tried so hard on my own so many times to become free, and I just couldn't. 

[00:26:50] So I started praying to this Sai Baba, um, which is so funny to reflect on because I had maybe 1% faith, but  it still worked because of that 1%. And that's a really beautiful thing about faith, is that I don't think you really have to believe in God in order for God to be of assistance. I think you just have to be willing to consider that it's a possibility that it might just happen. And God probably helps you even if you're an ardent atheist too that refuses the existence of God. 

[00:27:30] But in the case of being balled up in a corner in the fetal position, crying, pleading for your life, as I was, I mean, I'm metaphorically speaking, but not really. I mean, if you could create the scene, that's what the scene was, um, just really hurt inside and very hopeless, just no end in sight, no hope in sight.

[00:27:54] And that was the only little glimmer of hope I had that this brown man with the massive fro and an orange robe, God knows how many thousands of miles away, had these abilities and these gifts. And so if I prayed to him, even in-- I was at my mom's house, kicking heroin. I had told her I had the flu. I don't think she bought that, but she put up with it because she loved me.

[00:28:21] Bailey: Mm-hmm.

[00:28:23] Luke: So I'm kicking heroin. I'm really sick. Body, mind, spirit just completely checked out. Praying to this Indian saint with just a glimmer of hope that he might hear my voice all the way over in India. And very shortly after, I had the most meaningful moment of clarity of my entire life because I had gone back to Los Angeles after kicking heroin at my mom's over Christmas. I pretended like it was a Christmas visit, and I was just sick the whole time.

[00:28:57] Bailey: Wow.

[00:28:57] Luke: I was very bad company, eating a bunch of pills and just a complete maniac. Uh, God bless mom. If you ever hear this mom, I love you so much. Thank you for your patience and compassion. So I go back to LA, and I'm like, okay, I'm clean. Don't screw this up, Luke. Don't screw this up. And of course, I immediately get strung out again. There's no way to tell if it was that prayer to that fro-ed man in India, but it wasn't very long before I came to such a point of pain and suffering that I made the decision to go into treatment. And I kept praying to this entity, this man, this being the whole time.

[00:29:48] Mm-hmm. And next thing you know, I'm on a plane, and I'm getting checked into this treatment center, and I get in there, and, um, I've totally lost-- back to the topic. I know I'm bleeding all through the narrative of the question here, but it will all become relevant. I promise. I check into this thing, a 26-year old man who is an emotionally broken, I don't want to say infant, but really a child. I'd never grown up. I was just completely inept and completely incapable of functioning like an adult at all. 

[00:30:28] And I check into this place, and they wouldn't give me any medication because I had already, um, kicked heroin a week before I went in there. And so when they checked my vitals, they determined that I wasn't technically in, um, withdrawal. So they wouldn't give me drugs for the withdrawals because I had gone past withdrawals.

[00:30:53] I was withdrawing from alcohol and from all of these other barbiturates and benzodiazepines, and God knows what else I was taking at the time. A lot of different drugs. A lot of them. But I wasn't technically addicted to opiate, so they wouldn't give me any medication. So I go into the nurse's office, I'm like, I need some meds, because I want it to be high so I could hang with the detox.

[00:31:16] They wouldn't give me anything. But what they told me was, much to my shock at the time, is that we're not going to give you any medication, but we can give you some, um, direction that will be helpful to you. And, uh, what your direction is is that you're to go back to your room and pray to God that God helps you. 

[00:31:38] And I had been praying a little bit to some guy in India that my family seemed to really be enamored with, and, um, I'm back in my little room, just sweaty, and cold, and 135 pounds. I mean, I'm 6'2 now. I think I'm 185. I was 6'2, 135. Fairly thin guy now. I got a little gut on me, but, um, by biohacker standards, I wouldn't say I'm thin body fat percentage wise. 

[00:32:09] But I've always been a tall lanky guy. I was super, super skinny. 135 pounds, and yellow, and just so sick. I'm in my room, and the only help they would give me was tell me to pray. And so, uh, I got on my knees, and I put my hands together, and basically just tried to emulate what I had seen in the movies or on TV of how people pray. Christians, or whatever.

[00:32:33] I had no idea. I started praying to this ambiguous God because I didn't have a religious God or anything, which ended up being a benefit to me because I didn't have a belief system that I needed to dismantle in order to create a new one. I just made one from scratch. But long story long, uh, what happened was I just kept praying that first day, and, um, that nonstop incessant, deadly obsession to put drugs and alcohol in my body went away.

[00:33:08] It was just gone. And it's been gone for 26 years. So I had all of these breadcrumbs into spirituality that led me to shed so many of those identities, but then also led me into the identity of, well, now I'm not that person. So who am I? And because I didn't know who I was, then started trying to cobble together yet another group of identities that weren't really who I was either, but they were a few steps closer, and they were different than the one I had built that was killing me. 

[00:33:54] Bailey: Right. And talk about what a maze you must have created for yourself if you're not only not wanting to be who you are, but then you're taking these drugs that make you think differently, make you feel differently. You can just create so many little identities that don't even exist without the drugs. That just sounds so confusing. So then when you're like, oh, I need to meditate, it's like, just get rid of all the things, and then you'll definitely be closer to you.

[00:34:32] Luke: Yeah. It's interesting that you phrased it like that because I think the process of finding yourself is not so much about a searching for something or someone that's out there in terms of having to add something to yourself. It's more about discovering the parts of yourself that are inauthentic, that are counterfeit, and surrendering them piece by piece until what's left is the authentic character of who you really are.

[00:35:14] Because we're all completely whole and completely integrated until life happens to us and we become disintegrated. We take these other pieces of these other personas, personalities, ways of dressing, names that we call ourselves, taking on a pseudonym, a stage name, a spiritual name even can happen later on in the journey.

[00:35:46] So because we're so sometimes lost in who we really are, we take on all of this armor and play all of these games. And then when that no longer serves us, as was the case with me, as I described, then the temptation is, well, now all of who I thought I was has been ripped away, or I've allowed it to be ripped away, or I've thrown it away, yet I still don't really have access to who I truly am as my authentic, unique self.

[00:36:19] So I'm going to take healthier expressions of other identities and start building a composite person out of that in the context of, say, becoming a spiritual person, I changed my name to Baba Lukey John, or whatever, and start wearing the beads, and the ropes, and I did this shit too. Start saying namaste, and all that.

[00:36:41] It's like the appropriation of other characteristics, which might be completely wholesome in our reverence for them, yet still aren't actually who we are. So to your point, it's, I think, wise to be mindful of the temptation to want to keep an additive process going where we're adding more of the outside world to ourselves. That is if we're struggling to find who we are. And work more on the discarding of those parts of ourselves that aren't true and that aren't real.

[00:37:24] An example of that would be, say, I'm a dishonest person, which I used to be. Extremely dishonest. I mean, in word, in deed, and also just in my beingness, I was so phony. I didn't know how to honestly even express how I felt or anything, let alone-- especially when I was an addict. I mean, I was a chronic liar, and thief, and I was not a great person. So let's say, whatever your degree of you're a dishonest person, you're a liar.

[00:38:01] It's not like I have to go outside of myself and attribute honesty to myself. What I need to do is remove dishonesty from my experience. Dishonesty primarily within the self-honesty is learning how to be honest with myself, but honesty is what's left when dishonesty is removed. It's not something that has to be added. It's already there.

[00:38:32] So I start to take an inventory of myself and my behavior, how I act with people, the words I speak, and start to observe and apply self-honesty to see where I lack authenticity and where I'm being manipulative, or where I'm, uh, espousing outright lies, or whatever the case may be. It's a matter of discarding the things that aren't true and that aren't me.

[00:38:58] And eventually, underneath that shit pile of falsehood is left the real person. And then, of course, there are ways to fortify the real person and to improve one's practice of those principles. You can get better and better at being honest, but it's still not something that you go out and get. It's just something that you cultivate within yourself that's already there.

[00:39:23] And how it gets cultivated, at least in my experience, is by noticing the subtle ways in which, say, dishonesty is still operational. So maybe now in my life, for example, I'd be really honest right here. Um, I don't knowingly say things that are untrue. Period. Unless I'm unconscious of it at some point, uh, that would-- a white lie, telling someone I was late because of this when it really wasn't, or lying to my wife about anything, just lying to you, someone that I work with, or to the audience of the Life Stylist, oh, hey, buy this product. It really works. It doesn't, and I know that, but I just say it to make money.

[00:40:14] I don't lie. So I could think, well, I'm a really honest person, and I would say that I am, but there are also shades of lying when it comes to levels of authenticity. Maybe someone comes to the house that I hire and does some work, and I can see that they did a really bad-- I'm giving like real time shit.

[00:40:41] I'm just keeping it real. And they do some work that I don't think is great, or that I think I'm being overcharged, or I'm being cheated or mistreated in some way. And they'll go to say goodbye, and I'm like, oh, hey, thank you so much. Appreciate it. Have a good day. When inside, I know that's not what I want to be saying to them. But in that moment, I just can't, for some reason, and I probably know the reasons if I look, I can't summon the courage to just be real and to be authentic. 

[00:41:14] So there's gross levels of dishonesty, where you're actually a liar. And then there's other more subtle levels that are harder to catch and harder to discern without a constant observation witness in the room with me that sees like, uh, you were just people pleasing or being a bit fake because you were afraid of conflict, or you wanted to be liked, you wanted their approval, and so on.

[00:41:45] But underneath all of that, whether or not it's, say, overt dishonesty, or it's the dishonesty of omission, like a sin of omission versus a sin of commission, it's something that I could have done or should have done, but I didn't. I didn't step up to that level of realness and just say, hey, you know what? Thanks a lot. I appreciate it. But I noticed you didn't do X, Y, and Z right, yet on the bill here, you're charging me for that. I mean, you're just giving a trite example of that. These are things I notice in myself. 

[00:42:16] So while I might think of myself and the real me, we're talking about finding the real you. I think the real me, the most integrous version of Luke Storey, is someone who's totally honest all the time. And that can be a goal. And I know that I am that, but then there are character defects that will sneak in and have me withhold some of my feelings or my thoughts with people based on how I think they might react. 

[00:42:46] And all of this might sound super hyper analytical and like, God, why don't you just relax and live your life, but I can only speak my truth and my experience. Noticing these finer levels of being within myself get me closer to the true version of who I really am. Because even if I'm not committing an outright lie, if I'm acting phony, let's say just acting like I really like someone that I don't like because I don't want to hurt their feelings and tell them like, okay, I'm walking away now. I don't want to talk to you anymore. You want to have tact, obviously. You don't want to just be a bull in the China shop and be like, I'm radically honest. I'm just going to hurt everyone's feelings.

[00:43:33] Bailey: A new identity.

[00:43:35] Luke: Yeah. The new identity. I'm an honest guy. I had to say whatever comes to my mind. I do believe in, uh, prudence and discernment and that there's ways that you can be very real and authentic and still do so in a compassionate way, but I still do find myself sometimes being phony and just wanting to be diplomatic in situations and avoid conflict and not really expressing my truth. 

[00:44:00] And then later on realizing like, Luke, you whisked out, man. You had an opportunity to advocate for yourself in this situation and just be more real. And maybe even in some cases, inadvertently help the person you were interacting with by just being more honest. And so this is a really fun practice for me, actually, because it's getting down, again, to the core of who I am. I'm not a phony person. So if I'm being phony, what's happening? I'm being something other than what I really am, in my essence.

[00:44:35] Bailey: Right. There's something else to remove so that you can be revealed.

[00:44:40] Luke: Yeah. Exactly. And I don't know if that process of subtraction versus addition is true. I just know that it's true for me.

[00:44:53] Bailey: Mm-hmm.

[00:44:54] Luke: Meaning that I don't have to go out and become someone else. I just have to stop being the person that's not fully me. And what's left at the end of you boiling that pot of water down is the essence of who you really are. It's not like I need to add more clear water to the pot of the pure Luke. 

[00:45:17] I need to boil off the impurities in my personality and my behavior, thinking, feeling that aren't really truly me. And over time, I become more of myself. I remember a couple of years ago when, uh, it's a few years ago now when I started getting into, uh, the plant medicine space and whatnot as a person who is sober. And I've derived so much benefit from those experiences, those ventures, as I've talked about on the show many times.

[00:46:01] And even moving here to Austin, my friend group evolved out of people primarily based in addiction recovery programs to just regular people. And some of those people are medicine people, and shamans, whatever. But I started, culturally, in terms of my interpersonal life, making some changes and just evolving into different spaces. 

[00:46:31] And at the same time, uh, with this podcast and the personal brand that I built around myself, um, share a lot of information about biohacking, as it's called, which, as you know, is not a term that I particularly enjoy, but I haven't come up with a better one. I don't enjoy it just because I don't think of the body as a computer.

[00:46:52] I think of it as a living, breathing, beautiful, alive, uh, I don't know. It's its own entity, the body. It's part of me, but it's its own thing. And I don't think it's something that wants to be hacked. It wants to be loved and cared for. It's not mechanistic and reductionist to me. My relationship with my body is becoming much more personal and tactile. 

[00:47:19] But anyway, for lack of a better term, people seeing me as this biohacking guy, which is just stuff that I'm interested in because it's novel, and I do care about my body, and I want to be healthy, and I don't believe in being sick if you don't have to be, and I want to age gracefully, and all those things. But I don't fit in as an image or a persona as a biohacker. So it's never really fit for me. I'm not sporty. I'm not into fitness really. I don't know. Whatever you picture a biohacker to be.

[00:47:55] Bailey: Sporty.

[00:47:58] Luke: Sporty spies. I don't really feel like I fit into that. So I start merging into the medicine world, and it's like, well, should I start-- and I remember having these thoughts like, I don't know. Should I start wearing ponchos, and beads, and playing the part? There's just thoughts that run through the head when you're probably sitting there meditating.

[00:48:17] It's like, well, how do I look and talk like the things I'm becoming interested in? And I've seen so many people, um, over the years, and it's no judgment because everyone is seeking an identity, but say somebody, um, finds the medicine path, for example, and they start going to Peru, and studying, and doing all the things. And maybe they take on a different name. They're given a spiritual name. I was given a spiritual name years ago in Kundalini yoga, and I never used it because I just felt like it's another not me.

[00:48:50] Bailey: Mm-hmm.

[00:48:51] Luke: I'm not really Luke Storey. I'm really a spiritual being that's playing the role of Luke Storey. So why bother changing my name to Mookie Booboo because that's more spiritual? Maybe the most spiritual thing I can do is just be the Caucasian dude from Northern California that I am, right? 

[00:49:11] Bailey: Yeah. Who knows if that one's closer or farther away than the true one?

[00:49:14] Luke: You never know. And again, no disrespect to people that are like, I don't feel like Joe Smith. I feel like Baba Gooby Joe. Total respect. I'm literally just speaking about my own thing. But observing people say they get into medicine, and they change their name to a shamanic name and start wearing all of the, um, affects and costumes of someone who's like that.

[00:49:42] I haven't, in many years, felt really tempted by that particular path because I think anytime an idea comes, like, I need to represent myself or create some image or create some identity, it always seems to me that it's just taking me further away from who I am. And who I am, I don't even know. 

[00:50:06] It's a unique expression of a person that's into a lot of different things. And those things change all the time, and it's dynamic and fun. And, um, I have, um, my toes in a lot of different waters. I'm into the biohacking. I'm into all of the Indian spiritual stuff, some of the shamanism, whatever.

[00:50:28] So it's like I don't even think if I tried really hard I could create another identity. So what becomes more fun for me as time goes on and I get older, I'm going to be 53 this year, is I don't have to create a new person. What I'm invited to do is to keep an awareness of the tendency to try and be somebody other than who I am and to reject those temptations when they arise.

[00:51:04] And what ends up happening through that process of distillation is I just become more comfortable in my own skin and just being my weird personal self. Come what may, think what people might. There's going to be some people in the world that think Luke Storey and his authentic expression are wonderful.

[00:51:24] And there's going to be some people that don't. And you really only need a few friends and a few podcast listeners to do your thing. We really only have so many needs. I mean, with the podcast, the need is to pay the bills. And so that's the work I do to do that. And then we need companionship and intimacy with friends and loved ones.

[00:51:45] And you don't really need that many of those. So it's like all the time that I spent throughout so much of my life wanting to be popular with my friends, or to be accepted, or to be loved, or to have some level of notoriety, or to become a public figure, or any of that is all really a fool's errand because all you really need is yourself and the relationship with yourself.

[00:52:12] When I look in the mirror, how much love do I feel for myself? How much, um, acceptance do I have of myself for all of my great talents, and skills, and gifts, and also for all of my faults, and all of my defects, and all the areas in which I still fall short? Can I love all of that with equal measure? And can I be honest with myself about all of that on both sides? 

[00:52:40] Wow, here's the 10 things I'm still stuck on. I really need to work on those. And here's the 10 things that I've really made a lot of progress with. And to keep a balanced perspective of myself and the perspective and achievement is based on, for me at least, how authentically me am I able to be? How much can I live in my body in this moment and be grounded in who I am? And the more I can do that, the funnier it seems to try to be anyone else.

[00:53:17] Bailey: Mm-hmm.

[00:53:17] Luke: Why bother? It's so much work.

[00:53:20] Bailey: What a waste. Yeah.

[00:53:21] Luke: And I've done it. That's how I know. All the different iterations of myself. Even going back, when I got out of rehab and I got sober, I shed the identity of the cool junkie stoner. It was like, obviously, so uncool.

[00:53:42] Bailey: How funny.

[00:53:43] Luke: But I had to make cool so I could justify the denial of it being uncool. And some of my heroes played that role. Keith Richards, and folks like that that, um, capitalized on that schwagger.

[00:54:00] Bailey: I thought that was so cool for a long time.

[00:54:03] Luke: I mean, yeah. It's cool until you strung out, and you're digging through the carpet and smoking pieces of plastic, or lint, or whatever.

[00:54:13] Bailey: Parmesan cheese.

[00:54:15] Luke: Yeah. Then it becomes very uncool. Um, yeah. So I get sober, and then so I'd shed that identity, but then I took on this identity of like, I'm still a rocker. So I'm playing in bands. And then I found my steez in terms of the way I dressed and the way I carried myself. And I took on this other false persona that I kept for a few years. And then by happenstance, I fell into being, um, a celebrity fashion stylist because I got this job working as an assistant stylist with Aerosmith when I was fairly newly sober.

[00:54:52] And so I was around that industry and Hollywood. And then, eventually, that turned into a real career. And then I morphed myself into being a fashion person, even though I never cared about it at all. And I was only as interested in fashion as an art or as a career industry, uh, as was necessary in order for me to continue to be successful and grow my career and to start my old company, School of Style.

[00:55:22] So I look at old photos of myself, and videos, and stuff. I was playing a role to get something that I wanted, essentially. And this isn't a right or wrong, good, bad framing. It's just an exploration into how humans behave. And of course, I'm being very self-referential. Hopefully not too much so, but I can only speak from my own experience truly.

[00:55:47] I mean, I can observe things in other people, maybe people that I've coached and helped them as I see them go down the path of creating yet another false identity under the guise of, well, this one's at least a healthy and spiritual identity. But it's still an identity that is something beyond who you really are.

[00:56:05] So now on the other side of all of these different manufactured versions of myself, things become much more streamlined and much easier because there's no upkeep. There's nothing to maintain. The only thing to maintain is to just be in the watchtower and observing the yard for when any of those false Luke characters start to appear and want to emerge and find their place again. And just, thank you. That's okay. We don't need that version of you anymore. You're finding the pared down, simple, easy, flow person you are now, which is closer to the truth. And that's fun. And it's much less work in the end.

[00:57:01] Bailey: Mm-hmm. I remember, vividly, towards the beginning of my, um, entrance into the spiritual world, being afraid after-- I had probably been meditating for, I don't know, six months or so. And so I was getting into this place where I was detaching from my identity. And I remember thinking like, I'm going to be so boring if I don't have this false personality.

[00:57:34] The book, The Power of Now, about, um, all our problems are made up, and our personalities are just ways that we deal with them. And I was like, who am I even going to be if I don't have all of this? A fear of no one's going to like me. I'm not going to have anything to offer if I just meditate all day. 

[00:57:59] There's not going to be anything there. But I think it takes some courage to push past that and to just-- I didn't think about it at the time, but now it's like, I just like what I like now. There's no puzzle to put together. There are things that I like and things that I don't, and that's what makes up the person who I am.

[00:58:30] Luke: Absolutely. Yeah. That's a really good point. Because you have the desire. We all have the desire to express who we are. That might be the way we speak, the clothes we wear, the car we drive, our website, the way we decorate our house, the cover art to your podcast. Everything is an expression of who we are. For me, the defining factor is, am I doing it in a performative way for other people, or am I doing it because it's just what I want to do? So I like to wear-- 

[00:59:10] Bailey: Is there an agenda?

[00:59:11] Luke: Yeah. I like to wear tie-dye t-shirts. I don't know. I just picked it up. I have a million tie-dye t-shirts. When I go to get dressed in the morning, I put on the one that I feel represents how I feel that day with much less, I won't say, zero-- I'm sure all of us, to some degree, when we go out in the world, we want to be presentable and be received in a certain way, or even quite naturally convey to the world to what tribe we belong and things of that nature.

[00:59:43] There's nothing wrong with wanting to express yourself so that you're perceived in a certain way or so that you fit in somewhere, but can also get pathological when you're doing it solely with the purpose of other people receiving it a certain way. But I'm sure that's always present to some degree. But for the most part, like you, I'm finding the ability to just express myself the way I express myself because it's what I feel like doing, more so than what I perceive the benefit is going to be from other people if I do it.

[01:00:20] Bailey: Or like, does this fit into the personality that I've created? Because if it doesn't fit in, then, no, I can't have it.

[01:00:29] Luke: Right. Yeah. Well, it's funny because over the years, I've done, um, photo shoots for this brand, and website, and whatever. And I still have some of my old, uh, fashion guy clothes. Just nice black blazers and things that I used to wear when I was doing that as a career. And just for lack of having nothing else around, I've worn some of that stuff before.

[01:00:57] And then I get the photos back, and I'm like, that's not me. Or even Alyson would be like, dude, what are you wearing? That's not you anymore. That was a different version of you that was maybe to a larger, uh, or to a higher degree playing that role because I wanted to fit in in the industry that I was in and so on.

[01:01:19] I create this persona. And there's nothing wrong with that. I mean, maybe it is good for your career. If I went out and tried to have the career that I used to have, the way I dress now, which is run around barefoot with tie-dye shirts on, I don't know, maybe people wouldn't have taken me seriously.

[01:01:35] So there's something to be said, and when it comes to your career, I think, for playing the part, and I don't think that it's necessarily a bad thing to do, but it, um, for me, at least, is dependent on how much of it is because it's just the natural way that I want to do things. And how much is it because I think that that's what other people want me to do or expect me to do.

[01:02:00] It's fun to be more spontaneous. The more spontaneity and authenticity we can live with, it just makes life more fun and interesting. And it does get us closer to what some of our goals are, which is to find ourselves. We want to find ourselves and appreciate and love ourselves. And when we do that, we also have much less anxiety and fear around just being who we are. Just being real. 

[01:02:31] Because all of that performative behavior that's based on the perceived or real approval of other people is really serving the lack of approval and love that I have for myself. And the more approval and love I have for myself based on the real me, the less dependent I am on what other people think, good or bad. It's like when you have your own approval, there's an inherent confidence that allows you to operate in the world with so much less anxiety because you don't have that lingering sense of, ah, but what are they going to think?

[01:03:20] Bailey: It's not so fragile. It can't be broken by those things. Yeah.

[01:03:24] Luke: Yeah. And ironically, I've also found that I think because human nature is drawn toward the safety of authenticity, people want to know what they're getting from you as a person. So they want to know who you really are. The less shits you give about performing for other people, the more they naturally approve of you. Because we all know the truth on a gut level, on a nervous system level, when people sense that you're trying to get them to like you, they actually like you much less. 

[01:04:13] And that's the real irony of approval seeking, is that it acts as a repellent for anyone that's halfway awake. Because they know that on some level, you're trying to get one over on them. It's that you want something from them. People like to be around people that don't want anything from them.

[01:04:40] So if you're around people and you're just being authentically and sloppily you, you're more likely to be popular than you are with the people you want to be popular with who are the more discerning, awake, authentic people if you just be yourself and allow your realness to shine through. And I've observed this not only in my personal life, but also in my life as a content creator. They're a part of me that's playing the role now of creating a podcast with you.

[01:05:14] One of the most meaningful and frequent questions I get about the way I conduct myself in social media and podcast speaking, and whatnot is that, man, you're just real. I can't think of a better compliment. And there are tons of times when I'm much less real than I would like to be, but I'm making progress.

[01:05:36] So someone might say, oh, you're so real. And I can go, well, at 9 o'clock this morning, I was on a phone call, and I was a little phony. I could track that. I could sense that in myself. But overall, on the arc of personal growth and self-realization, I'm definitely becoming more real and more authentic.

[01:05:57] And that's also reinforced by positive feedback. When people say, wow, there's so many bullshitters in this space. What I like about what you're doing is it just seems real. There's a vulnerability that people appreciate and find resonance with because everyone wants to be able to be real themselves, and to be vulnerable themselves, and to express their truth, and express their core identity of who they really are.

[01:06:31] And there's a permission slip that's created when any one of us models that for other people. And other people feel like, huh. Shit. They're just being themselves Maybe that gives me license to be a little bit more myself. It's like phoniness and falsehood is as contagious as is authenticity. And that's one of the greatest things about long-form media, I think, in the past few years. As the world becomes enveloped in media, so much deception. 

[01:07:11] And that deception is becoming so exposed. And people are rejecting that. I mean, speaking about the mainstream media, I think one of the reasons people are rejecting that phoniness, and that deception, and the polished newscaster-type media in favor of long-form media like this or many other people that are producing it is that it lacks that sheen, and it has that authenticity because we have the opportunity to have one-hour and nine-minute conversations like this and not to have sound bites that are curated, and produced, and edited. 

[01:07:50] We can really just have time to let our hair down and have real dialogue take place like what we're having today. And so when you only have one option, and that option is the 1950s TV commercials, newscasts, um, fabricated family sitcom shows, and so on, where everything's fake and phony, that's all you have, I think the general public falls into line with that because they don't know any different.

[01:08:25] And now you have all of that more fabricated media and entertainment receding into antiquity, largely because there's so much long-form, independent, more authentic, more vulnerable media emerging and gaining in popularity. So it's becoming more of the social norm, for example, for someone to go on a YouTube channel, or on a podcast, or on social media and be extremely open, and personal, and vulnerable about what they're going through in their lives.

[01:09:03] They're sharing that. I mean, maybe to a fault sometimes. Probably me and others. But TMI, probably. There's a pendulum. Maybe it's like, oh, okay. Everyone doesn't need to bawl their eyes out on their TikTok every day and share their innermost secrets. I mean, I'm sure there's pathology on both sides of that, or the potential for it. 

[01:09:25] Overall, as an emerging trend, I think it's a really healthy one and one with which I feel very grateful to be aligned. We talk about what we want to talk about, and some people are going to tune in and go, what the hell is this? And tune out. And some are going to tune in and go, wow, you know what, I don't have a lot of real conversations around me in my life, so I'm going to listen to one, and that's going to encourage me to go have some real conversations with people who are interested in conducting that type of dialogue with me. We all give each other permission for how in touch we want to be with ourselves and how courageous we can be in surrendering our addiction to being liked.

[01:10:10] Bailey: I was originally attracted to your podcast because of that authenticity. And I think it made it a lot easier to see myself in you. And like you're saying, I think I, at the time, had a lack of true, authentic conversations with the people around me, and so I got to tune in and hear it on the podcast every week, and it was like I got to be in the conversation too.

[01:10:46] Luke: And now you literally are in the conversation fast forward a couple years or however long it's been. We're doing it. We're on the podcast. Isn't that funny?

[01:10:58] Bailey: That is so funny.

[01:10:58] Luke: It's so great. That's so great. 

[01:11:00] Bailey: I can even imagine many hours I spent driving around in the car just listening to you.

[01:11:06] Luke: Um, I'm sorry.

[01:11:08] Bailey: No, it was awesome.

[01:11:11] Luke: No, I know. I'm being falsely self-deprecating. Because I can talk sometimes. Now you get my, um, disjointed misspelled Slack messages where I'm just like a monkey typing on the keyboard. I think I warned you that when we--

[01:11:27] Bailey: It's more fun this way. 

[01:11:29] Luke: I was like, I'm only going to use proper grammar and spelling when you first get to know me and we start working together, and then it's out the window, and I'm just completely off the rails.

[01:11:38] Bailey: My entire style of texting has changed because of that. Okay. We get the message across? It works.

[01:11:46] Luke: Exactly. You can read between the lines. If a thanks is missing the K, you can still work it out.

[01:11:54] Bailey: We're smart people here. So I think maybe this will be the last question. And we touched on it a little bit. Um, is there a way for us to know which parts we should keep? Can we go too far into the letting go, the subtraction?

[01:12:21] Luke: Yeah, that's interesting. I mean, I think as you start to uncover parts of yourself that are not really who you are, what's left is the good stuff. I used to be someone who was extremely resentful, angry, and just condemning of other people in my mind, and sometimes directly to them. And so as I started to become aware, I noticed that-- say, I would have an interaction with someone, and it rubbed me the wrong way. And then I would leave the person's presence, and for hours afterward, I would be ruminating in my own mind. Self-talking. 

[01:13:33] I'll be talking to myself about what they said, what I thought about it, what I should have said to them, what I'm going to say to them next time I see them. Building a case, like an attorney would build a case against someone. I'm taking down all the facts. Maybe even if I was going nuts enough, write it down and think I'm going to email it to them, or we're going to have a sit down, and I'm just going to give them a piece of my mind.

[01:13:59] They're off living their life. Maybe living their best life. They could give two shits about what I'm sitting in my apartment thinking about them, the case I'm building against them, that I'm fantasizing about hurting them. I mean, I'll be honest, in some way or another, uh, fantasizing about some horrible luck being bestowed upon them, best case scenario.

[01:14:29] Just really hateful. Hateful, vengeful, hateful, resentful thoughts. Meanwhile, that person is free, and I'm holding myself in a self-imposed prison within my own mind. As I started to become aware of that, through even just learning that that was a phenomenon that was present in my life. I didn't even know I did that my entire life until someone explained that they had been like that and had overcome that way of existence simply by creating an awareness that that's how they were. 

[01:15:13] So then I started to notice, oh, everyone doesn't do that. That's not normal. That's not healthy. That's not productive. That doesn't add to my quality of life to just be filled with rage and condemnation for my fellow man every day. Oh shit. My bad. I just thought I'm self-righteously, um, coming at these scenarios thinking that, of course, I'm right and the other party's wrong. And so if I build a strong enough case against them, then I can punish them and show them how they're wrong. And then they'll be different, and they'll act like I want them to act. So then I won't have these thoughts about that.

[01:15:52] Bailey: Maybe even help them.

[01:15:54] Luke: Yeah, yeah. I'm going to help them be a better person by giving them some of my unsolicited advice. Let's just take that, which I would call a character flaw or a character defect. It's a broken aspect of one's thinking and feeling life. It's dysfunctional. It's not healthy. It's warped. 

[01:16:15] It's not normal to walk around having hateful negative thoughts about people who aren't even there, that really don't even exist in that moment. I'm by myself now in my car ruminating. I'm insane. That's insanity. It's a form of insanity. So if I start to see that the way I think and the way I behave is, at times, insane, it's not that I have to go out and learn how to become a sane person.

[01:16:43] It's that I have to start-- well, I don't have to do anything, but if I want to be sane, I have to start to build an awareness of each moment in which I'm doing that behavior or thinking those thoughts. And this is where practices like meditation and contemplation come in. So first, there's the education of the awareness that that is a character flaw that I possess, that I practice, that I ruminate hateful thoughts. 

[01:17:15] The next phase is starting to notice when I'm having those thoughts and moving my attention to something else. And my attention to something else could be on the things about my day that are positive, the things about that person that are positive, as seemingly impossible as that might be considering the case I've built against them.

[01:17:38] But everyone has something positive to find some level of empathy, some level of compassion for that person, to understand that that person is probably suffering like me, struggling like me. And this isn't to co-sign or condone the other person's behavior, but I'm on my side of the street, sweeping up my side now.

[01:17:58] Where am I in this relationship? Where am I in this dynamic? I'm the one over here who is insane, believing the thoughts that the mind produces when the mind is scared, when the mind is hurt, when the mind is afraid. It just naturally starts to produce this unending litany of righteous positionalities that it then clings to for a sense of strength and a sense of self.

[01:18:32] So if I can start to become aware of those, oftentimes just the awareness of the insanity diffuses it, lets the air out of it, and allows it to stop. And this happened to me many years ago. I mean, it started, oh God, over 20 years ago. One of my teachers gave me an exercise, which was essentially to start looking at how I hated other drivers on the streets of Los Angeles, which is really easy to spot.

[01:19:01] I'm driving around, listening to some music, listening to an audio book, which I used to listen to before podcasts came out, and someone would do something that my mind determined to be, uh, an error. And I would start thinking about them in my mind, having those thoughts, wanting to punish them, run them off the road, slam on my brakes to startle them, to scare them, all that road rage shit.

[01:19:23] And I just started to become aware throughout my day of how many times I started hating other drivers. And I never really had to buckle down and exert any willpower to stop hating those other drivers. I just started to notice when those thoughts would arise. And the faster I could notice them, the quicker they would start to dissipate. 

[01:19:48] And the more I ignored them and allowed them to gain momentum and energy, the more inertia they would build. And next thing you know, it's an hour later, and I'm home from the mall, or wherever this bad driver made their offense against me, in my mind, usually. Not even in real life. Now I'm on the couch still thinking about that green Toyota.

[01:20:11] I should have gotten the license plate because I could track them down, like I have any ability-- I mean, these are the insane thoughts I would have. It's really difficult to stop the momentum of a negative, hateful mind when it's already in full fight or flight trauma response, but it's pretty damn easy to have, well, maybe not in the beginning, but over time with practice, easy to have an awareness of when that first thought arises.

[01:20:40] Bailey: Hmm.

[01:20:41] Luke: The mind just says, what a dick. And I go, ah, there it is. There it is. Nope. Divert attention over here. What about the gratitude I have that I own a car? Oh, that feels better. Maybe consider the thought that they made a mistake. Do I ever make mistakes? That feels a little better. Yeah, I make mistakes driving all the time.

[01:21:02] Do I do stupid shit in my car by accident? Yeah, every once in a while. To soften. To get a little humility. To have a little patience. And over time, the part of who I thought I was as a rageful, condemning person, vengeful person, starts to subside, and all that can be left there is a person who drives like a Buddha, because that's who I really am.

[01:21:40] That's who we all really are. So there's no point at which we become too empty. There's a point at which the emptier we are, the more full we are of our own vitality and our own unique expression, our own truth. You really can't lose your true self by getting rid of the part of you that's the untrue self. You just become more fully grounded in who you really are. 

[01:22:13] But the mind loves to chew on conflict. It loves to solve problems, just like a pit bull loves to spin around on a rope. It's what the mind does. So to try to fight the mind, try to stop those thoughts, to try to wrestle yourself into a more compassionate person is futile until one builds the capacity to truly surrender, and humble themselves, and admit that a lot of the ideas that come out of their mind and a lot of the actions that their mind prompts them to act out are false and not based in reality. 

[01:23:01] In other words, it's like, you can't convince someone that they're insane until they admit to themselves that they're insane. Once I admit to myself, if I'm honest with myself, and I go, wow, yeah, a lot of my thinking, a lot of my behavior is insane, right there marks the beginning of the journey back to sanity. It's like if I think I'm Santa Claus and you tell me, Luke, you're not Santa Claus, there's no getting around that. There is no convincing.

[01:23:36] There is no point at which I'm going to surrender and concede that held identity to you. It has to be something that happens within myself where I go, hmm. Maybe there's a 1% chance that I'm not Santa Claus. Let me just contemplate that. And then the whole game starts to unravel. That whole identity of Santa Claus. The next thing you know, I'm kicking off the boots, dropping the reins to the imaginary sleigh, and so on and so on. And what's left is a fat old man with a white beard who's going, wow, my name's Kris.

[01:24:11] Bailey: Yeah. You need the little split to come-- it's like, oh wait, I'm bigger than that.

[01:24:17] Luke: How do I be the best Kris Kringle?

[01:24:22] Bailey: Love it. Um, well, what do you think? I think that was a good ending.

[01:24:32] Luke: I think that's a good snippet. I mean, that's the best encapsulation of my perspective as it sits today. It's just it all boils down to building a practice of self-awareness and self-honesty, observing the parts of myself that I express that are inauthentic, to find myself when I'm feeling insecure and feel like I need to play a role.

[01:25:09] We're all playing roles. I'm playing Luke now that's the guy who is the host of the podcast, and you're playing the role of the person who's asking the question. There's nothing wrong with playing roles. Where we get lost is if there's not an observer, witness, grown-up in the room, consciousness that's observing our persona play the role. 

[01:25:36] I can play this role because it's what I signed up for today with you, and I'm playing it with as much authenticity as is possible. Any capacity I have to just try and be honest and be real here, I'm bringing all I've got. I'm sure it's not perfect, but there is one, a part of me who's observing myself playing this role, who's observing when I want to sound articulate and when I feel insecure because there was a pregnant pause, or I mispronounced something, or stumbled. 

[01:26:12] There's an awareness part of me that's aware of the persona that is nervous about that or wants to change that. So we're all assigned roles in our lives, and we assign roles to ourselves and to other people. It's just that some of those roles are further away from who we really are, and some of them are closer. 

[01:26:37] And the ones that are closer can still be acted out to our benefit and the benefit of those with whom we share the world. It's a matter of how aware we are of playing our role. Like Ram Dass would talk about, he's playing the role of a spiritual teacher up on stage, and there's part of him that's aware that he's up there playing the role.

[01:26:57] There's nothing wrong with playing that role because we're all doing it. It's how authentic is that role to who we really are, and what are the fruits of that labor of that role? What do we get out of it? Who benefits? Does anyone benefit? And is it a role, um, in which we can grow? The role that I'm playing now, today, it's as close as I can get to the real me having this conversation with you that tens of thousands of people will eventually hear.

[01:27:28] Am I going to walk away a better version of myself, closer to who I really am, liking and loving myself more as a result of how I've approached the role? And I think today, for the most part, that's true. If I would have gotten on this call and had less self-awareness and allowed myself to be diluted into I am the one doing the role, it wouldn't have been as fun. 

[01:28:01] I wouldn't have learned as much. I learn from sharing the things that I've learned. And that's the fun thing about acquiring wisdom, is you get to share it with people that want to hear it. Not everyone does. Some do. Thank God. There's a few people that want to hear it because it allows me to unpack it. And the more I can unpack it and learn how to articulate it, as I'm, I don't like the word teaching per se, as I'm sharing things that I've learned, I'm actually learning them, integrating them into becoming more concrete, more stable. 

[01:28:46] Bailey: You get to find the holes.

[01:28:48] Luke: Yeah. It gives you more consistency. It's like if you learn anything. If you learn how to go fishing and someone taught you, and then you do it a few times, you can get pretty good at it with practice and repetition. But if you open up a fishing camp, and you start teaching a bunch of kids how to fish, you become an expert. Maybe even a master someday. 

[01:29:11] So having the opportunity like on these AMA shows. Why I love them. I mean, it's a lot of pressure as compared to being the one interviewing another expert, and I can just sit on the sidelines and elicit their wisdom. But being the one trying to endeavor to share wisdom, it's more of a stretch, for sure, but there's a huge benefit in it for me because the third ear is hearing, and the third ear is listening, and the third ear is my true self that's learning through my persona, and through the roles, and through the observation of the persona and the roles. It's becoming concretized into who I am so that when we get off this recording and I proceed to act out the rest of the roles that I have to play today or that I choose to play today, that I'll be more authentically me as I do them.

[01:30:05] Bailey: I believe in you.

[01:30:07] Luke: Thanks, Bailey. You're always fun to talk to. You're a great springboard because I know we share a lot of the same perspectives, and I can only guess that many people that end up listening will also. So thanks, everyone, for joining us today. And, uh, I hope that some of the stuff that we got into was helpful.

[01:30:27] And, uh, if it wasn't, there's another episode coming at you on Tuesday with Stephen Jenkinson. And that one is going to be a really good episode. It's the first time on the show that we've ever covered, at least comprehensively and with some degree of dedication, the topic of death. And this is something that's really become important to my practice because we're all inside a body and an ego that really wants us to stay alive in this form. And, um, all the forms that we embody at the moment are, of course, temporary and fleeting.

[01:31:04] And so I think it's a really healthy practice for all of us, or at least those that are interested, to start to examine how we approach death and why we're so afraid of it. As I said to Steven, uh, one of my favorite quotes-- actually said it in a podcast I recorded a couple of days ago too. So some people have heard it, but to me, this is everything. It goes like this. If you die before you die, when you die, you don't die. And I'll let people chew on that and tune in on Tuesday for the next show. 


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