Have you ever reflected on your relationship with freedom? How does one find that, and why do people keep putting themselves in situations where they feel enclosed? The concept of freedom varies throughout history: from the pope to Jim Morrison. It’s time we really dig out this concept of where freedom fits in our personal lives and in today’s society. There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere and many of us will have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death again and again before it reached the mountaintop of our desires.
We’re here talking about the issues, how to have more in their life, how do things better, how to get clear. This show is around the concept of freedom and my bias of view around it, whereas I always thought I wanted freedom. I thought it was the most important thing but in retrospect, as I find myself in the second big prison of my life in terms of business I’m like, “What is my relationship with freedom? How do I find that and why do I keep putting myself in situations where I feel enclosed?” We used some historic references and quotes. We go from the Pope to Jim Morrison and really dig out this concept of where freedom fits in our society. We then head out to San Francisco to have Ben come on the line to talk about his relationship to freedom and his relationship to his ex-girlfriend and the business they are co-creating, and how he can find freedom and flow and engagement. For more shows, please visit us at TuffLove.Live. As always, this is a donation-based call, if you’d like to send me a little loving, go to PayPal.Me/KandellConsulting. Thanks so much. Let’s enjoy the show.
Listen to the podcast here:
The Lure of Freedom
It feels like it’s been forever. Why is that? Probably on some level it has been a whole week. We had a guest star. Before that, I was sick. Before that, I was in Novato, California. It feels like this really exciting new era. Also, this is season two. We made it through a whole year. This is the second year of Tuff Love, me talking about the issues that matter to me, me just relating myself to you so we can all have more in this world. I talk a lot about Tuff Love and how Tuff Love is his opportunity to see more and more and be more. For me, it’s an opportunity every week for me to get off my ass, out of my shit and onto the screen to talk about the things that matter. I am always grateful for the people who listen to the downloads that come to talk about these issues and just be an opportunity to talk about the shit that matters to me. Hopefully, it matters to you. I’ve gotten some really good feedback recently that the back issues, the video recordings are really adding to people’s lives. We’re going to keep doing it. Then when we’re going to take it to the bigger audience. Morgan has devices for me. She has ideas about how to take this show to the next level and I’m really excited about that piece. We’ve got about a rant on the concept of freedom. Then my good friend Dan is going to come onto the show and talk about what’s happening.
Let’s talk about freedom. Freedom has got this really intense presence around it because we’re all like, “We want freedom. I want freedom and all conditions. I want to be able to be free and fight the tyranny.” I went first to the Google and I got some quotes so I thought we would start off with, and I thought this would be really cool. Nelson Mandela, who knows a lot about freedom and the lack of it wrote, and this is one that of the 40 or 50 quotes on freedom I found on BrainyQuote.com that really struck me. “There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere and many of us will have to pass through the valley of a shadow of death again and again before we reach the mountaintop of our desires,” Nelson Mandela. Thank you, Nelson, because you’ve just nailed the show. That is exactly it. What is it in our psyche that we must pass through the valley of the shadow of death again and again before we reach the mountain top of our desires? What is in our human psyche that stops us just from being free? That’s what the show’s going to be about. I’m going to talk about some personal examples.
Pope John Paul II offer a contrary view as those Pope’s normally do. “Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but it having the right to do what we ought.” Isn’t that depressing? I thought about that for a second. I was just like, “Freedom is not about me doing whatever I want and living in this world, it’s really about the ability to do the right thing.” I don’t know. This doesn’t sound very pleasurable, but then there was a flavor of it that really struck me. I’ll go into some more quotes. George Orwell, 1984 author wrote, “Freedom is the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” That is the basis of my life on some level. We’ll talk about it a little bit more, but there’s certain people I feel totally free to say whatever’s on my mind. Morgan being, first and foremost in that process of someone I could just say the shit that’s in my mind from things that are totally loving to like, “You’re the most beautiful women I know,” to “I feel disconnected from you. I feel pissed off or I feel some click.” It’s the freedom to say whatever I want, even if the things she doesn’t want to hear, to my friends it’s not what the thing they wanted to hear. Then it’s just a powerful thing. For a lot of people, I don’t feel that freedom. I feel the straight jacket of appropriateness. I feel a straight jacket of relation. I feel the rules and regulations and those I feel totally unfree.
We can look at that piece in terms of freedom, but the people around you is, “How free do you feel in terms of you relating and your honesty?” I would propose that most of us feel totally free and false with the people we call our friends because we can say this shit on our mind. Good job, George Orwell. Thanks for the quote. Rosa Parks, obviously, a huge proponent for freedom. “I would like to be remembered as a person who wants to be free, so other people would also be free.” I like that. Your freedom, your ability to be free and be true inspires other people to be free. How many of us lean and look at other people to be free and we gather the strength from their ability to go against the status quo, to go against what they know? I thought that was great. The last one from Jim Morrison of the Doors, “Expose yourself to your deepest fear, after that fear has no power and the fear of freedom, shrinks and vanishes, you are free.” It’s a good thing for the Lizard King. Good quotes, different concepts of freedom. It’s just the ability to all aspects of freedom coming in.
I’ve been telling my personal story around this concept of freedom and why I’m fucked up around this. I started an organization in 2004, really 2002 on some level. That was the prep work. I was in this organization from 2004 to 2014 and I co-created a culture that I didn’t feel free. Let me take full responsibility for this. Not to say anyone else wasn’t guilty of certain things, but I’m just going to take full responsibility. I co-created a culture where I didn’t feel free and in that restraint, I lost my freedom. I lost my ability to move around. I didn’t feel free to communicate what was on my mind. I felt shut away from my family. I felt shut away from my health. I didn’t feel in control of my own destiny. In that, there was this solid prison that I created around my life. Again, I co created around my life. What happened in that prison was I actually felt one side comfortable because there was a containment around me, noticed that I felt totally miserable. Especially towards the end where I started to balk against the prison I had co-created. I did my work. I made an equitable exit and then in July of 2014, I ended up in Venice Beach, California, totally free. Nothing. No constraints in my life whatsoever. I have to pay rent, but I didn’t have to pay rent. I couldn’t have lived down the street with the rest of the Venice crew.
There was so much possibility. I could have moved to Austin, Texas. That was an option. I could’ve moved to Portland. I could’ve gone to a different country. There was anything I could have done in terms of that piece. Like there was this total freedom in who I was and what was available. I chose to go down the road of trying to create a life where I didn’t have that freedom. I enjoyed the containment. What did I do? I found myself a nice-looking house in Venice beach. I started to build a business around consulting and I was successful in both. I was making on track six figures very quickly after that. Then I found myself really bored. Bored not for the sake of stuff to do or places I could go and travel, but my spirit felt bored. My purpose felt bored. I felt constrained inside of that. There was something inside of me that there was an itch that wasn’t being scratched by my circumstances. What did I do? Starting in January, I started to build this business relationship and by March I had signed a lease for $11,500 per month space in Hollywood. I thought this was the next thing and I loved it in the beginning. I loved it. I love going down there every day. I love building shit. I love setting up the insurance and the bills and the electricity circuits and building stuff, like IKEA. I loved it. I don’t really consider myself a really handy person, but I was enough handy not to destroy the IKEA stuff except for a few things. All in all, I was able to build stuff and then there were staff members and then there were phone calls and there was marketing and people are like, “What are you doing?”
“I have several things on my plate. One is I have an event space in Hollywood.” “Really? You’re so cool.” I love the social credit of having a business and exciting and a community. There was a female empowerment mixed in and I was totally jazzed. Then the third month happens and the responsibility started to happen. I had one business partner who bailed. It really set me up in a bad a position. I’m put in a bad position because of that. The financials head and then I had to put more money in and then by November I was feeling really pulled in. I was working three or four nights a week, sometimes until 3:00 in the morning. Coming out and exhausted and driving my car home to Venice Beach and just like exhausted. By December, I had realized I had put myself into another prison. To make a long story short and again for me to take responsibility, here it is a year later and the two businesses I had started, I closed. One got pulled, one of closing and I have this debt, this business debt that I’m handling and I want to be a responsible citizen and I want to make sure my credit stays clean. I’m paying the debt and I could feel the weight of it. I can feel the pressure of this debt around me and it affects me 24 hours a day. I was like, “I had freedom. I had Venice Beach, California. I could look down the street. I could have done anything, and here I am, a year and a half later, pissed off at myself because I had co-creative prison.” I thought I wanted freedom, but really what I ended up is I put myself right back in that position of ill health and pressure and on some level slight pieces of depression.
I then went to the Google and found this quote to give credit where credit’s due, Nicole loved this quote. Nicole Daedone, the founder of OneTaste. My mentor and business partner. We talked about this quote and then I looked it up and I found it. I thought it was really interesting. This is from the US Department of Justice and NIJ.gov. I’ll just read it. “The Bureau of Justice Statistics studies have found a high rate of recidivism, basically you’re going back to jail among released prisoners. One study tracked 404,638 prisoners. 404,000 prisoners in 30 states after their release from prison in 2005. The research found that within three years of release, about two thirds, 67.8% of released prisoners were re-arrested, within five years, about three-quarters, 76.6% were re-arrested.” There are more details on that, but that just really stuck me. What is it? I don’t think prison sounds like a very fun place to me at all. I made a rule with myself, I would do anything in this world except do something illegal because I don’t want to be arrested. I didn’t want to be stuck in that place. There’s this reoccurring of people going and doing the crime, doing the time and then doing another crime to do more time. It’s just like, “What is that? What is inside of us that we say we want to be free, we can’t wait and we get stuck in that piece? It’s just this feeling of freedom is daunting.
Another quote from the book Flow, Steven Kotler. Steven Kotler wrote this. It says, “The wealth of options we faced today has extended personal freedom to an extent that would have been inconceivable even 100 years ago. The consequence of equally attractive choices is uncertainty of purpose. Uncertainty in turn, stops resolution, and the lack of results end up devaluing choice. Therefore, freedom does not necessarily have developed meaning in life on the contrary.” This is basically saying where we are in the world now in terms of all the choices we have, the amplitude, the value, that huge amount of choices we have has restricted our freedom. Let’s talk about TV for a second. I like TV. I would rather spend time with my lady, but I enjoy the television. There’s so much television. There’s so many options or possibility with TV. I don’t want to waste my time on TV, but there’s like The Walking Dead. There’s this new Designated Survivor. There’s this new show called This Is Us. There’s all these options and the FOMO. Do I have FOMO about missing television? Not really, but there’s something inside of me that just feels overwhelmed by the possibility. There are all these choices of where to put our attention and in there I feel less free.
We’re going to close up with this rant with some more research to see how well informed I am for this podcast. I was thinking about Martin Luther King and who I think is truly one of the most amazing man in the history of the world, basically when it came down to it. Malcolm X set him up but Martin Luther King really brought it home. I don’t know if you saw the movie Selma. I don’t know if the movie Selma is true, or what degree of that is true. That’s some serious shit these revolutionaries went through. Then I started doing a little research. On the 20th of August 1963, Martin Luther King did his famous speech, I Have a Dream. I highly recommend you listen to the whole speech. I highly recommend you listen to the details of it because the ones that make it to the sound bits that make it to the movies and the television are amazing.
There are also some really great, interesting quotes. This is what he said in 1963, Martin Luther King, “We have come to the hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children,” 1963. That was like 150 years ago. This shit is still happening. Black lives matter. This is still happening. This lack of freedom is still happening. Really listen to a speech. It’s just amazing. It’s everywhere. I found the transcript really easily. I highly recommend you listen to the details of it.
Then I dug into a little bit more and got even slightly more depressed. In 1963, MLK did a speech. In January 1st of 1863, 100 years before, with Abraham Lincoln who did the executive order for the Emancipation Proclamation. It’s been 100 years to the speech and it’s been 53 years since his speech. It’s been 140 years since this has happened and we’re still on the same boat were people aren’t free. To bring it back to myself, it’s like where am I not living in the freedom? Where am I not living in the total expansion and possibility of my own freedom? Where do I limit myself? Where do I repeal my own Emancipation Proclamation to not be free? L.A. Mother, for all the things that was, it’s really been my Emancipation Proclamation for the rest of my life. I’m 46 years old. I’ve got a whole bunch of years left in me. From this point forward, if there’s not going to be putting my foot into any more bear traps without really feeling the ramifications of it. If you could look at your life and look at your circumstances, where do you put your feet into the bear traps? Where do you put yourself? Where do you enclose your own freedom and what steps do you need to take to not do that anymore? That’s the concept of the Law of Freedom.
Freedom is so important because in freedom, there’s growth. Someone just asked on Facebook, “What is freedom to me?” I don’t even know yet. I don’t even know because I’m so fucked up at this moment of realizing the second of my freedom. Freedom is going to be a place where I have choice and I don’t do things to make myself smaller and enclose my life. I make the choices to expand it. That my friends, is my rants.
I loved your introduction and it actually hits so on what I was wanting to talk about around freedom. I recently co-founded a nonprofit with Liz Markle, who is my ex and I’m running into a lot of the same things. One, I love that you talked about insurance because I’m trained as a psychologist. I never had any training in business and yet here I am getting liability insurance and buying napkins and banners and flyers and little postcards and like all this shit that they are training in. It’s fun to figure all that shit out. I enjoy that too. The place where I get trapped is my relationship with Liz. We dated four years and split up earlier this year. As you’re talking about co-creating the prison, I was thinking about that with me and her and that, like I’m still holding resentment for the way our relationship ended and that plays out in our dynamic. That’s where I give up my freedom.
What’s warm? What’s engaging about your resentment? What’s pleasurable about it?
I get to be right and righteous. How did she treat me like that?
You decided to start a business, now you broke up with you. When did you start the business?
We’ve been planning around it for a couple of years, but the doors opened in October. I took a month off of her and she worked on it then and then I came back and we were in it together.
Some people start businesses and then break up, but you broke up and then started the business. There’s obvious some lesson. There’s something inside of you that wants to expand and grow around this. As Morgan would like to say, you magnetized this. This is a match for you. There’s some part of you that wants to stay connected to this woman or you wouldn’t have started the business with her around it. The first thing is really just doing the inner work you need to do to get an agreement with your own life. I speak of this from much personal experience recently. There are times I’m just like, “Fuck.” The beating myself up, the self-flagellation is really intense around this business step. Every time I go to pay a debt for my personal account, which I could go buy new shoes for Morgan or a new outfit for me or take a trip somewhere, I’m like, “I’m paying for my mistakes.” I’m so mad at myself, that I have to keep coming back to agreement so I don’t beat myself up first or take it out on my business partner or Morgan or the kids or anyone. It’s that coming back of agreement to yourself. That’s my question. What’s it going to take for you to get in agreement with the situation?
There’ve been a lot of things in my life where I’m clear about what I want and one of the things that haven’t been clear is what my purpose-driven career is? Whereas, I’m constantly confronted with Liz pursuing her purpose-driven career. That that’s what we’re doing. Open Source Wellness is a thing that I care about and I see it doing good in the world. I love what we’re creating and it’s her baby and not my baby.
That’s huge. This is not an equal partnership and ownership?
Energetically not equal.
That’s all that really matters. Everything else is based on top of that piece. Let’s look for that for a second. Why is it Liz’ baby and not yours?
It’s a thing that she has cared about for like the last five to ten years. It’s been growing in her for like the last five or ten years in different forms. She wants to bring it to the world.
I call that a time hex or the hexes. Have you ever heard the term? Hex is a validation of a self doubt. There’s all these things we get hexed by. There’s all these things we have doubt about. There’s all these things inside of us. My biggest hex is my weight because I grew up a fat kid and I’ve always looking at myself in the mirror and I’m always doubting. I look at a picture and think like, “I look a little heavy there.” It’s a self-doubt and self-doubt is a killer. Your ability to confront your self-doubts is really your enlightenment. To go back to Jim Morrison, “Expose yourself to your deepest fear after that, fear has no power.” For you, people are really hexed around time. You’ve been working on this for five or ten years, therefore it must be more than power. They have more weight or they have something over me. You could fall in love with this project in a second and she can fall out of love in a second. Time is on some level irrelevant in this equation or as relevant as you make it. There’s time, why else aren’t you an energetic equal partner?
I’m there because I care about her more than I care about the project.
Is that true?
Yeah. I think so.
It’s great for both of you to acknowledge and get clear because on some level that means she’s carrying you. I say this in a total value neutral term. I apologize. That comment I just made could be construed as something negative or has value. I could’ve said that better in terms of that means that your attention is on her and her attention is on the project. One way to shift that piece is to take your attention off her and then put your attention onto the project. There’s emotion coming up. What happened there?
This is the thing that’s been an ongoing conversation for us that we both feel like she’s doing more work than she is carrying me. Like me having my attention on her and on her approval, that’s how I co-created that at the end of our relationship.
Let’s just go really soft for a moment. Let’s forget about the nonprofit. Let’s just forget about the job. Just go to that part of you that you want approval. The first thing I want to say is that is part of your humanity. That is part of what makes you a person. We all are desperately, desperately searching for external approval. It is the way the society is set up. I just want to remind you that you might be beating yourself up for this search for her approval, but that is what we’re trained to do in this world. If you can get anything out of this call, my hope is just remember that this is what makes you a man. This is what makes you a person.
The second piece is there is a way out of that. There is a way out of the external approval trap. I know because I did it. If I can do it, a neurotic firstborn, Jewish male looking for his dad’s approval, you can do it too. I know you can navigate out of this piece.
A neurotic, first born Jewish male looking for his mom’s approval.
Mark just wrote, “I can relate to that, Ben. What’s the way out? Please help. It’s true for Italians too.” Jewish had their own flavor of guilt. Here’s some way out for you. Self-esteem is built upon esteemable acts, underlying the twelve steps. Self esteem. There’s a thing like you want to go get in better shape. You can go sit and watch one of those TV shows that I’ve thought or you can go for a walk or you can go for a run or you can go for the gym or while you’re watching The Walking Dead, you can do pushups and sit ups. There’s always a simple choice to move from the state where you feel approval from others or pulling approval of others into where you’re getting self-approval. Those are built on actions, what I call esteemable acts. Your ability to say, “No, I’m not going to look to Liz for me to feel good about myself or sugar or gambling or shopping. I’m not going to look for the external circumstance to fill me up. I’m going to do something that I know is going to fill me up. Some of the things I do is I go to the gym. That was a huge piece for me. For a New York fat kid from the 1970s were Wonder Bread was king, I go to the gym or I don’t go for that extra piece of sugar. That’s a big piece of self-esteem.
What I also do is I reach out to someone because I know there’s a lot more fucked up people in the world than me. I’ll send a little text to someone and say, “How’s it going?” A new thing for me is I’m writing. I have a book inside of me. My memoir is dying to come out and it fucks me up. I don’t know why this memoir is so hard to write maybe because I don’t have to feel the feelings again. I just write for twenty minutes if something happens because I know that’s going to build my self-esteem. It’s in these little pieces. Robert just wrote, “Have fun.” That’s true. I hang out with Morgan. That’s a tricky one because on some level I don’t want to use her but I have my own self. I go to the movies by myself. I love that. It’s not rocket science and it’s not easy. I’ve talked a lot. What are you thinking?
I got that.
Let me ask some tough questions. We’re going back to the business. Do you want to be doing this nonprofit?
That was the least convincing “Yes” I’ve heard in a long time.
I was talking with Ken about this and I’m like, “I don’t believe you.” I’ve created a situation that’s good enough where I can be doing work that I feel good about and I know makes a difference in the world. I’m doing works that I think most people would consider purpose-driven work. I refined to a level where I know that there’s more purpose-driven work for me. I don’t know what that is yet. That’s the thing that I want to do. I don’t know how it looks. I don’t know what it is and so for right now, this gives me a bunch of things that I want.
Let me reflect it back to you. What I’m hearing is you’re using this to find your purpose.
I think that’s fair or maybe I’m using this to fill time.
We’re getting in the ballpark. That’s great if you feel fully authentic and honestly communicating that. That’s like dating someone to find your soulmate.
It’s funny you mentioned. I’m doing relationship research right now where I’m going on 50 dates and no more than three dates with anyone person. In large part, to undo a bunch of patterns I have in relationships. In order to find the relationship, I’m doing a whole bunch of very, very short relationships.
How about those women? Do they know that?
That’s fair. As long as you’re communicating that. This is a three-date maximum. It sounds like a card game. The point is it feels like there’s something with you and Liz and it feels like it is coming to the surface. “I’m doing this to build my chops, to build my resume, to spend time, to relate to you. You’re hovering around that piece of truly falling in love with the project. I think that’s truly affecting things. What’s your goal around this project personally? Do you want to do it for six months?
No. I don’t have a strong time goal on it. My goal for the project as to change the face of healthcare in America. Truly to revamp how we’re doing, how we look at health.
I really believe you when you said that.
It’s really true.
I authentically felt that in my body. Is this project a good vehicle for your goal and your purpose?
Everything around it lines up. I think what we’re trying to do is the way there and something’s not clunking in it.
What do you perceive by this?
It may just be like the way that I’m relating with Liz right now, like as long as we have that we’re not going to be able to do what it is that I want to do.
You sound pretty clear. You’re going to have to change your relationship to Liz in order for you to clear this block to feel right with the project we’re deciding to spend your time and energy. Is that something you’re willing to do?
I have started that process actually since saying yes to this call.
I appreciate that. You’re a good sport. You’ve got Ken Blackman, one of the best coaches I know helping you and behind you. I would just keep doing your internal work to really just find out what your desire is and if someone just wrote on the board, “What does Liz want?” That’s important, but really, my opinion is, is that you have to find out what you truly want. You have to be responsible, you have to stop thinking about what she wants per se, but first step is to do the internal work to find your own and then come to the table totally clear, totally on, totally self-possessed, if that’s the right word, for you to have this next evolution of your relationship with her and your purpose. I know you can do it. There’s no doubt in my mind you have the capability and the chops to do that.
Thank you. You’ve been a big part of that.
It’s an honor. Anything else I can do for you before we close the show?
That feels good to me.
Thanks so much for being on the show.
For more shows, visit us at TuffLove.Live. This is season two. We’ve got some good guests coming up and some more shows. I’m really taking this next level. If you know anyone that like to be on the show as a guest, please send your suggestions or if any of you know anywhere I can go and be a guest, please send your suggestions. I’m trying to expand the reach of Tuff Love. Please send me a little PM, a little message. I really appreciate that. It’s been a total honor as always that you guys came on. I am thrilled to be part of your lives. Take care. Feel free to make a donation. Send a little loving PayPal.Me/KandellConsulting. If not, go forth, get some nooky, have some fun.