Addiction Doesn’t Mean You’re Broken w/ TJ Woodward
GOT Mental Health Podcast Episode #3
Hello everyone, and welcome to the GOT Mental Health podcast. I am your co-host Rachel Cove. I’m the owner of Transformational Solutions, a life coaching business that specializes in addiction, trauma and self-destructive behaviors. I’m an author, podcast host, group facilitator, speaker and co-creator of the online eight-week self-development course Divisions program.
I’m your co-host Arthur Mogalevsky, a business entrepreneur, dad, animal activist and owner of AM Healthcare, California’s leading dual diagnosis and mental health treatment centers focusing on comprehensive and immersive treatment experiences with a network of facilities and dedicated professionals committed to providing each and every client the intimacy of care they so richly deserve.
This is the GOT Mental Health podcast – a fun, open and safe space where we talk to experts, thought leaders and professionals in the mental health field. Our goal is to educate, Inspire and empower people to take care of their mental, physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. Join us weekly to hear Arthur and I talk like this as we talk about all things mental health. Follow us wherever you go to get your podcasts and don’t forget to rate and review as it really supports our show. Thanks guys, and keep listening to Arthur!
RC: Hello everyone, and welcome back to the GOT mental health podcast I am your host Rachel Cove along with my co-host Arthur Mogalevsky. Today I am so excited to interview the wonderful TJ Woodward here. I’m going to give the most incredible opening to he is a revolutionary recovery expert, best-selling author, inspirational speaker and addiction treatment specialist who has helped countless people through his simple yet powerful teaching. He is the creator of the Conscious Recovery method which is a groundbreaking and effective approach to viewing and treating addiction. TJ is the author of the best-selling books Conscious Being: Awakening to your True Nature, Conscious Recovery: a Fresh Perspective on Addiction, and Conscious Creation: Five Steps to Embracing the Life of Your Dreams, as well as the co-author of their accompanying workbooks.
AM: I’m glad that you stopped by
TJ: Yeah, I’m delighted to be in this conversation wherever it’s going to take us
RC: Yeah, well, I feel like we just have to trust the flow I feel like that is gonna be the conversation is how do we trust the flow, but I’d like to start off by just wanting to know how you started off in this in this path of conscious recovery, and what does conscious recovery mean to you?
TJ: Well, I’m going to tell it this way – I won’t give you the long version, I’ll give you the medium version and it’s pretty straightforward. Around 18 months to two years sober I wanted to die and I was in traditional recovery circles and the narrative at that time was (that time I got sober in 1986 so this is probably 87 or 88): don’t worry about anything but not drinking you’re a miracle now go help someone and that had really served me well. It had given me a life that was really actually very happy until it wasn’t and I was so curious. That’s really not true – I was feeling really desperate and wanted to not be on the planet and did not really know a different way and I met a woman named Mary Anne who is my inspiration and it’s honestly it’s really anything that is conscious recovery is an extension of her work and she introduced me to a completely different way of living and the trajectory of my life changed dramatically from a belief that I was broken and that I needed to figure out how to fix myself, to this idea that maybe I came into the world whole and perfect, and started believing a lie about myself and separated from a true nature. So she really took me on a journey of rediscovering my true nature and also pretty much unlearning everything I’d ever picked up about myself in the world that needed to be unlearned.
AM: So pretty much taking back you back to your five-year-old self and four-year-old
innocent self, because I look at like my you know our kids my daughter’s gonna be five and and it’s so pure and it’s so loving and it’s so honest and you’re so right!
RC: They’re so innocent and real and authentic. Can I tell your story really quickly? And this isn’t to boost my face but it was like if people want to compliment me if adults want to compliment me, I go “whatever” but if a child does it? I was sitting at a dinner the other night and a girl looked at me with her sweet little eyes and her sweet little face, and she goes, “You’re so pretty” and that is the authenticity that I think you’re speaking to where we can just speak from our heart. That child’s not worrying about their ego, they’re not worried about sounding right, they’re not worrying about sounding good, they’re just speaking from their heart.
TJ: It’s interesting because you know, I run in spiritual circles and in spiritual practice pretty much the intention is what a child is naturally. I want to be able to learn how to feel my feelings, I want to be present, I want to be authentic, I want to connect with you, but it’s actually innate. That really is who and what we are and most of us have forgotten that. I’m
thinking about when my nephew was like three years old, he sat on my lap and he said, “Uncle TJ, you have horrible breath!” and it’s like that kind of honesty is innate but like of course he’s going to get taught that’s rude, you can’t say that, you shouldn’t…” So we have all this these layers of programming that honestly it’s like we’re these light beings and then all this stuff gets put on top and we become domesticated
AM: Oh my gosh, that’s so true so what you’re saying is I should hire children to run groups and individual sessions basically? Nice
TJ: Yeah, you’re promoting child labor! Actually if we can tap into our essence, our child self and bring that into the group which really is what conscious recovery is all about. It’s like, can I be completely present with what’s wanting to emerge here, rather than thinking from my mind I know what this is supposed to be.
AM: Obviously before we started this interview we are connected through circles of Facebook and social media and we work with a lot of very similar people. I want to know – in Conscious Recovery, if you have a client you work with what’s that process look like for you? How do you take somebody that’s tainted and dark? Break it down so that they can experience what you’re talking about and what you’ve experienced?
TJ: I’m going to actually back up a little. Conscious Recovery is a book and a workbook and it’s an online resource and it’s a curriculum. But when I go into a treatment program the training isn’t really even a training – it’s an experience. And it really isn’t about the client, it’s about the clinician. So many of us are trained to diagnose and treat, or maybe we come from circles where we think we are the ones that have the answers. I promise this is answering your question, because it all is about how I’m viewing that person I’m sitting in front of. So it’s much less about how do I get this person to go on the conscious recovery journey and it’s really more about how do I look for the wholeness in that person? How can we become curious together? Quantum mechanics is now showing us that the Observer has an effect so if I’m listening to you and nodding my head but in my mind I’m diagnosing you or I’m coming up with solutions for
you, that’s in the energy field. So it’s a great Paradox because people are coming to treatment at perhaps the most difficult and painful time of their life. So on one hand I can say they have the answers within them but of course the paradoxes they also can’t do it alone. So what is my role as a clinician, as a counselor, as a tech, what is my role in being with a person when they’re in recovery? That’s the question for me.
RC: And that’s interesting because it is in being with them that is the answer and I find people have a very difficult time in just being. Why do you think that?
TJ: Well, I was going to ask you why you think that is, because I have lots of answers.
RC: I have a lot of theories for that. One of them being, I think most people are in a
constant state of fight or flight, so when you’re in a constant state of fight or flight you are looking for danger and where do you look for danger? In the future. And when you’re living in a trauma response you’re also living from an experience of fear and pain from your past so the present becomes too painful to live in. So I can’t be in the presence because I’m too afraid of the present because that’s where I experience pain.
TJ: And so when you say that are you talking about the client? Are you talking about the counselor? Are you talking about both?
TJ: And I completely agree because I think the work (we call it the work) for the clinician
is very simply said, “I can’t allow” – and I’m using that word very consciously – “I
can’t allow my client to go any deeper than I’ve gone.” It’s literally not possible. So if I’m sitting with you and you start to share a traumatic experience and I have an unhealed wound that gets touched, which by the way will always happen because we’re human. If I haven’t done enough of my own healing I’m going to stop that process either consciously or unconsciously. So the work isn’t really about how we teach our clients or what we do with our clients. It’s really, “How do I be with me?” And that really is what you’re speaking to. So if I’m with you whether it’s a client or just in any human interaction and someone starts to share something in a very authentic way I can be present because I’ve done enough work that when that gets touched I’m not in fact flight or freeze. I can stay in presence and I think sometimes our field – the addiction treatment field – defaults to oh we don’t address trauma because we’re short-term.
AM: “We don’t want to open up the box…”
TJ: This will be a little controversial I hope it’s okay
RC: Totally okay,
AM: Zero filters
TJ: So a lot of times in our field we say, “I don’t want to open this person up because then what’s going to happen?” We’re afraid they’re gonna drink, they’re gonna commit suicide, they’re going
to leave treatment, and I understand that and I’m not saying let’s try to pry and open up our clients. But if a person’s sitting in front of me and the space is created for them to start authentically sharing it’s not my job to shut that down either. I’m not going to try to get that in and re-experience the trauma but being present with what is present and helping someone identify what they’re experiencing, not the memory, not going back to the memory, but what’s happening now – internally, in their body, in the interaction.
RC: Do you find that most people have an intellectual understanding of recovery versus an
TJ: Yeah, I think as a matter of fact, I think most of our field tends to be pretty intellectual. When I go to conferences, which I go to a lot. We’re going to be together in one, next week…
RC: I’ll be there in spirit or I might just come
TJ: We’re going to send the helicopter
AM: There’s a pool you know, and a karaoke machine, like there’s a pool party here, I’ll bring a machine, yeah we’re gonna have fun, it’s gonna be great…
TJ: There’s a lot of intellectual understanding or a grasping of the brain science, but clients – do they change because they understand brain science? Maybe it’s helpful but it’s not really how someone has a shift – that shift is really an inner experience.
AM: That kind of goes to like anything honestly – if you go to a conference and you have someone that puts on a PowerPoint presentation or you have somebody that doesn’t have any
slides, doesn’t have anything, just a mic and they’re talking about their experience and their passion. You get so much more from that than you do from reading something on the wall. And so the same exact thing I think people are very intellectual about brain chemistry and what trauma is and the triggers and codependency and all these things but maybe they lack it from a personal experience and that passion. I’m a huge believer in energy – I think the energy that’s even transferring between the three of us now is great, and so when you’re a clinician or even a tech or a chef and you’re sitting with a client and you’re struggling and you’re going through your own difficult times, the client’s feeling that and you don’t have to say a word. It’s so important. I love that you do what you do.
TJ: What’s great about what you’re saying is there’s something that’s really fundamental here and I love that you just went there before I did. Really the way we communicate is through energy. I would say it’s about 80 to 90% of the way we communicate is not our body language, not our words. And so how I’m seeing you affects the way you’re able to see yourself. And so of course I know you two hear this – I don’t know what it is that I feel safe with you.
RC: People are usually scared of Arthur but they feel safe with me
TJ: Is that true?
AM: Not really actually
TJ: It’s because you are an authority figure
AM: They say that as a joke but then they always come to me. I find that people feel very comfortable in saying things to me that they normally would not say to other people. Anyways, I’m not trying to toot my own horn but I mean just to answer your question
TJ: And the thing is we can shoot our own horn because we want this message to be out there because who I’d be is so much more powerful than what I say and when I understand that, first of all our work can be much easier – I don’t have to fix someone because they’re not broken. I’m holding a space, we’re curious together and suddenly I feel energized. I used to facilitate four groups in one day plus do clinical supervision and one individual session. I mean it’s a long One, I don’t recommend it, but I was like, “Hey, I’ll do a 12-hour day and then be done.” But I felt energized by the end of the day, not depleted.
RC: Really interesting, it’s amazing. I find that most people who work in this field feel depleted. Why do you think that is?
TJ: I can only speak for me, I can’t speak for them. But for me when I have felt burnt out it’s because I’ve thought someone needed to do something or get something, or that it was my job to make the group go a certain way, or I wanted them to have a particular breakthrough. When I’m thinking they’re broken and I’m supposed to fix them, that is exhausting. And that’s what I see as the fundamental issue in the field. I think, everything from therapist to a tech to the chef to the person housekeeping it’s exhausting if we’re thinking oh my gosh, all these people are broken and I have to help them, I have to save the world, that is exhausting. In conscious recovery I call either mental health diagnoses or addiction I call them brilliant strategies – they’re a strategy for something and what’s brilliant about them, rather than what’s wrong about them, is a game changer. Then we’re curious together. I wonder what this chronic depression is about – it might be chemical or biological but it might not be. What might it be trying to manage?
Look at the brilliance of you to do that.
RC: I love that you say it’s a strategy and another term I use is survival traits. So the strategy is: I have a goal to be accepted, I have a goal to be approved of. I have a goal to be loved – this is the strategy that I’ve learned to get there. It might have been adaptive at one time and now it’s become maladaptive as an adult. So now instead of coming in from the perspective of something’s wrong with me because I do this behavior, it’s like, “Oh my God, thank you body /self /higher self /little child, for doing the strategy to obtain what you need. Now maybe let’s come at it from a different angle.
TJ: Looking at it through the lens of a strategy, I like to think of it as the the archetype of
the strategies: usually for the teenager it’s like FU or I’ve got this, and the little kid, the wounded part of me is really needing the attention. And the strategy we think is keeping us safe when I was seven was that I closed down and built a wall around my heart that was brilliant but it also protected me from the love of connection I desired. And so drugs came in, sex came in and shopping came in and all of it came in to try to protect this wound but it wasn’t ever getting healed. And then this knowing – and this is what’s foundational in conscious recovery – underneath all addictive behavior is an essential self that’s whole and perfect. So, I’m not my wound. And that is the fundamental shift – I have these wounds but that’s not who I am.
RC: Let’s just be present with that
AM: Yeah we’re trademarking that.
RC: I like that you say I’m not my wound because I find that people often start identifying with their diagnoses and their labels and I’m not I’m not here to say you’re not this or you’re not that. That’s your job to find out what your truth is and who you are. And I also find it to be quite limiting and it’s a crutch I mean I used to feel that way
TJ: I’ve sat in clinical meeting after clinical meeting and heard well-intentioned therapists, counselors, staff referring to their clients as their diagnosis. “She’s so borderline…,” but what is the symptom? First of all, the DSM is a cluster of symptoms – it’s if you have three of these and two of these for more than six months we call it this. And the intention is to help people – I want to be clear – I know that’s the intention. But often what happens is a person’s getting viewed as their label and then they take it on as identity. And so what I did trademark is unharmable (#unharmable). To help someone realize regardless of what’s happened regardless of the traumatic events there is still this place within them that’s unharmable and then we can start to heal the wounds in a different way. We’re not that diagnosis. That diagnosis has been a strategy to survive.
AM: We constantly get clients that have been either undiagnosed or misdiagnosed, and the moment they get undiagnosed or diagnosed they feel happy now because they have definition. They’re like, “I am this now, finally I figured it out.” What do you tell somebody like that?
TJ: It’s all a process. In my own story I remember being one week sober and literally sitting on my floor crying, “Oh I’m an alcoholic, that’s what’s wrong with me,” and that was a relief for me at
the time. But then two years into it three years into it that’s not who I am anymore and I had a different point of view about it. So I think if someone is feeling relief from a diagnosis I would still introduce the possibility that’s not who they are, it’s what they have. I used to do a group and it sometimes didn’t go so well so I dropped it from the curriculum. But we would brainstorm, Who I am and what I have.
AM: Why didn’t it go wrong?
TJ: Well, because somehow it was hard for some clients to understand. I remember this a young man said “I am athletic, that’s who I am, it’s not what I have” and he had this identity wrapped around it and then wisdom from another client said “well, what if you get in a car accident you can no longer use your legs, are you still alive? is there some part of you that is beyond the role that you’ve played?” It just got a little esoteric sometimes which I loved but I want to be useful to them
AM: I think the beauty of groups is that it gets to challenge one’s notion of their reality if it’s run properly. We have a facilitator here, Bethany, who does improv and it’s extremely challenging to a lot of the clients. You have both sides of the spectrum – the clients really love it because they’re just like, “Wow, I’ve never done this,” or they hate it because it challenged them.
TJ: Oh my gosh, I’m just having this flashback to when I worked in treatment, I used to do like the Oprah show. So I would have a client come in and be Oprah and then have someone come up in a chair and they would interview them. It’s like clients would do that with each other. It was very fun, they loved it – some of them.
RC: I mean Bethany is one of my best friends, so I can honestly say it’s one of the most powerful groups because she says that laughter – there’s nothing that will bring you into the present moment like laughter. And so we’re definitely gonna have her on here too.
AM: We plug her every single day!
RC: I’m curious about something you said earlier and then it made me think of a question – do you feel that people seek out identity out of a fear of the unknown?
TJ: You know, it’s interesting you say that because this might be really simplistic, but I think at the root of addiction is a desire to not be present in this moment – it’s too painful to be present. And part of that is the unknown. The mind wants predictability and we see that more pronounced in clients in early recovery. For myself, I felt so out of control that I tried to control my environment. On the extreme end of that we call it OCD which I’m sure I could get that diagnosis because I felt so out of control, so controlling my environment helped me feel safe but it was limited. And if I look at that as, oh there’s something wrong with OCD we must get rid of it, or wow, what a brilliant strategy, I wonder what that’s managing!? So I do agree that this idea of the unknown, which the truth is it’s all unknown, but I I think for most humans that’s a lot to grasp. There is actually nothing happening but this – it’s a lot to grasp – it’s scary – so we build our entire structure around predictability
AM: Going back to your point about ASAM, that’s why everything is like this. Because we need things to be like this or else we can’t function or it’s harder for us to function. I have a question for you – you mentioned something before where you ran 4 groups, individuals in crisis, all that and you said when I left I was like I can run 10 miles now – well, what do you do for self-care and what does that look like for you? We’ve gotten accustomed to asking people that. I don’t know if I need to ask you that question – do we need self-care if this is the case?
TJ: One of my favorite questions. So it’s always yes and… It is yeah I love spa days, I love getting massages, all the things that we think of. That really doesn’t change if I’m truly feeling
burnt out, that’s not really going to change it – it’s like a Band-Aid. So when I think of self-care I ask myself the question, well first of all I could get esoteric and say which self am I caring for? That is an interesting question, because as a person who has facilitated a lot of groups and in the conscious recovery method this is what we really work with, with clinicians. When I am deeply connected with my true nature there’s abundant, infinite energy there.
RC: I just got chills
AM: That’s awesome
TJ: Well, that’s really it. Let’s be curious about that as a field, as a practice that we
call mental health and behavioral health. What if true self-care was connecting deeply with my true nature and being present? I’ll go back to Mary Helen – she didn’t teach me anything – she was just being present. And she would say to me and her beautiful southern accent, “Darling, you’re so precious!” and I would literally feel like I was going to throw up because it was completely incongruent with what was living in my unconscious, my frequency. But it was her
presence that started to shift that for me. I remember waking up one day thinking I have more respect for her than any other human on the planet and she’s telling me I’m precious – who am I not to start looking for that within me?
RC: I’m about to get esoteric – is it her presence? Or the presence?
TJ: It’s the presence. She embodied it beautifully. You’re 100% accurate! And if we want to really drill in a little deeper, like if we’re having a session now the true therapeutic alliance that we talk about is really that resonance. It is the presence that can be felt that doesn’t need words. Because we get so hung up on beliefs – especially in the spiritual world – people tend to think spirituality is about a belief but to me it’s not a belief – it’s a mind-based reality. It’s about an experience as an ultimate presence and if there’s anyone who really is in tune with that, it’s a client in early recovery. I have had a lot of sexual trauma in my past and so in my early recovery I was very aware of who felt safe and unsafe. Now it could have been projection, but you spoke about this earlier – the trauma response one is like a constant feeler for who’s safe and who isn’t. So when we really drop in and we’re in the presence they feel that and there’s a safety that gets created. Now we’re getting into some of the foundational concepts of conscious recovery because most of the support groups and the treatment focuses on what can be seen – the out picturing. Most of the deeper work is really in the unconscious. The way I use the analogy of a seed in a tree so if I plant a maple seed I’m going to get a maple tree. When we have trauma, using sexual trauma as an example, we have a lot of ideas that we develop about ourselves at a very early age and usually it’s precognitive anyway (our brains aren’t even developed). My sexual trauma led me to believe that I’m fundamentally damaged even though intellectually I know that’s not true. As a 30 year old in recovery I was trying to think my way out of that experience. What I was curious about is why do I keep choosing partners that continue to re-traumatize that? First it was like oh I’m choosing bad people then I’m like but they’re not bad people. Then it was really a recognition that as much work as I do on the conscious level (which for me was please love me please love me please love me) but the vibration was I’m unlovable, I will literally choose the person to confirm that.
RC: I talk about this all the time – we are so powerful that we are unconsciously choosing our reality daily. And imagine what your life would look like if you were consciously choosing because I really got excited when I heard about that, when I figured that concept out, because I magnetically was attracting everything my subconscious and unconscious wanted from those beliefs of, I’m broken and I’m bad and something’s really wrong with me. And then when that shifted I started to choose what I wanted to create from a conscious level. You kind of really realize how limitless we are and abundant and godly we are as human beings. And I also think that like you said it’s a process – you have to do the underlying work to unblock yourself from accessing that.
TJ: Yeah and the thing that’s paradoxical and it’s almost controversial is that it’s not about the relationships, it’s not the job, it’s not. Because now in our culture it’s like how to remove toxic people from your life. That’s valid but that’s an out picturing of what’s happening internally. I had someone approach me after I did a talk once saying “You sound like you’re victim blaming,” because I was talking about like if I’m holding the frequency of a victim I’m gonna end up choosing relationships that re-victimize myself. I said, actually no this is about personal empowerment. It’s not about the other person – it’s about how I heal this. And then I start to choose differently. Like my friend Marianne says, it’s not that I’m attracting them, it’s that I’m attracted to them. And I remember the first time I heard her, I don’t remember how long ago this was, but I remember I was on was this is how long ago I was on a Walkman and I was on
the treadmill, and when I heard her say that, I almost fell off the treadmill. Because I was in this, “Why do I keep attracting all these unavailable people?” Because I’m attracted to that and it’s a vibrational match. And there’s nothing wrong with that – that’s liberating – because if I’m creating that I can start to heal and create something different.
AM: Humans are powerful if you want to be.
RC: It’s interesting because the reason I love you so much is because you just emanate what you talk about and I appreciate that so much because I find a lot of people in this industry – they really mean well, I really find that they come into this career to help people in the way that they were helped themselves. And I often find they lose themselves
TJ: I think it’s something that we don’t talk about a lot. I think the reason that I was drawn to spiritual work and then ultimately addiction work is I was wanting to heal myself. And I think it’s almost taboo to say that, like, “Oh no I should be the healed one so I can come in and help you,”
but that’s not really the way it works. If I’m not conscious of that then I’m trying to fix people and I’m burnt out and I can go into like I’m the one with the answers, I can get another degree then I can have the answers, or I can feel depleted
AM: But you’re just being honest with yourself. You’re not telling yourself a story so that you can
continue doing something because you know that it can harm someone else or even harm yourself even more, that’s so true, I mean that’s fascinating.
RC: In your book – I know you have many – but in the one you gave me – Conscious Creation – there was a picture of a movie projector. Tell me why you chose the movie projector and what that symbolizes for you
TJ: The whole premise of Conscious Creation is I’ve used the acronym M.O.V.I.E – it’s a five-step process (even though I promised myself I’d never do that) but the idea is that we are
holding the projector. I love the way Byron Katie says it – she says if we have a piece of lint on our lens we will see it everywhere and we’ll think it’s happening in the world but it’s really the piece of lint on our screen and the great news is we can clear that. And a lot of people try to create their life by setting intentions or doing visualization but if I haven’t healed, if I haven’t Made peace with the past and Overcome false beliefs (which is the M and the O) I’m just going to keep replicating that. That happens in our field too – people get burnt out – they go to a new treatment program and then 18 months later they’re burnt out and go to another one
AM: That actually applies to a lot of positions within this industry. What does your future look like? What’s the next thing?
TJ: So, it’s sitting here talking with you. I mean that really is how my intention to live now is to be here. I mean I can answer that in a lot of different ways but right now I’m really aware of the profound nature of us being together, being present
RC: How do you hold on to that?
AM: Great question!
TJ: I think it’s a moment-to-moment decision. A wise person once said, there are three steps – awareness, awareness, awareness and I love that. I go back to that a lot. I
invited my friend Patricia Keel to speak and she said, “My talk today is there are three steps – awareness, awareness, and awareness. Any questions?” That was her entire talk and it
was brilliant. Because people asked all these questions, and she was like, “I’m aware of my thoughts, I’m aware of how my thoughts want to pull me into the past, and the future really is the past being played out.
RC: In my opinion it’s hypervigilance – if something happened to me, I created an attachment to this outside stimulus and now my body is constantly seeking out that outside stimulus to really protect me. So I think we do have to take care of ourselves physically, mentally, spiritually to be present. I mean, even with my own son, when I’m truly taking care of myself I love being with him. When I’m not taking care of myself I don’t enjoy him. Because I’m anxiously trying to get somewhere else or I’m trying to answer that text message to get the job I want and I hate myself when I get there. Because then I’m like, “Oh my God, I just missed out on some fabulous moments with my son
AM: And all they want to do is just play
TJ: Because that’s innate. My nephew once actually recorded me sitting next to him buried in my laptop for five minutes – he recorded me. I didn’t know he was doing it. It was this major aha moment because when I watched it I was aware of his experience of me being there. And for those of you who are parents I applaud you no one can be present 100% of the time with their kids (no one that I’ve ever met) and think about five minutes of presence and how rich that is for them.
RC: It is so rich that I often set a timer to focus my attention and when I set a timer and it will just be five to ten minutes, the amount that is exchanged within five to ten minutes with my son, I get high on it – it’s so fulfilling. I think that’s what we should be giving to clients. And with Conscious Recovery, when I first met you I did feel like it’s about the clients but it’s really not. It’s about the clinicians and the facilitators, so you’re trying to really go to the top, to heal from the top down
TJ: Yeah so let’s check in with me to see how that’s going
AM: It’s very fascinating. You have a future client here, I’ll tell you that right now – this is awesome!
TJ: Thank you!
AM: You’re welcome! We typically ask all of our interviewees a final question: Knowing what you know now, if you can go back 15 – 20 years, what would you tell TJ Jr with the knowledge that you have built over these past several years?
TJ: I could go back any amount of time but the image that popped up was my seven-year-old self. I could even go back earlier and there’s a picture of me when I’m three that is just so effervescent. My mom often had said by the time I was four she realized I was probably going to be gay. I look at that three-year-old and I’d say, “What took you so long?” Because there I was like that in Indiana in 1968. What I would say to that little child is, “You’re whole and perfect just the way you are, keep shining.” Because it wasn’t long after that that I started to close off and build the walls and start deciding I was stupid and not good enough
AM: I can’t wait to get this episode up
RC: I want to do this 15 times! TJ, I love you so much! Again, you embody what you say because I feel your presence in this interview and I am getting intoxicated by it in a good way and I think imagine if we lived in a world like that – we could feel that exchange and that connection going back and forth and and the flow and that love, that effervescent love that you have, it’s incredible!
TJ: So I have an invitation for the three of us – we are that world, that world does exist, because we choose to be that. More and more of us are choosing that even though we could point out all the shit that’s happening in the world there’s so much beauty in the world. We can be that awareness awareness awareness. That’s us – that’s our names – awareness awareness awareness we don’t need anybody else
RC: Thank you so much TJ! Where can people find you on social media?
TJ: Instagram is TJWoodward_ that’s the best place to find me
RC: And what’s your website?
RC: Amazing and where can people find your books?
TJ: TJwoodward.com is the best place – it’s got everything – courses, books, opportunities
RC: Perfect! Well, I love you, thank you so much and thank you for everyone listening to GOT mental health. Please go to the Apple podcast and rate, follow and review. And we look forward to all of your feedback and thank you for everything that you’ve been sharing with us. It’s been a blessing and we look forward to our episode next week.