Jesse Brisendine is an award-winning speaker, a best-selling author and a world-renowned Transformational Coach. He educates and empowers individuals and organizations to move beyond their limitations, and he has worked with thousands of people around the world. Business leaders, Hollywood celebrities, mental health professionals, entrepreneurs, medical professionals, and educators have utilized Jesse’s services to break through limiting beliefs, uncover their unique purpose, and create fulfilled lives. In addition, Jesse has personally mentored nearly 2,000 people on their healing journeys after the loss of loved ones.
IN THIS EPISODE, YOU’LL HEAR ABOUT THINGS LIKE:
- Why Jesse went to Haiti for the 2010 Earthquake Recovery and how that inspiring mission renewed Jesse’s sense of purpose.
- Jesse’s 1,000 Challenge that encourages people to bring positive change into their lives.
- The life choices that are represented by the proverbial “fork in the road.”
- How a person can shift the way he or she is feeling instantly.
SOME QUESTIONS IRENE ASKS JESSE:
- What do you teach about the power of Forgiveness?
- What is the role of self-love in a person’s life?
- How can each of us create strong boundaries with the “emotional energy drainers” in our lives?
Listen to the podcast here
Jesse Brisendine: Heartfelt Coaching That Helps A Person Find The Silver Lining In Any Situation
I’m delighted to have this opportunity to interview Jesse Brisendine, who is an award-winning speaker, a best-selling author, and a world-renowned transformational coach. Jesse will be speaking to us from Santa Barbara, California. Jesse is a big fan of finding the silver lining in any situation. He educates and empowers individuals and organizations to move beyond their limitations.
He has worked with thousands of people around the world. Business leaders, Hollywood celebrities, mental health professionals, entrepreneurs, medical professionals, and educators have utilized Jesse’s services to break through limiting beliefs, uncover their unique purpose, and create fulfilled lives. In addition, Jesse has personally mentored nearly 2000 people on their healing journeys after the loss of loved ones.
I’m looking forward to interviewing Jesse about his 1000 Challenge and its ability to bring about positive change in the world, his Healing from Loss course, and his Stress Relieving and Anxiety Reducing Self-Love training, which each of you in our audience is doing right now by opening your hearts and minds to Jesse’s healing, transformational coaching. Jesse, welcome to the show.
Irene, happy day.
Let me ask you my first question so everyone can get to know you. What was your life like before June 2009? What happened to turn your life upside down?
It was one of those lives that was probably typical of most twenty-something-year-olds. I felt like I had everything figured out. I felt like I had all the problems solved. I had a good group of friends. I had a good career. I had a good relationship. It seemed like life was so simple. The most pressing question was going to be, “Where was I going to spend my Friday night?”
Considering some of the trips I wanted to take in the future, it was funny. I remember having this moment even in May of that year of thinking, “I have life figured out. There was nothing that was going to stop me from accomplishing my goals.” I had been through some challenging stuff. I felt like I had grown tremendously as an individual. I felt like I was becoming a little bit more conscious and also beginning to understand the notion of being more entrepreneurial. Little did I know, in June 2009, it was going to shake things up as life always does and say, “You think you have it all figured out? Let me show you. There’s some stuff you need to learn, young man.”
Your life was set. Everything was cool at that moment. What happened to you to turn your life upside down that year?
On June 15th, 2009, one of my closest friends, Gabe, took his life. The way it transpired, at the time, I would go to the library to work in the afternoon on some other stuff. I’d use the internet there because it would get me out of my home and force me to concentrate. I remember sitting there and I received a text message that said, “I love you all.” I had this sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. It was one of those feelings that you just know. It’s such a sickening feeling that there’s some truth behind it.
I called a couple of friends and none of them had received a message. I remember I had stood up, closed my laptop, and was getting ready to leave, but then once two people had validated they had not received the message, I started saying, “Maybe I’m just overreacting.” I sat back down and opened my laptop back up. I remember sitting there, Irene, and thinking to myself, “Jesse, you know what is about to happen right now. If you don’t go, you will probably regret it the rest of your life.” The other voice was saying, “You don’t want to overact. You don’t want to make a scene. You don’t want to do this and that.”
Was he suicidal or anything like that?
He had gone through a difficult breakup a few weeks before. It was just something. It was such an intense feeling. It was as if whatever somebody’s belief system is, God, Universe, Spirit, or Source, was shaking me by the shoulders and saying, “Jesse, you have to have some action you need to take here.” I finally packed up and got out of there. I had a friend come and pick me up, and we went looking for Gabe.
We finally got to him and he had set the day up for me to be the one to find him. I got to him right after he had pulled the trigger. For the next several minutes, we were on the phone with 911 trying to do CPR, trying to stop the bleeding and everything. Several hours after that, he was pronounced brain dead in the hospital and was removed from life support about 24 hours after that.
Not that one loss is more profound or intense necessarily than the other. I think each loss, having gone through a number of them now at this point, comes with its own emotional burden. Each comes with its own emotional lessons and just lessons in general that there are for us to learn, should we so choose. For me, what was so prominent about that one is it was the first real loss I had gone through in the sense of death.
I had gone through losses in terms of a relationship. I had lost a grandmother I wasn’t particularly close to when I was nineteen. I had gone through some devastating losses of pets as a child. To go through that one, it was one of a young person. It was so violent. It was so shocking. There were so many pieces that were connected to it too because you had these close circles of friends that didn’t know how to relate to one another.
I’ll never forget about two days after that happened, I had tried to go to work for the first time. A friend of mine named Melanie was there. She was waiting for me outside. When I saw her, she had tears in her eyes and gave me the biggest hug. She helped, moved back, and we were sitting there holding each other about 6 to 8 inches apart, looking at each other. She said, “I want to help you so bad, but I don’t know what to do.”
I was so thankful for her honesty because I realized so many people wanted to help, but so few knew what to do. We can understand there are layers of this. We can understand life and death to an extent, especially when people are a little bit older. When they’re younger, it might be a little bit harder to do. It’s even harder when it’s somebody who’s taken their life. It’s even harder when it’s somebody who you’re very close to has taken their life and you’re the one that’s trying to find them. The realm of human experience is removed by degree after degree, which was making it harder and harder for people to be able to relate to me and try to understand what I was going through.
That was one of the most challenging and difficult things of that time. It was sorting through my own emotions with it, the trauma of it all, but also trying to reestablish, “How do I reconnect with people? How do I bond with people, especially when some of my closest people couldn’t quite understand what I had gone through and what I was continuing to go through?”
It changes most of your relationships. I found that when my husband died. Jesse, you went to Haiti for the 2010 earthquake recovery. That was a year later. That inspiring mission renewed your sense of purpose. Would you like to tell us about that?
God, Universe, trusting in the lessons that they want to provide for us. Shortly after Gabe passed, and by shortly, maybe 4 or 5 days afterwards, my best friend Paul and I had gone up to this spot and hung out. We’re talking about Gabe and life. We came back to my house and we were staying on the balcony. He told me he wanted to share with me this idea he had about going and doing disaster relief.
He said, “After seeing what happened in Katrina and another big typhoon around the world, I realized that governments are often too slow to respond. My vision, my dream has always been to be able to get a small group of people who can get in there right away to disaster zones, provide aid, support, and help, and then start to help before the big government comes in and then all the resources come flooding in.” He said it’s those first 48 to 72 hours where people often need the help the most. We talked about this over the next several months from that time with Gabe. I started to move on and I was in a hard place still. My girlfriend, who I was with at the time, left. She couldn’t handle me not being me or how I was before.
You had two things you were grieving. You were grieving your relationship and the loss of your best friend.
It was hard because I felt like I was doing that loss thing. She didn’t know how to interact with me being sad. She was in that self-preservation mode. When Haiti happened, I remember I was in Costco. Frank calls me up and says, “We should go.” I said, “Let’s go. I’ll go get supplies.” I’m thinking, “Where do you get supplies for something like that, for five of us to go over there?” I got calorie-dense food since we’re going to be camping out in the middle of nowhere and toilet paper for all of us. We went off to Haiti and going over there was surreal. Haiti, at the time, was the top three poorest countries in the world. This was devastation beyond one’s imagination.
I remember the first day a bus pulls in. Some of these folks had been on this bus for over twelve hours, trying to be bussed out of the city in the more populated areas where the devastation was so great to places where they were going to start staging and recovery. We were out in the field in the middle of nowhere.
This bus was overcrowded. People who were coming off that bus were so mangled and messed up. Some had bandages all over their face, lost limbs, bones broken, and still bleeding. Some had been amputated and some had lost loved ones or didn’t know if their loved ones were alive, safe, or anything. If these people had any possessions, keep in mind, it’s already one of the poorest countries, if not the poorest country in the world.
They disembarked the bus carrying at most a half-full hefty bag of worldly possessions. At the time, none of the Haitians wanted to go inside a physical shelter because they’d been through so much trauma, buildings collapsing all around them. They started to construct these tarps out over trees and out in the open and would use that as a campsite.
I’m there and focused on doing this goodwill work, but also in the back of my mind, I keep thinking about what had happened with Gabe, what had happened with my girlfriend, how life is unfair, “I didn’t ask for this. I thought I was a good person. What did I do to deserve this?” It was very much all about me, which often I think loss can be. It’s easy for us to grasp onto that me part of it and talk about how the loss affected us, how we lost, and then what we lost because of the loss.
One night, about 10:00 or so, I’m walking across the field towards where my tent was and I heard a noise. I look over and there’s a campfire going on in the middle of the field. Around this field, there were about fifteen to 20 Haitians. Some of them were lying down because they were in hospital beds. Some of them were sitting and some of them were standing.
These people were clapping. They were singing. They were celebrating. They were giving thanks for life. I watched them for about ten minutes and tears began to drip down my face, watching these people who had lost virtually everything, and that’s assuming they even had much to lose before. They were so mangled and messed up and had at best a half-full hefty bag of possessions.
Many did not know if their loved ones were safe or healthy yet, and yet here they were outside celebrating the very basic thing that would elude so many of us. They were celebrating the simple fact that they were alive and that they were blessed with the moment to be able to draw more breath into their lungs and their heart was able to beat another beat.
Watching that transformed my life. I realized, “Have things been challenging for me these last six months? Absolutely. Was it hard? For sure. Was it anything I asked for? Definitely not.” I am so blessed and have so much to be grateful for right now. I have a choice. I can sit there and focus on my grief or on my gratitude. That was one of the most profound and life-changing moments for me right there in the middle field in Haiti.
Not everyone would think about that and say, “This is presenting me with a choice and I’m going to choose this.” That says a lot about you too, Jesse. I know that your dad also unexpectedly died and that led to the 1000 Challenge. Please tell us about that and share a few of your favorite amazing things that you did during your 1000 Challenge with our audience.
I returned home from Haiti and my dad had sent me an email. I thought, “Instead of emailing Dad back, I’ll call him.” I called my dad. We had one of the best conversations we had ever had. We talked for about 18 minutes and 33 seconds. I remember hanging up the phone with him because I had this renewed sense of purpose and life coming back from Haiti. I started to feel happy for the first time and seeing the light out at the end of the dark tunnel I felt like I’d been in. Dad’s phone call was confirming that I had turned this page. I was on a good path. I remember smiling after hanging up on that phone call.
The next morning, at about 9:00 AM, I see my mom’s call. I got that sickening feeling in my stomach again that I had similar to Gabe’s. I picked up the phone and my mom says, “Jesse, your father’s dead.” My dad had gone through a two-plus-year battle with colon cancer. He had gone through the chemo, the treatment, the surgery, and all those types of things.
He did it at the urging of the doctor saying, “If you did the chemo, too, you’d increase your chances of not having another recurrence of the chemo of the cancer by 20%.” It’d go from 60 to 80%. My dad was young and he wanted to have more time. Two weeks prior to his death, he had gone in for his annual checkup. The doctor looked him in the eye, shook his hands, and said, “Congratulations, Mike. You’re cancer-free. You’ve earned more time.” Two weeks after that, on February 1st, 2010, my dad dropped dead.
Was it over the fact?
My family never had money. I maxed out a credit card to be able to do cremation for him, so we never did an autopsy or anything like that. From the conversation my Mama had with him, it sounded like he had an aneurysm. There was some research article around that time that was saying it wasn’t uncommon for chemo patients to have gone through it as one of the side effects. It could be something like that. Who knows? A host of other combinations.
He passed and I found myself again back in this place of spiraling. Now, what happened too with friends is friends wanted to be there, love, and support, but also many of them are like, “This has happened to you again? How are you going through this much in this short of time?” I struggled for a while. On a random hiking trip with a couple of friends several months later, we were driving to Dave & Buster’s of all places. It’s video games, and food, wings.
My grandsons love it.
It’s like a little playground for big kids where you can go, have beers, and play video games at the same time. There’s something for everybody. I had never been to one before. I remember my friends asking me. He said, “You have never been to Dave & Buster’s?” “No.” They said, “What else have you not done?” I said, “I haven’t done this.” This conversation started.
“It’d be cool to try to do ten new things you’ve never done. Wouldn’t it be fun to try to do 100 things you’ve never done before in a year?” I said, “You know what I’m going to try to do? In 2011, I’m going to try to do 1000 things I’ve never done before.” They said, “1000? Why?” I said, “I want to prove to myself that I could. I need something to focus on to pull me out of my obsession with grief and loss.”
I was obsessed over the losses I’d gone through. I was obsessed over how unfair life was. I was obsessed over how much I felt like I had been screwed over by life the last year. I needed something to shift it. Even more so, I knew in my heart, as sad as I felt, as much grief as I was experiencing, that Dad and Gabe would want me to be happy. They wouldn’t want my life to be a life where a dark cloud was falling over me because of them. They’d want my life to be a life where I smiled and lived more fully because of them. That was the essence of the 1000 Challenge.
I made some rules. I had to do at least one new thing I’d never done before each day. You have to average close to three. This wasn’t a bucket list year where you had to take off from everything. I had to do it within the confines of normal responsibilities. I had to work the same amount, everything else, but the focus of it was on living, about getting out there, and being intentional with my life because so many of our days are byproducts of the previous day. They’re habits.
They say that the average person repeats something 90% of their thoughts from the previous day. Essentially, if you think about that, 90% of your emotional experiences, 90% of your thoughts, and 90% of the days of your life are repeats from the previous day. If the day that preceded you was sad, you’re probably going to have a sad day. That was such a powerful thing for me to consider. I thought, “What would it be like if I got intentional about living?” It was one of the most transformative experiences of my life. At the end of 2011, I’d done over 1,020 things I’d never done before.
I got to ask you. You got to let us know. What are some of the outstanding things? I read your list. Some of the stuff that you did, some of the stuff you ate, and some of the experiences that you had were amazing. Pick a few.
My two favorites? Number two was one of the travel ones I did. I went to Orlando and saw the final space shuttle launch. That was incredible to be with a group, be in the presence of the shuttle, feel the shock wave, and cheer with everybody. It was amazing. It was only the second time in my life, 911 being the other, that I’ve experienced what I felt was the United States where you had people from all over. Nobody looked the same, different license plates, but everybody was cheering for a common thing.
The number one though by far was Sunrise Sunset Day. I did this event where I had people from all over the world take a photo of the sunrise or sunset and share it on social media. We ended up having over 30 countries participate in that first year. That event has since turned into an annual event where every year on September 12th, we have people from all over the world take us pictures of the sunrise or sunset in honor of a loved one they’ve lost.
I encourage them to do 1 of 2 things or both, to either make a donation to a nonprofit or charity in honor of their loved one they’ve lost or to perform an act of kindness or a good deed in honor of that loved one they’ve lost. To date, we’ve had over 110 countries participate, tens of thousands of people from around the world and we’ve raised hundreds of thousands of dollars at this point.
How many people are in your Facebook presence with that? Maybe some people in our audience would like to become a part of that.
It would be wonderful. Across social media, we have probably about 120,000 people or so.
What do they have to look up to join this Facebook group?
They can put my name in.
They’ll get all that information. God bless you. I mean that.
You’re welcome. As part of your 1000 Challenge, you had a conversation with a 100-year-old. What did you learn from that conversation, Jesse? Was that the first 100-year-old you’d ever talked to?
That I was aware of, yeah. You’re going to make me think way back. The thing I was most struck by with her is she was 101 or 102 at the time. When you’re at that age, you don’t have the luxury of time to waste. What I mean by that is so many of us, again, going back to that notion of our thoughts, our days are on repetition, so many of our challenges, our dysfunctions, our problems, and our self-obsessions come at the luxury of time. We operate under the assumption that we’re going to have tomorrow. What we don’t do now, it’s not a big deal because I have tomorrow to get it done. That can be a blessing and a curse.
It’s a blessing that maybe we all have the time. The curse is it’s easier to form a habit in that sense. With someone like her, nothing is promised. Nothing beyond the next moment is promised. I saw her being present. I saw her finding joy in the simplest of little things, little daily pleasures that most of us would take for granted. For her, she often greeted these with wide-eyed wonderment. It was those types of things that impressed me the most.
I have another question for you. When faced with losses that rock us to our core and change us forever, we often find ourselves at a fork in the road. What life choices, Jesse, are represented by that fork in the road?
I did a TED Talk essentially on healing from loss.
By the way, his TED Talk is wonderful, everyone. When you get on his website or whatever, I totally recommend you listen to it. It’s marvelous.
One of the key themes of that is living our life as we move forward around honoring those we’ve lost. When we arrive at that fork in the road, we have a choice. Are we going to define the loss? Are we going to allow the loss to define us? Those of us who struggle and suffer indefinitely after loss are allowing the loss to define us. Usually, there’s a choice that’s been made. “I will never love again, be happy again, or smile again. I died that day.”
We have 1 foot in the past and 1 foot timidly on the doorstep of the future but mostly not even in the present, versus defining the loss. I am a firm believer in how we choose to live after we’ve lost someone we love is how we choose to honor them. Ultimately, it’s going to become the legacy that they have in our lives. One of the greatest and most sacred jobs that any of us can experience here on Earth is being assigned the job of being the custodian of the legacy of those who we’ve lost.
For me, the loved ones that I’ve lost, if I spent any of my days sad, miserable, and depressed at their expense, they would slap me in the face and probably kick me in the you-know-where. I know they would celebrate and rejoice if every time I thought of them, I made it a point to savor a moment, to smile a little bit, to laugh a little bit more, to let stuff go, and to experience my days a little bit lighter and a little bit more full of joy.
When we choose to honor those we’ve lost in that way, when we choose to live our lives in a way that we know in our hearts they would want us to live, then when we arrive at that fork and we have to make a choice of going forward without them in the way that we have in the past, you find that as you start to look ahead, you’ll see this little guiding light out in the distance. That guiding light is them laying breadcrumbs for you to follow, for you to live the life that you’re supposed to live.
I can so relate to that, Jesse. I love the many topics you’re covering like your course, Healing from Loss. Probably there are people tuning in to us who would be interested in that course. For instance, how do you coach a person to shift the way he or she is feeling instantly? What do you teach about the power of forgiveness? There are so many misunderstandings about that subject. What are some of these strategies you share for letting go of pain and emotional baggage?
I love that question. It’s a big one. We’ll try to break it up a little.
How do you coach a person to shift the way he or she is feeling instantly?
What we focus on, we’re always going to experience. Our emotions are never happening by chance even though they sometimes see that way. We are always creating our emotions by how we use our physical body, the language that we use, and ultimately, what we’re focusing on. The easiest example I can give everybody is this. Put your hand out in front of you and look at your hand and try to notice the lines on your hand. Pay close attention to your hand. Notice your callouses and the way certain lines move. Maybe trace up your fingers and pay attention. Maybe you’ve never looked at your hand this closely before.
As you do this, notice that you’re not aware at all of how your bottom feels on the seat you’re sitting in. Now that I’ve called your attention to your bottom, maybe you start to notice how the seat feels underneath you. Now that we’re talking about your bottom and your seat, maybe you start to notice that your back’s a little tight. Maybe you need to shift your weight around a little bit to loosen up. Maybe you start to feel a little tension in your shoulders that you want to relax. As you’re noticing that more, notice you’ve probably forgotten all about my hand, but my hand was still there, wasn’t it? It’s the same as the seat was. It’s the same as your body was.
In essence, what we’re focusing on, we’re going to experience it. When we have a consistent focus on emotions like grief, depression, despair, guilt, or anger, we’re going to experience a lot of that. To answer your question, how we shift that is we begin to shift our focus. Remember, there are always several different realities available to us.
There’s a reality available that’s focused on your hand, the same as there is a reality available that’s focused on the seat underneath you or how your back feels in your chair. There’s a reality that’s available that’s focused on grief and loss and how it’s affected you. There’s also a reality available of love and gratitude and celebrating all that you’ve gotten to experience and all that it’s in front of you. Let’s shift now to forgiveness and how this can tie into this.
Forgiveness is not forgiving the person if they’ve hurt you. It’s more about you letting go of the hurt. You don’t have to forget. It’s for you.
If we don’t forgive, it’s like getting in the middle of a pool on the deep end, chaining a concrete weight around your ankle, and saying, “Swim over there faster than Michael Phelps did when he won one of his Olympic gold medals.” What’s going to probably happen is you might take a few floundering, flapping up the water, and then you’ll sink.
Inevitably, the weight of not forgiving someone else is going to weigh you down so much so that you’ll find that in your life, it always feels like a struggle to keep your head above water. Forgiveness is unchaining yourself from that concrete weight. It’s unshackling yourself from the emotional responsibility or the emotional attachment you have to the other person and what happened.
If we don’t forgive, it’s a very selfish endeavor. Selfish in the sense that we think we’re punishing them, but we’re punishing ourselves and all the others that are in our life. We are only seeing that person from one narrow-minded perspective and that’s ours, which is a completely biased perspective. We have to believe X, Y, and Z to be true about them for us to justify not forgiving. The truth is none of us have ever walked 1 mile in another person’s shoes, let alone 5 feet. We don’t know what their life experiences were like. We don’t know what their belief system is, their values, or anything else.
As it’s so easy for us to lose track of our hands and how we feel in the chair we’re sitting in, it can be so easy to not recognize what another person’s life experience is like and what they’ve been through. For us to forgive, it’s allowing ourselves to let go of that weight so that then we can truly go within and focus on ourselves. When we can get to a place and we can send love out to those we withhold it from, we open our hearts up to receive a virtually unlimited supply of love that’s available in the world around us.
You could consider someone to be toxic, detach from them, but still forgive them and let it go.
There are a lot of people who I don’t like and I have zero desire to ever hang out and be around, but I choose to send love their way.
I do the exact same thing. I had one other question about some of the strategies you share for letting go of pain and emotional baggage. Can you briefly go over 1 or 2 of those with us?
When we go back to this idea of focus and emotions, emotions are created by us. Most of our emotional experiences are habitual. Let me give you an example. When we’re driving in the car, we’re driving along and all of a sudden, we start to feel a wave of sadness. We think, “I’m so sad,” and then we’re searching for meaning. “What can I attach this sadness to?” Usually, if we’ve lost someone, we’ll attach it to the loss of someone we’ve lost, “I’m so sad because of Gabe. I’m so sad because of this. I’m so sad because life has been so hard for me.”
What probably happened there was you were driving along and you had your window down about 2 or 3 inches. There was a song on the radio that you weren’t paying attention to, but there was a note of music on it that was somewhat familiar to another song you’d heard before. At that same time, you got a whiff of a fragrance outside. Maybe it was food cooking at a restaurant.
That combination, that food, plus that note of music, and then plus maybe you saw a flower or a tree in your peripheral, all those things went together. In the deep recesses of your unconscious mind, your mindset, this situation is most familiar to this. It was something that happened maybe months or years ago. Because our mind is always taking information in and trying to make what’s the best and most familiar representation of reality for us, it spits out like a computer screen, like a calculator. If you put in 2 plus 2, it’s going to show up as 4.
The same thing is happening. Fragrance, sound, and visuals equal emotional experience. When we know that’s what’s going on, we can release baggage because we have the power to assign new meaning to each experience we go in. When we start to feel sad or weighed down at the moment, we have the power to ask ourselves, “How would I like to feel instead?” We can start to embrace our emotions not as executioners, “You are sentenced to experience this emotion,” but as messengers.
This emotion is here to teach you. What would you like to learn from it? Ask that, “If I feel sad right now, how would I like to feel instead? If I feel sad right now, why am I feeling sad? What deeper work do I need to do for me?” The worst thing we can do is accept that as finality. Our unconscious mind often works in code and sometimes it doesn’t take things as literally as we like.
It’s up to us to become our own Nancy Drew, Dick Tracy, or Inspector Gadget if that’s more your cup of tea, do some deep investigative work there, dig in deep, and find out what is a bigger message there. If we do that, we will find not only tremendous freedom from some of those limiting beliefs and emotional baggage, but we’ll find a space of opportunity to fill our lives with whatever we choose to fill up with.
Jesse, is there anything else you want to share with our audience about your online course called Healing from Loss? Is there anything else you want to let them know before we go on to your Stress Relieving and Anxiety Reducing Self-Love training?
It’s a self-paced course. It’s a great course for people who are if six weeks or more removed from the loss of someone. If you lost someone two days ago, it’s not for you. That time right after loss is sacred time. You need to go through and feel those deep feelings. As you start to come up for air and reengage in life, it’s a great course to allow to guide you on a path of healing beyond loss.
Could you tell us about your Stress Relieving and Anxiety Reducing Self-Love training? That’s another one people can certainly relate to. Speaking of self-love, define self-love. What is its role in a person’s life?
Self-love is best explained by the airlines. Anytime you go on an airplane, you get on, and you’re getting ready to take off, the flight attendant comes on and says, “In the unlucky event of an emergency, oxygen masks will deploy from the ceiling. Please secure your oxygen mask first before assisting other passengers.”
When we look at the graphics, maybe we don’t pay attention. We think about what the power of that is. Most of us like to say, “I would save my child or my partner. I’d save this other person before I’d save myself.” The challenge with that is oxygen is finite. When you’re deprived of oxygen, you have a few seconds to be able to do something. Maybe you save your child, maybe you save your partner, and then that’s it.
If you take those first few precious seconds to secure your oxygen mask first, take care of yourself, love yourself enough, to value yourself enough, what you have now is access to a virtually unlimited supply of oxygen that would allow you to help each and every person on that plane. Think about that for a moment.
Self-love is about putting yourself first. It’s about falling deeply in love with the person you see in the mirror and respecting that person enough. In so doing, you will find that you have an unlimited well of energy, love, and emotion to draw from to then be able to better support others, serve others, and share an experience with others. If you don’t do that, you’re always going to be that person gasping for air, looking for somebody else to come and save you. Maybe I get a little bit of an emotional hit from Irene, but what happens when Irene’s not there? Now I have to go off and try to find another one. If you find it from yourself first, you’ll have an unlimited supply.
Tell us about your Stress Relieving and Anxiety Reducing Self-Love training. Is that an online course?
It’s an online course too. It’s a course that is self-paced. You get a module every week for six weeks. It’s about going in and deepening your understanding of self, getting a good understanding of why you do what you do, what drives you, what inspires you, learning to fall in love with yourself, and also learning how to let go of some of the hurt and pain you may be holding on to that has inhibited you up to this point to loving yourself more deeply.
Some people feel guilty about loving themselves. How do you help them to get rid of that needless guilt?
Guilt’s an interesting emotion. Often, it comes up because we have this belief that in the past, I made a choice and there was a different choice I should have made. It’s like we could sit here and talk right now and say, “I’m so upset with myself. I feel so guilty because I didn’t invest in Apple many years ago. I should have known then that was going to become the biggest company in the world. I would have millions of dollars to swim around in.”
There’s this idea with guilt that there was a choice we made and there was a better choice available. Forgiveness becomes our best friend here, where we have to allow ourselves to forgive ourselves for what we didn’t know, and also to acknowledge ourselves for making the best choice we did at that time. That’s number one.
Number two, guilt is often associated with loss and grief. We will use guilt as a penance. We think that we should have done something differently so we punish ourselves, or we use guilt as a way to leverage pain. The idea is the more pain I feel, the closer I am to that person. As long as I can feel pain, I still feel connected to them. It’s a way to justify our love. The more pain I feel, this means the more I love.
I remember when one of my friends was killed, people were shocked that I was able to smile and laugh less than two weeks after he had gone. They were saying, “You must not have cared about him as much because you’re not still sad and depressed.” No, I cared about him so much that I’m choosing to be happy and joyous because that’s what he’d want from me. We have to be weary that guilt is not love. Love is love. Guilt is guilt. There’s always a different choice that we can make that doesn’t have to involve guilt.
Here’s a biggie, Jesse. How can each of us create strong boundaries with the emotional energy drainers in our lives? I’ll bet everyone reading is like, “Emotional energy drainers? I’ve got a few of them. I could create boundaries with them? How do I do that?”
When I was in fourth grade, I had a teacher named Mr. Sutherland. Mr. Sutherland would give kids, for doing well in a test, a cherry ball. He also had this rare coin collection he’d let people examine if they did well. One day, he told us a story behind the rare coin collection. He was in school. He got a phone call that his house was on fire. He ran out of his classroom, jumped in his car, and in his words, he drove over 100 miles an hour to get home.
The only thing he could think about was saving his wife and his dogs. He got home. His wife was okay. His dogs were okay. He got there in time to see the foundation fall to the ground. When the firefighter said it was clear, he went and began stumbling through the charred bricks and boards. One of the few possessions he was able to save was his coin collection, that same collection we looked at.
In Southern California, it’s a joke, but on the freeways, it’s not uncommon for people to cut us off and then we return with the Southern California salute, in which we put our arm up in there and we put one finger up. I’ll let you guess which one finger that is. We have this belief that they’re trying to ruin our day. They’re not being considerate of us. They could have killed us. Mr. Sutherland taught me that day that they’re probably not even thinking about us. They may have found out that their home was on fire. Maybe they found out that their dad had cancer.
That’s something very important to remember when we’re talking about these types of things. We will often hold people emotional hostage who we don’t even know. In so doing, we create a narrative that is life-limiting. I go to work after that. “Irene, I’m having the worst morning ever. This guy cut me off and almost killed me.” I use it as fuel to justify my unhappy and unproductive day, versus “Irene, there’s a tense moment on the road. Somebody cut me off. I hope they’re okay. I worry that they may have found out their house was on fire.”
What about people in your life who become emotional energy drainers, Jesse?
That’s the first one for the people who are physically in your life who are emotional energy drainers. I used to struggle with my relationship with my mom because she and I thought and felt much differently. I had my own unresolved childhood issues. What I realized was I was holding my mom hostage to the image of how I thought she was supposed to be versus learning to love her for who she is.
I was a child of the ‘80s. I grew up watching the Cosby Show. It seemed like such a great family. On-screen was a little different than what was going on behind the scenes. When I let that go, I stopped comparing her to an idol of what I thought how moms are supposed to be. I started to learn to love my mom for who she was. The hardest thing to do is when we have drainers in our life, we focus on the source of the drain, the 1 or 2 behaviors they do, the 1 or 2 things they say, and we blind ourselves to the other possibilities that exist of maybe allowing ourselves to feel a little love, compassion, or empathy for them.
We allowed ourselves to do that. It gives us permission to release some of the emotional bonds that we have that are the source of the drain. It doesn’t mean that we’ll necessarily like some of these people, but it means we can create a space for some of them. We are now interacting with them differently. Because we’re interacting with them differently, by default, they’ll start to experience us differently too.
It’s a snowball effect.
We’re ping-pong balls. You think about that. If we ping pong back and forth, the ball’s always going to go the same way. If we change the trajectory a little bit, they’re going to have to change too.
I’ve experienced that. How do you advise people to let go of that negative energy and the emotions from the past? Many people are so attached to their past, and that’s where it stops, which is what this show is all about. We’re like, “Heal and move forward.” For people having so much trouble doing that, what would you advise, Jesse?
One of the things that we unwittingly will stumble into after intense emotional experiences is we start to form our identity around those emotions. We say we turn emotions into identities, into physical things, like a hat we wear. Instead of, “I feel sad,” the emotion of sadness, “I am sad,” making a statement. Instead of “I feel depressed,” “I am depressed.” Instead of “I feel grief,” “I am grief. I am grieving.” That’s a little bit different because it’s more of an action, but you get the idea with that.
Also, what will happen is as human beings, we do marvelously at taking one moment and having that become the blanket representation of an entire time. We say we had a bad day, but we didn’t have a bad day. We had a couple of moments that didn’t go according to plan. If we would step back and look at it from a broader perspective, we realize in any bad day, we had a lot of good stuff that still happened. We were able to breathe. We were able to see. We were able to hear, touch, and smell. If none of those things worked, it would dramatically alter how we even experience the day.
When it comes to allowing ourselves to let go of our past, we have to be willing to consider that there are other versions or realities of the past that we haven’t considered. We have to also begin to invite the best of back then into now. As an example, of loss, when we lose someone, there are three types of losses we mourn. We mourn the physical loss, we mourn the loss of our identity, who we saw ourselves, who we were with them, and more than anything, we mourn the emotion. It’s how they made us feel or how we felt with them.
The emotion one is the one we can make some headway on in the present. If you think about it, there was a time when you went to the grocery store. Maybe you were traveling this way and they traveled that way. You went west. They went east. You still felt love even though you weren’t physically connected. Love is still available. That connection of love and those beautiful emotions that you shared in life are still available in death. They might show up differently.
We will block ourselves from experiencing them because we handicapped ourselves, hijacked ourselves in the present to the past, and attach ourselves to the past, thereby limiting the experience of life because our identity is trapped in the past. Our belief system about what’s possible in life is trapped in the past, and then, effectively, we hold ourselves hostage for what we can experience now and going forward.
You become stunted. You can’t move forward. That’s what that’s about. You’re wearing a T-shirt that says Zero Limits. Tell us why you’re wearing that Zero Limits T-shirt. What does it mean and what strategy do you employ to help people do away with those limiting beliefs they have about themselves?
Our lives are always limited first in our minds. We decide our own limitations. Some of this, we can debate a little bit because many of us are operating with limiting beliefs that we learned as kids that were taught to us. At some point, we have to be willing to take responsibility that we may not have chosen or wanted to be taught that belief as kids, we are still willfully choosing to practice it as adults.
Our ability to experience love, joy, the good stuff in life, fulfillment, the limitation of that is designed by us, no one else. It’s something that we are willfully choosing every day. We may not be aware of it consciously, but we are. Zero Limits, for me, is removing the mental and emotional limitations we put on our life. It’s removing the limitations we place on the levels of joy, love, and happiness that we can experience in life.
You’re thinking that there should be zero limitations in our lives?
There could. I wouldn’t say should. There are some limits and limitations that are healthy. I would always want somebody to have a healthy limit or relationship with gravity and get too close. They say every year, the growing number of people who die from selfies is increasing because people are getting closer and closer to the edges. There are very healthy limitations and limits to have and respect.
When it comes to our emotional experience, life is emotion. In the game of life we’re all playing for, we’re playing to be fulfilled ultimately, which is an emotional experience. We don’t have to place those kinds of limits on ourselves to limit our levels of love and joy. Some of us will limit our ability to experience love because we’ll only allow ourselves to feel the love with one person versus allowing ourselves to feel and experience love with a multitude of people.
Irene, you and I barely know each other but I’m experiencing a sense of love being in your presence, feeling your energy, having this conversation with you, and allowing myself to have my heart filled by this and about your presence, your energy, your bubbliness, your fun, and your shirt that matches the flowers behind you even though I know the hidden secret behind the flowers.
Jesse, I’m feeling the same way about you. I was saying to Jesse before we started this interview what a privilege it is for me to meet the most amazing, wonderful people like Jesse and to get to know them through the show and share them with everyone. It’s so true, Jesse. I have to ask you. Your famous expression that is all over your website is carpe diem, which I know means to seize the day, enjoy life, and live in the present moment without thinking too much about the future. Explain this to us, Jesse. Do you believe that we should not think about making provisions for our futures?
We should make provisions and considerations for the future. That’s important. To seize the day, it doesn’t mean to ignore the future. It means to make the most of now. It’s important to plan and have goals to work for but not at the sacrifice of making the most of your moment. I don’t think our lives were designed to suffer or miss out. Most of us miss out because we’re so stuck again in the past. It’s recognizing that.
All of us tuning in know this better than anyone because most of the people we lost probably never planned to die on the day or time they did. Most of us have a story of going on and living life as normally as possible, doing something we’d done 100 times, and all of a sudden, something different happened and someone we love died.
For me, that’s what carpe diem is about. It’s recognizing that nothing is promised. Time is not always guaranteed. It’s planning for the future of having things to be excited about, making goals for your relationship, your health, all those types of things are important, and making sure that you allow yourself the gift of experiencing each moment as great a way as possible. That doesn’t mean you’re going out running a marathon every moment or flying to the moon or something like that. It means that you allow yourself the simple joy and pleasure like Irene and I are, of connecting with another human being. We could both show up and do this conversation however we want.
What a blessing through technology. You’re there in California, I’m here in New Jersey. It’s like we’re next door to each other. I can offer you a cup of coffee.
I think about brushing my teeth. When I brush my teeth, I’ll usually walk around and smile as I brush my teeth or think about, “How cool is it I have this electronic toothbrush,” and stuff like that. It seems so simple and silly but it is the stuff that brings deeper meaning to life. That to me is the bigger essence of what carpe diem is.
I’m all for that, Jesse. You have a Happiness Guide that has your 50 BEST tips for living a happier, more fulfilling life. Do you want to share a few of those fab tips with us?
Exercise is critical. Exercise and eat healthily. You will find so much more joy in life when you prioritize your health. I would say smile. Science says that the average adult smiles less than ten times or something like that a day. To me, that’s heartbreaking. We have these muscles on the sides of our faces. You got to do more reps with them. We would find we’d be much happier.
Even sitting up in good posture. If you sit in your best posture, it’s physiologically impossible to frown. You can even try it. Anybody reading, sit up in your best posture. Sit up, and that’s where you’re raising your heart almost towards the ceiling, and then try to frown, try to make yourself frown. You’ll notice that the corners of your mouth are not going down. We physiologically will put ourselves in postures that allow us to start to experience emotions, of sadness, and whatnot. Stand up a little straighter, sit up a little straighter, and you’ll find you’ll be a little bit happier too.
Tell us all the best ways for everyone in our audience to connect with you, Jesse.
You’ll find me all over social media. JesseBrisendine.com, @JesseBrisendine. I’m on all the major platforms except I’m not TikToking yet. I couldn’t quite get into that. Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, I’m on all those.
I’m on them, too. I’m a Baby Boomer, so I’m still a little intimidated by all the social media stuff, but here we go. What is your message about the importance of healing that you would like to share with our audience? Why should they not suffer through their lifetimes? Why should they go check out all these healers, including Jesse, and find someone to help them?
If we love our loved ones to the depth that we are justifying our hurt, we owe it to them to live life in a way that we know they’d want us to live and honor them. If I’m going to feel the depths of grief, despair, depression, hurt, pain, or whatever that is because they passed, I should also owe it to myself and them to feel the opposite, the highs of love, joy, and happiness because of them.
Our lives are meant to be lived in that if they’re not here physically but we still are, again, we’re the custodians of their legacy and we have a choice. Do we want their legacy to be every time we think of them, we get sad and unhappy, or do we want their legacy to be every time we think of them, we love, we laugh, we smile a little bit more, and we tell stories about what incredible human beings they are and how they continue to inspire and interject life into our lives daily?
They can be motivators for us to heal. It’s true. What is your tip for finding joy in life, Jesse? You’ve got so many.
To be grateful would be number one. Number two, slow down and be in the moment. Notice the simple things. I go for a walk in my neighborhood sometimes and I remember when I started this practice. There was a plant that I walked by hundreds of times over the years. I never noticed it. As I started to slow down and pay attention to it, notice the life on it, the bees, the other bugs that are on it, the colors, and how vibrant they are, it was quite incredible. There is so much around us right now that we could be grateful for, that we can slow down and notice. If we allow ourselves to do that and build our life on a foundation of gratitude, life will be overflowing with joy.
You’re absolutely right. I so totally agree with that. I’ve lived that a lot. You know, Jesse, you are a dynamo.
You’re a dynamic transformational coach who has personally mentored nearly 2,000 people on their healing journeys after the loss of loved ones, motivated people to be better versions of themselves, empowered people to reach their full potential in life, and so much more. I have no doubt that there are now members of our audience who’d love to learn more about your spot-on coaching that can lead to transformation and rebirth in their lives.
Thank you, Jesse, from my heart for this inspiring and uplifting interview filled with so many wise, important insights. Here’s a reminder, everyone. Make sure to follow us and like us on social at @IreneSWeinberg on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. To be continued, many blessings, and bye for now.
- Jesse Brisendine’s Website
- Jesse Brisendine’s 1000 Challenge
- Jesse Brisendine’s Healing from Loss course
- Jesse Brisendine’s Stress Relieving and Anxiety Reducing Self-Love training
- Connect with Jesse Brisendine on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and LinkedIn
- Jesse Brisendine’s TED Talk
- @IreneSWeinberg on Instagram
- Irene Weinberg on Facebook
- Irene Weinberg on Twitter
- Irene Weinberg – Grief, Rebirth + Healing Podcast on YouTube