Sept. 26, 2022

Dan Stillman - These TIPS Will Rewrite Your Brain Forever | Mental Health Podcast

Most people, if not all, have experienced trauma in their lives, even at a very young age. The sad truth is many of them are having...
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Most people, if not all, have experienced trauma in their lives, even at a very young age. The sad truth is many of them are having difficulties acknowledging this trauma and eventually healing from it. Not only does this affect their self-image and how they currently live, but also their relationships.

Dan Stillman also struggled with not being good enough, not knowing what was wrong with him, and whether or not he did something wrong to face all those battles.

Today he has rows above the odds and is on a mission to help people to get out of the same pain and numbness to start living to their full potential. And Stillman is a transformative life coach of positive psychology, transformational mindset, techniques, and integrative nutrition. And as we had a conversation today on the podcast, it made me stop and reflect on a lot of different aspects of my own personal journey and the parallels we have not only experiences in AA, alcoholics anonymous, but in going through masculinity and an uneducated fashion, growing up with abandonment and love issues and being able to create massive change in our lives to ultimately be the men that we are today.

Today, we're going to talk about neuroplasticity. We're going to talk about rewiring the brain. We're going to talk about truth, honesty, self-love, and all the things it takes and requires to ultimately learn, love yourself, get unstuck, get out of the vortex, and be the hero of your own story.

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Michael: Hey! What's up, Unbroken Nation. Hope that you're doing well wherever you are in the world today. I'm very excited to be back with you with another episode with our guest Dan Stillman, who is a positive psychology practitioner, transformational mindset and integrative medicine health coach. Dan, my friend, how are you? What is happening in your world today?

Dan: Hey, how you doing Michael? I'm good, man. Thank you for having me on the show. I really appreciate the opportunity to speak to your audience. So, thank you.

Michael: Yeah, I'm very excited, man. We connected a couple months ago, I loved your story, your mission and your journey. And I felt that you'd be just an amazing person to come on and have a conversation today and I'm excited to dive deep with you. But before we do that, tell us a little bit about yourself, your history, your story, your journey, and how you got to where you are today.

Dan: So, it all started at a very young age for me, you know, dealing with trauma, we're not in control of the situations that we're born into and I don't know if we've known this, before we come into this world, if we choose it, I guess we'll find out hopefully when we pass away or move on to the next realm. But for me I was at an early age, my parents got divorced when I was four. The reason why my parents got divorced was my mother came out of the closet back in 1974 my mother couldn't live the lie anymore that she was gay, she felt this way her whole life. And you know, in the DSM, if you're familiar with psychology and the DSM book that they used to put the different mental disorders in there up until 1974, you were considered as having a mental illness if you were gay. So, once they removed that from the book, my mother basically said, you know, I need to come out, I need to be my true authentic self, which is kind of an inspiration for me. And later on, I'll get into that, how she influenced me because she was a pioneer marching, you know, for gay rights. But as a result of that I was an only child and my parents got divorced, of course, going through a divorce, being an only child, or just even if you have siblings is traumatic enough, but was even more traumatic for me was I had three cousins, my mom's sister who was like my brothers and sisters. And as a result of my mom coming out of the closet, they didn't wanna have anything to do with us anymore. So, they kind of just abandoned us. So that was kind of the first, you know, not that I understood what was going on that shame kind of started for me at that particular time of that, you know, like the belief of what's wrong with me which most people don't understand about the beliefs and how much they influence our thoughts, our feelings, our actions, and our results. And my mother, as a result of going through the traumatic experience that she went through of just not people understanding her and her sister, you know, was very abusive, physically abusive towards her. You know, we developed these patterns and unfortunately, I was on the tail end of some physical abuse back then in the seventies, spankings were considered normal now, you know, DFS would be called. But you know, as a result of that particular physical abuse that added to some of the feelings of what's wrong with me, I did something wrong, you know, developing those beliefs on there's something wrong with me, why don't people like me. And then at the age of nine, my dad got, he was in my life for a while, but then he got remarried and I have two half-brothers and a stepbrother, but he decided to move to Florida I live in New Jersey. So once again, that abandonment kind of hit again, you know, and I was raised in a predominantly I had, was raised by two moms really ‘cuz my mom met another lady who had two sons who were older than me, but I moved to their house in a neighborhood that was predominantly blue-collar Christian and I was Jewish.

So, I was kind of the only Jewish shortest kid basically in the neighborhood and I experienced a lot of antisemitism as well, like people would spit in my hair. I would basically get into fights. I think the only good thing that really came from that was that at the age of 13, I started lifting weights like I really started working out because I needed to protect myself. But little did I know that, you know, the outside job that I was doing yes was helping me, but the inside job was just the shame, the not loving myself, the wondering why things were happening the way that they were happening, even though, like I played little league and I played sports, there was always something missing in my heart like there was something missing. And my grandmother would always tell me that, of all our grandchildren, like I was the most loving and I was very introspective, I always kind, you know, had a soft heart for other people who were less fortunate. And during the times that I was going through these feelings of anger and just having bitterness and comparing other people like being jealous of other people. You know, whenever I went through like a certain, I say, this is like a saving grace for me, because I could have very easily gone down the wrong path and got involved in drugs and alcohol and really went that way. I always stayed the path of, I'm capable of so much more. And the reason why I bring that up and why that's like my token slogan I should say is whenever I felt that I was like hitting a real bad spot in my life, I would always look in the mirror and tell myself you're capable of so much more. So, you know, and it would pull me through, and I think that was good for me. You know, normal kind the teenage years, like I said, I was in wrestling sports but I started to smoke pot, you know, I drank alcohol, you know, just like any other, probably kid did in the eighties at that age. But there was still always something missing. I could remember my friends, like when I drank. And my friends would say to me like that, I would say to them, do you like me? Like, I'd always ask people, do you like me? Right? Because I just had this from all of the experiences that I went through in my life of the abandonment and the hurt and the physical abuse, I didn't like myself therefore, I was just wondering if people were just being fake to me. Right. So, I kind of just grew up thinking like this and having a low self-esteem and not having confidence in my true ability. Right. And when I graduated high school, I basically didn't know what I wanted to do and I took a year off and I worked in a mail room at my mom's company for a year. And then my mom said, you gotta do something with your life this is 1989. So, I went to school for computer repair and robotics, and I got into I.T. work. And then I decided, you know what, I'm gonna continue my education, I'm gonna join the air force. But little did I know, and most people don't know who've experienced trauma if they don't wanna feel the pain, right, they doll it with alcohol and smoking pot and at that particular time I quit smoking pot, but I was drinking. I decided I was gonna go into the air force and that was like my geographical cure. Right. Most people don't know about the geographical cure if you kind of get everybody outta your life, you could start a new and then your problems will go away. Well, that's not how it works. And so, I went into the air force, I was 22 and I didn't make it through basic training because they said I had asthma, they gave me immunization shots, I had a cough, they gave me a breathing test and because a desert storm, they had to ship so many people out because of breathing problems that they said I was disqualified. And that was my bottom, I came home and I hit bottom like emotionally, physically, I got really depressed and I just got down on my hands and knees and I said, God, please help me, whatever you could do, just please help me. I woke up the next day and I knew somebody who was an alcoholic anonymous. And I went and visited this person and little did I know that my geographical cure was not in the air force, but my geographical cure was to work on myself and get away from what I was experiencing at home, but moving into alcoholics anonymous and doing the 12-step program, going into therapy and really that and healing this trauma. So, that's what I did from 1992 to 1996. I didn't hang out with my old friends, I made new friends in AA, I worked the steps, worked the program, got sponsors men, right? Because I didn't have a man figure in my life for all that time. So, there was something that was missing from a masculine perspective. And I had some tough love when I was in AA, when one of the things that really stands out for me, when I think back at one of the lessons learned I would always complain about, well, I'm so nice to this person, how come they don't like me? And one of the old timers, my sponsor would say to me, well, Dan, what makes you think everybody's gonna like you anyway? And it was like, hmm, you know, it was like an aha moment, but I needed that. Right. Cause I didn't have that male perspective. So, you know, going to Jewish family services and talking about the trauma, and I was very fortunate because going to therapy, working the steps and doing, realizing that I wasn't an alcoholic, but I really needed that 12-step program, which I would recommend to anybody. You don't have to be an alcoholic to do a 12-step program, I don't know if you're familiar with the 12 steps, Michael, but you know, you clean house, right. You're basically clean house and you have to take an honest look at yourself.

Michael: And I'll say this I'll agree with that. And that's something that for me and my journey, I stepped into AA, NA an essay over the course of this healing journey. And it was very much like in these moments of like, I'm not alcoholic, that's not what this is, this is I'm trying to hide the hurt. You know what I mean? I'm trying to hide the pain, hide the suffering and I think it's really interesting ‘cuz sometimes I would sit in AA and I would look around, I go, I don't think you're an alcoholic other person. I just think you need a fucking hug, man.

Dan: Yeah. I agree with you, man. You know, ‘cause there's young kids in there and you're like, how could you be an alcoholic now? I'm not knocking on alcoholics and nons because there's some hard course. But for me, and for you, obviously you realize like, wow, this is there's some value to this, but you know, I may need to go somewhere else to get what I need I'll take what I need from this particular, you know, medium and appreciate what it's given me and be grateful, but you know, then life goes on. Right. So, you know, going through those four years, I was lucky enough and fortunate enough to be able to confront my mother, to be able to confront my aunt and uncle and confront my dad to deal with the trauma to say, why did you do the things that you did? Right. I healed the hurt with my mom. You know, she obviously got help for herself, you know, went to therapy to deal with her things, realized that she was bipolar and got medication for that. And apologize like how horrible it was for me that I had to experience that physical abuse. My aunt and uncle, you know, they said that basically they were just trying to protect their children and I don't really have a relationship with them today as a result of that, because it was just kind of like, okay, that was not really a good reason, I could understand the reason, but you kind of just left me alone. Right. And my father, you know, I went and one of my life experiences not having my father in my life, I decided to go live with my dad. Right. He lived in Florida, so in order to find the piece of me that was him or vice versa, I don't know if I'm saying that. Right. But I think you'd get the gist of what I'm trying to convey. I went and moved to Florida and it only took me three months to live with him in Florida to realize that I really didn't miss anything, like I wouldn't have, he was a simple man, you know, I kind of understood why he did, what he did. And you know, I think what it all boils down to is forgiveness. Right? And I think part of my healing journey really has been not only forgiving other people, but more importantly, forgiving myself, learning to love myself.

When I was 22, when I went into AA, I wrote these things and copyrighted them, their trademark called the nine ingredients of love, their sincerity, courtesy, unselfishness, patience, tolerance, humility, good temper, generosity, and being godless. And I hung those on my refrigerator and I read them every morning and every night, right? Besides doing other work, such as learning what self-centered fear was either afraid, I was gonna lose what I have or not get what I want and needed and what was the antidote to that? Learning to live in the moment, learned about unrealistic expectations like how unrealistic expectations played a big part in myself and how I placed them on other people, which led to a lot of disappointments because expectations could lead to disappointment.

Michael: Yeah. And actually, I wanna ask you a question about that, Dan, because I had a thought, as you were mentioning that you went to confront your mother, your father, your aunt and uncle. And I feel like that actually ties into exactly what you were talking about, that people have these expectations of outcome. And especially in that moment, you're like, I'm gonna go in there. I'm gonna tell 'em what's what they're gonna change, you know, I don't think that's realistic though. Like I think sometimes we can set those expectations and fail or not fail maybe that's not the right word I wanna use, but we can set those kinds of expectations leading into it and then feel like the outcome was not favorable. What I'm curious about, because I know a lot of people and this was my experience and I've thought about this a lot, my mother died before I can confront her, you know, do drug overdose and I remember I kind of like took her outta my life and I said, you know what? I know that she cannot be in my life, or I am not gonna go down the path I need to go. And, you know, years later, I mean, a decade removed from that. I had this thought, I was like, huh? I wonder what it would've been like to have that conversation. And so, I'm curious for you what prompted the want to go and have those confrontations and honestly, probably some very incredibly difficult conversations.

Dan: I felt it was the only way that I was gonna heal. For me, I felt like I needed to know, you know, and it's individualized for each person. For me to understand and heal and, you know, we live in a society where, you know, right now, as you know, it's very divisive and one side takes one side and one side takes the other. And basically, what is the root cause of that we get hooked into one side of a story, we never gather the full facts and then make a decision. Right? So, in order for me to forgive myself and forgive the people who actually I had to deal with, I need to understand why they did the things that they did. I needed to understand and hear their side of the story, because then I would go through like maybe being judgmental of others and part of my, what I'm trying to do, you know, and what I teach my kids is to really try and practice the pause before you be judgmental of others and try to ask questions and gather the facts, because if you don't, we have a way of making up stories that are just not real, we're great storytellers, right. And most of us don't know how to question our thoughts in real time. So, what I've learned in positive psychology and kind of deviating, but, you know, we went this way is to learn real time resilience skills, and learn how to become your own cognitive based therapist. And by doing that by fighting the evidence for, and the evidence against a certain thought based on a thinking trap that you may be experiencing such as mind reading or externalizing or personalizing or maximizing, minimizing. I think it's really important to put things in perspective and to understand where this is coming from and is there any validity to the information that you're thinking and what you're gathering.

Michael: That's actually such a great point and I've never thought of the words, real-time resiliency that just really hit hard for me because I always try to make meaning in the present as opposed to the past and I found that to be very beneficial in my life. Do you think that that is a tool that can help people navigate that space of feeling like massively unhappy and disconnected?

Dan: There's probably a bunch of different components, but it's definitely a tool. I know it's for me, like, listen, I'm a survivor, just like you, Michael of trauma. Right? I have days where I have, I'm tired, I'm hungry, I don't feel well and something could trigger, something that has affected, something from a trauma thing ‘cuz that neuro pathway is that is still there. Right? But real time, resilience skills is a tool and it could definitely help if you have as many tools as you possibly can in your tool chest to help keep you sane and not spiral down the rabbit hole. Like I like to use the term staying north of neutral. Right. When you look at a pie chart and you look at a wheel of life and each piece of pie is a part of your life, such as relationships, career, whatever it is, spirituality. And for some reason at your job, something bad happens and you go from a seven down to a three. What do you do? You gotta dig into your tools, and one of those tools is real time resilience skills, to question the thoughts that you're having, cuz you may be thinking, oh, my boss is an asshole. Right. He just might be but he just did this to me but then instead you gotta think, well, maybe this person's having a bad day. Like, why did this happen? X, Y, and Z, like get fact based dead data evidence for evidence against it's like you're taking your brain to court. Right. And you have to use like real time resilience skills to say, Hmm, what's really happening here, you know?

Michael: Yeah. I love that, Dan. So, I say this to myself all the time I do not trust my brain. Like, when you understand neuroscience, when you understand the impact of trauma and being in a cortisol state and what it's like to grow up in that, and then to like navigate dissociation and then recognize behavioral patterns, and then you get into these things that are triggers on emotional scars, it's like, your brain is not trustworthy until, and this was my experience until I understood the research and the science and the practical functions of the brain because I realized something really important and I'm gonna lead somewhere and I wanna know your thoughts on this. For a long time, I felt like every time I listen to my brain, I get in trouble. Right. But every time I listen to my gut I'm right. And I was thinking I was coaching one of my clients recently I said, how many times have you had this moment where you meet someone or you do something or you're in an interaction you're like that doesn't feel right. And then a month, six weeks, five days later, it doesn't matter, you go damnit, I should have trusted my gut. Am I on the right path there?

Dan: Oh yeah. You have an intuitive thinking system, which is your gut feeling. And you know, when you're making like some serious, there's a difference between making a short-term decision when you're going to the store and you gotta purchase something off the shelf, compare with like a decision that's really a hardcore decision that you have to make that may impact your life, it's always the good, if you could sit on it and really kind of think about the decision and not rush into the decision, right. Sometimes those things come quickly, it's your gut feeling like for instance, just as an example, you've probably, had this experience. You look at the weather report they say, it's gonna rain. You look in the mirror, you're talking to yourself, brushing your teeth say, you know, I should take my umbrella today. Right. And that's your gut telling you. And then your other voice comes into your head, which is metacognition ‘cuz you're talking to yourself, says, nah, you don't need the umbrella, that's your ego. What happens? You go outside. You don't put in the umbrella. And you get ringed on you're like I should have brought the umbrella. Right. So, it's so true, it's like, you know, it depends on what kind of decision you're making, but I always try to listen to that first voice. Whenever I question myself from when I say, nah, I'm like, whoa, whoa, whoa, what's that nah? That's when I gotta say practice the pause, Dan, practice, the pause, you know.

Michael: Yeah. That's so great. I want to go back a little bit. When you're in this pivot to start stepping into the path that you're on now, I'd love for you to kind of paint a little bit more of a picture that has led you down this pathway, because obviously you do a lot of really beautiful things around psychology and mindset, but particularly I wanna talk about positive psychology. And so, I'm curious, like what led you down this path and how has it impacted your life?

Dan: Yeah. So, you know, listen, the journey of learning didn't stop when, you know, I explained the story when I was 22, till I was 26, you know, I did wind up getting a divorce and I have two kids and I had to learn from that experience and then I got in another 10-year relationship, which really helped me become a man because this person taught me how to not be a people pleaser again, you know. I'll remind your audience that I didn't have that father figure, right? Like there is no playbook that's given to a man, you know, when he is born, we were taught how to open up doors, how to do certain things but we're not taught how to express our feelings. So, I still had to learn how to become my true, authentic self, how to be more vulnerable, not be a people pleaser, like how to interact with people, especially with someone from the opposite sex. And in that 10-year relationship, I learned how to be vulnerable and accept a strong woman into my life, how and be able to ask for help. I learned how to express my needs and wants. I learned a bunch of things in that relationship. And one of the things that I could take away from, you know, that relationship is I got into yoga and meditation, which was like almost the last piece that I needed to learn and it I'm going into, you know, what the question that you asked me, because you know, and that relationship had ended, like people, I believe that people come in and out of your life for reasons, I believe things happen for a reason. And you know, when I was 48 years old, I was at a job for 11 years and I got laid off from that job, and I thought to myself, wow, I'm looking back at my life and all the things that we discussed in the story that I shared and I said, there's meaning to this. There's something that I should be doing, right, what is my true purpose? Now, I've been very successful in it, but I'm like, there's something I have a gift, what is my gift? And that's when I came up with the word, YoMenga; YoMenga came into my mind, I was sitting on the couch meditating and the word YoMenga, which is the word men in between the word yoga. And that's where this journey started, basically how I got into positive psychology, integrative medicine, and all these things, because I created started to create this business YoMenga. Besides what I have holistic WellCare advisors, and then I have so, I have three things that I'm working on. And I decided, I said, you know, I need to create a course because ll these things that I learned that have helped me if I would've known them between the ages of 21 and 29, and I'm talking about positive psychology principles, such as growth mindset, real time resilience skills, self-regulation, mind traps, how to become your own CBT therapist, how to understand that your neuroplasticity, how your brain works, your limbic system, prefrontal cortex, all these wonderful things that positive psychology teaches you, I said, I need to like create something that I could help people between the ages of 20 and 29, which are those people are called vicenarian, if you didn't know that. I said, because if I create this course, these people are gonna have a better head start than I did because, you know, I think when you turn 30, I think that's when those are your most important decision-making years. I think that's when you're deciding, do I wanna get married? Do I wanna have children? Where do I wanna live? What career do I really wanna get into? And I think if I would've had some of these skills back then I probably would've made much different decisions. So, that was really the main and also while that was, you know, the get real deal and heal course that I created, that was part of YoMenga but since that time, since 2018, when COVID hit, I had to pivot and YoMenga kind of gone in a different direction. And now, you know, this holistic WellCare advisors is what I do also as well, has kind of gone in a different direction, but they all kind of tied back to each other. The thing that, you know, with the YoMenga thing, I just felt that, you know, back in 2018, when things were coming out, like Matt Lauer and a bunch of other people were getting in trouble for a lot of the things that they were doing. I said, you know, I didn't like the word toxic masculinity, I don't mind the word masculinity, but I'm kind of offended by the word toxic because I don't consider myself a toxic person. What I consider myself as an uneducated man. So, when I refer to anything that has to do with teaching men, how to become more spiritual, emotional, physically better for themselves, it's I like to call it uneducated masculinity, so that's kind of how that started as well.

Michael: Yeah. I actually relate to that a lot. I was on a podcast, a pretty big show recently, and I was having a conversation with the host and I said, you know, I don't subscribe to this toxic masculinity idea because the truth is for so many of us and all, I can only speak as a man, obviously like you, I was raised by women, I never met my father, my stepfather was incredibly abusive, the men in my life and the other boys, I were around, all we were doing was getting in trouble and breaking the law. I had no measurement for what it meant to be a healthy and educated man. And so, like many men, how did I learn and look, and one of the things people need to understand is the statistics that three and six boys are raised by a single mother. Like, and those statistics vary, I've seen it as high as four and five I think that's probably too high, but I don't know. So, you know, you have to factor that in and for a long time this word toxic was going around and I'm like, yeah, but there's never a conversation about toxic femininity or toxic this or that and I've always thought that it was a bit odd now of course I recognize like, look, there are people who do fucking bad things, that's the course, like that's how it exists. People did bad things to us, that's why we're even having this fucking conversation. And you know, to be pigeonholed because of poor decisions, I think is a really dangerous and dogmatic game that we play because there is no questions asked and I've admitted this and I will always own my truth in my twenties as a man I was a fucking monster period. I didn't know. And you don't know what you don't know and it wasn't until I had a rock bottom moment and I was like, oh, maybe there's something different here. And that led me down this path of therapy, of coaching, of men's group therapy, of retreats and workshops and seminars and courses, and all of the things that have led me to where I am. Like, I never felt toxic then I just felt like I didn't understand. And you know, there's people who are gonna email me, I already know they're gonna be like, whatever, I'm just sharing my truth. And I don't align with that and I don't think a lot of people do. And I love that you pointed out that you created something that you thought you would need, I mean, that's Think Unbroken that's the entire crux of this, because if I could redo my twenties with this information, assuming that I was ready to receive a set information, my life would've been very, very different. But, you know, I think part of it is we don't really understand the brain science that can even lead to this place where we can have this conversation, Dan. And so, I'd really love for you to kind of just high level hit us talk about neuroplasticity, talk about triggers, talk about emotional scars, but most importantly, talk about rewiring your brain.

Dan: Yeah, that's a very interesting topic. There's so many different mentors that I follow, you know, like Joe Dispenza and Gregg Braden, and few others that really talk about this neuroplasticity and the brain. You know, it was all new to me, I think it was like an aha moment for me when it was taught to me, like how you have this limbic system which is the fight flight and freeze mechanism and how you have your prefrontal cortex and how they're attached. And basically, how the limbic system is your emotional side, where you feel all these emotions, but your limbic, your prefrontal cortex is the logical rational side. And that you we are the only species that has this neocortex that really has the ability to regulate self-regulate our emotion. However, you know, we've developed a lot of habits over the years and these things that I had mentioned when we first started the conversation such as beliefs, such as I'm not good enough, what's wrong with me. I did something wrong, can be stored in our subconscious, right. We have a subconscious mind and we have a conscious mind and basically the beliefs that we hold with neuroplasticity and that we have these basically a Dendro and an Axiom that has like these little electrical signals that fire in between, you know, these things that create a thought. So, for instance, like, if you have a thought that, or if you have this belief that I'm not good enough, and then you have this thought belief that I'm not good enough and then the thought like, oh, I applied for this job and they don't want me that I'm just a bad person, that's just reinforced. Right. That's just that neuro you know, what I mean? It just keeps firing the synapse there. So, what you need to do is, is to create a new neuro pathway. And the only way to really do that is with deliberate practice. Right? And the best way that I could kind of give you an example of this is if you work at your job and you have to create a password to log into windows at your job, every 90 days or 30 days or whatever the security policy is, they basically tell you to change your password, right? So, you go into work one day and you change your password, you get up, you go get a cup of coffee, come back, what do you do? You start typing in the old password again, right? And then you realize, whoa, I gotta basically type in the new password. Well, here, I'll just give you an example. Like this is the neural pathway that you created for that old password and this is the new neuro pathway had to create for the new password with deliberate practice each day that you come in and type the new password the synapse there that, you know, between the Axion and the Dendro starts to get close more and the old one starts to separate. And basically, that's how a new thought, a new habit is basically created. So, it's deliberate practice and we're like 60% habits. So, you know, if you want to kind of like change something in your life, you have to just kind of do repetition, repetition, repetition, to change it, to build up that new neuro pathway and that takes time. But you know, it could take a short time, it depends on, you know, how big of an experience it is and how impactful it is. Some people change right away, but over time, like when I had to learn to love myself and I gave you that example of when I created the nine ingredients of love, how I read them morning and night, you know, it took probably like five months before I was able to actually move that from my head to my heart. So, I hope that I gave a good example of how that happens where you build a new habit.

Michael: Yeah. I mean, that makes perfect sense to me. And as you were saying that I remembered, I used to work for a fortune 10 company. We had to change our passwords every 45 days. And it used to drive me freaking crazy. Like, I'm now triggered in the middle of this conversation, very pissed off at that company. But you're spot on and, you know, I think about this, you know, I've mentioned on this show many times, like I used to be a two pack a day smoker for a very long time, which is a very stupid thing to do. And I quit smoking a thousand times. Right. But it was this repetitive process of can I create a space of time between cigarette to cigarette, to cigarette, to cigarette and like 30 minutes became 40 minutes, became an hour, became three hours, became one day, became three days, become a year, became now a decade later. Right. And so, a lot of that is really about changing that and that's a behavioral habit too. You see so many research studies point to addiction, isn't even about the, necessarily this substance as it is the behavior around the substance, right. That's why you see people, one of the things that they will do is especially, smoking's an easy one, ‘cuz we're talking about it. But it's a mouth thing, it's a behavior of this, the back and forth of in conversation at the bar. And so, if you can just change that, maybe use a toothpick or a straw or chewing gum, it changes the behavior, thus making those synapse connections and creating the behavioral change. One of the things that I think people particularly struggle with, and this was my struggle as well was in this space of honesty. Like, as I'm sitting here with you, Dan, I'm like, oh, we're having a very real, raw, honest conversation. And I think so many people struggle with opening and having their heart open and doing that, especially in connections with loved ones. And so, I'd love for you to talk about some techniques that people can use to better connect. And I think you pointed to something I thought was really powerful, you were in a relationship where you started learning that. And to me, I feel like a big part of it is the human connection that we have because that can be created, but I'm wondering if you can break down some ideas of how people can openly and honestly connect with their truth with other people.

Dan: You know, I think it comes down to really being vulnerable and not being scared, and that's a hard thing because you know, most people, when they want to create like some behavior change, there's usually some fear at the core is fear; fear false evidence appearing real because we've, you know, through society, environmental factors and again, these beliefs, we develop these thoughts and one of 'em is that you know, we're afraid of what people think of us. If we are vulnerable, if we do open up to a loved one of how we feel yet, you know, from my experience, people already know how you feel. You know, we're energetic beings and from my experience, people know like loved ones, know when something's going on with you, because they usually ask, Hey, what's wrong with you? And then what do we do? We say, oh, nothing. Right. And I think that's what you're getting at Michael is like, when somebody kinda asks you, like, what's wrong and then you back away, where does that come from? Like, is it come from some shameful thing? Is it some guilt? Is it just low self-esteem? Is it you're afraid of what people are gonna think of you? Do you feel weak because you've watched on TV, like, you know, people being chas eye and put down for expressing their feelings if you were raised in a family that didn't have great communication style and they were aggressive or passive aggressive or passive, right. You will develop those communication skills as well so, then you become fearful. And I think the only way that you could really try and overcome that is to just walk through your fear and just have to have an honest conversation, find somebody that you can have an honest conversation with, and it may not even be a family member, you know, just because you have a blood relative doesn't mean that they're the most closest person to you, it could be a friend as well. If you can't do that, I would suggest writing your thoughts out, writing them so that way they're not stuck in your brain, because I know for me, if I have something that's bothering me, when does it usually affect me the most? Right before I go to bed, I'm just like thinking and thinking and thinking, I'm like, oh God. So, then I gotta write that down. So, I think that's the best way that you could actually, you know, really address this is to not be fearful and express your feelings. You know, we're human, we're meant to express our feelings, it's the way that we're wired. And one of the most important things that I've learned in positive psychology and I think what society does is they say that expressing anger and expressing sadness is bad, it's not bad, it's good, those are good feelings to express. So, I don't even like to label those feelings as negative, but in society, we tend to say, oh, you're acting negative and people will judge you and label you. And you have to learn that that's not the correct way of how it is. And you wanna surround yourself with people who are going to understand that and to give you the support that you need.

Michael: I agree. And I think also one of the things that you find and you discover as you step into that is the people who wanna push back and, you know, even chastise you about being an emotional human being, they have their own work to do. I mean, I'll never forget once I had a conversation with a group of friends and I was sharing something very intimate and vulnerable and important in my life. And you might as well thought I was talking to a wall. And I realized in that moment, I was like, oh, this aren't my people and that's a hard truth because, you know, I think natively to the beginning of your story, like, we want people to like us, but what you will discover, and this has been my discovery, is that as you hold your truth and as you step into your power and as you even recognize like that shift, right? Because you've had that shift, that rewiring in your brain to go from, I'm concerned if people like me to, I like me first and if they don't, that's fine, that's a process, that's a journey and you have to give yourself some space, some grace, some compassion, and some empathy to arrive there and on a long enough timeline, just like the password, it will hold true that you remember who you are. Dan, my friend, this has been an amazing conversation, before I ask you my last question, where can everyone find you?

Dan: Well, you go to my website at And you could find me on all the social media platforms as well, Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, TikTok. So that's where you could find me.

Michael: Brilliant. And of course, with the links in the show notes for the audience, my last question for you, my friend, what does it mean to you to be unbroken?

Dan: I think it means everything. I think it means honestly, the first thoughts that come to my mind is that I have the freedom to be my true, authentic self and to love myself and to not worry and to experience greatness and to continue to basically share my story and share my light and hopefully be able to help as many people as I possibly can, because I think that's what it's all about.

Michael:  I literally same. Brilliant, my friend. Thank you so much for being here. Unbroken Nation. Thank you so much for listening.

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And Until Next Time.

My friends, Be Unbroken.

I'll see you.

Michael UnbrokenProfile Photo

Michael Unbroken


Michael is an entrepreneur, best-selling author, speaker, coach, and advocate for adult survivors of childhood trauma.

Dan StillmanProfile Photo

Dan Stillman


Transforming lives through positive psychology, transformational mindset techniques, and integrative nutrition

Most people, if not all, have experienced trauma in their lives, even at a very young age. The sad truth is, many of them are having difficulties acknowledging this trauma and eventually healing from it. Not only does this affect their self-image and how they currently live but also their relationships. And just like these people who are constantly dealing with what seems to be a never-ending cycle of ups and downs, Danny Stillman also struggled with the feeling of not being good enough, what can be wrong with him, and whether or not he did something wrong to be faced with all of these battles. Fortunately, he was able to rise above all odds, with a renewed mission to help other people get out of that same pain and numbness to start living to their full potential.

Now that he is a certified Positive Psychology Practitioner, Transformational Mindset, and Integrative Medicine Health Coach, Danny decided to implement his experience and knowledge through Danny Stillman Coaching. By teaching life concepts that aren’t commonly taught at home, in school, or in the workplace, his clients learn how to understand and manage their emotions positively and gain the skills to make the right career, relationship, home environment, education, financial, and health decisions for a more fulfilling life.

Personally, Danny himself is a living testimony that it is possible to break free from pain and sufferings brought about past experiences. Growing up as an only child, only to have been abandoned by his dad and close family because of his mother’s sexual orientation and to have experienced physical abuse, Danny did not have an ideal childhood. To add, he managed to grow up with little to no guidance from an adult and when he eventually became one, life once again challenged him with his mom's diagnosis of cancer and a marriage that resulted to divorce.

As someone who lived through so much but managed to get back on his feet, Danny offers personalized sessions that make use of positive psychology that combines neuroscience, mindfulness, contemplative studies, and holistic medicine to help people manage their own emotions and regain control of their lives. He also offers the Get Real, Heal & Deal online course that can be helpful for people by learning three antidotes that will transform their lives into a more meaningful and impactful one. Danny also developed Integrative Nutrition, a 6-month program for those who want to take the holistic and whole-health route to their own health journeys that supports a lifestyle change physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Currently, Danny is also building another brand called YoMenGa, a premiere holistic health and wellness dedicated to the everyday man. He believes that through all of his certifications, he would be able to tailor suit programs exclusively for men.