May 26, 2023

Discovering Yourself After Trauma

Discovering Yourself After Trauma

Join me as I take you on a deeply personal journey, sharing my life story from trauma to self-discovery... See show notes at:

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Join me as I take you on a deeply personal journey, sharing my life story from trauma to self-discovery. In this transformative episode, I am a guest on The Art of Masculinity Podcast. I delve into the harrowing effects of trauma and abuse and the courageous path I embarked on to reclaim my identity.

I offer profound insights and invaluable lessons, drawing from my own experiences and expertise in navigating the aftermath of trauma. Together, we explore the transformative power of self-discovery and the resilience of the human spirit.

 Tune in to this captivating episode as we delve into the depths of healing, growth, and finding oneself amidst adversity. Don't miss this empowering conversation that will inspire and empower listeners on their own journeys of self-discovery.

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Learn how to heal and overcome childhood trauma, narcissistic abuse, ptsd, cptsd, higher ACE scores, anxiety, depression, and mental health issues and illness. Learn tools that therapists, trauma coaches, mindset leaders, neuroscientists, and researchers use to help people heal and recover from mental health problems. Discover real and practical advice and guidance for how to understand and overcome childhood trauma, abuse, and narc abuse mental trauma. Heal your body and mind, stop limiting beliefs, end self-sabotage, and become the HERO of your own story. 


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Johnny: All right everyone. Welcome back to The Art of Masculinity. I am here with Michael Anthony; he is the founder of Think Unbroken. Brother, how you doing today, man?

Michael: I'm so good, Johnny. Super excited to be here with you today, my man.

Johnny: Yeah, likewise man. I've been really excited since your team reached out to me as you and I were just chatting before, I've been excited to hop on this episode with you and here we are now, it's coming to fruition. So, it's gonna be time to jam out for about a little while and let the community hear what you're all about. So, before we kick anything off, though, we have the manly round, they get to hear a little side of you maybe that you haven't shared, maybe in your podcast or somewhere else. You ready for it, brother?

Michael: Let's rock.

Johnny: All right. Your first question, what is your spirit animal and why?

Michael: It's octopus and the reason why, and I'll give you the short version of it, we can go into it deeper, but I know this is speed round. I did a hero dose of mushrooms in a float tank in Vietnam for eight hours, and octopus showed me side of myself I'd never seen that ultimately led to me creating a deeper bond with loving and protecting my inner child.

Johnny: Wow, that one is fricking dope. And two, h*ly sh*t, yeah, the octopus, I don't think I've had a single person gravitate to that one but you have a special story for it, which is definitely going to be cool to dive into. I want to ask some questions on that as we go into the episode. Well, cool. All right. Your next question is what song whenever you hear it, no matter who's around, you're on a subway, there's all these people standing by you. If it comes on, you have to actually start singing along with. Not just singing it in your head, like out loud.

Michael: Yeah. There's a lot, man like, I have a few different playlists and so they all have a certain mood for them. I'll tell you the song that kind of comes to mind is pretty much anything like, eighties Power Ballad like Peter Cetera,like for sure, bro, or Jay-Z for that matter. So, it's weird, I don't know.

Johnny: You're all over the spectrum. I love it. All right, and your last quick question is if you could prank anybody in history, so it could be, you can go back in time for this one, or it could be present, who would you prank? And they have to be somebody that's a little well known so, most people generally kind of know who they are.

Michael:Yeah, I don't know, I f*cking hate pranks, man so, I probably wouldn't honestly. But since you're asking me, Genghis Khan.

Johnny: Oh, that's a good one, dude. I mean, I'd wanna be like far away from him when I prank.

Michael: Yeah, definitely be gone by the time he finds out it was me.

Johnny: I don't know where that bro went man, he's gone.

Michael: Yeah. Dunno what? I never met the guy. I don't know.

Johnny: Oh that's a good one, man. That would be good as h*ll ‘cuz that guy had to be serious as sh*t about his life.

Michael: One of the most terrifying humans ever lived, man.

Johnny: Oh yeah. It's what's fascinating. I was reading a book about him a long time ago when I was serving overseas, and the book actually talked about how had he not turned back to like one of his cousins who he was close with, died or something like that. He not turned back because of that. He basically would've swept all through Europe, it was wild.

Michael: Yeah. I mean, you think about some of the, I hate to use the word greatest in this context, but you kind of have to, when you think about some of the greatest military minds of all time, like he's up there, man, he might be number one like for real, when you really break down what he did, I mean, a horrible human being, but a military strategist, an absolute genius.

Johnny: Oh, absolutely. What's fascinating too is that people, I think people discount him because of the fact that the Mongolians were collectively very good warriors and they discount like his intelligence as like War in Warcraft, so very interesting, that'd be a good prank and also terrifying prank. You got some nuts on you for that one, bro. Well, cool brother, that was really good, you scored high in the man lead round, that was a fun one. So, I want to chat a little bit about your background, so kind of where you started to fill everybody in. A lot of times, like obviously I get to read your bio, but I can't do it justice as you can so just giving like kind of that short synopsis of where you came from and what brought you even into thinking unbroken?

Michael: Yeah, man. You know, the short version is, and I like to always create context before we go into this. Like, for those listening, do not compare your story to me because we all have a different journey, we all have a different trajectory. Do we have similarities? Yeah. Probably that's how we create connection. But ultimately, I always caution people about the comparison because my story is real and it sounds like a f*cking movie, but it's not. And I think it really catches people off guard and they go, oh my God.

So, when I was four years old, my mother, who's a drug addict and alcoholic actually cut off my right index finger like that's where we start. She married my stepdad when I was six who was super abusive. He beat the sh*t outta my brothers and I put me in the hospital multiple times like, dude, I'm 6’4, 220, I'm pretty big guy, linebacker size, he's about my size so, imagine a dude that size beating up a six-year-old, right? And so, I always tell people you gotta remember hurt people, hurt people. Now what I understand now that I didn't understand then was like, this is that generational trauma thing people are talking about. Look at their parents and their parents' parents and this cycle that we've continued and that like, I'm so happy we have access to information ‘cuz that cycle's ending now.

So, when I was eight, we started getting in a lot of financial trouble and we were deeply impoverished and from eight to twelve I lived with over 30 different families, getting bounced around place to place to place, living with strangers, with family, with my grandma in a van like we never knew where we were gonna be. My mom was in and outta rehab, my stepdad was in over the road trucker so, I mean, we just never knew what was gonna happen. When I was 12, my grandmother adopted me after I'd been living by myself in an abandoned house for six weeks. And you would think that'd be like a godsend and you know, to some extent it is except I'm biracial, black and white. And my grandma's an old racist ass white lady from a town in Tennessee you never heard of. Right? So, insert identity crisis. And at 12 years old I get high for the first time drunk at 13 and by 15 I was expelled from school for selling drugs. And I'm breaking into houses, I'm stealing cars, I'm running from the cops, I'm getting shot at like we're hurting people, like dude, it's some wild sh*t that we're doing. And I get a call one day from the counselor at school and she's like, yo, you've gotta come to school. The dean wants to talk to you. And I'm like, for what? Man, you guys already kicked me out, what do we gotta talk about? And my grandma overhears the conversation, I go to school and I'm sitting down in the library with this counselor and some lady I had never met, and they're like, you've been volunteered to be into a last chance program. And I'm like, I guess I'll do that because this other sh*t is not working, and so I go to this last chance program simultaneously, I actually put a restraining order on my mother and my stepfather, and you can watch this in my grades, no joke. I go from straight F's to straight A's, captain of the wrestling team, co-captain of the football team, dating a head cheerleader, I got a real job working at a Hollywood video, my life is very different, right? A couple years goes by, my mom gets sober for the first time. My grandmother lets her move into our house. My grandmother falls into a coma, my mom goes back to drinking and popping pills, crashes a car, gets arrested, and then you can watch this in my grades. My next youngest brother and I are living by ourselves in this house, I'm getting ready to graduate high school, straight Fs. All the way back to straight Fs, and I end up not graduating high school. And I walk up and my business teacher, my first period teacher, Mr. Bush, he goes, yeah, you're not graduating. You didn't do anything that I asked you to do. And as I'm sitting there and I'm like, what the f*ck man? What is this? Like what is happening to me? I'm now the biggest embarrassment in the entire school. Right? And so not only my friends, they uninvite me from all the graduation parties. I'm not graduating, I don't get to walk the stage, my girlfriend's super embarrassed of me and my grandmas in a coma, so she doesn't even know.

And so, I'm in this weird place where I'm going to summer school, I'm in this program, and the teacher comes up to me one day, like three weeks in and he's like, we're just going to give you the diploma, we're done with you. Get out! And so here I am in this weird juxtaposition of it's like I'm not graduating for not showing up, and now I am showing up and I'm not graduating anyway. And so, I have this basically fake diploma, right? So, I'm sitting in my car one day, I just got fired from working a warehouse job, putting microchips into motherboards for 12 hours a day on an assembly line. Right? It's terrible because my game plan was, I was going to join the military. The one thing that I wanted to do since I was a child, I blamed Tom Berenger for this. I saw the movie Sniper when I was like eight years old. I was like, I want to be a Marine Corps scout sniper. So I was in JROTC, I was building towards that, end up injuring my knee, have asthma, can't get in, and dude, I was devastated. So, I didn't even know what to do because I had two goals in my life when I was 18. Don't die. Join the military. That's it. I didn't know what else to do. And a lot of kids from the hood, that's our goal, man, you know this, you've been enlisted, it's like half those kids are f*cking from nothing. And so, I'm sitting here and I'm like, okay, cool, well that's not happening. And I'm sitting in my car and I'm like, what is the solution for all this man? What's the solution for poverty, for homelessness, for all this abuse I've been through? I was like, it's money. Right. It's gotta be. What else would it possibly be when you're 18? And so, I was like, all right, I wanna make a hundred thousand dollars a year by the time I'm 21, that became the goal, that became the mission, that became the singular focus of my life. And so, I just started getting more skills and I interviewed hundreds of times. And eventually I landed a job with a Fortune 10 company, everybody's heard of them. No college education, no high school diploma and by the time I was 21, I made a hundred thousand dollars. Well, I came a little bit short of that goal, 96,800 and that goal was super important to me and to do it legally because I've been in handcuffs more times than I can count, I got family in prison for life, literally to this day and my three childhood best friends have been murdered. So, dude, I knew what was going to happen if I didn't create some kind of change. But this thing about clarity that did not strike me as a child. Right? ‘Cause you're 18, you're f*cking child, man. I don't care what you say. Right? I was focused on money, but nothing else and so, my life started deteriorating around me.

So, I'm heading into 26 years old, I've made almost a million dollars working with this company. I'm f*cking 50 grand in debt, I'm 350 pounds, I'm smoking two packs a day, drinking myself to sleep, cheating on my girlfriend, my little brother goes, you're not my brother, never talk to me again and all my friends are in this party lifestyle. I wake up one morning, it's 11 o'clock, it's a Saturday. Dude, keep in mind, I'm f*cking 350 pounds, I'm smoking a joint, eating chocolate cake and watching the CrossFit games. Rock Bottom. And it was like my thousandth rock bottom and for whatever day I pick myself up off the floor, I go look in the bathroom mirror and like, I don't even recognize this face, dude.

And I remember being eight years old and the water company, they had come and turned our water off. Now, look man, they were always turning off our water, our heat, our electricity, we're always getting evicted. I mean, that's just another Tuesday but I grew up in Indianapolis, I grew up in America, in a prominent city, and we were that poor. And for whatever reason this day I go in the backyard, I grab this little blue bucket, I walk across the street to our neighbor's house, I turn on the spigot on the side of their house, and for the first time, I stole water. And I remember being like, man, when I'm a grown up, this will not be my life. And like it was like Johnny, it wasn't in a lot of ways, right? But I was still that hurt loss little boy. And as I looked in that mirror and I realized that God's, spirit, universe, mother Nature, Batman, I don't know, this f*cking idea came into my head and I was like, what are you willing to do to have the life that you want to have? And the answer was “No excuses, Just results.” And 12 years later, man, here I am talking to you.

Johnny: Wow! That's powerful brother. Like in so many different ways and most people can't even understand the depths that you've gone to psychologically, they're in their own process and it's not to say it's anything less, but to be able to get through all of that and be here today on the other side, like so much respect for you bro, just like listening to that so much respect for you, man, that's very powerful. When you realized like, Hey, I'm f*cking stealing water right now, and you were like, this is just the lowest, what was that to you for on? Well, let's do two questions. The first one is, as a man, like what did you think about yourself at that time when you looked at yourself in the mirror? You grabbed this bucket, you go get water, and you're like, whoa, what the f*ck?

Michael: Yeah, man so, here's the thing. You don't know what you don't know. Right. And I'm looking at this lifestyle that I have, I'm living in arguably the best apartments in the city, I'm driving an $80,000 car, I've got more Jordans than I could ever wear, I'm gonna age myself here but it's the early zeros and like I'm rocking Sean Joh and all that. My closets were thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars and yet everything around me is a disaster. Everything's a disaster. My relationships are a disaster, my friendships are a disaster. I'm 50 grand in debt, man, literally like can you imagine that? Living paycheck to paycheck, making 200 grand a year, making 150 grand a year, making a hundred grand a year? Insanity. And hooking up with all these checks, drinking all this booze, doing all this dope and just being like, there's this place where when we're growing up, we have this idealization about the life we can have, right? And we have a decision to make about the life that we want to have. Will you move towards it or will you not? It's very simple, it's very binary. There's not a lot of in between, it's either f*cking yes or no.

And what I realized in that moment, like in that those years, one day, so my roommate's girlfriend, this is a long-winded answer to your question, but I wanna create a lot of contexts ‘cause I think a lot of men are in this place. I'm 21, my roommate's girlfriend comes and knocks on my bedroom door one night and she goes, hey man, cuz I have roommates, right? She goes, Hey, can I talk to you for a second? I go, yeah, whatever. She gives me a copy of Eckhart Tolle’s New Earth. For whatever reason, Johnny, she's like, I think this book will help you. Do you know what I did with that book when she walked out of the room? I threw it in the f*cking trash can. How dare she? Who does she think she is? I'm a f*cking man. I'm gonna read this book? Are you high? The f*ck's wrong with you, right? That male-driven ego. People talk about like this idea of masculinity or toxic masculinity, and none of its toxic, it's just uninformed, it's ignorant and so, I'm an ignorant man, right?

Ignorant as an i.e., lack of education. And so, I'm sitting here, I'm looking at my life, and now I'm 26, everything's a disaster, but I'm in my head telling myself, the most dangerous sentence a human being can utter, that's just how I am. The ultimate fixed mindset. So stuck because look, man, the embodiment of my reality that came from all the indoctrination of the limiting beliefs that were bestowed up on me from my family, my community, my school, my peers. Dude, even as a young kid, people were always like, you're a loser, you're stupid, your fat ‘cuz I was a f*cking chubby kid, right? We never had real food, we lived off government food and church food. And so of course you're overweight, you're eating poison every day. Of course, I had a learning disability. My stepdad was waking me up and beating the sh*t outta me in the middle of the night when he was drunk. Of course, I went to bed, my cortisol levels are outta control and I have no regulations. Of course, I'm going to school and I smell bad, right? And so all of these things that people would tell me had transpired and now become my reality.

And so, I have this clarity, right? I'm gonna go make a hundred grand a year except I didn't think about, what about my relationships, my friendships, my body, my mental, physical, emotional, spiritual self. What about the fact that I'm hooking up with people at such an incredible clip that I'm probably going to get AIDS or something worse and f*cking die, right? But that wasn't transpiring in my mind cause Johnny, the whole time, dude, I was like, that's just who I am. And so, my manhood looking at the scope of masculinity at that time period was this is what men do. We f*ck a lot of people, we make a lot of money. We have a lot of fun and we don't f*cking cry, we don't emote, we don't connect, we don't have conversations like this, I assure you. And when sh*t goes bad, we stuff it down ‘cuz we ain't bitches. And the more I did that, the worse my life got.

Johnny: There's so many guys that are stuck in this mindset right now and there there's probably a lot even listening that think that they're doing some of these things that quote unquote make them a man, and they're following that, but they're not actually living up to their potential. So, looking inside is what I'm hearing from you, that you were lacking looking inside. And saying, before I can even do any of this other sh*t on the material world, something here's gotta get fixed. So, what was that step for you? What was like, because I'm all about practical tools, I'm all about giving guys like an entryway in to where we are today, after the work that we've done to come out of our vices and our shadows I love to give them that. What was that for you to find that entryway after having that big ego of the man that you were, and then having to say, bro, this guy's gotta go right now?

Michael: Yeah, dude, that's the question, right? Ultimately when you're talking about what it means to be just a human being, it's about like looking at that ego. And people are like, you know, it's really important to have the ego death and to let go of ego. And I'm like, no, no, no, no, I don't think that makes sense to me. And that never made sense to me because ultimately, we are our ego like, don't get it twisted man. Mother Teresa's – Mother Teresa, ‘cuz it fed her. Right. And people go, oh, she was so gar. Yeah. But it filled her up. And look dude, there's nothing wrong with that. And so, the thing is though, like I love what you said about practical tools, but I'm gonna tell you right now, all the tools in the world do not matter if you do not get integrated into your body. If you do not have the somatic experience of release, if you do not have the space and the capacity to actually accept the truth of the reality that you're in right now. I mean, it's the same reason why, like if I was like, here are step by step all the things I've ever done to change my life, and all you have to do is follow this path. And if you follow this path, your life will be different. 1% of those people are gonna succeed, without understanding one empirical truth. We are the sum total of all of our experiences leading up to this moment, and that means that everything that has ever happened to us informs who we are, good, bad, and different doesn't matter. Like life is linear, where you were born and where you die is linear, right? The journey is not, it's up and down. It's left and right. It's diagonal, it's circular, it's crazy, right? And so, in that, what you have to do is start to understand causation and correlation, right? Meaning can you understand and create a framework around the rhyme and reason into which you behave and act the way that you do because there is a reason for everything we do. Dude, look, from the hairstyle you have, to the t-shirt you have, to the American flag behind you there is a reason, something you have adapted into your life that you have modeled from society, your parents, your teachers, your peers, television, movies, whatever has informed you and helped you make meaning, create belief about who you are. Okay, great. So, we understand that that's not that complicated. The complicated part is looking at and recognizing that sometimes those things that you model and bring in your life don't serve you, they don't help you, they don't better your life, but you continue to do them. Why? This is the key. Pay attention to this. I swear to God, this will change your life if you listen to what I'm gonna say; between the person that you want to be and the person that you are today is a gap. Now that gap is filled with the willingness to expose yourself to the unknown, to become the person that you are not yet capable of being, I didn't say you're not capable of being. I said, you're not yet capable. You have not learned the skills, the adaptations, or bring in all the knowledge and the information that one needs to become this person. Right? We all have this idolized person that we want to become. Most people do not become that person because they're so trapped into the narrative of who they cannot be. It's indoctrination. Same thing that happens in in school, happens in your home and you start believing these stories.

Now think about this, the brain's primary function is survival. Everybody knows that, right? I need to live long enough to procreate, to watch my procreation, procreate, that's life, right? Have babies, watch my babies grow up, then I die, carry on the gene pool, right? The second function of the brain is about actually really about making meaning of the experiences of life. And so, if these two things parallel and parlay, imagine this for a moment, let me play this out contextually for you. Your child, and you're trying to discover who you are. Well, the people who truly discover who they are and what they're capable of, do so through failure, because that's data. When you're always successful, there's no data. You can't derive anything from massive success other than, yeah, the thing that I said I was gonna do worked. When you're in failure and when you're in discovery, the thing that happens is your brain starts to make meaning of that and creates a narrative and helps you understand what not to do in the future, right?

You would agree with this? Think about this. You breach a door. You don't do it the right way; you take her around it's cuz you didn't do it the right way and you know, in the next time, make sure you check the f*cking corners, right? Okay, cool. So, you learned something. Well, imagine though, you're f*cking six years old and the thing that you're learning that you're adapting to is that when you are you, meaning you show up as the person you believe that you are, you're experimenting, you're trying things, you're failing, you're doing all the things normal kids do. But when you do that, there is a ramification, there is pain, there is suffering, there is abuse, there is, you made a mistake, and so you get your head slammed into a wall. You f*cked up at school, and so you get starved or beaten well think about this. If the brain's secondary function is to make meaning for the purpose of survival, then the brain is going to automatically say to itself, being me is dangerous. I better not be me anymore because if I'm me, I get hurt. Now, what's crazy about that, Johnny and this is what's real f*cked up dude for a period of time that serves you. So, when you're 8, 12, 16 and you chameleon, it helps you, it keeps you safe. And then what happens is you're 24, 36, 52, and you have no idea how to be you. And your definition of self is tied into the narrative that it's not okay to be yourself. And so, when you're on this precipice of creating the change to become the man that you're capable of being, and all the tools are laid out in front of you, what do you see this all the time? You know this. What do people do? They self-sabotage. They get in their own way. They destroy sh*t. They find any reason not to be successful. They become a recluse. They hide from reality. Because all they've ever been told is they're not ever allowed to be who they are and the only way you close that gap to become the you that you're capable of being and actually leverage the tools and the skills that are in front of you, is you have to have the willingness to be willing to be great and knowing that all of the programming indoctrination that you've ever went through in your life has set you up for failure. And you're not culpable for that, and that is not on you. But from this moment forward, you have to make a decision.

Johnny: Hmm. Yeah, that awareness. You can't run from that awareness and you can't hide from it. Once you have it, now you have to take ownership. I think that's where men really struggle today is they're still refusing to take ownership of the stuff they're aware that they're not happy with. And I think that's one of the biggest problems I see when I coach men and work with men on a regular basis, it's that they're not taking the responsibility and they're still defecting to the fact that they're playing the victim to society or to the things that they were subjected to early on, right? From being themselves, not being themselves, not being allowed to be themselves, and then taking that punishment.

One of the other things I think I really loved about what you said was that when we become that chameleon, it's also evolutionarily what we are as human beings because we're taught that with, I mean, in some of the tribes around the world, the worst thing that can be done to them, it's not cutting off a hand or cutting off an ear it's actually ex-communication from the tribe. And so, when we become that chameleon, say, whoa, whoa, whoa, I'm no longer gonna be myself because it's scary. I also don't want to get kicked out of the community so I need to be what everybody wants me to be. And that also adds another layer to what you were saying of like, this is just piled on top of us. But once we have the awareness, we are responsible and we are in the position to take ownership. And so, the other piece that I find happens, and I want to get your take on, is that most of this has created the limiting beliefs for men and for people in general, but we're anchoring in with men right now of what they're capable of doing. And one of those things that you have overcome just repeatedly in your life, are those limiting beliefs? So, what can you lend to men there? Because there's plenty of men right now. They're like, bro, I hear you right now. I love what you're saying, but I have a job I've worked for 5, 7, 10 years like I can't leave that job to just go be Johnny, whoever Johnny wants to be. I can't do that. I got a family or I can't incorporate this stuff into my life, it's too late. I'm too old. Right. So, there's always limiting beliefs that people put on themselves. What is that for men? What can you shine some light on for that from your experience of having to deal with that?

Michael: Yeah. Look, that accountability word is terrifying. Right. People are so scared because the truth is, and this was my experience, I didn't want to face the reality that I'm the one who put myself in all the situations I was in, I didn't wanna face it. Because here's the thing, you hear this all the time I know it's super cliche, but the truth will set you free. And freedom is about this feeling of like, oh my God, I don't have to be that, I can be this and the language that we use is so incredibly important, man. Most people pre disqualify themselves from success because of the words that they're using. I could never, I can't, I shouldn't, I won't, that's not for me. Well, here's what happens when you do that. You're reinforcing a reality because here's mindset. Let me give you real context on mindset, because in personal development, people are always like mindset, mindset, mindset, nobody ever tells you what it actually means, but it's this, “what you think becomes what you speak, what you speak becomes your action, and your action become your reality.”So, if you're saying you can't, well, guess what? Mother*cker, you can't. Congratulations, you've decided, but you wanna blame the world for your decision, that's what's so f*cking crazy about it, man. And so, I would look at my life and I'd be making all these terrible decisions, I can never lose weight. I ate McDonald's 20 times a week, I can't lose weight, no sh*t. You kidding? Oh, I can't have a healthy relationship. Well, maybe you stop f*cking everybody on planet Earth and you can. Well, oh sh*t. You mean I could do that? That's a possibility. Oh, I can never be financially secure. Well, maybe you stop buying dumb sh*t all the time. Right. Dude, this is about looking in the mirror. It really is. You can lie to your friends, you can lie to your wife, you can lie to your kids, you cannot lie of that mirror. This is what's fascinating, man, think about this. We all have this. Nobody is free of this. When you put your head on the pillow and you are in the piece, you're like, I'm getting ready to fall asleep and that thing pops into your head that you know you need to f*cking deal with you can't sleep, can you? It's just there. Hovering, sitting, waiting. And bro, I promise you, you can stuff it down as long as you want to, but it's coming out physically, you might get cancer, you might have a heart attack, you might have a stroke, mentally you're gonna break down, bro, I was having five panic attacks a day for two years, you know more about me in 20 minutes than people who knew me for 27 years. Stuff down, hidden, running. It's gonna come out in your spirituality. You're gonna question everything. You're gonna destroy everything in your path until you address it. And when you address it, here's what's really fascinating, it's gonna be real f*cking hard and it's probably gonna be the hardest sh*t you've ever done in your life and on the backside of that will be everything.

Johnny, here's how I think about life, it's very simple, dude. I've lived a lot of life; I've faced death multiple times. I've lost people in horrific ways. Right. And I know you probably have too. And those people don't get this conversation, they don't get to hear this, they don't get to make the change. Man, my best f*cking friend, my brother, somebody rolled up in his living room and put two in his head. My other best friend, somebody stabbed him to death behind a dumpster, those guys made decisions that forever impact not only their world, but mine and a reciprocation of that onto the universe. And so, you got these men who are so f*cking terrified of greatness that they would rather stay awake all night long and suffer the ramification of their inaction and have the willingness to die with regret than to face their f*cking fear. And dude, we're all scared like, don't get it twisted, man. I've got mentors who are billionaires in my life, who are some of the most famous people in personal development, and when I have conversations with them, the one thing that they all share in commonality is that they're all scared, but do you know what differentiates success and failure in life is doing it anyway. And so, for these guys who are out here in this language is about, I can, I won't. Oh my God, it's not for me. Well make a mother*cking decision because truth be told Johnny, and look, I'm not trying to be an asshole man, I swear to you I'm not, but I don't want to hear it. I don't want to hear about your decision not to show up in your life, because honestly, dude, I don't care.

And as a coach, as a speaker, as a mentor, as all of these things, people are like, shouldn't you be empathetic? I'm like, I am empathetic. I feel that struggle. I have been in that place, but don't you listen to me. Don't you waste Johnny's time. Don't you waste people's time in your life if you ain't gonna do nothing about it because now you're just looking for a reason to continue to be a victim. Oh, I read the book, it didn't help. I listened to the podcast, but I didn't do anything. I went to the course, but I didn't take action. I can't help you then, mother*cker. It's not that I don't want to, it's not that I don't love you, it's not that I don't believe in you, but I can't want it for you. I don't live for you. I don't breathe for you. I don't love for you and action is the cure-all, man. You face those demons that keep you awake at night; you handle your business you say, I'm going to take the risk anyway, bro, everything's available to you.

Johnny: Yeah. Beautifully said too, brother ‘cuz it is. It's that perseverance when you can get up and put one foot in front of the other and don't worry about if it's gonna fail or succeed. You just know what you want to do and you keep putting one foot in front of the other, that's when you end up looking back and you're like, oh sh*t, I'm on the mountaintop. And you didn't even realize you made it there.

Michael: Dude, Grant Cardone told me something. Do you know Grant Cardone?

Johnny: I know who he is. I don't know him personally.

Michael: Okay. Yeah. So, Grant actually, for those who don't know, Google, He’s f*cking billionaire, playboy real estate guy. Grant actually invested and Think Unbroken ‘cuz he believes in what I'm doing so much and he told me something, man, that if people will hear this, I think it will help them a lot. You never lose as long as you don't quit.

Johnny: Hmm. Yeah, that's very true. When people talk about failure, that's really the only way you fail is if you quit because failure, failure doesn't happen without you completely stopping; stopping trying anything and not learning anymore.

You said something and it was so good and I wanted a cap to it. Oh, when you were talking about how it doesn't matter what people say to themselves, whether they're saying like, I suck or I'm great, you know, and there's that quote, and I don't think anybody really remembers at this point who it was that said it, but it's like whether you believe you can or you can't, you're right.

Michael: Yeah. Mark Twain.

Johnny: Oh, there you go. It was Mark Twain. At this point everybody said it, so you're like, oh, who actually, I get it started this one. But it's so beautiful because the fact that when that happens, it runs synonymous with our lives today, is that regardless what you're saying, whatever this is going on in our mind that's what's setting us up, whether for success or failure or completion or whatever progress, evolution. So, that's beautiful, brother.

Michael: Let me add this real quick cause I think this is important. What you just said, that quote is that secondary function of the brain about making meaning because whether you can or you can't, you are right ‘cuz you choose the meaning that you make.

Johnny: Yeah, absolutely. And you see the outcome like you, Dr. Wayne Dyer, you know, talks about a lot in his books and he talks about envisioning the outcome. And before he knew he was gonna be on Johnny Carson, he envisioned it as a kid watching, sitting down, watching tv, and he visualized it and then the next thing he knew he was an adult, had no real means or path to be there. But was sitting there backstage on the phone, I think he was calling his mother and on backstage of Johnny Carson. And it was like all he did was visualize it, but it goes parallel with what you're saying. And so, I think for guys out there, if you're really truly listening to this and you're hearing what we're saying, it's really making a conscious decision of what you're saying inside and then what your actions are to create that world, what you're saying outwardly to that world. So, the other piece to this is that you also kind of alluded to the people that you have circling yourself in your life right now, like the difference from 12 years ago to today, the people in your life and how they have impacted your growth and development, what has that along that step, how important has that been for you and then has it always been, since you've been aware of this, has it always been curated specifically or have people fallen into your life that have just impacted you significantly?

Michael: Yeah, that's a great question, man. You know, if I trace back so much of my experiences, I mean even to childhood, I would always kind of like latch on to the people that I was like, oh, that person's cool, or that person's interesting, ‘cuz I was not, not by any stretch of scope of the imagination and that's subjective, right, obviously. But like, looking at it, I was always like, who's kind of doing the thing that I want to do? And I would just like trail that kid and I would get involved and I would follow them and probably be super annoying too. Right? But that's how I end up in, you know, JROTC and how I end up wrestling for 10 years and blah, blah, blah. Right? And then as an adult, the disconnect again, Johnny, this is the clarity thing, dude. Oh, I wish I could stress the importance of knowing what the f*ck you want. Because when I was in my late teens and twenties heading into trying to make this money, I was only hanging around with people who cared about money. And like, these guys are partying, we're taking limos to clubs, doing cocaine all night, I've never done cocaine, but like we were in that environment and it was not uncommon for me to drop two grand in a club on a Friday night. Booze and food and strippers and all that sh*t, dumb sh*t, man.

I remember, I have this rock bottom moment and a little bit of time goes by, it might have been six months, might have been a year I can't really place it, but I see an ad from Brendon Burchard, and if you don't know Brendon Brendan's like f*cking a Tony Robbins OG and Personal Development dude's been doing it for since we were kids. Right? And there was an ad for one of his courses and I saw it and it was 50 bucks, man. And here I am, I'm 50 grand in debt and I'm literally borrowing money from my girlfriend to pay my rent and she f*cking lived with me. And I'm looking down at my shoes and I got on this $300 pair of Jordan's and it hit me. I was like, I put more value into my shoes than I do into my own life. And so, I was like, f*ck it, I'm already 50 grand in debt what's another 50 bucks? And I bought that course and that started the trajectory for me because I was thinking about who am I learning from? Who am I spending time with? Who is it that I'm investing in? And simultaneously, I had this other thought, this is a scary thing. If you're a football fan, I'm gonna tell you something that's gonna ruin football for you. If you're a football fan. You sit down with a calculator and you figure out how many hours of your life you've spent watching football. And bro, when I did that, that would've been 11 years ago, I've watched about 30 minutes of football in 11 years because I realized it was all day Sunday, Monday night, Thursday night, all day Saturday. And then they had those random like Tuesday night games and sh*t, and I was like watching those. Next thing you know, I was like, oh my God, I'm watching football for 55 hours a week for the last 15 years.

Johnny: Yeah, you better become an analyst.

Michael: Do the math. And so, what happened is I was like, who am I surrounded with? Oh, these guys only watch football all day, these guys only go to the bar, these guys only focus on money. Wait a second, my life's a disaster, their lives don't look that great. I'm in this Brendon Burchard course and he's talking about possibility. Let me reframe some sh*t, let me look at the environment I'm putting myself in. And so, in that man, and you hear this a lot, but like as you grow, people are gonna wanna pull you down. A lot of these friends are not my friends anymore, dude actually, probably almost none of them, maybe one or two of 'em are. And look, that's not ‘cause I don't love them, it's not, cuz there was not a season in which we served each other it's not because I don't think they're good people they ain't going where I'm going ‘cause I'm not coming to your house to watch football for eight hours, I'm not doing it. Never under any circumstance. Right. And so, as this progressed and I started to grow and I got clarity again coming to this word, word of the day, get f*cking clarity about what you want. I said, I want to be mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually, and financially healthy as per my definition. I want success. I want to be able to impact my own life first. I never planned on this coaching and podcasting and writing books and speaking. Dude, that was never the game plan, the game plan was take care of my own ass, period. And so, in that, what happened is I started to pick up on people who were vibrating on the same frequency, and then I realized the truth about life, you attract what you are. And this is what's crazy, Johnny, I'll never talk about you ask such good questions, dude, I love this. I for four years was almost entirely by myself because I was only doing personal development, going to therapy and doing CrossFit and jiujitsu f*cking all day long, that's all I did for four years. And then I started kind of dating and then I started making friends and then what was interesting is I would go and meet these people and I would realize like, wait a second, they're good people. I'm not saying the people are not good people they just ain't my people. Right? I don't want people to take this the wrong way, I know they will, somebody's gonna email me, they every f*cking time I say this, they do. There are people that you are spending your time with, that are taking from your potential and you're terrified to let go of them because you're afraid you're gonna hurt their feelings. But motherf*cker, every single day that you are not making the hard decisions that are moving you towards your goals is one day closer to death. And so, when you look at that surrounding of people, you have to ask yourself, are they building, are they growing, are they changing? Are they in alignment with you? Because look, you might need the football guys. You might, I'm just saying you might need that, but do you have clarity about it? You might need the personal development guys, but do you have clarity about it? You might need Johnny; do you have clarity about it? Don't just hang with mother*ckers for the sake of hanging with them. I'm like, I'm serious, man, people waste so much time in fruitless endeavors and relationships that go nowhere. What are you trying to do? Bro, my friends are world changers and game makers. Period. I do not hang out with people who are not about that life. I already played that game and so you gotta be willing and it sucks man, it sucks ‘cuz sometimes on Facebook, an old friend will pop up in the feed randomly and I'll look at 'em like, I hope they're doing good. I hope their life is everything they've ever want. But Johnny, they're doing the same sh*t they were doing 15 f*cking years ago, man, I'm not trying to do that. And so, you know what? It's difficult because your best friend, this person that you care about most in the world is probably the person keeping you from being great.

Johnny: That's a word of wisdom, bro. Those people that can either drag you back and keep you down, or people who are gonna propel you and hold you up and help you realize your dreams and that's the decisions that we have to make that's part of those tough decisions that we have to make. But at the end of the day, like you said, having clarity on who you're trying to be, who you desire to be, and then having that intention can actually give you the clarity that you need around who's in your circle.

Michael: And do you know why as men we stay in those friendships in relationships? Because it's not only comfort. It's not only comfort, it's fear of abandonment. It's fear of being alone. It's fear of not being good enough. It's fear of worth and validation. It's fear of confidence. It's fear that we'll never get it as good as it was again. And you've gotta be willing to face those fears, man. You do. You've gotta be willing to go deep into do that work and to look at those people and be like, why am I here? Why am I want to get really f*cked up? Ask yourself, why are you dating your mother? Oh, why is your best friend like your stepdad? Why is your job this thing that's poison? Because you're allowing it, because you're terrified of success.

Johnny: Yep, that's absolutely powerful, brother. And that is so true, that is absolutely true. Fearful of that. So, we encircle ourselves even with new people, with the similarities of what we're used to. Dude, this has been such a great conversation, brother, I'm so happy to have you on the show, obviously just dropped a crap ton of wisdom and just things for men to ponder on their own lives, so truly appreciate that. Michael, can you let everybody know where the best place is to find you, how to get in your ecosystem, and how to just be part of everything you got going on, brother?

Michael: Yeah, man. I mean, that's been a phenomenal, I can't believe times up already. We need to do this for like four hours sometime. So, I'm on all the social at Michael Unbroken but come and join us at If you go to Think Unbroken Academy, the podcast is in there, our free courses are in there, our events are in there, our books are in there. Dude, let me tell you this, everything I've ever created is for free on the internet period, but you gotta come find it.

Johnny: You gotta come. You actually have to look, dude. And everybody as always, just remember to check the show notes. We'll have all Michael's stuff linked in there so you guys can click on that but if you're just sitting on here and you wanna pull it up on your phone right now, make sure you guys go check all that out. Well, brother, your final question before I let you rip outta here and get on with your day is, what does the art of masculinity mean to you?

Michael: Looking in that mirror and being okay with the reflection on the other side.

Johnny: Hmm. Couldn't have said it better myself. I love that. Well, thank you, brother.

I appreciate you so much. Thank you for your time. Thank you for your wisdom. Thank you for your heart and how you're showing up, man.

And to everybody listening, as always, remember to drop the ego.

and stay humble till next time.

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Michael Unbroken


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