In this episode, I talk about turning your pain into your purpose and power with guest speaker Michael Bethune. You will hear so much about choices and the decisions we make in the conversation that I am about to have with Michael Bethune that I will...
See show notes at: https://www.thinkunbrokenpodcast.com/e138-turning-your-pain-into-your-purpose-and-power-with-mike-bethune-trauma-healing-coach/#show-notes
In this episode, I talk about turning your pain into your purpose and power with guest speaker Michael Bethune. You will hear so much about choices and the decisions we make in the conversation that I am about to have with Michael Bethune that I will share those choices and decisions that will allow you to turn your pain into purpose and power.
This is honestly one of the most compelling conversations that I've had on Think Unbroken Podcast. I was so moved, I got emotional, I got goosebumps listening to this man's journey, his story, and mission. I want to honor him for coming on and sharing a tremendous amount of vulnerability in this episode. Michael Bethune is a grateful grace recipient who returns the favor daily by helping to change the lives of others. He is the owner of Michael Bethune Enterprises, a Life-Transformation Company. He is a military veteran who overcame homelessness, depression, addiction & suicidal ideation. During the process, he discovered his life’s purpose and meaning. He holds three degrees, all of which are connected to coaching & counseling.
So if you are in this place in your life, you're like – I need to go to what's next. Join us and Be a part of The Unbroken Nation! Take the step of being uncomfortable to create massive change in your life like – transformation is a decision away.
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Hey! What's up, Unbroken Nation! Hope that you're doing well, wherever you are in the world today. I am super excited to be back with you with another episode with my guest, Michael Bethune, who is a grateful grace recipient, who returns the favor daily by helping to change the lives of others. When I heard Michael's story, I was like – I have got to have him on the show, his journey, his mission, his vision is incredible, but not to spoiler alert it. Michael, my friend, what is going on in your world? How are you today?
Mike: Hey, hey, Michael. I am doing great, no problems at all. Complaining is not a part of my forte because it's pretty pointless. I'm doing great always.
Michael Unbroken: I love it, man. I heard somebody say, whenever you tell people that you're doing fantastic, it'll throw them off guard because normally we just go, I'm fine. So I appreciate that, I'm doing great man, I'm ready to rock and roll! Let's do it. So that said, Michael my friend for context, can you the audience a little bit about your back story and how you got to where you are today?
Mike: Sure. Absolutely. So I'm originally born and raised in Paterson, New Jersey, and raised in a good solid family in the heart of the inner city was a pretty good athlete in school and thought that I was going to get certain scholarships, etc. in high school, those things didn't happen, unfortunately, and I opted to go into the United States Army at 18 years old. Went in and my second year in, I was deployed to the border of Central America at that time, there was a cool that had happened with some Nicaraguan Rebels called the Sandinistas and overtook Nicaraguan government and they were coming from Honduras, which is American interest and so our president at that time, sent us into to handle that situation. So I was in that situation as an 18-year-old or 19-year-old at that time, I'm going on 20 and you know, rock my world pretty good, you know it was covert jungle warfare if you will because in that part of the world that's all jungle and it's it was just you know, there's no context for that kind of situation. But when you sign on the dotted line, I knew that was a probability that I could be deployed anywhere. And I was in the kind of a unit engineer unit where we build bridges, we blow bridges, we deal with a lot of C4 and explosives and so we could be deployed anywhere in the world within 72 hours. And so yeah, so that happened and in that environment, because the reality is so surreal and there's no context for how you function, all the military training in the world, doesn't prepare you for that when you're in it, you're in it and you just have to figure out a way to to get through it.
And this is no slight to the military, but I would see some of my other comrades – older comrades that had been deployed before I would see them chewing these green leafy things and I'd like, what is that? And at the end of the day, I found out that they were coca leaves because again, we're in the lush jungle in Central America and there's a whole lot of that going on in that area and they would find these things, they would chew these things in their whole mindset was we're going to get numb, as numb as possible so that we can't feel anything even from a heart perspective, right? Because when you get asked to go on certain missions and do things to other human beings, well, you can't, if you have any kind of a heart, you can't do it in your regular heart. So you almost have to be anesthetized and become monster-like to a certain extent and so I started doing the same thing.
The other part of that mindset was if today is our day to get hit in any kind of way, well, at least we won't feel it when it happens. So for six months, that's what we did in that environment there. I chewed one of those things one, or two of them, every single day, just numb up your whole body. I didn't know anything about addiction then I just knew that this is what we were doing to function in that environment. And when I came out of it, I didn't get out of the military, but when I came out of it, I knew that I was a different person and something that happened. So I obviously develop an addiction to cocaine because of the coca leaves and came back stateside, continued on in the military, continued to rise up the ranks and thrive in the military, but I had this other secret side that was going on because now I'm still this addiction thing was calling me and somebody explains, to me that what you were chewing was the coca leaf, and this is what it makes cocaine, right? So they people show me where that was and here, I am rising up the ranks even as an army Sergeant and now this was my secret life, so I was caught up in that vortex. I didn't want to be, but I really didn't know exactly what was going on with me at that time.
I also had psychological things going on because I would get really depressed when I started thinking about things that we went through and in a unit, I was in you couldn't show weaknesses because it was a hardcore unit, you couldn't show weaknesses. So here I am with this stuff going on in my head from our experience over in Central America and I got this other whammy on me now with this addiction thing, but I'm also rising up the ranks and somebody that younger troops are looking up to so, I was kind of stuck and suffering in silence, and I did that for a few more years even until I eventually got out of the military. And when I got out of the military, my mindset was I'm going to go back home to New Jersey, I'm going to get some help from the (VA Hospital) Veterans Hospital, and address this whole addiction issue. and then I'm going to become a New Jersey state trooper, that was my mindset.
My dad had a friend who was a captain and was a recruiter quote-unquote, minority recruiter and so he was hot on my trail because of the fit, the bill, the size, high training, all that good stuff. And that's what I thought I was going to be doing, but that addiction took over me when I got back home and I didn't tell my mom and dad what was going on, I didn't tell anybody who loved me what was going on because the reality is that I didn't know completely what was happening with me, I didn't so. I suffered in silence and I eventually ended up homeless because I didn't want to bring that unpredictable kind of spontaneous stuff that was happening in my head around my parents and to my loved ones so I used my military training and kind of became nomadic and was in the streets, man. And when I tell you suffering in silence, Michael suffering in silence every day, that's I knew I had so much more potential, but I was stuck in that situation and again, I guess pride played a part in it, I didn't want to tell people that, you know, I had fallen victim to this and it just the whole mindset of not letting people think that you're weak or whatever so. I just don't with it until it dealt with me to the point where I couldn't take it anymore and then I eventually reached out to somebody and that's when things really began to change.
Michael Unbroken: Man, that's so incredible. And I think about how often and I love that you said suffering in silence, because whether it's addiction, whether it's PTSD, CPTSD, trauma, like – we have this mindset, and I will say this, as a minority male of color, like – especially in our communities, like – you don't talk about dark things, you don't talk about bad things and Michael first up, I'm super proud of you, for being here and having this conversation because we're tearing down that stigma because the reality is were human beings having a human experience. And to think that you're alone in that, I think is the saddest part about it because you're in this place where – think about this, we ask for help sooner and that was my experience in my mid-20s, it was chaotic if I would have asked for help sooner, my life trajectory would have been very different. And I know this is a tough question and in retrospect, we always have hindsight, right? We go, well, you know, this or that, but in this and looking at going through this phase of addiction, what do you think would have helped you in that moment or in that timeframe to actually create a shift faster in your life? Because the reason I'm asking this, Michael, I know that there are people listening right now, they're struggling, they may have an addiction, or a vice that starting to take over their life, they have the secret, you know, whether it's porn or sex or drugs or whatever video games, even now, for people. What if anything would you have given yourself, or tried to be lewd to help project what was possible in your life, once you started seeking change or help?
Mike: So you're asking me Michael if I was just to be clear. What in hindsight, what would I have done differently to kind of expedite, the process of getting better?
Michael Unbroken: Yeah, exactly.
Mike: Well, I mean you hit the nail on the head a minute ago. One of the things that kept me from telling people, what I was dealing with, was the whole stigma. You know, I saw people who were just out there are no holes barred, I was kind of a secret attic, you know what I mean? I would still function and still, I would even go to work as do it, do what I can do, even as a homeless person I still had a job, you know, and I would still do normal people things but then I would see other people like – people I grew up with who were full-blown addicts, to the point where, you know, and this is not to judge them, but I'm just, calling it what it was to the point where they didn't care their addiction had gotten so far, they didn't care what anybody thought about them in terms of their upkeep and all that and I would hear how people talked about them and how people judge them, not knowing, what the core of their addiction was and where it came from but just kind of throw them into this barrel of people who didn't want anything in their life and just woke up one day and said, let me just destroy my whole life, which we know is not true. And so I guess to avoid all of that and to enjoy what I thought was, the embarrassed man of people judging me and me seeming week and all those other things, I wish at that young age I would have, had the kind of fortitude that would have allowed me to, respect other people's opinions, but not to the point where it keeps me stuck in this debilitating situation, let me go forward and go ahead and swallow my pride and ask for some help. I wish I would have been able to be that person at that time in hindsight, that's what I would have done differently. Regardless of what anybody might say, this is my life and I have to go forward and get the help that I need, that's what I would have done differently.
Michael Unbroken: Man, that's super powerful. And I resonate with that and such a real way because I just looked at so many different areas and time frames of my life where I'm just like – dude, get out of your own way like – what are you doing? You know that there are resources, there are things available and I think it's everyone's independent journey, you know, and that's not to cast judgment. I'm not saying that it's only a parley here in your experience. I'm really curious because you mentioned that to me and I want you to share this experience with the audience, one of the pivotal paradigm shifts in your life, being around meeting your mentor and him saying something to you that really kind of hit home.
Mike: Absolutely. Yeah, so when I did reach out for help, I went to a place in New Jersey a place in Mars Town, New Jersey, I'll never forget it. Thank God for a place called, it's a Christian place, so it deals with the spiritual part of things and also they offer clinical counseling to and I was recommended to me to go to that place. And in that place, I met an individual by the name of Rev. Dr. Solomon J. Timothy, he was a gentleman from India and he had come here decades ago, when went to school and got all these degrees and counseling and all and he was also a pastor and that man became my mentor, he saw in me something that I didn't see in myself at all, and he began to counsel me kind of took me on as his own project as his mentee if you will. And after a few counseling sessions, he said to me one day. He said; Mike, you have here, you have tremendous potential, but you have to get over the fear and deal with the pain. He says; you're stuck in life because you have been in an abnormal situation for so long, that now the abnormal has become so comfortable to you that the abnormal is normal and that's why your life is stuck, that's why your life is paralyzed. And then he said these words and these words I'll never forget, I tell them wherever I go, he said; Mike when the pain of where you are in life right now is greater or more powerful than the fear of where you have the ability to go that's when you move. And that conversation right there, that statement right there was so pivotal to me, because he began to help me understand that pain and fear or both dual motivators, right? They'll either paralyze us or they will propel us and it's all based on our perception of how we see our situation. He said to me that you have the way that you can begin the move is you have to stop seeing your life as and your life's journey and all that happened in the military and in the streets and all. You have to stop seeing it as something that happened to you, and start seeing it as possibly something that could very well happen for you. Because you gain the strength and fortitude from having gone through all that, that you can now leverage and kind of take the power out of the pain that once paralyzed you, and now use that power to push you and propel you into your full potential and that changed my life right there, Michael that statement right there, set me off on a trajectory that hasn't stopped going yet, all these years later.
Michael Unbroken: Man, that's so beautiful and profound and you know, here's what I think, it's very interesting. What was happening in your life, at that moment that allowed you to accept that because I think one of the really difficult parts of the human experience is coming back to that thing about pride and has been like – I don't need that right now, I'll figure this out. What happened for you that allowed you to take that in to accept it to acknowledge it and then to do something about it? Because I think it's one thing to hear something and it's a whole other thing to let it impact and change your life.
Mike: Yeah. Well, I knew, with absolute certainty, that this man was put in my life by God, I have to use that terminology. I believe that a thousand percent and just his wisdom. I mean, thank God for my earthly dad who is still on the side of life at 83 years old still chugging along going strong, thank God for him and he gave me everything he could, he taught me everything he could and I'll forever appreciate him for that. This man here was somebody who had a different skillset that was able to bring out of me a level of potential that nobody else was capable of doing up until that point in my life, and I knew this and I knew he had my best interest at hand I knew that I wasn't just another one of his counseling subjects that he was doing a test case on, that he really had a vested interest in seeing my potential come forward and because he believed in me so much, his belief in me started having me believe more in myself as well. You know, I kind of rolled his belief until I began to say, you know what, I really, maybe I am this guy that he's saying I have the potential to be so that just sparked something else in me that allowed me to accept all the information that he was giving me was because I had gotten to a place in life where I realize that I've always thought that I was a good thinker, I still believe that way in a hump in with humility coupled with humility. But at that point, I knew that what I was dealing with was beyond my intellectual capability to figure my way out of this problem. I needed people that had other expertise, and I could show me the way out to show me how to think about what it is that I'm dealing with and how to get a victory out of it.
And then to you’re to the other point in your question, in terms of taking action. Once I knew once I had this truth, in this new normal that I was beginning to operate in, the fire was lit, there was no stopping me then I was nothing was in the same way that addiction would call me, I converted that energy in the right direction and I started taking off from there. I knew he was telling me the right thing and because I was getting results from implementing some of the smaller things that he was telling me early on and when he began the kind of caused a paradigm shift and tell me bigger things, give me bigger jobs to do if you will, inside jobs, right? The introspective work and all the other things that I needed to do to really understand myself and understand what was going on. Oh, I was ready to go then, I was ready to go ready bandmates. He told me that I should go back to school too because I'll say this and I digress, Michael, what I saw in him, I wanted to and I wanted to help people just like him. He was just the perfect role model and so I started out on that path and haven't stopped going since.
Michael Unbroken: Man, that's so profound. I literally got goosebumps, you can't see it. Because I resonate with that in such a real way because you know, there is something about life and this struck me probably, I don't know, seven or eight years ago where I was sitting and I was doing some work and I was just in this thing on the backside of what I'll call my rock-bottom, trying to rise up, trying to get really to where I am today and where I'm going in the future and I have this like lightning bolt moment.
It takes as much energy to destroy your life, as it does to build your life. And it sounds to me so much, like – one of the things that happen is you just started to have a transference of energy, you change the way you thought. I know this might be a little off-topic, but what was happening in your mind, as you were going through this process and the way that you were speaking to yourself because the reason I want to touch into that because I fully believe that so much of what happens in our life starts up here in our head and you mentioned that you with humility, which I appreciate, that you're a great thinker. So what was happening prior to this conversation with your Mentor in the way that you were thinking about your life and after?
Mike: Yes, so prior to the conversation, the way I was thinking about my life was, I actually thought that for a while there, this is what I thought when I was caught up in the addiction thing in the homeless thing, I would say to myself every single day, I said; You know what? There are one or two things in terms of how this is going to end up, it's going to end up one of two ways either, something's going to happen, I'm going to end up dying in this madness or if by the grace of God, I get a chance to get out of it. I'm going to be somebody who's gone going to make a real difference in the lives of other people for the rest of my life. I'm going to use this pain that I'm going through now, to make a real difference in my own life first and then, in the lives of other people, that's the way I thought when I was in the situation itself. The something deep down inside of me, Michael always believed and this is what I held on to always believe that and knew that I had so much more potential than we're like the kind of where I was in life wasn't indicative of who I was. I knew there was so much more to me, you know, even when I would be somewhere doing my thing and, you know, we're doing the thing that was doing me, you know, getting high and in these circles so, weird people would say, you know what, you don't even belong here. Why are you here with us, man, you know, about you, like people would say, weird things to me like that? You don't look like what's the criteria to be a nobody, you know, like – you know what they were I'd say those things and what're the criteria to ruin your life? What's the prerequisite? They would say things to me like that and I would get those things along my journey. I'd always say, right come out of this thing, I'm even going to come back and help all these people here. I am. I know it. So that was my mindset, pre-meeting Pastor Solomon – Dr. Solomon after I met him, my mindset was like and coupled with my face too because faith is critical faith, my faith played a critical in this whole journey and continues to this day. So in terms of what informed my thinking, my faith had a lot to do with it, but then my own thinking was, you know, listen to fire, is lit now, there's no stopping me. I know that I've always known that I've had great potential inside of me. When I talk about POTENTIAL, I'm always talking about it in the context of how it's going to be used to help make humanity better? That's the way I think about my journey. I think that's the essence of what life is about, if your life's not making a difference in somebody else's life, then what's it all about?
So, you know, the fire was lit, the fire was lit, look, I said I'm going to go and get trained and learn how to do this counseling thing. I'm going to learn as much as I can learn. I'm going to go as far as I can go. I'm going to leverage what the military owes me in terms of being able to go to school and all this other stuff for my investment in them. And Dr. Solomon, help with all that even the facility where I met Dr. Solomon, they also helped that I work there for a while and was able to go to school and all of that mass.
So my mindset changes completely, my mindset to boil it down, my mindset after meeting Dr. Solomon was anything is possible now, there's nothing stopping me from reaching my full God-given potential.
Michael Unbroken: Man, that's so beautiful. And I think often we need that catalyst in our life. I know I do, right? I think everyone does and I often measure in the same way that you did and with my mentors, and who I look up to him, the world. As I just simply go there where I want to go, there is the direction where I'm heading, and sometimes I look back and I go and I look in the other direction, I think to myself, like – I still love those people back here. I still support those people, those people back here behind on the other pathway that I could have taken will always bring value to my life but the reality is to build what I want, I'm going to have to go in this direction.
One of the things obviously here, that's become profound for you is creating massive change in your life by being of service and I know that you've now done that for over 25 years, which is absolutely incredible, Michael! Talk about that experience, talk about that shift of moving in the service of being in the leadership role, and of moving towards making this impact in the world?
Mike: Sure. So, another one of Dr. Solomon suggestions to me was, once he realized that part of my vision at that point was to do what he was doing someday, he recommended that I go to school and so I spoke to a few more people at that who were significant in my life at that time, one was another Pastor there in that City and marched down. We ended up choosing or I ended up choosing some schools, they pointed me to a few different places, obviously was my choice.
So, I went back to school, and over the course of 13 years, not 13 years straight, but kind of what breaks an in-between bit, told it ended up being a total of thirteen years. I went back to school. I knocked out three degrees all the way up to finish up the Master's level, Masters in Theology, coupled with counseling, pastoral care clinical counseling, all day. And I was on the verge of starting what they call a PSYC D, which is a Doctor of Psychology. It’s not the Ph.D. but it's a doctor of psychology because especially the specialty is specifically in Psychology and clinical counseling so it's society. And I started, I was on the verge of starting that but I didn't continue with it because something happened in my life, somebody significant in my life at that time, ended up getting really sick and I had to be there for that person to because they were there for me too when I started my journey of getting better so I had to be there for them. And so I didn't I didn't finish that and I haven't gone back to do it, I would have a need to do it now at this point and at this stage. But while I was in the process of getting those degrees, I started working in different organizations, right? I started submitting resumes to different organizations and I ended up working in high leadership, directing a couple of programs, helping to develop different programs, that help people that are stuck in life and after, having dealt with different adverse situations. I work with one organization for eight years, that works with homeless youth that has aged out of foster care and they end at homeless youth – 18 to 22-year-olds, they hit 18 years old, they don't get adopted, they're given a state check, a monthly check, and kind of let go to the streets and told to fend for themselves and a lot of people don't know that group right there represents the second largest wave of homeless people in the United States, only second to Veterans, coming back from war and deployment. So I work with them for years, I've worked in battered women shelters, I worked in detoxes and clinics, where people trying to get help with addiction, etc. I've done all of that and it all fits into the stream of the things that Dr. Solomon train me. I mean, I don't think I've said, much of anything different to the probably thousands of people that I've worked with over those years. It all comes back to the root of how Dr. Solomon works with me and I will have compassion that he put into his work as well for humanity that finds themselves in a difficult state. So I've done that for years and years and years and it's what I love to do, it's one of those reciprocal things.
I believe the only way you stay well is by helping other people say, well. I think it's intrinsically connected even what we do right here and helping people, it's still all connected to the journey in some way or another. So that's who I am in a nutshell, that's what I've done over all these years in the New York and New Jersey area in the Northeast but I've also been able to travel different places and speak and I'm a couple more things to you.
Michael Unbroken: Man, that’s really beautiful. I'm writing alignment with you, that's the whole purpose of doing the show of creating Think Unbroken of leading the way that I do because I found that being of service is literally, the only thing that pulled me out of like – the darkness of my life and being able to share the stories in the journeys and the mission of people like you. It's so empowering for me personally, but also I know for the people listening and you know, I always think about this if you're in this place in your life where you're miserable where it's dark like – Go, be of service. Go, I dare you to stop thinking about yourself for five minutes and go be of service to someone else in your life will be profoundly different. But to your point earlier, if I come back a little bit, I think that we get to this place where we get paralyzed by this idea of our new normal, right? And people are stuck in this pain of their current reality. How do people start to transform that in the way that you did from pain into power and into purpose?
Mike: Yes, so I think that even and I share this in my book too, I guess we'll talk about that later. But before you can even deal with the pain itself before you can, even acknowledge the reality of the pain, wherever the pain came from, you know, whether you caused it, or whether somebody else cause it, whether it came by way of abuse, whatever, you know, that pain is there and paying goes underground but not away. It may lie dormant down there for 20, 25 years, and given the right set of life's storms. It'll come bubbling up and end up getting projected on one person who might have had nothing to do with it at all. So before you can even acknowledge the pain, you have to address the fear. What is the fear that's keeping you?
What I had to ask myself was that question, Pastor Solomon talked about the fear and pain. What is fear? What was I afraid of? Well, that new normal had become so comfortable to me that I was afraid of who I would be without the comfort of those devices that, you know, as crazy as it was and as wrecked as my life was at least, that was a wrecked life that I knew and that I could control. So, the fear was, who am I going to be? If you're telling me to give all this stuff up here? I know I have this potential in me, but it's a scary thing. Who am I going to be on the other side of this change? What's the comfort blanket that I'm going to have to hold onto on the other side of this change. So the fear, the fear has to be addressed first before you can even get to really acknowledging the pain and getting to the core of the pain. And then another part of that process, Michael is abandoning all the excuses. You know, abandoning exchange, I use them all for a while until I met Dr. Solomon, and again whether or not, we caused the pain, to a certain extent, it becomes irrelevant as it relates to moving forward in life. Okay, whether it happened to you and not to minimize anybody's pain, but whether it happened to you, or whether you cause it yourself, the only way to start moving forward from, it is to acknowledge that it is there, that it is real, that it does hurt like, heck that it has ruined my life, that it has paralyzed my forward progress and that it has kept me from getting to the potential that I know I have and taking action to move forward.
Acknowledging it is the first step and after you acknowledge it, then abandoning the excuses yet could be uncle so-and-so, may have done some horrific stuff and that's a terrible thing. But if it happened, it's already happened, it's already past tense. So we have to make a choice as to whether or not we're going to hold on to the comfort, the weird comfort, that's in that pain, because it's the only thing we know or whether we're going to step out there and take a risk knowing that we have more potential down on the inside, that's the beginning, right there. Abandoning those excuses, you know, admit the truth, I had to admit the truth to myself. Mike, you made the choice, nobody put a gun to my head and made me chew that coca leaf. I mean, it might external stimuli had something to do with it, you know, the people I was around, in the culture of what we did in the military at that time. But at the end of the day, I made that choice, so, I had to admit that truth, that one choice led to a whole lot of other things. I'm not telling you about the PTSD that came with it, that was beyond my choice. I was put in that environment, but I did make some choices in the process that, I had to acknowledge, I had to admit and I had to stop making excuses for before I could get any real help.
Michael Unbroken: For people who are in that place, where they're hearing mess and they're like – yes, I understand that I've had these experiences happen whether I did them, or they happen to me and I understand what you're saying, and I'm lost in the practicality of it, right? What I mean by that, Michael was like – when you're in this place and you're starting to have this acknowledgment, you're starting to look at the possibility of facing what's next in your life, but fear has kept you crippled because you've accepted did that is your reality. How do you really transform or transition into looking, at life, from the scope of, what do I need to do to actually take control of my life? Because I think most people hear things like this and they get trapped because they don't ever have the first step and while they can you can look at acknowledgment and things like that, is it getting a coach or is it getting a mentor? What is it really in a practical sense that someone can do when they're in this place they're hearing this and they're just like – I just don't really know what to do?
Mike: Yeah, I got you. I got you. So I think the first step the first very practical step is number one believing fully believing that you're ready to make this step and then the second thing, is finding somebody that you can confide in, to share what it is that you're thinking, and this doesn't have to be the person that's going to take you all the way like – Dr. Solomon did with me. This could be the person that will just be a compassionate listening ear for you to cathartic and even get it out of your system and put it into the atmosphere. So because you may have not told anybody, any of the things that you've gone through throughout your life, while all the painful things that have kept you stuck, you probably have been suffering in silence for a long time. So the first step is making up your mind that you're ready to take the step and then the second step in terms of practicality is finding somebody you can talk to, finding somebody you can confide in, finding somebody that you can share the truth of the gist of your story. You know, that right there is going to bring all kinds of breakthrough for you because you'll hear yourself, tell it for the first time and there's a whole, there's liberation is in just being able to tell it yourself. So I think that's what, where you begin.
Michael Unbroken: Yeah. I agree. I think that's such a beautiful way to start into it because I have found like – the more to your point, which I love that you said this like the darkness, these secrets, they get buried underground and when you bring them to light, they can't help but be in the light, the darkness starts to go away and I'm not saying it's going to happen overnight because I think you'll agree with me that I don't believe that's how life works. But on a long enough timeline, you'll find that those things do, transform those pains do turned into power and that doesn't mean you have to be a speaker or write books or do any of those things, maybe it just means being, okay, with the reflection in the mirror, loving yourself showing up for your family, for your kids, for your community, for your church, or your neighbors, or whatever it is that you need to be of service in your life. Like, I know that you've written quite a few books, and one, particularly struck me and hit me, really close to home and that was eight steps to getting unstuck in life, and I'd love if you just take a moment and talk about that book and why you decided to write that?
Mike: Yeah, so hmm, July 14th, 2014. One of my brothers – five brothers, there was five, now there's four in this physical realm. One in the spiritual realm now, and my brother Ron, who was only 15, 16 months older than me, took his own life, kind of fell apart for him, lost the best job you ever had, and then his marriage fell apart a few months after that, don't know if the two are connected or not, you know, a moot point at this point, but and then he began to spiral out of control in this deep depression and in July 14th, he in Raleigh North Carolina, he drove into a parking lot and had a loaded weapon and ended his life and you talk about a new normal. Well, up until that point, our family would term of the family circle, it hadn't been broken I said, Mom and Dad are still in their eighties now. So you know, everybody's here and so that happened, that's rusted everybody into a really, really, really crazy place again, no reference point for something like that – just like war, there's no reference point for what you do after a loved one takes their own life. Just you begin to move into this new normal after the bereavement period, you begin to adjust, you don't ever get over it but you do find a way to get through it and to get on with life.
So when Ron did that, I'm kind of – one of the point people or one of the key point people when family situations happen and, you know, so I had to be kind of the counselor to the whole family, the counselor and helping put things together, not in do it by myself, but they leaned on me heavily for it to help, make sense of this whole thing and help carry the family through it.
So I had to go into performance mode, Michael. I managed to check my emotions at the door as much as realistically possible and go into performance mode to take care of Mom and Dad and all the way to help set up the funeral and you name it, I mean, down to speak at the funeral and so after that, all of that was over with and couple months later, people are going back to go not back to but now adjusting to their new normal. That's when all the emotions of it, hit me like a ton of bricks and took me to a really, really really dark place. Just my brother who I love deeply, you know, we schlep in bunk beds together and played goofy games and you know, took wire hangers and made basketball rims on the back of the door and the in the room and you know, all that kind of stuff there, all those memories and when it hit me, it hit me hard and hit me hard.
And I had to be careful in that time too because that put me in another one of those suffering in silent places because sometimes, when the leader is suffering in silence, you feel like you don't want to share your stuff because everybody else is hurting more in, at least you have some kind of you convinced yourself that you have tools to handle your situation better. Because maybe you've had more training or whatever but all that stuff goes out the window when the pain really hit you, hit you hard, and not that man, it got a grip on me, took me to a bad place. And one of the things that I do when I'm dealing with extreme light difficulty is that I write, that's part of my catharsis. I write, I write, and as I thought about Ron's situation, and I began to write. I had questions for God, questions about it all because none of it made sense, you know, we don't have a history of that anywhere in the lineage or even in the culture itself, it just didn't make sense. And so I wrote in all this different stuff that I was writing. I wonder if he'd have been able to do this, maybe this wouldn't happen and some of what I was writing was predicated upon things that I had heard from his colleagues that he worked with and Raleigh when we went down there to clean out his place. I talked to people that he worked with. I talk to people from The Barbershop, I talk to people from the church and everybody said when this thing started happening, he disconnected from his whole network. And so he was a man on an island by himself and he talked about silent suffering, he disconnected from the people that could have encouraged him in that season, and maybe it wouldn't have ended up that way. So those are some of the things I was writing different steps that if he would have been able to take, maybe the outcome would have been different and when I came out of that season months later, I realized that I had all this content now that will never help him. But I guess as it relates to his legacy could kind of honor him by helping a whole lot of other people and so, I converted it and turned it into a book and turned it into a workshop and probably did it at close to a hundred places, what any place that would open a door, nonprofit Church who it didn't matter, you know any place because hurting people are all over the place and you don't know who is close to the edge sitting there with a smile on their face, but in a deep dark place in there real life.
And so I still do the workshop, you know, as people bring me in to do it, and one of the ways that I honor him and one of the ways that I help other people who are close to the edge. That's where the man came from.
Michael Unbroken: That's so powerful. And such a beautiful testimony of your willingness to step into turning pain into power, right? And also, beautiful testimonial vulnerability, and so thank you for that. I think one of the most difficult things that we have in the human experiences using and leveraging our own vulnerability, to be able to impact because I know this for certain as someone who has had an attempt on their own life like – that book may have been extremely practical for me when I needed it, right? And so you're doing this beautiful work and I want to acknowledge you for that. And say, thank you, of course, for coming on and sharing that with this audience. Before I ask you my last question, can you tell everyone where they can find you?
Mike: Yeah, you can find me all over social media at Michael Bethune or MikeBethune. You could find me all over the place, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and also my website is mikebethune.com, you can find me there, all those places.
Michael Unbroken: Awesome, and of course, we will put all of those notes and links in the show notes for you to check out. Michael, my friend this has been absolutely phenomenal conversation. I think that you're going to bring a lot of light to people and a lot of practical tools that they can use in their life, to start to find this transformation. But my last question for you, my friend is, what does it mean to you to be unbroken?
Mike: What it means to me to be unbroken, is to know that you plan for life and then life happens and life is less about what happens to you and how you handle it. Once it happens you just have to find a way to take your power back from anything that threatens to rob you of your power. That's what it means to me to be unbroken.
Michael Unbroken: It's beautifully said and I believe we all have the ability to take our power back. Michael my friend, thank you so much for being here.
Unbroken Nation, thank you for listening.
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My friends, Be Unbroken.
-I'll see you.
Life Transformation Coach/3X-Author/Military Veteran
Michael Bethune is a grateful grace recipient, who returns the favor daily by helping to change the lives of others.
He is the owner of Michael Bethune Enterprises, a Life-Transformation Company.
Mike is military veteran who overcame homelessness, depression, addiction & suicidal ideation. During the process, he discovered his life’s purpose and meaning. He holds three degrees, all of which are connected to coaching & counseling.
For over 25 years, Mike’s been helping others to transform the pain of their own life experiences, into Power, Purpose & Meaning. He accomplishes this through life transformation coaching, counseling, workshops, self-help books, and digital courses.
Mike is a 3X author, and brings a unique perspective and approach to coaching, speaking, writing and workshop facilitation, as he combines and applies his wealth of real life experience, education & training, to the process of transforming lives.
Mike also served as a Chapel/Inspirational Speaker for several NFL Teams over the course of 12-years.