In this episode, I am the guest on Jon Gordon's Positive View Podcast. Today, I will talk about the meaning of being Unbroken, to be Unbroken, how I become the hero of your own story, and how to take your identity back.
See show notes at: https://www.thinkunbrokenpodcast.com/e324-michael-unbroken-on-positive-view-trauma-healing-coach/#show-notes
In this episode, I am the guest on Jon Gordon's Positive View Podcast.
Today, I will talk about the meaning of being Unbroken, to be Unbroken, how I become the hero of your own story, and how to take your identity back.
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Jon: Hey! This is Jon Gordon with Positive View and today my guess is Michael Unbroken. Michael, how are you doing?
Michael: Jon, my man, I am so good, super pumped to be here with you today my friend.
Jon: Fire up to have you. Talk about Unbroken – Michael Unbroken, what's that all about?
Michael: Yeah, you know, I was sitting a few years ago and it was lying in bed it was about three o'clock in the morning, just gone through a breakup, had gotten a text that said you're broken. And I was sitting there and I was like, you know what that's not true man, that's not who I am, that's not how I believe, that's not how I think and I realized since I was a child everyone has always called me broken for being homeless, for being poor, for being uneducated, for being the big kidding class, everyone always said that but that's never how I thought Jon and in that moment it was like a lightning bolt from God right into my face and I was like, I know what I'm supposed to do with the rest of my life.
Jon: Wow! You basically said I'm not broken, I'm Unbroken. What does it mean to be Unbroken?
Michael: Yeah, man. You know, here's a reality, we all have the ability to create the life that we have. When I was four years old my mother who was a drug addict and alcoholic, she actually cut off my right index finger, I've had multiple skin graft, multiple surgeries. My stepfather super abusive, the guy you pray never your stepfather, spent the majority of my childhood homeless, got high for the first time when I was twelve, drunk at thirteen, fifteen expelled from school and by twenty-five was three hundred and fifty pounds, smoking and two packs a day and drinking myself to sleep. I was hiding from the truth, I was hiding from reality, I was hiding from my power, I was broken. I was letting everyone tell me you're not good enough, you're not strong enough, you're not capable enough and I was living into that and the truth about it was I just needed to get myself out of the matrix. And twelve years later here I am talking to you and I've coached thousands of people around the world, I am written number one best-selling book, I've spoken on the biggest stages and it's just one thing means to be Unbroken to take your identity back and that's what I try to teach people every single day because I am not an anomaly, I promise you Jon, I am not special, I don't know anything you don't know, I just know the truth about life. When you make decisions about who you want to be everything can be different.
Jon: Talk about taking your identity back, who are you, who are we, what does it mean to have an identity, what is it identity all about?
Michael: Yeah. I think identity is about creating the person that you believe you're capable of being through doing incredibly difficult things every single day that fill an alignment with what you wanna do in the world. When you grow up, think about this Jon, when in your third grade Miss Smith comes up to you in class, you're sitting there coloring, you color the moon purple, she goes Jon, how dare you color the moon purple, that's not what you do. And from that moment you stop showing up as yourself because every single time you do, you're reminded of that and there's pain and embarrassment and suffering. And then one day you realize that doesn't serve you and what you have to do is be willing to step into who it is that you are and to do that you have to get really clear about a few different things. First and foremost, I think it's values if you don't know what you stand for you will fall for everything. You need to know your wants, needs, interest, boundaries and recognize how you wanna operate in the world through your moral character and ultimately for me identity is this, if I were to narrow it down like, I look at child abuse and trauma and the things we go through as this… your identity is stolen, you have to learn how to shut down for safety, right?
One of the most dangerous things I could do as a kid was be myself and that serves you until it doesn't serve you anymore and when it stops serving you you're faced with this incredible predicament, what do I do? How do I exist? I've never done this before. And when you become fully in tune with your identity, I believe this, it is the moment in which you only do what you want to do and you never do what you want to do, that means appeasing other people and I think that's the key to identity.
Jon: What was the shift for you in terms of you've been homeless, you've dealt with a lot of adversity, a lot of challenges, you said you were heavy, what was the shift? How did happen? When did you finally say okay, I'm gonna be this, I want more, I believe, I deserve more, when did that happen for you? And how did it happen like was there a voice, did you feel God's speaking to you because I felt God speaking to me on my journey, I thought I'm carrying me few of the most difficult times of my life what was it for you?
Michael: So, I'm twenty-five years old and I have no high school diploma, no college education, I'm working for fortune 10 company, believe it or not making six figures having what I thought was the American dream until I realized that my life was a complete disaster. I was effectively standing inside of a house that I had said on fire, holding the matches and one night I decided I was gonna attempt suicide, I was done Jon, I thought the money was gonna solve everything, that's what everyone always said but it didn't and luckily it didn't go through in the next day I'm lying in bed, it's eleven o'clock in the morning, I'm smoking a joint, eating chocolate cake and watching the CrossFit games and like a man if that's not rock bottom like I don't know what is and I walk into the bathroom and when I look at myself in the mirror.
I remember being eight years old and the water company had come and turned our water off and this is a blistering hot Indiana summer day, our water was always getting turned off, the electricity, the rent, we were getting a evicted, I live with thirty different families as a kid and one in the backyard and grab this little blue bucket and a 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 in my life, I steal water. And I said to myself when I'm grown-up this is not going to be my life, financially it wasn't. But in every other way, I was still that hurt, loss, little boy and as I stood there in front of that mirror having this memory, I asked myself, what are you willing to do to have the life that you want to have? And the words, no excuses just result started reverberating through my body and it set me on this trajectory to get out of my own way to heal from the past and ultimately to become the hero of my own story.
Now of course that came through a tremendous amount of tumultuous experiences but ultimately it's led me to where I am today. And if I were to summarize it Jon, the most simplified way to put this is, I was tired of my own crap.
Jon: That's good. How'd you go from you know homeless and not getting a college degree, take this great job, how did that happen where you were working for a business company, making great money, how did that happen?
Michael: Yeah. So, I recognized something really important when I was about eighteen years old, I have a family and prison for life, I've been in handcuffs many times and as of today my three childhood best friends have been murdered. We were selling drugs, we were breaking in the house, we were stealing in cars, I got kicked out of school, I saw the path man. And my plan was this don't die, join the marine corps, that's it, I wanted to bring marine course scout sniper but I hurt my knee my senior year high school couldn't pass meps. I was stuck, I had no idea what to do. The only thing that I knew is if I kept going where I was going it was game over. And so, I said to myself I wanna make a hundred thousand dollars a year legally, legally this was so important Jon, you have no idea man and I started learning skills, I learned how to write resumes and cover letters and interviews and I landed a job at eighteen and a half working for a fast-food restaurant quickly became a general manager training, I was in leadership with fifty-two people under me as a baby and in that I just kept moving forward, moving forward, moving forward.
One day, one of my friends says hey, I got a job with this insurance company, boom! My mind was blown dude, I didn't know you could do that! I didn't know that people from where I was from could have jobs like that and I said that's the marker, that's how I get to six figures.
Fast forward a year later, sure enough that's what I did and so it was just I got really clear on the goal the only thing that I wish in retrospect that I would have applied at that time was having clarity around a goal that would have made my life better that wasn't just monetary and so, I learned a brilliant lesson in that but ultimately it was just I was so crystal clear about what I wanted and nothing was gonna stop me.
Jon: Talk about now you've had all the success, what's your vision, what's your purpose, what are you all about now?
Michael: Clarity again, everything. My number one mission in life, period. My only mission is like is to end generational trauma in my lifetime through education and information so, that other children don't have stories like I just told you. And that is up by any means necessary way and so whether it's speaking on stages or podcast or interviews or writing books or giving away everything I know for free; I don't care, it's about changing the world and leaving a legacy because Jon the only thing that I'm terrified in my life of the only fear I have is that on my deathbed I'll look back at all this and say I wish I would've have done more. And so, everything that I do is about giving man because I know like, I believe it's true, we all have the ability to be great but sometimes we just need that one up, we need that handheld out, we need support and if I can help people from ninety nine percent of the pitfalls, I've been through like, I'm gonna feel like I really impacted the world.
Jon: That's awesome! Talk about your book that's a best-selling book.
Michael: Yeah. So, I wrote Think Unbroken as the book that I needed when I really started my healing journey. So, it's Think Unbroken Understanding and Overcoming Childhood Trauma and it's not about me, right? The preface is for context of course but the rest of the book practical tips and tools it's part journal, part personal development, part coaching, it's a book that's about being a companion for you especially if you're just beginning this journey. And what's really fascinating man, I got turned down by every publisher, every agent half of them didn't reply three and a half almost four years ago now, everyone was just like this isn't something we wanna carry or talk about and I was like, that's part of the problem. And so, I said I'm gonna self-publish it and I did it and it's went to number one, it sold thousands of copies but here's what's fascinating man, there's no reviews, nobody posted online, nobody shares it because it child abuse is still the elephant in the room in this country in the world and like, I hate to be one of the people up here speaking about it, I wish I could do anything else on the planet but I can't and this is my calling and so, I'm gonna kick down every door we start changing the narrative man.
Jon: Michael, it's so great you're doing that, it's so great this is your mission because we know so many kids, so many adults now were kids and they suffered abuse, we know that men it's like one in three now, one in three men suffer sexual abuse when they're young, we know that a lot of young women, young girls suffer sexual abuse, so many people suffer childhood traumas and we're seeing the result of that, we're seeing unfortunately the bad fruit of that when they're older and the pain and how that unleashes and unravel and releases in their life and what it does to life they need healing, right? People need healing, people need to know that it's not something you really overcome, it's something you move through, it's something you heal. And so, I think it's a great mission that you're on, it's an incredible mission and I think more and more people are talking about it and probably since you wrote the book like you're ahead of the game, you're at the forefront of it, you're a pioneer this but it seems like now more and more our starting to talk about and willing to talk about it and they'll talk about as hey, I have this trauma and they really go to specifics but we do talk about trauma and releasing trauma, right? There's the EMDR therapy that helps release bodily trauma, are you aware of that?
Michael: Yeah. I mean dude I've done EMDR, CBT and I think that the more we can acknowledge it and you know here's the reality where the sum total of all of our experiences in life and that means everything we've ever gone through has led up until this moment and to be this massive of the fact that you'd be impacted by your past, I think it's super dangerous and so, I love the fact that like we have people like you who are willing to have the conversation, we have people around the world who are stepping up, we have people who are finally saying look, enough we have to change the narrative on this. Like it's incredible to me the fact that it's taken long but when you recognize the impact of generational trauma it's gonna take us generations to heal this, right? And that's okay, but that means that one day somebody will pick up my book or listen to my podcast or find one of my YouTube videos and be like, why did this person make this? This doesn't even make sense. And so, as long as I can move towards that dream and that goal and we can continue to empower each other and not tear each other down like, man, it's gonna be beautiful what we're gonna do in this world.
Jon: That's so good, that's so amazing. Yeah, here's a book that I have just recently and “what happened to you” I'm sure you seen this book Oprah is a big part of it. She just talks about conversations on trauma resilience and healing and they talk about the fact that what happened to you is that who you are. The trauma is not you it's an event, it's not a definition, it's not who you want. I love that you talk about early on identity. Talk about trauma and then maybe claim in your identity, talk about that?
Michael: Yeah. You know, I think the hardest real truth about trauma is it's not the experience and this is my experience and having some really dark things happen me, the moment was never what I tied on to, it was all the things from the moment on. And I think that's where you get stuck, that's where your back gets put against the wall and you don't know how to show up, you don't how to be, you don’t know how to exist and so much of it is taken from you like, it's stripped from you. You're put in this position where the very first thing that you understand about humanity is it's unsafe.
So, think about this…
You start operating in the world like that you become an emotional recluse, there was a period of time fifteen years I didn't cry Jon, I turned off, I became a robot because it was safe. Now there's this an adidas commercial with this old guy escaping and running and I'm just like in tears and that's part of the reclamation. You reconcile the truth about life. I think about trauma like this, you have this life and it's this beautiful house and every single day you go outside there's trash in your front yard, well it's not your trash but it is your yard and that's what I think about trauma and reclaiming and taking your identity back is getting that trash out of there, working, do it, putting it where it needs to go and starting to show up for yourself day in and day out. And you're gonna have good days and you're gonna have bad days but understanding and recognizing you're having a human experience and you've never done this thing that you're trying to do before, Jon we've never had this conversation before, it's okay you're going to make mistakes, you're gonna mess up, you're gonna do the thing ten years later, you promise you would never do again and it's like if you can have some empathy and grace and patience in your life while simultaneously this is where it's interesting, simultaneously holding yourself accountable while being incredibly determined and disciplined you will create yourself.
Sitting here in front of you right now and this is not to be crass using myself in the third person but to make a point.
The Michael sitting here right now is a realization of the idea the person I thought I could be ten years ago and the person that I will be in twenty years from now is who I'm thinking about being today and that's what it's about, just getting crystal clear about who you are and what you want and moving towards it and recognizing that in that process you're going to have to give something up. And for many of us it's playing the victim and for others it's the impact and for the rest it's just simply looking at your life and saying what am I willing to let go of to have what I want to have.
Jon: Isn't it also letting go of the shame and the guilt that you may carry with you along the way so that you can move forward to create the life you were going to live?
Michael: Hundred percent. I would walk around so full of shame as a child because I wet the bed and I couldn't shower, because I was covered in bruises, because I was the poorest kid along with my brothers of the poorest kids in the whole school, I carried the shame of being an orphan, I carried the shame of impacting my neighborhood negatively by selling drugs and hurting people and breaking in the houses, I carried the shame of being literally one of the only kids to not graduate from one of the worst high schools in America according to Harris polls and the dropout out factory list, I carried shame long time brother that's what I had to give up, will you let go of it and recognize your past does not define you, does it inform you? Yes, of course it does. But look through those experiences and those discoveries I am who I am today and so are the people that we have helped in this journey but you have to be willing to face it and that's the first thing. You have to be willing to go stand in front of that mirror and say, I deserve more and recognize this the truth about it, that thing that you want, that thing that you believe you deserve nobody handing it to you. There is no Disney moment and nobody's coming to save you, if you want it, you're gonna have to earn every inch but you can have support along the way and you can have companionship along the way but you have to be willing to ask for help.
Jon: Michael, so good. Michael Unbroken, Think Unbroken, I think there was a mic drop moment. Hey! Really appreciate having on positive university your story is incredible, the work you're doing is incredible and talking about trauma and the way you are is a gift. I don't think everyone's gonna read this really thick book on “what happened to you” it's a long read, it's all hard, I think a book like yours that really resonates with people and is a simple read for people to take with them and to understand and to move through and then to take action and the thing differently that's what it's all about. So, Michael, thank you so much, any last words you wanna share before we say goodbye?
Michael: Man, I just wanna say thank you so much for the opportunity, it means the world to me, you now are a part of my mission and I'm so grateful for you my friend, thank you.
Jon: Michael, which your website.
Michael: Everyone can just go to thinkunbrokenpodcast.com or look up Think Unbroken Podcast on all the things.
Jon: thinkunbrokenpodcast.com Michael, thank you so much!
Michael: My pleasure, thank you.
Michael is an entrepreneur, best-selling author, speaker, coach, and advocate for adult survivors of childhood trauma.
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