Feb. 11, 2021

E58 How to work through chronic toxic stress with Dr. Kjell Tore Hovik

In this episode I chat with Dr. Kjell Tore Hovik about the impact of chronic stress and some fundamental ways to create long term change in the human brain and body.

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In this episode I chat with Dr. Kjell Tore Hovik about the impact of chronic stress and some fundamental ways to create long term change in the human brain and body.

Dr. Kjell Tore Hovik (pronounced Chell Toor HOE-vik), co-author of WHEN CRISIS STRIKES (December 29th, 2020), is an award-winning psychologist specializing in clinical neuropsychology. Dr. Hovik took his doctorate on emotional, thought, and behavioral problems in youth with development disorders and received the distinguished PhD of the Year award for his thesis dissertation in 2017.

www.lovehovik.com, and


@whencrisisstrikes on Instagram



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Michael: Hey, what's up unbroken nation? Welcome to another episode of the Michael unbroken podcast where our goal is to help you get out of the vortex, become the hero of your own story and ultimately change your life. I'm here joined today by Ph.D. Dr. Kjell Tore Hovik, Dr. Kjell Tore Hovik. How are you today my friend?


Dr. Kjell: I'm doing great, right. It's close to the Christmas holiday. It's snowing here in Norway. Really Christmassy spirit, of course everybody's struggling. So but try to look and think and just be positive. 


Michael: Yeah, you know, I get that. It's cold, rainy in Portland right now. And I think about this quite often as I’m, in my day-to-day life and recognizing that, you know, we're in this position right now that we've never been in, in the history of mankind, where we are so connected and yet disconnected at the same time. And when you think about that, that's got to be impactful. It's got to create a huge amount of stress in our lives. And, you know, I think that's fitting for a conversation here today, because you wrote a book, co-wrote a book, I should say, called when crisis strikes, five steps to heal your brain, body and life from chronic stress. And a lot of people associate the idea of chronic stress or chronic toxicity with child abuse. But that's not always necessarily the only case. There's PTSD, there's war, there's, you know, a litany of areas in which crisis strikes, no pun intended. Talk to me about the work that you've done to step into the place to write this book. And I find this to be a very, very important topic. But what drove you to this?


Dr. Kjell: Well, interesting, because really one of the background of the start of the ideas of getting to this, to the when crisis strikes, is really difficult breakups, breakups with a lot of conflict as a type of a crisis, that kind of crisis that just really just blows, puts a hand grenade in your daily life structure. And it's one of these things that are, there are a lot of these modern type of crises, in addition to what you were referring to even things like a sudden chronic illness, a sudden diagnosis of a cancer, or let's say a family member who has received like a diagnosis of dementia, or a sudden loss, or even other types of sudden crises. We started off with this idea of what do we do in these tremendous conflictful relationship breakups. And we started seeing that, well, there's a pattern here, how we work as therapists to help people get through it. And we found that let's work on finding a method, a methodology, some steps, that can be described in a very straightforward, simple way to help people work their way out of really devastating and overwhelming crises. So that was really the start of it. And then we wrote this and delivered the book in 2019. And then we were writing edits and editing the book in 2020. And last year, 2020, and then suddenly, this COVID thing came up. So it wasn't in response to that. But of course, when the COVID response and the COVID came, we had to, we wrote a couple of chapters, just describing how we ourselves, were trying to survive through this pandemic, that the whole world is struggling to find a way through. 


Michael: yeah, perhaps unfortunately, a little bit serendipitous. You know, and, but I think that's a good thing, because you still have the time to create that, you know, we are listening and this will air in a couple of months from now, and people are still going to be within the crisis of COVID. You know, I would love if you can, just from a high level and we can go deeper as we talk here. Just kind of talk about the five steps a little bit. You know, I think often what people are looking for something palatable and something actionable and so often as they're listening and learning people give them this highfalutin scale of maybe try this thing, maybe try that thing, but they don't really kind of break it down. So I would love if you would take a moment and just break down high level what those five steps look like.


Dr. Kjell: Yeah, well, yeah, really the start of it, we really kind of have a good, have a clear focus on stress and stressors in one's life, right? What are the things that are really driving your stress response or let's say a physiological or emotional or even a thought reaction pattern. So what are the stressors in your life, mapping out those and finding out what are the most the difficult ones to deal with, and then choosing one and thinking through then how to then deal with that, thinking through one's own response. How does one respond to it? Because as individuals, we all respond differently, we all have different ways of responding to these stressors. And then we go through the steps, which is getting a grip of the situation, finding out what we can control, what we can't control, putting in steps to then remediate it to help heal that process, pulling back, taking care of ourselves in the process, and then also understanding about ourselves, our personalities, our ways of responding what we want to then maybe culture and nurture, and bring forth and what we maybe want to tone down. So it's a step-by-step process to work to heal through, let's say, a very traumatic or stressful or difficult life experience.


Michael: Yeah, and one of the words that really stuck out to me there is control. And often I find that that can be a catalyst for creating change. But it also can be a catalyst for setting your own house on fire, right? It's such a fine line. But it's also such an impactful thing that we actually have. And I found throughout the scope of work, and coaching and learning and growing and all the things I’ve done within my own life, that control is actually become this great tool for success. But it also can be this thing that kind of destroys everything around you. As you're stepping into this though, one of the things that I heard as well as like, and I'm going to name it, even though you don't say it was like, it's very much about being present, right? How do you be present with yourself? What kind of role does just being aware play in this?


Dr. Kjell: That's a really interesting point. Because I'm a clinical neuropsychologist, and one of the things that we do when we're working with clients that we're trying to help them out is to understand their ability to focus, and have concentration and control and awareness over their own thought patterns, their feeling patterns, their behavior patterns. And it's often a difficult thing. And especially if you're in a crisis situation, you're often looking other places than at yourself, and you're reacting and you're maybe choosing unhealthy coping strategies to just get your mind onto something else. So part of that process that we described in the book, in the first  step actually get a grip is this idea of trying to be calm in the present, try to get a control over your focus and your concentration. And there's lots of different techniques that can be used, everything from mindfulness to meditation, to just being in the moment. And there's others as well. So trying to just become aware of your situation and the context of your situation. And your own situation is part of that first step, and the first step of trying to understand what can be done then to work on or what needs to be worked on to help one's healing process.


Michael: Now, you know, often I hear things like this, I take them with a grain of sand, I go, yeah, guess what Kjell? Easier said than done. And I often in the work with my own clients do coaching and a lot of the things that I write, I blog about and my experiences alone, mindfulness is a very, very important tool. But now it's become like, full pot and social media, where it is now a thing that you quote unquote, "do", right? But it's so impactful. And it's so important to take it seriously, especially if you're dissociated, and especially if you're triggered, especially if you're in crisis. How do you do that? Like, as a baseline? Like, how do you actually really step into awareness?


Dr. Kjell: Well, let me say two things. One thing is we're very open about and we describe this in the book that the book is actually written as a self-help guide. So it's for people that feel that they're somewhat in control in their lives, many people will work their way through crisis on their own and that's great. Some will need some help. And that's really what the book is for. Others, they maybe can, you know, read and think about it, but they're not able to make the changes in their lives that are necessary. And we're open about that these people in that situation are going to need to have maybe the help of a therapist or have someone that can guide them and help them become aware of their own situation and help them also find the right steps to take or the right directions or the right changes in their everyday behavior. But one thing I use, just to your first question, how do you get that presence is with sports athletes, because I’ve often worked with athletes at quite top levels and for them to get focused and being in the present is quite important is often just simply to try to get them to answer the question. How are you feeling right now? And trying to put words on how are you feeling? Thinking about, what are you thinking about? What are in your thoughts? What are you feeling? What is your mood? What sensations Can you feel? Can you feel your fingers touching each other? Can you feel the muscles in your arms, we can even go through different, let's say, relaxation exercises, again to get the focus and concentration away from tomorrow, away from the disaster that happened yesterday, away from the argument that happened yesterday or earlier in the day. And just to get into the present and to focus on that, and it takes training. So it's not something that can be just done automatically. It's like, it's like an athlete, right? They need to train, train, train, train. And so when they're trying to, you know, perform at their peak, they need to have that training, they can just go into it in an automatic way. So there's no easy, quick fix of it. But that's one way to start that process is to really just maybe try to put oneself in a quiet area, right? So that there's not so many, there's not so many lights, there's not so many sounds, there's so much noise and all these things, and then trying to then just feel like, how do I feel right now? And then maybe go through different elements, and especially the senses to try to get into touch with really where you are at that very, very moment.


Michael: I often think about this notion of being stuck in behavioral patterns and being in loops, especially when it comes to dissociation and not being present. And being in this place where that control mechanism is about doing all the things that sabotage our journey as we move into what we could have. Can you talk about the role that and if you have any thoughts, because I'm so curious about the role that self-sabotage and being stuck in loop patterns plays in this process?


Dr. Kjell: Well, I mean, it's such an important, it's such an important area, and we discussed this in the book. And the way I think of it a little is coping mechanism and strategies, right? If you think about, let's say if you have a, let's say a tremendous stress factor, something really stressful has happened, then the question is, and we work on this in the book is that, how do you respond to that? What is the response pattern for that? And there's quite a lot of escape strategies that people use to get away from dealing with the problem, right? Somebody has been, and I think this is the similar thing that's happening with trauma, let's say early trauma, if a child is experiencing something just horrific, they're going to react to it, right? And how does that reaction then influence the way that they have relationships, the way that they deal with emotional issues later, all these things become ingrained, and they're become a pattern. And if it's not a healthy and a good way of reacting, then that's going to be part of their way of reacting later. So we spend a lot of time trying to really be concrete about well, starting with the stress, right, a very stressful event is that what is that? Why did it happen? And what is your response to that? And how are you dealing with that? And is it the right way of dealing with it? If the right way of dealing with a very, very, let's say a chronic illness or very painful is using medication, and that medication is leading to a dependency, then one can think about is that the right coping mechanism for that painful, or initial stress factor stress response? And the same thing in other areas as well? How do we cope? How do we deal with and have we chosen the right way of dealing with it?


Michael: Yeah, and I often think to myself, how do we reframe that understanding of the mechanisms that we need to cope? How do we put ourselves in a position to effectively reverse engineer the trigger to step through it in a way that can be impactful and profound, that also sets up a baseline to continue to live life without stepping into that again? Because I think about this like walking through a minefield, right? If you walk through it, and you step on one once? Well, your brain should say, Hey, don't do that thing again. But innately we know that that's not how this works. So here's, I'm so fascinated by this question, how do you avoid being in the loop when everything that you know and have experienced has led to this place that says my coping mechanism is self-harm because that feels better than working through the pain of the event that has happened.


Dr. Kjell: Right. It's a really interesting question. This is the way I kind of approach it and part of my experience is working with young people. Well, with different serious mental illnesses, but one is early Signs of psychosis or serious thought disorder, even schizophrenia, which becomes, which is a very, very difficult mental illness to work with. But what we kind of want to try to do is, let's look at not just one thought, one action, one behavior, one emotion, but let's think of what are the daily routines? What are the daily habits? What is the rhythm in your life over a longer period of time? And can we do things in that area, eating properly, eating regularly, having fun on a regular basis, doing social things, you know, having sleep, you know, not least of all having good sleep and trying to work on those stabilizing patterns in your life is often a good kind of framework for trying to work on other more difficult things, then we can go in and talk about or how do you react when somebody you know, says something that triggers you to become just, you know, emotionally, very volatile, or very aggressive, for example. So we need to kind of have a baseline or let's say a framework of a daily rhythm, we try to get that in place as a start. 


Michael: I mean, you took the words right out of my mouth, the very first thing that I tell people is if you show me your calendar, I’ll show you whether or not you're successful. And that's not about blocking out your entire day in some perfectionist mannerism, but instead, it's about this idea of, can I take time for myself today? I think about the power of my morning routine that sets me up for success every day. And I don't know that everyone has to do all the things. And in fact, I say don't, you don't have to do yoga, you don't have to meditate, you don't have to journal, you don't have to do all the things. But you have to do something. So as you're in this, and we're in obvious total agreement here, what are those some things that you find to be most potent for people who are stepping back into reassociation?


Dr. Kjell: Well, there's a few things, one of the things we have one of the steps is actually we call, it's the fourth step, it's pulled back and in general, it's taking care of yourself, as you're talking about, and some of the techniques we're using, there is like, just this idea of trying to simplify things, because that we often experience that people, especially in a crisis situation, and maybe responsible for other people and  everything becomes very complicated. So how can we simplify that complicated idea or that complicated situation into something very much more manageable, that's one technique that one might use. The other thing is, one can latch on to certain ideas of being, for example of being helpful and being kind, of being doing something concrete that will help also ground your thoughts and your feelings and your behavior into something that's directed to something simple, and positive essentially, and also working to build your self-esteem, your self-confidence and your self-worth, these kinds of activities. There could be other things, there could be taking photos, for example, and just trying to get good at being in the moment, in the visual sphere of just capturing something that's beautiful. And just trying to work on that, it can be a hobby, it can be a hobby, where you're making something, often something that you're making with your hands and you're using your whole body, you're using your whole creative apparatus to generate something. These are types of techniques that can help ground a person that's very, very in a very unstable situation. 


Michael: Yeah, I think those are fantastic suggestions. But you know, I know right now someone is sitting listening to this on their drive or on their bus ride to work or wherever they are, in the gym, and thinking to themselves, well, I have kids, and I have a job. And I have a family and I have bills, and I have debt and I have COVID to deal with and there is crisis everywhere. There is stress everywhere. This sounds fine on paper, but I don't think I can do that. I believe that so much of this entire healing process is mindset and the things that you say to yourself in the way that you present the ability that you have for you to step into some of these things. And so often before you even get to the idea of baseline, I can potentially do this. The narrative has already been there's no way I can't do this. It's never going to happen. How much of a role in just crisis management is your mindset?


Dr. Kjell: It's incredibly important and it's often a challenge, right? It's seeing the glass half full rather than half empty. It's that way of changing the way of interpreting things, people are acting or saying something to you, how do you interpret that? Do you interpret it as a well-intentioned, or you automatically interpret it as being bad intention, right? These are choices we really can make, I think, in our mindset, how to relate and how to interpret, how to think about different issues as that might arise. So there is definitely work to be done in us all in terms of that of getting that mindset that we feel is part of us and who we want to be. I think just to say a word again, about this idea of people, having families, having work, struggling in a day-to-day basis, trying to deal with COVID and all that, you know, that is what you're describing, or what's described is really a very stressful situation, right? And you can think about how is it if you're stressed all the time, it's like, if you're exercising, if you're lifting weights, 24 hours a day, all week, how is that going to help your body? How are you going to be in a condition to be able to contribute to help, you need to be able to have some breaks. It might just be having it seeing something incredibly funny, and just laughing, belly laughing for like a half an hour or 15 minutes or 10 minutes, it can be that, but just having a break from the stress, having a break from that intensity, that's important, and maybe even doing that with family. So that requires little organization, it requires a little planning. And that's what's often difficult in a stress, daily situation, right? Because you're just trying to survive, and especially if you're, you know, you're almost you're going to be thrown out of your apartment, you don't have money to pay the rent. I mean, imagine these are just like the worst, worst, worst conditions to be able to say, Well, okay, let me spend 10 minutes just for myself. But, you know, I always I get one of the examples I give in the book is that, you know, I used to fly a lot because I was flying back and from Norway and California. And the stewardesses would always say, the stewards would say that, you know, in case of an emergency, you know, if the planes going down, and it's overwater, there's going to be some little masks that are going to fall down. And the important thing is that you need to take the mask over your face first. Because you can only help other people if you're also, you know, in a situation where you're able to have breath. So that idea of Okay, yeah, you're responsible for everyone else in the family, you're responsible for other things and at work, but you also need to take care of yourself and prioritize that. Because if you don't do that, you're not in the condition to be able to help others.


Michael: Yeah, I mean, that's such a great point. And I think about this idea that we've constantly as trauma survivors made exceptions to that rule, because we're so used to putting ourselves second, third or last, right? And as you step into this healing journey, and I will argue this against anyone, the most important thing that you can do is put yourself first period, because by proxy, the impact on those other things will be far and exponentially greater. There's no questions asked by showing up for yourself first, that is going to impact your life for the best. What the problem is, I believe, is that that is a terrifying notion. You mean that I can put myself first that's okay. Doctor, you're telling me this right now, it's okay for me to put myself first. But how do I do that? Because everything that you say sounds great. But the idea of actually stepping into it is so far embedded in me that that is a negative thing. Self-Care is not for me, self-care is for hippies, and Yogi's and you know, stoners and all those things and this idea of self-care, well, great, but I'm a man of color from the Midwest in America, where self-care if you, if you talked about it, you would get laughed out of the room. My argument would be that while A, you're probably in the wrong damn room to begin with, and B, noticing the fact that as you step into self-care, first and foremost, your life will in fact become better. The point that I want to make about this, and the reason I'm saying this is, most people don't actually notice that they're not taking care of themselves. How do you even know if you've been impacted by chronic stress?


Dr. Kjell: Well, yeah, that's I mean, I think the modern life is full of stresses, right? There's expectations, we can look at those and think of those as stresses. And these are external, often external factors that we're struggling with, right? We need to get a job, we need to get education, we need to do all these, all these, all these things. That's stressful in itself. And especially in a context where everything's very very competitive, and you need to have, so how do you find time or room to take care of yourself? There's also an issue of what does it mean to take care of yourself? Because it's, I'm not talking about, you know, like spending tons of money on oneself, but I'm talking about doing things. And again, it requires reflection and requires time to focus and think about, well, what is it that's important for me? It can be small things, it can be things, but things that are helping a person really feel better about themselves, right? How can I do things, or think things or feel things that are going to make me feel better about myself that's going to help everybody around me in that context? In the next reaction? 


Michael: Yeah. And, and so much of that, again, is just being present. And I often think about the long-term implications and impacts of chronic stress and trauma on the brain and the body, as you kind of head down this long enough timeline. And thinking about the possibility to, I don't want to say, to regrow your brain, but to, to solidify it, and to fortify it and to have sovereignty and to be able to put yourself in a position to be successful. But my fear often and probably the reason that part of my self-care is omega 3, and vitamin D, and healthy fats and things like that is to, like, create more integrity within the brain. What are the long-term ramifications, if any of chronic stress?


Dr. Kjell: Well, it's definitely there's definitely been shown, you know, the chronic stress without again, getting these regular breaks and without just being overwhelmed by stress over a long period of time, that something that's going to break down the integrity and the structure in the brain. So it's definitely, it's been shown not to be anything that can last over time, and just will lead to a breakdown. So the earlier one kind of deals with it, I think it's you know, is the better. And one thing is, you know, what you're putting into your system, as you were mentioning, the nutrition, and also omega 3 and these things, but a lot of it has to do with just what you're spending your time doing and how you live your everyday life and what value you can put into that. And that's going back into what are the routines? And what are the habits and things that you do on a regular basis that can help you.


Michael: Yeah, and when you're in this place of creating habit, and routine and change and living in what I'm going to guess if you're listening to this a Western society where we are very goal oriented, where we are accomplished oriented, where we are willing to sacrifice who we are to hit this pedestal. How do you manage that side of this, because I think that's a conversation that's not talked about often enough. And I recognize in my past these workaholism behaviors and these achievement growth behaviors, and I'm putting myself dead last, murdering myself for goals and deadlines and projects and things like that. But we go well, that's just the way we do it. How do you facilitate managing, like that thing where you want to, you know, be successful, but you're also leveraging that as the thing that's, in essence destroying your life?


Dr. Kjell: It's a great point, and it's an important point, we talked a little about it, we talked about it in the book, it's an important thing, because you have, you can think of this, if we talk about like a locus of control back to your idea of control, what is that the controls our behavior, and our thoughts and our feelings? And, you know, you have these factors that are outside of us. And like you said that the culture, the expectations of others, the expectations of your parents, the expectations of society. And then you have, you know, the inner expectations or the inner aspects of control that are driving and the question is, I think quite a few without maybe reflecting properly over it. They are just accepting these external stressful factors and bringing them inside and saying, well, that's the same thing, that's what I feel, or you they don't even, one doesn't even really kind of reflect over it. And that's part of this process. One of the steps in our book is that we need to think through that and think that, well, what is it that I really value as an individual, what is it that's important for me to achieve? And it could be something that is important also for others, it could be, you know, a good job, it could be an education, but just to really find that be certain that that is what you are interested yourself in achieving that that's your own goal, that's your own belief. And then also making sure that you're taking care of yourself in all aspects of your life on the way to that goal, just like an athlete will do right? To talk about top athletes, they want, they have a very ambitious goal, but they need to then take care of themselves very, very efficiently during their workouts, they can't, if they work out too much, if they stress too much, they're not going to be able to perform at their peak, they're not going to be at their best. They're going to be, they're going to wear themselves down, they're going to really degrade their ability to even perform, you know, in a good way. So that whole inner control is important to understand, well, what is it that I really want to achieve for myself? 


Michael: I find it fascinating that we live in a society that says, work yourself until you're exhausted, hit rock bottom, and then get a trophy for it, because you did such a good job killing yourself. And I have very lofty goals. And I look at what those are. And I measure them against this idea of impacting a million people to create change in their life. And ultimately, my goal being How do I put myself out of a job, meaning that we have created change in a society that has impacted the world in such a great way that I don't ever have to have a conversation about a child being hurt, right? And ultimately thinking about the way that you get there on a long enough timeline is this incredible amount of work. But in these moments, when I feel super stressed, tired, exhausted, I can't go on anymore, I ask myself, do I really need a break? Or am I procrastinating? And if I take a break, I take a break, and I find that I don't beat myself up about it. But so often, that's the first thing we go to, oh, you don't need a break, you're soft, you're weak, you're being a baby. How do you give yourself permission to take a break without beating yourself up?


Dr. Kjell: It's a good point. And it's interesting, you know, that you're discussing this with, you know, you want to change a million lives. And it's, again, I would say I would think in that context really simplifying it in the senses, what is it that you're trying to do, and I’ve heard your podcast, Michael, and they're just brilliant. And I just so respect what you're working and what you're doing. And what you're doing is you're trying to help people, right? So the way that I think about it is that I don't do podcasts, I'm just working as a therapist, but I want to try to help one person at a time, right? And if I can help that one person, then maybe they can be positive influence for some other person, right? And if I can just do that one person at a time, then maybe that's going to grow something that's going to be worthwhile over time. So I try to then simplify it. That's the way I do it for myself, really try to simplify down into something a little more specific, a little more concrete, not larger numbers, not larger amounts of anything, but just one thing at a time having focus and giving it my all for that one experience or what that one opportunity.


Michael: Yeah, you know, I think about that number being very arbitrary, right? Whether it's one or 800 million, it doesn't matter. The point is just the action, right? The point is moving towards it. But so much of it is about moving towards what I find to be value in my life and the way that I want to show up and that's the entirety. And I think that's the thing that people can really take away from this is, can you do something in your life that brings you value, right, instead of worrying about what everybody else thinks that you should be doing? We're starting to run out of time here. And I'm going to ask you a couple more questions. But before I do, can you tell everybody where they can find you?


Dr. Kjell: Well, we have a website, and the website is for the book and everything we're doing in relation to the book. It's www.when crisisstrikes.com. Okay, so that's the website. We're also on Instagram. We both have an Instagram account. It's mostly, mine is mostly just nature photography from Norway. It's @hovikphd. That's my passion. Just trying to be in the moment as I was describing earlier, I started it, I never had an Instagram account before we had the book out. And the publisher said, you need to have an Instagram account. He said, Okay, I'm going to have one. I'm going to put on it what I want. And that's nature pictures from Norway. So that's @hovikphd.


Michael: Beautiful. I love it. And we'll put those links in the show notes. My first of two questions is for someone listening to this right now, who have recognized just through this conversation that perhaps they're dissociated, or they've been impacted by chronic stress or toxicity or whatever that thing may be, if you were to give them just one tool that they can walk away with today that they can implement into their life starting right now, what would that be?  


Dr. Kjell: I think if there's one thing that I would really kind of emphasize, what is it you have control over? What is it you have control over? Maybe also thinking, what do you not have control over? I kind of often find that people often really stress the most about what they don't have control over. That's just terrifying. And worrying about what if, what if, what if, what if. If it's out of your control, it's out of your control, right? But what you do have in your control, that's something you can do something about, right? And things that are very concrete in your everyday life, that's going to maybe, that's going to be able to build self-confidence doing that in the best way that you can. 


Michael: Yeah, I love it. I totally agree. And my last question for you, my friend is, what does it mean to you to be unbroken?


Dr. Kjell: Yeah. Unbroken. Well, it's interesting, you know, my background is clinical neuropsychologist, in our training, we're quite often focused on brain injuries, right. And I’ve been listening to your podcasts, which are just so outstanding. And you're often talking about this idea of trauma, and especially childhood trauma, and that involves an emotional injury, or also more serious than that, but an emotional injury. And these are hidden, I think of them as in a way hidden injuries because you can't really see it, other people can't see it as easily as you can see a broken arm where you have a cast on, or if you're, you know, using crutches or something, then people understand there's an injury there. But if you have either a brain injury or an emotional injury from a trauma, it's not as easily seen. So people are often, maybe not aware of it in the same way. And of course, the people themselves that are having to maybe do a lot of compensation in order to try to deal with it. But I think it's important for these people to really accept it, and accept their situation, and then work to change whatever they have in their control, again, make something better out of their life, from what they can deal with and accept the situation. And try to get away from looking and trying to meet all the expectations of everybody coming from the outside or demanding things from the outside and being just whole and satisfied with their own person and their own abilities and their own activities and their own way of living their life. 


Michael: I could not agree more. When I wrote the six principles of healing, one of them was acceptance. And that is a really hard thing for people to palette, because that means that something bad did happen. And the only way we can move through the things that have happened to us is by being able to have a rational understanding. Put them where they need to go and step through it, not to avoid it not to run from it, but to say yes, this happened. Now. What can I do about it? Dr. Kjell Tore Hovick, my friend, this was an amazing conversation. Thank you so much for being here. Unbroken nation, please like, subscribe, follow, leave a comment and rate the podcast it would mean the world to me. And until next time, my friends be unbroken. I'll see you.

Dr. Kjell Tore HovikProfile Photo

Dr. Kjell Tore Hovik


A psychologist specialized in clinical neuropsychology, Kjell Tore took his doctorate on emotional, thought, and behavior problems in youth with developmental disorders. He received the distinguished PhD of the Year award for his thesis dissertation in 2017.

He currently works at a psychiatric facility in Eastern Norway treating teenagers and young adults with complex thought disorders, and working with their families and teachers to ensure optimal conditions for growth and well-being. Having studied in the United States, France, the United Kingdom, and Norway, he has authored and co-authored more than 17 peer-reviewed academic articles on subjects relating to behavior regulation. He contributed two chapters to Executive Functions in Health and Disease (ed. Elkhon Goldberg), which was awarded the prestigious British Medical Association book award for advancing knowledge in the field of psychiatry in 2018. Based on his studies and clinical practice, he has developed a non-invasive process intervention approach to behavior modification. As a former member of the Norwegian Professional Golf Association, he has practical experience training elite athletes using mental training techniques to boost their peak performance potential. He has also participated in a Norwegian TV program aimed at helping persons with neuropsychiatric conditions find employment based on their unique intellectual and emotional strengths and weaknesses. Dr. Hovik is Editor-in-Chief of Nevropsykologi, which is the peer-reviewed journal of the Norwegian Neuropsychological Society.

Michael UnbrokenProfile Photo

Michael Unbroken


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