Nov. 11, 2022

Finding Purpose in Pain: Practical Tips for Trauma Healing with Joseph James

In this episode, Michael Unbroken speaks with Joseph James, a former U.S. Marine and Law Enforcement Veteran, business owner, father, International inspirational speaker, and Alpha Leadership Coach who helps people find purpose in their pain. Joseph shares...
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In this episode, Michael Unbroken speaks with Joseph James, a former U.S. Marine and Law Enforcement Veteran, business owner, father, International inspirational speaker, and Alpha Leadership Coach who helps people find purpose in their pain. Joseph shares his own powerful story of overcoming trauma and finding his own purpose, as well as practical tips and strategies for listeners to do the same.

Through their conversation, Michael and Joseph delve into the importance of embracing your pain and using it to fuel your growth, as well as the role of forgiveness, mindfulness, and self-care in the healing process. Whether you're dealing with your own personal trauma or simply looking to deepen your personal growth journey, this episode is packed with insights and inspiration to help you find purpose in your pain.

Join us for this thought-provoking and inspiring episode of the Think Unbroken Podcast, and start unlocking your true potential today.

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Michael: Hey! What's up, Unbroken Nation! Hope that you're doing well wherever you are in the world today. Very excited to be back with you with another episode with my guest and friend, Joseph James. Joseph, my friend, what's going on brother? How are you today?

Joseph: All doing great, brother, just so thankful and so honored Michael to be on your show and be able to bring some value to your listeners. Thank you, sir.

Michael: Yeah, man, it's an honor. I know your story personally, and you and I connected, gosh, it might have been almost like two years ago now, or something crazy like that. And it's just a harrowing journey of resilience and working through the pains of life and that part of us that it's just like Bro, can I have a break? And yet here you are persevering, still stepping forward in your truth every single day and it's really beautiful and I won't tell the story cuz I think that's your place. But I'd love if you give us a little bit of background on how you got to where you are today.

Joseph: Yeah, Michael, and thank you so much. It's definitely a relentless pursuit and you've got to be, you know, cuz we all go through life's challenges and adversities and some things just break people and some things are meant to break people and they become stronger. And I think that's ultimately just what happened to me. You know, I grew up in a very abusive home, my dad was verbally and physically abusive to not only my mom, but my siblings, myself, and I went throughout a lot of my life, even to adulthood always dealing with rejection, but yet seeking approval from somebody that I was never getting it from. You know, I would do things to, or for my dad to just get that approval, just get that acceptance, you know. And I mean, from sports to studying about things that, it was interesting to him to even joining the Marine Corps just to get that approval from my dad that it wasn't until years, years later into my early almost thirties that I started to even get that. You know, I grew up with a rejection when my mom passed away when I was 26, and I really wished it was my dad. You know, I hate to say that, but I had just developed a hatred towards him even though we were cordial, we didn't fight when we were together, as I grew up, probably ‘cuz I could whoop his ass. I don't know, you know, by then, I just didn't have the relationship. But over the next 14 years, my dad, we became best friends, you know? And it took a lot of healing, it took a lot of forgiveness on my part, you know? And it ultimately took the death of my mom, his wife, you know, for him to be broken. But when my dad died, he did die my best friend however, it didn't stop there for me, you know, 22 days later, my wife passed away of stage four colon cancer, leaving me with three kids. One of 'em was a one-year-old, you know, and I'm just like, Oh my God, what in the world do I do? But ultimately, in long story short, is I found my why in the midst actually, it was the night that she was passing away. I found my why of why I was going through the pain and the struggles in life, you know, and that's ultimately what I held onto to start finding myself. And I was doing a lot of things wrong. I was traveling all the time trying to find myself, and I was not finding myself very fast, you know? But I had to take a step back. I had to start focusing on me, you know, as an individual, just to be able to process things.

Michael: Yeah. I mean, you know, so many things come to mind when I hear your story and when I think about just the amount of, for lack of a better way to phrase it, suffering that we go through in the human experience and for it to start so young. You know, I think and I look back on my relationship with my stepfather as a kid, and dude, when my mom died, you know, of a drug overdose, I remember being like, damn, I wish he would've went with her. I wish that, you know, I hate this guy so much hatred, so much anger. Now, there was never a reconciliation between he and I and you know, at this point in my life, through all the therapy, through all the work, I've been able to release and let go of those things. But for a long time, it was just like, Man, I hope this guy just dies in a fiery crash and that's a really terrible thing to say, but it's like, that's the impact of what trauma and what abuse does to us. Right.

Joseph: Because we think that's what brings the healing. And they're gone if we can, you know, I wished it was my dad that died, you know? Or for like in your instance, the same thing I wish it was both of them because we feel like that would bring closure when ultimately it doesn't.

Michael: Yeah. Why do you think that is?

Joseph: Well, the damage is internal. You know, it's just like we kind of like living with the concept of, I put my hand on a hot stove and it burns me. Well, if I take my hand off the hot stove, the pain will stop, but the damage is still there. And so, the damage is what's causing the pain even though we sync the removal of the hand on the hot stove or the hand on the burner will release the pain it doesn't because the damage. And so ultimately, we look at it in a term of if we can get them out of their life, it'll stop. Well, the constant damage or the continual damage may stop, but now we're dealing with what's already happened done, it ultimately doesn't work. Yeah. Removing the hand from the fire. My dad no longer, or my dad being gone, it takes away pain from continually to happen, you know, like getting out of the relationship. But it doesn't stop the internal pain that we've suffered until we start learning how to deal with it.

Michael: Yeah. And there's so much anger, right. I think, and especially we'll speak to this conversation as men, just so much anger as a kid, I remember having and just being like, somehow, some way I'm gonna validate all this. I'm going to matter. I'm gonna show these motherfuckers. And I remember that really being the vernacular I had being like, I'm gonna show. I don't care. Like watch me. Watch me. Have an amazing, incredible life. And I will say this to this date, my life is amazing and incredible like I love what I've been able to transform into, but for a long time it was like, I don't know about you, but it felt like I was hurting myself to prove to them that the way they hurt me wasn't as big of a deal.

Joseph: Absolutely. You know, it becomes a driving force to begin with and I think there's nothing wrong with that, but I think what ends up happening is that becomes our why and our why just fuels more of the hurt and pain versus I want to be healed, and that becomes my why. And they're both powerful, don't get me wrong. Being upset and allowing that to drive you to become better is a great saying. However, it ultimately becomes a thing that's, not healing for us. I want to be healed as my driving force to what they did, and by me being healed, not just successful, not just making more money, or not even just doing the things that they all the things that they said I couldn't do, but me being a healed individual where your words, your actions, the things that you did to me, that's what no longer bothers me and because of that, I can go on and do bigger and better things than you ever even imagined for me.

Michael: Yeah. And I think a big part of it for me has been in that moment specifically, right? Because like, let's face it, like anybody who thinks that you'll go through this journey and those words, those visions, those voices, those moments never come back again like you're completely wrong, right? But the thing that's really powerful about when those come back when you are on this path is you get to this place where you go that's not true. That's not true. That is not who I am. That is not what I'm going to accept. When you were growing up, when you go and look at this period of time of, I'm gonna call it placating, right? I'm gonna put words in your mouth because we bend ourselves for survival as people who come through traumatic childhoods, right. We're like, whatever we have to do, you know, you and I have talked about this before, I've said, you know, trauma is the theft of identity. It's not these cuts and these scars and all these things, it is, but it isn't; it's the theft of who we are. When you look back and you think about all this time that you spent trying to make other people happy, your father particularly, like it just doesn't work. Why do you think that you did that, and what do you think became the real turning point for you to recognize, actually I need to do this stuff because I choose to?

Joseph: Yeah, so one thing, I think the reason why we do it is ultimately where does our first love of a relationship come from? It comes from our mom or it comes from dad, it comes from that relationship cuz that's what we are brought into this world knowing or starting to learn to understand. Okay. So, when we experience love even or what we feel should be loved, the desire to survive. Right? Because as children, as a baby, we don't know that we need food to survive even though we cry for it, okay. But at some point, in time we feel the feeling of somebody holding us, the embrace, the warmth. Okay. When we're hurt, when we scrape our knee. And so, we go through and those things that at ages that we don't even know how to process yet. And infant first born doesn't know it's hungry, and that's why it's crying, you know, but what ends up happening, whether it's the holding of the bottle or the breastfeeding, there's an embrace there. And the reason why that is because in the womb, you're coddled in the room. Okay. And so, we're learning or we're longing for that same embrace once we're born, even though we can't process that information. Right? So, we're looking for that love and when it's not given to us, then we're trying to start doing things to make that individual happy so they will return the love that we once felt to us because we don't know even at your young age when you know being born and being born to a drug addict mother, you don't know that you weren't being loved because you couldn't process what love was at that time. As you got older, you're able to start reasoning things because then our mind starts to develop. But to begin with, even the warmth of being in a womb feels love to us where it's internally developed, you know, from the very start of conception and then that's what I believe anyways. Okay. And so, then we're looking for it and we're looking for that same feeling and we're looking, but we're also looking for a safe place and to kind of like make a little twist on this to your question is, you know, ultimately men, why do we hold in so much? Because in our generation, you and I we're whole, that we couldn't express our feelings. You can't cry, you can't do these things, but, and all we are trying to do is to, is to express, you know. And so, then it becomes back full circle to where I don't get to express how I truly feel and because of the expression, every time we start to shade a different color of what love really is. Now we are just looking for some sort of will you just listen to me? That's love. Will you just allow me to talk? That becomes love. Will you? Because now we've gone away from them. I'm holding you aspect, I am buying you gifts aspect, or I am telling you love. We're just looking for something that makes us feel validated in the way that we're processing or living at that moment. And then ultimately, we're looking for that, okay? I notice this in terms of, in my coaching you see this a lot in women, okay? And this isn't a single out that men don't have this issue, but you know, when women hear the right words from a male, okay, it doesn't take much to trigger them to be sexually open, it really doesn't. Okay. Not saying that somebody's promiscuous or anything like that, but ultimately, it's a longing for something that they don't have currently or didn't have. And that's why you will see people jump from a relationship to a relationship including males because we're ultimately looking for something that we didn't have. When I didn't have the father figure, I would go to other males looking for them to be a father figure to me because I couldn't get it where I thought I should have, where I once did and so, I was hoping to get it from somebody else.

But to answer your question, ultimately it all has to come from the internal self of, I love me the way I am, doesn't matter what other people say and it's hard for a lot of people to come to that realization. And honestly, Michael, I didn't start experiencing that until after my wife died and I struggled with even feeling like I was attractive enough to go out and seek the opposite sex, to go look for a new girlfriend or new fiance or new wife or whatever the case is, because I didn't have the internalness of feeling secure because I was put down by so much as a younger kid, and I never had those things that I wanted affirmed.

Michael: Yeah. And we'll go to any means necessary to find those things. And I think Tony Robbins talks about this so much that one of the six core human needs is significance. And we will do whatever it takes to get that and you know, you can go look at the words that we use with each other. I mean, how often in your life. And I experienced this personally, did I have a connection with an older male figure? And they just say one nice thing to me, and I'm like, Oh my God like, fucking adopt me. Please God, take me home. And then that transpires if you're not paying attention, I don't think most kids are into, man, my coaches are like my dad and my teachers are, and then suddenly like that's gone. And then now it's like, okay, well what is love? What is admiration? What is connection? And it's like, how many people can I sleep with? How many people can I be connected to in an intimate way where I think that sex is actually the connecting factor of love, right? And then like you go down this path long enough and then one day you find yourself like, oh wait, my life's actually a fucking disaster because I'm seeking, I'm trying to find this external validation and I'm praying that somewhere out here it's going to fill me up. And one of the hard things is also and again, speaking to as a man, like growing up, the way I grew up, and I'm not defaming what I'm about to say ‘cuz I love it like rap music and movies and just the way that I MTV in the nineties, like I thought men was, you know, chicks and bikinis and champagne showers and 80,000, a hundred thousand dollars cars and all these clothes and I live that lifestyle, man. And it was like this, it was never fulfilling. You talked about this realizing that it has to come internal, and I agree entirely and wholeheartedly. But you didn't realize it until after your wife's unfortunate passing. And that to me, just if I don't have words for it, I've never been married, I don't have kids, but it feels devastating, it feels like, I mean, you know, I guess at heart I'm romantic. I love to watch all these beautiful movies about love and relationship and the most that I know about it is that, right. Heartbreak from a breakup is one thing, but heartbreak from a loss is a whole other. I would love if you would kind of talk about like what transpired in that time for you, not necessarily in her death, but what transpired to lead you to that place of going wait a second, maybe it does start with me first.

Joseph: Yeah. So, you know, ultimately is right after the birth of our third child, right towards the end of it, right before she had the baby is doctors had noticed a mass on her liver. Okay. And she ended up having a c-section, brought the baby early a couple weeks after the birth, they found out that it was stage four colon cancer. And of course, we're going on this journey as a family, you know, and I'm trying to be the strong one. I'm also like doing Facebook Live videos and just pouring out my heart. I'm crying like a big baby a lot of times, but I had run across a message somebody had actually sent it to me on Facebook and it was the last two or three minutes of their pastor preaching his sermon at church. Right. And you know, I grew up in a faith-based family, you know, and he shared a scripture in the Bible and in a nutshell, it talked about we go through painful experiences so we can empathize or we can feel what other people are feeling. Okay. And I had heard it about halfway through a couple months after my wife had been diagnosed and I'm like, Babe, this is why you're going through cancer. So, you can touch and you can relate to other people, you can empathize and you can, you know, talk to them and help them through what they're going through.

And I don't even know if she ever watched the video when I sent it to her, but the night that she was passing away, she was going through the stages of death there. And I'm scrolling through her Facebook and I'm answering everybody that's sending their condolences. And I see this video. And Michael ultimately what the pastor said, he says in the book of Hebrews, it says, “For we have not a high priest who can't be touched with the feeling of our infirmities.” And he went on to explain that again, we can't touch what we can't feel. I don't know what it's like to go through a divorce cuz I've never been through one. I don't know what it's like to lose a child or because I've never lost one. But you and I both know the trauma behind growing up in a very abusive family, your parents drug addicts, mine weren't, you know. But I dealt with in different aspects, we both can relate to each other. We can both speak volumes in our life with that. I notice it's like to lose my dad and then my wife I can relate to people. So, I believe that things that we do go through in life, that there's a purpose for it. Okay. And I call it purpose through pain. You know, everybody, I believe the purpose is different, but for me, when I watched that video that night, I started sobbing and I'm like, Oh my God, that's my why. My wife was the quiet one. She would've never got on a podcast, never did any of the videos, and I was sharing the journey. She wasn't the type that would get up in front. She was type B personality all the way. I'm the type A, I don't have a problem getting up in front of people I speak, you know? So, for me it was more of a value for me to go through what she went through, ‘cuz I was gonna be the one telling the story because Michael, I believe truly heart wholeheartedly that vulnerability when we share our story, we're vulnerable, right? Vulnerability brings healing to us, but it's our transparency of telling the story that brings healing to other people.

Michael: Yeah, it's true and it's difficult. And finding that why is, and look, I think that especially in the personal development space, you hear that all over the time but I promised you it's gonna come when it comes. People ask me this all the time, like, how do I find my purpose? I'm like, I don't know, I don't know like, I literally have no idea because Think Unbroken started for me at three o'clock in the morning after a breakup. And being like, Oh, this person keeps calling me broken like, wait a second. Hold on. Something's a skew here. And I do think that there is some truth in turning your pain into purpose. And I think that ultimately if you can be of service in some ways, and it doesn't have to be like this, right? I think people get it misconstrued all the time. They're like, Oh, well if I don't have a freaking podcast and if I don't write books and if I'm not, no like, you could be literally the greatest little league coach of all time or you could be the guy or the girl who shows up to their kid's band practice, like, you know, whatever that thing is like, you can be great at those things. And I think that it doesn't have to be big giant. I have to be Tony Robbins cuz you don't. Right? And you just have to be you and the version of you that feels most content and okay with that. One of the things I'm wondering, obviously to sit here on the other side of some really hard life experiences, I think it would be a miss to not talk about your healing journey. What was it like for you? What were kind of some of the cornerstones or the key pillars that have helped you get to where you are today?

Joseph: Great question, Michael. You know, when I kept on getting the question from people after my wife passed away, and of course I'm traveling, I'm going to all these different events and I'm trying to find myself right, and after about six weekends of being gone somewhere in the world six straight weekends, I just realized, I'm like, well, traveling's not helping me find myself at all. But it wasn't until about five or six months later, that I just kept on getting the question, like, Joseph, how are you so happy? Why are you still smiling when all this has gone on to you, has happened to you? Because, you know, it didn't stop with my wife's death. I almost lost the baby two months later, he had to be life flighted to a hospital because of malnutrition. And long story short, he spent 45 days in the hospital, took doctors 30 days to figure out that he had gluten, he had celiac disease, so he couldn't eat anything gluten.

So, he'd eat it, his body couldn't process it, and then he'd vomited it up, or he'd have diarrhea, you know? And so, his body wasn't holding onto anything, you know? And so, I like literally after that, I'm like, Dude, are you serious? God? I'm like, I'm about to lose my son now. I mean, what else? You know? But I found that it was several months later after just a repeated question I'm like, Okay, Joseph, what have I been doing that's helped me get through this process where I can smile?

And here's a couple things and I want you listeners to really pay attention is number one is you have to take time to grieve. And what I mean by that is I actually did my grieving in increments, but I didn't realize I was doing it until later on when I would do my Facebook Live video and I would share to people what my family was going through in the journey and the update on my wife, I mean, don't get me wrong, Michael, I was crying like a little baby, you know. And the video would probably last about 15–20-minute live video and then I had to go back inside. I had to dry up my tears. I had to be the strong person for my wife and for my kids not that I was afraid for them to see me broken because I knew that it would bring this somberness and more brokenness around the whole family. And I just knew at that time, my wife's mindset was that if I gave up me, she would too because she already wanted to, you know? And so, I had to learn to take my time of grieving and then go be strong. Now, my times of being strong may have only lasted for a few minutes, and then I went back to grieving, you know. I realized later on, I'm like, all I was doing was giving myself time to grieve and the reason why I do say that is think of it like when it's like misty raining outside, it's like a drizzle, okay? And it's like that all day long. We wanna stay in bed, we want to sleep, we don't want to go to work. It just brings this feeling about us just like, Man, I just wanna be lazy today, we every, every human feels it why it happens. I don't know if it's atmospheric pressure. I don't know. I'm not a weather guy. I have no freaking clue. Okay? But everybody goes through that feeling versus, Oh look, it's just gonna be a torrential downpour and what do we say about torrential downpours? It'll last an hour and then the sunshine's gonna come out, you know and we don't think nothing of it, but it's the somber feeling of all-day of going through that grief that makes it an all day and then it turns into two days and it turns into three days. So, I had my moment, so I say this is when you grieve, take 15 minutes and grieve, and then dry up your tears even if it only lasts for a minute because as we know that habits, we create habits. Grief for 15, dry up and be strong for one. If it starts all over, okay? Then the next time it'll be two minutes, and then it'll be five, and then it'll be an hour, and then it'll be half a day that you're, okay. I'm grieving, but I'm also strong. So that's number one.

Number two is forgiveness. You've got to forgive yourself.

Forgiveness is way more about for us, forgiving ourselves for what we are telling and the lies that we're believing and the actions that we've allowed to happen to us versus the other person and what they did, because we can blame the other person. My dad's gone, I could still be blaming him, it's not going to do anything, you know?

Number three is creating dreams, goals, and vision.

Michael, when you lose your dad and your wife, when you have a traumatic experience like that for me anyways, I didn't wanna get outta bed. I wouldn't say that I was clinically depressed, but I probably was. I didn't wanna get outta bed, I didn't wanna do anything. For me, I wanted to travel. I know people that, like when they were going through addictions, like their new addiction from alcohol was going to the gym. We call it going to therapy, but can also become a bad addiction as well because of our mindset behind it. But for me, I tell people this, when you're stuck. We all talk about in the transformational world or the personal development world, we talk about 1, 3, 5, 10 year goals. Right? I'm sure you've done 'em, you know, we were talking numbers earlier and how you've already mapped out things for Think Unbroken. But forget the one, three and five years when you can't even get outta bed. Okay? And this is where I said start in baby steps. To me, I just needed to sit up in bed, that was it, that was my goal for the day. Just sit up. Then the next day it was sit up and put my feet on the floor. I may have only done that for five minutes, and then it laid back down. Yeah, I would tell my kids go fix something to eat. I'd use the bathroom when I had to, you know. But ultimately, by creating the small dreams and goals, I was able to then go from sitting up in bed, to getting on the couch, to making a cup of coffee, to doing things, to going out, to going back to work. I had to do those in baby steps.

And the last one, and I think this is one of the most important ones besides just even the forgiveness, is finding someone to help and help them.

By me doing that, when I was sharing my story, I was helping people and I didn't even know it, but I would have people reach out to me Michael was like, Hey man, ladies reach out to me. He's like, my marriage was in shambles and my husband and I ran across your Facebook Live video and like, our marriage is healed now just because of hearing the love you talked about with your wife, you know. I was just sharing my story, but I realized that when I started to coach other people, and it wasn't like I was set out to coach anybody, people just kept on asking me for advice. But when I would put my feelings and my emotions and my issues aside and help somebody else, I realized that my answers of helping me were coming through me, giving them answers and helping them. So, find somebody to help.

Michael: Yeah. And all those things are practical. I mean, you know, at the beginning of my journey, and I've mentioned this quite a few times, it was literally like, can I just brush my damn teeth today? You know, and it was hard because if you are mad at the world, you hate yourself, you wanna burn everything down, which I promise you, at 26 years old, man, I wanted to burn everything down. All of it. And it was wild because I just remember so much just being pissed off at the world all the time. And that's the thing, man, like we all have the right, you have the right to be pissed off and you should be like, you should like, you should feel the emotions of pain and anger and strife and grief and allow those things to exist because if you don't feel those, you can't feel happiness and joy and love and connection. There's a Ying and yang to life and there is always going to be the intersection between where those two things exist. And I think that you have to have, it's easy to shut down. It's easy to shut down, but you have to have the willingness to not shut down. And I think about this a lot too, it's not even necessarily just your kids or your spouse or your coworkers, employees, strangers are watching, they're watching because they're looking up to you, you don't even know it.

Joseph: Yeah. And you know, also Michael, it's like when you said about the strangers, it's not just about hearing your story, it's watching what you're doing. People kept on looking at the smile, right? I'd get back on Facebook and they'd see the smile, and they didn't see all the struggles. And it's not that I was trying to hide them, but what they were paying attention to is, man, I already know what he went through but he's not living like he just lost his dad and his wife. And then they start to realize like, man, you know, and I always tell people, don't ever compare your pain. Your pain of going through what you went, I don't know because I didn't live like that, you know, to a degree anyways. I mean, I have my fingers, you know, I can't imagine what that was like. But when we start to compare pain, then we start to downplay our own because we don't want to feel selfish. I didn't downplay my pain, you know, I learned how to take it and just start moving forward with it because again, by sharing my pain, by sharing, allowing people to see, man, I don't know how I'm gonna overcome this, but I'm gonna figure out along the way, and there's not gonna be a thing that I probably do right and there's probably not gonna be a thing that I do wrong. I'm just gonna do it, you know, because, Michael, where's the instruction booklet on how to deal with trauma, how to deal with pain, how to deal with a drug addict parent, how to recover from getting beat. I mean, books a million is full of what do you do when you lose your dad and your wife all in 22 days? It's not there. It's not there. And so, you know, the encouragement that I do have for people is just do something. Okay. Because you don't know if you're right. You don't know if you're wrong until after it's done. If you do it and you're like, well, I shouldn't have probably done that. Oh, okay, then tomorrow, don't do it.

Michael: Yeah, and don't beat yourself up about it. Dude, you're gonna fuck up so many times and it's like, look, I'm not married. I don't have kids. I dunno if it'll happen, but if it does, and I'll tell you this, I'm probably gonna fuck up all the time.

Joseph: And I'm gonna encourage you that you are.

Michael: Well, my thought is like I've predetermined in the same way that I do everything in my life is understand that it's an iterative process that we are learning and meaning making machines and that you should go for it, you should figure out what happens on the backside of just trying. And I don't know about you, but it's never not scary, it's never not, it's never not this thing. I've never had a moment where I was like, Oh, complete peace. Right? Because it's always just like, all right, wait a second. Hold on. There's no tool book. There's no playbook. I don't really know what I'm doing, but I have a pretty good idea. And until I can prove that hypothesis wrong, it's just like I go forward and I think that's so much about what this conversation is, because whether we like it or not there is pain, there's suffering, there's hurt. But on the backside of it, you know, look at how you and I connected and met like in this place where we go sit in this room to make our lives better because we made a decision to invest in ourselves because we decided that we are worth it. And that's the biggest thing is like, you've gotta be worth. People put a higher value of worth on material possession than they do on their own livelihood. And it's like, I've been on this kick a lot lately, but there ain't no shoes on planet Earth that are gonna make you feel good about yourself.

Joseph: That's right. And you know, the thing Michael was like, you know, and people that may be asking the question is like, well, what do I need to do to make myself feel good? Whatever that you feel in terms of and not material things I'm referring to personal development, whether that's seeking a counselor or a therapist, or going to a minister. For me to begin with, I just wanted to travel, I went to dog training seminars because I own a dog training business and I thought that just by being around great friends and doing some of those things would help. None of it really did until I actually started doing things that invested that I was investing in myself to make myself better in terms of just changing the way I was thinking, you know?

Michael: And what did that look like?

Joseph: Yeah, so, you know, honestly, the first one that I ever went to was it's funny, I have a little funny story about a gentleman, and I'll mention his name here in a second, is before my wife passed away, I kept on seeing this guy on Facebook, right? And he's got this big old raspy voice, really super tall and he's doing all these motivational videos and stuff, and I'm like, I can't get past this guy's voice and he probably just started and I was getting really agitated. I'm like, he must be really good and dumping a lot of money into Facebook ads. Right. And after my wife passed away, I'm actually in Canada. I'm doing an evaluation on another dog training business and my brother calls me up and he says, Joseph, he says, we gotta go to this he says, it's time we gotta take our businesses to the next level, and I want to go to this business master program, and I'm like, well, who's it with? And he is like, it's with Tony Robbins. I'm like, no, dude. I can't. I can't get past this voice. And this dude probably just started now, this is 2018, at the beginning of 2019. Now everybody listening, the reason why I'm laughing because in 2019, Tony Robbins had been speaking for over 40 years. So, I just discovered him, but I discovered him at the right time, Michael, and we signed up to go to the bus. My brother sent me a video and I kid you not, I listened to the video and I begin to weep and I said to myself, I'm going to speak on stage with Tony Robbins, that's exactly what I said. I didn't tell anybody. I just spoke it to myself. Okay. And I don't know that was March of 2019 in June, or right around maybe the next month, couple weeks later, I saw that he was gonna be in Atlanta at a smaller conference. Okay. But he was still the main keynote speaker. So, I called my brother up, I said, Michael, let's go to this event and it was more of a personal development event than his business mastery was. And we went VIP, we sat up right in front, and this is something that really changed my life right here, is Tony actually had us stand up and do an exercise about writing down our goals for the next year. Okay. Two things that stop us from reaching those things, those goals, and then two things that our mind that we constantly think about. And it was funny because the morning of the event, I had never told anybody, and I said, Michael, my brother, I says, mark my words. I'm going to speak on stage with Tony Robbins, that's all I said. And he's like, Dude, just manifest it. I'm like, that's what I'm doing. Needless to know that I know that seven hours later I was being called up out of the crowd to speak on stage with Tony, and he wanted us to share what the exercise that he just had us do. One thing that he said to me and I told him, you know, I just lost my wife. And he says, the fact that you're standing here means I'm not worried about you, Joseph. And Tony does a lot of therapeutic work with people, healing, things like that, you know? And for him to say that I'm like, at least I feel like I'm on the right track. I didn't know that I was, but I'm like, at least with him saying that, I felt like I was heading down the right track. And then, I started seeing people there out the crowd. People started coming up to me afterwards wanting me on their podcast, different things. But what I saw that really made things different for me is I saw young women that were in their twenties already doing six and seven figures with their life, and I didn't know that it was possible at that age, and this was only a couple years ago, Michael. Okay. I'm thinking, Oh, you gotta be in your forties and fifties to be making six and seven figures. But these ladies were in their mindset was totally different. And I'm like, now I know I can heal and work towards something in my life because eventually I knew that I was gonna get remarried, even though I was still grieving my wife. I wasn't looking for somebody right then, but I saw something that gave me a vision of what I wanted in the future, and I grabbed a hold of it. And it may be different for every person, you know, whether it's to speak, you know, whether it's just going to somebody that can speak into your life because here's the thing, Michael, like I said earlier, I don't know that I was doing right or wrong, but I knew I didn't wanna stay where I was at. And so I just had a try and if I failed trying, at least I failed trying to move forward versus just, well, it's been 10 years, Michael, and I'm still in the same place. I'm still telling the same story, and I know that there's people out there, and it breaks my heart to hear that just try something different than what you're doing and that's what healing honestly looked like for me, is I didn't know how to heal Michael, I was just doing things that came natural to me because I knew I didn't wanna stay where I was at.

Michael: Yeah, I mean, that's beautiful. And I use that terminology all the time like I don't know what better means like I really don't, but I know what different means I can measure different, I can look at different, and if you take a different action every single day, well a year later you've taken 365 different actions and there's a 0% chance your life won't be different if you do that. Right. But you know it, so much of it does come down to the willing to trust yourself to just say, yeah, you know what, I'm gonna see what happens when I get uncomfortable. I'm gonna see what happens when I step into the unknown. I'm gonna see what happens when I spend my last penny on myself. And in doing that, like life is incredible and the things that will come from that and will come to pass are things you can't even imagine. And you can write your goals, and you can do the journaling and the meditation, the visualization, all of that, none of that stuff matters unless you take the steps. And that's my hope that people listening will find some inspiration to do so today, my friend This conversation's been amazing, before I ask you my last question, can you please tell everyone where they can find you?

Joseph: Yeah. Best place to find me is on Instagram. It's @meetjosephjames, and I also do have my podcast called Purpose Through Pain it's on all the major outlets, Apple, Google, Spotify, a couple other ones, but meet Joseph James. Feel free to reach out to me.

Michael: Brilliant. And of course, we'll put the links in the show notes for the Unbroken Nation. My last question for you, my friend, what does it mean to you to be unbroken?

Joseph: You know, Michael, for me, and first I just wanna say I love the name because I know that came from your heart, you know, and unbroken to me is being able to take the pieces of life that have been damaged that other people caused in our life that we had no control over. But putting those things back together in our own way, and I know that you say this about being the hero of your own story or being the hero of your journey. I like to even add to it is create your own journey and that's by being and having the mentality of being unbroken because when somebody does come by and try to shatter me to pieces by life circumstances or challenges, I get to put the pieces back together myself and I get to design it, and that's my friend is being unbroken.

Michael: Love it, my friend. Thank you so much for being here.

Unbroken Nation. Thank you so much for listening.

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And Until Next Time.

My friends, Be Unbroken.

I'll see you.

Michael UnbrokenProfile Photo

Michael Unbroken


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

Joseph JamesProfile Photo

Joseph James


Joseph James is a former U.S. Marine and Law Enforcement veteran, business owner, father, motivational speaker and life coach. Joseph has spoken in many venues across the nation and has helped thousands of people understand their purpose in life. After his wife’s battle of cancer, and the journey of pain his family went through, Joseph is now coaching people that have gone through life’s struggles, pain and trauma to help them not just find their purpose through pain but teach them to take their pain and launch them into their destiny.