Sept. 30, 2022

Lee Hopkins - Your Truth is More Important than their Judgment | Mental Health Podcast

Authenticity is a huge part of someone's journey, and for myself and many of you, as I'm sure you...
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Authenticity is a huge part of someone's journey, and for myself and many of you, as I'm sure you would probably guess, being able to step into authenticity is the truest sense of ownership, healing, to live life on your terms.

And that's very much the experience and journey for Coach Lee Hopkins, a transgender man who helps people create lasting friendships. After a massive struggle of identity and trying to figure out who they were, there was an amazing turning of events of finding self-love, compassion, empathy, help, support, community, growth, and ultimately the willingness to step into just radical authenticity and the willingness to stand strong in who they are that became the precedent for this beautiful change and the empowerment that they've been able to give other people to create change in their life as well.

I was very much looking forward to this conversation and excited to share with you today Unbroken Nation.

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Michael: Hey! What's up, Unbroken Nation. Hope that you're doing well wherever you are in the world today. I'm very excited to be back with you with another episode with my guest Coach Lee Hopkins. Lee, my friend, how are you? What is happening in your world today?

Lee: Hey! Michael, I'm doing very well. I'm having a fantastic day.

Michael: Amazing. I'm very glad to hear that, and very excited to have you here on the show to share your story with the Unbroken Nation today. For those who do not know you, tell us a little bit about your backstory, your journey, and how you got to where you are today.

Lee: Well, yeah. My story, I feel like it is a very relatable connecting story with everyone, even I'm a trans man, so I wanted to put that out there right away like that is part of my truth in my person, and I've been running away from that for a very long time. So, back to my origin story essentially is I started. I grew up in Ohio and I always felt like I was really disconnected, I didn't really understand how to make friends with people there. I just heard and understood that I need to find my tribe, I need to find someone else to connect with. So, the people in my hometown just wasn't it for me, so when I had an opportunity to move away to college, I thought this would be it, this would be my ticket to finding my lasting friendships and connections with people because I met people from all over the world, all over the country. And I still felt disconnected, I still felt like I couldn't understand them and they couldn't understand me, I just couldn't be my authentic self, I heard that word buzzing around too when I was growing up authentic self. And at this point in time, I was presenting as female, but I also wanted to date women. So, I was afraid to share that and be open with that with people. So, I thought, well, I need to leave the entire state of Ohio. I need to go somewhere that's more progressive. I need to be connected with people who understand that. So, I moved to California, had opportunity move to California, and I flourished a bit. I started dating women and I connected with people on the karaoke scene, I did a whole lot of karaoke trying to find my tribe. And sure enough, I became like a little mini celebrity a lot of people knew me and I would get high fives or people would know my drinks or they would celebrate me, essentially. But Michael, I still felt very, very lonely, I still feel like no one really understood me and if they knew me, they wouldn't like me. And I figured it's because I'm not being my authentic self and what is that authentic self? It's me being transt's me opening up and being trans. So, I never gave them an opportunity to do in California, never gave 'em an opportunity to, I never opened myself up to them, never gave an opportunity for them to accept me, I just left again. I figured California is wrong and I need to go find a place that fits me, need to go find my tribe still. So, I had an opportunity to move to Chicago where I am today, and that the greatest queer community, this is about the time Kitten Jenner was coming out, and so people who were starting to see trans as more visible and acceptable, and I thought, this is my opportunity, my ticket I found the right people to help me make the medical transition, to make the emotional transition, all the paperwork, everything that comes with transitioning, I had the community to help me do it and I still felt so lonely with these people. And this is where I decided that I didn't know the answer, I didn't know what it meant to be authentic, because if I didn't, if changing my physical body and my appearance wasn't the paramount amount of, you know, the homework what I was hiding, if that wasn't it, then I had no idea what it was. So, I ended up going to therapy and learning more about my own personal behaviors, it was actually group therapy. I learned how to understand myself a little more and my impact in the world, and my thoughts and my feelings, and it made such a huge difference that I had to share it with everybody. I figured out essentially what makes me feel whole and happy and connected to other people, and that's how I became a coach. Discovering that for myself made me wanna share it with everybody. So that's what I do today.

Michael: Yeah. I resonate with a lot of that and I think so much of this journey is stepping into that place of authenticity. You know, just recently we actually released an episode about my journey of stepping into men's group therapy and how transformative that was for me. I think so often we kind of think that if we try to show up in posture in a certain way, that people will like us, they will acknowledge us, they will know us. And even if that does hold true to your point about, you know, there are people who recognize and know and appreciate you, there's still this emptiness that comes along with it because of the lack of authenticity, that was an experience that I certainly went through, especially in my twenties, and I think many people go through because we want to be seen and heard and felt. But the truth about that is when you are bending yourself, for the sake of admiration from others, it's always empty, I've never experienced it in any other way. What were kind of the cornerstones and turning points of you being willing to step further and deeper into who you are?

Lee: Yes, but that's a wonderful question because it took a lot of reflection and understanding that I was repeating the same mistakes or the same pattern of behavior just kept appearing and appearing and it occurred to me is that I knew the results of the pattern of behavior. So going into places and pretending or feeling like I want to connect with them, but I don't wanna be my authentic self. So, I knew that whatever I was doing in the past, I had to change it because I was repeating it over and over and over again. So, the point where I was afraid of making change became less than repeating the pattern. So, I felt like there was more that I could do, I just didn't know what it was, and because I don't know what it was, it was absolutely terrifying, it was scary, but I already know what it's going to be if I don't make that change. Does that make sense?

Michael: Yeah. Were you cognizant that you were not showing up as yourself ‘cuz I think for me, one of the experiences I had was like, I had no real cognizant of the fact that I wasn't being me. And I think a lot of people go through that, maybe through dissociation due to abuse for a lot of different reasons. But were you aware that you were holding back?

Lee: No, absolutely not. I was not aware or I wasn't clear about what I was doing because I thought I was doing the thing to make the friendships. I thought I was being truthful. I thought I was doing what I needed to do to make friendships, and I learned all this stuff from watching TV, essentially, the friendships and the relationships that I've had growing up I've not really seen any, I haven't seen any of the people that lived around me I didn't have a really great example of that. So, I thought that what you do according to nineties TV, you go to a coffee shop and you wait, or you go to a bar and you strike up conversation and you try to be funny and connect with people that way. And I thought, well, that's what you do, I'm not realizing how I'm actually moving through the world. I don't know what's important to me. I don't know what's interesting to me cuz I'm not paying attention to those things. I'm only focused on how I can talk to and connect to the person, which is absolutely inauthentic and who I am, like what I really wanna do, my hobbies and my habits, they don't show up and just trying to strike up conversation for the sake of talking about nothing that's important to me. So, I had no idea what I was really doing, and I really discovered this through just self-exploration. So, a conscious effort to try new things and experience them and understand how I felt about those experiences, let me know that, well, I really like this, I really don't like this thing, and the ability to communicate that to other people has been really helpful in making connections. So, really being aware of the things I'm doing day to day has helped me understand more about my authenticity. I get a say, I get a choice. Do I like this? Do I not like this? How do I really feel about this? And so, that is what helped me become more authentic and step into the realization that, Oh, I didn't know what I was doing before, but now I do.

Michael: Yeah. And there's a lot of vulnerability one has to have for themselves to be able to do that because on this one hand, here you are, and I'll speak from my experience, you're having these human connections, the very thing that we crave, right? The thing that we thrive in, the thing that we want more so in anything on planet Earth. And then the other side is like you're, it's like standing in the middle of a football stadium surrounded by people and being completely. Right. And that's the experience of inauthenticity and I think that's really heartbreaking because there are people who just feel so alone in the wrong relationships, in the wrong friendships, in the wrong communities, in the wrong cities. And you said some, as you're talking about your journey, I thought to myself, something we hear all the time, and that is, wherever you go, there you are and you can run from your truth. But when you sit in it and you think about it, you can't lie to yourself. You cannot hide from yourself as much as you want to, and most often when you do, it's going to carry with some massively negative ramifications. And then you're gonna be faced with something really fucked up, which is like a rock bottom moment in which you have to figure out, okay, wait a second, this isn't actually true of who I am, what do I need to do to change this? You mentioned something that I think is really powerful, and you talked about how you really had these massive discoveries by the willingness to step not only into therapy, but deeper and into group therapy. Where did that seed come from for you, and why did you recognize that that would be important?

Lee: Yes. One of the biggest realizations is that I don't have all the answers to anything, right? No one really does, and I'd like to think that I had known that I could be the only person that knows about myself, right? And so, I had resisted going to therapy because I thought, well, I've had my experiences and I know who I am essentially, I don't need that, I can just go out into the world and have experiences and learn from those experiences. But I went to work, let's say I'm going to work, and I had this new job and it was in a place that I'd never kind of job I've never had before I came from working from a warehouse to working in an office where the language was different, the way people interacted was different, and I had no idea how to interact with the people really. So, I had to ask for help, if I wanted to thrive in this environment, I had to ask for help. So, realizing that, man, these people want me to be successful, they wanna help me, they brought me here for a reason, they want me to be successful. There has to be more people out there in the world who want to do that. And if I just do a quick search online, I find a lot of therapists who are right there who wanna do that for you, who wanna do that for me. And so, what the realization was that I don't have all the answers and by design I don’t, what I can do is ask someone for help. So, that's what I did and so that's how I discovered like going to therapy would be really, really helpful. And in therapy we did this exercise where I learned more, well throughout therapy, I learned more about how I'm interacting with other people and my behaviors and the impact on my behaviors. And before then, I always thought that what I was doing was wrong, it wasn't connecting, it was backwards. I thought everything I did, even though I managed somehow to move from Ohio to California graduate college and with people into karaoke scene, actually talk to people I wasn't paying attention to really good things, the positive impacts that I've had on the world. And therapy really helped me see that to see the positive impacts, I was constantly looking for the negative and the reframe really helped me look for more of the positive and understanding more about what I wanted in life, I could see more of what I wanted in life so therapy was really, really helpful for that. And one of the things that I learned also from therapy that I'll share is that it really helps to have a group to support you and to reflect back what experiences you've had out into the world, because I've always just been seeing the negative things, and now other people can see the good things and they can share it back with me and I trust them. And so, I learned to trust them and also to trust myself.

Michael: Yeah, that's really powerful. I had a very similar experience. I used to be glasses half empty guy, and now I'm kind of like glasses always in the middle guy, it's just fine, it is what it is, I try to be present in that. But there's something really beautiful about people who well, and reinforce the positive about who you are and your truth and honor that and not make you feel like you have to bend or placate and that was my experience, right? And, and finding further and deeper that maybe some of the ideas I had about myself, the world, my experiences, they weren't necessarily right or wrong, they just simply were. And I think that was the greatest discovery that I had. And there was this massive willingness I feel like most people have to be willing to have to face the fear of stepping into the discomfort of an environment like that so that they can actually find and discover at a deeper level who they are because the reflection of your experience happens through human interaction. Right. And I think we often fail to see that. Was there a catalyst in this journey for you in which you were like, wait a second, this is the thing that I know, was it simply therapy as what I'm getting to, or were there other aspects of this journey that really helped you start to solidify who you are? Cause I think a lot of people will immediately go to therapy, solve my problems, and I'm like, Ah, did it though. So, was there more to this?

Lee: Absolutely, you nailed it, you hit that right on the head because there was certainly more therapy was a supportive part of it, but I still had to have my own journey and my own experiences. And one in particular was that I was hiding the fact that I'm a transfer I'm here in Chicago, imagine I'm in Chicago and I wanna connect with people, but I don't want them to know my truth. And in not knowing my truth, I feel like I can make a genuine connection, but there's a conflict there. So, in therapy, we came up with this mindset thing, well just go out and in, you know, go have a good time and focus on making a friend. And sure enough, I did that, I had this idea of one night I would go out, I would go make a friend, I'm on that mindset, I'm gonna be my authentic self and we're gonna make a connection. And I go to a comedy club, I need an awesome guy, we start talking, chatting it up, having a beer and he mentions to me that he has never, ever seen a trans person before and he doesn't understand the process, doesn't know why anyone would ever wanna do that. And I thought, you know what? We're gonna be best friends because I'm going to fill that gap in for you. I'm gonna reveal my authentic self to you, and you are gonna be amazed that you've met such an awesome person, you were so surprised. So, I start talking and I say, Hey, I'm a trans person, his face drops, he says, nothing else, and he leaves nothing else to me gone. And I was devastated, I was absolutely devastated by that, I thought, well, I'd been running from this my entire life and I never wanted to share my truth with anybody and I figured I'm gonna do it, and I'm gonna meet somebody and here's this person, isn't it perfect? Nah. He was done. He was gone. He didn't wanna say anything else to me, and that was a pivotal moment because I realized a whole lot of things, certainly rejection is not about me. I learned that that's not about me after reflecting on that, it's not about me. I thought that if I be my authentic self, also that I would connect with people. And I sure will but not that way that people filter themselves out when I start speaking my truth, I found that people will move away from me if they're not interested, and they'll move closer to me if they can connect to that. I also discovered that, wow, some people don't need to see the truth of who you are that closely, they don't need to know that much about you right up front. If I could read the room again, read the room it was a comedy club and this person had told me some deeply seated beliefs. He was like, I have never understood this. He didn't show up to be traumatized, he showed it up to laugh, he showed up to have a great time, and if I were paying one thing that I learned is that I wasn't paying attention to his needs and what was going on with him, I was not connected to him and there all. I could have talked about something else completely different. And so, those are things that I've carried with me to make different kinds of connections, well connections with other people. But the main thing that I'd like to point out is that it's all about the rejection; the rejection it's more about people kind of filter themselves out and it's not a terrible thing because I didn't die, I didn't, I was okay, I cried about it, I was really upset, but at the end of the day, that was not as painful as being alone, it just wasn't. 

Michael: Wow. That's really powerful. And I think so frequently about this idea that, and I think you hit it right on the head, like, not everyone wants to know who you are, not everyone wants to know your truth. And sometimes when you share your truth, you will find out everything you need to know about that other person. And I think it's really difficult, I was actually just having a conversation with somebody the other day and I was mentioning like I refused to walk on eggshells ever for any reason because for the first 26 years of my life, I lived in silence of who I am. Now a lot of that started in childhood, right? A lot of that started with the you're not good enough, you're not strong enough, you're not capable enough, you know, children are to be seen and not heard and blah, blah blah, the list goes on and on and on. And I found myself in this position where I was like, Oh, holy shit, I don't actually know how to be me and my fear of being me, which now I've learned how to like navigate that pretty effectively is the fear of judgment, of shame, of ridicule of rejection. And I want to go into this for a second cuz I think it's really important, really, truly, it might be one of the most important things we ever talk about on this show is how do you actually (a) reconcile that rejection and in general rejection is not about you. And then (b) how do you not let that destroy you?

Lee: Wow, those are definitely wonderful questions, and I've done a lot of reflection on this, I'm so glad that you asked because I believe that all of us, we're out there looking for understanding. And what we want in a friend or in a connection or anybody relationship, is to have them demonstrate that they understand how we feel. We have feelings about things, about events, and we wanna share that with someone who will reflect back to us our own feelings about that event in a way that we can understand that's what we're looking for. And so, going back to that event where I was rejected in such a blunt, devastating way to me, I could understand that if I read the room, if I put myself in their shoes, how they felt about the experience, and I would learn that it is not about me. I reconcile that because I think, man, this guy, he chose himself. Great for him. He felt very uncomfortable. He was not trying to walk on eggshells. He didn't explain anything to me. He was like, well, I think you're a great person, but blah, blah, blah. He didn't have to, to know me anything. He wanted to be safe, this was uncomfortable for him, and he left. He did what's best for him. Yay him. That's what I say. Congratulations for you. And so, when I need to do those things, I really hope that people understand that it's not about them, but if they can't, then that, that's okay. But I know that when people say goodbye to me and people can't connect me, or people don't quite understand me or whatever it is, it's not about me, it's not a shortcoming that I've had I'm doing just fine. And they're actually doing just fine too, they're taking care of themselves. So that's how I feel about rejection and reconciling that, understanding how they feel about the situation, and I demonstrate how they understand by accepting what they've done.

Michael: Yeah. That to me is a beautiful sign that someone has grown. You know, because even with myself like that, it took me a long time to be able to articulate what you just. Right. And I think so frequently one of the things that we have to recognize is like everyone's having a human experience. None of us ever know what the fuck we're doing and for the most part, people are not bad people. Right. And this is something I've learned and I've discovered the older I get, the more I meet people, the more I'm traveling the world in the country like it is just not. But we're led to believe that when you speak your truth and someone, even if they're dismissive of it, that they're a terrible person or they should be canceled or they should be burned at the stake. And I'm like, no, like fucking fine if people don't like you. And you have to be willing to get to that place, to be okay with it. And I know one of the things that you talk about is about defining yourself and why that is important and I think this is the perfect time to segue into that.

Lee: Yes, absolutely. You know, I almost got stuck, honestly, I almost got stuck on answering this question about not quite defining yourself, but I think it maybe ties a little bit into what you were saying about shame just really quickly about shame is that we have a feeling that things are good or bad. And when it comes to defining yourself, I don't quite think that it serves a purpose to feel good or bad, or label good or bad. And as you said, we are doing essentially the best we can with what we have, where we're doing what we can. And so, I really like to stress that when thinking about defining yourself, you're always doing exactly what you should be doing exactly when you should be doing because by design, we need light and dark, we need up and down, we need to have these experiences, we have these experiences, and labeling 'em as experiences we shouldn't have really causes us a lot of confusion. Like, I shouldn't have had that experience, or I shouldn't have done that. Well, that's a bit of shame and shame's gonna stop you from figuring out how you really felt about the experience. Did you enjoy the experience? Why shouldn't have joined the experience? No, no, no. Look at that and think, I did enjoy the experience and how did it benefit me? What would I do again? Or what would I do differently about it? We wanna look at the experience and really understand and be mindful about the experience and not have all this noise that happens when shame and guilt come into play. So, when you're defining yourself, you really need to be able to forgive yourself, which is understanding yourself more understanding yourself. You wanna look at what you felt about the behavior and not so much shame, not so much guilt, not what other people might think you should feel, but what do you actually feel about that?

Michael: Yeah. And that's a wonderful point. And I think to go even a little level deeper into that, not only about how you feel about it, but like being okay that you feel that way about. You know, and people like beat themselves the fuck up cuz they feel a certain way about something, I'm like, you're figuring it out. I've had some crazy ass experiences in my life, like, some shit I'll never talk about on this show and I'm like, yes, that was really, really cool and amazing and I can't wait to do it again. And then the other side is like, wait, no, no, no, actually, I could not stand this as one of the most miserable things I've ever done in my life. And I always thought to myself, well good now I know, and I think there's a sense of freedom that comes along with that because when you just simply give yourself the space to exist within the context of the experience as opposed to the measurement of what other people believe that you should be, you discover the truth about who you are.

Lee: Absolutely. That's where you discover the authentic self, because you are doing whatever you're gonna do when no one's looking. If there was just one person in this planet, what would you do? And that is your authentic self. So, connecting with your authentic self you go through the world and you have some experiences and you reflect on those experiences, what did you like? What didn't you like? And be careful not to get caught in the trap of shame and guilt because it's really easy to reconcile or I guess stop if you're moving a long life and you stop at feeling shame and you repeat the behavior, you do something and it causes shame and you feel shameful that you feel shame about the experience and completely spiral into a place where you don't take any action and you stop noticing yourself. You're just like, everything's shame, everything that I do is shame. Not really. Remove the shame. It's comfortable to be there, but it's not who you are.

Michael: And I think one important aspect of shame that probably isn't talked about enough is I don't think it's only the emotional conversation that you're having with yourself, but to your point, you've gotta take some action in this, right? You've got to move forward and create momentum towards things that build your confidence, who build who you are, that help you understand your truth. Because if you're not doing that, then you're always just gonna be like sitting on the couch, like guilting yourself about everything. As opposed to like taking these radical shifts and having the willingness to move forward that one of the things that if I could kind of do something different, I wish I would've had a playbook for a lot of this, right? Because so much of my experience was like just diving off the fucking deep end, like I'm going in, let's see what happens. And sometimes it worked out really well and sometimes it didn't but I know that you've talked before about this framework around these three ends, and when you brought this up to me when we first spoke, a few months back when I decided to have you on the show, I thought to myself, Oh fuck, that's the thing I would've wanted. Like, that was the thing. So, I'd love for you to break that down because I think it's really important.

Lee: Yes, absolutely. So, what you're talking about is the three-end framework, which is your needs, negotiables, and your endeavors. And these are what I use to help create better boundaries ‘cuz I was thinking about boundaries if we could just go back to the story with the person who rejected me right away. He said essentially that these are his boundaries and it were all about saying yes to yourself. And most of the time that I'd gone through life, I understood boundaries as being things that you set down, you set limits to people's behaviors, you say no to things, you tell people what you don't want. Most of the time, I've always focused on what I don't want and I had no idea what I do want. And that's also part of your boundary that's a defining characteristic of who you are. I found that as I talked to that gentleman that I did. So, your needs, negotiables, endeavors are to help you understand more about who you are. And they are not just abstract needs, negotiables, endeavors, these are specific actions and behaviors that you want. So, for your needs, I say specific actions and behaviors because we wanna point out what in our environment is causing this feeling. And if it's a need, it's usually a feeling of joy, there's something that's exciting and there's something that you want to continue to repeat in your life, you need to express that. And then there are your negotiables, there are specific actions and behaviors that happen that don't really impact you, but it's good to notice them, it's not really impactful for you, that's not gonna make and break who are or your friendships with other people. And then there are your nevers, these are specific actions and behaviors that you do not want in your life, you do not never want to keep going through in your life. You know how they feel, they're usually feeling things that feel, anger or disgust and fear we're always gonna face that. So, you know, if you put that in that category, you may have a little bit of trouble with it but we're always gonna face those kinds of things. But it's important to know specific actions and behaviors because not only is it important for you to know, but you have to be able to articulate that to another person so they can meet those needs, or they can never do those things that make you feel seen, heard, and understood.

Michael: Yeah. And I think one of the things also is like you have to hold true to those things for yourself like it's everything on the line. Like, I really believe that and I would say the greatest shift in my journey and many people's journey, and I won't put words in your mouth, but I imagine your journey is to not negotiate with yourself about those things.

Lee: Absolutely. And one thing that I did a tool that I use to help me because I'm such a people pleaser, that I would negotiate, I would try and put those things in negotiation. And so, I think, well, how does this benefit me? Because we always do something that's going to benefit us. So, how is it gonna benefit me to bend this one time for this person? And I need to pay attention. Did it have the impact that I want? And was it being a good move, essentially, was it a move that I could do for this one time and it'll be fantastic. Most of the time that didn't happen, most of the time I thought things would benefit me but of paying attention to it. I'm tracking it. I'm not just going ups. I'm not being upset because my boundary had been violated. I made these conscious ways to let my boundary be violated to see if I can get something that I thought I wanted, Oh, that didn't work. Let me fix that boundary, is it right back to where it was because I don't like this. And so, being conscious of that, having that experience and paying attention to it has really helped me hold those boundaries like it's everything on the line. You give up if you want to, but make sure you get what you wanted when you gave it up.

Michael: Yeah. I mean, that's a really powerful truth. And I have come to find in those moments in which I've bend my boundary, which we all do, like, I'll never sit here and be like, oh, I figured it out one time and that was, that held fast forever. I think that's nonsense because the world doesn't work that way. And what I discovered was in those moments and in those times in which I would bend or I would placate, or even to this day if I'm like, Oh, I really want this thing, and I sacrifice a part of who I am for it, I'm immediately reminded why the fuck I don't do? And I think that's one of the really, really important things that people have to hold onto is like recognizing like, just because you think you want, it may not actually be the thing that you want and to effectively bend who you are to get it is dismissive of the experience that you're having and the decision that you've made with yourself. But so much of it, it's a fucking mind game because you're constantly in that ebb and flow in the back and forth of the pressure, of the chaos, of the existence of all those. And that's why I always remind people, if you could get really clear on your values, really clear about your values, it makes it so much more difficult for you to binge your own boundaries to allow people to step into your universe and into your life without the permission of having first gone through that, you know, that gate. This is the stupidest thing I've ever said in my life. If you wanna come into Michael Land, you have to make sure that you are in sync with me and my values. Period.

Lee: Absolutely. And if I could just share something really quick with you about finding people with your values ‘cause I think that it might help really to, to hone in on some values or things that we can connect with other people like really quick, your history, hobbies and habits. Those are things that will really help you find yourself in the right place to connect with other people. Your history, reflect on your history, where you come from, where you're going, your hobbies. The things that you like to do, things that you won't give up and your habits, their daily routines, or whatever that you do and you want to continue to do that, that you just won't give up. And all these things, your history, hobbies, and habits should be things that bring you joy that you wanna share with other people. It's gonna help you make a better connection quicker if you talk about those things as part of who you are.

Michael: Yeah, I totally agree and talk about those things with ownership, like it's okay, you know, and I think we live in this weird world right now, especially where people feel like they can't, like that thing like I will forever, like anime and Pokémon and martial arts and fast fucking cars, right? But I'm also gonna love books and listening to, you know, email, music, and all of those things that make me who I am. And if you don't like it, like I do not give a shit like it's fine. And that's the thing that you have to do is have the willingness to have ownership. You know, I was on a flight recently and this woman said something really off color about one of the tattoos on my leg. And I look at her, I go, that has nothing to do with you. And we have to remember to hold our boundaries and to when people want to bend us to them to hold fast because that's everything at the end of the day.

Lee: Absolutely wonderfully said.

Michael: Lee, this conversation's been absolutely incredible. Before I ask you my last question, please tell everyone where they can find out more about you.

Lee: Yes, so you could find me at I have 10 tips for making memorable conversations as well as a free course Understanding Connections, and you could find me at and on all social media at patterns of @patternsofpossibility.

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

Lee: Wow. Being unbroken means to be your whole self. I think that the authentic truth of who you are and not hiding away from that, like you said, ownership of it, ownership of who you are.

Michael: I love it. Very well said. Thank you so much for being here, my friend, Unbroken Nation. Thank you so much for listening.

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My friends, Be Unbroken.

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Michael Unbroken


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

Lee HopkinsProfile Photo

Lee Hopkins


Coach Lee Hopkins (he/him/his) is a transgender man who helps people create lasting friendships. After struggling with loneliness most of his life, he's tried various ways to resolve it— including moving across the US to find his tribe and fit in. He’s learned that the key to creating meaningful relationships is not “fitting in” or “finding your tribe”, it’s about attracting your vibe. He’ll show us how this is possible for everyone.