This podcast requires a special introduction because it is reflective of a side of myself that I have often alluded to, but largely kept private until now.
And that is my searching for personal insight, meaning, and deeper inner fulfillment. I’ve been actively and intensively exploring this area for roughly 5 years.
Some might call this a spiritual questing, while others would call it inner tracking. Either way, this part of my life involves building my emotional IQ and resilience.
It is perhaps the hardest, bravest,and most important work I’ve ever undertaken. It requires being willing to face my own deepest shadows, beliefs, and sources of grief.
In this interview with Teal Swan, a modern spiritual teacher and catalyst, I use this quote by Carl Jung:
“There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own Soul.
One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.”
More and more I am concerned with how individuals are going to face the painful awakening that is before us all as our earth’s ecosystems continue to decline and collapse.
Our larger narrative of growth is being increasingly revealed as hopelessly wrong and misguided. Our other narratives about fairness and justice are being proven utterly wrong on a daily basis by monetary printing and selective Justice Department actions and inactions.
When our narratives get shredded, either on a personal basis by some major loss such as being fired, getting divorced, or losing a close loved one, we either experience a major round of grief or we numb ourselves and shut our feelings down.
If we dare to really experience and move through the grief, we have the chance to be transformed by it, to be renewed into the sacredness of life.
But I am increasingly certain that our culture lacks the ability to really face and process such intense emotions and therefore is doing everything, no matter how absurd, to avoid the painful truth of our current predicament(s). Which means that there’s a more painful set of moments awaiting us before we’ll collectively and finally face reality.
That’s the central thrust of this podcast, and my questing is both personally important and something I am doing because the world needs people to bravely wade into the waters of actual transformation.
I am highly cognizant of just how dangerous and tricky these waters are.
I fully expect to lose some of you along the way, because this topic is simply too emotionally charged and we are not communicating face-to-face where there’s a chance to decipher and defuse complex interactions but via the internet where our humanness is reduced by the medium to a difficult flatness.
Oh well, there’s not much we can do about that except (shameless plug alert) come to the Rowe seminar, or simply work at maintaining an open mind.
Others will be challenged and excited by this line of inquiry because they share the understanding that this inner transformation is really our only path to a better future.
In my view, we’re not going to elect a savior, ever, it’s simply not possible. There’s no fixing this from the top down, and the outside in. There are no outer laws that will ever be sufficient.
Our only salvation as a species will require us to each individually change first so that we can once again exist in balance with the greater world, returning to a relational (and regenerative) stance by turning away from our transactional (and extractive) practices. We need to work from the inside out.
That is, our inner guidance on knowing the difference between right and wrong is the only thing upon which we can truly pin our hopes. No, we don’t need more studies and rules and regulations to determine the right amount of neonicotinoid pesticide use to allow, we need farmers who would never dream of using a biocide on their fields because it is the wrong thing to do.
We need personal integrity and that comes from within.
This is my deepest truth, the one I’ve been sitting with for a long while, wondering how and when to reveal it. Well, here it comes.
And this brings me to the final and very important point I want to make. I am going to ask you to put into practice your best and highest form of discernment as we wade into these waters.
Said simply, I want you to trust yourself and take from these podcasts and investigations what nuggets work for you and to then leave the rest behind. You decide what works and what doesn’t. I’m not going to find any one teacher, guide or source that everyone likes or agrees with.
The key word here is discernment.
My interview style is to let whomever I am interviewing say what they are going to say. I feel no need to confront and try to change their views on the fly, but to hear them out and listen to what they have to say. Usually I find something useful ion every guest even if it’s “hey, now I know how the opposition is thinking.”
This is my style. I go forth and collect everything I can, winnow it through my utility filter, and then share it with you and put it to use in my own thinking and life.
So the invitation here is to receive this material with an open mind, taking what works for you in the here and now while leaving the rest. Trust yourself to know what works for you.
In closing, Peak Prosperity has always been about three things. Knowing, doing and being. All of the data we collect and present provides the context that allows us to know where we are in this story. We then put that knowing into practice by doing things. We build gardens and support our neighbors and reposition our portfolios.
It is the beingness that is more openly on display now. The thing that treebeard is always so eloquently writing about. How do we want to be? How do we find and offer our deepest gifts to the world? How do we process the inevitable flood of emotions that accompany the loss of a guiding narrative?
I don’t have all the answers to those questions, only my own years of experience and practice to offer to anyone that might find them useful and my own open ears ready to listen to those that can help me as I continue my life-long journey of growth, inner discovery and outer mastery.
I am honored to be able to be in relationship with each of you at this time, on this journey, doing this work.
So that’s it…have courage, practice discernment, trust yourself, and let’s create a world worth inheriting.
Click the play button below to listen to my interview with Teal Swan (51m:33s)
Chris Martenson: Welcome to this Peak Prosperity podcast. I am your host, Chris Martenson and today we are going to talk about something a little different. You know, when Adam and I wrote the book, Prosper, we have a couple of chapters in there. One is on emotional and spiritual resilience—one of the chapters I consider to be one of the most important ones that is in there. And part of the reason I think it is so important is that if you have emotional resilience, you can make it through almost anything. But if you lack emotional resilience—even if you are rich in all the other seven forms of capital—you might still fall apart and find yourself having a hard time dealing with what is.
And it is not just some possible future I am talking about. I mean look, we know that the world is in crisis. We know we face predicaments. We know that there is an ecological crisis out there that is extraordinary. We know that there is an economic crisis that is brewing, a political crisis—whatever lens we want to look at, we see that there are extraordinary predicaments and crises out there, but I am going to submit to you that each of these is just a symptom. What is really happening is we are having an existential crisis as a species because our main narrative doesn’t work anymore. Our main narrative is out of tune with reality. We have overpopulation, we have farmers who are farming in a way that depletes soil, we have money printing that really only exacerbates an already too large wealth gap—the largest in all of history.
We have all of these things going on, but they are really happening for the same reason, which is that people are just being people again. Only this time, the whole world is involved so it really puts a different spin on it this time, which means that personal development and spiritual growth is really one of the most important things you could undertake. In fact, it has been one of the most important things that I have undertaken in my life in the past several years. I wanted to begin to share that with you.
To help us get there today is an extraordinary individual, a woman named Teal Swan, who is an author, she is increasing internationally famous as a spiritualist, a spiritual catalyst, as she describes herself. She is an amazing presenter. I saw her in New York with my wife and daughter some months back and she is just absolutely out there helping to illuminate the inner world for an increasing number of people and does incredible work. You can check her out on YouTube; she has a great blog and all of that. With that I would like to welcome Teal to the program. Teal, thank you so much for being here with us today.
Teal Swan: Thank you. That totally makes sense to me why you would be talking to me seeing as how I am pretty much the queen of the existential crisis.
Chris Martenson: You are talking to somebody who is a – I’m a scientist by training and got an MBA. I went into this very hyper-rational head world. When I was younger I knew a lot. I don’t know as much anymore. I am much more open to the idea that there is a sacred experience here to be had in this life and that it is not about accumulating things, or dominating, or all the things that seem to be – I would say my culture is very much fascinated with at this point in time. But from my perspective increasingly I am talking with people who are managing huge amounts of money, to housewives managing small budgets, and increasingly I am finding people that are understanding that something seems really wrong, like something is really out of alignment here. We are told that the economy is doing okay and this and that, but people are feeling things are not right. And I am wondering from your spiritual perspective, what is going on here? Are they actually tuning into something that is realistic or are they – what is happening to what I perceive as a real crisis in people’s confidence in the story today?
Teal Swan: Well, I think that people don’t give themselves enough credit for just how sensitive they are to the general energies around them. You don’t even have to be a scientist and understand the process, really, to know that when you take a person and put them in a room they instantly get a feeling about that room they are in. So the first thing we have to understand is we are tied into the collective conscious of all of us on planet earth. The reality is the story beyond what we are being told in the media is that we are not doing well. Like, the earth is not doing well right now. Economically I am absolutely surprised that we have managed to make it work. I feel a lot of this is that the people in the general public have been kept dumb to a lot of the stuff that people who are in the higher positions in society are trying to fix, and have been for a while, but don’t know how. It's the reason, if you want to know the truth, for many of the wars that have been started recently. It is because they are trying to maintain something that they cannot maintain.
What we are tapping into is the fact that we are headed towards a massive collapse, an absolute 100% massive collapse. I mean, it is real difficult for somebody in my position to help people to feel okay with the collapse because we are not in the position where we are going to be able to pull out of this one, because we invested so heavily in systems that had no sustainability. The real issue that we had is that capitalism reigned triumphant. Now there is nothing inherently negative with capitalism. I mean I would consider myself a genuine capitalist as someone who makes the most of whatever they are given.
The difference between straight capitalism, which has a lot of ignorance in it, and what we would call conscious capitalism is the conscious capitalist knows that it depends upon the people at the very bottom. We have gotten ourselves into a system where essentially it screws all the people on the bottom to benefit the people on the top. That is not a sustainable system long term. It will never work. What we are experiencing right now is that bottom is essentially corroding out from under us. A good example, we will say a more practical example of that is you have got the pharmaceutical industry. For example, they are the kind of industries who, to begin with, they may have started for people’s health, but now they saw that it was possible to make money off of people being ill or to make money off of people being in jail or to make money off of filling in the blank. Now that we have got that type of attitude there is no way that you can actually make that work long-term.
Yeah, I think that people are picking up on all that. To tell you the honest truth, being a person who looks at what we would call life path potentials for planet earth, the fact that we are still actually able to go put money in banks right now is really surprising to me. The feeling in the universe is almost like "okay we are running on fumes at this point. When is it?" You know.
Chris Martenson: Absolutely. I am also equally surprised we have made it this far, but the number of tricks and levers and things that have been pulled to just deny that and keep it going just a little bit longer. But the problem is—I think this is what I detect and what I talk about and people understand increasingly is that the more that we deny it, it is like we are having more drinks as an alcoholic. We are going further up—we were three rungs up a step ladder but now we are 12. So the fall from here it is going to be hard.
I noticed when you did say the word "collapse" you wrung your hands and a look of sadness came over you. I want to talk to that part because I feel my culture in particular doesn’t do grief. Right? So when I say people feel unhappy what I am really detecting under there is a strong, repressed feeling of grief.
Let me speak for myself: I feel grief when I read about what is happening to the oceans. I feel grief over the fact that I make a practice of stopping whenever I see a turtle and I get out of my car and I help it to the other side of the road and I haven’t stopped in 15 years because I haven’t seen one. And I feel grief over that. And so that is really part of my motivation in doing the work that I do is to say "how do I reach people with this information?" I think a blocking point to that is if there is grief down there.
So first talk to the grief we are experiencing and then I want to get to the second part, which is how do we begin to surface it if it is possible?
Teal Swan: The most critical aspect of going through any emotion is that you have to actually let yourself admit it is there and to go through it. Getting people to admit it is there is really about us getting so sick of our controls strategies because they are not working anymore that we are kind of forced into it. Honestly, if I found a way to convince people that they needed to go into their grief, I would have done that already but I have never found a way. I have only ever seen it work that people basically run into a dead end in their own life trying to escape from this emotion or trying to control it away. Then they go look for somebody that can help them get into the emotion. It is that willingness that has to surface first in the person and we can’t really create it.
Once a person is ready for that, then what we have to do is to actually admit to what we are losing, you know? But through that, after we let ourselves go through that, that also tells us what is wanted. This is the most important thing to understand about the way this time-space reality that we are living in is designed. It is designed so that the unwanted gives rise to what is wanted. So for example, going through all of what we did in World War II, there is more of a desire for peace delivered to mankind as a result of that particular war than at any other point in history. A lot of the subsequent peaceful social dynamics that came out of that were the results of that contrast. What I would say to people who are really feeling grief at what they are losing is that the time after you have gone through the grief, the time has come to shift your focus to what you want to build instead.
This is the issue with the human race is that we continue to make the same mistake over and over again because we are unwilling to actually face the music. If we face the music, then we are going t learn from the mistake. We won’t continue to build the same structure which then collapses again. So our entire social structure is looking in the future to be completely different than it is. We are going to be oriented more towards support of each other. It is not going to be a competitive type of society. The way we raise children will be completely different.
Something that we are not real present to yet is that if you raise children differently with an entirely different attitude towards the way that they are breast fed, the way that they are brought to the world through birth, the way that we keep them in the first three months, the way that they initiate their own independence instead of us pushing them out there, the difference in the school systems, then you will raise an entirely different adult that looks at the world differently. Once we do that you are literally not even going to recognize the way that society works.
Right now we would say there is no way for us to support that amount of people. There is definitely a way, but you essentially have to create socialism. The thing is when I say that people get really nervous, right? Like "Oh my God socialism!" This is the thing – socialism is genius; it works. Except it will never work as long as there is one person that doesn’t want it. If you have one person that wants more power than another person, socialism will not work. And it will never work to enforce socialism.
Basically, socialism that is enforced becomes communism and there is nothing in-between. It doesn’t benefit anyone because it is just restriction. But what we see when people’s consciousness increases, when we realize what we would prefer instead for the world is that people will sort of on their own accord will move into a socialist ideal and then society will reflect that. You won’t have people that are out of alignment so as to create negative capitalism. This is why I tend to focus—rather than like forcing social change—I tend to focus on transforming individuals. Because what we have to see is that a society is made up of individuals. So if we can get an individual to find a state of awakening or a state of enlightenment or a state of embracing their own emotion then society will reflect the individual.
Chris Martenson: I totally agree. I am going to skip ahead to a quote I have here because this has been my own path – I truly believe, like I am not out here trying to change the world. I am not out here trying to influence political systems. I am not a top down person. I am helping people achieve resilience in their own lives first because if they have resilience in their lives they can bring it to their families. If their family is resilient they can be in a position to help their neighbor. If their neighbors and them are all resilient then you have a resilient town. If we have that then we can have a resilient state and on it goes. It can’t be top down.
I have this quote from Carl Jung that I just love. He said, “There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything no matter how absurd in order to avoid facing their own soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” So the questions here for me are: Things seem pretty absurd right now. How much more absurd do they have to get before we begin to really face that darkness?
Teal Swan: Pretty absurd. What we are going to start seeing is what we have already started seeing, which is a giant polarization within the human race. We are going to see a whole huge demographic waking up, and in higher numbers than ever before, and a whole huge demographic resisting more so than they ever have. It is that splitting, essentially, which is I guess the necessary conditions. For a lot of people—we have to understand the human ego to understand why it is so difficult for us to awaken. I mean I can make it super quick. Do you want me to make it super quick for people who are interested?
Chris Martenson: Please do.
Teal Swan: Alright, when you are young you are born essentially devoid of a separate sense of self and you learn primarily about your sense of self by mirroring through people. So you act a certain way and your mom says "oh my gosh" and you learn about yourself because of that reflection. It is why kids who don’t have that reflection from any adult future—we would call this feral child syndrome—those types of kids have no self concept because they have been completely devoid of reflection.
So when we are socializing into society we learn that certain things are acceptable and certain things aren’t. Emotions, acceptable and unacceptable. Actions, acceptable or unacceptable. So everything goes into that "acceptable" or "unacceptable". The subconscious is comprised of what we have been reflected as unacceptable. We have to differentiate our self from that. We have to hide it essentially and create a façade of the human ego. We have to create a façade which is an idea of self, that is all it is. It is how we look to the world. That is absolutely protected at all costs because we are a social species. What happens when mom or dad punishes you or puts you in timeout, which is even worse for a lot of kids, is that we get taught that the risk of essentially exposing our true selves is to be abandoned or to be punished.
So with those kind of consequences—severe consequences for a social species, because being separated from the social group meant death. That is just embedded in our DNA. Essentially we would rather face death – we have to face death quite literally before we are willing to take that "this is my acceptable idea of self" down and out of the way. What we have to understand is the reason that Carl Jung is right about that particular statement there will be no coming into consciousness without pain is because what created the sub consciousness to begin with was pain. It is the fact that I presented myself and I just learned that all of myself is not okay. So I start suppressing it, rejecting it, denying it, disowning it, so it is my own rejection of self that has created that. You have to go back through that window that was created back through all that self rejection and pain that originally happened through the creation of the ego in order to break past the ego.
Obviously if what matters to us more than anything in the world – I mean entire wars are waged, by the way, so that we can keep our self concept. Essentially, the ego deciding that it is right, that it is justified, and that it is good. If you look at any of the war mongers—Stalin, Hitler—they all believed (and this was the ego) that they were right, that they were justified, that they were good. It is almost like the ego's need to see itself that way will create any kind of pain that it needs to on the world.
The scary part, which is the answer to your question of "how bad does it have to get?" It has to get that bad for a lot of people. It has to get to the degree where—I mean my own enlightenments a long time ago was as a result of that. Sometimes you literally have to be looking at an entire field full of dead bodies for you to get out of the ego. That is the danger of the human ego.
But I also don’t want to give the idea that the ego is all completely wrong. The ego was a design that would help us to enlighten. We cannot understand what we are unless we understand what we are not. So the only way that we would ever get enlightenment is if there is the existence of ego. We can’t understand oneness unless we understand separateness for example. So it doesn’t work to go to war with the human ego either. Going to war with the human ego is doing nothing but fueling the fire for the ego. What we have to do is love the ego into alignment. The ego is the byproduct of the small child that learned that it wasn’t right or good or okay.
Chris Martenson: In 2016 then – here is where I was wrong about a lot of things. So in 2008, I had been calling for a large financial crisis for a while. It was very obvious. I am a very public writer about all of those things. And then we got this close to a really serious breakdown, and that was a pretty good shot across the bow. In a large sense we were doing something that didn’t make sense, right? We were borrowing at twice the rate our economy was growing, and that doesn’t make sense for an individual, it doesn’t make sense for a country. And instead of taking that moment to say "huh, that wasn’t a good idea," we doubled down on the whole thing. We said "nuh uh, we are going to keep this going." We printed more money, we got more people in student debt, the government is more in debt than ever before. We just did it again. So that led me at this point here in 2016 to think "I think we are going to have to have a pretty hard fall in order to really confront..." or culturally, I think individuals are waking up to this, but culturally I am less sanguine than I used to be that we are going to have anything other than a pretty hard path. Do you have any particular visions or ideas around what you see coming for the next few years?
Teal Swan: Yeah.
Chris Martenson: You don’t have to share them if they don’t make sense, but…
Teal Swan: My struggle – more of an interesting thing for this conversation would be for me to expose the fact that as somebody who very much so has their finger in prophecy and sees life path potentials for collective consciousness, not just individuals, it is very difficult for me to stand onstage at this point with complete confidence every time and to feel incredibly excited about what we are headed towards. What I am seeing is a conjunction. And with a conjunction of purification, than basically that spells not just economic collapse, not just interpersonal collapse, but also environmental collapse. I see like basically the kind of calamity that religions have ironically been talking about for thousands of years and now scientists are starting to think "wow, they might be completely accurate" even though there is not a sort of religious stint put on it.
I’m watching wars. I mean for a while now—in fact since about 2001 we have been a match and haven’t changed off of that path. We have been a match to a third world war. At this particular day and age with the weaponry that we are dealing with and the egos we are dealing with in charge of that weaponry essentially it means destruction. It means destruction. Like you can’t – there is no such thing as an isolated war in today’s world. Everything is just a sequence of dominos, one stacked on top of the other.
What I am starting to do now instead of educate people that they can pull out of it is to put all of their focus on what is going to come after the fact. It is almost like that moment—have you ever played the game Jenga?
Chris Martenson: Yes.
Teal Swan: We are in a moment in the game where we are at the point where the next one that gets pulled out is going to collapse the whole system. So if we have an attachment to it staying up at this point we are going to really hurt. So a lot of my education would be to see the beauty in the whole system collapse and try to figure out what we want to build in its wake, which is why I am hoping a lot of people start going that path. We are not trying to do anything with the current system that we have. We are not trying to recover.
What we are trying to do is figure out, based on what we learned didn't work this time, what to do instead so that there is kind of a safety net that captures the people from the fall. In my world, a lot of that is going to revolve around community. The single-family household and property ownership is what got us into this particular mess, if you would like to know the honest truth. We used to operate in a tribal kind of setting that had its own issues because we went to war with each other all the time, but the real problem is the minute that we go attached to property ownership we got real capitalistic—very like "me, mine" and the ego got so incredibly fueled essentially that it started to be able to do things at the detriment to everything around it. It lost its connection with the rest of the world, which is, if you want to know the psychological issue that we have really got going that has led into this, it is that.
With tribal societies that could not see themselves as separate from the world that they lived in, it could see that by overhunting for example it was only killing itself. By creating the single-family household and property ownership and making it all about me, basically, and being able to farm so we never feel the impact of the seasons or the world around us, essentially, we believed ourselves to be so outside of the system that we were not longer a part of the web. We are about to be dealt a very harsh card, which is, guess what, you are part of the web.
If the web decides you are not assisting it, you are going to be treated by the totality of the universe like a cancer cell. For us, we need to get back in touch with those kinds of connections. It is one reason why right now I am putting a ton of my effort into intentional community, trying to bring people together, because we are headed towards a kind of world where we are going to be really dependent on each other. I think it would be an interesting thing for even the people – you have a lot of people who are really invested in that single-family household ideal and like living deep within society, not fringe dwellers, right? So that person that is pretty easy to say "oh I am a pretty independent person." But independence is not possible. My challenge would be: Think about how many things you are dependent on today. Think about what you are dependent on if your internet goes out or if your grocery store doesn’t exist anymore. Like what would you do if X, Y and Z fell. This is a good way to see how dependent you are and then kind of inspires a person to lend their energy back to these things that they are dependent on.
I feel like it is going to be a lot of the self sustainable communities that do well in this particular collapse, the people who get together and they actually have a way of growing their own food, for example, and everybody is lending their energy to a piece of the pie.
Chris Martenson: This is touching on our work at Peak Prosperity. You look out my window, there is a garden, there is chickens, there is an orchard, and we do have a lot of people who are going down the self sufficiency path, but we don’t take the survivalist, we don’t take the prepper mentality because you are only as safe as your neighbor anyway, as it turns out.
Teal Swan: Basically the survivalist attitude is going to do nothing in a law of attraction universe except for attract the very thing that they are afraid of. But my absolute favorite thing to do is to call people on it because so many people who are in that survivalist mentality—they have got this image of like zombie apocalypse. So what they have got in their mind of war time is essentially bad guys that are banging your door down and it is easy to shoot them. What they really have to realize is there are not going be those types of people on your doorstep. It is going to be a person with six kids who are all starving to death. Are you prepared to shoot them or turn them away? Nobody is prepared to do that. So yeah. That survivalist mentality is never going to work.
Chris Martenson: Let’s talk a community. You said a very important word and something that we are increasingly focusing on ourselves in my life but also in my larger professional life is how to really build that community. One of my projections about my culture: very isolationist. We have these wonderful smart phones. I have got one and they are very good at creating the appearance of connection, but not really. I was really turned when I saw this TED talk on addiction. Really, addiction is just a measure of the degree of personal isolation somebody is experiencing. Addiction is really a symptom of lack of connection.
Teal Swan: One hundred percent.
Chris Martenson: How do we go about—begin making it okay to be vulnerable and be able to step out of our shells, as it were? I was born, raised and bred to have a single-family household. I know exactly how to do that. Building community: little messier, little harder, more human. How do you advise people to go about beginning that messy process?
Teal Swan: Well first you have to be willing to feel. All of it starts from that base. Like absolutely everything. If we are unwilling to take a step it is because we think taking that step is going to feel bad. Everything boils down to how we feel. So if we become willing to feel emotion to begin with, then we are going to be more likely to not be inhibited by those emotions.
Fear for example—if it is not okay to feel fear, then you are going to avoid everything that causes you to feel fear. If you become okay with feeling fear, you change what it means to you, essentially, then you are probably going to take a step that enables you to do something regardless of the fact that fear is present. That is the real difference between any kind of success and real failure is just the willingness to feel.
What we have to understand is that people are essentially imprisoned in this position where they have been taught—part of that ego forming; part of that socialization process—we have been taught that certain emotions are okay and certain emotions are not okay. So the second that you feel an emotion that is not okay, you are going to instantly go into control mode about it. You are basically going to do anything you can to either escape from it or to control it away.
But that actually is adding fuel to the fire. What we have to get is that suffering, genuine suffering, which is what we are really afraid of, is not actually the result of experiencing pain. It is the result of us resisting experiencing pain. We have made it not okay. This is the best thing you can ever tell somebody who has anxiety by the way. It is good we are having this conversation right now because what is the number one emotion that comes up as a result of all this imminent doom within society is anxiety. Anxiety—if you think "oh my gosh it is not okay; why am I feeling this way? It is not okay to feel this way. Something must be wrong with me." Those types of thoughts as a result of feeling anxiety—it is like a rash. You might as well just go with kerosene on top of a fire you know. If you can talk to yourself in a way where you are saying "you know what, these are just, at the end of the day, sensations. It is an uncomfortable sensation but doesn't mean anything about me. Doesn't mean anything wrong is happening, doesn’t mean that I am messed up, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be there; it just is there," then we will have that willingness.
Second step is to realize that we are living in a world where intentional community doesn’t have to look a certain way. I feel like that is really important for people too because it is easy to listen to spiritual teachers like me and think "oh she is transferring everyone to a hippy commune." No. I feel like intentional community is going to look totally, drastically different for this group than it does for this group. Like let’s pretend that even if you are in medical school for example – let’s pretend we get a whole group of people that are in medical school and what is really challenging is doing medical school and getting everything else done at the same time. So if we can get all of these people together in a kind of community living setting, then they could all support each other in that process. So if one person doesn’t have something to do this day, they are cooking for the house. And then for example somebody who has maybe a test that lasts until 10:00 pm at night comes home and there is food there. Oh my gosh I feel so much more supported. And then they can of course fuel each other with that emotional support of "I know exactly what it is like to be going through this type of a thing." That is just one example.
I mean intentional community doesn’t have to look a certain way. That is what I think is so beautiful about what is happening in centuries like Denmark right now is that they are basically creating these apartments and they are doing fabulously well with them. They are mainstream apartments. These are not hippy at all. It is a huge apartment building, but there is a common area and a common kitchen. And everybody like lends their support, almost like a family or a tribe would, to the collective child rearing, to the food that is created there, and they are all just shifting around in a supportive type of way. But it doesn’t look hippy. People still have jobs. They still have families, but they also have this social support. I feel like that is a really beautiful bridge for getting us out of the single-family household so that we have more support so that you can collapse without losing your entire life. You know, but also not taking people so far outside of the box that they are like "oh my God" you know.
Chris Martenson: Too far. Too far, too fast. So you are really saying it begins with a personal transformation first. There is an element of looking at our own isolated lives and saying "not ideal" or "can be improved upon" but there are lots of ways to do that, but it really begins with ourselves and that first willingness to be uncomfortable. And I guess what I hear—
Teal Swan: The thing is it always starts with the individual, but either we are going to consciously make the decision to do it or we will be forced to do it. It is the same process. It is going to be an individual process whether or not we do this before a collapse or whether all of society collapses and we are in the position where we are like "oh now I have to face all of this stuff." So my wish would be that people would say "okay I can feel this kind of percolating, so let’s think about in my life right now right here with me what kind of changes I can make to invest my energies in a kind of society which I feel like is actually sustainable."
Chris Martenson: That is the goal. Of course a lot of what we have today is very unsustainable and we know this.
Teal Swan: Do we? That is the thing, I keep getting this message from the collective which is almost like there is an unwillingness to actually look at the fact that it is unsustainable.
Chris Martenson: Well there is something that could be sustainable. In my work I get to go to places like Singing Frogs Farm that is out in Sebastopol, California where they have now created four feet of top soil, they are making $100,000 per acre, they grow year round when everybody else can only do two, maybe three seasons. So it is clearly possible. Or Polyface Farm in Virginia—we can do things regeneratively and relationally, but we are still doing them extractively and transactionally, right?
Teal Swan: I am just interested in your opinion as to why you think we are still doing it this way when we know that these things exist. This has been – I mean I am just interested to hear your perspective too. I’ve got my own perspective also. What I watch over and over again is that we have got these genius ideas, we have got free energy, we have got all of these things, so why have they not been adopted yet?
Chris Martenson: Well, in my business—I thought I was in the information sharing business for a long time. I have this book and this video series called The Crash Course, it lays out all the data. I did that for years with my wife watching audiences as I gave these talks. I’m a slow learner, so about five years into this process I realized I am not in the information business. Information works for me, you know, the way my brain is wired. It turns out I am in a very small minority, and I realized I was in the belief challenging business. I had to do this whole detour into understanding psychology and behavioral economics and all the science that underlies why people actually make decisions based on emotions. The amygdala is running this show, right?
Teal Swan: Everything.
Chris Martenson: Then I had to recraft everything and structure my whole talk so that I went from little beliefs to the hardest so that I gained currency along the way, and that was ultimately my path to learning how to effectively communicate. But information doesn’t do it. We have all of these really – we knew how to build zero-energy homes in the 1970s. We have known how to farm regeneratively in a way that actually has more – it is better for everything, right? We can put solar-thermal panels on our roofs, which makes environmental sense, local jobs, economic sense, you name it and we don’t do it. So we don’t do it for reasons; we do it for beliefs. So really my ultimate question to you is—I’m always trying to—and I don’t have the answer so I am always digging, is how do we most effectively communicate in ways that shift beliefs?
Teal Swan: You have to appeal to people’s needs. Right now I think a big issue that we have—and honestly I would love to tell you that it is just purely accidental, but it wasn’t. A lot of the corporations that wanted to make the kind of money they wanted to make made it complicated enough that we would have to do what we have done. Basically right now we have got to make things so easy for people because they feel so overwhelmed.
Overwhelm, especially in the western world, is the most common emotion. So every action that will be taken will be taken to escape from overwhelm-ment. So it takes somebody who has got usually a serious crisis with their own conscience to force them to take the effort and add to their feeling of overwhelm to go figure out how to put solar panels on their house. So the reality is that for those of us that are in this kind of business—I hope somebody is watching that is right now—we have got to make it so damn easy and available that it does not add to people’s overwhelm-ment for them to adopt change. The companies that have done really well/screwed the world have done that. They have made things so convenient that it has decreased people’s sense of overwhelm–ment. Financially, time management-wise, everything.
Chris Martenson: Well now we are sort of at a loggerheads because the whole idea of beginning the personal journey begins with something that most people would experience in—I hate to use these terms, but a painful or hard or something like that. I now use in my own life the word "intense"—it is just, I like intensity now.
Teal Swan: That’s true but there is an interesting little caveat here. I see a lot of people who are real wealthy who are really interested in this stuff. Why? Because they have time on their hands. So I feel like if people weren’t completely overwhelmed all day long every single day—it is like you can go two ways: Either having nothing to focus on leads you towards the questioning of the universe and then breaks you out of the box, or being so overwhelmed that everything collapses breaks you out of the box. So either we wait for people to basically hit their crisis point and have an existential crisis to wake up, or else we make it so easy on them—essentially make life so easy that they start asking those questions in and of themselves.
Chris Martenson: Well, for me speaking personally again, I had a pretty tough introduction. I had my own personal crisis but from that I am now happier, healthier, wealthier more connected and more alive than I have ever been. So I actually look back on that moment of crisis in my life and I say thank you. Thank you and I wish it had come earlier. I wish it had come decades before but I’m glad it happened when it did. So there you go; it happened when it needed to.
Part of the thing I struggle communicating to people is: Yes there is this hero's journey you might embark on, but it is so worth it. It is also so essential because when you look at the data, if you really allow it to come in, you say "we have to do things differently." But not "we" – it is "I" have to do things differently. So that is the part I still struggle with. Because I drive a car and I have got a warm house and I have other things people in the world don’t have which I have to begin really looking at in my own way.
You are laughing at that.
Teal Swan: What I am laughing at is that what we are talking about is a spiritual rebirth of self. It is a birth process. And if you ever watched a woman who is in the throes of labor, no amount of "oh, this is going to be worth it" is going to work for her. I mean even though we wish we had that voice coming in when we are in the middle of the existential crisis being like "it is all going to be so worth it in the end," it is almost like empty words at that point, which is why I feel like even though that is completely true, when we are in the middle of it I think what we need most is somebody who is saying "you know what, I am right here with you, we can go into this, it is okay that you are in pain right now, this isn’t going to kill you" type of energy.
It is like what we see with women in labor and we can apply this completely to this existential crisis, the spiritual self rebirth, is that when a woman is in the middle of transition, which is the worst phase of labor, essentially the women that do the best with that are the ones that surrender to it. It is the women who say "oh my god this is so much pain and I can’t deal with this" feel that kind of resistance to it—they are the ones that get put in the real hurt locker and can hardly make it through and often end up getting epidurals if there are epidurals available. I feel like we can learn a lot from that. If we completely surrender to the process than we are not going to be in as much pain. But that means willing to feel pain. This of course comes back to this theme which keeps coming up in this particular interview which is that we have to be really willing to feel things.
Chris Martenson: Thank you for that. Is there more?
Teal Swan: I mean are we – we've got to ask yourselves a question: Are we willing to feel something? Most of everything we do during the day, even the people in the self help, spiritual business, we are kind of culprits as well. Most of what we do all day long is just trying to control our emotion. Why do you go on a walk? To feel better. Why wasn’t it okay to feel bad?
Chris Martenson: Yeah. Well then I have a personal question for you because of my particular spot in life, maybe you have some insight for me is on the idea of authentic leadership. I am in the business of challenging people’s beliefs, and they don’t always appreciate that. Slings and arrows and all sorts of things, and I’m sure you have received your share of all of that, and the balance I struggle with is personal transparency and privacy.
Teal Swan: Oh my God.
Chris Martenson: I am wondering what you got to say on that subject.
Teal Swan: When you are in the middle of being transparent and it comes back to bite you because they use it against you, it is very, very, very freaking hard to stay transparent. But to tell you the honest truth, coming from my absolute biased space, transparency is the only thing that is going to transform this world. And what do we see with revolution over and over again over the course of history is it takes one person who is willing to do it first. And they are not going to be treated well.
But it is almost like the person who ends up standing up for racial equality—they are going to have those arrows slung at them, but 20 years down the road they are going to be exalted. Rosa Parks was an outrage and now she is a hero because we see essentially what is right and what is in alignment with creating a world that we would rather be living in. Transparency and openness is what is going to create a world that is not completely run by ego. So I feel like it is going to take those of us who really feel that is the way to go to be brave enough to do it no matter what the cost is. And we have to keep our eyes – this is not about martyrdom—it is about keeping our eye on the vision we want to create.
Picture that world like it would be so amazing that no pretense existed. If you picture that world, whatever that world of – I mean you can tell me what the world that is the byproduct of transparency would look like to you, but that has to be 100% what you hang onto regardless of what gets thrown at you. It's almost like you make it bigger than you. I mean to a certain degree there are aspects of a spiritual practice which it is beneficial to be super self centered about it and self reflective about it. But this is one of those cases where I feel like it is really important to bring in the greater vision for the collective of humanity with it and make it bigger than you. For those of us back during the whole racial inequality phase, we had to make that bigger than us to be okay with the amount of backlash we were receiving. So we have to make it bigger than us if we are willing to be transparent. And there are some of us that are doing it.
Chris Martenson: Uh-huh. It is – I have been called everything in the book I think Malthusian, Cassandra, all of this. It is just data, you know? Yeah there are some times it is hard. There are some days I wake up thinking "Why didn’t I think to sell pet rocks? That sounds so much happier and easier."
Teal Swan: We should maybe video ourselves and send it to each other to make each other feel better. I have days like that all the time where I'm like, "Gosh I should have just been a housewife." Like something else.
Chris Martenson: [Laughter] Well blessings on that part of your journey. It is something that I feel as we get closer and closer to the ___ [00:45:43] of this show that you are right that polarization is getting very extreme. I can feel it widening. The emotions are going to be really up and center to the point that people just can’t ignore them anymore. It is already pretty clearly out and evident at this point. I don’t see how it gets better until it gets worse, if we want to use that language, because we still aren’t really facing up to the core piece at this point. All the conditions that have ever been in place for revolutions in the past are here. The elites lose touch with the people; they say "let them eat cake." The people go, "Yeah, that is kind of annoying." That is a big part of where I see where we are in the story right now is a lot of denial and that is going to have something to teach us certainly.
The last question: Your latest book is: Shadows Before Dawn: Finding the Light of Self-Love Through Your Darkest Times. Sounds like an appropriate title for this. Why did you write that book?
Teal Swan: Well, basically I was having a conversation actually over the radio and I was talking about how everything boils down to self love. But really even the word "self-love" makes me cringe too. Just so you know, anybody who is watching this interview and I say "self love" and you feel everything in your body just—your fibers go "ugh" you you know I actually get the same reaction to "self love." It is basically a trite, self-help sort of cute, spiritual, let’s call it a white wash.
But what I really realized going through all the hell that I went through is I was in such a distance to myself; that is what was really doing the majority of the damage. And so I was talking about how everything boils down to your relationship with yourself and really how to practically develop a relationship with yourself so you can wake up and actually want to be in your own skin every day. And I thought, "oh my God, wait a minute, I am saying everything boils down to self love. Why the hell haven’t I written that book yet?" And what was really pissing me off is that everybody and their mother, when you go to see them for help, says "you know what – you just got to learn how to love yourself." And you are like, "thank you... I don’t know what that means." Like how do I practically do that? And nobody can answer that question. So I embarked on this quest to basically figure out how to do that.
I have a mind that works a lot like you. I am an information person too. It is about looking in as an observational thing. Looking at the people who really do love themselves and put themselves first—what are they doing differently? What is the variable there that is making them that way as opposed to other people in society that aren’t, that are going to jobs they can’t stand? The people who are self hating to the point where they got addictions and are injuring. What is the difference? If I can figure out that difference, I can figure out how to teach this person to come bridge this gap over to being the kind of person that values themselves. And so that book essentially was a how-to, practically how to do it.
Chris Martenson: Would that be suitable for somebody who—I get this a lot in the seminars. I get people who say, "I feel like I am leading two lives – the one I am leading and the one I am supposed to be leading." Would this be an appropriate book for that person?
Teal Swan: Yeah it would be a super good one. I am watching this more and more —this is the inauthenticity. Right now we are in the time of purification essentially. Purification means the human ego disappears. Fear is what fuels the human ego—fear and pain. Fear essentially is what is causing this double life. It is basically that there is a difference between the real me and what I think is right. We have to brave enough, if we are going to embark on this particular path, to be willing to say what is real instead of what we think is right or just okay or good. Until we are willing to admit to that, we can’t work with anything real.
For example I just did a video on racism. It got more blowback than almost any other video. People were livid because in that video I made the statement that there is not a single person that is not racist. Not one. If you have a different reaction when you walk down the street to somebody that is a different color than you, then that is a form of racism. Because now in today’s world we have made that so not okay, we can’t admit to what is real about ourselves. But until we admit to that, we can’t work with it. There is absolutely no improvement you can make to a person who says "no I am not racist no matter what. No that’s not me. That may be you but not me." That level of defense—you can do nothing with it.
Sometimes what we have to be willing to do is to say what is real even if it doesn’t sound good and we are – I mean it is all fear on the other side of that. If I admit to this thing that is real about me, look what is going to happen to me. But unless some of us —and this is part of why you feel so called to do that authenticity thing, that transparency thing—unless some of us actually lead the march and say, "This is what is real about me," no one is going to follow suit. And if we have a whole world that follows suit we can’t make an enemy of certain things anymore because it is too diffused.
For example, moms. Moms are never supposed to admit to how hard it is to have kids and how it sucks sometimes. Sometimes as a mother you are like "why the hell did I do this?" You know? And because we are not willing to admit it, we go to parties together and we all say "oh my God it is lovely, it is wonderful, let me show you how good I am doing with my kid." We can’t admit to what is real then we can never actually make improvements to the way that we mother or the way that we involve other people in our parenting. So really the shift in society is going to be the result of us all being like "Yeah, this is what is real."
Think about what we could do with that, if you just had a whole group of women – imagine just the transformation of just that one thing. Like a whole group of women who are like "Yeah, it sucks sometimes." Imagine the amount of weight that comes off. And then it can be about: How do we actually make it better, instead of pretending it is okay?
I mean I realize that was a little bit of a tangent but what you are basically saying is what I am seeing all the time, is that people in general have to live the mask and then there is what is real behind it, but often we don’t even know what is there until there is a crisis, and then it is like... you know.
Chris Martenson: And then it all comes crashing down. We are in the tunnel for a while and hopefully somebody is there helping us in that process. That is I think why I was so afraid for so long to have any sort of a crisis in my own self because I created that mask. I had a full armored system around so I knew intuitively I had no support system that I could really count on. Right? Who was I going to talk to about this? It took a lot of reforming for me to get through that. It was a process. Again, for anybody listening – so worthwhile.
Teal Swan: I mean gosh, can you even remember the pressure? Like I remember that, the days where I am getting slaughtered publicly, I have that moment where I remind myself: Do you remember what it was like? Just the amount of pressure every day going out there and not being able to say what is real about yourself. It is actually a relief, even though it is kind of scary, it is also a relief to have everybody know what is going on with me all the time.
Chris Martenson: Yes. Well, absolutely. I am a few steps behind you on that, but I am getting there. I just really wanted to thank you for your time here and also your guidance in the past. I have watched a lot of your videos as well, attended one of your seminars in New York city a while back. That was very illuminating. It was fun to watch how you work with people.
I do want to help direct people to your book, which is Shadows Before Dawn, and also you have got a website and maybe some other appearances coming up. How can people learn more about you and follow you?
Teal Swan: My website is www.tealswan.com. And so you can follow me there. I am also on all of the social networks. I am on Twitter, I am on Facebook, I am on Instagram and then I have also got a weekly YouTube video that comes out on YouTube. Most of the people who like to stay tapped into the information coming through me like to go on there. Every Saturday there is a new video on a new subject and nobody knows what it is going to be so it is super fun.
Chris Martenson: Alright. Any presentations coming up or anything like that?
Teal Swan: I have a crap ton, that is why it is probably – I don’t actually keep track of my own schedule.
Chris Martenson: I totally understand.
Teal Swan: I know that I am going to be in Orlando actually in a week and a half. Then after that I am going on a European tour. Those are the two I know for a fact that I am doing.
Chris Martenson: Okay and people can find that on your website I am sure. Teal thank you so much for your time today and thank you for your work and mostly for you authentic leadership. I really appreciate it.
Teal Swan: Thank you so much.