148: The Motivations For Overcoming Adversity with Luke Storey
I have another special show for you with our new guest star, Luke Storey, of the Life Stylist Podcast. Luke is an amazing man who’s had an intense life, addicted to drugs starting at ten, kicked heroin and other drugs at 26. This show is all about how his motivations, mindset, inner force, and the life lessons he’d picked up moved him from this dire place in the dregs of Hollywood to an incredible businessman opening up the School of Style and running this incredible podcast. He is a self-made man who pulled himself by his bootstraps. This show is about his intentions, his desire and how he did it
I’m very excited to have my friend, Luke Storey. An acquaintance more than a friend and hopefully after the show will be closer. I met Luke Storey through Neil Strauss when I went to his book signing in Hollywood. I heard about him and did research on his work. The word impressive is the best way to describe it. He’s an impressive guy and he’s done an impressive output. His impact and value to the world are impressive and who he is. When I got his bio and heard about his life, it was even more impressive about where he’s come from, where he’s been, and what he’s doing now.
I was going to do a show based on the information I got from him about all the incredible practices that he’s doing and then I heard this interview at his show 144 on The Life Stylist Podcast, which was an amazing interview that a woman, Fern, did with him. I was like, “I don’t want to be like anyone else. I want to be an individual. I want to offer to the world a new side of Luke’s story.” I thought that instead of retelling a story, we could examine Luke Storey’s brain. We could get into his heart and psyche and discover how he went from where he was to where he is now, what his goals and dreams are, and the motivation of how he did what he did.
All of us have great dreams, we have great things we want to do. We may have great practices, but what is the mental feeling? What are the mental gyrations of how to do that? How do we do that in the world? Tim Ferriss wrote in The Tools of Titans that, “I’m not a self-made man,” he looks to the people around him who had informed and educated him. I want to know about Luke Storey’s process to be who he is. Welcome to the show, Luke. It’s an absolute pleasure.
Thank you. I’m so impressed when people do their show intros live because I always say, “Welcome to the show, Rob.” I do the whole interview bit. I go back two months later when it’s going to come out and I do this perfectly edited, very planned out, it sounds ad-lib, but it’s quite an intentional intro to the show. I always screw something up about the name of their book or I ramble or I say too many ums. Thank you so much for having me and setting me up so beautifully.
Thank you. I used to do those. I would write out, “Now on today’s show we have,” I tried to have the energy and my wife, Morgan, actually said, “This isn’t working, this isn’t you. I would rather you screw it up and have an um than to read a canned express.”
I’m envious that you’re in Monterey. What a beautiful place to spend time.
It’s amazing. We’re going to the aquarium if you want to come there’s room for one more.
I could get on a plane and make it up there in time. A friend of mine was spending some time up there around Big Sur, Carmel, Monterey. I was like, “I need to get up there.” I’ve only been there a few times in my life but it’s one of my favorite places in the world, let alone California. What do you want to talk about first?
I’d like to give people the foundation of who you are and to set the stage of the mindset. One of the things was is that you kicked heroin and other drugs at the age of 26. I heard in your interview that you were nineteen, came to Hollywood and gone to the lifestyle. If you could give the audience a feel of what it was like to be in Hollywood with the drug addiction, with working to make a name for yourself first as a musician and hairstylist. Give the people a feeling of who you were at the time.
I moved to Hollywood when I was nineteen from northern California. I grew up in small towns and just out in the sticks. Part boredom and part as a way to deal with the trauma that I experienced as a kid, I started doing a lot of drugs. I didn’t even realize until I was in my thirties that what I did wasn’t normal. That kids don’t start doing coke at ten or whatever. It was part of the culture in the ‘70s in Northern California. Add the culture to a kid who had been abused, experienced a lot of trauma, and had a lot of mental and emotional issues, it was a perfect recipe for drug addiction.
When I moved to Hollywood in 1989 at nineteen, I immediately fell in with a bunch of older musicians and many of whom I listened to. I had their posters on my bedroom wall and things like that. It was a fun time because I was hanging out with so many of my heroes. I was nineteen. Everyone else was in their early thirties, a bit older than me. I got a fake ID and I started playing in bands and going to clubs every night. It was in the early ‘90s. It was an interesting time to be in Hollywood. It was a seedy Hollywood at that time. The Hollywood now is all Disneyland and polished up, believe it or not, a lot of people still think it’s grimy.
I lived off of Hollywood Boulevard behind the Chinese theater. We had the Northridge quake, Rodney King Beating LA Riots. You had the OJ experience, Biggie and Tupac got shot. There were a lot of gangs in Hollywood. It was a strange time to be a drug addict and spending a lot of time on the street. It was exhilarating and exciting but also scary because of the situations that I was starting to put myself in. Even when I was in the throes and depths of addiction, I was at an emotional and spiritual bottom which lasted a long time.
There was still this seed somewhere in my soul that knew that I had more potential than that. Like the kid in school, you’re like, “He’s a good kid, he has potential,” that’s how I viewed myself. I knew I’m a total screw up, but somewhere in me I think I could do something with my life, I couldn’t access that because I was so trapped by the addiction and with things like heroin and crack. I was a full-blown alcoholic. Those drugs will ruin your life. Every day it’s about that and your world gets very small.
I think that seed is one of the things that is so important. That’s amazing because you’re in Hollywood, you’re in grunge. You’re in that place of so much negativity and negative entities and energy. The whole vibe of it must’ve been hard. Here you are, inexperienced with that seed of knowing your potential. I think a lot of people feel that little spark of, “I could be so much more, I could be so much better, but look at me, I’m in this shitty situation.” How did you take that one little seed? Did it build on it or did it just sit there? What was your relationship to that seed?
That seed was planted from age fourteen to sixteen because I got sent to a boarding school. I was having all these problems with the police. They kept wanting to take me in. Eventually, they did and I was forced out of the State of Colorado. I was living in Aspen with my dad at thirteen or fourteen. I got sent to this boarding school in Northern Idaho called Rocky Mountain Academy. It’s now considered an ‘80s experimental school in the woods for wayward children run by totally unqualified quasi-therapists. They eventually shut it down.
While I was there, I learned about spiritual principles. They would do all these strange experiential therapy treatments where they would keep you awake for 72 hours and kept feeding you coffee, induce sleep deprivation and they brainwash you essentially, the brainwashing was all positive. It was about learning how to be honest, have integrity, to care about people, and good teachings. Their methods of teaching through to the kids were definitely unorthodox. Now, it would probably be considered child abuse in many cases. At that school, I’ve got a sense of self-esteem for the first time in my life. Just the understanding that I was not supposed to do drugs, break into houses and do the stuff that I was doing, that was a huge pattern interrupter.
That’s where I think that seed was planted as the first time where I trusted an adult. There was the headmaster, this man Tim Brace. I trusted him. He loved me, cared about me, and helped guide me. He never tried to harm me or take advantage of me or abuse me in any way that many adults had. That was the first time in my life that I’d ever listened to someone when they said, “I think you should do this,” and I said, “That’s a good idea. I’ll follow your direction.” I was completely defiant, rebellious, and terrified.
When I got out of there, unfortunately, I didn’t understand the mechanisms of addiction. I didn’t know that I shouldn’t even touch marijuana or something. I fell back into addictions because I didn’t know that I lack the ability to moderate. I immediately started doing LSD in high school and went completely off the rails worse than ever. I never went back to stealing and the dark stuff that I was doing when I was younger. That was where I first had a taste of what it was like to be sober, be cared for, and care about other people, and have a human connection that was real and loving that I had with my fellow students and some of the staff in that school.
Fast forward to the later period, that six or seven years that I was living in Hollywood, I was literally burning my life to the ground. That seed was there because of that experience when I was a teenager. There were two fundamental things that happened, one was one night I had an insane mushroom trip. I used to sell mushrooms. I took copious amounts of mushrooms, went downstairs to my friend’s apartment, and sat around his apartment. Which by the way, I wouldn’t advise if you’re someone who wants to try mushrooms. I don’t think I ever took more than four or five grams at a time, but that was enough. During this experience, I started to see that spark and I got really sad. I started to grieve the loss of myself to my addictions.
I started to see that it was almost like foreshadowing that things were about to get even worse and perhaps go to the point of no return in terms of legal issues. I was getting risky with the illegal things that I was doing and physically addicted to heroin. The crack was out of hand and I felt so low. My threshold of shame started to become unbearable and my heart was breaking. In that experience that I had with those mushrooms, my heart shattered. That was the beginning of having the idea that perhaps I could live a life that was sober and do something meaningful and make a contribution to the world other than selling drugs. There was a combination of that.
My mom and dad were divorced since I was a little kid. My Dad lives in Colorado. I had two sets of family as divorced kids do. On my dad’s side of the family, my grandmother and two aunts had been going to India for a number of years and became devotees of Saint Sathya Sai Baba. They would go over there for months on end and at one point my aunt was gone for a couple of years living on the Ashram. They would come back with these beautiful robes, beads, and stories. These stories were fantastic. They would give me books. They gave me one book that eventually ended up changing my life, it’s called I Am That by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj. It was given to me by my cousin, Aaron, the son of one of those women that were going. They would come back with these miraculous stories of these manifestations, healings, and things that were supernatural that I found to be fascinating and very alluring.The ego tries to evade reality. It tries to escape and numb the pain and fulfill bloated instincts. Click To Tweet
That was where I started to marry that seed that had been planted in my boarding school and be reawakened in that shame meltdown that I had on mushrooms. I started to think that perhaps those gurus in India could help me out of the prison that I was in. It was a stretch, but it was all I had. I started trying to read my way through some of those books. At one point when it got bad, I started to even pray to some of those saints. I think God was a little bit of a stretch, but I could pray to a mystic or saint or sage. They had performed these miracles. My aunts had seen them with their own two eyes. They weren’t delusional, they weren’t dishonest people. I believe that they believed what they had seen. I thought, “If that’s possible, maybe somehow I could get off these drugs.” It’s a long story, it’s hard to encapsulate, but I’ll give you the shortest version I can.
I was bitten on the face by a Rottweiler. This is one of the stories that could be a parable of the judgment of what is good and bad, the duality of thinking. I was bitten on the face by a Rottweiler pretty badly. I still have scars on my face and it had missed my eye. It could’ve been bad. I was drunk at a party and this Rottweiler bites me on the face. You can say, “What a horrible thing.” We’ll see how that turns into one of my greatest gifts. It’s like child abuse. I wouldn’t say, “I’m thankful that I was sexually abused when I was a kid, but I’m thankful for the experiences that I’ve had as a result of that and where I’ve ended up in the man that I am now. I don’t think I would be that man if some of those horrific things didn’t happen to me,” much like the dog bite. I get $7,000 in a lawsuit and I was like, “There’s a good thing.” I’m strung out on heroin, I spent that $7,000 on heroin.
For the first time in my life, I could abuse that drug as much as humanly possible, which would be a “bad thing.” The result of that dog bite ended up getting all that money, spending all the money, and becoming horribly strung out to the point where when that money ran out, there would be no way that I could maintain that dose of a habit. You build a tolerance. If I went back to my $20-a-day or $40-a-day habit, there’s no way that was going to cut the mustard, and I’d be incredibly sick in withdrawal. I would have to turn to crime or do some crazy shit.
I kicked that last habit. It was the worst kick. I ended up in Canoga Park or somewhere in the valley at a drug buddy’s house. I’d pay a drug buddy to sequester me in their house or apartment and not let me out like the movie Trainspotting. That’s real. If you don’t have a detox center or professionals to do that, you get someone to not let you out. I had no car, I had no way to get anywhere. There was no Uber. You would go through withdrawals, much like Byron Katie‘s story, someone I interviewed. There were cockroaches, I was lying on the floor of this apartment. I was a couple of days into the withdrawal, just totally in delirium and out of my mind. I look over and there are cockroaches crawling on the floor. That was the defining moment where that seed and semblance of belief that there could be some religion or spiritual path that could save me, I got up and called my mom. I asked her to check me into a treatment center and I did.
The first day I woke up there, I got on my knees and I prayed to God to help me not be a drug addict anymore and take away those insatiable cravings. From that moment until now, almost 22 years later, I’ve never even remotely considered taking a drink of alcohol or touching any drugs. I never had a craving. It was a miracle. A miracle was bestowed upon me. It was all based on that seed that like, “God, maybe I could be something.” What a great decision I made because I have been able to benefit many people’s lives in a positive way, as a result of the experience that I got through that suffering and through the release from bondage.
The first thing I kept thinking was Joseph Campbell’s A Hero With a Thousand Faces, the monomyth. I don’t know if you’ve ever delved into that. It’s the hero’s journey. Joseph Campbell originally written it in 1949. This guy looked at all these histories and different religions and he described what they called the monomyth. The monomyth is the Hero’s Journey and there are nine or seven different steps that each hero goes along. You described the perfect hero’s journey, like going to the depths of Hades or hell and then meeting a guide to pull you out of it. You do have the perfect monomyth journey. The thing that sparked me was in this life, we get these little clues and nuggets that may not make sense at the moment.
It’s like, “Why am I learning about self-esteem?” “Why am I having this epic mushroom journey?” “Why is this dog biting my face?” We don’t know that in the moment, but in hindsight if we listen to the clues and what the universe is providing, if we hear our guides, you can then keep moving to level up your life. To the people reading, my goal is to remind people that even if you’re in the most hellacious, difficult spot in your life, look for those little signs because the beauty might be right around the corner. Thank you for demonstrating that.
One of the most valuable tools that I’ve been able to learn and apply in my life is the principle that was stated most eloquently by Shakespeare and that is, “There is no such thing as good or bad, only thinking makes it so.” That’s why I love the story about the dog bite. “That sucks,” “You’ve got the money, that’s awesome.” You spent the money and got horribly strung out, “That sucks.” Then because I was strung out, I got the money, I got the dog bite, I had the most amazing, profound spiritual experience of my life that did a 180 trajectory on my entire life experience. It has affected so many people in a positive way. It’s not viewing experiences positive or negative, it just is. The “is” where the magic happens because I can allow nature to dictate what the lesson is.
It’s so amazing too because that principle is one that can be shared with someone when they’re in a dark time. I did this with a friend who came over a couple nights and the guy’s in the middle of a breakup. It’s the whole, “I want to die. I can’t stop thinking about her,” all that stuff which I totally relate to, I was in that situation myself. I went through this whole thing for twenty minutes about how this was the lesson that was taking him to the next level that was going to enable him to have deeper levels of intimacy and love. He’s going to be able to select more appropriate mates that are going to serve his highest good and their highest good. I’m saying all this stuff to him and after about twenty minutes, 30 minutes I went, “I told myself exactly what I needed to hear.”
Consequently, he also felt better and was like, “I never thought of it that way.” We had a little moment there, and it was a reminder to myself that reality is what you make of it. It sounds so simple, it’s almost like, “Just have a positive attitude.” That would be the empty platitude version of that. It’s something that we can develop and learn and I’m working on that all the time rather than, “Why has God forsaken me? Why is life suffering? Why is it so hard? Why?” It’s more like, “This is interesting. Let’s play with this challenging experience or these uncomfortable feelings and sensations that I’m experiencing in my body or mind. I can I take that and not five years later, see the lesson in it, but actually be able to dive deeply into the lesson as I’m experiencing that discomfort.” It’s powerful.
To validate what you said, your reflection of your friend is a win-win. This is what most people don’t do. They sit in their own misery and start to think, “I’m a piece of shit. I’m bad. I’m never going to have it.” You hang out with a knowledgeable friend or a friend with positive energy. One, it’s the gift of letting a friend speak to you, feel their love and feel it coming out of them and remind them, but also it’s in the reflection. People in their isolation, go and be connected. If it’s a friend, gender group, a twelve-step program, therapist, coach, or whatever, get out of your own head and connect with other human beings. Thank you for demonstrating that.
I always say in the context of addiction recovery and the fellowship, support, and human connection, which is inherent in that and necessary for that, is that we’re not all fucked up on the same day. My friend was sitting there listening to me, he was looking at me like I’m freaking Gandhi. I go, “Give me a couple of days and I’ll be a basket case about something.” You will be the same one that’s like, “Luke, come down off the ledge.” Out of your group of supportive friends, no five or six people are all going to be totally out of their minds at the same time. There’s at least going to be one voice of reason that’s the zoomed out enough to give a more reality-based perspective on the situation. It’s fun when you’re the one with that reality because that means you were suffering less than the one who’s not. Your turn is coming to some degree. I suffer much less than I ever have before and for shorter durations. It’s part of the human experience, expect difficulty at certain points.
It’s February 15th, 1997. You have been in rehab, you’re on your knees, you’re seeing an inspiration, you’re praying to the spirits, God, Gandhi, whoever. I’m sure there was a time of recovery and detoxing. Do you remember what happened next in your journey to propel you to the next step of your life?
The biggest gift that I was given was that I had truly hit a bottom. Even at 26, I wasn’t one of these punk-assed kids that were like, “I’m going to get out of here and see if I can smoke weed but not do the other stuff.” I was very much committed to being 100% sober for the first time in my life. Although, I’d never attempted sobriety before in any meaningful way. I did try to, “I definitely need to stop smoking crack.” No one smokes crack and it’s like, “This is a great idea. Why is everyone hassling me?” You’re choking here smoking crack. I would try to switch seats on the Titanic and move over here, quit this and that. I tried to manage it myself for a number of years.
By the time I checked myself in there, I understood the fundamentals of addiction recovery. It doesn’t work unless you’re all in and you give up everything except coffee and cigarettes. That’s the one thing sober people seem to be able to get away with impunity. I did not argue and I didn’t fight. If they told me to sweep the floor, I swept the floor. If they said to go to meetings, I went to meetings. If they said work your steps, get a sponsor, all of that, I was 100% all in. In the spirit of anonymity and without breaking traditions, when I checked out of there 28 days later, I became fully committed to my recovery and my recovery program. I did everything I could to stay within the protective cocoon and under the umbrella of the recovery community and various groups.
That’s where I started to have an understanding of what that spiritual experience was that had happened to me. I was released by something other than myself. It was a strange spiritual experience because it wasn’t as if that morning when I prayed the room filled with light, the curtains were blowing, and there were like, “Give me a sign. God.” There was no sign. In an instant, at least in that one day, that gnawing craving I’d had since I was a kid was gone, it had vanished. I became immensely curious about that phenomenon in and of itself and set on the course immediately of finding ways to integrate that into my life on a deeper level. Having the realization that if that thing, whatever that was that I prayed to, could do something like that for me, imagine what it could do in other areas of my life. Hence began the journey of learning how to meditate, reading spiritual literature, doing chronic healing, doing other physical and metaphysical practices, and learning anything and everything I could to unpack after that event that happened.
It took me a while to come out of that. My head was spinning, going, “I’m sober. How did this happen? This is so weird.” Even to this day, sometimes I think about how strange it is that one day after suffering for so many years, the only thing I did differently is I added this God thing into the conversation. I had suffered a lot. I didn’t even know how to pray because I didn’t grow up religious. I thought about what they do in the movies and I was like, “I think you’ve put your hands together in front of your chest like this, and you get on your knees next to the bed. I think.” It was very patched together based on a Hollywood interpretation of prayer in a formal sense. For 22 years, I’ve been unpacking what the hell happened to me. When I say to me, it did happen to me and for me and with me. I jumped right into recovery and I started doing anything and everything I could to broaden that experience that I had that morning that I prayed.
My framework for change, I have a nine-step that will be part of my book, the first step is commitment. You can’t do anything unless you commit to it. We want epic change. We want things, we want better jobs, relationships, money, health, and we don’t commit. We’re nilly-willy saying, “I want this, God give this to me, but we won’t commit to the change.” In the agreement to sweep the floors and in the agreement, to be willing to do whatever it takes to do the steps, to listen to the people around you and your sponsor, that’s the step for the greatness. The lifesaving thing is, “I’m committing to my life-changing and do whatever it takes to have it.”
You’re absolutely right. To me it’s like my relationship with what we would call God, it really is a relationship. There’s not me over here and a God over there in the clouds or something like that. It’s a co-creation. If I want something to happen or if I want something to stop happening, it’s a 50/50 deal where it’s a partnership. Like any relationship, it takes input from both. As one of my spiritual teachers said to me many years ago, “Luke, you can’t sit in a closet and wait for God to shove hot dogs through the keyhole.” He was this old-timey guy. I thought that for some reason, it’s such a funny analogy. In many different ways, trust God, tie up your camel. There’s a certain degree of dedication and commitment that’s required on my part because God is not an intervening God that’s going to come in and supersede my will and control me like an automaton. I have to give permission in order to give up any aspect of my own personal will, desires, and the things that I want. For me, life is about systematically surrendering more aspects of myself.
Most recently for me, for example, in the past couple of years, I’ve been working on surrendering my relationship to money, finances, debt, and how that currency works in my life. Also, in relationship to my own sexuality and behavior in terms of dating, relationships, intimacy, and getting to the point in my life and sectors of my experience that, “I’m trying to do this on my own and I don’t do it that well. I don’t like the results that I’m getting. I forgot to allow God or that universal intelligence or love into this area of my life because I don’t want to be interfered with because I have an agenda about the way I want it to be.”Life is about systematically surrendering more aspects of yourself. Click To Tweet
For example, a few years ago a friend of mine said, “We’re taking this trip to Thailand and Cambodia. Do you want to go? It’s in a couple of weeks. We’re going to go for two weeks and spend about $6,000 or so.” Planes, hotels, travel, all that, which in my bank account, I had $0.50 or whatever. I thought, “Let me check my credit cards and shit, I got $20,000 in credit on my cards. Let’s go,” that’s the way I used to think. I used to think of my credit line as cash flow in my whole adult life, I’m 47. I learned a couple of years ago that your credit line is not cash. It’s in fact a biblical and massive principle, that you don’t borrow money if you don’t have something to secure that debt with. Buying a house, a car, or something like that it’s different. The idea of unsecured debt never occurred to me.
I never wanted to look at that because when my friend says, “Do you want to go to Thailand?” I am so willful and I want what I want. I’m such an adrenaline junkie that I don’t want to go, “I checked my finances and it’s not in my budget right now. Sorry guys. You guys all go and have fun without me.” I lacked maturity in that area to be like, “I can go next year. I’m going to start saving right now and I’ll save up, not $6,000, I’ll save $12,000. It would really do it up.” God, as being the co-creator and partner, it’s not as if God is going to say, “I’m going to just fill your bank account with money without you doing anything,” or “I’m going to pay off your credit cards,” or “I’m going to stop you from behaving irresponsibly with your budget and understanding credit and debt and all of that.” I had to have life smack me in the face due to my own behavior and warped ideas about things and then say, “There needs to be a change,” or “God, can you come in here with me? I’m willing to allow you into this part of my life. To give up my will and truly surrender my ideas about this particular area.”
It’s crazy, I just paid off $100,000 in credit card debt. I paid off the last four years. It took me twenty years to build up that debt and two years to pay it down once I asked God to come into my life and to intervene. The intervention had to have me as a co-participant. It’s not, “God, I’m in $100,000 in credit card debt. Win me the lottery,” it doesn’t work like that. There has to be a change on my part. When I was a kid I would want a motorcycle or something and my dad used to piss me off. My dad was wealthy and still is, but he’s never given me shit. “Dad, I want this motorcycle, it’s $2,000.” He would make me save up half of it myself and then he would match me. I got some cool stuff, motorcycles or Atari. He would never go, “I’ve got the money, screw it. Do you want that new motorcycle? Here, kid.”
He didn’t want to instill in me laziness and entitlement. It instilled in me a work ethic. Even when I was a drug addict, I was a good drug dealer. I always made sure my inventory was there, I had multiples types of inventory. I was accountable for someone who’s that screwed up. I understood entrepreneurship, earning your way. That’s how God works. He’ll me halfway, but I have to be able to do my part. Those principles are what have shaped my life.
Somewhere at about the five-year mark when I was five years sober, I started to get more of an understanding of what the word “principle” means, these universal truths. I started to build a relationship with those as a conduit where I could access universal power, universal intelligence, and universal love. That commitment, willingness, self, honesty, being of service, taking inventory, having unconditional love for others and for myself, having empathy, compassion, all of these different principles. There’s an infinite number of principals available to us.
Getting the word first, which is the symbol of the power behind the word, and using those as building blocks from my life of adding in more principles. Such as the principle that you don’t borrow money unless you have something to back it up. That’s a universal spiritual truth that exists in the universe. It’s always existed and it will always exist. It’s unchangeable, immutable, it’s omniscient, and it’s everywhere all at once as it has always been. If you break that principle and you borrow money and you accumulate debt, you’re going to pay a price. You’re going to pay interest, but you’re also going to pay a price spiritually for that draining pressure on your soul. Subconsciously, your soul knows you’re breaking that universal law.
I’m also hearing is a description of ego. Your ego wants to go to Thailand. Your ego and the rest of your system is like, “If we do that, there’s this cost.” The ego is like, “Screw those costs. We’re just going to do it anyway.” I can feel the balance of it.
The ego is very immature. Especially with alcoholics, I’ll say me, I don’t want to include every alcoholic and this. I’ve observed that addicts and alcoholics, especially ones that start young, they stunt their emotional growth. You become stuck in this childish infant tile ego that’s very impatient, very emotionally sensitive, very thin-skinned. There are these attributes that are very specific, not only to ego in general but for alcoholics that started using and drinking young. All of a sudden you get sober at 26, 36, and you’re still an infant in terms of how you deal with people, relationship, money, and all of that stuff. You’re right, it truly is the ego that’s like, “I don’t want to wait. I want to go now. I want to have sex with this person right now, I don’t need to get to know them. It feels good. Let’s just do it. Go.” That’s how I lived my whole life with this instant gratification and instant gratification of the ego.
Whereas the spirit has that wisdom to step back, “Let’s have a little discernment here, Luke. Let’s have some prudence. Let’s be patient. Let’s just step back, take a few breaths, and then proceed.” Watch little kids, you take them to the amusement park, you took them to the aquarium, you turn them loose. What are kids going to do? They’re going to run, bolt, and look at everything. A kid doesn’t stroll through the museum. Take an 80-year-old who’s had some life experience to the museum or to the aquarium. They’re going to check through very slowly. They’re going to walk, observe, and contemplate. They’re going to have a much slower pace. Not because they’re physically restricted, but because they’ve gained some maturity.
It’s not dependent on age, it’s dependent on how much we allow the ego to proliferate and control our behaviors in our drives because we lack the awareness of understanding the mechanisms of ego and how it works within us. For me, I’m not one that demonizes the ego, I love my ego. I love my instincts that I want to have sex with every woman that moves. I want to eat all the sugar, smoke cigarettes, and inject drugs. I want to do all kinds of shit that feels good at the moment, but my higher-self goes, “Okay.” The ego’s trying to evade reality. It’s trying to escape, numb the pain, and fulfill bloated instincts.We lack the awareness of understanding the mechanisms of ego and how it works within us. Click To Tweet
Through the meditation and all the practices for all these years, there’s that separation and that discernment to go, “Is this a real motive, or is this my ego trying to be fat or trying to run or whatever the mechanism is of that. Without the awareness of how the ego operates within each one of us, and an acceptance that it’s part of our inherent being and it’s not to be demonized or even rejected, you gain the upper hand on it. I love my ego. My ego is what enables me to do shows like this, be a big personality, and reach a lot of people. If I start thinking I’m special and I’m better than any other people or I’m less than other people, then I’ve lost the game. It’s that delicate, neutral balance of having the awareness and using ego almost to your advantage.
It’s a relationship with your ego. It’s good to have that healthy, strong adult. I’m going to ask you one quick question. We’re going to close the show. Imagine that someone is here in the show in therapy and maybe not addicted to drugs or maybe they’re not in that dire situation of being in the dregs of Hollywood, but they’re in a low place, they’re hurting, and they’re sad. Any thoughts on what to inspire them to go for their goals and get out of their situation?
Over the years, I’ve looked at emotional pain and discomfort that I’ve experienced a lot in my life, and looking at the lengths to which I’ve gone, some of them extreme, some of them dangerous, many of them illegal to escape from the feelings that I’m experiencing. Not only do the mechanisms of avoidance and escape have dire consequences, but they also compound the pain because eventually, it’s going to have to be dealt with. For me, the more and more I’m learning how to sit in discomfort and allow that experience to happen without running to my phone, into sugar, into coffee, going to the gym, or whatever my healthy escape mechanisms are, to just really sit.
My friend that was over, I did this a little session with him and I invited him to experience the feelings that he was having. We went through that. “You’re feeling anger? Cool. Feel more anger, let it take you over you.” As we start to allow ourselves to experience these uncomfortable sensations that we deem as negative, they only last for a few moments. They last much longer the more you fight them. It’s a strange paradox. I liken it to being handcuffed and trying to pull your hands out of the handcuffs.
Every time you pull, it gets tighter and tighter. This is what the mechanisms of suppression and repression do. Not only do we have to still experience that discomfort at some point later on in a compounded fashion, but it makes it hurt worse at the moment. I would like to invite people to experience the discomfort at the moment and see what the signal is that it’s telling me and what decisions do I need to make in my life. Pain and discomfort to me is a communication from either my body, soul or from the universe at large that a decision has to be made to make a change.A decision has to be made to make a change. Click To Tweet
The worst thing that I can ever do is get caught in the rumination of decisiveness and trying to debate the pros and cons of making that decision, but to try and grasp even a 51% yes or a subtle tug of the charm of what direction I need to take so that I’m not repeating that pattern that got me into that feeling of pain or discomfort. To make a decision that I’m going to move in a certain direction whether that means I’m going to enlist the help of a therapist or start going to a course in miracles group or a twelve-step group or begin a meditation practice or whatever it is that might be a healthy and positive step. It’s experiencing the discomfort, seeing what the signal is, doing my best to intuit what direction that’s pointing me and make a decision to head in that direction.
Making a decision in and of itself is a powerful principle. In that decision, that’s where willingness comes from. Willingness is a very powerful motivating principle. If you compare willingness to the bottom of the scale, which will be apathy where you don’t give a shit about anything, it’s even beyond suicidal. At the lowest scale of human experience, willingness and courage, if you can go, “I’m uncomfortable. This sucks,” but there is that spark of life that’s indicating to me that there’s a little bit of charm in this direction, call that therapist that I looked up online, grab that audiobook, listen to this positive podcast, whatever that’s going to nudge me into the right direction of growth and change so that I can stop repeating those patterns that put me in this discomfort that I’m now experiencing.
Thank you so much for your vulnerability and your inspiration. It’s truly valuable to people reading. You’re a successful man. I looked at your platform and what you’ve done and it’s impressive. The thing that’s most impressive is your journey and willingness to be vulnerable and true and not try to hide it behind some glossy profile pic. Thank you so much.
I love being sloppy. I was speaking at an event and I was talking about how it’s such an exciting time I’m observing now. I’ve been part of this personal development, health, spirituality, and personal inner movement for many years, but I’m watching how media and podcasts are allowing people to have a platform where they can get more vulnerable and real. It’s almost like this hundredth monkey thing. Every day, I listen to a podcast and someone’s talking about their sexual trauma as a kid or that they were an addict or their problems with debt and things. Even things I talked about with you, six months ago I would’ve been like, “I’m not talking about that. I’m not going to let anyone see that part of me in a public way,” maybe a couple of friends. Six months ago if you said, “How’s your money?” “I’m doing great.” I would’ve never said, “I’m $100,000 in debt and a disaster with my finances.”
I heard someone else talking about it and that made it okay for me. It’s a healthy place now where those secrets that we’ve hidden in these family systems and personal lives are starting to be divulged and uncovered. As the light is able to shine into those areas of each of our individual lives, there’s a light that shines on the human race. We’re all willing to own up to our shit and move forward. I don’t even feel that courageous because every time I allow something to be seen or shown in my messiness in life, it’s because I saw someone else do it and I go, “They opened the door, I’m going to walk through it.”
I appreciate your acknowledgment. I encourage everyone, the days of the 1950s when we all pretend like we live in this nuclear family and everything’s okay, none of us are okay. It’s inherent to the human experience that you are messy. Let’s stop hiding it, let’s be real and authentic. When someone has a public platform, do public speaking, and all of this stuff like you do, it’s strange to have the subjective experience. The more vulnerable, open, and honest I become, the more people gravitate toward me. It’s an ironic joke or cosmic giggle that my whole life, the parts about myself I’ve been hiding and working so hard to not let anyone see because I fear their rejection are the very things that draw more and more people of higher caliber and consciousness unto me by my vulnerability. They feel safe within my energy field to also let their guard down and be as authentic. It is this force multiplier. This is amazing to watch unfold in the space that we’re in and beyond. It’s so healthy for our culture and humanity in general.It's inherent to the human experience that you are messy. Let's stop hiding it, let's be real and authentic. Click To Tweet
That’s what Tuff Love is about. It’s the truth that’s hard to say, the truth that’s hard to hear but once you say it, it feels better.
It’s perfect timing too because I need to make an uncomfortable phone call with someone on my team. I don’t like confrontation at all, but I’m not being honest if I act everything’s cool. I need to have a talk and be like, “These X, Y and Z are not cool with me and I can’t work with you if that’s the way it’s going to be.”
How do people learn more about you? How do people find your podcast?
The lovely people can go to my podcast called The Life Stylist Podcast. My most active social media is Instagram @LukeStorey. I do a lot of zany whacky stuff in my Instagram stories and Instagram Lives. I document a lot of what I think are interesting life practices and experiences. I take that phone with me everywhere and broadcast my whole life on it. There’s a lot of value and maybe entertainment at times for people. How to take a 29-degree ice bath and hold your phone in your hand without flinching, things like that. My mothership is LukeStorey.com and that’s where all of my speaking events are listed and all of the podcast and guest podcasts will be posted on there.
Thank you so much for being on the show. It’s truly an honor. Truly my heart feels full and happy and impressed.
Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.
That’s it. For more shows, please visit RobertKandell.com, my new mother ship for all things Tuff Love, writing. My Communication Course in Los Angeles is coming. I’m very excited. Luke, if you want to come and be my guest, I would be honored.
Communication in relationships? This is the area I’m working on most of my life right now. I’ve been celibate for fifteen months, no dating, sex and pornography, just absolute life reboot. I’m studying relationships, communication, intimacy and getting myself ready for the next phase of that.
You went to John Wilding Course, my nemesis. I’ll also need details.
That would be great. I love John. I had a profound experience in the last quarter. It made me all about that. That’s my main area of focus right now.
Remember, there’s someone out there who cares, go out there, find those little nuggets in life, and live life to the fullest. You are worth it. Go get some nookie if that’s in your practice. I love you. Take care. Bye.
Thank you so much for joining us for Tuff Love. Thank you, Luke, for your vulnerable share of who you are. Just your true heart coming out there. I’m grateful for you and I’m grateful for your time. For more shows, please visit RoberKandell.com or find us on iTunes, Stitcher, your favorite podcast app. Give us some loving. Give us some starts. Give us a review. Thank you so much.
- Life Stylist Podcast
- School of Style
- Luke Storey
- Episode 144 on The Life Stylist Podcast
- The Tools of Titans
- I Am That
- Byron Katie – guest of The Life Stylist Podcast
- A Hero With a Thousand Faces
- Instagram @LukeStorey
- Tuff Love on iTunes
- Tuff Love on Stitcher
About Luke Storey