The Angry Therapist’s guide to living your best life in 2019
by Caroline Fontein
It’s 2019! The start of another New Year, and a time when we all strive to set new goals and aim for the stars, until about the second week of February when something like 80 percent or more of all resolutions fail. After all, we're creatures of habit. So how can can we actually achieve self betterment in the New Year?
We booked a session with certified therapist, life coach and SmartyPants brand ambassador John Kim (a.k.a. “The Angry Therapist”) to find out.
After his divorce, Kim went through a total transformation and rebuilt his life as a pioneer in the world of self help (he just released a new book “I Used to Be a Miserable F*ck”). We got a chance to sit down with Kim and learn a fresh approach to life, relationships and love in 2019.
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Q. What advice do you have for people who want to make changes in their life but who may not know where to start?
A. I think self betterment at the end of the day is more of you than anything else. So what I mean by that is connecting back to you. As we grow up, and we have to pay taxes or we get into unhealthy relationships or we get into jobs that we don’t like, we slowly start to disconnect with who we are.
So going back to who you are and connecting with yourself, which is a process, which is a journey. Living a life that is honest, not exchanging your truth for membership. That’s all stuff that I used to do that put me in a very chasing state, a powerless state, victim mode, nothing good happens. I think to be in an attracting state, you have to connect back to you. So throughout the day, month, week, whatever, we’re always fluctuating. We’re always running either toward ourselves or away. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about eating a donut or who you choose to love, you really have to design a life where you’re running towards yourself.
Q. What’s an example of running towards yourself?
A. So, in action and behavior. Are you doing things to cope, to numb, to hide? Whether it’s food, sex, drugs. Or are you doing things because it’s honest to you? Using the silly example of a donut. I think having a donut can be running towards yourself, if you feel like you deserve it, and it’s ok. If you inhale a dozen donuts, that might be running away from yourself because you’re numbing or using food to cope. And the donut is a metaphor for anything that we do that’s acting as a crowbar to separate us from ourselves.
Q. When it comes to relationships, what tips do you have for finding happiness?A. One of the misconceptions with relationships is that they are built, and we don’t learn how they are built. We just go by our feelings, and we should be learning this shit in high school instead of geometry. So having tools and being aware. Attraction is complicated. I think growing up we just go for someone because we’re attracted to them. That attraction is sometimes unhealthy and dysfunctional, and that leave imprints. We grow up, and we chase that feeling. We think that’s what love looks like, but it’s not healthy. So building a relationship takes a lot of looking at your own stuff, your own thoughts, the way that you are, being responsible and taking ownership of everything that you’re taking to the table. That includes how you treat someone, the space that you’re creating, your energy, all that stuff.
Q. So, if you’re in relationship, feel stuck in a cycle and are unhappy, what are things that people can do to break that pattern?
A. I think in relationships it’s about doing life with someone and not around someone. So what happens is that over the years, the days, routine, maybe children, whatever, we start to do things around people where we’re walking on egg shells. We’re not expressing our feelings. We don’t communicate. We hold grudges. So to do life with someone really means to be vulnerable, which takes courage, and to be transparent, to communicate. I think that’s the soil for a relationship to actually have legs and be built.
When people are doing life around people because they’re scared. Or because they don’t want to show themselves. Or maybe the relationship has fizzled and died. Or now it’s about the children, and they’re basically running away from themselves instead of toward. So we have to have two people running toward themselves which makes them run toward each other, but they have to be running toward themselves first. Because if you run toward each other but not yourself, you could lose yourself in the relationship.
Q. How can we be better communicators in a relationship?
A. Try to understand before trying to be understood. Most people, instead of trying to understand, they’re coming back with a response, a reaction. It’s like they’re in court, they’re going to prove [the other person] wrong or control them. So trying to really understand the person. Put yourself in their shoes. Be empathetic, and then try to be understood. I think when you have two people trying to do that, it produces more glue.
I think a lot of relationships fall apart because people don’t understand each other. If you don’t understand each other, you start drifting. So, over time then, it’s too late to come back. Then you wake up, and you’re like I don’t know who you are, and I don’t like you. It’s more important to like someone than to love someone. It’s actually easier to love someone because that’s a choice. To like someone, you can’t do anything about it if you don’t like the person. I think people quit too soon especially today with swipe culture… It’s the double edged sword with technology and apps. It can connect us but also disconnect us when it comes to love.
Q. After you’ve been on a few dates with someone, how do you know then if you’re being too throwaway (because you know there are other options out there) or if you should continue to invest your time?
A. You don’t know. I want people to lose this idea of the one. The reason why I’m saying that you don’t know is because it will eventually play out. So instead of chasing after, is this the one, which is then loaded with pressure (and that pressure is going to come out like taking a black light to a person) and being closed and judgmental.
What if you told yourself, I don’t know? But I’m curious, and that curiosity makes me want to peel away layers instead of seeking for this lightening in the bottle. Now it’s about discovery, exploration, let’s experience this person, and that stretches the time. Then, eventually of course, you will know because you either bond or you won’t. But if you’re going in searching like, is this person the one, in three weeks I need to know, it’s not fair to the experience, to dating. I think that’s happening a lot.
Stop trying to find the one and instead just get curious about who someone is, get to know their story and who they are.
Q. With the New Year, do you have any resolutions?A. I just want to create a dialogue to potentially help other people change perspective... I’m really excited about challenging men to have a conversation with themselves to redefine themselves, to look inward, and it’s not me putting my definitions on anyone. It’s encouraging them to come up with their own definitions. I think we live in a time where the soil is very rich for men to make their return.
Q. Any last words of advice for living your best life in 2019?
A. I encourage you guys to stay out of your house and out of your head. What I mean by that is, our thoughts drain us. We have 70,000 thoughts a day. They’re mostly negative, and 90 percent of those are the ones that we had yesterday. So we’re actually living in the past, in this loop. We also have cognitive distortions.
We’re also the only species who can just by thought, create trauma. All this is happening. So, get out of your head and also get out of your house, and I don’t mean just sitting on your porch. Go do something that makes you feel something. I rode my motorcycle here on purpose, so I could feel alive, and also so that I could die at any second.
Connecting with your body, yoga, surfing, fitness, whatever your thing is, hiking, to get out of the house and move around not so much for aesthetics but to connect with yourself.
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Caroline Fontein is the Editor and Content Manager for SmartyPants Vitamins. When she's not writing about the latest and greatest in gummy nutrition, she loves rollerblading (it's a thing), long walks on the beach (with her dog) and wine tasting (sometimes the whole bottle).