ERP 358: Healing & Development While In Relationship — An Interview With Gary De Rodriguez

By Posted in - Podcast February 7th, 2023 0 Comments

In relationships, it’s not uncommon to experience difficulties and obstacles that can strain even the strongest of bonds. However, with the right tools and approach, it’s possible to not only heal from past hurts but also continue to grow and develop as individuals and as a couple.

In this episode, renowned relationship expert Gary De Rodriguez shares his insights and wisdom on how to achieve healing and development while in a relationship. From taking ownership of our thoughts and emotions to speaking with kindness and drawing appropriate boundaries, Gary provides actionable steps and practical advice to help individuals and couples navigate the ups and downs of relationships with ease.

Gary De Rodriguez known as the People Mechanic is an internationally acclaimed expert in the science of human excellence with over a 35-year career in designing and integrating influential models of psychology-based systems of success in leadership, human behavior, relationships, communication, team dynamics.

He is the CEO of Peopleistic LLC USA, Associate Professor at the Business Education Institute, Master Trainer in Humanistic Neuro-Linguistic Psychology, a licensed Executive Coach, and Published Author on the topic of Humanistic Business.

In this Episode

6:17 An overview of Gary de Rodriguez’s 35-year career in human excellence.

14:28 The importance of relationships and the role they play in personal growth and evolution.

20:24 Exploring the concept of psychological safety and its impact on relationships and team dynamics

24:44 The importance of understanding the impact of our emotions and behavior on the culture and energy in our home and environment.

30:03 The importance of boundaries and relationships in personal evolution and growth.

34:37 Key to improved relationships and overcoming trauma.

40:28 Understanding the impact of past traumas and the urgency to develop mental and emotional skills to live a fulfilling life.

46:07 The realization that made Gary break away from his addiction and start a journey of self-improvement.

51:59 The one thing that creates psychological safety is our ability to manage our own minds.

Your Check List of Actions to Take

  • Practice self-awareness and manage your own emotions to create psychological safety.
  • Watch your thoughts and words with care and speak with kindness and accountability, avoiding blame towards others.
  • Draw appropriate boundaries and practice kindness towards others and yourself.
  • Take action and pursue self-improvement through Gary’s relationship course online.
  • Learn more about healing and development in relationships.


Creating Incredible Relationships (*Gary’s course)

Shifting Criticism For Connected Communication

Connect with Gary De Rodriguez






Connect with Dr. Jessica Higgins






Twitter: @DrJessHiggins 


Email: [email protected]

About Today’s Show

Gary de Rodriguez, thank you for joining us today.

It’s an honor and a pleasure, Jessica. I’m really, really happy to be here.

I am, too. I love this topic about psychological safety, and I know you have a lot to offer on the topic of relationship. As we pivot towards that, is there anything you want people to know about you, where you’re coming from, that might be helpful as we begin our conversation?

I’ll just tell just a tiny bit, just to kind of give an overview. I’ve been studying how to work with the subconscious mind, because it’s 90% of us, for about 35 years. So a lot of the individual coaching I do, the group coaching I do, the seminars I lead publicly, and the corporate consulting that I do publicly, is really diving at a much deeper level. Because all change, deep change, actually happens at the subconscious level. It doesn’t necessarily happen at the cognitive level. So it became really important to me because I mentioned before that I watched my career in the AIDS community. In those days, you were diagnosed you were a skeleton in three months, and there was nothing anyone could do for you. I thought I had to step up and do something, because so many people were dying this horrific death. 

So I started studying how to work with the subconscious mind that led me into hypnosis, I became a master hypnotherapist, that led me into neuro-linguistic programming, which is sort of the science of human excellence, that evolved into humanistic neuro-linguistic psychology, which I’m a master trainer of, and that is more of a spiritual evolution to neuro-linguistic programming. That’s non-religious, of course, It’s just that if you look at Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs, or Gregory Bateson’s logical levels, the highest human need is always: where do I belong in the larger context of my creation? Where do I belong in the universal impact that my life, my breath, my mind, my consciousness, is contributing to? So when we make a change there, literally everything underneath, it changes our behaviors, our identity, our beliefs, our values, our actions, our capabilities. It all makes a shift. So I decided that if we’re going to make a deep change quickly with people, we have to make it at the highest logical level: identity, capabilities, beliefs and values, purpose, we’ll call that spirituality. So I developed a whole series of trainings and corporate consulting around that concept. That’s just a little touch about me.

Thank you. As you describe feeling the call to be of service, and especially for the epidemic of AIDS in that timeframe, the humanistic linguistic, or that neurofeedback or the linguistic NLP, how does that help? Can you connect the dots there? I can imagine, but I would love to hear from you.

Yes, I can talk for days about that. It really is the owner’s manual for the human mind. It teaches us how we created the filters in which we see our world through.

So just to be clear, for the people that are maybe diagnosed with AIDS and having to go through that journey. Are you saying that if you’re able to help them be able to change their identity and their mindset and their orientation of being, that that actually has an impact on their recovery? I mean, not recovery.

Well, what it helped with was the ability to create resolution in the relationships that had gone and healed their whole life. So I developed early on a process which I just completed a book about, and I’ll be launching that probably in the second quarter of this year, and I’ll have a whole series of certifications that will follow that. Because this process that I created quite by accident. Like, I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I’m a very determined guy. This particular process will decode your nervous system — I know this will sound ridiculous, but it’s absolutely true — in anywhere from five minutes to 20 minutes, from any trauma. 

So what many people do in their relationships, especially at the time of death, there’s no more denial. So you have to face all the things that you’ve compartmentalized that you didn’t have either the courage or the resources to resolve, and then it all comes up and percolates up. People want resolution to their wives, especially their relationships, at the time of death, or nearing the time of death. So I had a whole series of processes that I would use to help people get to resolution. So I’ve said at the bedsides of more people that have passed from that disease than anyone should have, I’ve eventually reached compassion fatigue, I couldn’t do it anymore. I passed on the processes and the mantle to other people that I trained, it just became too much. So when I lost my best friend, that was sort of like the crushing blow. 

So that is where HNLP becomes so incredibly powerful. If we look at it in the context of relationships, it’s like, where all of our wounding happens is within some form of a relationship, where the greatest love that we will ever experience and the elevation of joy and unconditional connection is within our relationships. But very, very, very few people have understood that. Of course, first it’s a relationship with self. Because when we are in this place where we’re aligned to our core — we are living from a value-driven, purpose-driven life, we have deep people intelligence, therefore, communication skills, we have built our emotional intelligence to the point where we truly understand the impact of our words and our actions on others — and we have decided that we’ve made a change at the highest logical level of what our purpose is, then when we come together in a relationship, we can have a far deeper, far more connected relationship than someone who’s just going in: “Gee, you’ve got a great booty, and I’d like to hang with you. I mean, that can only go so far. 

Okay, Gary. So I love what you’re saying, and I also just want to ask a question. I understand a lot of the developmental models are looking at, not that it’s hierarchical, or even linear or progressive, but there is a tendency to evolve through stages or through steps or sequences. So it’s usually a visualization, even with the Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Like, we get our basic needs met, survival needs, and as we get those needs met, then we have more capacity and more privilege, if you will, to be able to endeavor into these higher rounds. I also hear what you’re saying, it’s almost this top-down philosophy that if we can access this higher, purpose-driven alignment, that that actually has a speed of implementation that’s almost inviting a quantum leap. That if I’m not in the reactivity of the human, whatever the story or the dynamics have been, if I come in from a different vibration at a higher place, that’s going to influence my thinking, my behavior, my physiological body. That my moves will be entirely different, and then that sets a tone that’s very different than what it was. So it’s almost as if changing from the top, as you’re describing, can actually influence a tremendous amount of change in the “lower.” Because at the end of the day, it’s all interconnected. But what would you say, am I hearing that right?

You are hearing it right, and there’s a caveat. I keep getting this image in my mind of an infinity symbol, it is working from the bottom-up and the top-down. Because quite frankly, it’s very hard to sit and meditate and go for that higher connection for yourself when you’re starving or you’re freezing cold. There’s certain needs that need to be met in order for you to even have the luxury of being introspective enough. So those fundamental human needs feed our ability to focus on something higher, more than ourselves in our fundamental functioning, that we have to have met in order to survive. So the two really work together. But once the basic human needs are met, the higher logical levels that we live from, more of a purpose-driven life that we can definitely claim for ourselves, the greater partner we make, the more connected we are. 

One of the things in my couples’ coaching that I do is when a couple comes to me, I first of all do their individual values. As we do contrastive analysis, we land on the top five values, because that always drives behavior, which is very unconscious; values are very unconscious. We may think we know what our values are. But when we do contrastive analysis, it ends up really revealing what they are. Then you have the couple actually compare their values. 

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“So what I found was, the couples that struggle the most are the couples that have very different values. At least, if three of the main five values are very different, very hard for that couple to make a long-lasting relationship actually happen. They’ll be in values’ conflict, most of the time.”

But when the values are in alignment or more complimentary, then I have a couple of say: “Okay, out of all the trillions of genealogical combinations you could have met and connected with and decided to live your life with, out of all the trillions of people. I don’t know if it’s trillions, but there’s trillions of genealogical combinations. I was like, why you and why you, why are you two together?” I have a deep belief system that life is not happenstance, and it’s not random chaos. It’s perfect order. So there’s something that those two individuals required to teach each other, to reflect back to each other as a mirror for each other’s evolution. If that’s true, then you look at, then what does your relationship stand for? So what are the couple’s values that you’re going to go to and say, “I’m so angry right now, I can’t even see straight. But then, what are we standing for? How do we return back to our purpose as a couple, so that we can realign to that purpose?” But if the purpose isn’t identified, if a couple’s values aren’t identified, they have nothing to hold on to. 

So one of the primary things, I think, for individuals in relationships is, there’s a higher purpose for why we’re all here. Now, why is it that you come together with one other person, what’s that higher purpose for that individual, what are you teaching each other? Because I personally think, I’ll give a metaphor. 

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“Relationships are like rocks falling from a cliff into a river. Once the rock, with its sharp, pointy edges, is in the river, it is tumbled against other rocks. Until eventually, that rock becomes completely smooth as glass. But in its first entrance into the river, because of its sharp, pointy edges, it causes turbulence as the flow of the river flows over it. But once it has tumbled enough against the other rocks, it has no turbulence and creates no turbulence in the river of life.”

So once we’re able to actually reflect, because I think our relationships give us insight into things we cannot see about ourselves if we’re willing to look, if we’re willing to look at that shadow part of ourselves, embrace that and use that energy. Stop condemning it, but use the energy, and stop projecting it onto our partners and claiming like: “Oh, well, you made me feel this,” and using dysfunctional language like, “It’s your fault, and you did this, and you did that, and you make me feel.” But when we take our power back and go: “No, I am the creator of my own emotional states. I’m literally the neuro-chemical factory of my own life, and the meaning I give what you’re doing or saying is the emotion I’m going to have, I have choice over that.” 

So if I start looking at my partner as a reflection back to me, that there is something that I have either missed, not done, taken for granted, or taken advantage of, and I’ve not owned it, I’ve blamed and said, then that is a beautiful piece of feedback from myself. I’ll just speak for myself. For myself, to correct, upskill, and upgrade, when two people are committed to each other, and they’re committed to their own for personal evolution, and they look at each other as a teacher and a coach and a reflection and a mirror, then they can actually begin to start taking that kind of projective lens of, “I never got loved enough by my parents, and now you’re going to be the one that’s going to be responsible for making me feel great.” When they take that game out of the equation, they start to evolve, they start to grow, they start to mature. 

I love this, this is very in alignment with a lot of the principles discussed on the Empowered Relationship Podcast. That so much of what gets activated or triggered, even emerges in relationship, is an opportunity for growth, and also can be used as curriculum, another way of just putting language on this, for our development. 

So when you were initially talking, I was thinking, I absolutely appreciate what you started with, talking about making what subconscious or not-conscious conscious, and the process of that, and the growth in that. That so often, when we enter into relationship, we’re not always super-cognizant, or conscientious, or conscious of what our highest values are, and being really intentional also about the shared values that might be the guiding compass for our relating. That might be up for reevaluation at some point, or really up-level that even as two people grow. I was like, how does this fit with psychological safety? Then something just sparked as you were talking, in that when we have conflict about our values, or we might judge or attack or criticize the tension or the static, and the dynamic that when we can reframe, or even see that as an opportunity, really no other place in our life are we going to have people holding a mirror so clearly. Or maybe not even so clearly, but holding a mirror, and that we get to have some discernment about how to, like you said, upgrade, up-level, upskill. 

It brought up a theme that came out of my dissertation research. I did a meta-analysis which is on conscious intimate relationship, and one of the things that bared out of that research was this idea of relationship as a container. The idea of that is that if we have a container, it gives us some structure and safety to be able to do this work within. I think my mom would say, she’s studied a lot of child development, and she’s like, “If you give children parameters, they can play, and they’ll have so much more safety and can feel at ease to be a little bit more creative or exploratory. But when there’s no boundary, it can feel less safe.” I don’t know if that fits at all with what you’re talking about.

No, it does. You see, the psychological safety piece really was created or developed — well, I don’t know if it was developed, but it was really identified — because there was a project done, called Project Aristotle, in a very large organization. They wanted to understand how to create high-performing teams. So they tried every iteration, every combination of people together; all women, all men, one race over here, one race over there, all combined. They were trying everything to try to discover what created high-performing satisfied teams. But nothing worked. Except for, there was this one manager who had a collaborative style to management, would do collective problem-solving, would look at each other and look at the team and say: “In this meeting, everyone’s equal. We require feedback, ideas, innovation, from everyone in this meeting. There is no hierarchy here. Let’s give our voices, let’s give our creativity for the resolution of these historical problems that has haunted our department. Let’s make this resolved.” Because of the engagement of people’s minds, and respecting the individuation of each individual, and honoring everybody’s voice, there was this new dynamic called psychological safety that began to be birthed forward. 

In my corporate work, because I’m published on this topic of how to create high-performing teams, here’s one of the things that became very, very clear to me. 

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“Our homes are many corporations. They are a culture, and sometimes, the culture is toxic because one person on the executive team is dysfunctional, reactive, doesn’t take accountability for their own emotional states, won’t take ownership. As a consequence of that, they’re constantly not safe, and they’re not safe to be around, and they don’t feel safe to be around.”

There’s an energetic field that issues off of our body, measurable by science, 15 feet out from our body, discovered by the HeartMath Institute. They’ve proven that in a five-foot radius, the neural synaptic firings in your brain will be affected by the energy emanating off me. That energy is created by the thoughts we think, by the words we speak, and by, therefore, the emotions that we walk around in. Those emotions either create psychological safety, or toxify the culture of the environment in which we’re in. So that is, I think, something so important for everybody to really understand. That literally, the culture generates from you. This is why the whole piece that I was speaking about around psychological safety, we have to do our personal work to be the best expression that we can be, and hopefully, our partner is like, “I’m holding up the light for you when you drop it for yourself.”

I think that can be delivered in delicate ways, or just even have agreement around how that gets negotiated. Because I just had a couple I was working with last night, and he’s like, “I don’t want to be controlled!” Like, just how we offer that feedback, and when we do that, I think there’s some consideration there. But even going back one step further, I can hear and feel within me, Gary, people that are listening that are like: “Ah, what if my partner doesn’t take accountability, what if they don’t buy into the fact of the culture that they’re creating inside their neuro-factory, or however you describe that, and the field that they have around them? That they’re aware of the tone that they’re setting, and how that’s being emanated from them?” What would you say? Because there’s some people in a relationship.

I got answer for that, because a lot of my coaching clients are in the same position. So the best way to influence anyone ever is to be the change that you want to see, that’s the best way. You have to embrace it in yourself. Now, there’s multiple ways to communicate without being critical of the other person. Number one, there has to be a philosophy in your mind, for the person who’s holding up the light for the relationship and the family, is that everyone is growing at the right rate, at the right pace, at the right time. This one person who’s made the shift, that means that at that moment in time, they’ve come to the determination that they were done with old toxic behavior, emotional states and suffering, and they were going to make a shift. Their partner may not have grown at the same pace or the same rate. It doesn’t mean that the love is destroyed, all it means is the one holding up the light needs to shine a little brighter. 

There is a little thing called SHUVA, that was created by a colleague of mine named Patty Beach. She wrote a book on alignment, The Art of Alignment. It’s a very important book, actually. There’s this process called SHUVA. I’ll tell you, it’s an acronym. But it means, the S stands for: I’m going to truly See you. I’m not going to see your flaws. I’m going to see the little boy or the little girl in you that is the purity of your spirit that you came in with. All of the personality stuff, and the things that are aggravating and annoying, are literally your adaptation to the loss of love in your life, and you adapt it. So if I can see past your adaptations, to really the spirit of who you are, then I can truly see you.

Thank you for spelling that out. Because I think a lot of us get stuck in feeling violated, or feel some level of injustice that we protest against. So to be able to slow down enough to be in service of that commitment, and maybe that’s part of the value-driven, of like, “I will be in service of seeing you and your essence and who you are,” and slowing down enough to be like: “Okay, what is this really about? Like, what is it they’re really wanting, or what is it that they need? Staying in that curiosity to be in touch with that, and there might be some practices around how to stay attuned to that, because it’s very human to get into the reactivity. But to come back to that higher purpose, I love that.

See, if we don’t claim that our life stands for something higher, and we don’t own the fact that every word we speak, every action we do, forms our character, and that now is the only moment of power we have to create a new neurological superhighway of a new habit that is in alignment with everything we feel like we came here to be. This is about us taking a stand individually for who we’re going to be. Because at the end of our lives, having seen so much death, we’re going to die, and what are you going to take with you but the accumulation of how you’ve treated other people? I can say this with authority, because I know what caused people to claw at the sheets of their bed to stay in their bodies, because they had no resolution to their relationships, and I witnessed incredible deaths where people danced out of their bodies because they had complete resolution. 

If we want to look at what is this thing we’re doing called living, and I’m going to go a little spiritual on this, that it was said that you will know me by how you treat one another. That is the true temple, the temple of our relationships. For those people who claim that they’re great Christians, or great Buddhists, or great Hindus, it still boils down to the same thing. Every faith fundamentally says the exact same thing. If we’re going to follow this road of our own personal actualization, it’s going to come in the temple of our relationships. if we can see our partner, if we can see them as this person that is evolving, having patience for that evolution, never ever, ever put up with physical violence, and draw a very firm boundary with emotional or verbal violence as well. But I will say, if we can practice this SHUVA piece, it really helps.

When you’re really setting that boundary for people that are feeling some gray area, maybe not so much in the physical but the emotional abuse, is there anything else that you can say around being in the practice of seeing, but also not tolerating abuse? 

It depends on how intense it is. 

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“I really don’t believe that anybody should stay in a verbally or physically abusive relationship. Because there’s a certain part of your heart and soul that starts to die, and you can’t afford that; none of us can. Every one of us has suffered enough.”

The world, it is beautiful, and yet it’s filled with our own suffering, and that’s just the fact of it. So if we’ve suffered enough, and we have, then we pick our partners more carefully. If we haven’t picked carefully, and we desire deeply to evolve, it may be a transition in a relationship for you. Because you cannot evolve with someone stopping on the sprout that is trying to come up out of the earth. 

Yeah, thank you for saying that. I would just add, I don’t know if you would agree with this. But for me, when we’re talking on a more evolutionarily, even maybe spiritual level, that if I’m engaging in abusive dynamics or toxicity, not being abusive in my language, but even maybe on the receiving end, that if I’m willing to tolerate that, that on some level, I’m participating in harm.

I’ll say that, where the toxicity comes in. First of all, if you participate in it and tolerate it, you’re fundamentally saying yes to it. Then at the same time, what that does is it programmes your own subconscious mind, which this infinite reality-generating mechanism inside of us. Because our subconscious mind takes our language and the things around us and other people’s language literally and personally. So if we’re allowing this to occur, we’re programming ourselves for this lower self-esteem, because we’ve rationalized it in some way. Like, “I deserve this, or I should have acted that. Or I shouldn’t have done this, I made them upset.” All that, there is no way that any one of us deserves to be treated in that way.

This is assuming someone’s conscious is right. When we just started talking earlier, we’re like, sometimes we’re not even conscious of the abuse. Then it’s like, as we become more aware, then that’s when we have more of an opportunity to choose. So thank you for pausing and detouring a little with me there. I know you were helping us understand the keys in this SHUVA, so let’s go back to that.

We cannot be a frog in a slow-boiling pot. We adapt to the heat, we adapt to the heat, we adapt to the heat, until finally, we lose our lives. So that is very important. So the H is about truly Hearing someone. Like, hearing them, giving our full focus to them, giving them the honor of our complete attention. Then we go to Understanding, being able to ask strategic questions to understand only. “Can you tell me more about that? Can you tell me why that’s important to you so that I can understand you better?” So you’re asking strategic questions to gain a deeper understanding, and that’s the only thing you’re asking questions to achieve. 

The next piece of SHUVA is the V, which is Validating the person for their experiences, their wisdom, and their communication, and the willingness to communicate with you in a way that allows you to understand them better, at whatever level they can. Then you appreciate them, for the things they’ve gone through, for the ways they see their own world. Knowing that, of course, they have gone through their own fires that they’ve walked through. Then when you Appreciate them, all aspects of that, the S-H-U-V-A, what they all do is they meet the fundamental human needs of all of us; we want to be seen, we want to be heard, we want to be understood, we want to be validated, and we want to be appreciated. So that we give really the fundamental respect to people that people oftentimes have never even gotten.

No kidding, no kidding, no kidding! Sometimes, this can be so powerful, it can shift in such profound ways, talk about up-levelling and quantum leaps. That couples who maybe have experienced this merry-go round of constant circling of issues and tension, this can actually really liberate some of that human tendency of defensiveness and jockeying to be heard and not listening. It’s almost as if the way, Gary, you’re describing this, it’s a spiritual practice that we can enter into, that offers so much more visibility, vulnerability, and connectedness and intimacy. Is that right? 

That’s exactly right. Ah, I feel really compelled, and I always listen, I’m a little clearer audience, so I get impatient. So I would like to just go a little deeper, if that’s okay. So we have to ask ourselves this question. Because many of us have been involved with individuals who were deeply wounded; they come from an environment where they weren’t loved, and there’s going to be an epidemic of that in the next couple generations that come on to the streets into adulthood. There’ll be an epidemic, where people have really poor relationship skills because they don’t know how to be in relationship. It all begins, if we really think about it and ask ourselves, “How did I become me? How did I learn how to think and believe and see and react and respond, and have this reptilian brain takeover where I’m just in reaction to stuff that I don’t even understand why I’m so reactive to it? Why do I have anxiety that slowly builds up, and I get anxious over nothing when there’s nothing to fear, but yet I’m walking around anxious? Like, what is that?” Then relationships, this is where people become thought possessed. Because they want their lover to either be something or treat them some way, and they hide because they don’t want their partner to see things about them, they cannot accept. All of it comes down to one thing, and that is, key significant emotional events that have occurred that remain emotionally unresolved. We have to know that we’re meaning-making creatures, we have a key significant event, which may be at birth, and what we do is we create constellations of beliefs around those key significant events, which then turn into an absolute hardened perspective filter of how we see the world. 

Then we come together with another person who has had a whole a series of other types of key significant events, and we come together and we’re hardened to perceive in very different ways. As a consequence, until the individuals can unravel the emotional cement around those key significant events, they can’t feel differently, or they can’t change the limiting beliefs that hardened into the filter they look out of, and therefore, they feel like, “I’m going to go to talk therapy and that’s going to cure it.” It’s not going to cure it. Because we have these filters we can’t break out of. So we have to do our individual work to neutralize the past, and actually propel ourselves with our full potential into the future. 

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“We only have so much energy, and every one of those key significant events that remain unhealed are like a balloon of lifeforce, and those key significant unhealed events are like pin holes in our energy bodies that just drain us to where we don’t have enough juice left to make a dynamic, successful future.”

That the impact is far and wide!

It is far and wide. I did lots of research for my book on this, and just the health consequences of unresolved traumatic events. There’s lots of different traumas: there’s acute trauma, there’s transgenerational trauma, there’s compounded trauma, small events that happen through time that actually become even more impactful on us. So what I’ve been doing since the beginning of the New Year, I decided after I finished the book, that I was going to make a list of all the small compounding traumas of times I was betrayed, times I was failed, times I was shamed, all that stuff, times I was almost murdered or killed. I’ve just made this huge list about maybe 30 different events, and I’ve been just going through the list using my own information, and decoding my nervous system from these impactful events. So what’s happened is, I have this incredible sense of peace and purpose now, I mean, more so. I always had it, but I’m like pedal to the metal right now, because I am not carrying around that luggage. 

We have to remember this one thing, Jessica, is those events, they’re literally only pictures, sounds, and feelings, that are our memories. That’s all they are now. However, we’ve created beliefs that further solidify them. We can still feel the emotions of them, therefore it makes it real to us. But what if we could take the pictures, sounds, and feelings, and make it completely neutral? So when you think of the memory, it was like a black and white photo in a photo album, and it has no emotional impact. That’s what this technique does.

Well, I would arc in, Gary, that you’ve done enough to have a sense of health and integration in your own being, that you can engage in a process like this and feel the motivation of what it will offer you, but also have enough stability to be able to confront it in a way that can be like an exercise like you’re describing. When you talk about maybe those initial stages of partnering, where there’s these such deeply rooted ingrained sense, what you called perceptions of self or the belief, that in relationship, if we’re engaging in the SHUVA (Seeing, Hearing, Understanding, Validating, and Appreciating), we’re allowing more space to make some of that a little bit more permeable.

We are softening the filters! I always say in the book, I give a process for self-facilitation. But I also say, these are small compounding traumas, not for acute. For acute, you need to be facilitated. But I think it’s vitally important that we go on a quest to learn how to open up the owner’s manual for our minds, that we know how to actually adjust this Ferrari we’re riding around in. Because no one has ever shown up and said, “Hey, would you like an overspend for your head so that you know you can have more mental emotional management skills, so you can be more functional in the world?” No one has done that.

I also hear your voice, and I think it’s incredibly important given what you’ve been witness to and how you’re very aware of the mortality and impermanence and the sense of preciousness of life, and that we’re not guaranteed. That there’s a real urgency that you’re speaking to around, not only the impact of far and wide, but also how critical that we have our life and the sprout and the blooming of how we’re developing it. Like, we don’t get forever. 

Oh, you’re very welcome. I mean, I’m 71, I never thought I’d ever live to be my maturing years. I just never thought I would ever be here. I still think I’m 30, because that’s what I feel. Now you’re supposed to say: “Well, you look 30, Gary.”

You look great!

Oh, thank you, darling! But I think it’s really, really important that we understand this one thing. That life is a bit of perfection, pain is the very first step to awakening, our emotional world is a gift. I can really speak to this because I’ve had so much trauma, and I’m totally transparent about it, I don’t care who knows. But I was molested from the time I was in diapers till I was 11, I was raped at 15, I was an IV drug addict till I was 18, and I should not be here. I should be dead. Because it was heroin and methamphetamine, and I was a complete needle fanatic. I was carrying so much emotional pain with me from my childhood, and all the things that had occurred, and I really didn’t feel like I could function at all. I was terrified most of the time. I was agoraphobic during a period of time for a year, I couldn’t leave my home. I would only leave at like three in the morning with my dog, and we’d walk the beach and then come home, and the state would deliver food to my little furniture-less little apartment. Because I couldn’t see anyone, and literally, people terrified me. 

Now what I know is that if I can go from that to what I’m doing currently, and it’s been a journey, for sure. But if I can do that, there’s hope for everyone. I’m not the most courageous guy, I just demand more for myself. 

Free A Sweet Couple Smiling at the Camera Stock Photo

“I really believe that each one of us has come here to be an angel, rather than watch our own quest for personal significance. I think we’re here to do good, and our relationships are really the temple in which we do that.”

It’s sort of like a quest for all of us to look at ourselves authentically and go: “What is my life going to stand for, for this moment forward, and what is my life going to be celebrated for at the end of my life? What am I going to look back on and go, I did what I came here to do?” Because at the end of our day, there’s no more denial; we will either know we did what we came here to do, or we will know that we fell way short of it. I’m not going to fall short of it, and I would encourage everyone. Because there’s nothing worse than seeing an individual die in an ocean of regret for what they didn’t have the courage to do. It’s an absolute torture to witness!

No kidding, and the experience! I want to just say, I appreciate you giving personal testament to what this can look like, and what one can overcome and heal and process and metabolize in the way of trauma, and also, the conviction and the connection. I do feel like we’re all wired this way. But it sounds like, as you described earlier in the interview, that there’s been some feeling, I don’t know how you would articulate it, that you were able to either remember or get back to some spark that helped you overcome or work through those traumas and have that courage to face, confronting the work to do some of that healing.

I’ll explain it. Because it is a short story, but a really beautiful one. I got sober in 12 hours from smoking three packs of Marlboro Longs, and dealing and shooting up methamphetamine and heroin. I went to a concert. The girl I was dating at the time, she bought me front-row tickets. No one remembers this guy because my generation, but his name was Donovan. He was quite the contemporary of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones and all those guys, was a Celtic folk singer. It was during the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi days when the Beatles had gone into meditation and they were doing all of that, and so had Donovan. So Donovan comes out on the stage, and of course, he’s dressed in white linen, there’s a sitar, there was an ocean of flowers on the DS that he’s going to sit and sing to people. I love his music. So he was tuning up his sitar, I’m in the front row, and this is what I want to say to every single person in the listening audience, because it’s exactly what he said to me. Tuning up his sitar, and he looks at me and he goes, “You are wasting time!” 

I literally reeled back. Every single neuron in my body started to vibrate, and my soul knew exactly what he meant. I took my cigarettes out of my pocket, tore them in half, never smoked again. I left the concert, went home, broke all my needles, flushed about $80,000 with the drugs down the toilet. I went out on a hillside, I’m a Leo, had to be raining and dramatic. I went on a hillside over Mission Bay in San Diego, and I sat there in the rain and cried all night. Then when the sun came up, I was a different man. I walked home covered in mud, but I walked home, I kicked everybody out of my house. 

That’s when I went agoraphobic, as I no longer had the drugs to disrupt, to protect me, and to shut down the feelings that were now free to percolate up. That was a very, very dark period. However, I was determined not to waste any more time. This becomes a point for all of us. It’s like, when is going to be the moment where you’re going to put a stake in the ground? “I’m going to evolve myself, I’m going to work on myself, I’m going to figure this out. Then I’m going to demonstrate it in the laboratory of my relationships, and I’m going to start creating success instead of failure. Because that’s where it happens. 

Yes. Well, I know we are definitely experiencing a gift of what you’re sharing, and increased by what you’re offering here today. Is there anything else? You’ve left us with so many things to work with, and I know we’re going to pivot towards how people can get in touch with you. But before we do that, is there anything else you want to comment on, on our conversation about safety or anything we’ve discussed?

I would love to quote from the Dhammapada from Buddha, and leave that quote as the one thing that creates psychological safety is our ability to actually manage our own minds, our own emotions, take full ownership, and walk our way and each path that we each individually follow with kindness and self-awareness. So Buddha said 3,000 years ago, he said, “The thought manifests as the word, the word manifests as the deed, the deed turns into habit, and the habit hardens into character. So think your thoughts and speak your words with care, and let it spring for concern for all living things. For as the shadow follows the body, as you think and speak, so you will become.” We take ownership. We watch your words, because that is the point of our creation. We speak with kindness. We speak with accountability. We do not blame others. We look into ourselves, to find our own healing. We draw appropriate boundaries, take massive actions of kindness, give SHUVA to as many people as we can, and to ourselves as well. 

Yeah, wonderful! Well, Gary, as people are perhaps feeling moved, inspired, and motivated from what you’ve shared, how would you encourage people to learn more or connect with you? You’ve mentioned your books, your certifications and trainings. Where can people find you and engage?

Well, I have a relationship course online that is near and dear to my heart. You can find that course on Teachable, or you can go to just, it’ll take you right to that particular class. I wanted to create a discount code for your listeners. So the discount code, if they choose to participate in that course, is Empowered100. They’ll get $100 off of the entire price of the course. So I’ve lowered the price a lot, just for this listening audience. Because this is where I think a lot of people are showing up looking for help and answers, and I want to be able to do as much service as I can for them. So it’s Empowered100 at

Lovely, thank you! I’ll make sure to put that on today’s show notes. Do you have a website you also want to share?

Yes, it’s It’s a more of a corporately-geared website, and there are courses on there, there’s other products on there. I’m going to be launching, if you desire to get involved in some of the courses I’m going to be coming up with this year, because I’m restructuring all of my trainings because of the book, then you can reach me at [email protected]. Shoot me off an email, I’ll add you to the database, then you’ll be in the loop and you’ll know all the trainings that are going to be coming up.

Wonderful. Well, I’ll put that email address on today’s show notes for easy access as well, and then any link to your book or books that you want us to put on the show notes, I’ll make sure to do that as well. Thank you for spending your time with us. It’s been quite an honor and a treat to hear all the things that you’ve offered here. 

Well, I had so much fun with you. You ask me back anytime, I’ll come in and talk more. Thank you so much for the honor and pleasure of spending time on your podcast.

Signing Off

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Shifting Criticism For Connected Communication

Shifting Criticism For Connected Communication.

Stop the criticism loop, learn new ways to communicate
and strengthen the connection with your partner.


Dr. Jessica Higgins ~ Relationship and Transformational Coaching