Ep. 275 Mastering Adversity: Acknowledging Your Struggles and Embracing Change

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I am delighted to reconnect with Lance Essihos today! He was with me once before on Episode 69, back in 2018. 

Lance is a Canadian traveler who made it his life’s mission to help heal the world through the art of powerful storytelling and human connection. He is the host of the top-rated podcast, University of Adversity, which I have been honored to be on twice.

In his new book, Mastering Adversity, Lance explores the quest for personal growth, leveling up, and healing. He believes that true mastery is an ongoing process and there will always be new challenges at every level of growth. Writing the book was challenging, and he is grateful to have completed it. He found sharing his thoughts with the world- especially his family, a tough yet transformative experience. 

In this episode, Lance talks about his book and dives into the transformational experience of how adversity shaped his life. We discuss his craving for personal growth and meaning and get into how our internal narrative can influence how we perceive the world. We also speak about masculine and feminine energy, why we must embrace the history of trauma, and how doing that can be a powerful motivator for health and change.

I truly hope you will gain from today’s discussion and enjoy listening to it as much as I did recording it!

“The less we know about ourselves, and the less we know about our values and who we truly are, the more inclined we will be to make stupid decisions.”

– Lance Essihos


  • How adversity has impacted all of us. 
  • How to deal with uncomfortable feelings.
  • Why do most people get stuck in their stories?
  • What is trauma, and how does it impact us?
  • What makes us more vulnerable to trauma?
  • Dealing with anxiety and addiction.
  • How personal development work changes our relationships with others.
  • Intermittent fasting in any aspect of life.
  • Where does people-pleasing come from

Connect with Cynthia Thurlow

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Check out Cynthia’s website

Connect with Lance Essihos

On his website

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The University of Adversity Podcast

Episode 69: Living a Life with Purpose and Impact with Lance Essihos

Books mentioned:

Lance’s book, Mastering Adversity: Unlock the Warrior Within

90 Seconds to a Life You Love: How to Master Your Difficult Feelings to Cultivate Lasting Confidence, Resilience, and Authenticity by Joan I. Rosenberg PhD

How to Do the Work: Recognize Your Patterns, Heal from Your Past, and Create Your Self by Dr. Nicole LePera


Cynthia Thurlow: Welcome to Everyday Wellness Podcast. I’m your host, Nurse Practitioner Cynthia Thurlow. This podcast is designed to educate, empower, and inspire you to achieve your health and wellness goals. My goal and intent are to provide you with the best content and conversations from leaders in the health and wellness industry each week and impact over a million lives. 

Today, I’ve reconnected with Lance Essihos. He originally joined us in Episode 69 in 2019. He is a Canadian traveler. He’s made it his life’s mission to help heal the world through the art of powerful storytelling and human connection. He is the host of the top-rated podcast University Adversity, which I have been on twice, and it’s been a great honor. We connected today to talk about his new book, Mastering Adversity. We dove deep into his transformational experience of how adversity has shaped his life, his craving for personal growth and meaning. We spoke about our internal narrative and how that can influence the way we perceive the world, masculine and feminine energy and why it’s important to embrace both. A history of trauma and how this can be one of our powerful motivators for health and change. I hope you will enjoy this discussion as much as I did recording it. 

Cynthia Thurlow: Lance, it’s so good to have you back. It’s hard to believe it’s been three years since you were last on the podcast.

Lance Essihos: Time just doesn’t exist. It’s like, insane. It’s crazy. I’m so glad to be back.

Cynthia Thurlow: Yeah. It’s interesting because I don’t think there’s anyone that’s the same person that they were three years ago. I think the last two and a half years in many ways has been really trying for many people. And I would imagine that’s probably been the same experience for you as well. You’ve been doing a bit of traveling.

Lance Essihos: Yeah. I mean, it’s been crazy. I’m a completely different human than I was back then. There’s just been so much growth and so many different perspectives in so many countries. Yeah, it’s been a blessing, but it’s also been a challenge, which is a blessing also. [laughs] 

Cynthia Thurlow: Absolutely. If we’re not challenged, we don’t grow and if we don’t grow, we become stagnant. And your new book, which I read from cover to cover, I had a long ride last week, so I spent a lot of time in the car reading while my husband was driving. And so, the title of your book is Mastering Adversity. Let’s start the conversation there. How do you think this has shaped your life so significantly and profoundly?

Lance Essihos: Oh, well, first of all, thank you for taking the time to read it. I appreciate it. Yeah, I mean, it’s interesting because the title was a tough one to figure out. I was like, “What is this going to be called? What message am I trying to convey?” And it’s a bold statement calling it Mastering Adversity. [chuckles] But really, I think just being on the quest of personal growth and leveling up and healing and all of that. I believe that if we are constantly seeking that, we’re never going to fully master it. Because if we’re pushing the limits, there’s always going to be something that’s going to meet us at that next level. So, for me, the book itself was its own tool of growth and personal development, just going through the process, and I was like, “Wow, this is pretty crazy.”

I’m actually having to use some of this stuff because a lot of it, as you know, it’s our mindset in the moment, it’s our emotions. It can really unravel. You start to compare yourself to others. You start to think, “Well, why isn’t it working out like this?” Or we have these expectations of how it should be and it’s just a roller coaster. So, for me, it was like understanding some of the things that happen and really being as present in the moment and feeling into it and just kind of always remembering that a lot of that stuff is just a story, a lot of the limitations. So, in that aspect, it was a constant reminder and a constant tool of growth. And I’m just so grateful that the process is pretty much done, [laughs] as you know, it’s a tough one. So, yeah, it changed my life completely. Also laying it all out there and sharing it with the world, which was tough, especially, when you know your family is going to read it.

Cynthia Thurlow: Well. I love that you describe it as a tool of growth and so certainly adversity has impacted all of us and I’d be the first person to say I would be lying if I didn’t share that. I’ve had episodes of adversary throughout my life, but nothing as impactful as what happened three years ago. And I think that’s been very instrumental in the trajectory of where my business has gone and where I’ve gone mentally and intellectually. And it’s so freeing when you recognize that you’re not only doing the work to get yourself in a healthier mindset and perspective, but also the acknowledgment that you’re dealing with uncomfortable feelings. Because so many of us are so uncomfortable having uncomfortable feelings, whether it’s sorrow or anger, or embarrassment or shame, that we will do everything we can to numb that feeling because we don’t want to process it.

And I always think of Dr. Joan Rosenberg’s work. And she has a book called 90 Seconds to a Life You Love. And it’s a book I have on Audible. And I listen to it, honest to God, I’m not kidding, since I’ve had it in my Audible for two years, there’s at least a week every month where I need that message. And it’s like wherever we left off in that book is what I need to hear. And so, if there are people listening or feeling stuck, step one is the kind of acknowledgment that you’re struggling. And then step two is working on those feelings and working through those feelings. And you mentioned in your book, Jim Rohn says, “There’s a concept of seasons that consuming personal development material is helpful, but it’s not totally helpful if you’re not applying it.”

So how many people stay stuck in– they go to every workshop, they buy every book, but they’re not ready to do the really hard work, which is working through those feelings. And for each one of us, there are things we’ve done to numb feelings, whether it’s been drugs or alcohol or binge eating or attention from the opposite sex, same gender, whatever your inclination is, or over shopping. I mean, I can think of a myriad of things that people do to numb feelings. But the first step in all of that is just acknowledging that there’s something there that’s missing. Because when you acknowledge what’s missing and you work on that and you process the feelings, it allows you to move through them, even though it’s not meant to be easy work. And you can understand why people, many people, will stay stuck for an entire lifetime. I have family members that are there. I view them compassionately, but it’s very hard for me to see that they are not at their full potential because they have never been able to move through those feelings. They’ve just numbed them their entire life.

Lance Essihos: Yeah. No, I agree and that awareness is so key. Just being aware of the things that we do because a lot of people don’t have the basic awareness of our behaviors and habits and the idea of just being aware and not shaming yourself or feeling bad about the choices, but just being aware like, “Okay, I can do better next time.” Acknowledging it and just being like, “All right, at least I know.” And I think most people like you’re speaking to, even with family, a lot of them don’t have the awareness, and they are just stuck in the program, the stories that don’t ever change and it’s kind of the way it was. That’s kind of the way the majority of people are and it’s tough. But that’s why it’s important, I think, for people to share their message the best they can. And I think that is where somebody that you love or trust sees it in a way that isn’t telling them what to do, but they see that you’ve kind of shifted a little bit. And then I think that it gives them a little bit more permission to start thinking differently, be like, “Oh, wait a minute.” Okay, this isn’t some person that, some celebrity or somebody that’s way out of reach. It’s somebody that I know, and they seem to be doing things and acknowledging things, and sharing things. Well, maybe I can do that. Maybe I have that in me too. So, I really agree.

I think so many people are just stuck in the stories and Dr. Joe Dispenza talks about that a lot. It’s like the programs. It’s like you’re just reliving the story over and over and over again, and you get predictable outcomes. You just get that predictable outcome. If you don’t change the story or change the movie that you’re playing, you’re going to get the predictable outcome. But if you’re willing to change, be present, change the movie that’s running, and trust the unknown, which is what a lot of people have to do that create anything of success, especially in entrepreneurship. Like, you have to trust the unknown. You have to trust there’s so many variables that may not work out, but there may be one that will. And I think that is a huge part of the process. Why I think a lot of people get stuck in the stories because it’s safe, and they’re used to that chemical diction to the feeling of safety, yet they’ll still complain about being stuck, [chuckles] but they don’t want to take the risk or the actions to change that. But to come back full circle, definitely the first step is awareness, to understand, like, “Okay, here’s where we’re at, no big deal, but what can I do a little bit differently today? What can I choose differently?” And then that comes down to your emotions and reactions and all that. So, I think it’s very common for most families to get stuck in that.

Cynthia Thurlow: Oh, gosh, there’s so much to unpack there. We’ll definitely get to it. So, when I was reading your book, something that really struck me, and I guess because I’m the mom of all boys, and you talk about there are moments in your life that really hit you hard emotionally, and one of them was being separated from your mom. You were living with your dad and you were in a different part of Canada. Let’s talk about that because I could feel in your writing how painful that process was, and you were at a very critical time. I think about young men like I have teenagers being separated from your mom at that time as much as boys are rejecting their mom, they need their mom in a healthy way. Let me be very clear about that. Do you feel like that was one imprinted memory in your younger years that had a lot to do with the trajectory of where your life went moving forward?

Lance Essihos: Oh, absolutely. And thank you for that. That was tough to get into and eventually my mom read it, so it was a blessing. But going into that, thinking back a lot of times when we do this work, especially with trauma and stuff like that, you got to go back to where did these habits start? Where did these coping mechanisms start? Where did these distracting behaviors start? It’s interesting because you go back the timeline and there was a point that we might not remember. No. Something happened and you just want to feel better in the moment so you do something, it gives you that comfort and then it’s like, “Oh, it kind of takes you out of that discomfort.” That’s really what happens. And for me, I had a very loving family growing up, which installed a lot of love into my heart. And I talk about this too. I think the only reason I’m able to love the way I do and have the feeling so strong in my heart is because I had that given to me by family when I was young.

Otherwise, I don’t think I’d be alive today, to be honest. But when I was 11, I had to make a very difficult decision as to do I stay with my dad or my mom. And I didn’t realize, and I don’t think anybody did, the impact that decision was going to make. I was very young, I was 11 and there was just the sick feeling I remember and the tears from when we left and when I moved across the country, it was so hard because I’m a teenager, I’m going to a new school. I didn’t have a ton of support from my grandparents on my dad’s side. They’re loving people, but there just wasn’t a lot of that. And I just felt so confused and sad and stuck and I’d never been through anything to that level. We had a lot of emotional, a lot of fights growing up, but like every family does well, most do, but I remember just being sick over it and having to cope with that and then eventually getting my stepmother, who is she’s insane, but was one of the biggest teachers of my life. Just crazy because my dad would probably get upset for me for saying that because it wasn’t ideal situation. 

But yeah, I think that started the feeling of being very uncomfortable, very sad, very discomfort. And then as I started to get used to saying goodbye, visiting, leaving, I got very used to that and very hardened. And then when alcohol and stuff like that started to come in, it allowed me to sort of numb myself and escape and be a new person. I didn’t have those worries. I didn’t have that feeling of not feeling enough. I didn’t have any of that when I was drinking, I was like a new person. So, I was getting all this validation, all this stuff and it eventually just kind of built this new character of myself. And yeah, I mean, such a great question because I think most times people don’t know where a lot of this stuff comes from. And I think we got to get super clear and honest with our stories and go ha, wonder where this started. I think with that saying goodbye to my mom was the start of a lot of everything that sort of built on each other. Yeah, and that’s a relationship that took a long time to patch up and rebuild because there was just so much emotion attached to it and so many different events that went on over the years that led to other things. So, yeah, it was tough.

Cynthia Thurlow: Yeah. It was hard to read that because having grown up with divorced parents and stepparents and stepsiblings and leaving your home and moving to somewhere else, it brought me back to what I experienced as a teenager and really understanding that those microtraumas that we experience, there’s major traumas and microtraumas. And the more I understand about trauma, the more I realize it’s a human experience and it influences us on very profound levels. And I always remind people that when I did my medical training, that the concept of trauma was major traumas. Rape, murder, cataclysmic, motor vehicle accident, that’s what I thought of. So, there was nothing I had experienced that was like that. So, I was like, “Oh, I haven’t experienced trauma.” But what I’ve started to realize is all of us throughout our lifetime actually experience traumas. And it’s our response to that that can impact us and imprint us pretty significantly. And you mentioned the wonderful Gabor Mate in your book, and his definition of trauma is one that I think is really important. Psychic wounds are what harden us psychologically and then interfere with our ability to grow and develop. Trauma is not what happens to us, it’s what happens inside of us as a result of what happened to us. And I think that’s really significant because it doesn’t mean you’re weak. It’s just you were susceptible to whatever that was. And it could be a minor trauma or it could be a major trauma, but it’s left an incredible imprint on you as an individual.

Lance Essihos: Yeah. It’s interesting because absolutely right, sometimes the small things are actually the ones that could cause a lot of damage and sometimes the big things– We’re looking for the big things. Like, we’re looking, “Oh, did this happen from that or did it happen from this?” And then sometimes when you go deeper, you’re like, “Ha, maybe it happened from that.” And say you get embarrassed in school or something and everybody laughs at you or something, and then you never want to speak again, and you’d have these avoidance tactics because it made you feel so uncomfortable. And I think it’s so interesting to dive into trauma that way and to understand it, that it can be something so small or something big, but it doesn’t make anybody weak for acknowledging it. It doesn’t make you less of a man or anything like that. It actually will make you stronger because identifying that and working through that and facing that is going to open up a lot more opportunities for you. And I feel like it’s going to open a lot more clarity. So, I love Gabor Mate. He worked in Vancouver for many years, where I lived, and I love that how he looks at addiction and trauma and how they’re related and I just find him so fascinating.

Cynthia Thurlow: Well. And I think the one big thing I’m in the midst of reading his book, and what I’ve really taken away from the book, and I’ve only about 30% through because it’s a very big book and it’s kind of dense reading although– really well written, is that we have to view those who have gone through trauma with compassion. And when you view people compassionately, there’s no judgment and I have a family member who’s been an alcoholic for as long as I’ve known them, and it’s really been sad to watch their mental decline and their physical decline because of their addiction. But I actually view them very differently now than I did 10 or 15 years ago. And I think you have to forgive yourself and forgive the people maybe that have created situations in your personal life that have made it harder for you growing up, I always say that, “I didn’t get the father that I needed.”

Well, you can argue that I did. I didn’t get the father that I wanted. I got the father that I needed because what that demonstrated for me was that I was not recreating what I grew up in. I was very clear about that. But one thing in your book that I thought was really helpful/reflective was talking about what makes us vulnerable. And do you think in your personal life there were things that made you more vulnerable to trauma than perhaps other individuals? I mean, I have working hypotheses about myself, but I’m always curious when we’re talking about these deep psychological things that we go through as human beings. Do you think there are things that made you more vulnerable or made you more apt to want to investigate what was driving these behavioral patterns?

Lance Essihos: Yeah. I think trying to understand after once my hockey career ended, I was pretty distraught and pretty directionless as to what that meant, life after an athlete. And I think as I started to just see the patterns forming and the behaviors that I was going down. I knew that I wasn’t in the right direction. And I guess as far as being vulnerable to other things, I didn’t have any confidence at the time. I didn’t believe in myself. I didn’t know who I was. So, I was kind of open to whatever, whatever anybody’s doing something sure. When it came to women, when it came to– as long as there was something there for me to do, some kind of want, then I would take it on, even though I knew that it might not be aligned with my values. And from there it leads to more trouble and it kind of digs the hole deeper and it opened up a lot of things that led me down a lot of bad directions, but also taught me a lot. I think there was a certain time there where I started to understand and I started to realize that the path I was going down was either going to kill me or I had to make a different decision.

Yeah. Definitely, I think failing in so many different things younger and just being emotionally tangled in so many ways, it just opened me up to a lot more different things with people and choices that I probably wouldn’t have made if I was more solid and confident in who I was because I didn’t know who I was. So, I think to answer your question, I was trying to figure out the best way to answer that because it’s a great question. I think the less we know about ourselves and I think the less we know about our values and who we truly are, the more inclined we’re going to be to make stupid decisions, the more we’re going to make choices and go down roads with people that may not feel right, but it’s doing it to get approval. And at the time, I just didn’t have a lot of guidance. I didn’t have a lot of mentorship or leadership to learn about what any of this meant. My idols were pro athletes, then you know a lot of the pro athletes were idiots back then doing a lot of stupid things and yeah, it was crazy. And somehow, I was blessed enough to get the awareness that maybe this isn’t the right way. And I know a lot of friends that I grew up with that ended up in jail or smoking crack or there’re all kinds of stuff that could have happened that could have opened me up to even worse situations. But thankfully, I was able to have this inner knowing that this isn’t the right path. So, I caught it in time, thank God. I hope that answers your question because it’s kind of like–

Cynthia Thurlow: No, it does. And that question kind of popped into my head and I figured I would ask it. But I think for so many of us and yourself included, we have identities at different times in our lives. You were this prolific hockey player and then that didn’t end up in the direction that you had wanted it to. So, you dove into a different direction, and then alcohol played a large role in your life. So, these things become part of our identity, but they’re not our destiny. And what makes you unique is that you have a degree of mental fortitude because deep down, at some point, you were like, “Yes, I could have gone, and this could have turned into a significant addiction. I could have ended up being around the wrong people.” But at some point, you were like, “Enough is enough.”

Lance Essihos: Yeah.

Cynthia Thurlow: So, do you reflect back and think about was there one particular time where you feel like I hate to use the term rock bottom, but there was one defining moment that really flipped the switch for you or really got you on a different path.

Lance Essihos: Yeah. To answer your question with a little bit extra too, I always know, I talk about intuition a lot, that I’ve always had it speaking to me. I believe it’s our innate wisdom. I believe that you always can feel it and I knew what I was doing wasn’t the path. So, drinking and all that was like, “Yeah, yeah, I get it, shut up.” And I would quiet it down and numb me because I always knew. And I talk about this with people, once you develop that, that’s got to listen to that, you have to be able to channel in what that actually is, the intuition. And I always knew. So, it made it that much harder. So, when I was going down this toxic road of going, especially in the bar scene, working in some of the best bars in Australia, meeting people, it was like a rockstar lifestyle. 

I would say the rock bottom came when I was drinking so much, doing so many drugs, that I was lying in a puddle of sweat. And this was a few times this happened where I was lying in bed in this little apartment in Sydney, Australia, right on Bondi Beach, and I would get these tremors where I would wake up and I would jolt. And my anxiety was so bad that sometimes I couldn’t go to the bathroom without grabbing alcohol. People don’t understand that level of panic if you haven’t felt it. Like anxiety, I have normally my whole life, but this was next level to the point where it’s like, “What are you doing?” Is like a big brother being like, “What are you doing? What are you trying to achieve?” And going through that and having that be a pattern and waking up, going to work, being out till 10 in the morning, going for a couple of hours nap, going back to work at 03:00 PM and doing it all again. It was so reckless that I got to the point where I knew that I had to stop, I had to make a change.

I recently lost my younger brother to suicide, which took me down that whole other road. And that period, I remember in 2016 was definitely the rock bottom and to feel that level of sadness, to feel that level of anxiety, the sweat and the anxiousness that I’d feel every single day was enough for me to really reassess my situation. And why I feel blessed is that I even had that understanding, because so many people in that industry that I was working with didn’t even understand that what they were doing was crazy. And I, for some reason, knew and that’s why I think I’ve always known something. But I kept numbing it out to the point where I felt like I was going to die and losing a younger brother and eventually my dad. Not much longer later was the point where I knew I had to make a change. And for me, I quit drinking for a whole year in 2017, which completely changed my life. And what that did was just clear out all of the nonsense and allow me to start building on the foundation versus digging myself out of holes all the time.

I was always digging myself out of these holes and I never felt on top of my life. I felt like I was always screwing up. In that year of sobriety, I dove into personal development, I learned about meditation, I did all these things. I had learned about that stuff before, but I really implied it. And that was such transformation for me because I started to see life differently, completely different lens, and I started to realize that there’s more to that. And once you start to do that work, you start to feel different and I started to feel different and my reality started to change. I eventually got out of the bar industry. I went sober. I ran a bar for a year in Sydney, one of the best bars at Four Seasons and by the end of the year I was like, “I can’t do this anymore.” This is so out of alignment with who I want to be. I love talking to people, I love talking to celebrities and people that come in and all that, but I was like, “I can’t be feeding these people poison.” And so that was a kind of a combination and that’s when I really started to make shifts.

Cynthia Thurlow: It’s really interesting because I think each time, we dive deep and apply the work of personal development, it changes our relationships with others. It doesn’t mean it changes it with every person. But I know for myself, the more work I have invested into my personal development and mindset in dealing with my stuff, because we’re always dealing with our stuff, it never goes away. You just have to work on it. It’s like a constant work in progress. My interest in being around other people has also shifted. So being in alignment for me and I’m curious to know what you think of this, is that I want to raise the vibration of everyone I’m around. So, if someone has been a part of my life for my entire life and they’re able to do that and understand intrinsically where I am in my mindset and my philosophy and my approach to life, great. But if you’re not, I always say it’s like flying at 30,000 feet. You’re not really connecting with people. And for me, I actually had a podcast guest once recently who said, “You’re like the deep end of the ocean.” You only want deep, you don’t want superficial. [Lance chuckles] And I was like, “It’s true.” And so many of us go around life having very superficial relationships-

Lance Essihos: Yeah.

Cynthia Thurlow: -and not just on a courteous social level. Like, most of our relationships for most people are very superficial. And I was like, “I don’t have time for that.” I either want deep, meaningful, helpful exchange, or I want nothing. And so, I had the interesting realization when I saw a dear friend of mine from many years ago, and I’m not the same person I was the last time I had seen this individual and very different interaction. It was still a pleasant time that I spent with them, but I was like, “We’re at such different points in our mindset and we’re not aligned anymore.” And she’ll always be a dear friend, but it’s not like it used to because I’m not like I used to be. Do you find through this evolution of yourself that you are changing, shifting, becoming more aware of who you spend time with and who you’re interacting with? And I think that ecosystem is so important.

Lance Essihos: Oh, yeah. [unintelligible [00:28:34]. I can’t have a conversation unless we go deep. Not everything has to be like– But for me, that’s all I can do, especially having conversations like this for four years now. This is the meaning of life, is to have deep conversations and connect, and people can feel that. That’s why it’s such a blessing to do it in this space for podcasting. But just in general, yeah, I have to find out and know about you and learn about you and I want to know stuff, I want to go deep, I want to share. I like sharing things. Sometimes people go, “Oh, you share too much.” I’m like, “Well, that’s just me.” I don’t care. I don’t have anything to hide. And I think finding that is just so valuable, those real relationships that go deep and have meaning, and I don’t know how to do anything else anymore. And I think that sometimes I find myself alone a lot more than I used to be with people because a lot of things don’t interest me. People I know used to talk about, and I don’t want to talk about this. It doesn’t do anything for me. And it’s not that I’m better than anybody or anything, it’s just my priorities have changed and I really value that. And it’s funny because I was thinking about this, about Instagram the other day, and I was like, “Why do I follow so many of these people?” Not to say that anybody’s bad, but I’m like, “Why do I allow this energy that I don’t really allow it to kind of get in and then it starts to mess with how I feel? Why do I allow that?” I’m like, I feel like I need to be very mindful about who I allow in, because our attention is everything.

Our focus and attention. And I’ve noticed how easy it is to just get caught up in people and things that you don’t really care about or political issues or things that are important, but it can really take you off your track. And it’s like, “Wow.” And same with conversations with people you have in relationships. It can really affect and it’s almost poisonous. Then you have to take a step back and be like, “All right, I have to guard this energy with my life.” Because then I can’t do what I meant to do, my purpose, because I’m allowing this chaos to come in. And I’ve been really thinking about that and I think it really depends on how that affects you individually with influence. But for me, I’m like, “Man, I got to really pay attention to this.” Because if what I’m doing is being affected and I’m allowing outside information or people get into this, then I need to reassess what I allow in. And it’s tough sometimes because people will go, “Well, why aren’t you this or why aren’t you that?” And I mean, at the end of the day, that’s a self-love practice. Boundaries is self– And we talked about this on my show with you as well. It’s like that is self-love, those boundaries and really paying attention. Like you said as well. You said you want to make people feel better than they did before, add energy to that person.

And I used to say that to my bar staff. I used to say, “Your one job is this, when someone sits down, your job is to make them feel better than they did before.” That’s it. Your job is to make them feel better. Don’t be a downer. Don’t suck the life out of them. Your personal stuff, like you’re here to serve. Do what you need to do. But that’s the goal, is to help them feel better than they did. You’re either adding value or taking a value away from somebody. And that’s such a great point, Cynthia. Imagine every single relationship that’s what we have in mind, the conversation. It’s like, “How can I just elevate this? or how can I just be light in this conversation or be light in this person’s life?” People remember that and once that becomes the default, it’s a beautiful thing. And I think a lot of people forget that what they say and what they do and their emotions can really be draining to other people. And it’s really important to have that responsibility on what we say and know that it does impact other people as well, even us, to other people. So, I think that’s a great point. And it’s funny because that was a major philosophy of mine in the bar. Just do one thing, help them feel better. It seemed to work a lot well.

Cynthia Thurlow: It’s interesting because I’m a big fan of the term intermittent fasting, people think it’s just about when you eat and when you don’t eat. And I always indicate we can really intermittent fast in any aspect of our life. So, for me, I’ve started unfollowing people. I’ve started unfriending people. And it’s always from the perspective, does this person add something beneficially to my life? If the answer is no, then it’s an easy decision.

Lance Essihos: Yeah.

Cynthia Thurlow: And so, we left a part of the state that we’re in for almost 20 years and relocated during the pandemic and jokingly, people asked, “Do you miss it?” And I was like, “Nope.”. The only thing I miss is good shopping and it’s really that superficial. Like, really, that is all that I miss. We, of course, had some wonderful friends, but there was so much superficiality, there was so much materialism, there was so much just obnoxiousness and so not aligned with who we are as people. And the irony is, my younger son’s going to make his confirmation next year, and there was an event we had to go to at the church, and we ran into a wonderful couple that used to live where we did, and they relocated 11 years ago. And he said to me, “Oh my gosh, it’s like night and day between living there and living here.” And I was like, “Absolutely. I wish we had done it sooner.” And I said, “The sad thing is how many people said, I wish I could do what you were doing.” But there’s no way my kids would allow me to do that. And I just said as I was recanting this conversation, I said, “I love my children, and they’re so much happier here.” I mean, so much happier, mental health. There’s less pressure here, there’s less traffic, there’s less people, it’s quieter. And I just said to be able to make changes like that, even if it’s as simple as I’m unfollowing people on social media that don’t bring joy to my life or don’t add in a positive way to my mental health, I think if more people did that, they would probably be happier.

And much to your point, my kind of prevailing wisdom when I was in the hospital or I was in clinic, was that I wanted people to feel valued. I wanted them to feel heard. I wanted them to feel like I was of service to them and I took that really to heart. And that has kind of ebbed and flowed in my business, trying to make sure that the people coming into my business are aligned. People coming into my podcast are very aligned. And when it is, it’s wonderful. But when it’s not, you can feel that gnawing. It’s your intuition reminding you, don’t compromise yourself. This is not a good fit. I had a very nice person who wanted to come into my coaching program, and it was evident that they weren’t a good fit. Not that they weren’t a nice person, not a good fit. And I just explained it as objectively as I’m saying now. I just feel like we’re not a good fit for one another, refunded her money, sent her on her merry way. And in my life, it’s not worth the negative net impact on my physical and emotional health to be surrounded by people who are not in alignment with the way that I view the world. And it’s not a Pollyanna perspective. It’s just this is the reality in which I live and this is as true as I can be to the type of person that I want to be.

Lance Essihos: Yeah. Because how you feel matters and if you’re feeling off, it affects other areas of your life. We think these decisions like our phones don’t matter, but they do. They take our attention and it messes with our energy. And if you’re working with somebody that doesn’t make you excited or feel good in bringing you that level, then it’s going to affect you. And it’s so important, but it’s hard for people to do. And I think being able to do that, Cynthia, is amazing. More people need to do that because then it’s a win win for both, because if one feels it, most likely the other does too. And I think that, again, coming down to being in truth and boundaries for yourself is not only doing yourself a favor, but it’s doing everybody else a favor too. And it’s just so important to guard our energy. I’m realizing that. I watch myself just fall into these rabbit holes of this negativity that can happen. I’m like, “Wow, this is crazy.” I was feeling so good. And why is this? What person, what thing? And that is just so important to realize what triggers you in the moments of these situations, what people? And even that comes down to healing. Like, what are the things that trigger me? What do I need to look at? I guess you won’t know until you try but it’s important to be aware of those things that pop up and those people that kind of like may not feel aligned.

Cynthia Thurlow: Well. It’s interesting because I think and I’m going to make an assumption here and correct me if I’m wrong, I’m a reform people pleaser. I would imagine you are a reformed people pleaser-

Lance Essihos: Me too. [chuckles] 

Cynthia Thurlow: -in a way. Where do you think that stems from? I mean, it’s interesting because I’m on this exploration as I was preparing for this, and I connected with Rob Mack last week, who’s amazing.

Lance Essihos: He’s amazing.

Cynthia Thurlow: Amazing. And I’ve Gabor Mate next week. And so, books come to you when you are ready to receive them. And so, I’m a big believer in that. But I was like, “Where does the people pleasing come from?” Is that a vestige of my childhood? Because I grew up in so much trauma that I wanted everything to feel calm. And I was like, “If I was a good girl, if I got good grades, if I hung out with the right other girlfriends, if I dated the right guy. My parents didn’t give me a hard time and then that ebbed and flowed into, you become a nurse and an NP.” I mean, talk about being a major people pleaser as a nurse. I mean, that’s just part of what you do.

Lance Essihos: Yeah.

Cynthia Thurlow: I wonder where the people pleasing stems from, but I would imagine it’s a response to trauma that we grow up in because we want things to be okay.

Lance Essihos: I think, as well as parents. I think the parents are setting boundaries and they’re in solid motion relation. I’m reading, How to Do the Work, Dr. Nicole LePera, I think and it goes into all of this stuff. Highly recommend this book and it is a lot to do with what we see as a kid. And I just know for me, my dad was very like, “Don’t say anything.” Because we don’t want to upset anybody or playing hockey, for instance, like, “Don’t complain about ice time or it’ll make us look bad.” But it’s like there were certain things that I look back and I’m like, “Dad, you should have just said something.” Because what happens is when you people please, you eventually explode and then you end up hurting people. It’s because you lack the confidence to be able to say, like, “Hey, here’re my boundaries.” And I’ve noticed this too. I hold it all in, there’re lots of times where I hold it all. Yeah, yeah, no problem and then I explode and I blow up and then end up hurting people in the process. Because I didn’t just say in the beginning, set the expectations, this, this, this and it just does everybody so much good. So, I think for me, this might be the same for you.

I mean, we observe our parents and if they let things slide and let people walk all over them and you got to like for me it was like, I got to achieve hockey if I’m not making the best team. I was one of the best players in the world when I was 10 years old. I went tournaments and I got that standard and after that, if I wasn’t that, it was like I’d get the silent treatment. And if I didn’t do well in school, I wouldn’t get– my dad he wouldn’t– I’d get in shit all the time and I wouldn’t feel the love unless I was like, scoring goals or doing well. And he didn’t mean to do that, but that was kind of what it was. And all of a sudden it turned me into this person where I only get love if I achieve or I please somebody. I don’t want to upset anybody, I don’t want to say anything. And it’s part of being Canadian too, I think. [Cynthia, laughs] Like, sorry, sorry our whole country is based on this. And I noticed this when I moved away. I was like, “Wow, Canadians are just I don’t know if it’s like passive aggressive or just people pleasing or what.” But I’m like, “Why not just say what you mean. Be firm, be nice, be kind, and that’s it.” But there’s this, like, “Oh, well, I don’t know this tiptoeing around.” It doesn’t do anybody any good. And I’m so glad you brought it up, because I think it’s a good thing for people to reflect on.

Like, is this something that you actually– is it true to you? Are you just doing somebody else’s projection or just trying to please what they want? And that’s the problem, too, I think when we’re young, at certain age, we tell kids, I’m not a parent, but I remember what it was like to be a kid. It’s like, one day stop dreaming and do something that makes money. And then it’s like, “Well, then how do you develop that creativity? How do you know what’s really what you want to do versus what somebody else is telling you to do?” For me, it was, go get a trade. That’s what makes money. I hated that work. I respect it, but I could never do it. It was like torture for me and it was hard because a lot of people my age were doing that. And because I didn’t do it, I got a lot of, like, “What are you doing? Why aren’t you doing that thing?” And it was tough because most people will just do the thing that sort of pleases society and pleases so that you can have that comfortable conversation at the dinner table, like that you’re being productive or you’re doing the thing and not being a bum. And it’s tough when you’re young because there’re a lot of things and temptations and ideas that you want to do. But a lot of times we just do things that our parents want, and our parents are kind of like steering our life to do the things that they wanted. I don’t even know what it would be like to be a parent. I mean, I would probably do the same. [chuckles] It’s tough. I don’t know, but I think that’s kind of where it comes from. It’s like we learn from our parents.

Cynthia Thurlow: It’s a really good point. I mean, it’s interesting because I have teenagers now, and my oldest is a junior in high school. And so, we’ve started looking at colleges, which is a good thing to do your junior year not your senior year. And in my mind, there was a college oh, I could totally see him at this one university. And we go there and he’s kind of yeah, yeah, ya, um. And we visited three colleges, and the third one went to, he lit up. He was so happy. It was evident that’s where he wants to be. He has a lot of work to do if that’s where he wants to go. And I said to my husband, for me, “What I want for him is I want him to be a happy, successful, well-adjusted human being.” Unlike my parents, I’m not pushing him in one direction. And my hope for him is that the university in particular that he keeps talking about, that he had said, I’m going to apply early decision with binding, which means if he gets in, he has to go down to that is just with the understanding that you have to work really hard if you want to be at a top engineering school. These are the things you have to do. You have to do what other people are not doing but very different. Because I recall when I was going through that process as a child, my dad sat down, and my parents had been divorced for a long time by that point. But I think at 14, my dad sat me down and put the top 15 colleges in the United States and said, “You’re only something if you get into one of these.” Like, talk [Lance, laughs] about a powerful message to leave your child with.

Like, you’re not anything if you don’t get into one of these schools and then no instruction on how to actually actualize that. But the irony is, I think parents do the best they can. I fervently believe that. But I think I’ve learned from my own experiences growing up with my parents, like things I wanted to do differently, that I didn’t want my kids to get pushed in one particular direction just because that’s what I wanted them to do. So, when we visit these universities, I have to kind of keep my mouth shut to a certain point, because if you went to any of those three, I think you would ultimately be happy but they’re all very different. One’s a small university or a college, one’s a medium size, and one’s very large. And ultimately you just want your kids to end up being well adjusted human beings, but in the interim trying not to imprint on them the things that you want them to do. Like, I remember saying to my son, “Oh, it’d be great. They have a great study abroad program.” He’s like, “But I don’t think I want to do that.” And I was like, “Why not?” [laughs] So I have to be careful because I don’t want to project the things, I didn’t do in college onto him. Meaning I want him to figure out what the trajectory of his life is going to be, and we will be supportive of his choices, but I don’t want it to because he has to or he’s trying to please us, which is how I grew up.

Lance Essihos: That must be so tough because obviously you want to persuade him into doing things that you know will beneficial to him, but at the same time, you don’t want to push it too hard. I can’t imagine. I feel probably trying to paint my picture of what I think and it may very well logically be right, but then it’s like,’ But what do they want.” I find that to be interesting, how to be a parent, guide them the right way, but without getting in the way too much. I don’t know how you do it. It seems like you’re doing a heck of a job. 

Cynthia Thurlow: Well. Thank you. No, I think it’s a constant course correction. I mean, sometimes when I’m harder on the kids, my husband’s easier and vice versa. And we’ve kind of made it very clear. These are the things that are worth making that investment for. And if you decide you want to do a trade or you want to do something else, that’s fine too. But it’s interesting how I can see a lot of myself in one child and more of my husband in the other. So, because they’re such different human beings, I know what motivates one and what motivates the other. And so, I have to be careful with one. The other one I know I can light a match and he’s off. He’s like running with it but the recognition that– for each one of us that have children, whether you have children or not, some of it’s this nature nurture. Some kids, I think, are really on their own trajectory that they’re going to head in a certain direction, and then others, they need a little bit more fine tuning, and it’s finding what works best for them. But one thing, getting back to your book, which I really enjoyed-

Lance Essihos: Well. Thank you.

Cynthia Thurlow: -was talking about masculine versus feminine energy, which I thought was a really interesting point because I think a lot of people on social media in particular get this wrong. They think you should be polarizing. You should be one or the other. And I really think what makes this interesting as human beings is having a bit of one and the other, and that at any one given point in time, you may be leaning more towards more feminine traits or more masculine traits. Like, I can think of plenty of women that have a lot of masculine energy and I can think of plenty of men that have more feminine energy. And it’s not one is right or wrong, but I think it’s all about finding some balance, this yin and yang energy life force that we’re trying to work with.

Lance Essihos: Yeah. I completely agree and that’s what I think that we see on social media, is that a real man is just masculine. It’s very important. Not saying, but there’s a side that I think is missing and that a lot of people are projecting their traumas and the stuff they even dealt with in there– trying to more success, more cars, more this, more that makes you more successful. But they’re projecting this, like, wound. And that’s why a lot of people can’t seem to ever feel fulfilled, because they’re always chasing the next thing. And I think that’s great. I think having that good masculine energy is so important and lacking a lot. But I also think being able to balance, the ability to be able to slow down and tap into your intuition. I think the word feminine throws people off, but it’s just an energy. It’s the being versus the masculine what is the doing? Doing is important, but being and having compassion for people and having patience and understanding and listening and slowing down is just as important because when you’re constantly go, go, go on the attack, you can never listen and sort of like recalibrate. I talk about the warrior and that to me is the true definition of what a real warrior, heart centered warrior is. You have all the skills and drive to fight when need to fight in life in general, who knows what’s going to happen in the world. But you need to be able to when it’s time to fight and defend what’s yours or whatever you’re doing.

I think it’s important, but there’s also the importance of being able to really slow down and look at things and like we’re talking about have compassion for where they’re at and patience. And I think being able to really get out of our heads and into our heart more is super important at this time of our lives, especially in the world that we’re in. There’s too much reaction, there’s too much of this like attack, attack, attack. There’s not enough listening, there’s too much speak– listening. And the people, one of my mentors, Aubrey Marcus, he was somebody that really showed me this. He didn’t talk about this stuff like, “Oh, I’m this or I’m that.” But just his actions and the way he has compassion. And I was like, “Wow, that’s interesting.” This guy is like an alpha male, but he’s able to be super loving and super compassionate and cry. And I was like, “Wow, this guy’s something else.” And there’s been a few of my mentors like that, Kyle Kingsbury and that to me is real strength, to be able to share, have conversations, but not being a wuss, you know what I mean? There’s like if you share or you cry, you’re a wuss and it’s not true. It’s not true. I think to be able to feel things and share things and be able to slow down, and have compassion for people, have compassion for yourself, is only going to make you better at the masculine.

The meditations, the journaling, the praying, the yoga, all of that stuff is going to make you better at the doing. That’s what people don’t realize is that they think that more doing is going to make you better but that’s not always true. So, I think that for me, my mission is to really help men and women just understand that we do need that balance. We do need the ability to be able to have both. And when we do have both, we take ownership for our life. We’re empowered and we do the things that we need to do in the moment. But we listen, we listen to our heart, we listen to our intuition. And that is something that I think people don’t know how to do. And they don’t value that innate wisdom we have or the connection to God or Spirit, whatever it is. We have that, but we don’t take it seriously. And that is the feminine energy, is the listening, the quieting down, letting things come to us and then taking action, the thing when we need to. So super important and for me it’s helped a lot because I didn’t understand that concept, and I think it’s very misunderstood. You either have to be a monk, guru, yoga on a mountain, or you got to be this, like, this over the top, masculine alpha dude. It’s like, “Why can’t you be both? Why can’t we?”

Cynthia Thurlow: And I think it’s really important for the context of understanding yin and yang or masculine versus feminine energy. It’s really speaking to the autonomic nervous system and the sympathetic versus the parasympathetic. And I think a lot of people are sympathetic dominant. They’re doing, doing, doing all the time and they’re not realizing that the real work is quieting that autonomic nervous system really tapping into the parasympathetic. And certainly, you’ve talked about Joe Dispenza and other people in your book. I had the honor of meeting him in person and seeing him speak, and it was next level. His whole concept of vibration of abundance, and you attract what you are bringing into your life and how important that is. Now, certainly I want listeners to go check out your book, check out your work, obviously your podcast, let listeners know how to connect with you outside of this podcast, what’s the easiest way to connect with you, learn more about you, your incredible journey and get a hold of your book.

Lance Essihos: I appreciate it, Cynthia. Yeah. I just say go to my Instagram @linktr.ee, follow me on Instagram. Pretty present with content there. [chuckles] That’s where it is or my website, lanceessihos.com. But you can find everything on my Instagram, the podcast, which you were just a guest on. Not too long for the second, which is amazing. Got lots of feedback and yeah, the book is available on Amazon, Mastering Adversity: Turn Your Biggest Struggles Into Your Greatest Gifts. [chuckles]

Cynthia Thurlow: It’s a great book, Lance. It’s always a pleasure to connect with you. Keep doing the work. Thanks for being a bright light in a sometimes dark and dim world. That’s all I’m going to say.

Lance Essihos: Thank you, Cynthia.

Cynthia Thurlow: If you love this podcast episode, please leave a rating and review, subscribe, and tell a friend.

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