Living can feel overwhelming. We get emotionally cluttered, we feel trapped just trying to maintain the semblance of a happy life-all the while, feeling like we are failing. But Dr. Tracy Thomas, author of The Method. believes there is a practical path to moving into a fulfilled state of being.
Tracy holds a PHD in psychology and has spent more than 20 years helping other people maximize their performance and potential. After working with thousands of high profile clients in New York and Los Angeles, Tracy has developed a reputation for fully recovering the most challenging cases of addiction.
Her clients pay her an average of $20,000 per month for guidance through her method and that’s what you’re going to get in today’s episode. If you’ve heard self-help gurus tell you to love yourself but you’re still struggling with how to do that, this episode is the missing piece of the puzzle.
Dr. Tracy Thomas: Back in 2005 as it was turning into 2006, I was going through yet another breakthrough with a boyfriend who was one of the many people that I dated while living in Manhattan.
It was really stressful. I was full of anger and frustration about it because this person had been lying to me and had been cheating on me. It was really painful.
I was at a stage in my life, in my young 30s, where you want to meet the one, you want it to go forward, you want to get engaged.
“I was really in love with this person.”
When I figured this all out and we needed to break up, I was really grieving about it and trying to figure out and full of tremendous anxiety like “How am I going to figure out how to do relationships? Why does this always happen to me?”
All of a sudden, in this moment, this amazing epiphany moment, I realized the part that it was happening to me. The concept of me being this real revelation that this was about me and how I was showing up in the world and the way that I was collaborating in life with people.
Dr. Tracy Thomas: I had this great moment of clarity, which was that the very things that I had ever been frustrated with anyone else about in a relationship-which are often the causes of the stress that lead people to do other kinds of coping mechanisms like overeating or drinking…When I really looked at it, I thought, well, he was lying to me and cheating on me but let’s really look about myself. Is there anywhere that I’m doing that?
Because if that’s showing up in my life, then it’s about me.
It was really easy to find where I was, essentially, a liar without really ever telling myself that. I was in a way cheating on other people in my life because I wasn’t being authentic.
“I was performing a version of myself.”
Doing a job that I was successful at, it was lucrative, I was highly regarded and I made a great contribution. But I was never satisfied with it and it was a job instead of me really living my life’s purpose and feeling authentic and true.
I really looked at how out of integrity I was and where that was its own form of cheating on somebody. You’re ultimately pretending a whole landscape of things within jobs and often with people in your life.
It really just occurred to me that I was experiencing things in my life that were painful, that were all about the areas that I needed to develop for myself.
The laws of physics work really wonderfully and you can’t escape them, which is good. I knew that everything I was willing to develop in myself could be the person that I might ever want to date.
“I felt like I finally actually had control over something in my life.”
I could develop all the parts of myself that I needed to and even more. Develop my strengths. And that it just made sense that I would then only be in alignment with people that were not my exact replica of course but they were also more in integrity, more true to themselves, more purposeful and aligned.
We’d be able to be in a more authentic experience, more connected, and just more satisfying and fulfilling. So that turned out to be this tremendous gift to me that sent me on the path to know that my greatest mission in life at that point was to really create a relationship with myself.
It was really a wonderful thing in my life, and I’m so grateful for it.
Truly Learning Yourself
Charlie Hoehn: Where did you start, where did you begin on your path to having a more authentic relationship with yourself? What worked and what didn’t?
Dr. Tracy Thomas: Yeah, it absolutely became very exciting to me. Because when you start to see this whole matrix of anything that you experience in a relationship, you can just take a check in of anywhere that you’re cultivating that.
It doesn’t have to be the same categories or one for one.
I was able to discover that in this great adventure that I went on-in this very strategic exploration that I chose.
“To become an expert on my own self and to literally date myself was my job, because spending time with myself was important.”
Spending time with yourself-actually with yourself, not thinking about a bunch of other people and thinking about the future and other things you’re not doing, but really becoming intimate with myself-was a major focus of the strategy.
Really becoming intimate with myself. I could watch my behavior. I was sitting there, maybe sitting on a chair I think in my living room in Manhattan, and there was a show on and I was sort of half tuning in to it. All of a sudden I watched myself get up out of the chair and go to my desk and start online shopping for some jeans on eBay.
I caught myself because this commitment to really know myself was already in progress. I had a chuckle watching myself not be able to sit with myself without some activity that would be distracting to not allow me to have some really great revelations come up within me just from being a person.
I had a chuckle and I sat back down in the other chair and I just smiled.
“I thought, let’s just be with myself a little bit here.”
Interestingly, some of the greatest answers that are now in this book, some of the greatest answers about a methodology of having a relationship with yourself and knowing yourself and seeing really what’s been going on-they came up because I didn’t go fill everything up with activity as I’m prone to do.
Wanting to really know myself and know what I thought, know what I felt and instead of expecting the men particularly, which we often do expect from the opposite sex.
Instead of giving them this job that they’re somehow supposed to know how to meet my needs and how to read my mind and how to make me feel good.
I realized in that moment of choosing to become intimate with myself that I was giving people a job that I hadn’t even been willing to take on.
Charlie Hoehn: What was your pickup line when you approached yourself?
Dr. Tracy Thomas: It was great, it was like, “I’m taking you to the movies.” Yeah, I was really easy with myself because I really was that interested in myself.
I would say funny things to girlfriends like, “You know, I’m taking myself down Radio City Hall tonight to watch Michael Buble,” and all kinds of different things. It wasn’t that I wasn’t doing things with people. Of course I was doing all kinds of great things with other people.
Instead of going and seeking this out in another person and doing what I call outsourcing all of this to someone else, I really made that commitment for an entire year that I was not going to get in a relationship with somebody until I was in the highest form of the relationship with myself that I possibly could be.
That’s what I did, and it was one of the greatest years of my entire life.
Getting to Know You
Charlie Hoehn: Did you hit a point ever in the year where you’re like man, this commitment to myself is very challenging? Did you get side tracked at all?
Dr. Tracy Thomas: My team says content is always just generating all the time, there’s always this beautiful flow of ideas about how to make people’s lives better.
There’s always this beautiful flow of ideas about the interconnection and the matrix of being a person and life itself, so I found quite the opposite.
“I truly fell in love with myself, which is something I highly recommend.”
I had a great time because it was the first year of my life that I ever really got to know this really awesome person that other people really love.
You know, 21 best friends. I actually wanted more time with myself in some ways because the proportions of how much time I spent with other people just brought me to really crave that intimacy with myself.
But at the same time, I wasn’t just with myself all the time, I was intermixed with doing all kinds of regular things.
It became a really special experience, and that is exactly what I did discover. That, “Wow, I am great to be in a relationship with, and now that I’m not a liar and a performer, it’s even better.”
Charlie Hoehn: Would you say that falling in love with yourself is really the big idea in The Method?
Dr. Tracy Thomas: Sure, it’s really one of the most important ones. I think it represents a larger definition of that, because I think it’s Greek or Roman, “To know thyself is to heal thyself.”
To me, that overarching umbrella of falling in love with yourself includes this real depth of education about yourself and the intimacy.
It extends to what I call the internal navigation system, which can be understood by reading the book. That navigation system is speaking to you. There’s always some sort of wisdom that’s coming up when there’s space for it, and it’s more interesting than any show you’ll ever watch or any other person.
There is no one more interesting than our own selves and the vastness and depth of that. In that falling in love with yourself, it’s that true desire to know yourself and even know yourself on very practical levels.
We teach our clients, you know, knowing everything, your digestion and all the things about you and is your liver working well or by the way, how does your pancreas work. There’s so much about being a human that people are not intimate with.
It’s not socialized in our culture to know yourself to this degree.
Within the umbrella of loving yourself, I feel like there’s so many things that go into that. It’s so unique to what each person would need or want in that, but it really extends to a lifelong interest in yourself.
Really know how you work, how you feel, how great you are, fill in the blank.
Of course when people say, “I love you so much,” now I can receive it. I so get why people do love me.
All those extra pieces that can be added in, it’s just a never ending peeling back of the onion, to learn about all the different aspects of exactly who you are on a metaphysical level. Everything about you.
A Real Commitment
Charlie Hoehn: Tracy, teach us how to know ourselves, know thyself. How do we do it?
Dr. Tracy Thomas: So, one of the first things is interestingly to first make that commitment to yourself. When people become, what I refer to as chronological adults, and they’re no longer literally dependent on other people for their actual survival and basic needs, they’re responsible ultimately in a way that I don’t think people truly ever take full ownership of.
The first stage is to just recognize without being afraid, “I need to take ownership. Now everything is on me.”
It’s actually an exciting experience that says, “Everything really is within me, about me and I get to cultivate this exploration of life, what I’m interested in. I get to do that with this life that’s been given to me.”
Starting out with that commitment that says, “Forget all the boyfriends, girlfriends or all the people in your life you ever want to have them make a commitment to you.”
“It starts with you essentially marrying your own self.”
We actually start people out getting into that gear that says I am in a relationship with myself. I am interested in getting to know myself intimately and spending the rest of my life with myself, making it better and better.
Then everyone else that’s around me that I love to enjoy and marry them and all of these things, they’re along for the ride in the parallel process of life together. But I’m committed to myself for life, and I’m going to make that life the best it can be between me and myself.
You’re spending your life with you, even if you’re with other people. That’s number one.
Charlie Hoehn: You speak as though you’re speaking in third person, about a separate person, right? Are you referring to your ego, what’s your explanation for this?
Dr. Tracy Thomas: Yes, okay, right. I’ve been doing that for so long that I forget about it. Back when I first started it, I thought of it as a funny-for those mature enough to know Seinfeld references and how the joke about George likes this or George doesn’t like that.
Of course, part of getting to know myself is that I love to make everything fun and I don’t care how serious of a subject it is. I love to make things fun. I love to make them practical. That’s why the book is the title that it is.
What I recognized is, I did need to speak to myself that way. I did it out loud for years as well as doing it internally. In all reality, there’s sort of this entity that we all know because of Eckhart Tolle at this point and spiritual masters before him-there is an observer that is observing your thinking.
“You’re really never alone, as if you’re a one dimensional experience.”
This is actually how you’re going to have less suffering. There’s always an observer and there’s always the ability to see what you’re doing as if you were observing another person or as if you could observe another person’s thinking when they’re not saying something.
The third person is an appropriate part of this methodology. When I say, “Right, I’m going to take myself to lunch,” that’s an actual, literal reality. I am not just going to lunch, I am truly making a decision to take this self. My brain is telling myself to pick myself up out of the chair and go to lunch.
It really does apply to everything that way and when you think about that, when you’re connected to that, you’re never alone and you’re actually connected to this navigation system that is always giving you some information and giving you direction and it always has been, right?
Before you know it, you didn’t have to really focus on it but all of a sudden you went into the other room to grab something that you wanted to remember and that navigation system was telling you to do that and there’s an absolute multi-dimensional way in which we experience being human beings and it really is an important part of The Method.
Dr. Tracy Thomas’ The Method
Charlie Hoehn: I like that. Let’s get into the method. Let’s break it down.
Dr. Tracy Thomas: Okay. Once you’ve made that commitment to yourself-as we like to say, you decided to be BFF yourself, right? You’re going to be your best friend forever no matter what happens. No matter what-you screw up or whatever, and that’s some language we don’t even use. But once you’ve done that and once you’ve recognized what we were just speaking about which is that there’s this physical person there. There’s this awareness that you have of your thinking. This whole awareness of this self.
“You’ve now been able to say, “Okay, I’m with myself.””
What we really train people to do and ultimately condition them to do is to be in that awareness of one’s thinking on a regular basis.
That’s something that I think people have heard of for a while now but we take it a step further in that you don’t have to constantly-you know, while you’re working on something constantly be watching your thoughts, when you notice any sort of prompt of tension or stress or we would call it pain.
When you have a cue for something that is not feeling good in you, that cue is also a place to go ahead and do what we call ‘just check in.’
A big part of the methodology is having you consistently check in with yourself about what are you thinking right now, what are you feeling, are those two things related, you know, what’s intuitive to you in the moment.
Here’s an example. You know, when I was writing my doctoral dissertation, I would get this cues to go eat or whatever and that queue would happen and I would check in with myself, I would say, “Okay, let me just check in with that cue because I just ate an hour ago.”
I would just check in to see, am I hungry or am I trying to get out of this statistical formula that’s really hard on my brain right now?
“What really is the truth of what’s happening in this moment?”
There’s always below the layers or in the complexity of the layers of a situation in a given moment, there’s always some sort of truth for you to recognize and then operate from and then go ahead and say, “Okay, I need a break because I need a break right now.”
I’m going to follow my navigation and I’m going to give myself that break because that navigation within me, that me that I am now in alignment with, it’s telling me something and it’s really freaking smart.
It’s running my whole body, it’s blinking my eyes, breathing. So I want to be in touch with it as a regular part of my human experience and make decisions and choices from that place, so that’s one part of it.
Deeper Than Mindfulness
Charlie Hoehn: Would you say this is the mindfulness step this part of the method?
Dr. Tracy Thomas: Yeah, I think it’s a mindfulness step, but it’s another level of that. We are checking in on everything.
We’re checking in on the whole being.
“Is my stomach upset right now? Are my temples throbbing?”
It’s really a full scan of yourself, and once you get to do it, it happens quite quickly once you have conditioned yourself for it. It’s really mindfulness that helps you make the decision to check in more fully.
You also might be prompted by some pain in your stomach or some indigestion, or it could be anything. That’s where we ignore ourselves a lot and so that right there would just be another place to check in and, “Okay, let me check in. What is that about? Is that about something that I ate? Is that about something that I am doing right now that really is honestly making me sick to my stomach?” So I might want to investigate that further.
It’s really a total person, greater level of awareness, because you might be having back pain on something or feeling really tense. You can start to examine what are the things that are present right now or the things that are present in your mind that are causing that experience.
“Is some part of your body telling you something?”
So you will go ahead and adjust something for yourself, and in that way, that really does relate to addiction.
Loving yourself the way we condition it for people is it’s absolutely an action. It’s very far beyond just a feeling of saying, “You know you’re a good girl and people like you and I like you for what you are doing in life and who you are.”
Loving yourself is an action.
So the method is also a deep commitment within that love yourself umbrella to treat yourself better than anyone in your life will ever treat you. It’s the standard that you are setting for everyone around you.
Lowest Common Denominator
Charlie Hoehn: Can you tell me a story about the first time you had your mind blown by a new relationship with yourself?
Dr. Tracy Thomas: Absolutely. So there’s been many, but I am just going to use the one that comes to mind.
I remember in my relationship with cookies-because that’s another part of the method. You have a relationship with everything. You’ll notice that your relationship with everything is the same relationship you have with yourself.
I noticed that although I was very conscious at this point, still just successful by anyone’s standards and getting more and more fulfilled, I still had this thing about eating sugar and eating more of it than I knew that was good for myself.
“This really plays into the addictive patterns that people can have.”
Somehow that was fulfilling something in my life. One day, I was at the kitchen counter and I was about to eat these cookies even though I have eaten healthy almost every other part of my life.
I just took this gut check. I checked in with me and said to myself, “Okay if you’re going to do that when you know that that can cause diabetes and cancer and you might down the road be getting cancer…it could be 30 years from now, and then you are going to be whining because something happened to you but that’s not true. You’re the cultivator of everything that you choose.” And I recognized that I didn’t want to be a person that had anything “happen to me.” I could then really point to the fact that I’d colluded in that process in some way because I had plenty of knowledge that the proportions of sugar were not good for me.
And in that moment, I recognized that if I did not win the battle between me and the cookie, if I was not more powerful-because I was powerful in everything else-if I was not more powerful than this cookie, then what could the universe possibly deliver to me?
It was clear to me that my whole life was going to change, because this is the lowest denominator of how I was living.
I made that decision that no longer would there be some entity or some craving or something that I would let be more powerful than my purpose and potential in life-living a life of true fulfillment, not artificial cookie fulfillment.
And from literally the week that I did this, I just put that down.
“Those cravings for sugar were gone.”
So I didn’t have to do a detox or anything. Within that week, I started to have a series of clients influx that was like 40 to 50% more than usual than what come into seeking to be clients with us. By two weeks later, I’d met a person that I had a wonderful relationship with that I didn’t ever go the full distance with, but he represented the next level, kind of, romantic relationship.
Once you are not messing around with the cookie and giving your power to the cookie, you’re available to be more powerful and with people who are more powerful and conscious.
It just blew my mind. Within six months, my income was triple what it had been in previous years. I just chuckle every day, because this is the kind of thing that just goes on and on and on.
Free for the First Time
Charlie Hoehn: So what have you seen now that you’ve brought this idea, your method to others, can you tell a couple of stories there?
Dr. Tracy Thomas: I really initially saw it in the people around me in my day to day life, my friends and family. I saw them evolving as a side effect of my evolution because of the way I interacted and everything. So that was just a simple piece that was going and is always ongoing.
I brought this methodology into my work with clients. I worked in treatment centers for both eating disorders and substance abuse earlier in my career, and even as an intern in community therapy and community treatment centers where people had really little resources and very difficult backgrounds.
Out of all the drugs and everything they’ve done, the crack and the meth and the years and years of bulimia and opiates and all of these things-it was really phenomenal to see that instead of constantly discussing people’s horrific painful childhood, the pain they’re in right now from their boyfriend, the pain that their mom still isn’t treating them like an adult or whatever it would be and processing that pain and reprocessing it all the time…I am a practical person and that never made practical sense to me.
What I did very, very intuitively as a practical person, was I began to institute this concept of the relationship with yourself.
This would be our methodology for all the work we did together, all the healing we did together.
“People woke up in that moment.”
They’d never heard of anything like it. It was all of a sudden, “Gosh well this sounds like the only thing that’s ever really made sense because 15 rehabs later, I’m 45 and I’m still struggling.”
As an example, there were so many different people in that position, but one that comes to mind right now is a woman who had been in 13 different rehabs.
The length of time that she’d stayed in each totalled something like seven years of her life.
Being in eating disorder treatment or then alternating substance abuse treatment for opiate addiction and she had sober companions, paying them $20,000 a month indefinitely. She was essentially infantilized in the situation and terrified.
She also still wanted to be a light, fit person. She wanted to look good, she didn’t want to have an eating disorder, and she didn’t want to be dependent on any chemicals or a bunch of people when she was 45 years old.
“She came from a family of high achievers, and this was really, really painful.”
So the road had been littered with other therapists who just were like, “I give up. I can’t get this to happen. She’s still relapsing.”
Once I introduced her to this model, from the get go, it’s like her whole life opened up and she wanted to come in as often as she possibly could. So she could dose on this whole methodology, and within two weeks, all of her cravings for opiates that had been there forever were gone.
She’s already lost 10 pounds without doing any eating disorder activity, and she appeared in my office in a way that was sort of like, “I’m feeling like I am doing a supermodel program here.”
There is such a level of comfort with herself that the chronic stress was fading away. She was reverse aging, because of this relationship with herself.
“Today, she is completely independent.”
She will never be able to hurt herself again. According to her, “You’ve made it impossible for me to ever be willing to hurt myself with anything.”
She is working a career that she loves, because she hadn’t worked for 20 years. She’s the weight that she wants to be, and she’s safe with her own self because she is there for herself. And no rehabs now.
Her life is completely different than the path that it was going on.
It’s one of the things that I am the most proud of, one of the client success stories that I am the most proud of. Just this morning, I got an email from her family thanking me for changing all of their lives through this method.
Doing What He Always Wanted
Charlie Hoehn: And I don’t know if you could top that but do you want me to challenge you and ask for another story?
Dr. Tracy Thomas: Sure, absolutely. We have worked with a lot of clients, and most of them come to us having really gone through the wringer, really struggling with other therapeutic processes or having people not diagnosed them. Really feeling like the worst thing that ever happened to them was being them.
That can be the way that a lot of people feel, which is why I really love this methodology.
So, there is a gentleman, a young man, 29 years old. He had been addicted to pot for about three years and pretty much holed up in his room at his parents’ house who were both professionals. Things were just getting really, really worse.
“His mental health was deteriorating.”
There were a lot of symptoms that at first I didn’t know were attributed to chronic pot smoking and what that would do.
But once I got in there and did some diagnostics, I realized that he had what’s called a thought disorder. The most famous one would be something like schizophrenia. He had essentially schizophrenia and paranoid personality disorder, which are very extreme mental health issues. You actually have delusions and hallucinations and you fear for your life, that the people around you want to hurt you.
Even though we had to have some certain type of medication for this person, because that particular issue really calls for, there’s a gold standard with a certain medication. That medication would never have worked without the method, because the method took away what is the biggest symptom inducing factor which is chronic stress.
Through this young man following this process of the method with our coaches, he’s not only been symptom free now for months, but yesterday, he started a brand new job. A brand new professional job, which is him living his purpose, him doing something that he wants to do.
He is safe and capable, even with this disorder that is the kind of disorder that has people on the street talking to themselves. When they have this methodology employed, this is so powerful that it can keep chronic stress down and therefore the symptomology of most every single condition that people ever had can be lowered and reduced and perhaps eliminated.
I know it sounds a little grand but this is literally life in our world with the method.
A Challenge from Dr. Tracy Thomas
Charlie Hoehn: What’s the one thing you’d like listeners to do today or this week that can begin this change in their life?
Dr. Tracy Thomas: Okay, what I really want everyone to do as a simple and true point is to be willing to notice, anywhere where you’re either about to do something or committing to something or maybe about to say, “Yes,” to something or going to do something that maybe isn’t the right path for you.
I want you to notice where you’re out of alignment or out of integrity with yourself.
Even though it might be a little scary, no matter what it is or how benign of a situation it is, it can feel like jumping off a cliff to say “No, that’s actually not true for me, I am not interested in going out tonight to have drinks with this person, even though I love this person and I’ll want to do that at a future date.”
Instead of saying, “I don’t even want to,” I want you all to notice what is true for you about what you do want to do.
“Let your navigation system just say to you, what do I really want to do here?”
Sometimes the answer might be, “I want to want to help my friend move this weekend, but what I want is to do my taxes and finish those up and I want to go to a movie and I want to sleep in,” or whatever it is.
Noticing what your truth is and starting to assert it everywhere you can. Testing those waters and seeing how much better it feels to be in integrity with yourself.
It is going to remove mountains of tension and stress within you just by this one activity alone. Sound good?
Charlie Hoehn: Sounds great. Final question, how can listeners connect with you and follow you? What’s the best way to do that?
Dr. Tracy Thomas: Yeah, you can go to drtracyinc.com and you can also find us on Facebook and follow us there. For anybody that does really want to get rid of certain addictive behaviors, they can also join our Facebook Group which is called Addiction Recovery Mastery. We look forward to seeing you there.