A Surprising Cure for Fear of the Unknown | Why Are We Turned On By Terror?

A Surprising Cure for Fear of the Unknown | Why Are We Turned On By Terror?

Good morning, good evening, good afternoon everybody out there in podcast land. You are in tuned to a another episode of intrinsic motivation from a homies perspective. This is Hamza and I’m really excited about speaking with our guest today. We tried to get them on for the holiday season and talk about haunted houses and horror movies and I thought it was actually appropriate to have them after Halloween because Halloween starts scary season for many people. Many people are have this trepidation of going home and and rehashing things with their family potentially. And will that carry on to Christmas? What about those that are starting new relationships, they’re going to introduce their significant other to families that could be scary to um, build their, some of the things that we are going to cover and we’re going to talk about why are we turned on by terror? It seems like every waking moment there is some level of terror that we are exposed to. 

Fear of the Unknown – Are Humans Born With Fear?

Speaker 0    01:00    And when does it start and start in childhood where we’re, we’re introduced to terror. And why do we crave it? While our author is a pastor for over 45 years, he is an author of over 22 books and training manuals as well. He was a panelist on the national television show, asked the pastor for over 18 years. I love this part. He’s also been a tree. He’s also been a worldwide traveler for training and educational development in over 20 countries. He speaks and reads over eight languages as well. That’s scary in itself to some people. He’s overcome that. So I’d like to interview this expert on why are we are turned on by terror. Dr. Mike Merrill, welcome to the podcast. Good evening Hamza. How are you? I am doing well, thank you. And thanks for making the podcast today. I’m very, very happy 

Speaker 1    01:55    David do that calling in from cold Rochester in New York, uh, where it is much more frigid tonight than normal. And some people are terrified of the early onset of winter. Others are quite delighted because they get to go skiing. So it’s a mixed bag. 

Speaker 0    02:13    I think that may be the theme. I may be overreaching, but I think it’s always perception that determines is a same scenario. But one person may be terrorized by it and another maybe overjoyed by it. 

Why Do Brains Enjoy Fear?

Speaker 1    02:27    A great deal of what I, uh, teach when I do seminars and conferences and, uh, and other such an investment in people is that we use for different complexes to be able to deal with reality as we perceive it. And our part in that, the first is perceptions. As you mentioned, there are 10 perceptions, I believe, senses of perception. There are five basic emotions. That’s the second complex. The third is motivations. How we think, evaluate what our culture says we ought to prepare to do. And then our behaviors, uh, and there are courts, millions of options and behaviors, but when those four are engaged, they become interactive. So our actions change, our perceptions and our emotions change our motivations. They actually alter them. And so it becomes very much a interdisciplinary or interactive between those four. Yeah. What we’re doing interesting is one person’s one person’s history of being frightened for it. 

Speaker 1    03:32    We’re talking a lot about fright and terror. One person’s perception of terror is that even in the moment at which something frightening is happening, they feel and believe they’re actually very safe. They don’t feel insecure or the stabilized by what’s happening around them. They have perspective. They have, may have maturity or experience. So the very same stimulus, um, you know, scary movie or a frightening, uh, somebody sneaking up behind you or something going on, the environment does not result in an emotionally extreme feeling of terror. It’s actually enjoyable. Other people without that experience, that background or that perspective may be so overwhelmed, they faint and, uh, to get out of the fear. So it really has to do with the blend of those skills within our life rather than just simply the scary object or movie or whatever there might happen to be. How that comes into our life. 

How Can I Remove Fear From My Mind?

Speaker 0    04:40    Now, does that come into, does that go back to childhood and exposure to different scenarios? Because like you said, if I am overwhelmed by fear, I may have inaction. I may not do anything. Versus if I were introduced to these stimuli at a young age, I may embrace it. 

Speaker 1    04:59    Even that is almost too simplified because there are children who everything goes back to our childhood. I mean the roots, unless you have a different childhood than your adulthood, you really have the roots of every experience you have right now that tie into your, into your overall, um, breadth of experience. But, but here’s how the difference could work from one person to another. One person may be a very highly visual. They are what I call hyper sensitive in the visual area. The very best baseball hitters can see faster than the ordinary person. A ball comes from the pitcher’s hand to the home plate at 95 miles an hour. There are human beings that can see the ball actually spinning, see where the laces are and know exactly how to hit it. There are other people that blows by and it’s like a bullet. You never even saw it because they’re not as visually, uh, queued as as other people are. 

Speaker 1    06:07    So when someone is hypersensitive to visual and there is in very young childhood, a mask over a face that’s a very terrifying, does not look like the patterns in that child’s brain for the human face oughta look at that child can be traumatized by the visual appearance. However, as a sibling of that same child may be far more auditory and they’re terrified by a creaking door, but not by a mask at all. It does not imprint in their brain in the same way, so they don’t respond to the visual in the same way that someone else might to, let’s say a cold breeze that blows down your back or an odd taste in your mouth or something that smells rotten or toxic. Each person’s blend of their senses, which ones are very intense, which ones are very mild, really has to do with how we respond emotionally to the stimulus that is occurring for us. 

Why Is Being Scared Good For You?

Speaker 1    07:15    So a scary movie to one person that sees lights or changes or dripping blood or something like that, who’s highly visual that can be extremely terrifying to another person. That’s not scary at all. I mean, it just, it doesn’t imprint on their brain. They have no reaction to it, but creaking sounds or moaning or dissonant saxophones or trumpets are playing that just creeps them out. The, the nails on a chalkboard, those are for auditory people and they’re terrified by that. So it really has to do with which kinds of senses are impacted in the event that is scary or interesting or thrilling. Hmm. Okay. Okay. Now you made, you made, you asked a question about how far back does this go in the entire human experience? The one of the aspects of fear or exposure is the startle reflex. If there’s a very loud sound right outside your office door could be a gunshot, could be a backfire. 

Speaker 1    08:25    It could be somebody slapping a rule around a table, but you don’t know right away what it is. You have a startle response to that and your body reacts in certain ways. One of those startle reflexes which you cannot control, is sucking your breath in so your body has more oxygen. When did the first startle occur in a, in a baby’s life? The moment they were born and they come into the cold air through the birth canal or C-section and they suck in because they’re startled. Ah, the typical idea of the doctor slapping the baby on the butt is to get that startle reflex to work and it sucks air into lungs. It never had air before and the baby starts crying or, or reacting in some way. So the exposure, emotion of startle is the initiation of life itself. So it’s natural to our experience and we build off of that, goes all the way back to birth. 

Are Humans Born With Fear?

Speaker 1    09:28    I love it. I love that. Thank you for that clarification. It’s my understanding as humans, there are two fears that we have. The other is conjured or perception as you were saying. One was that startle reflex and the other is the fear of falling. So how does that factor in? The fear of falling really has to do with, uh, a natural human desire to be cuddled, uh, from birth to typically in the entire history of humanity. When a baby is born, someone is, they’re not usually the mother, but an assistant or a midwife or a doctor or some, some family member who will catch the child dropping out of the birth canal. Human beings are designed in such a way that is really difficult for a mother giving birth to catch her own child. So it becomes a family or a community event. The child then as they drop has that starts to startle reflex. 

Speaker 1    10:28    They’re interactive and sucks in their breasts and then wants to be cuddled. When cuddling is not happening, the fear of falling becomes a replacement to that natural desire and the pleasure that occurs with cuddling and skin contact. Uh, when that’s not happening. So that’s where that comes from. And then as we go on through our lives, the being out of control, feeling weightless, not being able to get your proprialceptive awareness where your body is in space, where your arms are, having something to grip and hold on to again for some people is absolutely terrifying. And for other people it’s mildly amusing, which is why we like to go on roller coasters or in fun houses that throw our bodies all around. They you. Some people have that drop sense. You go to some of the big amusement parks and they put you in a harness seat, take you way up in the air, 80 90 certain hundred and 20 feet, and then drop you way down. There are people who absolutely love that and there are people that utterly hate that based on how you see your part in reality, where you are. 

Speaker 1    11:42    Now, what about the human element where you as a younger person, like you said, on a rollercoaster or being dropped, that was a huge thrill, but then when you’re in your thirties or forties or middle aged, your body can’t handle that anymore. What does that factor? I am the, I’m the kind of person that will love to go on the Ferris wheel and I don’t mind, I’m a carousel. Uh, I love some of the Disney rides where you’re in a boat floating along real nicely and have things to look at because my bot, my brains interaction with my body in space is always kind of tenuous. And when I was a very young child, five, six years old, we used to go to Coney Island park near Cincinnati and my siblings, all the four of them, and my parents loved the rollercoaster rides at drop this way and turn left and go right and go in the dark. 

Speaker 1    12:37    I would sit out at the age of five or six, I was called a baby. I was installed as I was, laughed at my body. And the interaction of that with my brain is overwhelmed by the sensation of being thrashed about or dropped or turned suddenly. Um, it just, the way my brain works and in all my life, I’m now 66 I have never learned how to be able to anticipate curves and drops and things like that. I just, I have a lot of experience. It just bothers me. So I’ve never gone on rides like that, but I’m the grandfather who always rides on the carousel where their kids and when the horse goes up and down, that’s about what I can take. 

Speaker 1    13:19    And other people laugh. And I’ve learned how to say thank you as opposed to getting all upset about it and then trying to prove them wrong and then terrifying myself, which is what I did when I was a little kid. Um, and I finally realized I don’t need to do this, you know, if I don’t like that kind of roller coaster, I don’t have to go on that. So, Hmm. Now you’ve touched on a really good point at dr Mike because you’re talking about how being comfortable in your skin versus falling victim to peer pressure and also potentially a learning experience. The thing I thought about was when children are learning how to swim, sometimes parents will throw their children to the water and swim and some let them, you know, good into the shallow and learn how to swim. But my father was a Navy guy and he taught all five of the children I observe. 

Speaker 1    14:12    I did. I don’t remember this. I blocked in my own memory, but my, I saw my little brother is three and a half years younger than I when he was about seven years old. My father decided time for you to learn how to swim. We rode out in a boat. He threw him over the edge. I remember that incredibly clearly and he thrashed about, and then God, his arms and legs in sync. We were only maybe 20 feet from the shoreline at a very calm, a reservoir in Western Massachusetts. And my dad, I remember him saying, when my brothers thrashing about in the water, I said, can I jump in and help them? They said, no, don’t learn just like you did. And I was, I do not remember being thrown in the water, but that’s the way he taught us. So he just pinched us in and we sink or swim. 

Speaker 1    14:58    He was, he was ready to grab any one of us that went under the water and couldn’t manage to get up on top again. But we all learned how to swim that day. Now with my own children, I did. We went to swimming classes when they were 18 months old and they got used to the water and we went to swimming pools and I gave them buoyancy instructions and they had swimmies on their arms because I was not going to subject my children or my grandchildren to have the same kind of trauma that was evident in my little brother. But he’s a great swimmer now and doesn’t, he does not remember being thrown into the water is just simply blocked that out of his memory. It’s very interesting how that happens. Some things that are just too much to deal with. Our brains have a way of kind of safe locking that into a special reservoir in our mind. So the consciously we can’t think of it. 

Speaker 0    15:54    Yeah. And we’ve had people on where we’re talking about accessing your subconscious, um, and like you said, your body, your brain is protecting you. So how do you, I mean it could be a fear from childhood that you keep repeating this pattern and you see every time you reach it, reach it and every different circumstance you still are overwhelmed and won’t take that next step. 

Speaker 1    16:20    That is true. And I think the, the objective that I have either an individual consultations or in large group settings is to not only give the knowledge of how emotions interact with our perceptions and our, and our, uh, uh, ability to think through a matter or react to it or act on it. It’s not only the knowledge, but it’s the skill of being able to work towards resolution and, and that becomes absolutely the key in and unlocking the chains that bind us or diffusing the, the power that is exerted over our lives when we cannot come to resolution. Uh, we either run away, we abandoned that or we try to fight it, um, or we just succumb. And there’s another alternative which is resolving the emotion as it was intended to actually work out in our lives. 

Speaker 0    17:26    Okay. The motion. I want to come back to that part. Cause you, you’ve been a pastor on television for over 18 years and when you’re talking about working towards resolution, I have a question of as, as it relates to the method. Okay. So, uh, one scary movie that I just saw this weekend that I absolutely loved was a doctor, dr. sleep right. It just came out over this weekend, had a lot of, you know, like you said, spooky noises and all that to make it visually appealing and scary and other incidents instances. And it made me think of when I was a teenager and as a teenager we would go to church and at church they would say, you shouldn’t have, you should wait to get married to have sex and things like that. Okay. So that’s one message. And then when we would go to the movie theater and watch Freddy Cougar or any other horror movie, the girl that was most open and having sex, he was always the first person to die. So right. Subconsciously or subliminally the same. It was the same message, but it was a CRA giving in two different platforms. Uh, I wanted to get your take on the media as it relates to fear. 

Speaker 1    18:42    Uh, that’s an interesting lead in for that particular question. The media of course, the media, uh, of, of a wide, wide variety. It’s not just movies and, and things that are visual. It’s also radio. And now all the electronic means by which sound can be communicated. It’s also, um, print, uh, where something can be written down or, or shown in pictures or graphics that can, there’s so there’s many different media that singular as medium by which a message can be communicated. The interesting part is media providers or content providers have studied since really the beginning of media presentations back in several thousand BC. What are people looking to get from that media? What’s the content they want and what is the best delivery method for persuasion? Now, it’s mostly not for pure information that’d be so dry and so boring that the media would not be acceptable to the regular population. 

Speaker 1    19:58    And there’s got to be an agenda, if you will, something that the message is driving towards. So the very best, um, media content providers who do star Wars or Disney movies or they study human behavior, human desires, the interactions, and they create a message that either manipulates or plays to the way most people respond. So the media content providers who don’t study that don’t have a great message, it’s not usually well received and monetarily, it won’t return much in the box off somebody because they have not adequately thought through how do human beings interact with their sense of reality and why do they do that? So the content is put into a medium of communication that has automatically an agenda of some kind attached to it by the content provider, uh, to be able to influence or even direct how the recipients of that media, um, re will respond. 

Speaker 1    21:16    That is they, they played a fear, they played a joy. You’ll never see a slasher movie on a hallmark channel because the hallmark people have studied one particular segment of the population and what it is they’re looking for. So virtually every movie that comes onto the hallmark channel has the same basic plot, same kind of characters. And same kind of resolution and the people who buy that media are thrilled by that and continue to buy it. It’s, it’s purely a monetary, uh, process. On the other hand, people who like slasher movies and blood and guts and Gore, there is a whole host of people just as active as hallmark is in creating startle and discussed and fear and anger and frustration and, and terror, uh, in a population because that’s what they’re willing to pay for. Usually a terrifying situation, which actually is unsafe. Very, very few people will monetize that and pay for it. 

Speaker 1    22:29    Is it possible that you could go, let’s say paintball is painful, um, where you actually get shot but you’re not dead, um, something people will pay for pay to do? Yes, it is, but in a, in a real sense, they know they’re not going to die. They’re going to get splattered with pain. This can be fun if somebody were in a mall and pulled out an air 15 and started shooting people. When that happens, the reality is everyone is terrified. There is no monetizing that and you cannot commercialize some of the gun violence or things that have happened in our culture, um, specifically there. There will not be a Disney ride about some of the school shootings. It will never happen because you cannot monetize that level of fear. So, so it really has to do with, it really has to do with what people will purchase or pay money for that aligns with their sense of the agenda and the content providers that do that extremely well know exactly how to play that game. I want to ask you about these things were what almost 60 years apart, but they received the same 

Why Do Some Brains Enjoy Fear Audio?

Speaker 0    23:46    and in this fear we’re talking about, like you said, there’s an unknown and you’re, you want to be fear, you want to be afraid. And then there’s one where you ha there’s the unknown, like you have no idea that it’s coming and then you surmised that it happened or not. Okay. So the first time that this happened in my mind is 1938 and that was an audio version on the radio of the war of the worlds. Right, right. And then 60 years later, I remember Peter Jennings on world news tonight saying, can you please stop calling the station? It’s not real because we had the same exact response after independence day I’d come out. Yes, I remember that. I leaded to get your take on that because we’re talking about, you know, these are two different generations and maybe are we wiser or the more things change the more they stay the same depending on yeah, 

Speaker 1    24:46    medium. Well the, it’s actually probably three generations, uh, part, there’s another generation in the middle that would be, when you look at 60 years, about every 25 is a generation 25 to 30. So the people who were, let’s say of a young adult age in 1938 and the people who are that same age in 1958 or 68 and then the people the same age in 1998 are from three different generations. What’s interesting is that I believe there is a segment of the population that do not take into account what might be called a logical explanation for something. They, they have preferred to believe that something that is illogical or violates conventional thinking. And the question really is how many people in the world, her legs out there? There are some, because otherwise you wouldn’t have people clicking on links on their computer thinking they’re going to get free tickets if they just click this link and turn in their bank account number. 

Speaker 1    25:55    I mean, people still so, so there’s a, there’s a percentage of the population that will have a suspension of logic or they actually think in an illogical fashion, 1938, there had not been a precedent in modern history of aliens, of a description of aliens coming against the world and bombs going off. They had people in that generation had been born during world war one. So they’re now 17, 18 years old, 20. You know what, after they, uh, probably 20 years since world war II ended and they remember stories of, or reports about a big war, they lived through the twenties they’re halfway through the depression. And then I’m radio, which was still pretty unusual in 1938 comes on with very realistic sounds. People screaming. And Tara being terrified and it was enough to create a semblance of reality for people who are listening. Now. In that day, people were much less visually queued because television hadn’t been invented. 

Speaker 1    27:13    So you had V very vibrant auditory, uh, the lone ranger. Um, all the family stories, Rin tin, tin, you have these stories where the audio portions were designed to create living images in the minds of those who are gathered around the radio to listen. That’s what happened with war of the world. And they, they occasionally would make a small break. This is just a radio broadcast. Please do not be panicked. But people didn’t, you know, when, as soon as their radio interruption, they run to the kitchen and get something to eat. So they gonna hear that in 1998, the independence day really rely less on the audio and much more on the visual. But by then the ability to create a visual, a scene that is so realistic, your brain cannot say that’s not real. I remember in 1975, four 75 or six, when the first star Wars movie came out, we were in a full size theater. 

Speaker 1    28:25    Nobody had small screens to watch this stuff on. And the very first scene is this tiny little, uh, inner space vehicle flying along and then comes the next one and it’s just a tip and it gets bigger and it gets bigger and gets bigger and your brain is going, Holy cow. How did they make something that big? Because your mind tells you what your eyes see is real. And they had learned to make something that wasn’t Godzilla hokey from Japan. It was actually realistic. And even when you say to yourself, I know that’s not real, then you get to Jurassic park. You find dinosaurs. Seeing is believing. You see a dinosaur running after somebody in jail and eat in a Raptor’s killing mean you say that that is real. So there is some portion of population that recognize it’s fantasy, but there’s this portion of the population that does not. And those other people become very, very terrified by, um, experiences that are either visual or auditory or however the medium is working. Let me ask you, because you were talking about, we didn’t have small screens back then and I remember there were certain 

Speaker 0    29:42    parts with a dr sleep and I’d just have to keep plugging. I’ve really loved it. But anyway, there were parts that I wanted to stop and rewind it or go up and go to the bathroom and pick up popcorn. And because I could not, I was further enthralled with the film. And today we have so many distractions when we watch it at home. Do you think that when we have those terror or those we want to, uh, experience that we’re missing out if we’re not in the theater where it’s completely dark and you have no other choice but to watch, I watched the 

Speaker 1    30:16    movie, I think that’s a realistic, uh, struggle that filmmakers have is to draw people into the big environment, which isn’t as big as they used to be. I mean, now it’s, you know, there’s 16 Plex movie theaters, so everything has 75 people at a time instead of 3000 at a time. A big movie theaters, when I started going to movies, I was a little kid, were absolutely gigantic. Uh, and one woman screams from halfway across the hall and everyone is terrified by that, that that kind of thing doesn’t happen as much anymore. But there are people for whom their visual acuity, their, the ability to focus the, their eyes on a very small screen on their handheld phone and watch a movie. Their brain can create the, uh, image without borders when if you just look at it, unless you have tunnel vision, um, you just look out, your eyes have a blind spot above and below and to each side. 

Success & Abundance Quiz

Speaker 1    31:20    The Bridge of your nose is there, but your eyes don’t see the bridge of your nose, but it doesn’t see black. It just, your brain creates a visual image on a platform and then your mind takes meaning from that. Uh, one of the illustrations I use as a Korean word for bread, which is ping and tugging, is a looks like two eyeballs and a Unum brow and a little mouth or something. To me it’s, I mean, I don’t read Korean, so I can see it clearly. I understand with my visual, uh, ability, what the shapes are, but I derive no meaning from that because it does. I can’t read Korean. If I look away, I cannot reproduce it. However, when I see the word bread, or if I knew Korean and I look at putting, then I would say, Oh yeah, I know that word makes me think of, um, you know, fresh, warm bread and butter and I’m going to go get a sandwich. 

Speaker 1    32:21    So the, the, the fact that I can see something clearly does not mean that my mind gains understanding from that. That’s a different process. So you have things that are optical illusions that you’re like a Mirage. Let’s just take that for example. Um, the heat that is on the surface of a warm roadway or a desert or something like that actually has properties at which it reflects the sky above it. And you’re seeing the reflection of the sky on the surface as if there was a mirror laid there. The density of hot air down low right in a roadway becomes reflective of light from above. So you’re seeing the blue sky reflect off the roadway. However, your brain, especially when you’re dehydrated or overly hot, cannot distinguish that from a pond of water. You can’t your, so you, your eyes are seeing something, but your mind is taking a different message off of that platform, that visual platform. 

Speaker 1    33:33    And then you are understanding what your mind has understood, not what your eyes have seen, which is why magic works. That’s why; I mean that’s how it all works. So, so when you are, there are people who are holding a cell phone and they’re looking at a screen two inches by two inches, and their brain creates a visual, um, uh, awareness that is as big as if you’re in a movie theater. There are other people that they’re too distracted by everything else going on around them. So they don’t see that. So each human being is going to have his or her own unique approach to each of the sensory stimulus that come into their brain, what they hear, what they see, what they feel, what they remember, what they imagine, um, what their soul feels that, you know, I mean there’s all those senses that that have to do with how your mind gains and awareness and then responds to that awareness. Okay. 

Speaker 0    34:36    Okay. And so I’ve mentioned independent space, so that was over 20 years ago and it hasn’t been on a grand scale yet to the mass media, but what are your takes on, we’re talking about terror here or fear in the realm of virtual reality, 

Speaker 1    34:53    virtual reality. Reality is an interesting scientific or, or a mechanical way of changing the interaction of a human being with the world around them, through their eyesight and somewhat through their sound and may actually be even with sensation. You’re going to have virtual reality environments, even movie theaters that spray water when somebody’s spitting or if it’s raining, you, they actually can create with cold air on your skin, the feeling of droplets. I mean you what? You’ll wipe the water off even though there’s no water there. So, so the ability to manipulate the way in which people are experiencing reality is what that’s all about. There are people for whom that’s overwhelming, that they, they cannot deal with. All of the stimulus is having, they won’t put the virtual reality goggles on, they won’t wear them, they won’t send in the theater that the chairs vibrate or they just won’t do it. And other people absolutely love that. They live for that thrill. So it really has to do with the individual’s interaction with how they perceive the environment and then what their response is to that, to that perception. Okay. Okay. 

Speaker 0    36:15    So I want to turn, uh, turn the channel, pun intended and ask you a history question, a history related question that is as it relates to your life. So, and 1492, the general consensus was the world was flat. And if you left Spain, uh, the dragons would have gotten you before you fell off the earth. And in 2019 there seems to be a perception that if you leave the United States, then the world is still flat and you might fall off the planet if you leave the United States. So there’s a fear or there’s a comfortability of not leaving the States and they miss out on what the world has to offer. And you’ve been around over 20 countries. So what was the trepidation or did you have any trepidation starting out and did it get easier to go to different countries and experience their cultures? 

Speaker 1    37:10    When I was young, my, uh, my grandparents had a cottage in East Otis, Massachusetts. We lived in Cincinnati for most of my growing up years, Chicago or Philadelphia, but mostly in, in the Midwest of Ohio. So our family vacations were getting in the car, driving for a day and a half to get to East Otis and then driving home. That was my extent of travel. Um, I w always been a reader. I’ve loved documentaries, I’ve loved travel, uh, videos. I’ve always imagined what it would be like to be able to travel more when, because of the advantage of, of several different occupations that I’ve had over the last 45 or 50 years. It has allowed me to broaden the horizons that literally of my life so that I could travel to further and further places. In most of my travels I have been a team leader or responsible for other people rather than just for myself. 

Speaker 1    38:16    So we have built into our travel, uh, safety systems, the ability to communicate clearly with one another. Uh, we’ve taken, uh, teams to Dominican Republic. We built a, a camp ground down in Dominican Republic over a seven year period with high school kids. Uh, we started a school in Honduras and we go is the number one murder capital of the world. Um, so we start a school there and said somewhat dangerous. It’s dangerous. I lived in Washington DC, I’ve lived in Chicago, I live in Philadelphia. Those are dangerous places too. And the reality is that if you are careless about your planning and the awareness of what’s going on around you, there is literally no place in the world that is perfectly 100% safe. So there, so it’d be who’s any traveler to be well versed on themselves, what they’re capable of, and also the environment in which they are currently placed and what that is capable of. 

Speaker 1    39:20    And then you, you take the precaution. So we’ve traveled very, very safely, um, all over the world. I mean, I’ve been to China and Hong Kong just before it was turned back to the, uh, communist government. We were in Rwanda and Burundi a couple of months before the war broke out there. Uh, I’ve been in Morocco, Morocco, uh, when there were some tensions there in Israel when there were tensions on the Golan Heights. And so there are, but there are tensions everywhere in the world. And so one either travels thoughtlessly or arrogantly, that’s where most people get into trouble. Uh, they figure nothing can happen to them. They are, they are without fear, which I don’t advise. And other people are overcome by fear, which I also don’t advise there. There is a very good place for the exposure, emotions of being fear, being fearful, being cautious, being vigilant, uh, having some anxiety about the world around you, which you cannot control, uh, and knowing what you can. 

Speaker 1    40:29    And so, so to me the fear is advisable. Um, it’s interesting that you raise the, the concept that in 1492 the world believed that everything was flat and if you got to the edge of the sea, you would fall off. There’s a great deal of research into how writing and, and thoughts were occurring in that day in 1492 in the years before that, uh, that most people actually did not believe that it was artists who created a sense and those who wanted to incite fear and others. But clearly Christopher Columbus and the other explorers of the world were fully convinced that the world, they, they couldn’t have navigated without understanding the world was round and that the world went around the sun and the stars stayed in place that had the, that was common knowledge. So, so the reality that that everyone in the world believed everything was flat, like a pan, uh, is really not entirely accurate, especially among those who are explorers and those who had the resources to travel.  

Speaker 1    41:50    Um, in 2019, the idea of leaving the United States, there are people that have not left the County or even the town they were born in and they have stayed there. And the question is, is that because of desire? Is that because they, they delight in what is home and what is familiar or is it out of fear that they will come to some harm or a be overwhelmed by things that are out there? And I can’t ends, I mean, each person would have to answer that for themselves. I absolutely love traveling. So it was my wife. I’ve taken my children into extremely dangerous territories. My 10 year old daughter went with us to Hong Kong and Taiwan. Uh, we had trouble on the plane in the air and I taught her how to be comfortable, uh, where we are mortal. And so we’re comfortable with the fact that someday we’re going to die. 

Speaker 1    42:42    So instead of having a terrifying response, we, we have a different approach to that. And the plane actually didn’t fall out of the sky, although I’d dropped probably 60 or 70 feet and now all the food trays and everything went flying all over the place. And, and it was, it was nerve wracking for many people in the plane turn blanche white and threw up. And I mean, there was an incredibly strong reaction. We didn’t have that reaction. And my children often look at me and say, Oh, dad, you weren’t, you didn’t react with fear and then, no, I didn’t. I let me tell. I’ll tell you why. So I coached them. I’ve always done that when they were young. And now that they’re older, older adults, um, in how to perceive and then respond and then choose how to act. That those, those parts of the process are, they’re learnable, they’re teachable, uh, and, and one can practice them. 

Speaker 1    43:40    And you’re teaching abroad as well. Uh, I believe in, in the conversation we had prior to recording, you were talking about some similarities or you were finding similarities in different cultures or threads that you could weave in where it unified multiple cultures that maybe on the outside didn’t seem like they would ever mesh together. I think that’s important for a teacher or somebody who’s in parting either skills or knowledge or both when they come into any audience of any kind to understand how does that audience gain it’s perceptions. How does it hold their values? What is it that’s important? What is it? How does it fit together? So when I’m teaching four-year-olds, if I’m not aware of their culture, their language, their motivations to act, I’m not going to be able to teach a group of four year olds anything. If I go to Hungary and I am not aware of what the Eastern bloc has gone through in their lifetime, that the current conditions, uh, their senses of wariness about Westerners, about white men, about people taller than they are, whatever the issues are. 

Speaker 1    45:00    If I’m not aware of that, I reduce my effectiveness to transmit both knowledge and skills. So I do a great deal of study. I do a great deal of listening. That’s a book that I wrote is called why do people act that way? And I derive the concepts in there largely from listening to people for 10 years without having an agenda. I just let them talk about what they were experiencing, what they were afraid of, what they were angry about, what they were happy about, how did they resolve conflicts or, or the issues of their lives. And as I listened for years, I began to understand how a consistent way people move towards resolution or Fort resolution and that that’s why I wrote what I’ve written. That’s why I teach what I teach. 

Speaker 1    45:54    Thank you for that. Thanks for that clarification too. Because that could also be a fear or terror that you don’t understand your audience and that’s where misunderstandings arise. Correct. And one of the things that w if you ask kind of the average person on the street, uh, what is the number one fear the human beings have? The standard answer is fear of public speaking. Then that’s the standard answer. I just referred to this in a a matter I was teaching over the weekend and I did some study into a how does that idea get communicated? And the idea of public speaking is actually not what most people are afraid of. It is hearing their own voice in a silent void. If you’re in a room and you’re facing away from the host of a party and everyone’s chatting and the host suddenly raises her glass and says, can I have your attention please? And everyone stops talking. But you have one more thing you want to, the, the fear of having your own voice be the only sound in the room is what most people are afraid of. So when you stand in front of a group and they go, tap that tap, okay, can we have it quiet please? Here comes our speaker. That moment is what people are afraid of. There’s very interesting research. I was just absolutely fascinated by that. 

Speaker 1    47:29    Yeah. 

Speaker 2    47:30    And it seems where with the all the, all the mechanisms that we have today that make it easier, that’s still the number one fear. It’s still the number one fear, right? I don’t know if we’ll solve that problem today, but um, no, probably not. But in a radio interview like this or a podcast interview, it’s one voice talking to one voice and there could be 10 million people listening or four, but the, between you and me, we don’t have any perception of that at all. It’s when you go into a, a even television television show I was on, I was part of a panel of five pastors and people called in all over the country and would ask these challenging or intuitive or sometimes fairly silly questions about the Bible or Christianity or spiritual life or whatever they want to ask about. And our moderator would then redirect. 

Speaker 2    48:22    But we have the single lens of a camera aimed in our face. Red light came on. You’re talking to a piece of glass and the camera person behind there, we were worldwide. And so when we could have 30,000 people watching, it didn’t matter to me if I had one camera person and one lens to look at. But when you get up in front of a group, I spoke to 4,000 teenagers at an international youth conference and then amount of humanity, the sound of their breathing, their applause was, excuse me, was, was really amazing to my mind. Um, it created a huge adrenaline rush, which I was not prepared for, which must be what rock and rollers get every single night when people are screaming or ranting and raving and throwing their clothes on the stage is that feeling of an amazing energy that comes from human beings right in front of you that you can process. And some people are utterly terrified. I mean, to the point where they cannot function and other people live for that moment because it’s so thrilling. So one person will be terrified and another person will be ecstatic. Hmm. 

Speaker 1    49:35    Yeah. I think I want to use the swimming analogy in that if you jumped right in and you probably weren’t told you’re going to speak to a large group, you couldn’t conjure up the fear because isn’t that fear, that projection to the past or the future? It absolutely is. For some people it will be their experience or their lack of experience can be the trigger to almost any emotion. They can be in love with that. They can be terrified of that. They can be angry about that. A, they can be overwhelmed and wounded by that there. The reality is that the mix of ways in which a person responds in some ways is predictable, but in some ways it can be also surprising. 

Speaker 1    50:25    I’m thinking of not just, but there’s stories of Mariah Carey or other entertainers where in their life story, they weren’t the headliner. Right. And so there was this other big person that’s supposed to perform in front of his crowd. Something happens, laryngitis or injury in sports and they can no longer play or perform and then you’re thrust into that and it’s kinda, it makes or breaks your career. That’s your moment in the spotlight, if you will. Exactly. Literal spotlight. Um, there that that becomes an interesting study and it almost will be a fresh study for every human being that goes through those kinds of things. Variances. I raised four children from a birth to their adulthood and we also had a foster daughter, uh, who came to us as a teenager and she still is part of our family now 41 years later. And what was interesting to see the process for children born from the same biological mix of two human being raised in the same family, in the same town. 

Speaker 1    51:31    And I have one child who loves being in front, give him a microphone. He just lights up like crazy and another one blanches and will not touch a microphone and would walk out on a group if he was even identified as my son, the speaker’s son. They that already even be identified as that. It’s very, very interesting to see the difference that which goes to the nature nurture question. And I think it’s both. There are some people whose nature is shy or private or individualize and there are others who are connected and social and they derive their sense of self by their connections to other people. And I, and I cannot, my four children are very different, uh, in that mix. And my grant, I have 13 grandchildren and they are crossing and we’re all from the same biological group, but there are some that are showmen and singers and give them a microphone at the age of three and they’re up on stage, prancing around and others put their face down on the floor and won’t look at anybody. <inaudible> 

Speaker 1    52:36    so shout out to Aretha Franklin and you’re saying it’s re respect. You have to respect their wishes. And it made me think of helicopter parents or some others that want their kids to be famous or you’re not even just to be famous. You want to push their kids into something that they may tell you. Like you’re just saying, no, I don’t want to do it. You, you have to ultimately respect their wishes. The respect, I think has to come out of a desire to discover who your child or your spouse or your neighbor or a person with whom you’re speaking to discover that person and not launch an agenda for your own reasons on that person that that is. That is extremely challenging in today’s world where they’re parents that have in mind what is the definition of success and and therefore they push their child towards that definition of success. 

Speaker 1    53:37    And so you end up with a person who is artistic being pushed towards STEM and their brain doesn’t work that way, but now the conflict design, but somebody who is oriented towards STEM and they’re taking a dance class, that’s where the friction is. So it really is discovering the person who has been provided to your family, birth in your family or adopted in your family or it’s come to your family, discovering that person and then allowing them to determine who they are and how they best fit. And then coaching and guiding and supporting while they discover that, that that to me, Ray, my goal was to raise successful adults while I had the privilege of having them be in my home. They were not for me to manipulate or to coerce or for me to live my life through them. The definition of parenting for me is raising successful adults while their children and youth in my home. 

Speaker 1    54:42    And that’s what we’ve, we’ve taught that. So then the question is when they’re in trouble, what is a good method of teaching accountability? How do you teach them to apologize? How do you teach them to forgive themselves for something they’ve done that’s been a destructive? Um, how do you teach them to celebrate? How do you teach them to love and to be loved? Those are incredibly important adult skills, but babies aren’t born with that. So you either run their lives or you guide their lives. And other than a tragedy at person will be a child in a home for 18 to 20 years and they will be an adult for 60 to 80 years. And so the majority of life has lived as an adult. That childhood experience should be a good foundation for adulthood. Not a something you’d have to flee or break away from in order to survive as an adult. 

Speaker 0    55:41    And, and also that’s how at the top of the hour or at the beginning, we were talking in the intro about the holiday season, right? And some of the turmoil or fear or terror is because you’re an adult, but you’re an adult in the outside world. But when you go back home, you’re still a child in some and some paradigm 

Speaker 1    56:00    and because of social bindings, then you can be kind of either coerced or forced back into patterns that were appropriate or common. Maybe not appropriate, but a common for a three year old, five year old, seven year old, 11 year old, um, you’re forced back into those instead of having the freedom to who you are now and exhibit that within your family, that that becomes a source of tremendous family stress. That’s very, very real. And we’re in the season where that happens between now and the first of the year. There’s a time that’s very traumatic for a lot of people. Absolutely. And so I wanted to get your take on the other side of that because in our family we were kind of taught that to a little osmosis going on, but you don’t know your partner whom you’re dating. And two, you see them during the holidays with their family. 

Speaker 1    56:59    There is a very, very real, uh, force in play that has to do with destroying relationships when families of origin are engaged, that that is can be extremely difficult. Uh, my wife and I grew up in a family that had a significant amount of just function in it, a challenge. My mother died when I was 15. She was 42. My father committed suicide six years later in that time period he had married my stepmother who also had five kids. We had five kids. And so we had an incredible amount of stress. The stress factors were amazingly high. My wife’s family is a farming family that for five generations lived on the same piece of land in a Albion, New York farmers, hard workers everyone pulling together common goal, you know, struggling for finances and they all work together. They, my wife picked up rocks in the fields for 25 cents an hour and I was camping and my dad’s golf club for $60 an hour at the same time when we were both 11 and 12 years old. 

Speaker 1    58:06    So she came from an entirely different world and I was envelop in that world and when she came into my family of origin, the stress was just overwhelming. And so we kind of made a decision as a couple were we’re going to be Western new Yorkers, not Ohio. And we just, we make that as a clear choice. We just made it as a choice because of the amount of stress and friction that I was experiencing that I just had to say, that’s not for me. I love my family now we get along very, very well. As long as I’m there, 30 hours or less, as long as I can get away. And that’s just reality for me. What is it that, uh, 72 hours before the fist goes bad or something like that. And for me it’s 30 hours. I mean, I, we’re laughing about it now, but I know that 30 hour I can say to a day and to the next lunch and after that, my stress level starts to increase to where it’s extremely uncomfortable. 

Speaker 1    59:04    So for me it’s 30 hours and, and I understand that there are people, 72 hours you can do a weekend. I can’t do a whole weekend. And I’ve been, after all these, I’ve been gone from home for 50 years and, and still it’s just the family of origin structures are so deeply embedded me with everything that I know and all the skills I have, I can do 30 hours. So keeping with the theme with terror or fear, you, you’ve, you’re well-heeled in this now, but that first year, what was the terror or fear about the blow back of not going back? Like, you’re too good for us now? Or, um, I don’t know what you heard, but we’ll, well, there were 10 kids or 10 kids. We had about eight or nine cars. We had two houses. Nobody really knew who was going to be a dinner or sleeping where. 

Speaker 1    59:48    So there was a family with almost no boundaries at all. The thing that was unnerving to me was a natural desire to have somebody care enough to say, be in by 11 all my friends in high school, they had curfews. They had to be in. They loved my life. I hated my life because it said to me, I’m not loved enough for someone to set a rule around where all my friends, I said, you, your parents love you. They adore you. That’s why they want do an 11 o’clock. And I was like, no, no, no. They hate me. They take away all my fun. I was like, okay, just have no rules in your life and you’ll see what it’s like when they got to college. Some of those folks had incredibly difficult times dealing with the freedom of college. Like they were not prepared for it. 

Speaker 1    00:38    And for me it was going back into, it really wasn’t terror as much as it was friction regarding how I saw myself in my world relative to what had happened when we were children growing up. And my dad was an alcoholic and he eventually committed suicide in his alcoholism. And so he was unpredictable. It was, it was, there was no clear structure as to how he was going to act or react. Uh, I, on any given day, so there was the, the instability of expectation was what created the friction. And I just decided I’ve had enough of this. I gotta I went 600 miles away to Rochester and to technology and I would not have done with it. I didn’t go there. It was gone. And part of your technology is 50, 20 communication. So I like for you to talk a little bit about that and uh, your books, I mean, you have many books and speaking engagements. 

Speaker 1    01:36    So you know, now’s the time to wave that flag. 50 20 communications, a publishing company I created just so I can have a vehicle to maintain a ownership and copyright of the pieces that I was doing. A lot of people write books and sound Amazon or something and then Amazon puts their ISB copyright on or their ISBM number and they actually own the material. So you get a royalty of, you know, a few cents on a dollar. What I decided to do was create a publishing company so that I could own the rights to that and maintain, uh, the, the legal status of the pieces that I was doing. So it was easier to do that. So as I’ve put these various works out the public, the first one was why do people act that way? Where the parents thetical subtitle and what can I do about it? 

Speaker 1    02:27    It’s for sale on Amazon. We have an ebook and I just finished recording an audio book, which should be out in about another week or so. And so getting those pieces out there to some degree is about book sales, but much more, it’s about influencing influencers who are setting up speaking engagements, seminars, conferences. And things like that. So it’s kind of like a really fat business card and a <inaudible> and it is if you want to see what I’m like, read this book because number one it will help you. And number two, it will give you some insight as to what can I do when I come to your conference or your company on do training. I’ve been teaching a seminar that I wrote in 2012 consistently called, why do people act that way? That, and I’ve done more business, small business, um, conferences than any other topic. But I’ve done churches, I’ve done pastors, groups, parents, teenagers. 

Speaker 1    03:26    I’ve done some preteen groups. I did 200 football coaches in Buffalo for youth football when we were training them, we had four hours and I said, we can talk about what are your student athletes who, why do they act the way they do? We can talk about parents. And immediately the room erupted and they all started laughing and talking at the same time. And I said, what are you laughing about? And they said, parents, we love working with kids. We have no idea why. Do parents do what they do? So we spent four hours talking about why do parents do what they do. Uh, very, very, um, my business section is called why do customers do what they do? So helping especially the entrepreneurial solo proprietor who doesn’t have someone to talk to or coach them, they often are ready to quit business because of two or three or four, uh, customers that they just can’t figure out. 

Speaker 1    04:18    And so that’s what I, I can direct the material to anyone of those audiences. Wow. And then we are at the top of the hour, but if you don’t mind, if you have a few extra minutes, I do want to ask you this. Okay, great. So the topical question, whether they act that way and you’re talking about the athletes and they were wondering about the parents. I do want to get your take on the a cause in 2021, uh, the, the athletes can own their likeness and uh, they get paid for being a student athlete. Uh, how are parents gonna affect her in like that? Are they going to have their hands out or what’s your take on this whole wave that happened? It’s really going to be, that’s going to be probably up to each individual athlete and the relationship they have with their parents as a, obviously a person who’s 45 years old is not going to be in the NCAA at somebody who’s 17 to 22, 25 somewhere in there. 

Speaker 1    05:13    They’re going to be younger people who haven’t achieved adult status yet. And in some cases are still minors. Uh, when they have an incredible amount of money, money is power. And so the way in which power flows within the family is the way the money is going to flow. And so in some families, they individual earning the money is the one with the power and the, and other families, the person who controls the money is the one who has the power, even if that’s not the athlete. Um, it’s going to be fascinating because a hundred years ago when amateur athletes were engaged in sport, the amount of money around that was minimal. Oh and maybe zero. Now with television, uh, rights of media that number of media outlets, the way in which sports entertainment, uh, is monetized. The amount of money is just extraordinary. It really is unimaginable to the average person. 

Speaker 1    06:19    And so how that’s going to affect people is a, is going to be resolved on an individual, uh, platform rather than a universal, you will not be able to write enough laws to actually regulate human behavior as when money is involved. You have, you have to observe and be very good at analyzing because you cannot predict what’s going to happen. Definitely. Definitely. That’s a great note to stop at. And so you have just been attuned to another episode of intrinsic motivation from a homeys perspective. This is Hamza shout out to David that couldn’t make it today. And Dr. Mike, it was a pleasure speaking with you. Let’s stay in touch times a very fun, very, very enjoyable conversation. Cheers,


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