Most of us have some unresolved events and anxieties from our past. These can lead us to become triggered or handle situations poorly unless we address them. In this interview, Merle J. Yost, author of Facing the Truth of Your Life, shares why it can important to examine your past in order to fully live in the present.
About Merle J. Yost
Merle is a consultant, speaker and psycotherapist. His book, Facing the Truth of Your Life, helps readers question the lessons and conclusions that they’ve learned from their experiences. This process helps readers uncover and sometimes free themselves from ideals, beliefs, and perspectives that may no longer serve them.
Read the Transcript
This transcript was auto-generated from the original video recording using Otter Voice Meeting Notes. While the transcript has not been human edited, we hope it will still help you to quickly find or reference useful information from the interview.
Deliberate Leaders I am your host Allison Dunn, founder of the Deliberate Leaders Podcast dedicated to helping leaders build strong, thriving businesses. Each of our episodes features inspiring interviews to help you are on your leadership journey. And today’s guest is no exception. I am pleased to introduce Merle Yost is a psycho therapist, consultant and speaker. He is the author of Facing the Truth of Your Life. His books help readers question the lessons and the conclusions that they’ve learned from their experiences. This process helps readers uncover and sometimes free themselves from ideals, beliefs, perspectives that may no longer serve them. Merle, thank you so much for joining us here on Deliberate Leaders.
Thank you for having me. I’m delighted to be here.
Um, I have so many questions, so I’m gonna hold patience. Have questions. And so let’s just start from super high level, who did you write, Facing the Truth of Your Life for?
I actually wrote it as the gift to my fellow therapists to give their clients who were stuck. Because the whole book is about making sense of who you are. Because we don’t get told how we become us. We just sort of assume it happens. But there’s a whole process that happens in that and once you understand how it happens, then you can work on undoing some of the things that you learn. And it also gives a rationale for why you need to do that.
So you wrote it for your former therapist for yourself, correct. For other therapists, and therapists, okay?
Therapists didn’t need it. So I have recognized that as I get older, that I More okay in being who I am than I have ever been. And I am more accepting of other people as they are as well.
Self acceptance is everything. Yeah, it really is. We get preach this gospel, if you must love yourself, if you’re gonna let somebody else love you, which is absolute nonsense. We have to accept ourselves. And I have a whole chapter in the book called to love or not to love myself. And I’m really anti the whole concept because love is something you give someone else. Love is something you received from somebody else. And if you’re in this self loop, there’s no room for anybody else in this relationship.
That’s an interesting perspective. Actually.
I always like to try to put a leadership spin on it. So when we think about I mean, I truly do love my team. Yes, I think that that’s perfectly okay. And if and if it’s not, don’t Tell me it’s not?
No, it’s as a therapist, our job is to fall in love with our clients like parent does with the child. And management is just being a parent. And hopefully you’re a better parent than your parents were generally.
I won’t say out loud, but it could be true.
So why should business leaders spend time examining their pasts instead of living in the present, and that is a takeaway from your book?
Because the present is seen through the past. And if you don’t understand the past, you’re then a victim of it. I like to say that when we’re growing up, we learn a dance of intimacy in our family. And this is how we interact with their yell each other all the time or whether they’re in each other’s business all the time or whatever it is. We take on that stance is how it’s supposed to be In the world, and then we take that into the office, and we make our boss, our parent, we make our employees, our children, and we’re just recreating our family in one way or another. So if we don’t have a self awareness about our own stuff, and how we see the world, then we’re just recreating our family over and over again. And if it’s a good dynamic that can be okay, if it’s a bad dynamic, you’re going to have this conflict going on all the time. And so what you’re doing is you’re dumping your stuff on other people. And that’s just rude.
What so I think, I can’t think of a tie works for my family. So like the dynamic was already there in the office as it is going into locker do so I get like that. What sort of things should we examine from our past to ensure that we’re not bringing our bad family dynamic to work with us?
Well, the most important one is a relationship with our parents. I often say that we spend our entire life unpacking our relationship to our parents were formed in the container of our parents relationship. And we take on one or both of their characterological structures I often say the children are designed to absorb the worst aspects of the parent and then reflected back and never like they’re in this conflict all the time because they’re, they’re angry at themselves and what they see in this child. And so really taking apart that relationship, really understanding it really coming to compassion for them ultimately, and if you were victimized healing that, because our society really seems to be focused on who your biggest victim is wins. And we learned that in our family. And so if we don’t heal, that we’re just out there seeing how people were victimizing us and going, Oh, he was awful to me and it’s awful thing. happened then. And we can’t see the world through any other lens. There’s a chapter in the book called The victim Identity Disorder. Or I really just take this apart, there’s five different types, and there’s a recall. And it’s just so important. It took out three editors on the book, because they didn’t realize that they were a victim. And then they read this and they just completely melted down with all my god.
So we talked in business, because, you know, it’s really just our family at work, I mean, versus our family at home. The victim mentality is something that’s kind of rampant into the corporate structure.
Yes. And it shows up in a lot of a lot of different ways. I think that we have comprehensive training on to help people get, you know, outside of victim in where they can wait, what they’re doing, and to read my book as well.
I think that’s a great suggestion. What tips and tools would you suggest that my listeners who might have like a clearly past related, victim mentality, individual of how do you help them get that breakthrough?
Well, depends on to what degree I mean everyone has been victimized in their life. Period. Nobody gets through childhood unscathed. It’s an awful horrible experience why anybody wouldn’t go back to be a child again, buddy crazy. My other standard joke is if they come into therapy and tell me they had a flawless childhood, and it was fabulous. Oh my god, this is long term therapy. You don’t even know how to get through the denial about how fabulous it was because it’s really not designed that way. And so it depends on the degree of victimization. And the problem with being a manager is you can’t be their therapist. This is not a job, but you can support them into maybe getting into therapy or say that you see a pattern here of always finding where they’re being victimized in some way, maybe there’s something they need to look at and doing without that, because you’re not seeing that from your perspective. And that’s about all you can do is give them that feedback. And if they can’t even hear that much, they’re probably not very functional in the workplace to begin with.
I think that’s a fair perspective. What questions do you recommend that people ask of themselves in helping them like self evolve through this type of process, through the process, and to help self evolve through?
Well, the central question is, who am I and how did I become me?
But most importantly, I think we have a dearth of curiosity. We have to be curious about what all of this means and what’s going on. And if you don’t, then you’ve decided you understand it all. And none of us understand it. Not me, not any therapist, not any spiritual leader. None of us got it all. And so the arrogance of that, and mostly it’s the closed down this of that, that keeps them from expanding their perspective. And if you’re locked in, whether it’s your religion is the absolute truth of this, or your 12 step is the absolute truth of this, or your mother is the absolute truth of this. Um, you’re in a closed system, and you can’t get out of that. And you have to be willing to question a little bit in the beginning and then hopefully a lot. But there’s we become a society is so polarized into our perspective, that we don’t question our own perception. Do we question everybody else’s? And that’s a recipe for disaster, and it’s a recipe for conflict. And it’s forced victimization.
Right. And this is a conversation happening in very interesting times right now, I think you’d agree. And I think that if you never ask the question, like if you don’t see the atrocity and then ask the question about it, I’m thinking things that I’ve never even thought that I’d have to think about. what’s right or wrong or okay or not, you mean, okay or not. Okay. And it’s a challenging process, I suppose just ignorant ignorantly going it’s, that’s that right? Someone else?
Can I say something? There’s, there’s a concept in psychotherapy called the secondary game. And so we looked at this why do we keep doing this thing? Why do I keep dating the same type of man as the same type of woman? What am I getting out? out of this, what’s the benefit of that, and it may not even be a positive benefit. But it may be I’m dating somebody who’s emotionally unavailable. So therefore I never have to take the risk of being intimate.
I mean, or classically, they say we marry our parents. And I think there’s truth in that, but you have to, I always say, at least marry a healthier version was part of that dance of intimacy. So it’s, again, it’s requires curiosity. It requires perspective. And in the workplace, you have your work wives and your work husbands and your work siblings and attempting to, they’re more likely to be able to be able to give you feedback than your boss. But then the workplace is such a tricky place. And it’s all these different dynamics, which makes it really hard to do any of this but gently and with compassion I often say you can say anything you want to another person, as long as you say it without attachment to them believing you or doing something with it simply your perspective they get to do with what they want to do. Yeah.
What would you say is the most powerful question you’ve asked yourself, and what did you learn from it?
Wow, it’s a great question.
Um, what’s the most powerful question I asked myself?
I’ll tell you what just came to mind. Is this enough?
Cause we’re in a society that says it’s never enough. It’s never good enough. There’s never enough money enough. This enough bad enough sex God knows what else. And so it leaves us perpetually unhappy. And that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have goals. We should You shouldn’t strive. But at the same time, where is it that you’re okay? And where do you not have to keep pushing her to be good enough because so much of this comes out of, well, if I’m rich enough, then people will like me. If I’m successful enough, then my mother will like me again, her baby for the first time. And so we’re doing it for other people. As opposed to ourselves, there’s a I’m sure you’ve heard the concept of codependency. And so my version of that is giving me up to be loved by you.
And so we do that all the time. And I think we do that a lot in the workplace, particularly, and managers. I was working with somebody recently and this manager was incapable of firing somebody who for two years had not been doing the job at all and everybody else was having to pick up the slack.
And she’s A World Class huddle a better way describe it. That’s just sad.
I would advise my client to get out there I said this is a bad word.
Unknown Speaker 14:15
And see your see your coins. So the question you pontificated is, is this enough? Yes. And what is what was your conclusion? Like, what? What did you come up with? What do you learn from that?
So it’s a never ending question. I mean, it, it comes up every day. Like, is this business big enough? Or am I okay with this business? Do I need to start a new business? Am I okay being single after having been so long in a relationship? Is this enough to be by myself? Do I really have to have someone else? It’s it really impacts every aspect of our life, and Do I have enough connection with the divine Do I have all All of these things that, to me, that’s probably the most important thing in my life is my spirituality. And that’s really a foundation of my existence. But the rest of it, I’m doing with less now than I’ve ever done in my life, and I’m the happiest I’ve ever been.
And I think that that it’s a great question. I relate to it. Mine is not. Is this enough? I always feel like I should be doing something more.
And I don’t think that’s the same question.
It’s probably it probably is.
Mine often comes around like, I’ve done the laundry, but it’s such a beautiful day, I should be doing something more fitting or more usually mean, more active.
The why. Why do you need to do for other people? Yeah. Yeah. So the question is, what have you done? Do you need to do more for you? Yeah. Because you’re still codependency is really about making what other people think of us more important than what we think of us.
Okay, and that’s it. That is such a fantastic definition of it and not defined it as being. Can you say that one more time?
It codependency is really making what other people think of us more important than what we think of us. Okay? That’s also the foundation of cults, most religions because there are too many religions say that what we think of you in this church is more important than what you think of you and, and in the workplace is what we think of you is more important than what you think of you. But ultimately, you’re the one that has to go to bed with you each night. You’re the one that has to look in the mirror. So it’s all comes back to the relationship with yourself and healing that and being content with who you are. And that can take a lot of work to get there because we all have these wounds from childhood. And can you give it a reset explanation This Absolutely. So we grow up. And our job, the moment we pop out is to make sense of all of this. And so we’re getting this all this data constantly. It’s like, where did this light? What’s that fat, and even know what the light is. And we have to start making sense of. And the problem is that we reach conclusions about who we are. Long before. We have enough data to reach grand conclusions. I often use the example of the 10 year old boy and right feels he drops the flyball loses the game loses the championship, and he decides at that moment that he’s a failure, or that he’s incompetent or he’ll never be successful, and that becomes the frame of his life. And he looks at everything through that lens. So he never lets himself be successful, or competent. And we do that with all of these little moments in our life and the whole point of psychotherapy is going back and uncovering those conclusions we didn’t even realize we reached that are actually the frame by which we see the world.
And one can only move past it. If you go back and retrieve it. You just can’t bury it, right?
No, because what happens is when we the I’m trying to think of the best way to explain this. So you’re moving along. So let’s say there’s another classic example, a five year old child was at the library, and the parent forgot to pick them up, or thought the other parent was going to pick them up. And so the child has left tier five, and they’re abandoned. And so it may have been for 10 minutes, it might have been for five hours. But that child comes to the conclusion. I’m not lovable. I’m not important. And so anytime they’re invalid If they come across some experience that reminds them unconsciously of that abandonment, they go back to being that five year old and that five year old takes over, because the five year olds won’t survive that experience. So if you don’t heal those experiences, you keep regressing to these child parts. You’ve never seen a 50 year old man throw a temper tantrum of a five year old I have. So that’s my point. And so that’s if you can’t just bury these because they’re going to pop their little heads out and smack you upside the head and somebody else as well.
Where do you think people tend to get stuck on their journey towards personal growth? I think most people never started. Never start.
It was real trendy in the 80s.
Okay, I’m old. I was part of it deeply in the New Age movement and all that then learned enormous amount in my graduate degree was very much part of that. If we’re not really socialized to be curious, we’re not really socialized to work on ourselves. We’re socialized to make other people happy.
And that leaves us vacuous? For sure. And
I think as so I absolutely agree with you, I looked at all of my elementary and middle school and high school years until the point that I moved to a preparatory school where being different, was rewarded and welcomed that it was a very, very different shift in educational culture to evolve in and actually rather beautiful, you know, transition shift.
And how do we get unstuck and also continue on our journey, because sometimes, while getting in stuff, we kind of stop everything, or at least I’ve witnessed that Well, you psychotherapy, if you find a good psychotherapist and not all psycho therapists are good therapists any more than all managers are good managers, just like not all coaches are good coaches, I agree.
So the other is having a mentor, having somebody you’re not related to somebody that has an outside perspective, hopefully someone is older and wiser, they can give you feedback. Because the way we form a sense of self is from zero to 18 months, the parent has to be merged with the child because they’re empty inside. And if the parent isn’t there with them, that can set up a whole host of really bad things. From 18 months to three years, the parent has to slowly withdraw because three years old, there’s enough of a sense of self there, that the parent has to be out and continuously reflect back the child’s experience as they develop and solidify a sense of self. So that’s really the job of a mentor is to do that reflection back Hopefully in a gentle, unconditional loving kind of way without attachment, that that allows the person to, to examine that feedback can take in some perspective, and that awareness in and of itself can be healing. It isn’t always, but it can’t be.
Everyone needs to find a mentor that they can they get that reflection from it’s imperative whether and that’s what their job is, or sometimes a boss is that.
Well, I hope I would hope so. Right? I would hope so. But not all of them are either ever done their own work. There’s a lousy mentors.
I’m curious what philosophers had the greatest effect or impact on the way that you see the world.
Philosophy? Well, I’m a spiritual Buddhist. So Buddhism has been a really profound shift them is a philosophy much more so than a religion. It’s a path to knowing who you are in a really profound way. I was raised Southern Baptist. But I found that a bit too constricting, I would say in this lifetime I’m a Gestalt therapist. So, Fritz perls. And the wisdom that came out of humanistic psychology I think is really profound. And all the work that I do, it’s really a combination of digital and Buddhism that really allow people the freedom to explore who they are and come to their own conclusion. Not mine.
Um, you mentioned Eric, before we were getting on to this podcast that you were doing intensive is this client work that you’re doing?
Yes, what I do is that people come to me and I say See there from 10 to 20 hours. And that’s the 10 hours is a five day two hours a day for five days for two consecutive hours. And some people come for two weeks. I can do generally more in that five days in 10 hours, and they’ll do it in two or three years there. Because when you go to therapy, you go for 15 minutes, then you go home and you get back into your life for a week or two, then you come back and you spend half a session checking in. And so it’s a much slower process. And there’s a for some people that’s really necessary for the people who come in with a specific problem and say, I want to work on this for five days, they don’t get too high. And I bring an enormous amount of skills and they just come back the next day and we just go right back at it. And I’ve just seen unbelievable transitions for people in five or 10 days. It just blows them away. They didn’t know it was even possible to heal them. Particularly, I rarely meet a woman who hasn’t been sexually assaulted. And so I can generally heal that very quickly. And because of the tools that I have, and they can actually go out and be in a relationship and it changes their whole experience of being in the world. So that, to me is just incredible.
That is incredible. Thank you for your gift that you have.
It’s my pleasure.
You know, you’ve just mentioned you know, sexual assault and what kinds of challenges do you help people with?
Well, my specialty is men who were sexually abused as children. The official statistics is that one in six boys and one in three girls. I think the reality is one in two girls one in three boys. Boys are dramatically under reported. A lot of them would not even tell you they were sexually abused, but I can tell you that they their sexual compulsivity and their inability to be in relationship would suggest Because little boys, the moment they pop out are expected to be men. How many guys leave, leave work then leave for work in the morning until their three year old son take care of mom. And so they’re never allowed to just be a chore. And so, and the sexual abuse of women sexually abused little boys all the time I can’t take any boys or men I work with were sexually abused by their female school teachers. And it’s very, very, very common, but in our society, they’re told they’re lucky. They’re not told they’re victims.
Right. And that they have all the damage the damage is no different. And the problem with the real problem of sexual abuse Are there many that the biggest one is that when you’re sexually abused, you’re psychosexual Lee stuck at the age until you work through the abuse. So if you’re a sexually abused at three years old, you’re three years old having sex no matter how old you are until you resolve it super curious, obviously things that happen at 18 months or you know, like as soon as you know we arrive, but when do we start to remember those things?
And this ends, okay. Yeah, continuous or concrete memory, they say really starts between six and 12. Some kids have it earlier and some people have it’s, I call it an episodic memory early on. So you may have a piece of this. The problem with really young children is that they can put this in this together that actually didn’t go together. And so, as a specialist in sexual abuse, I don’t care if the memory is true or not. I care that we heal it.
Because if you believe it’s true, there’s a wound there.
And so, I’m not my job isn’t to go out and prosecute people and accused him of letter My job is to heal the wound of the person in front.
What is what is the best way for people to really stop the cycle of dysfunction when we are now raising our own families and not bringing forward the dysfunction that we may have experienced in our own? And I’m sure you’d admit that everyone has a dysfunction.
Oh, it’s how it’s why we’re here.
From a Buddhist perspective, absolutely. Um,
I think that it’s imperative to if you’re going to have children, and I say in my book, if you read it, the most important decision you’ll ever make is who you breed with.
So, I actually say something similar, but different. And so my greatest tip to any young person that I meet is the only person you get to choose in your life is your partner.
Well, but you can have a partner without having children. That is true. Would you ever go to dysfunction moving forward who you believe is very, very important?
Exactly. And that’s why I bring that up is because if and so the next step is you really have to understand the development and how we become a person. Because so many people treat children like they’re just a little adults opposed to understanding they’re going through these developmental phases and you have jobs there to a sort support them and making that happen. And lastly, it is doing some personal work, and if How many people do you know have children because they want to give the child a better childhood than what they had?
And you think that that isn’t about their dysfunction?
So they’re passing it on in a different way. I mean, they may be giving a better job. The most common issue I see. And this shows up on workplace a lot. is emotional incest. And this is where a parent uses a child to meet their psychosexual needs because they’re not getting it met from their spouse, or maybe they ever wanted to. The classic is the mother. Well, I’ll just try and do this quickly. There is back and burying society when we were all on the farm, mom, dad and the kids are just all there together. But at the moment, we moved into an industrial society. Suddenly dad goes off to work, and moms at home alone with the kids. Well, mom then isn’t getting your needs met by dad because he’s gone all the time. So she has this adorable baby boy who gives her all the love in the world he has, that she then makes him a pseudo spouse and he becomes her confidence and support and all this. She’s not getting her needs met by her husband. And so he learns to be loved needs to be devoured by the other because there’s no boundary there and then he goes out to the world and he finds He can, he loves women and has these amazing relationships in terms sexually. But the moment the sex cools off, he’s out of there, because that means he’s going to be devoured. If he isn’t ironically aroused, and he can’t tolerate that intrusion. And the girl grows up without a dad. So she finds a guy who isn’t really there available, but the sex is really hot in the moment that things get too hot that he checks out and she has the kid and the cycle keeps going over and over again. And we won’t even get into mother daughter emotional incest, to merge into one. Or fathers who make their son’s penis an extension of their own. And so we’re really troubled society.
When, when should someone consider does everyone need a psychotherapist at some point to uncover in breakthrough in late Can’t they don’t find a sufficient mentor? Probably. And the more damage back there, the more you need. Total short story my first time ever in therapy about 20 years ago, I walked in saw this therapist, we were just chatting. And she said, You seem really anxious. Are you frightened to me? He said, No. She said, What are you frightened? I said, what’s inside of me.
But I had more awareness in some ways, and some of it I didn’t have any clue as to how her reveal was either pretty awful childhood, and it took a lot of healing. And that’s why I could do what I do today, because I walked through some shared hell. And I have no regrets of that at all because as a Buddhist, I believe that I chose this lifetime to become this healer, and that I had to go through that and healing in order to be able to help other people. So I don’t feel like a victim. I feel grateful for what I went through. And I feel grateful for what I’m able to do with that.
Well, I am I very much appreciate you sharing so authentically on yourself and for the healing that you bring to those that you that you work with. Um, I would encourage my listeners to pick up his book facing the truth of your life. And I definitely want to make sure that I asked you what is the best way for listeners to connect and or follow you?
You can go to my website, Merleyost.com. I’m also on Facebook as well.
Just going to my websites easy to sign up for the mailing list. I do workshops as well. I teach people about these energetic boundaries so that you aren’t taking on other people’s energy and you are merging into them and that I do mine.
you Talking about No,
I do and that is just an absolutely fascinating topic and something I’m I can pick energy I get energy from everywhere and I can teach you how not to do that and not pick it off and still know what’s going on.
I will book myself in appointments
failed. There’s a workshop coming up on Monday actually there’s another I have like four going on in June I think so it’s all webinars at this point because this, but yeah, I love the workshops. People are taking them and they write me and say I started using the tools you gave me today and they work and I said
Well I will surely in the show notes. Please I will look for the link to your book as well as to your Facebook page and website. So Merle, thank you so much for sharing with us today. Some tips and thoughts on how we can face the truth in our own lives. So thank you so much. Thank you
so much for having me. I’ve had a delightful time.