If you’ve ever felt like there is something wrong with you, or as if you can’t figure out how to be happy and healthy, perhaps it isn’t you but the culture you live in? In this episode, I talk about how Western culture is very toxic and leading to more and more illness, especially anxiety and depression.

Okay, so I hope that this episode will be short and sweet. I’m just thinking about the 4th of July holiday that we have that this episode will be dropping the day before. And I was thinking about what could I say that relates to trauma about America, and then it hit me like a ton of bricks. America is toxic.

I am in the middle of reading a book called The Myth of Normal by Gab Mate, and basically he makes a case in this book. And keep in mind, I haven’t totally finished it, so I don’t know everything that he says, but so far he is talking about how he doesn’t really specify American culture, but Western culture is Toxic. It is creating so much illness in us that is not natural and normal.

He talks about disconnection and how disconnected we are, and that normally when a trauma happens, What serves it best, what helps to heal is connection, but cause we have a world where everything is online, that we are getting more and more disconnected and therefore the resources for healing from trauma are becoming less and less.

He talks about stress and how our culture is very stressful, especially for women. He really kind of harps on the limitations of the medical field and how there is scientific evidence of what works medically speaking. But for a variety of different reasons, the medical field has separated us as people into kind of mind and body instead of integrating them together, which is what healing from trauma really requires is your mind and your body coming together and working together.

And he also talks about the problem with nice people. And I bring this up, especially in American culture, and I recognize not everybody that’s listening is from the United States, but we’re talking about kind of western culture here, which I think is United States centric.

It feels to me, and I could definitely be wrong about this, but it feels like the United States is sort of at the middle and everybody, or many other countries are trying to be like the United States in some ways. Totally not true across the board, but one thing I know from living a year in Europe is that a lot of people outside of the United States have this impression of Americans that Americans are so nice and they feel like it’s fake.

Like Americans are always smiling and it’s somehow not genuine, or it’s fake in some way, especially since I spent some time in Germany where smiling is definitely not the norm, let’s just put it that way. But in one of Dr. Mate’s other books called, When The Body Says No, he really fleshes out this idea that nice people pay in illness.

So lots of chronic illness and disease like Ms. Lou Gehrig’s disease, those kinds of things. If you go into a hospital and talk to the doctors and the nurses, they have anecdotal evidence that people who are extremely nice often have these chronic diseases in our culture. It encourages us to be nice, right?

And there’s that whole debate about the difference between nice and kind and all of that. I’m not gonna get into that here, but really G Mate is just saying that our illness is not a normal thing. It’s actually a byproduct of a toxic culture. And it makes me think of if you’ve seen those videos going around Instagram reels or TikTok that say, “I thought I had seasonal depression, but it turns out it was just America,” I’m just like, yes, that is so true.

If you visit other countries, the pace of life is much slower. It is much more accepting of wherever you are. Whoever you are, wherever you are, it’s much more accepting of what supports you to feel good. And American culture just doesn’t do that.

I’m learning more and more that if I want to feel good, I have to swim upstream from the culture that I’m in, and it takes a lot of work.

So if you are feeling like something is wrong with me and I just can’t figure this out. Why am I not like everybody else? Maybe it’s not you. Maybe it is the culture you live in. And so this 4th of July holiday, as we celebrate our freedom as a country, which is beautiful and wonderful, and I want that for everyone, I want you to just think about the cost, right? The cost of being an American.

Think about the pressure to always be producing and acting like “go, go, go… do, do, do.” Think about the lack of rest time we have in our culture, the limited amount of vacation time or maternity, paternity leave, those kinds of things that are severely lacking compared to the rest of the world.

Even think about food and diet, how the American diet, the standard American diet, the sad diet, it Is the prime method to create disease in our bodies, right? Think about, and this isn’t just for America, but the small or the the pressure to have large social circles. It’s quite rare to hear somebody who has completely opted out of social media, and I wanted to just tell you a little story here.

I remember years and years ago when my kids were little and I kept telling myself, I just need to make more friends. I just need to make more friends. And I would go to these activities and you know, I would try to be social, but it would totally drain my battery. And one day I realized I had two really good friends.

Neither one of them lived near me. In fact, they both lived several states away. But as I was thinking about this need and this desire to make new friends, I started kind of questioning myself and I guess I’ve just always been this way. This was far before I was ever a life coach, but I started thinking about do I really want more friends?

And to be completely honest, the answer was no. I felt like I had the friends that I needed and wanted. It was that outside pressure of, you should be more social, you should have more friends, you should have this large group of friends. And that was such a freeing realization for myself that I personally did not need a large group of friends, nor did I want it.

So in that moment, almost I was able to just let go of this idea that I should or need more friends and then I could really just be more myself. I wanted to also point out that there are other cultures. We are a part of American culture. If you live in the United States is only one level of culture.

There’s church culture, there’s family culture, there’s city culture. What other cultures are you a part of? I know our family, my husband loves sports and my son loves sports, so we’re kind of in the sports culture corner of the United States. So just think about the different circles and layers of culture that you’re a part of and do those cultures support you to feel good or do they not?

And it’s most likely parts of them do and parts of them don’t. I wanted to point out in church culture, something that I notice is two things. First of all, a lack of safe space for negative emotion. I get it that if you are faithful follower of Christ, that you know you’ll have faith and that you should have hope and look forward to joy or even have joy now.

But sometimes that can turn into, you’re not allowed to have negative emotion because then, you know, that’s not the, the image of the Christian person or t’s just not like, maybe even you might subconsciously be thinking if I’m not happy, if I’m not hopeful, that I have a lack of faith in some way.

So that’s the first thing I noticed is almost this lack of space or space holding for people who are really struggling and having negative emotion. We want to really fix things in our church culture instead of just sitting with people in their negative emotion. And the other thing I notice is what I call the Eternity Paradox.

It’s almost like the fact that we believe in an eternity and eternal progression makes it seem like we almost have further to go. Maybe somebody else who doesn’t necessarily believe in eternity. They might look at their lives and like “by the time I die I want to be like this or accomplish these things”, but i n our church culture, in the Church of Jesus Christ, of Latter Day Saints, and this belief in eternity and eternal progression, it’s like the timeline is much further out.

And so the gap between where we currently are and what we’re working toward is. 10 or a hundred times bigger. So it’s almost like it’s even more discouraging. So these are just a couple of examples to think about when you’re thinking about what cultures you swim in. Some of the elements of those cultures that maybe don’t serve you so well or maybe do serve you really well.

So again, if you feel like something is wrong with you and other people can figure this out, but you can’t figure it out, I just want to have you consider and ponder and think about what is the role of the culture you live in.

It might legitimately not be you, and it might be. The soup you swim in. So I wanna encourage you to have a fun and safe 4th of July, but as you are looking inward and being introspective and reflecting, think about the downside of our culture and is there. One or two small things you can change to kind of counteract the effects of culture.

For me, I practice meditation. It is a way that I slow down and almost push back on the culture of go, go, go! Always be productive that I live in. So next week my group program opens presence, will be open. And if you are interested, if you wanna go deeper in really feeling embodied, really feeling present to your life, healing some of the things that you haven’t been able to heal before, I just invite you to schedule a free call with me.

There’s absolutely no downside to that, you don’t have to pay anything. It is an hour of your time or really 45 minutes of your time, but there’s no downside. There’s no risk. You can ask me questions or you can just get coached to experience like what it might be like inside of presence, and I just hope you’ll take advantage of that because I really feel like I just want everyone to experience true lasting healing.

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The Myth of Normal by Gabor Maté