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In this episode of MarieTV, we do have some adult language. So if you do have little ones around, grab your headphones now.

Dr. Martha Beck: If you decide that you’re going to turn your life in the direction of what you yearn for, you may or may not get what you want, but you always get the things you really in your heart know are meant to be yours, and they express themselves as yearning.

Marie Forleo: Hey, it’s Marie Forleo, and welcome to another episode of MarieTV and the Marie Forleo Podcast. I am so excited about today’s episode. If you ever feel like you’re just not living a life that is true to you, my goodness, my guest today has literally written the book on how to get yourself back on track. Dr. Martha Beck is a New York Times bestselling author, life coach, and speaker. She holds three Harvard degrees, and Ms. Oprah Winfrey has called her, “One of the smartest women I know.” Martha is known for her unique combination of science, humor, and spirituality. Her latest book, The Way of Integrity: Finding the Path to Your True Self, is available now.

Martha Beck, oh my goodness. This has been such a long time coming. Like?

Dr. Martha Beck: Right?

Marie Forleo: Come on.

Dr. Martha Beck: I can finally meet you. I give you an air hug, air hug, air hug.

Marie Forleo: Big air hug. And I, I said this in the opening, but I want to reiterate it. So for everyone watching right now, I was just telling Martha before we began recording, recording, that this book shook me in the best ways. I have so many underlines, so many highlights.

Dr. Martha Beck: Aw.

Marie Forleo: And Martha, I talked with Josh, I talked with my best friends, it sparked so many real important healing conversations. So I’m excited to dig into this with you, but I’m even more excited for everyone in our audience to get this book, and most importantly, do this book. I think again, I know I’m just kind of going at it right now, but one of the gajillion things I admire about what you did with this masterpiece, is how actionable it is. And, you know, we, we know each other through our friends, I am the, the, the, queen of insight into action. 

Dr. Martha Beck: Right. 

Marie Forleo: Insight is amazing and we love inspiration, but how do we make it real in our own lives? 

Dr. Martha Beck: Right. 

Marie Forleo: And you’ve given me this beautiful, fun, funny, science-rich roadmap.

Dr. Martha Beck: Thank you.

Marie Forleo: So let’s talk about what inspired you to write this book. In the intro you say, “Integrity is the cure for unhappiness, period,” and I was like, boom.

Dr. Martha Beck: Yeah, I know.

Marie Forleo: Tell me about this.

Dr. Martha Beck: 30 years of doing this stuff, and I finally boiled it down to one thing, which… and integrity, by the way, is not a moralizing word. It’s kind of like, I compare it to an airplane being in structural integrity. So when everything in your life is working together, so your mind, your heart, your body, and your soul, are all in alignment and you’re just one thing, I realized there is no suffering at that point. And I’ve been obsessed with stories of awakening and enlightenment from all over the world, in all periods of history, and in particular, I got obsessed with Dante, who I think was talking about the same thing. And you reach a point, if you go into your own integrity deeply enough, that there is nothing else left to do, and I just did it to be honest, but it ended up being magical, and ended up being transformative, and, and it ended up being the answer to unhappiness.

Marie Forleo: I felt it so deeply. You wrote this too, “Out of all of the strategies and skills that I’ve ever learned, the ones that actually work are the ones that help people see where they’ve abandoned their own sense of truth, and followed some other set of directions.”

Dr. Martha Beck: Right.

Marie Forleo: Martha, I felt like you were preaching to the choir with me, because I, when I was younger, I had always felt different.

Dr. Martha Beck: Yeah.

Marie Forleo: And like I didn’t quite fit into the cultural narratives that I grew up with.

Dr. Martha Beck: Yeah.

Marie Forleo: Just base-level stuff. I remember as a young girl, and also as a teenager and a young adult like, “When are you going to get married? When you going to have kids?” You know? And I, and I would always be like, “I’m not. I don’t want them,” and people, you know, it was just for years, and now I’m in my 40s… 

Dr. Martha Beck: Yeah.

Marie Forleo: …and the people have stopped asking, thank God, because they know. But it’s just this notion of following some other set of directives.

Dr. Martha Beck: Yeah.

Marie Forleo: How often do we do this? It’s, it’s everywhere, isn’t it?

Dr. Martha Beck: Constantly. Yeah. Well, and you, you correctly named it as the cultural archetypes around you, the cultural pressures, and I don’t mean culture as an art. I mean, I’m a sociologist. So Terence McKenna said, “Whenever there are two people in a room, culture is the third guest at the table.” So you and I having just met, are already setting up a cultural norm to help us communicate and cooperate, and that’s great, as long as culture matches nature. So we’re born into our true nature, and from the moment we’re born, I mean, literally from birth, we start absorbing social messages about how our nature needs to be modified to fit in with our culture, and as long as the two go together, then we’re in integrity, as just one thing. But when the pressures to, to follow culture, which are universal for humans, when those split off even the tiniest bit from our true nature, we tend to sell out our nature hard. We go straight for the culture. We want to please everyone. You’re so rare in having been able to tell people, “No, I don’t want that.” Most people would’ve caved in. Yeah.

Marie Forleo: Yeah, I mean, it is I think part of, and I don’t know this, this is just me making stuff up or just listening to what I hear from the inside, but I’ve always felt like one of my gifts on the planet, it’s not that I know anything, it’s just that I’ve been given this ability to hear my intuition. And again, we were talking about this before we hit the record button, I was telling you with integrity for me, the moment I step outside of it…

Dr. Martha Beck: Yeah.

Marie Forleo: …or I’m in a situation that is not aligned with whatever my truth is, my body starts to fail. 

Dr. Martha Beck: Yep.

Marie Forleo: I start to get sick, headaches. I mean, it’s how I knew I needed to leave Wall Street when I was on Wall Street…

Dr. Martha Beck: Yeah.

Marie Forleo: …and thought that that was going to be my career in the New York Stock Exchange. I had a panic attack and couldn’t breathe on the floor, and it was like, I was totally fine, but…

Dr. Martha Beck: Wow. Wow.

Marie Forleo: …this thing wasn’t in every single point in my career. So that’s why I get so, for everyone listening, I don’t mean to talk about myself, but I am so pumped up about this idea because I see it.

Dr. Martha Beck: Talk about yourself. We care. Why do you think we’re watching this?

Marie Forleo: Ah, I love you. But it’s, it’s just because this is nothing we’re taught in school. And Martha, the whole reason I even became a coach, was because as I started to discover these ideas, concepts, practices around personal development, I was like, “Why are we not learning this in school?” 

Dr. Martha Beck: Right.

Marie Forleo: Why is no one teaching us this? And this whole notion of the split between… 

Dr. Martha Beck: Yeah.

Marie Forleo: …our nature and culture, and the devastating impacts that has on us physically, emotionally…

 Dr. Martha Beck: Yeah.

Marie Forleo: …spiritually, mentally, it’s like… You’ve got it all in here.

Dr. Martha Beck: Yeah, in every way. I mean, you say you’ve been given the, the gift of intuition, but actually everyone has it.

Marie Forleo: Yes.

Dr. Martha Beck: You just, everyone has access to their intuition. You and I have an additional advantage in that our bodies cave very badly when we are off our truth. So, you know, everybody does this though, this is why polygraph machines work. The second we leave our truth, our immune system function goes down, our heart rate goes up, our adrenaline goes up, all the stress hormones increase, and the moment we go back to telling the truth, everything starts to settle in. They did this one study where people just agreed not to lie quite as much, for like three weeks, and they didn’t even police it. They just said, “Try not to lie so much.” After three weeks, the people who just reduced lying a little bit, had better health, better relationships, their jobs were going better, everything was going better because they just stopped lying a little bit. And I don’t mean lying like you’re trying to deceive people for an evil reason. Every time someone says, “Are you okay?” and you say, “Sure,” and you’re not, that’s a lie. You know?

Marie Forleo: Yes, yes. And I-

Dr. Martha Beck: So and we lie with our actions and everything.

Marie Forleo: Yeah, and, and I was noticing that for myself too. And my mom is a really unique, special character, and one of the things I admire about her so much, is she is so blunt with how she feels and what’s going on. You know what I mean? In the moment, and I’m always like…

Dr. Martha Beck: I love that.

Marie Forleo: “You know what? It may be really sharp and it might not feel good for a second, but you always know where she stands,” and it’s refreshing. So…

Dr. Martha Beck: Right? I have a, I have a daughter like that. Yeah.

Marie Forleo: Yeah. And you’re, it’s kind of like, I so appreciate her for that. There have been times in my life even…

Dr. Martha Beck: Absolutely.

Marie Forleo: …wanting this notion of what my relationship should be with my mom, and how we should be towards each other, and she should want to take me, you know, we should want to go do brunch, and my mom was like, “I don’t care about that. I don’t want to. No.”

Dr. Martha Beck: Oh, thank God. 

Marie Forleo: Yeah.

Dr. Martha Beck: Thank God she set you that example, and look what you’ve done with it.

Marie Forleo: Yes.

Dr. Martha Beck: Jehoshaphat!

Marie Forleo: And so I want to go back to Dante’s Divine Comedy. It’s such a beautiful framework for this journey that you take us on. You have said, “Dante’s Divine Comedy might be the first great self-help book ever.”

Dr. Martha Beck: Yeah.

Marie Forleo: For anyone who’s unfamiliar with this beautiful masterpiece, tell us more.

Dr. Martha Beck: Well, my very first self-help book, Finding Your own North Star, starts with a quote that’s supposedly from Dan, age 35, and it’s like, “Right in the middle of my life, I just realized I was completely lost. I had no idea how I’d gotten here, and I couldn’t find my way out.” And I quoted Dan, because that was Dante at age 35, which was midlife in 1320 when he was writing, and I thought, “Oh, that’s me.” I mean, I read it when, when I was what, 18, 19 years old? And at that point, still at this point, I read everything as self-help, because I have to. It’s like, “Help me!”

So then he describes how, you know, he tries to climb this mountain to get out of this dark, awful forest, he’s stuck in and he can’t make it. He can’t get up where the other people look so happy, and then he runs into a, a guide who says, “In your case, you have to go through hell to get to paradise,” and he goes into the Inferno. And the thing that really struck me was he goes down and down, and things get worse and worse, and it was just like therapy for me. I was in therapy at 18, as, as maybe a little balance to wanting to kill myself. And he talks about going down, down, down to the center of the earth, where there’s a monster, Satan, locked in ice, and his guide tells him, “You have to keep going down,” and he’s like, “There is no down from here,” And Virgil, his guide says, “No, there is.”

And he has to climb on the body of the monster, and when he gets right to the center, he finds himself having to turn around to keep climbing, because having passed the center of the earth, what was down has become up. And the last lines of the Inferno are like, there’s this whole nightmare getting down to the bottom, and then it’s like, “And then we went up and once again, beheld the stars,” and I’m like, “That’s what I’m doing. Okay.” And then he has to climb this mountain called Purgatory, where he has to take all the new truths he’s learned. He’s, he’s gotten free of his demons from hell, but now he has to learn to walk his talk, which is where you are so brilliant at helping people walk the talk. So many people talk the talk and don’t walk it.

If you walk your talk all the way to integrity, you get to a place called paradise, which I believe was Dante actually having an awakening experience. In Asia, it’s called awakening. We now know that it is a measurable effect of the brain that can be seen, and, and toward which we are biologically compelled. So Dante’s journey and all the metaphors in it, I think he was saying, “Here’s a metaphorical roadmap of what I did. Now, you come. You come do it too, and you’ll see.”

Marie Forleo: So magical.

Dr. Martha Beck: And you do see. Yeah.

Marie Forleo: Yeah, you do see, and I, I just loved how you built that in. As you know, someone who, again, obsessed with personal development, and self-growth, and, and love reading all the books, I just also want to admire and appreciate you for the artistry that you bring to this journey, because, you know, and again, I’m, I’m always happy to learn. People have great information, I am so happy to receive it, but when it is delivered in this artful way that takes you on a mysterious adventure, it just all, for me, sticks that much deeper.

In the “Lost in the Woods” section, you share, “The most common reason people feel lost is because we’re doing what we’re supposed to.” 

Dr. Martha Beck: Right.

Marie Forleo: “Even after doing everything we can to be good, we don’t feel good.” And the reason I wanted to highlight that, is because it is such a common refrain, and, and so many emails and video messages that we receive from our audience that I’ve gone through at so many different stages of my life that I talk to friends about of just, you know, folks have things maybe sometimes kind of together, or it seems like it’s together. They’re doing what they’re supposed to do, but they feel absolutely awful inside.

Dr. Martha Beck: Right.

Marie Forleo: So I don’t know if there’s anything that you want to expound upon in terms of this “Lost in the Woods” stage.

Dr. Martha Beck: Yeah, we do. We, we… In my view, what happens is we have our true nature, and then we sacrifice that for our culture, and at that point, it’s the split between our truth and what we think is true. That’s so confusing, but let me explain it this way. When I, when I used to speak to groups back when groups were a thing, I’d stop in the middle of a speech and just say, “Is everybody comfortable?” And they’d say, “Yes,” and I’d be like, “No, no, seriously, are you comfortable?” And they were like, “Yeah, move on. Really comfortable. Yes.” “Okay. So how many of you, if you were home by yourself now, would be in the position you’re in at this moment?” And not a hand goes up and then I’d say, “Why not?” And they would sit there, these really bright people, like, “I can’t figure…”, and then somebody in about five minutes goes, “Oh wait, this isn’t all that comfortable.” And the, the, the problem is not that they’re a little uncomfortable, because that’s tolerable, the problem is that they feel uncomfortable. The body knows, every non-mental part knows, and the mind absolutely believes that they are comfortable.

So what happens if you push that far enough is that the discomfort just gets bigger and bigger, and at the same time, everything is the way it should be. So if you watched Oprah’s interview with Meghan Markle, what could be a more dream come true existence than that? And she was miserable. So everybody thinks that they’re feeling miserable because they haven’t achieved enough, and in Dante, he calls it Mount Delectable, you climb up this delectable mountain. But look at the people who really have achieved, and you’ve probably coached many of them, I’ve coached some, it has nothing to do, your, your circumstances in society have nothing to do with happiness. The only thing that has to do with happiness is how closely are you adhering to what you know at the deepest level is true and right for you? That’s it. And the, the whole culture says otherwise, but your life will tell you the truth.

Marie Forleo: Yeah. And I love these symptoms, you know, for, for people again, tuning in and watching and going, “Huh, I don’t know.” Feeling purposeless, that’s one of the big ones. “What is my purpose?”

Dr. Martha Beck: Yeah.

Marie Forleo: Some emotional misery, like the brewing of bad moods, physical deterioration. Again, I will raise my hand to that. If I have been adhering to cultural norms, if I’ve been trying to be the good one, overachieving, all these things, imma raise my hand too. My body is just like, “Nope, can’t handle it.”

Dr. Martha Beck: Right.

Marie Forleo: Consistent failure in relationships, consistent failure at work, or bad habits you can’t break. You also went on to say that, “Feeling bad is a signal that our internal guidance system is working perfectly,” and I love this imagery. You said, “Imagining persistent negative emotions as Dante’s wild beast, whose job it is to make your life unbearable whenever you stray from your true path.”

Dr. Martha Beck: Yeah.

Marie Forleo: Martha. Oh, it’s just so good.

Dr. Martha Beck: It’s all happening for us, it doesn’t happen to us, it happens for us, as Byron Katie says. Every bad mood, every illness is there to help and serve us, to serve our happiness. And I know that sounds glib, but I was in chronic pain for 12 years, and I still am eh, eh. You know, I have to take really good care of my body. And you’ve been there, you know what I’m talking about. And every ache and pain, every moment of depression was a gift, was a, a, a loving signpost saying, “Honey, turn and go a different way.”

Marie Forleo: Yeah, and I think that’s such a great, helpful… I just even feel my shoulders release, and a sigh of a spaciousness when you say that, because I even think in an older kind of framework of personal development, you know, perhaps it’s like, “Oh, well, if there’s something wrong, you’re not thinking right enough.

Dr. Martha Beck: Right.

Marie Forleo: Or, you know what I mean? Just, you’re not really taking it as a compassionate alarm clock to just step back and go, “Oh, things are working exactly as they should, but I need to dig a little bit deeper here and see where I’m out of alignment.” 

Dr. Martha Beck: Yeah.

Marie Forleo: This is also, this made me chuckle, I love your sense of humor. You also write, “If whatever you’re doing isn’t working, don’t do it harder.” I was like, “Yeah, that’s definitely been me in the past,” like, “Oh, I got to do it harder.” “The problem isn’t how hard you’re working, it’s that you’re working on things that aren’t right for you.” 

Dr. Martha Beck: Yeah.

Marie Forleo: Can you say more about that, and how we may begin to stop that cycle for those of us who are, you know, determined to achieve and work our faces off?

Dr. Martha Beck: Yeah, and it, it often comes up in terms of, of career for us, because our culture is so wildly materialistic, and the, the acquisition of status, wealth, and power, it’s like, that’s the Golden Fleece of our culture, right? So we tend to just push, and push, and push. That quote actually came from a coach that I trained, her name is Sonja Alarr. Can I say what she… She said, “Here’s some advice for men who want to do well in the bedroom with their women: if what you’re doing doesn’t work, don’t do it harder,” and so, that was her little sex tip for men. And, and the same thing holds true in every area of life, but in, in most of our lives, is that we we’re following a set of rules that we think is going to bring status, wealth, and power, or make people love us, make people like us, and we feel worse, and worse, and worse, so we think, “I should do more.”

I’m a classic example. I went to Harvard when I was 17, “This will make me happy. This is the top of the pyramid,” and then it didn’t. I felt miserable. So I was like, “All right, I’ll get a master’s,” and I was still miserable, more miserable. “I must need a PhD from Harvard.” I just kept getting more Harvard degrees, because one of them certainly would make me happy, and it wasn’t until halfway through my doctorate when I had a child with Down syndrome, that I kind of went, “Wait, wait, this isn’t making me happy. People with Down syndrome that I’ve met can be incredibly happy. I’m not sure passing another test is going to make me feel good.” It took that long. I was that stupid. It’s incredible.

Marie Forleo: I loved also too, when you were recounting your pregnancy with your son, and also just that, that experience of watching your mind spin out…

Dr. Martha Beck: Yeah.

Marie Forleo: …about what having this child was going to mean for your career…

Dr. Martha Beck: Yeah.

Marie Forleo: …for his well-being, happiness, independence.

Dr. Martha Beck: Yeah.

Marie Forleo: And, and just that break, this is my interpretation of it, where you began to just observe those stories and recognize them, they don’t have to be true. And, and you and I are both fans, I don’t want to go too far, but, but Byron Katie’s The Work… 

Dr. Martha Beck: Yeah.

Marie Forleo: …that has saved my butt so many times, continues to save my butt.

Dr. Martha Beck: Worship that woman.

Marie Forleo: Right? Like magic.

Dr. Martha Beck: She is the real deal. Yeah.

Marie Forleo: People always, sometimes people have asked me, like when we get into these kinds of conversations like, you know, “Is enlightenment really real?” I’m like, I think there’s only a handful of people, the only two that I’ve met that are Eckhart Tolle… 

Dr. Martha Beck: Yeah.

Marie Forleo: …and, and Byron Katie.

Dr. Martha Beck: Yeah.

Marie Forleo: I remember seeing Eckhart at, Oprah was having a Super Soul event, and I am a, I’m just, I’m a huge fan of so many people, because I’ve, I’ve received so much benefit from their work. And I remember just seeing Eckhart Tolle rolling up to a bar, I’m like, “This is amazing!” And he was just so wonderful and him, and he’s got such a great sense of humor. But do you want to speak any more into that experience when you were carrying your child…

Dr. Martha Beck: Yeah.

Marie Forleo: …and you had all of these cultural directives, you had your own stories spinning out…

Dr. Martha Beck: Yeah.

Marie Forleo: …and then you started to hear a different truth, your own inner teacher?

Dr. Martha Beck: Yeah, it was before… I think what’s very interesting to me is that my first child, whom I named Katherine and I called Katie, was born, as far as we can tell, the day that Byron Katie woke up on the floor of that house with her enlightenment experience in the halfway house, that was the day I gave birth to a daughter, and named her Katie. So there was something hooked into our, I don’t know, our fates are interwoven or something, because I, I owe her so much, but she hadn’t written any books yet.

And Adam, my son, was my second child, and I found out that he had Down syndrome when I had two weeks to choose to terminate legally, which means the baby’s really pretty far along. And I am very pro-choice and don’t want to shame or diss anyone who makes the opposite choice, absolutely go with it. If it’s your North Star, do whatever you need to do. But I’d been having really strange supernatural experiences, psychic experiences from the moment that Adam was conceived, before I even knew I was pregnant, I started having these abilities. I could see what was happening to people when they were far away, and I knew what was going to happen before it happened. It really floored me, because here I was, halfway through my third Harvard degree, and suddenly I’m psychic, like what?

So then when all these things happened and then when he was diagnosed, there were five doctors on the Harvard University Health gynecological staff, and all of them told me that the only sensible thing was to end the pregnancy, and the, the most prestigious of them, he said it was like having a malignant tumor, and he said, “If you keep this baby, you are throwing your life away.” And I remember looking at him and I was 25 years old, and I looked at him, and I could see his regular face, and then kind of in front of his regular face was the same face, but absolutely terrified. And I just, I looked at him and I thought, “Oh, you’re so scared,” and I realized he was trying to get rid of the defective little boy in me, because he was afraid of the defective little boy in himself.

And it was so clear, and, and everything… that’s a Byron Katie turnaround, he’s telling me that I’m doing something wrong for me, when it’s actually, he’s the one who’s scared. So he was right, you know, I did throw my life away. I said, “No, I’m not going to, I’m not going to terminate the pregnancy,” and it threw away my life, but the life I threw away sucked, and the life I got back, oh my God, the life I got back is amazing. So I’m a big fan since then of throwing my life away.

Marie Forleo: This is why I love you so much. Oh my gosh. And this was, again, as I’m telling y’all, there are so many incredibly deep, insightful, powerful, what I would call insight to action challenges, exercises, in Martha’s book, and one of them is from a chapter around culture or nature, and it’s on page 30, and this great question, Martha, I love this. “In the quiet of the night, what do you yearn for, and not want, but yearn for?” And I know it may seem like I keep going back to this, but I think this is so important right now. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, a lot of studying, a lot of research, and a lot of writings, particularly around, you know, the proliferation of these things, right? We’ve had these things for quite a while.

Dr. Martha Beck: Right.

Marie Forleo: And I’ve been fascinated with the impact of social, email, news, with here, and most importantly with here.

Dr. Martha Beck: Right.

Marie Forleo: So can you walk us through the distinction, you know, how we can really detect what might be a, a yearning…

Dr. Martha Beck: Right.

Marie Forleo: …versus a Mount Delectable kind of want…

Dr. Martha Beck: Yeah.

Marie Forleo: …or a culturally induced brass ring kind of thing?

Dr. Martha Beck: It’s pretty simple. I did it just this morning. I was being interviewed by someone who’s very advanced, he’s a coach, he’s brilliant. And I said, I just said, “What do you want? What are the things you want?” And he was like, “Oh, I want to get a better apartment, I want a better car,” and all of us want stuff like that. I mean, I want a hamburger, I want whatever. There’s nothing wrong with wanting stuff, but then if I say, “In the quiet of the night, what do you yearn for?”, I get four answers, and I’ve done this all over the world with the poorest of the poor, the richest of the rich, everywhere, and the four things we yearn for are peace, freedom, joy, and love.

That’s it, because that’s what we are, and every time we split from ourselves, it’s those four things that are calling us back. And really, they’re just one thing. They bond together in what I call that integrity, is when all four of those things are present: peace, joy, freedom, and love. And nobody yearns for anything else. After 30 years of this, I’m like, “That’s so bizarre,” and if you decide that you’re going to turn your life in the direction of what you yearn for, you may or may not get what you want, but you always get the things you really in your heart, know are meant to be yours, and they express themselves as yearning.

Marie Forleo: Yes, and it just feels so good. I’ve always had a clear bell on the freedom bit.

Dr. Martha Beck: Interesting.

Marie Forleo: Freedom has always been my highest value, but when I was reading freedom, joy, love…

Dr. Martha Beck: And peace.

Marie Forleo: And peace, when I read that, again, it was another moment of my shoulders relaxing, and just the spaciousness opening up, and I’m like,

Dr. Martha Beck: Yeah.

Marie Forleo: “Yes, that ring of truth.”

Dr. Martha Beck: Can I just say that…

Marie Forleo: Yeah.

Dr. Martha Beck: …I add into that, that the Buddha said famously many times, “Wherever you find water, you can know if it’s the sea, because the ocean always tastes of salt, and wherever you find enlightenment, no matter what form it takes, you can recognize it because enlightenment always tastes of freedom, always.” So it might take you into pain, it might take you into effort, it might take you into loss, but it will give you freedom, and that’s enlightenment.

Marie Forleo: Let’s talk about walking the, walking back the cat, self-sabotage…

Dr. Martha Beck: Oh yeah.

Marie Forleo: …and some eggs, and some eggs. I thought this was great, because self-sabotage, this notion of it, is something that, again, we hear time and time again in our audience. So I just want to leave it to you, walking back the cat, self-sabotage, and eggs.

Dr. Martha Beck: Right. I got some pressure to take that out because they’re like, “You don’t want to vilify eggs.”

Marie Forleo: No.

Dr. Martha Beck: And people aren’t bad for eating eggs. I’m like, “Dude, you have no idea how bad I feel when I eat eggs,” and my doctor has waved tests in front of me, “You cannot eat eggs!” So one day I just went into a diner, and I sat down and I was like, “I want some eggs,” and I just sort of… eggs, and then I felt horrible, and I’m like, “Why did I do that?”

So walking back the cat, I love animal metaphors in any shape or form, that is actually a phrase from spycraft. They really… In espionage, they use it if an op goes badly and everybody dies, they walk back the cat by reversing the situation, and they look at it slice by slice, going backward. So the one I wrote down was that I’d eaten these eggs and I was sitting there going, “Ah, why?” And I walked it back while I was writing. I was in someone’s… I was actually in Liz Gilbert’s apartment. She’d let me stay there for a while, and I was, I was cleaning it up and I’d gone to the laundromat, and I got the sheets washed, and I came back and I got in there, it was a hot summer day, and I, I thought… So, it, going backward though. Sorry, I moved too forward.

Backward, I, I remember going into the diner. Okay, I was hot. I was blah. I didn’t feel good. Go back to Liz’s apartment. Ugh, don’t feel good. Go back to the moment I walked into the apartment, I felt pretty good. It was a good day, I was happy. And there was a moment when I said, I thought, “I should sit down and have a cool drink before I clean up,” and then part of me said, “No, you got to keep going. You got to keep working.” Which is, you know, that’s one for the ages, right? Who doesn’t have that one?

And I kept working, and the moment I broke from my nature, which said, “Just sit down for 10 minutes and have a drink,” and I pushed through it, I went off-kilter, and I started to suffer, and I pushed and I pushed, and by the time I got into that diner, the wild animal of my nature was like, “You want, you want to clean an apartment? I want some eggs!” And then I was like ugh, and my nature is going, “Take that! Clean an apartment now, why don’t you?” So yeah, it’s that moment that we break from our truth that we need to trace back, and, and it’s always a really clear moment. I’ve done it with hundreds of people.

Marie Forleo: Walking back the cat, so brilliant. Let’s talk now about once we begin to walk the path of integrity, stop telling lies, do our best to, to really make those little turns, and that’s where I want to end. Actually, we won’t get there yet. With this, it may ruffle some feathers, one might say.

Dr. Martha Beck: Oh, you think?

Marie Forleo: With loved ones, or colleagues, or entire religions.

Dr. Martha Beck: All of the above. Yes.

Marie Forleo: So yeah, that pushback can be intense. Can you… So first, if you want to tell us a little bit about your own experience with that, and then maybe we get to a piece on, on change-back attacks and how…

Dr. Martha Beck: Yeah.

Marie Forleo: Yeah.

Dr. Martha Beck: So the way you go through hell is you go inside yourself and you find your inner demons, and they’re all the pieces of yourself that are stuck in false beliefs, usually for, by, by accident. They just, we’re taught to believe things like keep working, when you don’t have to. So as you go through hell, you, you detach from those, you just go, “Okay, that one’s not true, that one’s not true, that one’s not true.” Every time you recognize it as untrue, you’re freed from it, and at the end going the same direction you come out, and then you have to climb the Mountain of Purgatory. So now you know what’s true inside, but now you have to begin living what’s true on the outside. And without exception, we are all abandoning our true nature to serve some version of culture.

So in my case, I was born and raised in one of the Mormonist families, in the Mormonist town, in the Mormonist state in the union. I will not tell you what it was, I’m going to keep it incognito. And one of the things that happened when I was 29, I, I had read, “The truth will set you free,” so I was like, “Okay, I am not going to tell a single lie in the coming year.” And I was at a New Year’s Eve party with a bunch of Mormon friends, and they all just went pale and just went, “Don’t do that.” And they were right, because that year was the year I just decided, I don’t, Mormonism is not me. I’m sorry, I just, it does not work for me.

And my family was very central to the church, and there had been abuse involved and that all came up, and I didn’t make… I wrote a book about it 10 years later, I didn’t fuss about it then. But I, immediately, all my relationships started cutting off, I got death threats. I got… Oh, and I figured out I was gay also, yeah. So the three great enemies of the Mormon Church in the Latter-days, this is what the, the president, the prophet said that year, the three enemies of the church were intellectuals, feminists, and gay people, and I was like, “Oh boy, three strikes. Oops, I’m Satan. Who knew?”

So yeah, the pushback was absolutely monumental, and they, people really, they, they pulled out all the stops, shaming, downright abuse, physical threats, and it felt so free to let my mind out of that trap, you know, that enlightenment, taste of freedom, and it was like pow, and I literally didn’t care if I was killed. I thought I would be. When I wrote about it, I genuinely thought I’d be killed, and I got a lot of threats, credible threats, and you know what I figured out? It’s better to die telling your truth, than to live without it, and I really physically faced that, and I can tell you for sure, nothing is worth giving up your integrity. Nothing.

Marie Forleo: Thank you for that, and again, for those of you, you got to get this, because Martha goes, I mean, you have so many books that go into so many different aspects of your life, but this one is the one we’re focused on right now, and your, your stories in there are amazing.

Dr. Martha Beck: Thank you.

Marie Forleo: Let’s wrap up with something that you wrote on 225. You said, “Positive transformation happens more quickly when we do it in small steps, rather than heroic leaps.”

Dr. Martha Beck: Yeah. 

Marie Forleo: Can you tell us more about the power of one degree turns?

Dr. Martha Beck: Yeah. I mean, I, I use the metaphor of an airplane periodically in this book, and one thing I say is if you’re on a long flight, like 10,000 miles, and every half hour the plane turns to the right by one degree, it’s never going to feel like the plane is turning very far, but you’ll end up in a completely different place, right? Another metaphor I like to use is things called trim tabs on these… Have you ever been on one of those huge ocean liners…

Marie Forleo: Yes.

Dr. Martha Beck: …that are like the size of a city block?

Marie Forleo: Yup.

Dr. Martha Beck: They are massive. They’re so big that the rudders, if they had a rudder big enough to, to turn the ship, it would sink it. So they have to have a smaller rudder and on the back of the rudder, which is pretty big, are these tiny little things called trim tabs, and they’re only like six inches wide, and when the captain turns the wheel, what turns is the trim tab, not in the whole rudder. The trim tab changes the water pressure, and then it allows the whole rudder to turn, and then that massive ship turns around it.

So if we can just make a trim tab change, just a one degree change, today, tomorrow, the next day, you know, like Glennon Doyle says, to build her massive empire, what she did was press send every day for, you know, however long it took, and it was never a big action. You never take a big action. The journey of a thousand miles begins beneath your feet, and it’s always beneath your feet. It’s always just one step. Sometimes that step is off a cliff, but it’s still just one step. And there’s a ton of research to show that small changes work better than large changes. Large changes tend to fail. Small, accumulated changes are the bomb. They work.

Marie Forleo: Oh, they’re so much fun. I’ve been doing this in my own life. I’ve given myself a few challenges recently that are not big in nature, but they’re so exciting. Like one of my, one of the things that I’m just enthralled with, is gently learning Italian.

Dr. Martha Beck: Ooh.

Marie Forleo: So I’m of Italian descent, and so I have like four different language learning apps on my phone, and I, Martha, I have so much fun in my 10 to like 15 minutes a day.

Dr. Martha Beck: Huh.

Marie Forleo: And it’s not a ton like, “Oh, I have to cram everything,” but it’s so joyful, and after a couple hundred days of a streak, I’m like, I’m, I can hear myself starting to think and identify things in a new language.

Dr. Martha Beck: Wow.

Marie Forleo: Yeah, so, but just, it’s like, I love this notion. It’s just one degree, just one degree.

Dr. Martha Beck: That’s it.

Marie Forleo: One degree turn towards your truth, one degree turn towards coming back to wholeness. 

Dr. Martha Beck: Yeah.

Marie Forleo: And I also love the analogy too of airplanes from the beginning like, you don’t really personalize it, it’s just physics. It’s physics.

Dr. Martha Beck: Yeah.

Marie Forleo: If things aren’t aligned, they’re not going to work.

Dr. Martha Beck: Yeah.

Marie Forleo: And you don’t have to take it so personally. It’s like, no, it’s physics.

Dr. Martha Beck: Right, nobody’s mad at you, it just won’t work. If you’re out in the, in the forest trying to build fire with two sticks and you do it wrong, Mother Nature doesn’t come say, “Oh, you bad child, you got a D minus.” It just doesn’t work. And when you get it right, Mother Nature is not saying, “You’re a goddess!” It just, you just get fire. It just, it’s just physics.

Marie Forleo: My goodness. Is there anything… This has been such a joy. I cannot wait until the world comes to a place where we’re going to get to hang out in, in person and talk even more, but as we wrap up, is there anything else about the message of this book, what you hope people get from it? Anything else that you want to share before we wrap up today?

Dr. Martha Beck: Just, just a word of encouragement, no matter how miserable you are, no matter, no matter how far you think you’ve strayed from whatever your true path should be, it is waiting right inside you, and the moment you say, “I’m going, I’m going to trust myself, I’m going to follow my truth,” immediately, the healing begins in your body, in your psyche, in everything around you. It’s that fast.

Marie Forleo: Martha Beck, you are a treasure. Thank you so much for taking the time today. Congratulations on this new book, and for everybody watching, get yourself, your friends, your family, a copy of The Way of Integrity today.

Now Martha and I would love to hear from you. So I’m so curious. We talked about so many good things today. What’s the one insight that you’re taking away from this conversation, and most importantly, how are you going to put that insight into action, starting right now? Leave a comment below and let us know. Now as always, the best conversations happen over at the magical land of, so head on over there and leave a comment now. And if you’re not already, please subscribe to our email list and become an MF Insider. We send amazing emails every Tuesday, and you don’t want to miss it. Until next time, stay on your game, and keep going for your dreams, because the world really does need that very special gift that only you have. Thank you so much for watching, and I’ll catch you next time on MarieTV.

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