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For over a decade, David Tian, Ph.D. — a uniquely qualified therapist, life coach, and former university professor — has coached tens of thousands of people from over 87 countries to achieve happiness and success in their relationships, dating, psychology, and lifestyle.
Dr. Tian has been featured in international media, as well as co-hosting a radio show on national radio and a weekly dating advice column in a national newspaper in Singapore.
The show, “Man Up: Masculinity for the Intelligent Man” (https://www.davidtianphd.com/blog/), is David’s way of helping as many people as possible enjoy empowering and fulfilling lives, while contributing to the global understanding of masculinity in modern times. In the show, he takes your questions posed in the Man Up private Facebook group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/manupcommunity/) and answers based on his experience coaching tens of thousands of students around the world for over a decade.
Connect with David Tian here:
DTPHD Podcast Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/dtphdpodcast/
Man Up Show Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/manupcommunity/
Google Podcast: https://podcasts.google.com/feed/aHR0cHM6Ly9kYXZpZHRpYW4ubGlic3luLmNvbS9yc3M
DTPHD Podcast: https://www.davidtianphd.com/dtphdpodcast
“Should You Get Therapy?” With Gui Mansilla
David Tian Ph.D. and Gui Mansilla talk about the misconceptions on psychotherapy.
David Tian Ph.D. and Gui Mansilla discuss what a psychotherapist can do to help.
They also delve deeper into what psychotherapists help you find within you.
David Tian Ph.D. and Gui Mansilla deliberate if the average guy needs therapy.
In this Man Up episode, David Tian Ph.D and Gui Mansilla identify some of the different methods of getting therapy.
This episode features psychologist and psychotherapist Gui Mansilla, founder and director of the Breakthrough Center for Coaching and Psychotherapy.
You can learn more about Gui Mansilla and his work here:
David Tian: Boom! Stop. I’m David Tian, PhD, and in this video, We answer the question:
Gui Mansilla: Should you get therapy?
David Tian: Welcome to Man Up Episode 206.
NARRATION: Masculinity for the Intelligent Man. I’m David Tian, PhD., and this is Man Up!
David Tian: Hey, I’m David Tian, PhD., and welcome to Man Up Episode 206. For over the past 10 years, I have been helping hundreds of thousands of people in over 87 countries attain success, happiness and fulfillment in life and love. I have a guest here, a very special guest, Gui Mansilla. Gui is founder and director of the Breakthrough Center. He has background in law, you have a law degree in MDiv, I saw, and method and acting. But of course, we’re bringing you in here to help us with clinical psychology and understand all of the issues around that.
And especially to answer the question: Should you get psychotherapy? Who should think about getting psychotherapy? We’ve got a lot of questions to dig into. I could go on forever about you and what you do. I’ve learned a lot from you about psychotherapy and just psychology in general, but we’re going to let you introduce yourself to the Man Up audience.
Gui Mansilla: Thank you so much for having me, David. I am here, a guest today, as a registered psychotherapist. I am part of the College of Psychotherapy here in Ontario, in Canada. I do a bunch of other things, and I think a renaissance man, and I really love that about me and my work. While I could talk quite a bit about what I have done, and then I have come to my passion for psychotherapy through the path of trying to make it work better, starting with law and becoming a criminal lawyer, and then coming back to my [INAUDIBLE 00:01:44] where I’m working and studying method acting and been working quite a bit as an actor.
And then sooner or later, it dawned on me that a lot of my work was about consciousness and awakening it. With more intention, I started to explore what it means for me to become a more conscious being. Through that path, after a lot of training, strategy seeking, mentorship, one day I realized that I could actually talk for a living with people. When I realized that, I realized that I had been doing it since I was very young, that it was part of my method of survival to help people to figure out who they are, to also keep them safe and make them safe for myself.
Through that, one day I literally realized that I could do that for a living after people started to very clearly and seriously say, “Man, can I just see you? Can I talk to you?” Many years after that, I became a registered psychotherapist. I sit with people and I try to figure out who the fuck they are.
David Tian: There’s a lot of issues unpacking that. One thing we should mention is that we’re in Toronto. This is the Park Hyatt. How long have you been in Toronto?
Gui Mansilla: 14 years. Before that, I was in Mexico. Before that, I was travelling the world for a year or two.
David Tian: Let’s just start with that big question, who should get a psychotherapist? Then I would follow up with – if you’re somebody who should get a psychotherapist, how would you choose one? What’s the best way to go about looking for one?
Gui Mansilla: For me, it’s fascinating. Because in my own process, I hated the idea of going to a psychotherapist. I literally hated the idea of psychotherapists itself. I had a very strong bias against what a psychotherapist is and does. I thought that they would just keep you sick so they can keep charging you for coming back. With that prejudgment, I had to really overcome a lot of personal conditioning to realize that at a given moment in my life, I was really in need for help.
I really couldn’t find that kind of help in any other kind of strategy or approach. I ended up finding a psychotherapist, a beautiful woman that truly helped me and potentially saved my life. From finding that psychotherapist, I realized the value of it, and I realized that really not all psychotherapists might be the same. Through my work within the field, I realized that 99% of them are really committed and really into it to help people.
I freed a lot of my own biases, but the big question that we’re facing is: How do you know that you need a psychotherapist? I would prefer to explore the question more than giving you an answer. I believe that the answer is very personal, and until you find it inside of you, it doesn’t matter how many psychotherapists you’ll see. You’ll just lose your money, time, and you’ll be hoping for something…
David Tian: I’ve made the mistake of saying, “You need a therapist, man.” And then he goes to the therapist, and then he doesn’t stick with it. And the other thing is, the therapist asks him, “So, why are you here?” And he says something like, “Oh, my coach told me.” Right away, he’s already in the wrong frame of mind to approach it.
Gui Mansilla: The way to go about it is understanding that to really benefit from psychotherapy, you have to answer that question for yourself. There is two ways of looking at the question. One is very restricting and the other one is broad. The restrictive one, particularly in regulatory areas like us where psychotherapy is regulated, we have a kind of straightforward definition. “You will need psychotherapy if you have a problem of cognition mood disorder, dysregulation, memory problem, that will affect your life seriously at a social, interpersonal, personal, or work level.”
If you’re suffering that kind of stuff, there’s the traditional model that is restrictive model. You probably could benefit from a psychotherapist. Now, I like to go a lot broader because the kind of fwork that I do is very existential. I don’t stick to, “Let me get you back to work.” I believe that is not the main function of psychotherapy. That’s a very capitalistic functional way of looking at it. “Let me get you back to your work.” It doesn’t matter how shitty you feel, now you’re able to do your work, be a dad, be who you are.
The broader definition or understanding of psychotherapy, for me, is if you’re feeling fucked up, you probably can benefit in some way, shape, or form, from a good solid approach of a professional that can help. How do you define more specifically and more technically feeling fucked up? Things are not working and you keep repeating the same stuff that you did in the past to try to make them work, and they obviously don’t work, and they become more and more frustrated.
Things are becoming more and more painful. You have [INAUDIBLE 00:06:31] or you think about it all the time. Your mind is obsessing about problems. You find that career-wise you cannot evolve. You find job after job that seems to be dead-end and later not really useful. The question is: How much pain do you think you need to go through to truly go out and find support and help? I believe that you shouldn’t go through a lot of pain. I see it as most of the time, 90% of humans that I meet, we do have some pain and we haven’t yet been able to face that pain in a way that is sustainable and that will really go for a healing curve that will end up in satisfaction.
I believed that most of us can benefit. Now, the big question is: How do you find somebody that truly helps? Do you want me to dive into that?
David Tian: Just before – that was a great answer, and it’s a highly personal decision to decide whether you should go and lay your soul – to bare your soul to another human being. For our show, Masculinity for the Intelligent Man, we get a lot of people who are interested in masculinity and learning about that. A lot of guys around the world, I was going to pick on certain countries but actually as I reflect, it’s pretty much all around the world. Men have the idea of a functioning adult, a functioning male, which is like a tough guy who doesn’t have any problems. They feel like if they’re crying. That’s a problem. It’s like they’re breaking down and they need help.
But if they don’t cry all through the day and they chop their wood, they hunt their food, and they bring it home to the wife and kids, and they’re just – they smile but they’re pretty much just functioning adults, then they are healthy. I found that’s actually really sad because the guy will get to 40-50 years old, having pretty much emotional numbness and they’re not even aware of it because all of their other friends are emotionally numb. They end up becoming just a cog in the wheel of society; they fit into it like a job somewhere and they end up… Actually, most jobs you work really hard to create equity for a company that really profits off you.
But they think, “Okay, now this is my life, 40 years of working for the man” and then they die. And that’s their life. And towards the end of their life, they’re starting to feel these emotions or maybe not. One of the big emotions is regret. Maybe they regret that they don’t feel at a deeper level love, joy, happiness, the grief of things that have gone on in the past and so on.
Then there are these men who don’t have any guidance, but they’re more sensitive to themselves and their inner turmoil, to the triggers that are happening in society to them. Maybe things that are saddening them outside their little lives or their little worlds, and they become depressed, or they question existential problems like “Who am I? Why do I exist? What’s the point of life? What’s the meaning of life?” In a deeper way than the 20 year old who thinks about what’s the purpose of life, meaning, what should I do for my job? Or something. But a deeper level, like, “Why am I actually here?”
And then they have no guidance through it, and then they start to break down a little bit. The visage or that exterior, the tough exterior breaks, and they start to emote. There are tough guys friends who are like, “Dude, you might need therapy” but usually they’re just like “Toughen it up.” That’s the bad way of using ‘man up’.
Gui Mansilla: But also, you might need therapy because you’re fucked up. Because [INAUDIBLE 00:10:03] I see that you’re fucked up.
David Tian: Part of like, “You are messed up because you’re feeling.”
Gui Mansilla: The truth is, the one that is starting to emote and breakdown, which I call being vulnerable, will start to show the truth, is the one that is less fucked up, is the one that is actually starting to edge towards a healthier… Now, at the beginning of that process, they will look less functional. They will be less functional. Just like if you broke a leg and you need to heal it, you don’t want to be walking on that. But if you know that you’re broken and you’re healing that leg, then you will become a lot faster than those other people that are looking at you funny.
David Tian: There’s a lot of research that shows genius is actually more along the fucked up lines of breaking down. Because they are so smart that they can see the cracks in the system, whereas the people who are sort of like the farm animals in the system, they just go through it like a cow, to let you slaughter, and then they die. They don’t notice. It’s sort of like the cow is like, “Holy shit. This is not good. We’re all going to die. Look, there’s my buddy there hanging from the hook.” And the other cows are like, “Don’t worry about it. Keep eating your grain.” or whatever.
My point is, I personally feel like everyone needs therapy. Everyone could benefit from therapy, maybe not need it, but benefit from it. It’s just a cost-benefit analysis. If your life and your emotional life is important to you, I think that’s something that…
Gui Mansilla: It’s also how do you get speed in your process? One of the challenges with therapy is that a lot of us started doing this because we have felt the pain and then we come with poor training or not sufficiently clear and specific training or why we’re here. We do a lot of holding space, and I will do a bit of the holding space for you. “Yes. I see. You tell me more about that. Wow. So painful, huh?”
When you just work at the level of “Let me hold it”, which is a very valuable first step, and then you don’t know what to do with all of that, and the therapy [INAUDIBLE 00:12:06] supervision with younger therapists, they get frozen inside. Because inside they’re like, “Oh my god, what should I do? I’m afraid. You’ve lost your mind. I never know what to tell you!”
So from there to move into, I just hold space for you, we’re really missing the work in there which is I call a combination of support. Yes, I hold space for you, until you can learn and develop what you knew when you were a kid, the capacity to tolerate your full spectrum of truth, who you are, what you feel, how you feel about it. I hold space and I train people to try to develop that capacity again, which again, we were born with.
When we have that capacity and we have recovered access to that, then it’s the moment for us to start doing the challenging part of therapy, which is what a lot of therapists don’t want to do because sooner or later you lose a few patients, a few clients, because some of them will go, “Oh, that’s so much for me.” Of course, I don’t do this to keep you as a patient. I do this to help you. And in there, I take a question manic approach. I come here to speak ruthlessly and compassion is the truth.
My craft is to learn how to do it in a way that serves you. I’m not just shitting my own truth on you, but I really share it from the point of: I’m not your mom or your dad. I might be surrogating a bit of that through the process and I will let you know about it so we can help you heal, but I’m not your mom or your dad, and you’re not a kid so I will work with you as I honor the power of who you are. Therefore, I will be here to be with you and reflect to you what I see, and maybe how can I help you is by challenging the status quo, the stuff that made you come to this place of pain is the stuff that I need to help you through the challenge.
I think that is where a lot of therapists could benefit more in getting the confidence that our work is not to make them feel better. Our work is to make them become themselves. That is the process that makes them feel better through time. But at the beginning, it’s like walking with a broken leg. It will hurt, and our job is to start learning how to heal that broken leg, which emotionally is difficult to find out. Our job is to really go like a soul nurse, touching places and going, “Where is the pain?”
David Tian: You become more like your real self, is that what you’re saying?
Gui Mansilla: I believe that our work is to help people actualize who they are. That’s a very classic cliché: real self, true self, find the truth. The reason why is because we’re all in search for that. Our job as craftsmen or women is to really put specific strategies to be able to help people achieve them.
David Tian: One of the things I’ve discovered in the past couple of years from clients as I’ve been pushing more clinical psychological approach, is that they’re gauging their progress based on how happy they are moment by moment. I found that very immature. I don’t want them to not be happy, so I’m happy that they’re happy, but I know that doesn’t matter in the long run, in the moment.
It’s sort of like if you go to the gym and you feel good in the moment, then you didn’t work out. If you’re like, “Oh, yeah. This was no problem whatsoever.” That’s a horrible workout. You should be sweating and barely able to get through it.
Gui Mansilla: Barely able to get through it is probably part of the way that you survive your own personal life.
David Tian: That’s how you [INAUDIBLE 00:15:28].
Gui Mansilla: That’s right, but also, I will think of – if you have to go through the maximum level make you feel like shit, that might not be the sweet spot. There is a sweet spot in which you go there in a sufficiently self-supportive way that will give you the most advance speed for growth.
David Tian: You never want to overdo it.
Gui Mansilla: Yes, but you don’t want it to be like, “Oh, that was great.” You want to be like, “Okay, that was work.” That’s the same thing that you have to feel at the end of a good therapeutic approach for 50 minutes or what we mostly use. It’s like a workout. I get people after just crying for a while, feeling like, “Oh my god, this is really tiring.” That’s most of the time a good session we are working on.
David Tian: One of the ways I’ve been thinking about – and you went there earlier – is the distinction between your real self and an adaptive or false self. But before you go there, you don’t need to go there because I’ve done that in other videos, is the idea of truth. And that’s something that will appeal to the tough guy, ‘man up’ guy, which is the idea of truth that, “Are you getting closer to the truth?”
Because one way of being happy is being deluded. I was talking about that earlier with the farm animals. You don’t know what’s happening. And it’s actually easier to get on in life if you don’t think too hard about it. So you just follow your orders, you make your paycheck, and you just move on and don’t feel. Basically, the society will reward you for being a robot who looks like a human, and then you die and maybe you have the regret.
The truth is what we’re getting at. One of the truths that I’ve been talking about quite a few videos is that as an adaptation to events that were traumatic – and there are various levels of that, but even like a mini-trauma, repeatedly would create some kind of splitting off in a way that you need to become somebody else. Every time you do that, I can talk about myself, every time I do that and become a false self or an adaptive self and over the many decades you end up becoming different selves, each time you break off, it’s actually painful and sad.
The idea of not being able to be your true self or be who you are – because the average Man Up dude is going to be like, “How can I not be who I am?” That’s just a weird verbiage in English. But what we’re saying is, there’s an original self that is still there that’s being neglected. And that when you let it out, it’s pain but then it’s also power.
Gui Mansilla: Let me clarify a bit of that. It’s a continuum as I see it, the same the health is a continuum. We’re never going to be our true selves except if you are willing to admit that enlightenment is possible and recognizable, and that will be maybe the closest we get to true self. The same with health: it’s a continuum. We’re not going to ever be perfect because it happens to be that we’re going to die. Our curve is going up and down.
What we’re looking at is to always keep checking it out and going deeper and learning those strategies and allow us to go deeper. I feel more, capabilities to express that more, and then working with that expression and with your fellows around in a way that that makes sense and makes you feel going deeper. And not just you. One of the keys for health is the people around me are not full of shit. I do not let them. I do not stand for it. It doesn’t matter if he’s the one that is selling me coffee or [INAUDIBLE 00:19:06] partner and lover, or my kids.
When I feel and perceive this sense of we’re moving away from authenticity and truthfulness, I like to go for the little fight. Those little fights and challenges are the ones that build relationships, and also show that we are actually growing. I wouldn’t say that we have to look for the truth, if it is something that can be achieved more as a constant aiming for it.
David Tian: So, authenticity is another way of thinking of our integrity and authenticity about thinking about truth, like being truthful to – or a better representation of what’s actually going on in the mind. I’ve recently read a book by Carl Jung. The article is Problems of Psychotherapy, and he mentioned that – he was right at the cusp of the beginning of the practice of psychotherapy, and he said, “Most of the people we see are fucked up” disorders of some kind. So, we’re curing people like a medical profession.
And they thought of it more like medicine back then. I guess, a lot of people still do. And he said, “But there’s a lot to offer to the average man on the street. We need to pay more attention to that rather than just fixing people who society has deemed maladaptive, but to actually help the average guy.” Another way of asking the question of who needs psychotherapy is: What can psychotherapy offer the average adult who is relatively well-adjusted? Wakes up, he’s on a happiness level of 5 out of 10, goes to work, at work he’s on a happiness level of between 4 and 6 out of 10, and he just sort of goes through life, sort of on the even keel.
Most men after college, they just get into a routine. There’s no real growth that’s actually forced on them. They go to work, come home, eat dinner, sit in front of the TV or computer, waste three hours, go to sleep – or maybe meet some friends for beers and talk about the game. And then that’s their life. What could psychotherapy offer somebody like that?
Gui Mansilla: For instance, it’s good to see that if you’re in a 5 out of 10 in terms of general happiness in your life, you are really not living life. Life starts to be more or less somewhat satisfying when you’re in the 7s, 8s, 9s, and 10s. I believe that we have the right to shoot for that. What we can do to offer people that just don’t feel a lot of pain but don’t feel a lot of satisfaction, is to help them understand the processes, strategies, and techniques for self-awareness.
When you get to know what’s happening inside, you cannot be blind to it anymore. You will not repeat the same shitty actions every night to try to get to a different result. You will not scream your kids to bed because you will realize that they actually don’t go to bed well. They get more aroused and it takes a lot longer. And then you think about it, “I will not do it tomorrow” and three days later you repeat. That’s when you’re seeing – you’re telling yourself if you look at self-awareness, if you look at it, there’s something here that I’m not seeing. How can I be smart and repeat with a five or seven-year-old little boy or a girl, repeat this very useless approach of becoming angry and becoming abusive or cruel or mean?
Sooner or later, if you look at it, you will go, “Oh, maybe there’s something that I’m missing.” Of course, with self-reflection and through study, you can check a lot of that. Our work hopefully is to hopefully cut your years into months of work. If we manage to do that, I think that’s what we can actually offer for everybody. Of course, I do this and I’m very passionate about it, and I believe that people should not go suffering alone. The idea for me to say everybody needs psychotherapy makes some sense from what I love, but I believe the most important part is that every human being needs to decide if they’re worthy enough, valuable enough, and if they love themselves enough to go, “You know what? I’m going to put some money and time.”
And depending on where you are, you don’t even need to put money. You just need to put time and put commitment. What is important is to realize that if you’re caring for yourself, if you like yourself enough, sooner or later you can go up and ask for the help that you need. When you do that, the results needs to come. And if results are not coming after a month or two, I would suggest after the first session – but definitely after four to eight sessions in psychotherapy, just change. Trust your instincts.
If you don’t feel good with the person that you’re sitting with, don’t go like, “Okay, she’s a professional. I should just have to–” I would say fuck that. Go with your gut and look for – and most of us, a lot of us offer free consultations. In our regulation system, you can actually meet with many therapists. I would suggest do that until you feel, “Oh, I want to be talking to you maybe for the next months or years” or maybe forever.
Because the way that we work, particularly when you do existential work, is that I go for cycles. You come with, “I’m going to get married. I’m terrified.” I help you figure out that, and then you feel good and then you feel like, “Okay, I can do this on my own and I can grow according to what I need.” And then three years later, there is a baby coming, and then maybe they might need more support. I see it as being there in the journey [INAUDIBLE 00:24:30].
David Tian: That’s a good way of putting it: cycles. That’s really good, the idea of cycles. So, that’s a great way of also trying out lots of different therapists until you find one that works, and being prepared mentally that you might need to do that. It’s just good to know it’s part of a standard practice, the first consultation.
Gui Mansilla: Yeah. It has become culturally standard practice here, but it is something that you want to look at.
David Tian: How common is it nowadays to offer psychotherapy over online video…?
Gui Mansilla: In my case, my practice is around 40 to 50% online at this point. My approach is a worldwide psychotherapy approach. I really love and value the idea that in Toronto, I have been exposed to 14 years of true multiculturalism. I’m also very, very multicultural. I work with probably 50 to 70 ethnicities every year. In that way, I have become naturally now known in the world. I work with people sometimes from the UN, working in Afghanistan. They don’t have really access to stuff, but they want really good and well-trained professionals. I would suggest the future of our profession would end up being online.
David Tian: And as technology improves, you feel less difference between being there in person.
Gui Mansilla: Yes. Actually, I do it with a lot of younger therapists that are really afraid of losing the personal stuff. I say, “Okay, you obviously haven’t done a lot of Skype thinking about it as a therapist, but you’re thinking that you’re losing stuff. Yes, you’re losing being present with the person in the same room, but now imagine…” And can I do something with you to demonstrate?
Imagine that you’re like this with a patient all the time. What did you feel right now? We’re really fucking too close, right? That’s what you get with Skype or any of those services. Now, you’re here. Now, your job is to really make it feel like you’re here because you’re miles away. But through strategies in understanding the medium, you feel like, “Oh my god, [INAUDIBLE 00:26:38]. I get everything out of you.” Because now we’re really close.
And then the way that I work is I follow through that, and then I try to get deeper with what the patient needs or the client needs at the moment.
David Tian: One thing I wanted to mention for the guys who are watching this: We have a private Man Up Facebook group. You should join the group, click the link, join the group. We’ve been running this for over a year now, and 17,000 members, and I’ve seen a lot of questions come in every day, several questions. Lots of comments. So, there are questions within the comments, there are questions and questions.
A lot of the questions over the years I’ve discovered would be even better handled or it would be much easier to solve the issue with psychotherapeutic support rather than just, “Here are some strategies. Go do this.” It’s like they can’t implement those strategies because emotionally, there’s blockage. Some of the basic questions that we get a lot of – and this might be interesting to you to hear this – is I’m really needy.
Which means, as soon as I start liking a girl, I think about her all the time and I message her, and I basically ask my friends all these questions, “Here. I haven’t been on a date yet. How do I get a date with her?” and it’s been three months here. And then he goes on that first date, and then he’s counting the minutes between texts. She texted me 20 minutes ago, I shouldn’t text her right away. They’re thinking a lot about that. And then they destroy the relationship because girls get turned off when you do clingy right away, or actually do clingy period.
Gui Mansilla: Girls don’t like vampires. Most humans don’t.
David Tian: Yes.
Gui Mansilla: When you’re needy, you become a bloodsucker.
David Tian: It’s crazy, because almost every dude goes through that needy stage, and some of them stay in that needy stage for years. It’s a parasitical kind of way of being with people.
Gui Mansilla: I’m going to talk about that one for a moment because I have a passion to help particularly males. When I speak male, I speak male-dominant energy. It’s not vaginas and penises, it’s what are you driving your life with? A lot of women feel this, and most men will mostly feel this. When you’re talking about neediness – and it’s not just about men or women, it’s about feeling needy, more looking at an original wound in which you didn’t get what you needed at the time that you needed it. Part of your adaptation is to go around, looking for mamas and dadas, and then cling. “Okay, I found one.”
But obviously, that adult at the moment, you have grown out of it. “What? Fucking out of here because you’re fucking asphyxiating me!” So, the work of that person that feels needy – and by the way, recognizing that you’re needy is probably 30 to 50% of the job. The problem is what you do with the neediness. What you need to do with the neediness is to stop looking out, stop looking to those people that you’re needing, and realize how you need to do the work around reparenting, learning and understanding who you are, putting the support that you need underneath, and that is where one of us can really help. We can help you distinguish between what it is that you need and how do you truly get it, instead of trying to–
David Tian: Meet your own needs.
Gui Mansilla: That’s the instance of that.
David Tian: That’s something that you don’t just fix just by understanding it intellectually.
Gui Mansilla: I would suggest that you don’t fix it, you try to [INAUDIBLE 00:30:00].
David Tian: But even thinking about it is asphyxing.
Gui Mansilla: You’re a very strong male. I think I am too. We hear particularly the female side of the existence talking about things and feeling. We try to jump right into fixing. Tony Robbins talks a lot about it. Well, I would choose to move a little bit away from that and learn to process until, in this case, this stuff that we’re working through start to heal. And as it heals, we become less needy. Effectively, from the male side, it is a fix, but it’s a fix that needs to be going through a process. That’s a process of healing.
David Tian: So you need healing. Another question I get a lot is people who think too much about what others think of them and are paralyzed by that. This is especially common in Asian countries where they feel like they’re trapped and they can’t speak and behave freely because they’re worried about what somebody else would think – even if it’s not a real person because I’ve gone through the process rationally, walking them through a kind of cognitive therapy of like, “Is he looking at you? Does he care about you?” And they’re looking around and no one is looking at them or paying any attention to them at all. When they do something, they look and no one really notices. They just look and keep walking.
So like, what are you afraid of? And they’re actually still afraid of those voices haunting them in their heads. So if you want to stop giving a fuck about what other people think of you so that you can live your own life the way you want, psychotherapy is a really great way.
Gui Mansilla: Also, I look at that as a paradox. In a way, you want to generally go into giving less importance to what other people think or feel. Yes, at the end, I think that giving a fuck might be generally a ballpark figure of how to live a better life. But the paradox there is that to get to that place in a holistic way, you need to give a fuck and learn to speak about how you give a fuck. In that case, with that guy, it’s being able to learn to share with the internal circle, and more importantly, internally is that, “Oh my god, I depend on your approval, otherwise I will die.”
I can start speaking about it, and probably you get a lot of men that tells you about it, and share in the groups about it. Well, we need to really let that keep going deeper and deeper until we reach the root cause of that. The root cause of that is somewhere in time when you needed to be supported in being admired and acknowledged by your uniqueness and your beauty. You were probably judged, and that is culturally, and that is mostly family-based.
If culturally there’s a lot of judgment, like your family you have a lot of acknowledgement and acceptance, then you will not grow up with the same kind of problem. But if you’re going to be judged and you have been demanded to be a particular kind of you to be loved, then you grow up feeling like “everybody will judge me and I cannot be me and still get love, get attention, get acknowledgement.”
We’re craving for that. We’re craving for connection, and the way to get it is not through false self because that doesn’t feel good. So, if you go out and you’re really great and everybody loves you. But when you are back home, you’re like, “Oh fuck. It’s fucking hard. I’m so tired. I wasn’t me a minute. Everybody loved me? No. Everybody loved my mask.”
So truly to feel satisfied, we have to get at least a few people as that community [INAUDIBLE 00:33:23] gets better, but at least a few people that we can smell like shit and still be loved and appreciated by them, be ass, be messy, and still feel like we’re cool.
David Tian: But the only way you’d ever find people like that is if you don’t give a fuck, so you can actually be your real self around them.
Gui Mansilla: Right. But if you truly don’t give a fuck to the extent of “I don’t care”, then when you find more and more people that you can connect and you don’t give a fuck about them, then you lose them. That is where the paradox is. I’m not going to let your judgment control me, but I’m going to be sensitive and listen to your judgment. So we can relate, right?
David Tian: Yeah. One of the issues was around assertiveness and boundaries. Guys who are too concerned about impressing others or what they’re thinking, that’s a common issue with – there are plenty of guys who found me through the pick-up artist community. One of the pitfalls of pursuing that path is that in order to become an effective pick-up artist, if you weren’t sexually attractive to many women before, is to become a false self. In this particular instance, it means giving a shit about whether you’re high status, giving a shit about whether a lot of different types of girls like you, and repeatedly; so you’re constantly looking for that validation. And over time, that trains you to actually become the wrong type of person for your own happiness.
Another question I get a lot in the group is along the lines of, they keep meeting women who are bad for them and they can’t get out of that cycle. And then they think there’s just no good women out there. Maybe that’s the case if you live in a town with 1,000 people or something. But if you live in New York or LA and you think there’s no good women out there, probably the issue is you. You’re the one thing in common among [INAUDIBLE 00:35:14].
Gui Mansilla: Yes, and the start of that issue was the female caregiver as you grow up with 99% of the time, your mother. The idea that I will not find love is because most of the time, you go back to the roots and you didn’t find that kind of emotional support that you needed from the female nature around you. I would always go and look at there.
The way that I work is I work from the present, through the present. The only way that I look into the past is when I see that you cannot do this repeatedly, repetitively, or you repeat on going the same product. “I keep stuck at the same place.” Usually, that’s the moment we go, “So, why did you stop?” And being stuck in that way usually means that they have a problem with how they were nurtured or not.
David Tian: I just gave you these rapid-fire questions as examples. If you’re wondering any of those issues, you should really consider seriously finding a good therapist. I know we can go a lot deeper into all of those. I could with you, but just to wrap up, we had a question from the room here about the connection between acting or method acting and therapeutic goals. Can you speak about that? Do you have a background on that? I’ve been recommending to clients – it’s a fun way of exploring emotions and things.
Gui Mansilla: Yes. Doing improv, doing drama classes, doing stand-up, doing anything that allows you to work with yourself and your emotions as a method to bring something into the world is very helpful. Basically, when we’re doing a good therapeutic engagement, it’s to help people figure out more of who they are and how they can operate in the world in a way that is more satisfying, more connecting, more overall happy.
When you do good method acting, you have to learn about who you are enough that you can now bring that as choices into your work as an actor or as a dramatist or a writer, director. You always look at, “How can I get this story to become more truthful and universal?” By digging into who you are, you get to figure out how to use yourself effectively as an artist. But in the side of my work and therapeutically, when you get to know more about who you are, you can bring to the session a lot more truth, and you have access now to a lot more truth.
Emotionally, you are being trained to go deeper instead of writing away. I always look at my work as emotionally. When there is emotional fire, most people go, “Oh, fuck. I’m sorry.” And my job is to see everybody running the other way and go, “Okay, I see where the fire is. Let me go right into it.” In any good drama class, your job is to go right into the core of that experience that you’re having. If you learn more about what is the core of an experience that is true to yours, that would be helpful therapeutically.
Unfortunately, there’s a lot of actors that mistreat themselves to really be able to perform at a high level of emotional engagement through self-torturing or through neglect. I don’t think it’s sustainable. That’s why I see a lot of artists that are quite burned out and quite sick. The idea is to learn to use yourself in a way that you consider that loving. Of course, as a method actor, if you’re going to perform something that is painful and so on, you want to embed yourself in that experience, but you do it through the love of knowing that you’re doing that for the greater purpose of serving the story, not to hurt yourself. You put yourself in a hurtful situation so that you can land yourself to a bigger picture and use that to awaken, to make people feel, and also to entertain, which is a fair thing.
David Tian: One thing that I’ve discovered also through method acting and through recommending these to others is that to be an effective actor, you need to be able to relax your entire instrument, which is your body; relax your body so that it can be more of a blank canvas for whatever character you’re going to play. If you have naturally this weird twitch or if you have a stiffness in the face, you’re not going to be able play certain roles very well. And seeing that in stark contrast like, “You can’t act this role. You better work on this. We’re going to sign this to you.” It forces the person to pay more attention to what’s going on with the face and the body.
One thing I’ve discovered research on in the connection between the body and the mind in clinical psychology just in neuroscience, is that we lock up a lot of our trauma in stress cortisols and cells, the cellular level, in our physical bodies. So a stiff personality will have a stiff body. You can tell a lot about – there are a lot of guys with Asian poker face. A lot of Asians who have trouble showing expression on their face. I used to think this was just an Asian-American problem because I grew up here, but I went to Asia and spent half my life there now, and it is sort of like – it’s a bizarre thing where 90% of Asian males in most Asian countries, the ones I’ve lived in and been in, have relatively emotionless expression on their face. Which makes them great at poker, because you can’t read them, but it’s also showing – I’ve discovered over time – is that there’s this emotional numbness that enables them to do that and it feeds it.
Gui Mansilla: I imagine you want to change that?
David Tian: Yeah, it’s like, “Dude, smile!” And he’s like, “Alright.”
Gui Mansilla: It makes sense for me why it would be really challenging from a coaching point of view have this blank face. Now, if I can offer that as a help for you and them is that if they’re doing that, is because they never felt safe to be themselves. So, very unlikely they will get safer, but anybody going like, “Come on, fuck up. Man up. Tell me what’s the truth.” So, the combination of ‘man up’ with ‘I get you’ is very scary, right? And most people will go, “No. It’s not scary. I don’t even feel fear. Fear is not part of my structure.” Then you go, “Okay, so you’re not human or you’re bullshitting.” And then you try to go back to support ‘I get it. You just don’t see that you don’t feel safe.’
Otherwise, let me help you rationally, how is it that you just have this poker face all the time? So as they become aware that they have it because they’re afraid of showing you the truth, and sooner or later they will show you the truth, and the truth will come with a lot of facial expressions. That is where we get the work.
David Tian: That’s where they begin to feel the flexibility of the face, because they haven’t felt those emotions in so long. So, there’s a therapeutic way to come at that. And then there’s an acting way where you actually stretch your face. You do all kinds of weird things. You look in the mirror and you try to make one eyebrow go up. There’s all kinds of things that acting then you’re like, “Woah, that moving in this weird way” like you know a beginning method acting class will have you move like the wind, whatever that means to you, and then move like the mud, whatever that means to you.
And you’re moving in weird ways, and that actually unlocks new feelings in your body and your mind.
Gui Mansilla: By the way, it’s so much fun.
David Tian: It’s so much fun.
Gui Mansilla: When you go over the terrifying fear that you will have to show these very unfinished stuff within yourself. But that’s where I gamify the work of therapy all the time. People first were shocked with laughing and having fun with shit. Well, if you don’t do that, it gets a lot slower and a lot more painful. When you use acting and drama and expressive arts in general as a method to work, and you gamify the stuff, it becomes more fun and it becomes more doable, and it’s faster, too.
David Tian: Yeah, gamified. By the way, I did another Man Up episode on method acting. I can’t remember which episode number that is, but you can look that up. One last question. There’s this great quote from the movie Fight Club. Charles Palahniuk in his book, “Self-help is masturbation.”
I’ve seen that phrase come up in other Facebook groups that are for these more militant tough guy man. What do you think of that phrase? Is it partly true? I don’t know, what do you think?
Gui Mansilla: I love Fight Club and I grew up with that somewhat. I believe the approach to it is really intriguing to me. However, that expression talks more about being in your head. Being in your head is masturbating yourself. We’re in our head or what we call being in our head is when it’s not safe to be authentic, to be more fully you, and to feel and think at the same time and produce constantly stuff in the world based on who you feel you are, who you think you are in a combined way.
I was just that if you’re in your head, you’re masturbating yourself. It’s not really going to be helpful and long-lasting. Part of your job is to not use personal self-help as a way of masturbating yourself, as a way of self-soothing. What you want is to go beyond that and being able to understand what it means to take a jump and a commitment into who you are, learn more about who you are, and use that to grow and progress.
A lot of very strong males – because I have quite a strong male energy, very strong males have come to me for help during the years. One big part that they need to understand is that they will not be able to connect to other humans by plowing through emotions, which is how they became strong men. Because plowing through allowed them to become freer and feel safer and gain access and be successful, but it’s not really the full story.
A lot of the work that needs to be done with men that have developed that adaptation is to help them see that by becoming more who they are and being able to emote the softer, the nuanced stuff, they become stronger. The water can become even more committed, but also you start getting other archetypes working as the lover and the magical child.
And if you want to get laid, if you want to have more sex, if you want to love women or male and have more intimacy and connection, you need to learn how to cry, you need to learn how to let your voice be strange and get all stuffy and snotty and shitty and crazy. The way to get into somebody’s heart is to be able to sit in yours and to open it up. The plowing through will never really work more than for a one-night stand.
David Tian: I’m trying to end off here, but there’s so many things. You keep saying that trigger other thoughts. One of the things that I’ve encountered over and over in the past a couple of years in my coaching practice, is once a guy starts to – the big tough guys. They don’t have to be big, just tough guys, mentally or physically, when they start to become more vulnerable, they’re very afraid of releasing the emotion because they’re afraid of that emotional expression.
Like crying for instance: They may not think that they’re afraid of crying, but once they’re like, “Don’t take me there. You don’t want me to go there!” I’m like, “No. I do. I’m trying to get you there.” And they’re like, “No, you’re going to regret this.” And I’m like, “Well, let’s see.” And then they let it out and it’s really beautiful. I can talk about myself going through that phase of learning how to cry, because it sounds like a weird thing. “If you cut me, I’ll cry.” What’s the big deal? But there’s actually an art to it.
Gui Mansilla: It’s remembering how to cry. We came up with a really clear [INAUDIBLE 00:46:48] and I will blow your fucking brain or you give me milk, or I will blow your brain or you give me milk. We come with that, which is our condition out of it. But it’s very scary for people.
David Tian: When a baby is born and you want it to cry, that’s a sign that it’s breathing and everything.
Gui Mansilla: When a male or a female is a grown-up, we want them to cry. That’s the same sign that they’re alive and healthy. If you never stop crying, well, obviously it’s not so good health. But being able to access that on an ongoing basis is healthy.
David Tian: My method acting coach put it this way. It’s easy to start crying because he gets all these people who hire him to teach them how to cry and it’s easy. What’s hard is to turn it off like a tap. Especially if you’re actually rehearsed in rehearsals, that you got to cry, and then you’ll cut, and you’ll go for lunch and come back and do it again, and cut. So to come in and out of that – I found that as I get more experienced releasing emotional expressions that would’ve scared me before, it is like an art where you got to be able to turn it back off and go back to it and turn it on like a tap and having that emotional control.
Gui Mansilla: That’s the craft of an actor, which is not really required as a human. As a human, we’re required to learn when the pinch of pain is coming from within, to understand how you’ve developed the self-supported mechanisms to avoid that, understand that you’ve developed that – survive your upbringing, and then philosophically and cognitively refers going, “Wait a minute. I don’t need that.” Strength for me as a man or woman is to allow that pinch to turn into full-blown expression.
And through that process, we get to learn become more wise and turn trauma into what we call post-traumatic strength or post-traumatic growth. The beauty of it – and you know when somebody feels trauma because they don’t speak about trauma as a problem anymore. We become grateful for our pain, neglect, and trauma, because we have become something that now we feel proud. We’re satisfied and happy. And without the trauma, for sure we will not have become this.
So, we are now honoring the pain and the trauma, which I have been blessed with quite a bit in my childhood. Therefore, I have been able to really draw upon that now to help thousands of people. That is one of the things that become satisfying. When you go through your healing, then you become at service in the world through what you learn through the pain you went through.
Now, we start making a lot of money and helping a lot of people that you’re honored to be doing and then you go, “Okay, that’s probably not that bad.” And sooner or later you go, “Fuck yeah, I love that I was violated, brutally assaulted. My parents were shitty. My mother was terrible. She touched me weird. And I’m talking about dipshit. I’m not talking about I didn’t get the train that I wanted at four. I’m talking about going deep, tremendously painful, humanly horrifying shit.
I want you to know that if you went through that, do not stay alone. Do not be alone and do not lose hope. That kind of stuff is the stuff that if you work on it and if it’s severe, it might take years. But if you work on it, you get the pay off. I call it you cash your karma. That doesn’t come just with feeling good, it comes with service to others who really need satisfaction and a lot of money, which a lot of people tend to look for so abundance.
Don’t stay there waiting. Just keep reaching out and don’t stop until you find the support that you need.
David Tian: Yeah. Great. Way to end it. So, join the private Man Up Facebook group. Click the link. Join the group. I’ll see you inside the group. Thank you very much, Gui, for sharing your wisdom.
Gui Mansilla: My pleasure, man. Thank you for having me.
David Tian: My pleasure, man.