“We create stories about ourselves and our unworthiness. We live in our stories, and they’re not always accurate. We need to lose the stories with mindfulness, self-regulation, meditation, and being intentional with our lives.”
While we may not all openly identify as “addicts,” we are all in some way addicted to something that is detrimental to us in ways that we often don’t recognize. It could be drugs, food, social media, work habits, exercise, yelling, destructive thought patterns, or something else. Whatever it is, we are all prone to becoming addicted to things that don’t serve us.
This has never been more true than it is right now. For the last two years, the pandemic has forced us into isolation, allowing addictions to subtly creep in and using them in an attempt to numb us during our most vulnerable moments.
To talk about addiction and how it applies to all of us, I’m excited to speak to my friend Jesse Harless. Jesse is the CEO of Entrepreneurs in Recovery and the bestselling author of If Not You, Then Who? which Thrive Global named it one of the Top 10 Books That Will Take You from Surviving to Thriving in 2021.
In this powerful conversation, Jesse and I talk about the struggles that so many people face in the wake of the pandemic—and what to do if you or someone you know needs help.
(I also get vulnerable and share the addiction I’ve struggled with that I have never publicly shared before!)
- The wake up call that changed the trajectory of Jesse’s life at 22.
- How emotions can become addictive–and why so many people are struggling with isolation addiction right now.
- How I developed an addiction to cannabis oil capsules on my cancer journey.
- How the FEARS Recovery Toolkit helps people find purpose in the face of addiction.
- What you should do if you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction right now.
- How to start unpacking the trauma at the root of addictions.
- What Jesse is doing to facilitate high-level conversations in the addiction, recovery, and mental health space.
THIS EPISODE IS BROUGHT TO YOU BY:
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Hal Elrod: Hello and welcome to the Achieve Your Goals podcast. This is your host, Hal Elrod, and thank you so much for being here today. You’re about to listen to a conversation that I just had with Jesse Harless, my friend. He’s been on the podcast before, Episode 270, if you want to go back and listen to that one. And today, we’re talking about addiction, but we’re talking about it in a way that you may not expect, in a way that really applies to all of us, understanding that addiction is something that we all suffer from. We are all addicts, we’re part of a society right now. From the foods that we eat to the entertainment that we consume, addiction affects all of us.
And so, Jesse is a leader and a facilitator in the addiction recovery and mental health space. He’s the CEO of Entrepreneurs in Recovery. He holds a master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and is a resilience coach and HeartMath certified trainer. He’s also the bestselling author of the brand-new book, or not brand new, but a pretty new book, If Not You, Then Who? In fact, Jesse was featured, I forgot to mention this during our conversation, but he was featured in Thrive Global, which is a magazine for the Top 10 Books That Will Take You from Surviving to Thriving in 2021.
And in today’s conversation, we talk about addiction as it applies to all of us, but we also go into the pandemic and what the pandemic has done to our society and to all of us as individuals, the circumstances, the space that it has created for us being at home so much to find ways to numb our pain. And so, we talk about that today. We’re also going to talk about where you can find recovery, how you can get help. And also, today, I reveal an addiction that I have struggled with, that I have never publicly shared. So, you have that to look forward to, as well. Really, really powerful conversation with Jesse.
And before we dive in, I want to take a minute to acknowledge and thank my sponsor of this podcast, Organifi. Most of us could use more energy in our day, I think that goes without saying, but caffeine can only do so much. At some point, we need to look at the root cause of our fatigue. And it turns out that two main factors in low energy are, number one, chronic stress, and number two, lack of nutrition. And Organifi creates delicious superfood blends that address both of these problems. They use adaptogenic herbs and mushrooms to help balance cortisol levels associated with stress and they make it easier to add more nutrients into your day, right? You kill two birds with one stone with Organifi. You simply mix a scoop into water or the plant-based milk of your choice or into your daily smoothie and enjoy a natural boost of energy any time of day. Head over to Organifi.com, that’s O-R-G-A-N-I-F-I, Organifi.com/Hal, and use the code H-A-L, HAL, at checkout, and you’ll get an additional 20% off of your entire order. Hope you find something there that you love.
And then last but not least, I just wanted to remind you if you don’t already know that the Miracle Morning app is finally available, we have over 10,000 users in the first month, month and a half, and the feedback has been phenomenal. And it’s only going to get better because the app was started as an app to track your habits, track your SAVERS, keep your streak alive, but we’re developing all sorts of features from creating your own affirmations, a journal feature, and then we’re assembling a library of content with affirmations and visualization to be clear that all of those additional features are not yet in the app. We are working on those to be there soon. But you can go get the app for the iPhone or get it for an Android phone in the Google Play Store. Either way, check out the Miracle Morning app. And without further ado, my conversation with Jesse Harless on how to identify and overcome all of our addictions.
Hal Elrod: Jesse Harless, it’s good to see you again, brother.
Jesse Harless: Great to see you, Hal.
Hal Elrod: It’s been a while. Last time we spoke, at least on the podcast, I think we’ve talked since then, but was May 2019. So, it’s been– what are we going on? This will be three years coming up here, which is wild. So, welcome back, brother.
Jesse Harless: Thank you so much for having me.
Hal Elrod: Yeah, I wanted to just start for those that aren’t familiar with you or your work, I remember when we talked in 2019, you talked about the wake-up call that you had when you were 22 years old and how that really changed the trajectory of your life. So, let’s start there. What was that wake-up call? And how did it change you?
Jesse Harless: Yeah, I mean, at that time, I was facing federal felonies due to my addiction to opioids. I was numbing out every day. I was abandoning myself constantly. It was a constant abandonment of myself, and that started a lot earlier than 22. But 22 was the culmination of all of this stuff, it was called the shit wave that hit me hard of all of the stuff I was doing to numb out for so many years. And so, at 22, it all came to a head, and I was arrested at a post office. It was pretty serious, and I had to put my family through all of that. But as a result of that, that’s where things really started to change as far as my mindset, I became clear about, okay, now my depression didn’t go away, my anxiety didn’t go away, but I became really clear about, I need to start listening to the people around me that I trust and started to gain mentors and started to just really turn on a different part of myself that had been buried.
Hal Elrod: And how did you get addicted to opioids? How did that develop?
Jesse Harless: Yeah, I mean, it’s kind of like if you want to go all the way back, my father left at four, that was the original wound. He was in a car accident, in a coma, so we never talked. He got brain damage, so we never really talked again after four. And he ended up dying when I was 20 years old. And so, we didn’t talk during that time. So, it almost would have been easier if he did pass away at four because to that he was alive and I wasn’t talking to him kind of screwed me up a little more, I think. But the reality is that stuff just led to my own worthiness that I felt this inherent and worthiness going through high school. And then, in high school, it was just my addiction was isolation. So, that was my first. It was like fantasy world and games, and then isolation was my next addiction, unworthiness, and that eventually when I got…
Hal Elrod: What do you mean isolation? What does an isolation addiction look like, just where you wanted to be alone all the time?
Jesse Harless: Yeah, basically, I just wanted to be alone in a bubble on a computer and left alone and don’t talk to me, serve me meals, I don’t want to deal with the outside world. It’s too painful to come out and talk because there’s too much anxiety and depression I feel when I’m around you. So, if I stay in a fantasy world on the computer, that’s going to feel safe, and so, yeah, isolation. But I also went to college at 18, and that’s when really, I figured out like, whoa, when I smoke cannabis, when I drink alcohol, everything just ignites for me. It’s like, okay, this is how I want to feel 24/7. I want to numb out 24/7. And that four years from 18 to 22, it was very rapid. It was like, okay, cannabis, alcohol, then it was opioids, and then it was cocaine. And then my father dies, and then I’m launched into this heroin. And it didn’t take long.
Hal Elrod: Wow. But it went all the way to heroin. So, I mean, you were using very heavy drugs.
Jesse Harless: Yes.
Hal Elrod: Okay. So, now, that makes sense, and you could see how that trajectory could happen and you could see I can relate to the isolation, for sure. In fact, as you’re saying that, I’m like, oh, shoot, I need to talk to Jesse about my isolation addiction because I struggle with that now.
Jesse Harless: Well, to be honest, Hal, that’s literally what we’re facing right now. It’s a pandemic of isolation right now for many people in the whole crisis we’re going through.
Hal Elrod: And we’re going to talk about that, I really want to dive into that today with you because I know that’s something you’ve been diving into the post-pandemic addictions that many of us have developed the mental health crisis, all of that. Before we forget, I don’t want this to get put to the end of the episode. Let’s lead with this, which is you wrote a new book since we last spoke. Explain, what’s the new book about?
Jesse Harless: Yes, so the new book, let’s just go back a second, though, a conversation with you is what sparked the book. I said, “Hey, Hal, I want to write a book.” And this was 2018, and you were like, “Why don’t you just model the Miracle Morning?” And I’m like, “Oh my God. Brilliant.” So, if anyone reads my book, it’s called If Not You, Then Who? And this book is literally my story in the beginning, and then the FEARS Recovery Toolkit at the end, a.k.a. like the SAVERS. So, I literally modeled what you told me to do. I took your advice, literally. And so, the book is my journey. I tell my journey of trauma, I tell my journey of abandoning myself, I tell my journey of addiction. And then I give you a toolkit to walk through it. And I do mention your book as well because that was a pivotal part in 2015 when I found your book. Yeah, so Harness Your Strengths to Shift from Addiction to Abundance is the subtitle. So, yeah, it’s really just a walkthrough of actual steps and actions that you can take, 30 actions that you can take from really harness your own inherent heart qualities, your own strengths to shift from addiction to abundance.
Hal Elrod: And one of the things you and I talked about before we started recording was that I believe and I know you agree that we’re all addicted to something at some level. And I’ve personally wrestled with different addictions throughout the years, and many of them are not even aware of their addiction because there’s no immediate pain being caused, right? It’s like, no, I think food’s a great example. People were addicted to unhealthy foods, preservatives, GMO foods, sugar, etc. And because there’s no immediate threat, it’s like, yeah, yeah, I had a burger and pizza and ice cream today, and I feel fine. But those addictions literally are what lead to disease and cancer and all of those things. So, I want to unpack a little bit about addiction.
I also want to share one addiction that I’ve overcome that I’ve never shared publicly. And I thought, what better time than talking to Jesse today? When I was going through cancer, I was given, they threw the kitchen sink of prescription meds at me, of course, for everything. I wasn’t sleeping, I was experiencing extreme insomnia, so they gave me Ambien and they gave me Lunesta, I think, and they gave me all these different prescriptions, Xanax, they tried it all, and none of it worked. And so, what I ended up doing is turning to cannabis and oil, so I didn’t have to smoke it, I didn’t want to mess up my lungs. So, I took oil capsules of cannabis.
But I got to the point, and I think, probably, this number will mean something to you, but it was 40 mg a night to go to sleep. And if anybody is familiar with that number, like if you’ve never done cannabis and you do like two, three, four, or five milligrams, you’re going to be a zombie. I was up to 40 mg every night for about two years. And of course, I would do it again in terms of choosing that between prescription medication, but yeah, that was an addiction. But finally, after two years, I was like, hey, this probably isn’t healthy to keep doing this. And I feel like that it’s contributing to anxiety and all sorts of different issues that I was facing, but talk about the FEARS Toolkit. You just mentioned this a second ago, you said that you modeled the SAVERS with this acronym FEARS. And the FEARS Toolkit is a big part of what you teach in the book for people to help them overcome addiction. What is the FEARS Toolkit?
Jesse Harless: Let me just stop and honor, thank you for your vulnerability. So, I take a moment to read into that because that’s going to help a lot of people. So, thank you so much for being vulnerable and feeling safe to share that. The FEARS Recovery Toolkit, just really high level, focus, elevate, appreciate, resilience, self-care, so focus on your recovery, elevate your recovery, appreciate your recovery, resilience in your recovery, and self-care in recovery. These are kind of the exact pillars that I’ve found that have helped people, whether they’re living at sober living homes, whether they’re in 28-day treatment centers or 90-day treatment centers, or whether they were entrepreneurs.
And so, I learned that there are these elements of focus, which means focus on your recovery, just like you focus on things that are your priority, like maybe it’s your family, but you also want to focus on your recovery. And I’m not talking about from heroin, I’m talking about from emotional addictions to codependency. I’m talking about addictions to yelling and anger. I’m talking about addiction to caffeine. So, these are the things you can start to focus on your recovery. What does that look like? Building your recovery team. So, getting people on your team that you trust, people that you have authentic, genuine relationships with that you can share and they’re not affected by your sharing about your addiction, so finding those people. They might be people you find in different types of 12-step groups. So, they may be a mentor or a sponsor or a really close friend.
So, at a really high level, each of these parts of the FEARS, it’s all in like a certain order that if you follow it through, there’s kind of like the end, and I don’t have self-care at the end. If you don’t do self-care at the last thing you do, self-care should be first, but focusing on it is really first, and then elevating your recovery is really about like what you talked about with visualization your book. It’s like visualizing where I want to be. The problem with a lot of people with addiction and mental health is that we don’t have a vision, we don’t have a purpose. There is no purpose. And when you start to have purpose in your life, in recovery, you start to realize, like if it’s as simple as my purpose today is just to focus on my health and wellness, that’s a purpose. That’s all you need.
And so, that’s kind of some of the principles running through the book through line. And like I said, it would take a while to unpack all of it, but it’s just like at a high level, it’s just tools for anyone, wherever you’re at, whether you’re a CEO with 10,000 employees or whether you’re the person sitting at– you’re in the drug court program, you’re living at a homeless shelter, no matter where you are, these are just principles. And I find that just like in your book, in the SAVERS, these are general principles, but they can be applied, especially into the space of addiction recovery and mental wellbeing.
Hal Elrod: I’m glad you took my advice to model the Miracle Morning, but because having that FEARS Toolkit, having those actionable methods, practices, habits, strategies that you can apply and remember does make it really easy, which I think I told you. The reason the Miracle Morning has been successful as a book and as a practice is the SAVERS make it memorable. In your head, you just go, silence, oh yeah, and then it becomes top of mind. And the same thing FEARS, oh yeah, I need to focus on my recovery, got it, and then I need to elevate my recovery, I need to appreciate, going through that. Keeping it top of mind, I think, it can be the difference between somebody reading a book that they’re like, yeah, that was a cool book, it was a cool story. And then they forget about it versus reading a book, having that FEARS Toolkit that they can immediately apply and sustain so that they can overcome whatever the addictions are. And I love that you mentioned, we have emotional addictions, right? We have addictions to just behaviors and habits that don’t serve us. And so, that’s where I think your book is so important for everybody.
Jesse Harless: Yeah, my tagline is kind of did you work on your FEARS today? So, did you work on it because FEARS has such a negative connotation? When I first wrote this book, I brought it to an editor, and they were like, that word FEARS, you got to get rid of.
Hal Elrod: Oh, wow.
Jesse Harless: But I said, well, I’m keeping it because getting out of your comfort zone is something I stand by. Getting out of your comfort zone, being resilient, tapping into the innate resilience, taking a cold shower, doing the cold plunge, going on a podcast with your mentor, and sharing your heart, these are all things that are part of the principles in the book. So, FEARS just gets a negative wrap, but I think it can actually lead us to greatness.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. And also, fears is something that for us, we want to overcome our fears, we want to transcend our fears, so on and so forth. Let’s talk about the pandemic. This, to me, is the biggest topic regarding addiction and recovery. And I’d love to know, I think you’ve said you’ve got some stats on. I just know, in general, that we have more people who have turned to drugs and alcohol since 2020 than, I don’t know, it may be any other time in history. Maybe it’s been– I don’t know when the last time was. So, let’s talk about that. What has the pandemic’s impact been on addiction?
Jesse Harless: Yeah, I think it’s been unprecedented. You have people who are really starting to become aware with this new hybrid world of being at home all the time of yourself, of the ways that you numb out. So, I mean, we don’t have any statistics that lead right up to 2022, but what we do have are some statistics about, as of January of 2021, 41% of adults reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder, 41%, so 13% increase in substance abuse among adults because of the corona-related stress. We have this corona, what do they call it, corona anxiety disorder now. So, your suicide has gone up.
So, you have 100,000 people who have died of overdose from opioids in 2020. I mean, these are huge numbers. And there’s another number that set out, like 4 out of 10 adults reported symptoms of depression and anxiety during the pandemic. Prior to the pandemic, it was 1 in 10. So, people are having trouble sleeping, increased use of alcohol, increased use of eating, increased use of numbing out with technology. It’s almost become the norm.
Hal Elrod: Yeah, I have seen that. And also, I don’t know if you have any info, but I did recently see a statistic about fentanyl and now, the number one cause of death for a certain age group, people basically in their prime, like 20 to 40, is fentanyl overdoses here in the United States, so.
Jesse Harless: Yeah, absolutely. That really started to crush our country in about 2015, 2016, 2017, and that’s why I left my job in 2017 because I would go to work and I would go to serve this community, and people would be dying all the time. So, things have really changed, and fentanyl is just very easily accessible, it’s cheaper. So, yeah, I mean, this is the number one cause of death under the age of 40 is overdose. So, we definitely have some work to do. And that’s why I’m so glad to be on this podcast with you. So, we could just put this out there so people can reach out and ask for help and start to realize that it doesn’t matter where you are, whether you’re a stay-at-home mom or whether you’re sitting and you’re drinking yourself to sleep every night, that there actually is a way out, and there are people that can actually help.
Hal Elrod: So, where should somebody turn right now if they or someone that they know has an addiction? Obviously, your book is a great step. Is there anywhere else that you would point them to?
Jesse Harless: Well, unfortunately right now, there’s such a backlog of people trying to get help for their mental health. It’s hard to get even a therapist right now. It can be really challenging. Thank God we have entrepreneurs creating apps and different things to connect virtually. But to actually find a therapist, I have people asking me to find them help with a therapist, and has backlogs for months and months and months. So, I would say, like if you’re really struggling, then you reach out to the SAMHSA hotline, so the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Hotline, the 24/7, seven days a week free hotline, and they will actually mentor you right into a local facility, a treatment center based if you have insurance or not. So, reach out to that hotline. We can put that, of course, in the show notes.
But also, if you really are struggling, just send me an email, send me or hit me up in a message. I have no problem helping you as far as giving you my book and some guidance. I have people hitting me up all over the place because we also have another pandemic that’s starting, which is crystal meth. And that’s not talked about a lot, but that’s a huge one that’s starting. And I have people reaching out to me from the South in different places with that pandemic that’s happening. So, just reach out for help. That’s it. And the help can be literally, I don’t care how many people listen to this, if you hit me up, I will get back to you. And I just think we need more leaders, especially entrepreneurs who are in recovery, which is all of them to me, in my opinion, they’re all in recovery, but reach out for help, and we’re going to come up with new solutions and new ways because what we’re doing now is not enough, right?
Hal Elrod: Yeah. So, where’s the best place to find you? Is that social media? Is that email? What’s the best place for somebody to reach out to you?
Jesse Harless: Yeah, you can just, if whatever plat– the younger generation, it’s Instagram, so jesseharless222, hit me up there. Or you can just literally send me an email, and we could put this in the show notes, but JesseHarless.com, just reach out to me, and I’m definitely going to help you. But really, if you are struggling, it’s an emergency, definitely call 911 or reach out to the SAMHSA hotline, and they will help you 24/7, seven days a week.
Hal Elrod: What is your take, Jesse, on when it comes to addiction? Again, this is your world. This is your expertise. You’ve dedicated your life to helping people to overcome their addiction to the same way that you overcame yours. And what’s your take on the root causes of addiction? I mean, for me, I could say that I’m sure trauma can cause it. You mentioned that for you as a cause. It could be boredom. I’m curious, what are the root causes of addiction from your perspective?
Jesse Harless: Well, I think it’s what we’re learning, and it hasn’t been accepted yet, which is really, really interesting, is trauma. Trauma plays a big role. A lot of people who are very successful, well-to-do people who might even felt privileged in their life don’t believe they have trauma. And actually, when we break it down, we see the bully at seven years old. We see the controlling father. We see all these things that actually was traumatic. And definitely, when you go into the places that I go into, sober living home, it’s very evident to trauma, their physical abuse, emotional abuse, a lot of things that happened in childhood.
So, I would really look at like, yeah, there’s definitely trauma as a big through-line on a lot of it. And I think some of it too is just we live in a culture that just fosters addiction. The food is super addicting. Everything is kind of set up in ways to get you addicted. So, I feel the future is going to be, instead of looking at the person and saying, oh, there’s the addict, it’s going to be like, oh, wait, I’m actually the addict, too, and I’m in recovery as well because I was playing Call of Duty for three years straight for seven hours a day. So, it becomes normalized, and that’s really what I want to do is start to smash that stigma and really to realize that, yeah, whether we figure out the root causes of addiction or not and its trauma, the bottom line is we’re all in this together. And if we don’t have that mindset of starting to create tribal communities of helping people and normalizing this, we’re just going to look at “the drunk or the addict” and think that’s not us when actually, we’re in a society that literally creates addiction. That’s what we’re surrounded by.
Hal Elrod: Sure. Netflix seasons, right? I mean, that’s like, the new season released today. And now, you can binge watch it. And then once that’s over, you want to feed that same addiction, not for that show, but for the stimulus of being entertained. And then it’s like, oh, I got to keep– what other shows are there? And thankfully, for those wanting to be addicted, Netflix, there’s no shortage of…
Jesse Harless: I think there’s one other thing, too, is stories. We create stories in our head about our life, we create stories about ourselves, about our unworthiness. And I really want to address that a lot of us are living in our stories, and our stories are not always accurate. So, I think like another thing is really tuning into like, what are these stories that you’re telling yourself all the time that is causing your distress, that is causing you to numb out, to not want to feel your pain? And so, I think that’s another thing is like, we need to start to lose the stories, and how do we do that is with mindfulness, is with self-regulation, with meditation, with being intentional with our lives. So, that’s how we start to slow down the mind and start to realize we’re literally being run by the mind, which is creating stories that are inaccurate. I think that’s another root cause.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. In fact, I want to double down on you saying that because I just had this come up yesterday, I was talking to a friend. He saw I had posted online that I was struggling with depression recently. And he’s a friend. He’s, I guess, I don’t know if I call him my coach, but probably a coach. And he reached out. He said, “Hey, I know we’re friends, but I’d love to do some work with you, chat with you, and see if I can help.” And he said, “Hey, talk to me. What causes you to feel depressed when you feel depressed?” And I just talked about it, and he was able to pick apart my language and go, “Look, it sounds like you’re telling yourself that you’ve got all these obligations. You’re telling yourself, I heard you say life is hard, and there are so many things that I have to do.”
So, these things that I was totally unconscious of. And if you’re listening to this right now, it’s important, I think, to really identify what are your stories that you’re telling yourself. Is life hard? Is making money hard? Is your marriage stressful? That’s simple, that language. If you’re saying my life is hard or my marriage is hard or my life is stressful or whatever the things you tell yourself, you don’t realize that that creates your reality. And as he was telling me this, he’s like, “I know you know this.” I’m like, “No, no, no, no, no, I need to hear this.” It doesn’t matter that, he’s like, I’m sure you’ve told this to people, like, no, I need to hear this right now. Like, I need to hear this. And it’s so often that, yeah, if you ever notice this, but like when I’m giving somebody advice or even posting advice on social media and then I look back at it and I’m like, oh, that was for me.
Jesse Harless: Yeah, exactly.
Hal Elrod: I was on my high horse, like, hey, guys, I have something that’s going to really help you. Listen to this inspirational, eloquent quote that I came up with, right? And then I go, wait a minute, I need that as much as anybody. So, yeah, I just want to make sure that that is for folks that listening that I think that what you said about that is so, so important. And not only mindfulness, for me, it’s affirmations, I think that is the most important thing for me in terms of combating any addiction, stress, whatever it is, it’s identifying what words am I using, what are the stories I am telling myself that I’m buying into? And then how can I replace those stories with stories that actually empower me, that make me feel good, that make me feel like I can handle life, I can handle my life.
Jesse Harless: Yeah, I love it. I heard recently that our words create our world. So, absolutely, I’m 100% with that. And I just want to say, I’ve heard you mention this too, it’s just creating “I am” statements because people are getting caught up with the affirmations. You could just say, I am resilient, I am intuitive. It’s to keep it really simple.
Hal Elrod: Yeah, something I realized recently is that, and this was my own realization, though, but our fears, when we feel afraid, we think we’re afraid because of the things that we fear. And what I realized is it’s not the things that we fear that cause us to feel afraid, it’s our perceived inability to handle the things we’re afraid of that causes our fear. Because if there’s something that’s kind of scary, but you go, dude, I can handle that, no problem. If that happens, I’ll figure it out, no big deal. Well, there’s no fear, but if it’s oh my god, if that happens, what would I do? I don’t know what I would do. Like I couldn’t handle that. That’s the problem, right? The problem isn’t the thing you’re afraid of, it’s you’re perceiving that you won’t be able to handle it.
So, for me, that affirmation, just I can handle anything that comes my way, oh, that feels good. It feels good to affirm and commit to that being my truth because when I do, all the stress melts away, all the fear melts away, all the things that I’m worried about, I’m no longer worried about them. Or if I am, I know I can handle them. So, it is what it is, no big deal.
Jesse Harless: Yeah, absolutely.
Hal Elrod: I know you’re doing work recently with ICARE, which stands for International Center for Addiction and Recovery Education, but I don’t know the details. I’ve heard from even people that we know in our circle that you’re doing some phenomenal work with that organization. Talk about that.
Jesse Harless: Yeah. So, I found them through Jack Canfield. He has a documentary. And that came out recently. I think it’s– I don’t even know, it’s called The Soul of Success or something. And I saw this woman, Dr. Jean LaCour, and she has this organization she’s running for 26 years. She’s friends with Jack. And one night at midnight, I was watching the video and I went on and I got certified as a coach through their organization. And eventually, I started to tell them about this methodology of these choreographies and activities you can do with facilitation that I learned through someone you had on your podcast last, which is Jon Berghoff with XCHANGE. And I brought this to ICARE and I said, “Listen, you have all this data, you have beautiful data on addiction and all this, but how do we facilitate conversations worth having in the space of addiction recovery, mental health? I’ve been doing this. So, this is what I can show and train. How do we do this in these different places?”
And so, what ended up happening is we collaborated, and now, ICARE, we have some trainings, one is called certified facilitator and addiction awareness. And this is to bring these choreographies that I learned from XCHANGE and learned from life experiences to bring into companies because companies right now, HR, their focus is switching right now to emotional well-being and mental health. There’s one company, I just heard 90%, their budget is being spent on mental health.
Hal Elrod: Wow.
Jesse Harless: So, this is becoming a serious thing. So, ICARE is specifically looking to help, not only help people to become coaches, professional recovery coaches or addiction recovery coaches, but also how do we bring these activities, choreographies into companies so that we can have these conversations and they are psychologically safe to have so these employees can come and ask for help privately, but we’re giving them an experience that there’s no way I could have learned how to do that unless I learned from this XCHANGE and learning how they actually have done that? And so, yeah, it’s a collaboration between me and ICARE. So, ICARE has been doing this for 26 years, which is blessed to come in and collaborate with them.
Hal Elrod: Awesome. Awesome. So, you’re giving them new tools that they did not have access to or weren’t aware of before?
Jesse Harless: Yeah, simply facilitation training and my perspective on psychological safety, yep.
Hal Elrod: Beautiful, beautiful. And what’s the work you’re doing with the state of Georgia. I think, isn’t that more kind of related to the pandemic and where people are at right now?
Jesse Harless: Yeah, definitely. So, Georgia, we met up in 2019, and a few months later, the pandemic hit, and for 10 months online through Zoom virtually, I ran workshops and trainings every single month. They have a program called CARES, which is Certified Addiction Recovery Empowerment Specialist. And I got to do trainings with these peer recovery coaches so they could go in and learn how to lead groups. Once again, I’ve learned how to do that through what I’ve learned through Jon and XCHANGE.
So, I was just bringing in a lens of where I come from, which is more of a lens of like addiction recovery, even just being a highly sensitive person that I am and bringing in and really focusing on the quieter voices that are in the room. So, Georgia was really hit hard by the pandemic, like we all were, like many states, but they were hit really hard in particular and lost funding at one point. But I got to work with about 600 people, they trained many of them down there. And they’re specifically helping people who have no money. These are recovery community organizations, and it’s free. So, this isn’t charged money as these are not treatment centers, these are free recovery services in each part of Georgia throughout the state. And so, it’s been a blessing to work with them. And they’re specifically called the Georgia Council on Substance Abuse. And so, it’s really a big synchronicity how we get connected, but I’m really grateful to be helping them because the pandemic continues.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. Well, thank you for the work you’re doing, man. It’s people like you right now that are needed more than ever. And what I love is that you’re not just doing what you’re doing in isolation, but you are teaching and training through ICARE and empowering other people. You’re kind of duplicating yourself, if you will. And I think that, again, is so important.
Jesse Harless: Yeah. Thank you so much, Hal. And just for being you and being even just so vulnerable on this conversation to talk about addiction because we really need to normalize it. To me, we just got to make it like, hey, this is what’s really happening. Let’s stop hiding. Let’s bring these conversations up. And then we’re going to create really a world of safety for people because that’s really what’s happening is people feel a shame and they feel unworthy and they don’t want to talk about this. So, thank you for having me on to really bring this out. And yeah, it’s been great.
Hal Elrod: Yeah, you’re welcome. It’s my pleasure. And for all of us, like I said, I think we’re all addicted to something on some level. So, to your point, it’s not the stigma of, oh, a person’s an addict. It’s oh, we’re all addicts. But it’s part of being human, it’s part of our culture to be addicted to something. And when we separate, when we look at other people and go, oh, they’re addicts, I’m not an addict, I’m normal, whatever, then we’re doing ourselves a disservice and those that we love a disservice because we’re not looking in the mirror and we’re not looking at what might we be addicted to. And like you said, even yelling, do you yell regularly at your kids? That is an addiction, right? That’s giving you a sense of control or power or certainty, and it’s harming your family. And if you aren’t aware of that, then it will continue, and who knows what the results are going to be?
So, the book, everybody listening, check out Jesse’s book, If Not You, Then Who?: Harness Your Strengths to Shift from Addiction to Abundance. Again, for all of us, it’s relevant and it’s important. Jesse, appreciate you, brother.
Jesse Harless: Hey, Hal, love you. Thank you so much.
Hal Elrod: Love you too, man. Goal achievers, members of the Miracle Morning Community, I love you so much, I appreciate you, and thank you for listening today. I hope this conversation with Jesse was as impactful for you as it was for me, always it is every time I talk to Jesse. And I will talk to y’all next week. Take care.