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Teal Swan

By Tanishka Juneja

Teal Swan is a conscious media star, mother, entrepreneur, international speaker and best-selling author of multiple books. Having integrated her own harrowing life experience where as a child she questioned her very own life, she has since turned her past experiences overall into a positive and has used it to inspire millions of people around the world towards truth, authenticity, freedom, and joy.

In this exclusive conversation, Swan talks about an idea that changed her life, the self-help industry, her Meditation Vaults and much more…

It’s rare for people to grow up and consider their suffering “a gift” and use that power to bring a positive world change. How and when did you come to realize that you have this power of bringing change?

Every person is capable of bringing about change. My gifts simply uniquely bend me towards bringing about change in a specific way. When we are looking at this society and at this world, we forget that what we are looking at, is the culmination of the individuals that make up this society and this world. Every individual impacts and creates that larger whole. We may not be able to control what other people do or don’t do. But we do have control over what we do and what we don’t do. And every action we take is a vote for the society and for the world that we would like to see. And even if things happen that we don’t like and that we don’t want to have happen, that vote still matters. It is on record so to speak. I always understood that it matters what I do. And it matters what I don’t do. I also saw how much impact other people had on my life, both to the negative and to the positive. So, I realized that the same must be true in reverse. What all this boiled down to is the decision, when I was about 25 years old, to pour my energy into being the change I wished to see in this world. And to use the strengths that I was born with and that I have developed to accomplish that aim, no matter the outcome.     

    

For someone who’s healed millions and helped them become the best versions of themselves, what’s an idea that changed your life?

There are so many. But the one that comes to mind is that negative emotion is not bad. It isn’t something that is against you. Instead, negative emotion is like a crying child in need of attention and help. It is trying to tell you something about its experience (in this case, your experience). Every emotion carries information about your personal truth in any given situation. Instead of trying to get emotions to go away, you need to decide that they matter. You need to:

1. Become aware of your emotional state. 

2. Express care about your emotion by acknowledging that what you are feeling is valid and important. 

3. Listen empathetically to your emotion in an attempt to understand the way you feel. You need to seek to understand the way you feel and why you feel that way.

4. Acknowledge and validate your feelings. This may include finding words to label your emotion. You do not need to validate that the thoughts you have about your emotions are correct. Instead, you need to know that it’s a valid thing to feel the way that you feel. For example, if you have the thought, “I feel useless,” you do not validate yourself by saying, “I’m right. I am useless.” We could validate your emotions by saying, “I can totally see how that would make me feel useless and anyone would feel the same way if they were me.”   

5. Allow yourself to feel how you feel and to experience your emotion fully before moving toward any kind of improvement in the way that you feel. This is the step where you practice unconditional presence with the feelings and sensations that are occurring within you. You are not trying to “fix” them so that they “go away”. 

6. Only after your feelings have been validated, acknowledged, and fully felt, bring about resolution. This is the step where you can look for solutions, such as a new way of looking at the situation or an action that you might take that would improve the way you are feeling. 

It’s said that you’re recommended for those who want the truth, even if the truth hurts. How different is your approach from the self-help industry in general, towards getting beyond one’s suffering?

The self-help industry in general is all about getting people to feel better. And while that sounds good at face value, there can be some serious shadows inherent in that aim. Feeling better and actually getting better are as different as anesthetics and genuine healing are. Just because a person feels better, doesn’t mean that they are making an improvement. For example, bypassing is super common in the self-help industry. Bypassing is using spiritual ideas and also practices to sidestep or avoid facing painful realities, emotional issues, problems and traumas. And it is commonplace that bypassing techniques are actively taught by experts in the field and sold to the public as both healthy and empowering. For another example, the idea of creating your own reality is very big in the industry. And while that is empowering, people are often taught to take this to a super unhealthy extreme, where they ignore and deny anything that they don’t want to have as a part of their own reality, and this leads to extreme pain for the people and things around them. On top of all this, the self-help industry perpetuates this idea that it is possible to get to a point where life only feels good and where there are no negatives and where no unwanted things happen anymore. This idea is not in reality, and it leads people onto a never ending, increasingly painful hamster wheel of failure and shame and into the cycle of buying more and more products to try to achieve the unachievable. My approach is very different to the self-help industry in that I teach that your only axis of power is reality… meaning that the real positive changes you are looking for, can only come as a result of facing painful realities, understanding and resolving your emotional issues. And healing your traumas etc. The pain that people in the self-help field are trying to get to just go away with a million different techniques, is full of such valuable information. And that valuable information is what will point you in the direction of what actually needs to be done to bring about things like empowerment and things like joy. Inside those painful realizations, is the key to the life you want.     

You’ve also launched your own Meditation Vaults which is a safe space to become self-aware and also soothes our mind with visual meditation. Tell us a little bit more about the entire process of how one can transform their self-doubt into self-love?

When we are speaking about self-doubt, we are really talking about a lack of confidence. And so, the question of self-doubt is not about self-love as much as it is about confidence. It just so happens that some of the things that bring about confidence are innately self-loving. Confidence in oneself begins with acknowledging the personal strengths, achievements, skills, knowledge and talents that you have. People are taught that acknowledging these things about themselves is egotistical and therefore bad and wrong. So, what we are facing here is a giant mixed message being given by society… Be confident… Be Humble. Of course, the definition of humble is having or showing a modest or low estimate of one’s own importance or excellence. In positively acknowledging ourselves, we need to resolve the resistance within ourselves to doing exactly that. And we need to consider that the things that are the best about us or that we are the very best at, we take for granted or do not appreciate; because we have been surrounded by people who don’t appreciate those specific things. Beyond this, the entire process of building confidence is personalized and it can be multi-layered. It can involve the process of integrating your inner critic, which just so happens to be one of the most powerful protectors in a person’s internal system. It may involve setting and accomplishing realistic mini-goals for yourself. It may involve trying a bunch of new things out to discover your aptitudes and to discover what you are passionate about. It may involve learning. It may involve working through your co-dependent relational style. It may involve taking better care of yourself and being disciplined about your health routine. It may mean surrounding yourself with people who make you feel good about yourself. To become confident, each person has to face and resolve what is in the way of their confidence and based on doing that, arrive at the specific new thoughts and actions that will cause their confidence to increase.         

        

You’re also the author of several highly regarded books on personal growth including “The Competition Process” and “The Anatomy of Loneliness”, which are also based on your own experience of healing from trauma. Is there any particular incident that stands out when you think of a reader whose life changed drastically after reading your book and he/she reached out to you regarding the same?

I have had several people reach out to me to say that they, or someone that they knew, were suicidal before they read one of my books and that because of reading the book and doing the exercises that I suggest, they aren’t suicidal anymore. Those are the messages that stick with me the most. But I get messages like this daily. Here is one from today: 

Dear Teal Swan, 

I just wanted to reach out and express my gratitude for the impact your book, “The Anatomy of Loneliness,” has had on my life. After experiencing the loss of my father and coming out of a long relationship, I was sceptical of the self-help and psychology genre. However, your book helped me greatly in dealing with my grief and opened my eyes to new potential challenges I had that required attention. I have since read your other books and they have continued to provide valuable insights and wisdom. 

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and talent with the world. Your work has truly made a difference in my life, and I am grateful for the impact it has had. 

Sincerely, Edward

What would you say is the most difficult part about being an international spiritual teacher and speaker?

I think the most difficult part about being a spiritual teacher and speaker is the attack you receive. When I got into this, I was gung-ho about giving people answers and helping them to have a better life experience. And I imagined that due to that intention, I would be embraced. I was totally unprepared for the level of opposition, antagonism and attack I would receive. As a public figure, and even more so when what you are famous for is your opinion, you face a wall of opposition. An army of hate. There will be people who spend their lives trying to destroy your life. And to be honest, they have managed to do so much damage to my personal life and to my career that it is astonishing that I have continued despite it all. The thing is, once you have found your purpose, you can’t just give it up. I can’t give up what I do any more than a dancer can stop dancing or a mathematician can stop thinking in numbers. It is not just what I do, it is who I am in this life.   

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