Maybe you’re not really sure if you love yourself or not.
We all go through times when we really aren’t the biggest fans of ourselves. Maybe you made a mistake in the past, and you can’t seem to forgive yourself. Maybe you’re lonely, and you don’t feel like anyone wants to be around you. Or perhaps you’ve gone through some abusive relationships where you’ve been treated like garbage and started believing you were just that: garbage.
First of all: You are not garbage. You are worthy of love — love from others and from yourself. It is so important to learn how to love and appreciate yourself, even when you’re struggling.
Depression and anxiety have been at an all-time high lately, and the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t made that better. So many people are experiencing loneliness, anxiety, and sadness right now, and they’re afraid or ashamed to ask for help. There’s been so much stress and worry about this pandemic, paired with the quarantine and social distancing — it’s a recipe for a mental health disaster.
But there’s help. You don’t have to walk alone. My guest today, Kati Morton, has made it her mission to educate people on mental health, provide a tool kit for treatment, and erase the stigma surrounding depression and anxiety.
“It can get better. I feel like that’s a message that I’ve always tried to get across to people — you’re never alone. … When you put good out there, people will come. You’ll find your tribe … just know that you’re never alone.” – Kati Morton
In this episode, Kati is going to share her mental health toolkit with you all, which will help you rewire your brain and authentically connect with yourself and those around you. You’re not going to want to miss this one!
Kati Morton is a clinical psychologist, a licensed marriage and family therapist, and a viral YouTube personality whose mission is to decrease the stigma around mental health issues. Kati runs a private practice in Santa Monica, CA, and over the past eight years, she has leveraged social media to share mental health information worldwide through video.
Kati is well known for her YouTube channel that now has almost one million subscribers and over 74.5 million views! In addition to her YouTube channel and strong presence on social media, she has made several TV appearances on shows such as Good Day LA and appeared in Europe’s highest circulated magazine, Glamour UK.
Kati’s first book, Are u ok?: A Guide to Caring for Your Mental Health, is a mental health guide for millennials. She’s also the host of the new podcast Ask Kati Anything where she answers all of your questions about anxiety, depression, insecurity, self-doubt, and more. Her passion is to increase awareness about mental health. She hopes that by doing this, the global community can push for better services worldwide and remove the stigma associated with getting help.
Guys, this interview is full of encouragement and practical tips on treating loneliness, trauma, and depression. We also discuss the importance of vulnerability and authenticity in relationships and the best medicine for a broken heart. You’re not going to want to miss this episode with Kati Morton. Let’s get started!
During my entire childhood, I had a deep sense of loneliness, insecurity, and worry. I feared that no one was ever going to like me, much less love me. I constructed a narrative in my mind, based on situations I had experienced, that told me I would be lonely forever. Even when I was a teenager and had friends, I was highly insecure and always afraid my friends were going to leave. I felt the need to convince people to love me.
As I grew up, I took it upon myself to overcome that challenge by spending alone time, falling in love with myself and who I was. I loved being around people, but I also grew to love having alone time and feeling secure in that.
I know my story probably resonates with a lot of you out there, so I wanted to hear Kati’s thoughts on loneliness and how to treat it. It starts with changing our thinking patterns:
“First … is noticing your thoughts because I do believe if we are able to change our thoughts, we change our life. … ‘Cause remember, we’re saying [that] most of them are repeat thoughts. So those could be things like, ‘I’m not good enough. They’re not going to like me. I’m a loser.’… Write down your top five, and then I want you to work using bridge statements.” – Kati Morton
Kati went on to explain that bridge statements are statements that exist in possibility. If you think you’re dumb and tell yourself, “I’m smart, I’m smart, I’m smart,” chances are that’s not going to do the trick. You’ll reject that narrative because it’s the opposite of what you’ve been telling yourself for so long. But, if you think to yourself, “I might not be the smartest person in the room, but I do think I have emotional intelligence or street smarts,” you begin to open that door to a better narrative. To support this activity, Kati recommends journaling or writing letters to yourself:
“There is a science that backs it. … Every day our brain is learning in our hippocampus where memories are formed. It creates these new neurons every day. And those neurons get together with each other to create memories and learnings, right? So each and every day, whether we recognize it or not, we’re learning new things. And instead of taking that opportunity to teach ourselves nasty things like, ‘I’m horrible, I’m stupid,’ let’s take that opportunity to teach ourselves things that are helpful, supportive.” – Kati Morton
The more consistently you can journal, the more progress you’ll see. If you don’t feel better after the first time, remember that it’s a commitment, not a quick fix. The last thing that Kati recommended was entering the social sphere as your genuine self:
“This is going to be the hardest for people … but I want you to tiptoe in social land in an authentic way. … I want you to be more authentic. I challenge you to pick one person that … you’re going to be honest with about how you’re doing or what’s going on. And that doesn’t mean [saying], ‘I’m fine.’” – Kati Morton
If you struggle with loneliness, then you’re going to be tempted to retreat further into isolation. You crave human interaction, but you’re too afraid to pursue it, fearing that you’ll get rejected. But when you take a chance and show the world your authentic self, you let other people get to know you and you get to know yourself, too! As Kati said, this process is hard and uncomfortable, but it reaps the most fruitful results: You’ll learn that it’s possible for other people to love you, and you’ll learn how to love yourself in the process.
Kati and I also talked about trauma and the dangers of holding that pain inside instead of talking it out with someone. This led to a conversation about emotional intelligence. I have a hypothesis that a ton of pain we see in relationships, society, and businesses is caused by men who have not learned how to heal their trauma and not learned how to fully be vulnerable in their emotions.
Now that’s not to say that women don’t cause pain as well, but I’ve found that men especially are not taught emotional intelligence at a young age. When you possess emotional intelligence, you can empathize and understand, even if you don’t agree with something. But if you don’t have that intelligence, you react in a way that is impulsive and destructive.
I asked Kati what she thought about my hypothesis, and this was her answer:
“I think we’re doing half of our population a disservice. I think that a lot of it also starts with children. … It should be more acceptable and a regular practice for a father to say to a son, ‘You know, what’s going on? You seem kind of upset. Did something happen?’… I think we’re recognizing now to your point that like, [keeping everything hidden] doesn’t bode well for the future. If we’re so pent up about how we feel … no wonder we lash out at each other online, no wonder people are fighting in the streets and yelling at each other.” – Kati Morton
So often, young boys are told that they never should cry and never ask for help. They’re told they shouldn’t show their true feelings because vulnerability is a weakness. In my book, The Mask of Masculinity, I talk about this phenomenon and how important it is that men embrace vulnerability. Without it, we don’t allow space for growth, conversation, or connection.
“I think a lot of the upset we’re seeing now isn’t really about what they say … a lot of it’s just this inability to thoughtfully engage with life, to express how we feel and be okay with it and to have discourse, right? To disagree, but not lose our cool.” – Kati Morton
When we hold onto traumatic experiences, whether it be being bullied at school, witnessing a car wreck, or experiencing sexual abuse, all of this pain stores up over time, like pressurized water under a geyser. Eventually, it’s going to explode, and chances are, other people are going to be in the blast. To take care of ourselves and those around us, it’s essential that we embrace vulnerability and process difficult situations with those we can trust.
When we hold onto trauma, it can easily turn into depression, a mental illness that affects over 300 million people worldwide. During COVID-19, rates of depression and suicide have increased significantly, due to the isolation and panic caused by this pandemic. Kati has so many helpful tips for those struggling, and if you’re not sure you have depression, she gave four key signs that you can watch out for:
#1. You don’t enjoy doing the things you used to, and you don’t feel passionate about really anything. Kati gave some examples:
“This could be anything from, ‘I used to enjoy listening to music, and it just doesn’t do it for me anymore. Or I used to enjoy writing. I don’t like that anymore. I used to enjoy spending time with my friends.’ You know, the lists are endless. So just kind of take note of what you maybe used to find joy in if you don’t anymore.” – Kati Morton
#2. There are changes in your diet and appetite. Maybe you’re overly hungry, and you begin to stress-eat. Or maybe, you’re not hungry at all, and your favorite food doesn’t even entice you. Either way, this is a sure sign that something is off.
#3. There are changes in your sleep schedule. Maybe you can’t sleep — you’re struggling with insomnia, and your mind is spinning every night, keeping you from falling asleep. Or maybe you’re sleeping way too much, and you constantly feel tired.
“I know I kind of talked about that with regard to trauma, but this also applies to depression and wanting to sleep all day. [Or] am I not able to sleep at all? You know, those are things that are important to notice if there’s been changes. If it’s not normal for you, we need to start tracking that.” – Kati Morton
#4. And lastly, you’re struggling to concentrate. You can’t focus on a single task for longer than a few minutes. You’re reading a book, and you read the same page over and over again, but you have no comprehension of what you just read. Maybe you’re at work, and it takes you an hour to send an email. We all go through times when we’re a little spaced out, but when it becomes a habit, something is definitely up.
Once we identify that we may be suffering from depression, Kati recommends first taking “opposite action,” which is a form of dialectical behavior therapy. So, for example, if you don’t feel like getting out of bed, immediately make yourself get up and take a shower. If you feel like being a recluse, go out of your way to talk to someone during the day. While this opposite action may feel uncomfortable at first, it forces you out of a pity party and into positive behavior.
After taking opposite action, therapy is the next step. After being sexually assaulted as a kid, I remember feeling like no one understood me. I didn’t reach out. I didn’t tell friends or family. I was just suffering alone in black hole. Guys — this is why therapy is so important. It takes you out of that black hole and into a safe, secure place.
“I’ve been in therapy off and on since I was 15, and I’m 36 now. So for … [the] majority of my life I’ve been in therapy, and there’s no shame around that. I think having someone to check in with is really important … when we’re feeling down and out super depressed, the idea of ‘doing’ [feels] impossible.” – Kati Morton
Therapy can help break us out of negative thought cycles and create new paths for our thoughts to take. Kati describes our brains like balloons filled with sand. Our thoughts are marbles that roll through the sand, creating ruts. With habitual thinking, these ruts become larger, and the marbles (our thoughts) fall into them more easily. Therapy is an amazing way to fill those ruts and create new ones, ones that lead to a happier existence.
If you’re struggling with depression, loneliness, or anxiety, I want you to know that there is nothing more courageous than asking for help. As Kati said, you don’t have to walk alone. There is hope.
Guys, I know this interview might be heavy to some, but its content is so important. We must educate ourselves on mental health, even if we personally don’t struggle with mental illness. And if you do struggle with mental illness and you haven’t sought treatment, I hope this episode empowers you to take that next step towards hope.
Kati’s definition of greatness is an encouragement to me, and I know it will encourage you, too:
“My definition of greatness is even if you fall down, you don’t stay down for long. You just get up, dust yourself off, no judgements, move forward. I feel like that’s just what it is. … You challenge yourself to do better tomorrow.” – Kati Morton
Guys, this post barely scratches the surface, so make sure to listen to the full interview for more wisdom from Kati on vulnerability and relationships. I was so honored to have her on The School of Greatness to speak about such a serious issue. I want to acknowledge her for working so hard to support people one-on-one in her practice but also taking extra time to create meaningful, valuable content for the world to learn how to treat depression, stress, and mental illness.
Don’t forget to share this episode with someone you know who needs to hear it. Remember — you can change someone’s life.
Join me on Episode 989 to learn how to defeat loneliness and learn how to love yourself with the wonderful Kati Morton!