How do you thrive in the aftermath of trauma? Your struggle may come in different forms and be given one of many different names such as anxiety, depression, addiction or PTSD. But no matter how much you or a loved one is struggling or what it’s called, the one thing that’s clear is that you aren’t living the life you desire.
Ken Falke and Josh Goldberg, the coauthors of Struggle Well, believe there is hope by embracing the struggle rather than fighting it. You can stop surviving and start thriving. Ken and Josh know this because they trained combat veterans battling PTSD to understand and achieve post traumatic growth. They’ve helped thousands of people discover opportunities from times of struggle.
In this episode, they provide actionable strategies for making peace with your past experiences. For living in the present and planning for a great future. This episode is full of invaluable wisdom on an incredibly important topic and it could very well save your life. Now, it’s time to learn how to struggle well.
Ken Falke: When I was seven years old, my mom died. She had cancer at 29 years old and it took her life. I think I kind of went on this journey from there with my dad who is a policeman who has got two sons. Being a policeman and a single dad is hard, so I spent some time in Pittsburg with my grandparents trying to grow up and figure out how to become a man. I became rebellious and had all the things that happened there.
I ended up becoming a very good athlete and a great hockey player and left high school to go play professional hockey. I kind of got kicked in the nuts again when that career didn’t work out for me.
“So I enlisted in the Navy, really looking for something to be a part of.”
A team, a mission, a purpose, all those types of things. After a very successful Navy career as a bomb disposal guy, I ended up back here at my home state of Virginia just outside of Washington DC.
All of a sudden, we started getting bomb disposal guys on the battlefield losing limbs and getting killed in action. My wife and I started this small charity, we had made some money by then, we had a company that was making good money.
I was in the counter terrorism business, and we started this nonprofit to take care of these severely injured men and women and take care of their families while they were here in the major hospitals in DC. Walter Reed and Bethesda Naval Hospitals at the time.
One thing led to another, and we started bringing these families away from the hospital and out to our home about an hour west of DC into the Blue Ridge mountains. Families stayed here for days and then weeks and then overnight stays and hunting trips and all sorts of stuff.
We ended up donating 37 acres of our property to build this beautiful retreat and create the nation’s first dedicated facility to really try to heal these invisible wounds of war. That’s kind of what started this journey for us.
I’m Here to Help
Charlie Hoehn: That’s incredible. Josh, did you have a similar story?
Josh Goldberg: I did and similar and yet very different. I like to think about, if you’ve seen me about six or seven years ago, and someone had looked at my life from the outside, they would have felt as though, it was idyllic. I had achieved a level of success in this kind of a pinnacle of life.
I was married and we had plenty of money, nice things, like two corner offices and worked for big companies. Yet inside, I was falling apart.
I went about to deconstruct my life and really try to understand why I felt this sense of kind of loneliness and disconnection, panic attacks, constant anxiety and worrying and to the point where I was suicidal.
I looked to that and I was like, “I can’t continue to live this way, it’s not sustainable,” and I went through a lot of difficult changes of getting divorced, changing careers, switching friends and hobbies.
I walked away from everything in my life that had brought me value, which is external stuff, and I didn’t have anything inside to fill that void. So in early 2013 I was in a real place of struggle. I happened to be working for a gentleman whose son passed away, around the same age I was, from drug and alcohol.
He gave me a copy of the book Man’s Search for Meaning, and in the process of reading, it was the first time I actually had some clarity about life and about what I was experiencing.
“It gave me language for my experience.”
I left that reading with an inclination to try to do something for somebody else and to stop focusing on myself and my problems.
Lo and behold, a week later, I met some folks who were doing some work with veterans who wanted me to be helpful. I started down the path that, for the first 35 years of my life, had been nonexistent. It was some kind of engagement with people who had a military or veteran experience.
In the wake of that journey and in the part of that journey, I ran into several teachers that one in particular who runs our facility in Virginia. I ran into him, started a program that I had come to observe and he asked me, we talked for a while, and I had lived in New Zealand, he lives in Australia, so we kind of bonded over that.
He asked me what I was doing there, and I said, “I’m here to help.”
He said, “You seem like that that’s true, that you’re genuine,” and I passed this kind of BS detector. Then he looked at me and he said, “You’re going to do one thing before you help a single one of my brothers and sisters,” and I asked him what was that?
“He said, “You’re going to un-f*ck yourself.””
There’s this idea in the military that you don’t get to go around, right? You have to work your way up, you have to pay your dues, and that’s what Dusty was kind of calling me on.
So the truth about my story is two-fold. One is that combat veterans saved my life and gave me the opportunity to have the courage to look deeply within myself to figure out what it is that I wanted to do with my life and how I can maximize my own gifts.
The second was the recognition that books and shared experiences can really alter your perspective and the trajectory of your life. That’s what drives our work and that’s what drove Ken and I to want to write this was the recognition that the messages that are being proliferated in our society are ones of victimhood and labels and diminishment.
We don’t believe in any of that, and our lives are testaments to that very fact. Not just the work we do with other, the work we’ve done on ourselves.
Our testaments to the fact that the struggle is real and it’s beautiful and it’s meaningful and it’s useful.
Labels Aren’t Enough
Charlie Hoehn: Josh, could you elaborate on what you said about those labels of victimhood and that sort of thing?
Josh Goldberg: General Mattis is currently the secretary of defense, he had a quote that he shared with a group of veterans and he said that, “Victimhood in America is exalted today.” It’s exalted.
He said, “I firmly believe veterans should not join those ranks” in an effort to differentiate ourselves and to find a connection with something.
Far too many of us, and I’ll put myself in that for a period of time, we associate with labels that often are inhibiting and diminishing labels like anxiety or that I’m depressed, right? That I’m anxious, that I have PTSD or survivor’s guilt or moral injury or military sexual trauma, whatever it is. But it’s I’m a survivor or a victim.
These labels essentially serve as an excuse for the reason why we’re living a life that’s not as rich and fulfilled and purposeful and is alive as it could be.
I understand why the mental health system uses labels in order to help with diagnostics and insurance codes and to help with treatment protocols. I also understand that those very labels inhibit someone’s capacity to grow.
You know, at the bottom of my email, I have a quote from Goethe, and it’s that if you treat people as they are, you’ll make them worse. If you treat them as the person, they ought to become, they’ll become that person.
If you look past someone’s predicament and challenges and situation to a path of growth and hope and inspiration of possibility, you give someone the opportunity to see that too.
That’s where the labels end up putting a ceiling on people’s lives and enshrining a diminished version of ourselves. When I struggled, I was told I was depressed. I just looked at the lady and I said, how is that helpful? How does that help me that you’re labeling me? It may help you, but it doesn’t help me.
More Than a Victim
Charlie Hoehn: What is the big idea of Struggle Well that you really want listeners to take the main concept away with them from this interview and remember it a year from today?
Ken Falke: If you read the forward of our book, it’s written by retired navy captain Charlie Plum who spent six years almost to the day as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. About 30% of the Vietnam era generation of veterans who came back from Vietnam had and were diagnosed with PTSD.
Arguably, that same percentage is true for today’s Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, somewhere between 20 and 30%, depending on which statistics you read. But at the end of the day, 30% seems to be the number.
One of the first times that we had met and said something along the lines of, “Do you know that only 4% of prisoners of war returned from Vietnam with PTSD?”
I was like, “Wow, how could that be?” You know what? Because I’m a combat veteran myself. I went through escape and survival school, if you ever do get caught or in a situation where you might get caught. Anybody I’ve talked to, battle buddies and guys I’ve been to war with – we’ve talked and just said, “What’s worse than getting caught and tortured on the battlefield?”
And not just for like a day or something before they kill you, but for six years. Then in those six years, how do you create hope in your life that, when you return, something’s going to be better? Every bone in your body of some form or fashion gets broken or bruised, your ego is gone, your desire and spirituality might be gone. I mean, how do you keep that stuff going?
“And what I tell everybody is that PTSD is a big as a leadership issue as it is a mental health issue.”
How do you rationalize that? Is it, you’ve got an example of 591 men and women that’s spent anywhere form nine months to six years or 10 years in prison camps in Vietnam who came home and became better versions of themselves? Not that struggle can be compared and that somebody might not be as strong as the person next to them but at the end of the day, when people can get through that and there’s definitely a strategy and a framework around what got them through that. It makes other things look a lot easier.
And that’s kind of what we’re hoping is that the big idea in this book is that no matter who we are, from a prisoner of war to a young person with massive depression and anxiety for varieties of reasons. No matter what place you are in the spectrum, you’re going to live a life of struggles.
Those struggles and how you respond to those struggles are choices that you and only you have the ability to make.
There’s really two questions, if you believe in this fork in the road of becoming a victim or becoming a survivor or a growth oriented person. That is a question.
“When you put me on the end of it, you can really go down a victimhood road.”
“I got this black cloud over my head, poor me, pity me, I didn’t get the opportunities that he got, she got.”
That’s really what the story is. All of us are going to have a life that looks like some sort of a sign wave, a series of ups and downs and how you get through those ups and downs is very important to your growth opportunities. That’s what the book’s about, is how to live that life of struggle and stay in what we call the livable band.
The band that prevents you from living a crazy life of severe ups and downs.
Josh Goldberg: Struggle is a terrible thing to waste. It will come to us, it will find us, will visit our lives, and the question is, do you allow it to diminish you or do you use it as fuel for growth and change?
That’s the big idea and what we believe in and what we set about to do what we do every day at our retreats in Arizona and Virginia. We help people find that path to growth and strength and capability and possibility.
That’s why we wrote the book.
To basically set out that roadmap to get from places of deep struggle into profound strength and lifelong growth.
Struggle Has an Impact
Charlie Hoehn: How do we struggle well so that we can live well?
Josh Goldberg: In the 1980s, there were two doctors, two psychologists at the university of North Carolina Charlotte. Rich Tedeschi and Lawrence Calhoun. And they were approaching tenure status and trying to figure out what they wanted to study.
They weren’t happy with what they were studying.
What they looked each other one day and said, “You know what we should study? We should study how people get wise. Where does wisdom come from?”
What Rich and Laurence concluded from conducting a series of interviews with lots of different people was that the folks who had the most wisdom were adults who had suffered severe injuries.
Blinded, paralysis, losing limbs, and then it forced them to really reset their priorities and recreate a life for themselves that ended up becoming more meaningful and purposeful than they had ever had experienced.
Rich and Laurence continued to study this, and Rich went to a support group for bereaved parents one day reluctantly. He said, “I don’t want to go,” and they said, “You have to,” and they said, “And remember the admonition, you’re a clinician of a support group, keep your mouth shut, let them do the work.”
What he heard from this parents was that although they would give anything including their own lives to have their child back, that wasn’t on the table.
What they had created in the aftermath of the loss of their child were deep relationships with their other children with each other. Profound sense of strength and a sense of purpose and meaning and fulfillment that hadn’t been in their lives before.
Certainly their lives were more serious, and at the same time, that they were much more meaningful and much closer to what they perceive to be, in the bigger sense, why they were here.
That post traumatic research we encountered is we were trying to figure out why is it that certain people succeed after trauma and grow after trauma and others don’t. It is understanding that pathway.
“In our retreats we try to figure out how to operationalize thirty years of science.”
And that’s post traumatic growth is about. That’s what the book is based on, is that real world understanding. How do you take something out of the world of the theoretical and academic and put it in the world of the practical and applicable?
The first thing to walk that road from struggle to strength is to recognize that struggle is valuable and it’s inevitable. The fact that you accept that it’s inevitable means that when it occurs, you don’t fall into that victim mindset but you’re actually are able to say “Okay, this is happening. What am I meant to learn from this?”
Life asks you questions constantly, and your job is to figure out what the answers are, not to question the question.
When you understand that struggle is valuable, you’ll start to look at it with that mindset.
That’s part one, part two is also recognizing that struggle has an impact.
It impacts our minds, our bodies, our heart, our spirit, and it does cause us to react to life in certain ways. So it’s trying to be mindful and understanding the physiological and psychological impacts of it to almost allow you to look at that and observe yourself.
“Then the third is really understanding how to struggle well and live well.”
We believe as Ken said that life is a series of ups and downs and that the two things you need in life to stay in a livable band, in a band that we would call thriving and being able to handle anything constructively would be wellness practices and areas of mind, body, finance and spirit and an incredible support network.
Because you are the average of the three to five people you spend the most time with. If you spend your time with people who also believes struggle’s valuable who have demonstrated ability to live principled lives that are inclined to serve others and that don’t attach to material things, you’re going to do well.
If you’re surrounded by people who drink all the time who complain about the past, say they peaked in high school like Al Bundy, you’re going to end up in that place.
So for us, it starts with education. Ken and I aren’t clinicians, we’re not mental health people. I think we’re getting close to being experts in life I would say, and what we recognize is that the key to life is to allow people to be trained as opposed to being treated.
“Because treating implies that they’re down they need someone to fix them.”
And training implies that we simply don’t have the skills yet that we need in order to handle situations. That’s really the first critical step of this journey and much of what the first chapter speaks to.
Create Your Own Story
Josh Goldberg: We get into understanding that and then putting him in to practice, so looking at those wellness practices, assessing yourself and how you’re doing, and as you move through the book and you start to move through the phases of post traumatic growth, you go from regulation which is preparing yourself to do some really hard things, to them looking back.
Looking back at how you’ve been trained throughout your existence. Looking back at your childhood, looking back at your adulthood, looking back at different experiences you’ve had in your life. Things that have happened to you and things that you’ve done to other people because of those.
Understanding those linkages and understanding that you aren’t who you think you are, you’re how you’ve been trained to be.
“Once you understand that you are not static and you’re not stuck, then you have the ability to start to craft a new story.”
One that is purposeful, one that’s fulfilling and most importantly for me, one that’s authentic.
One that speaks to your deepest needs and the follow your bliss idea, follow your conscience, figure out what it is that you must do and go and do it.
Then then the last part of that is we understand and recognize that service is a critical component of anyone’s life. You have to engage in service at levels commensurate with your wellness. You can’t go start a nonprofit if you’re struggling because you’re going to end up bringing that struggle into your nonprofit and into people’s lives.
Helping Each Other Through
Josh Goldberg: The last thing I’ll say is, the beautiful part about what Rich and Lawrence did is they created a process that democratized mental health and struggle because they found that the best person to help another human being through times of deep struggle is someone who has been there.
We see that with a Sandy Hook parents deploying to sites of school shootings to serve as response teams to sit with parents and just be with them. What we know and what the Hillary Hilton teaches us is that struggling well is not the realm solely of mental health professionals, it’s the realm of those of us who have struggled and come out on the other side and are willing to go back down that mountain and help people climb it.
“We believe that climb is valuable.”
Ken Falke: This is the whole purpose of this is that you know, as Josh said, you become the sum of your training. From when you’re born until these tragedies hit.
You suffer through childhood experience, the average childhood experiences, and you become the sum of all your training. If you don’t retrain yourself, then you won’t be able to do this, and this is what these parents do. They get around, they go through a grieving process, they realize that they have more to offer, right? That this isn’t the end of their life but maybe the beginning of a different life or a new life.
They get this new purpose and passion and figure out how to help others.
The epitome of post traumatic growth is to become an expert guide and be able to turn back around as Josh said on the mountain and help the next person up the mountain. That’s what happens I think in many of this cases.
Shifting the Lens
Charlie Hoehn: What it really seems like you guys are doing is shifting the lens in which we view struggle as something that serves and a part of our training to help us all become more powerful or empowered resilient human beings.
Josh Goldberg: Yeah, I think that’s absolutely true and it is shifting that perspective. People talk about getting bitter or getting better, right? These two different pathways. And when everyone around you is getting bitter, it’s contagious, it’s toxic.
What’s amazing about those Sandy Hook parents is that they did make a conscious choice to not allow themselves to be defined by this but to use it as fuel for something in our lives, and our stories are pretty amazing and the coolest part of their stories that they go down, they don’t say much, they just sit with these parents. They know what that feels like, and then they don’t feel the need to tell people what to do.
That is at the heart of this, then it gets my – I don’t want to say it’s a frustration, it’s a concern I have that we feed these narratives and these negative spirals that suggests that when something bad happens to you, that’s kind of the end of it. And it’s like no, that’s supposed to teach you something.
That’s the only possible rationale for why struggle exist is to help you learn and grow, which are innate qualities of humans that we must grow.
“People look at veterans of war far too often as broken humans.”
I don’t see that what we should be learning from them is about struggle at all, I think what we can learn from them is about strength and courage.
They run to the sound of gunfire and it’s like, if you run to the struggle, if you endure it, if you are willing to take on that which you fear then really, nothing can knock you down.
You live a fearless life without worrying about what other people think or about what you’re doing, you just do what you must do and do the right thing.
Beyond Resilience and Empowerment
Charlie Hoehn: Can we dive into that a bit more and what it means to serve and guide others?
Ken Falke: We’ve got this like really clear kind of taxonomy of what we say and do and trying to change the narrative a bit. There are two words that we try to stay clear of when we’re talking about human strength and struggling: those are empowerment and resilience.
On the subject of empowerment, what we try to do is make sure that from a post traumatic growth perspective, the individuals know that they’re in charge. Nobody can give you permission or needs to give you permission to be this empowering body, right?
It’s like, I’m nobody different than you are, put my pants on the same way, right?
We’ve been kind of born with the same opportunities in the greatest country in the world, and here we are trying to tell people that you know, maybe because I have a little more money than you, that I can empower you to do X and Y.
We try not to do that but to really let people understand that life is about their choices, not others. We get frustrated by that a lot, and then because we see other non-profits, their mission is to empower people.
“Where did you get this power to empower people?”
Who are you, but thanks for your help.
The other one is resilience. The literal term of resilience means to bounce back. I always, I was an explosives guy in the military and we used to blow doors down. I used to tell guys that you got to be careful where you stand when you’re blowing a door down, because when that blast comes off that door, it hits the wall behind you and it hits you twice as hard as it did after it hit that hard.
It’s the same concept as a superball, right? If you throw a superball against the wall, it comes back at you almost twice as fast as you threw it.
“What happens in life isn’t always about bouncing back.”
I want to get better, man. I want to take these struggles and figure out how to thrive. Maybe just bouncing back isn’t good enough. So when we talk about this kind of humanistic approach to resilience, it’s really about how do you handle adversity? Does adversity throw you off?
Are you in a place where you can remain balanced and present and you know, get through it and track it? But really, it’s all about managing adversity in the face of this adversity and not bouncing back but better.
Resilience is where you were. Think about wearing a spandex shirt or something, under shirt. You pull the shirt and it bounces back to where you let it go again. That’s kind of what resilient fabric is. But when you talk about humans, it’s really about, how do you face adversity and how do you manage adversity as it hits you in the face.
Once you start to get this new taxonomy and this whole concept that it’s about training, it’s not about therapy, it’s not about just somebody else healing you…how do you take control of your life? That’s the challenge as you perfect that growth and the strategy. That’s where you get to this expert guide spot.
Being an Expert Guide
Ken Falke: We used to have a saying in the military that you learn more when you teach others. I think that’s so true in even life. It’s not just about maybe how to rig an explosive charge or how to go scuba diving, but how do you get through life?
As part of that expert guide, there’s a couple of things that are really important.
The first one is being a great listener. Listening is hard, right? The next time you are talking to your best friend, just watch his lips. He’s already coming up with a response for what you’re told. People, especially Americans don’t tend to listen very well. It’s like we’re jumping to conclusions in a conversation, we got a better way for that individual who’s asking us for help. So listening is one of the first things that great guides have to be able to do.
And listening helps you build your empathy, because teaching people how to become empathetic is never easy. It’s not that you’re born with it. You become empathetic through your own struggles, and if you’re not, you’re not learning from those struggles.
“Empathy is going to be a very difficult thing to learn.”
The second thing is experience. When I was sitting in my computer last night writing up a table about how experience in our country doesn’t seem to play the valuable role that it once played, and people get to the high places of leadership in our nation where they don’t necessarily have the experience to back it up.
When you’re a guide, if you’re giving advice and you don’t have the experience to back that up, it can be very dangerous. So, Josh mentioned earlier, we have four areas of wellness that we focus on: mind, body, spirit and financial.
Financial wellness is very important for Americans. We have to have money to live in this country. And if you are having financial problems, you don’t want to go to your buddy who has been bankrupt seven times.
Now there might be some value in understanding about bankruptcy that he could share with you, but if you are trying to get on a budget, trying to learn things about how to get out of this situation, you want to go to somebody who’s got the skill.
And the same thing with your body. If you want to learn fitness, you want to learn nutrition you just don’t go to a fat guy sitting on the side of the street smoking cigarettes and drinking Coke.
I mean, he’s not going to be able to give you any good fitness advice but he would if you ask him he probably would.
So our point is that to become this expert guide, you really have to build your wisdom and experience or at least know who to lead your people to for that expert advice, and then second is to really become a great listener.
Choosing Better Words
Charlie Hoehn: Instead of saying resilience, it’s more about handling your adversity and not just bouncing back but bouncing back better through training. Am I on point there?
Ken Falke: Absolutely and I thank you for it.
Josh Goldberg: And Charlie just on that idea of language, we had a writer, a guy whose father was a concentration camp survivor. Excuse me, he was in a concentration camp. I’m going to be careful with my language.
And in one of the worst situations. They were building the V2 rockets that were hidden in London and in a cave and they killed a bunch of people and it was just bad. Jim had written a book about it.
And so Jim sat through a program with seven females and he looked at them at the end and he said, “I want to apologize. We used to refer to folks like you as trauma victims in the literature and we were really proud of ourselves because we shifted from that to trauma survivors,” and he said, “You were neither victims not survivors. You are the most incredible formidable and strongest people I have ever met in my life. That’s all you are to me. Just strong people.”
And I think that’s what we can lose sight of when people are struggling, is their strength, is their capacity. At the beginning, you mentioned this idea of being able to help people add strength. What I tend to think is that these experiences and these struggles actually reveal it to us is that we’re all born with this birthright towards growth and towards struggling well.
“The narrative in our society is so dominant about wanting to be a victim that we forget.”
If struggle was diminishing in a permanent sense, literally our species would not have survived. Each one of us goes through some stuff. That idea I think is what we’ve lost sight of. It’s like innately, we are capable of being able to walk through the fire and be stronger and better for it, and I think it is just reminding people of our very nature is one of our incredible strength and the capacity not to survive.
We’re not meant to survive, we’re meant to thrive. We’re meant to live great lives, and that’s why we’re here. That’s the idea.
The Impact of High Suicide Rates
Charlie Hoehn: I know we’re coming up on time but I want to talk about your retreat. Tell me a little bit more about the retreat, where listeners can find some more information on it, who it’s right for, who it’s wrong for.
Ken Falke: So the retreat is called Boulder Crest Retreat, and we have two locations. One here in Bluemont, Virginia about an hour northwest of DC and then another one in Sonora, Arizona which is about 45 minutes south of Tucson.
Both are beautiful locations and five-star facilities, very high quality construction and beautiful healing place. We’re really excited that we host primarily combat veterans this year.
In 2018, we opened up our Warrior Path Program, which is our post-traumatic growth flagship program, to first responders. We did that with the approval of our board last year. It was a big ask, and we’re glad that to be able to do it.
We know there is a lot of first responders and especially some of these really devastating places where we’ve had big issues in Vegas and Florida now, the school shootings where these first responders can come back through our program.
“Really what we are trying to do is solve the way mental health is done in this country for combat veterans.”
I have travelled all around the nation. I’ve been to almost every prestigious school that does psychiatry and psychology, and I heard over and over again that what we are doing for combat veterans doesn’t work.
They kept saying things like, “Well if doesn’t work, why are we doing it?”
You’d hear things like, “Well it’s all that we have. It’s all that’s approved. It’s the only thing that insurance reimburses us for.”
And really our goal is to not take that approach. On the bomb disposal guy, if you do things that don’t work more than once ,the first time you might get lucky, the second time it’s going to get you.
I think mental health, this whole concept is that these invisible injuries is as lethal as a bomb. If you don’t attack it with meaning and purpose, you’re not going to bring it down.
“Twenty veterans a day commit suicide.”
Well, the VA says 20, you know? We think it’s even higher. There’s a lot of deaths that are suicides that don’t get reported. There’s a lot of deaths that are suicides that get reported as things like traffic accidents. So not always do they get reported as suicides, but at the end of the day, only one person on active duty on the military takes their life.
I think getting to zero is probably difficult, but at the end of the day, it’s damn sure that shouldn’t be 20.
Something is happening between active duty and veteran status that nobody seems to have a grip on.
Listen, this has been going on now for 15 – well the war has been going on now for 16 years. It’s almost 17 years this year. The suicide problem has been in our face for 15 of those 17 years and it’s not 19. It’s not 16 this year. It’s still 20. That tells me that we’re really not well.
We Need Better Solutions
Charlie Hoehn: The primary solution as you said seems to be let’s get them on prescription because it’s what the system allows us to do and it doesn’t work.
Ken Falke: When you do the same thing over and over again, it’s insanity right? It’s crazy. I sat on a suicide prevention round table this last past week, and you know, no disrespect to anybody who’s listening but it’s the same people in the room.
It’s the same solutions that have been regurgitated for the last 15 years.
It is a huge problem. I think it’s 123 Americans a day take their own lives, 20 of those are veterans, and I think one suicide affects somewhere in the neighborhood of 500 people. When you start looking at family, friends and relationships and especially now with social networks and large social friendships, it’s a big problem.
When you know people that have taken their own lives and you are suffering with depression and anxiety, your chance of getting to that place is increased.
At the end of the day, if we don’t look at this in a completely different way, which I think we are, you know taking post-traumatic stress disorder and turn it into a growth opportunity.
“If you don’t take a completely different approach, then I think you’d become part of the problem.”
And to share what we’re learning with as many people as we can, the next generation mental health therapists, the progressive mental health therapists that are looking for new ways to do business and really trying to share this success.
Because what we’ve seen is we’re 12 months into an 18-month scientific study program evaluation on our Warrior Path Program and we are seeing symptom reduction that’s three times more effective than traditional mental health care.
And we’re seeing growth like Rich Tedeschi, Dr. Tedeschi who again is the guy who coined this term, post-traumatic growth term 35 years ago, he says he’s never seen anything like it in his career.
So we’re onto something, and what we hope with podcasts like this and you know, help with guys like you who are doing these great podcasts is to really try to get this message out as wide as we can.
Charlie Hoehn: Could you say one more time the name of the retreat?
Ken Falke: Yeah it’s Boulder Crest Retreat and the website is bouldercrestretreat.org.
Changes We Can Make Today
Charlie Hoehn: What is the one thing that you want them to do from your book this week that will make a positive impact on their life?
Ken Falke: I’m going to give you two things. One is remember that you become the average of the three to five people that you spend the most time with.
If you’re spending time with toxic people, get them the hell out of your life.
That’s not as easy as I just said, it but it’s got to be in your future. Because you are hanging around with three to five drunks, you’re going to become a drunk.
And the other one is to start taking some classes on self-regulation. Because our philosophy is if you can’t self-regulate, you self-medicate and that leads to some bigger problems.
The recidivism rate in alcohol and drug rehab is horrific. Once you get addicted to anything like that, you’re going to have a hard time living a productive life.
So those are the two things that we try to leave everybody with. Figure out how to self-regulate, take some classes, exercise, yoga, meditation. And really start to look hard at the people that you’re spending time with, because that’s what’s influencing your behavior.