Restoring the Soul with Michael John Cusick

Episode 274 - Julianne & Michael John Cusick, "Embracing the Unchangeable in the Messiness of Life"

August 11, 2023 Michael John Cusick/Julianne Cusick Season 12 Episode 274
Restoring the Soul with Michael John Cusick
Episode 274 - Julianne & Michael John Cusick, "Embracing the Unchangeable in the Messiness of Life"
Show Notes Transcript

"To truly embrace the present moment, especially when we have no power to alter the result, it is essential that we approach life with compassion." - Michael John Cusick

Welcome to another episode of Restoring the Soul with Michael John Cusick. In today's episode, titled "Embracing the Unchangeable in the Messiness of Life," we dive into the antidote to negative messages, starting with the power of self-compassion and self-awareness. 

Julianne and Michael John Cusick explore the importance of becoming aware of what's happening within ourselves and around us and the value of offering self-compassion in the face of old negative tapes that often replay in our minds. They discuss the role of humility and confiding in others, creating a sense of community and healthy attachment. We'll also explore the act of offering a blessing to those struggling with negative messages, lack of self-compassion, and self-awareness. 

Join us as we journey through this episode filled with wisdom, vulnerability, and the transformative power of self-compassion and connection.


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Thanks for listening!

Julianne Cusick:

Well, welcome to another episode of restoring the soul. I'm your host today, Julianne Cusick, and I'm in the studio, turning things around, upside down. And all around. Because I'm here today to interview none other than my precious husband, Michael, JOHN CUSICK. Welcome, Michael, what's it like to be interviewed? On your very own podcast?

MICHAEL CUSICK:

Oh, this is gonna be fun. I'm sure. I don't I don't have to work so hard today. But I'm really happy to be able to talk with you and to get our listeners give them a chance to to hear us as a couple again.

Julianne Cusick:

Yes, we do tend to have a lot of fun when we're recording together. So I'm really excited to be here today, I would just want to say on the onset, I don't have like a list of grueling questions for you, I just want this to be playful, a chance for listeners to get to know both of us a little bit better. And kind of pull back the curtain, if you will, to just what life is really like,

MICHAEL CUSICK:

oh, that sounds, it sounds a little bit scary.

Julianne Cusick:

You may never let me do this again. So I've got my one shot here. So actually, I want to start with where we were about, I don't know, 10 or 15 minutes ago, as we were getting ready for this, you shared, you were feeling pretty frustrated and overwhelmed. And so I think our listeners can really relate to being frustrated and overwhelmed. I know I certainly can. And so I just want to start there, let's just be real about where we are today.

MICHAEL CUSICK:

Yeah, that's always a great place to start. It's in the present moment and with an awareness of what's happening in the present moment, as we do, you know, in our private life. And as we do with our clients in our work. One of my core values is to try to be the same person on a stage or on a podcast microphone, or with a client that I am at home. And that gets pretty messy as you'd like to say. And it can be kind of unpleasant. So yeah, I had a great morning until about 45 minutes ago when I was looking for a light for the podcast to illuminate you. And it wasn't where I found it. And as I talked about, with you and I and our Podcast Producer, Brian, I've overscheduled my life and had a dear friend here for four days. And then Brian is here to produce some podcasts for several days. And there's a lot of social stuff with that. And then we have some family members coming in, and then I'm traveling and the bandwidth that I have right now feels pretty low. And so I'm aware that resentment and irritability and frustration that can become toxic pretty quickly where other people around me like you and other family can pick that up. If I'm not aware of the resentment and the irritability, and sit and pause and say what's going on, it will send my day or my week into a spiral. And so I was very grateful to have a chance to sit. And initially I said, let's, let's take some time to be still and to pray. And as soon as I did that, I was aware of what was bugging me. And one part of it was my own resentment at myself for over scheduling, and then all the language that comes with that of you know, you can't manage your life, you know, you've done this so many times, it's always going to be this way. And then the other part was I was really afraid that I was disappointing. Brian, who's here, you know, out of town and flew in to work with us. And, you know, he right away said that nothing could be further from the truth. And he came and gave me a big hug. And I love the phrase he said when he hugged me. He said you you don't have this, like how we often say like, you've got this, you know, and then you walk onto the field to play the championship game. He said you don't have this. And that was the most encouraging thing. He could have said because I felt like oh, I don't I don't have to make this all work. I don't have to be the cheerleader for everybody. And I don't have to take care of everybody. And it's okay. If we don't follow a script. And it's okay if the lighting isn't just right, and all of that. So that's that's what's real. Jewels. You know, our dear friend Judy, she had a mentor in Africa who said that an African physician who said that Jesus only meets us in our realities, not in our illusions. So last 45 minutes or so, the reality was kind of ugly inside of myself.

Julianne Cusick:

Huh? Wow. So here you are. You have a podcast, you've written a book, you've spoken. Really internationally, you're the head of restoring the soul and you're telling us you get frustrated and overschedule and have negative messages come back. old tapes that play

MICHAEL CUSICK:

Yeah, and I hope that that encouraging to people and you know, the joke would be that people hit pause on the pot. podcasts and they go, I'm gonna go tune into Joel Olsteen or something, there's somebody who is living their best life. Now, in reality, I would hope that me sharing this kind of brokenness and the messiness and difficulty of life that, for me is a constant, it seems at times, but that's encouraging that people will go, wow, you know, I don't have my shit together either, so to speak.

Julianne Cusick:

Well, I was gonna say, Let's level the playing field here, because I don't have my shit together, either. I've had a good morning, which is great. The sun is finally shining here in Colorado, like it usually does. But we've had about three or four weeks of rain and clouds. And I have felt like living in Seattle, and no offense to folks in Seattle. But I love Colorado for the sunny days, I often joke that I'm solar powered. So I've been struggling, I've been struggling the last few days, it's been cloudy all day, haven't seen the sun, I've just felt down in my mood. And I was feeling like, I don't have what it takes to be on this podcast, I don't have what it takes to interview you, or say something intelligent and hopeful and encouraging to listeners. So I think this is a pretty good topic that we all struggle, life is messy. It's not many times what we signed up for or expected. At least, my life hasn't been what I signed up for, or what, uh, what I've expected. And yet what's true in the midst of the mess. So I appreciate your honesty and your vulnerability this morning. And it was awesome to just take some time to sit and be still, to pray. And I love Brian's words to you. Neither one of us have this, right. And it's out of that, that we can be real, that we can be present, that we can share our hearts with one another. And that's where real community and connection occurs. Right? Not in the illusion, as you said, but in the reality. The reality is Life is messy, and we're broken people.

MICHAEL CUSICK:

Right? At turning 59. And a couple of months, I don't think I know any other way to be any more, where if I could take a pill and never be irritable again, or never struggle again, it would make it so that I wouldn't have to depend on others. You know, and the important thing that people might say is, well, what about depending on God. And I think the way that I depend on God is learning to trust other people and open myself to others, it's less vulnerable to open myself to God as much as is to let Brian hug me and say you don't have this or to be able to sit down with you and Brian and say, you know, I'm not doing well right now. So sometimes I blow it and I do ignore those kinds of moments. But who I want to be is a person that lives that way.

Julianne Cusick:

You Yeah, yeah. I appreciate that. And I find that whatever mood you're in, or whatever mood I'm in, if we can share that with the other. Not acting out of it. But sharing it, like, Hey, can I confide in you? Can I just hit pause and tell you I'm really struggling right now. I'm feeling depressed, or I'm feeling anxious, or I'm feeling frustrated, or I'm really pissed off right now. Can you hold some space for me? Can you listen to what I have to say? And can we be in this together? Versus on my own island? Right? And I've got this and I'm going to handle it. And I'm just going to just, you know, toughen up and and push it down and push through. And it doesn't go well. When that happens. Right? Right. Yeah.

MICHAEL CUSICK:

Yeah, yeah. And for people that are listening, if they're not, in a couple ship, marriage, a partnership like we are celebrating 32 years coming up soon into a couple of weeks. Yesterday, I said 33 years, so sorry for that. I just want people to know that if you're listening in you, and you don't have a life partner that there are friends that you can do this with and you know, well, Jules that I've got two friends that live out of the area, that sometimes we talk every day and sometimes the subject is my moodiness or their their struggle. And I've just been blessed to be able to do this with people. And yet, it's not something that came automatically. And sometimes it's hard to pick up the phone or make the text in our men's groups. We talk about the 200 pound telephone, you know that we know that we need to make the call or to make the text but it's 200 pounds and we just don't lift it up, but it's transformational. What we're talking about now, is as much a part of restoration transformation, healing being reoriented our faith and our spirituality is anything else because it's about a freedom and the invitation to live in the reality in the mess seniors have life. Mm hmm.

Julianne Cusick:

I love what you just said. It's an invitation to live in the reality and messiness of life.

MICHAEL CUSICK:

Yeah. I also hope that people hear as I'm talking about, you know, what I consider this morning, a speed bump, as opposed to a crater that I've fallen into are going off the rails. I think that there's a lot of messages in Christianity that either go in the direction of you can have your best life now. And if you just apply the techniques to the principles, take this class, read this book. I mean, there's a lot of promises on social media that I see every day that just take this coaching course, and you will be alive and thrive and flourish. And I do believe that the effect of being a follower of Jesus is for us to have an abundant life, and to be rooted and established in love and to have love and joy and peace and to be able to move toward our goals. At the same time, as I've wrestled with a mood disorder and a lot of other neurological issues and trauma and things for all my adult life and throughout our marriage. There's an aspect of living in a tension between what is the work that needs to be done? Do I need to get on medication? Do I need to change my medications? Do I need to get therapy neurofeedback? Do I just need to learn to accept certain things. More recently, I've been praying the Serenity Prayer a lot in my recovery work of God grant me the serenity, to accept the things that I cannot change the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference. And so in this conversation, I'm just aware that some people may be listening in need to hear that there's things that we need to embrace, that may not change in our life, it may be suffering, it may be a struggle with anxiety, and that sometimes, we get to a place where we really have to trust in what we traditionally call the sufficiency of God, like the apostle Paul talked about in Romans 12. But that like, this is as good as it gets. And that's not a bad thing. It's an opportunity to learn a new way of living, and a new relationship to the suffering. Because if I'm constantly trying to get to a place where I'm never irritable anymore, or I'm not reactive to you, then I'm setting myself up for failure. And I'm going to be walking on eggshells that I'm really not know Kay husband, person human being unless I somehow, you know, perfectly nonreactive Where do you want to go? Because it looks like you were going to ask a question.

Julianne Cusick:

Oh, wow. Well, I just I want to hit pause just to unpack some of what you've just said. 12 step recovery, mood disorder. But your phrase, sometimes we have to learn to embrace the things we cannot change. I want to camp out on that for a minute. Just wow. Embracing the things that we cannot change. There's a depth there, there's an invitation there, too, if you will take the elevator down to the ground floor. Right. And we're not talking about I'm five two, and I really want to be five, six or five, eight, right? We're talking about some things, maybe physically, but some things maybe emotionally spiritually, neurologically. Right, absolutely circumstantially, like, right,

MICHAEL CUSICK:

getting frustrated that we've had going on two months of mostly cloudiness here, and I want to pound my fist like a child and say, Hey, God, I moved here 32 years ago, because there were 320 days of sunshine a year and that you're not holding up your end of the deal. And so if I'm attached to, if I require, if I demand for life to go my way, I will be one of three things, I'm going to be depressed, I'm going to be anxious, or I'm going to be angry. Whenever I'm attached to an outcome like that. And you know, there's there's so much Eastern wisdom, mindfulness, Buddhist thought, things like that. But this is just right out of the scriptures. This is right out of the teaching of Jesus of what it means to be able to not worry for tomorrow for today has enough troubles of its own. When I go through my day, my week, our relationship for that matter. And I require something to happen, that my heart longs for, or that I have is an expectation. I put pressure on you to not be free to love and be who you are. Or I set myself up to be anxious will this happen? I've got to manipulate my world I've got to make it happen. And then that creates anxiety. The anchor is when that goal or that desire outcome is blocked. I'm going to try to push through the dead end of the alley or climb over that brick wall. And if I can't, then that will frustrate me because anger is just often about a blocked goal. And the depression is, instead of being anxious trying to somehow create certainty in the midst of uncertainty or anger, where I've got to push through my depression is when I just give up, and I throw my arm. And it's like a balloon inside of me, deflates. And, you know, that's the spiritual, relational aspect of anxiety, depression, and anger. And there's certainly a biological, neurological part of that is we talked so much about here as well. But I think that when Paul said in Philippians, That he could be content in all circumstances. And he said that being chained to a wall in prison in the first century, it wasn't that he was joyful about being chained up, if he had the choice of being on a Caribbean cruise with all the disciples and Jesus or being in the prison, that he would choose prison. It's that no matter what the outcome is, here, the outcome is I'd like to be free preaching the gospel. But no matter that outcome, I can be right here in this present moment. And what was going on for me this morning, when I couldn't find the light. And when there were a bunch of boxes and cases of bottled water in the way of the equipment that I needed, my goal was blocked. And my struggle to be present to that was largely because of not having the space or not creating the space in the midst of the busy week, to tend to my soul, to be grounded to be still and those kinds of things. So the relational with you and with Brian was really grounded in the spiritual and in the emotional that I wasn't paying attention.

Julianne Cusick:

Wow. So when these things happen, like what helps you to embrace the things you cannot change? What helps you to let go of attachments? What helps you to recenter yourself in the midst of blocked goals? You talked about, you know, coming home and being frustrated with me, shocker. Our relationship is good, is not perfect. So when you walk in the door, and I'm involved in a project like and I'm not responsive to greeting you to a conversation, just like this morning with looking for equipment and things are blocking your goal. How do you handle that? What do you do with it?

MICHAEL CUSICK:

That's a big question and a big answer. At the end of it. What I want to say is I have to look at this whole thing through the lens of compassion. And I've talked a lot on a less number of podcasts that we recorded. And it's been probably six months since we've recorded new material. But I've talked a fair amount about Colossians chapter three, verse 12, where I'd read this passage hundreds of times. And just a couple years ago, I read that verse. And it says, Therefore, and it's in the context of that book of the Bible, where it's talking about holiness, and in the little modern headings, it says, rules for holy living. So here's the rule for holy living. It says, Put off your old self, put on your new self. And then it says, Therefore, clothe yourself with compassion, humility, kindness, gentleness, and patience. And what stuck out to me was, I always read that holiness equals being compassionate, humble, kind, gentle, and patient with others with you, with our daughter, you know, with our two dogs, when they're barking, got medical issues in the middle of the night and need to go out, you know, be compassionate to them. And that's what holiness is. But what the passage actually says is, start with yourself. Be compassionate to yourself. And so one of the things that I shared this morning in this whole context that we're talking about is I said to Brian, I feel like I'm disappointing you. And just to get out, as soon as I spoke those words, I knew it wasn't true. But the compassion was like, It's okay. And it's not the unforgivable sin for me To be feeling this stuff. And it's not the unforgivable sin for me To be resentful and irritable, and then the kindness, the gentleness and the patience. It's like if I was in that very same moment with a child, a little five year old that came into the office or something with their parents that was in a counseling session, I would have just knelt down and put my arm around them and said, It's okay buddy, let's go get a chocolate milk or something like that in the refrigerator. And I so infrequently and that way to myself, so I think the whole answered your question of how do we go Live in the moment when we can't change the outcome is we have to have compassion. I think the other thing is awareness that it's taken me 32 years in our marriage to develop self awareness, I used to think I was a person with a high level of self awareness that I wasn't anxious that I wasn't irritable. But I wasn't socially anxious, you know, I'm an extrovert. But when I'm around people, sometimes I get very, very anxious. And I have to be aware of that. This is an overused phrase, now, you know, what are you noticing in your body, that kind of thing, but I have to be aware of that. And for me, it's a golf ball in my throat, and a baseball not in the center of my chest. I think the other thing is to humble myself. And it required some humility to be able to say to the two of you, hey, I'm not doing well. I've been doing this long enough where I could have flipped the switch and gotten on the podcast, and I think that a part of my heart would have been unavailable. And we wouldn't be having this conversation right now. And here's the beautiful thing. It tells us three times in the New Testament that when we humble ourselves, we get a gift. God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. And I didn't make myself less, I didn't think less of myself, but I entrusted the unpleasantness the ugliness inside of me at that moment, I entrusted it to you, and Brian, and the gift was, you know, you smiled and said, like, it's okay. And Brian gave me this big embrace. And so I got a gift out of it. And so I think that if I had to think of one thing, it would be be connected to other people. Because that helps me to realize that the pressure that I feel, to make this outcome happen, that pressure is off me. And the other thing is, when I'm connected to you and others, somehow my soul is seen and soothe, and I feel safe and secure. And we talk about those four S's a lot. But I'll just say this, to finish that, in that moment of irritability, I was feeling insecure, and I was feeling dysregulated and uncomfortable and anxious. And what I needed was soothing. The soothing of friends who were looking at me going, it's okay, we'd love you.

Julianne Cusick:

Yeah. So Michael, thank you for allowing me to interview you today in the studio. So summary. The antidote to the negative messages starts with self compassion, and self awareness, right? We may be self awareness as even first we have to become aware of what's going on in us and around us, then offer that self compassion to ourselves, because we all have those old negative tapes that start replaying. And then thirdly, you said humility, and humility was confiding. And Brian and I have just, hey, I'm in a bad place this morning. And that then created community and connection, which is really another way of saying, a healthy attachment. And that's what we were created for, is these healthy attachments. So Michael, thanks for being here today in the studio and letting me interview you. As we close. This, just take a pause together. And I just want to offer a blessing to you and to our listeners. So to those of you who have negative messages who struggle with self compassion and self awareness, just want to say you are not alone. And you're okay. It's okay. And it's going to be okay. So bless you, Michael, and thank you this morning for the gift of your humility, your honesty and your transparency, both on and off the mic.

MICHAEL CUSICK:

You're so welcome. This was fun, Julian