NYTimes Podcast: “Change Agent” Episode 1: Self-Control

By Michael Kelly

I discovered a series of podcasts about self-change produced by the New York Times. The podcasts are free at the Apple iTunes Store for me and wherever Android podcasts are found I assume.

In this post I’d first like to describe why I found this podcast to be so successful. I’ve also added a note for students of RHS about an experience described by one of the reporters who worked on this episode, and the lesson it taught me. The link to the episode online is at the very end.

I started listening to this podcast with curiosity and a bit of hope because I knew the author’s work on habits, but also with skepticism because I have been having lots of self-control issues lately.

The premise is that the secrets of competitive breath holding could help a woman fix her online shopping habit, and by extension, any issues I might have. This seemed outlandish—and alluring for the same reason.

No surprise: I’m writing because it was for me a powerful lesson in how to tackle my current issues. Just listening, albeit with heightened awareness because I identified with the woman with the problem, I got deeply into the crossover between competitive breath holding and self-control in a real-life situation where I feel dysfunctional. I felt like this was something real I could do.

And it was exceptionally well-produced 30 min. of material, with multiple voices and locations, and also music in the background.

For students of RHS: the question of spiritual and psychological release is not ever mentioned in this episode, but being a long-time RHSer I heard an exceptional example of how important it is that we get ourselves present in the scene we are working on. As is described by one of the reporters working on this episode, this is especially pertinent if we were not there when it happened!

But more commonly, this would apply to the accusation step which I always imagine as getting that bastard father of mine, just as an example, up on a stage where I can really let him know exactly what he did that was so hurtful. The point of the example is to make sure that I get up on that stage too!

About self-control: I don’t recall Thane ever talking about self-control in a constructive way. He did effectively bash ego-based “willpower,” and getting rid of this lie about whole-self based self-control is a necessity if one is going to get to a deeper level of self-intervention. Perhaps we can start a conversation about this vital subject.


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