Dare To Be Average: An Addiction Conversation with Ken Wells and Joe Polish #196

Episode Summary

In this episode, you’ll gain insights into how embracing vulnerability can lead to true peace, even amidst life’s challenges. Ken sheds light on the effects of workaholism, and the powerful practice of unconditional confidence that can redefine your approach to life.

Ken unveils the intriguing process of transforming shame into compassion – a profound shift that changes the game when it comes to personal growth. Discover how negative energies like anger can be harnessed for positive outcomes, and how consistent practice and conditioning can pave the way to authentic change.

As you listen, you’ll uncover the importance of addressing discomfort openly and seeking support within trusted circles. Whether you’re directly impacted by addiction or simply navigating life’s hurdles, this episode will provide you with valuable insights to enhance your journey.

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Here’s a glance at what you’ll discover from Ken Wells in this episode:

  • What Ken Wells tells the mega-rich and super famous when they struggle with addictions
  • Dealing with fear, shame, anxiety, and failure you will come up against in your life
  • Ken explains what Personal Brilliance is and how we can explore the beauty of average
  • How to experience pain in a healthy way and find new, meaningful approaches to life
  • Ken’s definition of ‘Addiction’ (And how to get your needs met without deprivation)
  • What you can do to better find purpose, focus, and acceptance of the human condition
  • Joe and Ken discuss workaholism and how to determine whether it is a problem or not
  • How to recover when you or your family are in the throes of addiction and suffering


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Show Notes

Embracing Failure and Challenges:

  • Ken talks about the common human experience of fear, shame, and failure.
  • Examples from successful individuals like Tom Brady and Mickey Mantle who faced failure despite their remarkable achievements.
  • Ken Wells emphasizes the importance of connecting with and working through negative emotions.

Redefining Average as Personal Brilliance:

  • The conversation shifts to redefining the term “average” as a way to tap into personal brilliance.
  • Ken Wells explains how embracing the commonplace and mundane can lead to finding meaning and personal brilliance.
  • The distinction between escaping challenges and confronting them to discover personal spirituality.

Addiction, Pain, and Personal Growth:

  • Discuss the ways addicts often choose to avoid confronting challenges and pain through various means like addiction or escapism.
  • Joe draws a parallel with Bill W’s quote about alcoholics trying to drink God out of a bottle.
  • Exploration of the idea that personal growth and spirituality come from facing challenges and finding brilliance within oneself.

Embracing Vulnerability and Sharing Personal Brilliance:

  • The importance of embracing vulnerability and sharing personal brilliance with others.
  • Acknowledgment that even successful people have pain and challenges they struggle with.
  • Joe highlights the concept of “sick as your secrets” and the power of opening up.
  • Embracing the everyday, confronting challenges, finding personal brilliance within oneself, and embracing vulnerability.
  • Embrace the concept of “average” and seek personal growth through meaningful experiences.

Defining Addiction and Its Complexities:

  • Ken Wells begins by defining addiction as a pathological relationship to a mood-altering experience that results in life-damaging consequences.
  • The conversation highlights how addiction goes beyond substance abuse and can manifest in various forms, including behavioral addictions like workaholism.
  • Ken shares his personal journey of recovery from sexual addiction and workaholism, emphasizing that addiction is an attempt to soothe pain.

The Role of Deprivation and Intimacy:

  • Ken discusses how deprivation often fuels addictive behavior, leading individuals to seek out substances or behaviors that provide temporary relief.
  • The concept of intimacy is explored, with a focus on its importance in addressing addictive tendencies.
  • Joe and Ken explore the idea that addiction, regardless of the substance or behavior, is an attempt to fill a void created by a lack of connection and intimacy.

Breaking the Cycle of Shame:

  • Joe prompts Ken to define shame, emphasizing its impact on people’s lives and how it often remains unrecognized.
  • Ken offers his perspective on shame, describing it as a powerful, isolating force that prevents individuals from experiencing true connection.
  • The conversation transitions to how addiction and shame are interlinked, leading to a vicious cycle that’s challenging to break.

From Escaping to Embracing Authenticity:

  • Ken talks about the societal stigma surrounding addiction and how individuals often resist identifying as addicts due to shame.
  • The role of workaholism is explored as a socially accepted addiction, often used to escape pain or feelings of inadequacy.
  • Joe and Ken discuss the importance of embracing vulnerability and authenticity as key steps toward healing and breaking free from addiction.

Unconditional Confidence and Finding Meaningfulness:

  • Ken introduces the concept of unconditional confidence, drawing inspiration from Buddhist teachings and the analogy of facing ocean waves.
  • Finding meaningfulness in life by being present and authentic, regardless of external achievements.
  • Ken shares his admiration for Joe’s authenticity and soulfulness, highlighting the power of genuine connection in breaking free from shame and addiction.

Embracing Authentic Peace Amidst Struggles:

  • Ken Wells reflects on the journey of transformation, stating that embracing vulnerability and authenticity brings genuine peace.
  • The opposite impact of workaholism, which often masks pain and prevents true connection and peace.
  • Ken emphasizes the importance of practicing unconditional confidence to navigate life’s challenges.

Transforming Shame into Compassion:

  • Ken shares the nature of shame, describing it as a powerful force that can be harnessed for positive change.
  • He explains how shame can be transformed by separating it from one’s personhood and placing it on behaviors, leading to self-compassion.
  • The wisdom of Pema Chödrön on compassion, recognizing shared humanity, and breaking free from shame.

Redirecting Negative Energies and Pursuing Authenticity:

  • The conversation explores redefining negative emotions like anger and shifting their energy toward constructive outcomes.
  • The importance of consistent practice and conditioning to create positive change and growth.
  • Ken encourages listeners to find their brilliance in ordinary life experiences and embrace authenticity, allowing for self-discovery and transformation.

Overcoming Challenges through Vulnerability and Support:

  • Ken and Joe discuss the value of addressing discomfort and vulnerability openly within a trusted circle.
  • Joe suggests that the misconception of needing to hit rock bottom to seek help is false, advocating for early intervention and personal growth.
  • Reflections on how addiction-related discussions can resonate with a wide range of individuals, whether directly impacted or indirectly through relationships.

Enhancing Destiny and Embracing Discomfort:

  • Joe expresses his passion for helping people understand and overcome addiction’s challenges and highlights the benefits of embracing discomfort.
  • He shares his sense of urgency to help people navigate through their struggles and suffering.
  • Joe acknowledges the impact of the Genius Network in supporting personal transformation, including Ken’s contributions to addiction recovery.


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