Author:Paul Gilmartin

Karma (Voted #8 Ep of 2011)

How do you cope when you are convinced your life is constantly in danger as a child?  First, you band together with your siblings and form an army, then you learn about the sweet oblivion of addiciton.  Paul’s friend Karma witholds her last name and picture so she can fully reveal the family life that nearly killed her, but ultimately forced her to grow.    A fairly heavy interview so Paul throws in a little something after the interview to hopefully make you laugh.


Buzzing In

I’ve fucked up a lot in my life.  I’ve embarrassed myself, hurt others, been selfish, self-centered, grandiose, irresponsible and manipulative – you name it – I’ve done it.

I didn’t realize at the time – and sometimes still forget – that this is how my mind compensates when my spirit sags. I try to inflate my deflated spirit with ego-based actions, created by my mind and not my soul.

My mind would be a terrible game-show contestant.

It always buzzes in first, never with the right answer.   My soul always has the right answer, but it doesn’t answer as quickly, and that is not convenient for someone who is prone to impatience, selfishness and fear.

When I’m self-centered, I’m acting on the belief that I am separate from you, we cannot help each other, I’ve got to do things on my own, and your success is my failure.  You are there for me to compare myself to, and then decide if I’m winning or losing.

When I feel I’m losing I become even more selfish; my mind yells, We’re not doing enough, We don’t have enough and We’re not enough.  So my actions become desperate, ironically making my life worse, when all I was trying to do was make my life better.

But I was trying to live my life intellectually, not spiritually.  And I don’t believe we can achieve true, lasting serenity unless our spirit is allowed to buzz in.

When I ignore my spirit, or soul, or whatever you want to call it, and ignore principles like love, honesty, patience, faith and compassion, I am pitted, in my mind, against everyone.  And this is exactly what my brain wants, because then it HAS to be in charge.

It has created a phantom workload that only it can work on.

The brain and ego are constantly trying to claw their way into the driver’s seat.

When our spirit is ignored; when “stuff” becomes more important than principles, we stop caring about other people because we’re too busy catering to the panic the brain and ego have created.  We become sad, lonely and left behind, even if we’re financially successful. Our spirit sags.   And if we’ve never used our spirit, we just think we need more stuff.

I’ve had money coming out of my ass and been suicidal.

I’m currently unemployed and much happier.  Not because I’m unemployed, but because my spirit is happy and active, and I don’t feel defined by my job or income level.   Some days I catch myself slipping back into it, and know it means I’m being too selfish.

How is the body affected when the mind is in charge?

Think of people you know who are trapped in their heads. They intellectualize everything and can’t talk on an emotional level.   Most of the ones I know are usually filled with tension and worry; furrowed brow, hunched shoulders, awkward eye contact, obsessive, isolated, lacking self-esteem or compensating with arrogance.

The mind is leading and the body and spirit are suffering.

When I help others, I feel peace.   When I feel peace I don’t panic.   When I don’t panic I make good decisions.   When I make good decisions things work out.

I don’t engage in spiritual practices because it’s the right or moral thing to do.  I do it because I have no other sensible choice.   Without it, my depression and addictions would take over and kill me.  I do it because it works.

It seems so completely backwards, but the first thing I need to do when I feel like life is passing me by, is to do something nice for another person, with no strings attached, nothing expected in return.  Sometimes it feels like pulling teeth.   But the relief from anxiety always comes at some point after doing it.  And that calms my mind and relaxes my body.

When I place my spirit first, my mind and my body benefit.  I get sick less often, I’m a better listener, and I connect to people on a deeper level.   It improves my self-esteem and gives me spiritual momentum, which makes it easier to keep doing the right thing.

But my brain always protests the helping of others.  It always tells me There isn’t time!   It tells me, We’ve already fucked up too much!  We’re behind schedule and we need to get more money, power or recognition or we won’t survive!

I’ve started ignoring that voice and I am more able to enjoy my life no matter what happens.

Some days it wins, some days it doesn’t.   I sat down to work on a comedy project about two hours ago, and instead started writing this.   The ENTIRE time my brain kept chiming in, that, We are blowing our career!  We’re doomed.   Why are we writing this?  We’re UNEMPLOYED, we need MONEY!  On and on.

I ignored that voice and listened to the one that told me this was the better choice; that working on this would bring me peace, and make me feel more connected to people.

It did.  I feel good.

And hopefully, after reading this you feel a little less behind schedule, a little less trapped in the past or future, a little more normal, and a little less alone.


Paul F. Tompkins (Voted #3 Ep of 2011)

The talented stand-up comedian, podcaster (Pod F. Tompkast) and writer/actor (HBO’s Mr. Show) talks about the role therapy played in helping him turn his pain and rejection into being a happier person and a better artist.  He opens up about the shame of having parents who didn’t find him funny or necessarily interesting, and the beauty of being given a second chance by a peer who was ready to write him off for his past bitterness.  A bitterness fueled by unrequited, irrational love.   Holy shit, this sounds Shakespearean!


Mike Phirman

His mom has been married 8 times, his father 4.   How’s that for a good place to start?  In addition to performing with Chris Hardwick as the comedy/music duo Hard n’ Phirm, Mike also performs solo.    He’s really talented and also really nice.  Really, really nice.   That’s right.  Full on people pleaser.  Mike and Paul get into the fear of disappointing loved ones, strangers and fans.   Also a little post interview excerpt from the great Ram Dass, regarding a man and a dolphin that will move you to tears or creep you out.  Or both.


Alycia Schlesinger

Even though Alycia has a Masters in Spiritual Psychology, her raw experience in a chaotic home has been the “gift” that has really allowed her to understand the dynamics of her own self-hatred, fear, and low self-esteem. She shares how facing that pain allowed for the eventual transformation to it being an experience that gives her life purpose.   An especially powerful episode (for Paul at least) as Alycia played a part in one of the most transformative days in his life.   They also discuss Victor Frankl’s book Man’s Search for Meaning and John Bradshaw’s book Healing the Shame that Binds You.


Nathan Rabin

The author, cinephile and head writer of The Onion’s A.V. Club talks with Paul about his deeply painful childhood and a seemingly endless series of rejection.  Foster homes, mental institutions, kidnapping by a mother who ultimately had no interest in him and a fear-off that includes a phrase we may never hear again: “I’m afraid I ruined Weird Al’s Easter.”


There to Catch You – a guest blog by Ether

Enlightenment seems to be inevitable when you realize that the hole you are falling down is most likely bottomless. Allow gravity to perform it’s natural duty. Yield to the flow of the universe. September was an unusually cold month this year of 2011, even for the weather standards of New England.

Saturday, the day before the 11th,  I was on my way to an outdoor cookout when I received a call from one of my half-sisters. Her voice seemed void of expression, the words came out slowly. “I just got a call. Dad’s dead, and the police and coroner say it looks to be definitely self inflicted.” This surprise hit me like a meteor. In my mind I traveled back home where a chocolate bar and pairs of socks lay waiting as gifts for his birthday and Father’s day.

Those moments disappeared and the thoughts of our last phone conversation from the prior month appeared. “Dad, I hope to see you at least before your birthday and give you all these gifts. I miss you. Take care, I love you.” There was a sigh, then my father responded, “Yeah…well…yeah you know. The words. Take care.” Memories surfaced: the moment my half-sister’s mother committed suicide, and just 8 years ago my own mother had entered her own downward spiral. But my dad was the stronger one! He had quit smoking cold turkey years ago, no health issues, and was still painting houses in his seventies.

The amount of tears that came forth could have flooded the countryside, as if Hurricane Irene hadn’t already done so the week prior. That faucet was then opened again a few weeks later when my wife admitted to me that during the past six years of marriage she’s lost all interest in me and has been living a perpetual lie.

This news comes after having two children, one only 9 months old at the time. If you had asked me two of my greatest fears I’ve had quite some time, I would have told you that I was afraid of my father ever passing away, and that I was afraid of my wife falling out of love with me. Within a 30 day span of time the two worst things I could imagine happened at once, and unfortunately it coincided with a time when my depression/anxiety medication stopped working.

What really saved me was my support structure. I learned awhile back that I was not alone, no one truly is, and decided to reach out. I had started therapy at the beginning of the month, and now had a life coach. I allowed myself to be vulnerable. I talked to everyone I could and learned that there are others who are willing to help you put on that parachute as you’re being pushed out from the plane. They’re willing to walk you through opening it up.

They’re even there to catch you if it never opens!

Realizing this fact has saved me.


Kulap Vilaysack (Voted #5 Ep of 2011)

You’ve seen her on The Office and I Love You Man, and you’ve heard her as the co-host of the podcast Who Charted?  Kulap talks about her chaotic upbringing by immigrant Laotian parents and the battle today to overcome the memories that haunt her.   They discuss her involvment in a little known therapy called the Grinberg Method and what she does today to find peace.