Ep.25 Conversation with Harry Potvin-Loving our Bodies

Join us for this amazing chat with Harry Potvin, host of the Mental Corner Podcast, as he discusses his mental health struggles, body dysmorphia and how compassion helped him on his journey to being more loving and accepting of himself and his own emotions. 
Transcript

Welcome to the Love and Compassion podcast with Gissele. We believe that love and compassion have the power to change our lives and our world. Don’t forget to like, and subscribe to our podcast for more amazing content on today’s podcast, we will be discussing mental health, body dysmorphia and compassion in men.

Gissele: Our guest today is a former varsity swimmer mental health advocate. And currently has one of the top 2.5 podcasts in the world for mental health called the mental corner podcast, which has been streamed in over 40 countries on his show. Harry brings on guests from all walks of life to discuss the good, the bad and the inspiring world of mental health in hopes of inspiring his listeners to know that they’re never alone in their struggles. Please join me in welcoming Harry Potvin. When I hear you.

Harry: Hi, thank you so much for having me on Gissele. I’m pumped.

Gissele: Hi, thank you so much. Did I say the name of your podcast

Harry: correctly?

Yes, you did. Yeah. You nailed it. Okay,

Gissele: perfect. Perfect. Thank you so much for being on our show. We’re so excited

Harry: to have you. I know I’m excited to get, get going. Let’s do this.

Gissele: Can you tell us a little bit about how you got into a podcasting?

Harry: Yeah, absolutely. So podcasting really came around. Actually, it was perfect timing.

I started doing shows. A couple days before the pandemic hit, it was almost perfect timing because, you know, I had nothing but time, once that hit, but it originally started as, you know, me doing YouTube videos with, with guests and everything. And then the videos got so long that people who were watching were like, we love the show, but I don’t want to spend an hour and a half on YouTube.

So I’m like, okay, that’s fair. So then that’s kind of when the podcast started to really take form was when I converted it to audio and just let it do it.

Gissele: That’s great. and what inspire you to do the YouTube videos? like what inspired you to become this mental health advocate?

Harry: Yeah, so that, that really, it starts way before.

And, it kind of starts with my own mental health journey. So basically, you know, we can, we can dive into it of course, but just to give the little spark note at the beginning, you know, I was a man with mental health challenges and I was dealing with them internally. I didn’t want to open up to anybody about it because of the stigma that men experience with mental health or anybody really experiences with mental health and.

You know, suppressing it for so long and ignoring how you feel and, you know, just kinda ignoring all the signs that you should go get help at the end of the day, really doesn’t equate to a healthy lifestyle and I I’ll always relate it to, you know, when you put the teapot or the teakettle sorry, you put it on the stove and you heat it up.

Eventually that tea tea kettle is going to start squealing and just pop. If you apply enough heat to it. Enough time. So that’s kind of what I was doing with myself. I was suppressing it constantly. I didn’t want to accept how I was feeling. And eventually it just came out in outbursts. You know, I was labeled a hot head for most of my life and eventually the suicidal ideation that I expected.

Became really serious. Now at the beginning it was, it was innocent enough, quote, unquote, innocent passing thoughts. Like, oh, if I ran into the road and got hit, like what I die. If I hit this angle or would people really care and would people really come to my funeral? So it started with that. And then eventually as I kept ignoring these feelings at not getting help, it progressed into no you’re going to.

Like th this is going to be a thing that you do. And I found comfort in it because whenever something stressful happened in my life, I’d go, well, it’s fine. I’m not going to be here much longer. And so there were a couple of times where I tried to take my own life. And on the last try, I remember. After it all happened, I kind of came to and I was like, well, what am I doing?

Like, I, I, I don’t actually want to die. I’m I’m I don’t want this. And so that’s kind of when I started getting the help that I needed, I started being honest about how I felt. I started opening up, opening up to my friends and family and. Then I got invited to, speak to a men’s only mental health panel at my university.

And I just, I remember being so nervous for it and cause I didn’t, I didn’t want anyone to know, but I figured that this was going to be the time that I was honest about everything going on. And in front of 300 strangers and a couple of my friends, I opened up about everything and the reception I got afterwards was all positive and people going, you know, I went through something like this, my brother, my father, my teammate, we all went through something like this.

That’s when I realized like, you know, that, that cliche saying of you’re never alone, it’s true. Like, that’s a true thing. Everyone goes through something and I wanted to highlight that more. So originally it started as me making videos about myself, filming myself and talking about my personal experiences.

I hated talking to the camera by myself. I’ve got to be honest and editing my own voice is painful. So the, it was a bit challenging for me. But then my friend who lived in the room across from me, he’s like, Hey, let me come on for an episode. And, he sat in, we talked about swimming cause we were swimmers and the mental health aspect of sports and it just got a really good reception.

And that’s kind of when I was like, oh, I want to do this because I don’t like talking to myself in the camera, but I love talking and meeting new people and sharing stories and it just kind of, that’s where it came to.

Gissele: Thank you for sharing that and for sharing your story. I think it’s so powerful because I think like a lot of people could relate to it, especially like many men, where I think you hit a wall, you get to the point where you can’t ignore what you feel anymore.

and you came to the realization you didn’t want to die. You just didn’t want to live the same way anymore. And that became such an impetus for change. can you talk a little bit about some of the mental health struggles that you saw maybe in, in, in some of your colleagues or some of your friends in terms of, of men’s sport in particular.

Harry: Yeah, for sure. So in, I can only speak on my experiences and my friends obviously, but you know, there’s a lot of, I think the biggest one that people don’t really realize is the body dysmorphia that goes on in male athletics, just because you think of athletes and you think of male athletes and you think they’re these big people that never feel anything negative and they just they’re hard headed and they just move forward.

But for me personally, like I was a swimmer, I was never a skinny swimmer. You know, you have that idea of a swimmer is lean like Michael Phelps and tall and everything. I’m short I’m wide. My nickname was short and wide in university.

Like that was just, that was kind of the image that I had. And, you know, it was all fun and games, but after a while, you kind of look from lane to lane when you’re about to race. And you’re like, why don’t I look like anybody? Like why, why is everyone else super tall? Why, why are people lean like that? I was never like that.

So there was a lot of body dysmorphia in my own experience personally, just because, you know, you try to match something that you physically just can’t and, It really, it really gets to you. And so, you know, with that, with people I’ve talked to with that body dysmorphia comes like, you know, eating, eating disorders or, you know, trying to match the stereotype that they desperately want to fit, but they’re never going to this unhealthy relationship with exercise, with food, with, you know, over commitment.

It’s it takes a major toll. And there’s a lot of that in, in athletics from people that I’ve talked to personally, just. We want to hit a standard, but we want the quick way to get there. We don’t, there’s not much knowledge about how to sustainably do it.

Gissele: And this is why we thought this conversation was so important because this isn’t a topic that’s often talked about.

We talk about body dysmorphia in women. We know what to look a lot about anorexia nervosa and bulemia and kind of the misconceptions, because you know, like there’s such a focus on women’s bodies. Men feel the same pressure in a different way. Right. and so I think this is why this topic is so, so important.

you know, you talked about anger as an acceptable emotion, or, or something that you actually had expressed, and that seems kind of like an acceptable emotion for men. It seems that anger is okay, but all the other emotions that kind of anger may be masking may not be a suitable. And I think. like what has been your experience in terms of how accepting or not accepting the world was for you to show, you know, sadness?

you know, you know, some of the other softer emotions, if you may.

Harry: Yeah, of course. When I was younger in like elementary school and everything, I was a very emotional kid. I like to think I still am, but you know, I’ll cry at Disney movies and everything. But when I was a kid, I was really, I didn’t like what most of the other little boys liked.

I didn’t like, I wasn’t that big of a fan of sports until I got into them. I didn’t like cars or action movies. I was never really into that. I love Disney. Yeah. Like Disney princesses were my thing. I liked nature. I liked bugs and I was very emotional, like prior to things. And that was an easy target for kids.

And because it was just different. Right. And again, these conversations were not being had when I was younger. So when, when the kids showing emotion, you obviously just label them as weak and right from the get-go that kind of puts that thought into your head. You know, if I show emotion, I’m going to get isolated, I’m going to get picked on.

So that stuck with me forever. And I think the problem was, you know, going into high school university, I was, I was getting angry a lot just because I recognize that that was an acceptable emotion. Like people didn’t really question it. They were like, oh, it was just a hothead or, you know, he’s just passionate about this, whatever, it’s fine.

But the second I saw people actually cry and show those emotions. It was met with a negative light. So the only way I knew how to express how I was feeling was through anger. And so I kept this narrative in my head of, if you ever show people that you cry, that you feel these softer emotions, they’re going to label you as weak.

So don’t, you dare do it. And so I guess I just had that in my head forever, so I never really wanted to open up to anybody about it. But honestly, the second I did on the. It was met with nothing but positivity. So a lot of it’s just a lot of, it was just in my head to be honest. Yeah.

Gissele: And it’s so interesting that you mentioned that because you know, where do these stories that we tell ourself come from?

Sometimes they come from our parents. Sometimes they come from societal conditioning. I grew up in the same way. I was really, really soft and sensitive kid. I cried all the time. You know, I cried if people fought and that was the same messaging, I felt that I received. Stop that, you know, you know, buck up, you know, like strengthen up.

but for women it’s not so acceptable for them to show anger as it is men. So there is a little bit of, I guess, of leeway. and, and, and it’s interesting that we do ourselves such a disservice because I I’ve seen it in, even in my son. My son is a very cuddly kid, but when he used to go around hugging people randomly, we would be like, really.

Gissele: Yeah. so, what, what strategies, or what things did you find kind of helped you become more accepting of yourself? first of your body and then maybe have your own kind of emotions.

Harry: Yeah. So yeah, of course. I’ll start with body just cause it’s, it’s still going on. I think that’s always a never-ending process for a lot of people is the acceptance of your body just because.

You know, it’s one thing to sit here for me and tell people like, oh, you don’t compare yourself to other people. Like that’s not, it’s not healthy, but at the end of the day, we compare, even if we’re not consciously doing it, we’re always in one way or another comparing to the people around us or the people on social media, it’s just it’s bound to happen.

So for me personally, you know, It’s been a lot of work of accepting the fact that, you know, this is what I look like. And I think, I think the biggest change for me was before I wanted to look better, I wanted to look good. I kept telling myself do this so you can look good for other people. And then I had to kind of switch that mentality and go.

You know, make decisions now that are gonna keep you healthy and make you feel good. And then whatever you look like as you’re trying to work on feeling good is just how you look. So I think that little shift of, I need to look good versus I need to feel good, really helped me with, you know, my own image because.

It, it stopped me from going, why do I have this when others don’t or why do they have this one? I don’t. And it got me feeling like, Hey, you know what? I feel pretty freaking good right now. And this is just what I look like, so you can accept it or not, but I accept it. So I think for me, it’s still a process, of course, because at the end of the day, I still compare, whether I want, I don’t want to, but it just happens.

So I still try to remind myself, like, you know, this. The body you’ve been given, and you should be grateful. The fact that, you know, it’s a fully working body and, you know, you can wake up every day and take a big breath of air and you can go on a walk and you can do things that a lot of people can’t. So it’s a lot of, you know, practicing gratitude and practicing those practices, a lot of practice.

And then in terms of emotions, I think that came with that, that actually got better as I started doing this advocacy work and started doing the show because you see this vast array of people who are all going through something. And whether it’s the S it’s a similar thing to the previous guests, or it’s a completely different thing.

The bottom line is that everyone’s going through something. So when I get these feelings now, you know, I went to therapy, I did the self care. I did the research, I did the medication, I did all of it. So I have these, these tips and tricks that work for me, where I can kind of, instead of getting golfed in the emotion, I can sit back and go, whoa, wait, I know what this is.

I’m going to feel it for a second. I’m going to accept it. And then I’m not gonna let it take over me and then not. And then I don’t feel guilty after I used to feel so guilty about feeling these things. But now that I. You know, everyone goes through this stuff and this is just a part of life. I feel a lot less guilty.

So yeah, that’s kind of where I’m at right now in terms of accepting everything. Yeah.

Gissele: Thank you so much for sharing that. oh, I just want to touch on what you had said about the shifting strategy in terms of your body. you know, looking at it, instead of saying I have to look better or more attractive or whatever.

because the, the subconscious thought there is, I, I don’t right. And so the, so I loved how you shifted to. I’m going to do things that make my body feel good, feel healthy. And then, you know, and from there came the feeling right. and so I think that’s, that’s very powerful and something that people can start doing.

Gissele: Okay. What can I focus on what I want to create rather than what I dislike or resist or hate. and then for the second point. I love that. What you were focusing on was not being in resistance. So you allow the emotions to come, you acknowledged and accepted them, and then you allow them to pass rather than go into the emotion and really kind of get caught up.

Cause that’s what happens to us, right? As a person who suffered from anxiety for many years and you really get caught up in those thoughts and in those stories, and then you’ll really go into it. so I think what you said about that is a very, very, very powerful. can you share a little bit about kind of what used to do with the mirror?

I thought you had shared a story before with me about, your relationship with the mirror and how that may have shifted.

Harry: Yeah, absolutely. So I was, you know, I did this thing and I’m still kind of guilty of it every now and then, but I used to look in the mirror. Because I already mentioned, you know, I didn’t like my body.

I didn’t like how I looked and I didn’t like how he felt. So I was just a big ball of misery and I would look in every mirror I had the chance to, and just kind of look up and down on my body and just bash it, you know, be like, oh, you’re disgusting. Like, oh, you’re too short. Why you shouldn’t eat. You’re too short.

You’re too. You have too much chest hair. I don’t know, like some ridiculous things. And you would just stand in front of the mirror and bash yourself. And the girl I was with at the time, she would notice this. She’s like, why do you do that? Like, that is not, it’s not healthy. And so she made me flip all the mirrors because I, I couldn’t stop myself from doing it.

It just. Pattern that I had even like, you would walk by a building if they had a reflective window, just whatever, whatever I had, where I could see myself, I wanted to judge myself and it was obviously not healthy by any means, but the day that I realized, like my shifting, you know, it was in the middle of, I was getting thing recovery.

I was on medication. I was on the right medication because, you know, I had times before where I wasn’t. Was it, I was getting the right help, all posed in the right things, but I didn’t feel like it was getting any better. And it was kind of discouraging because obviously this takes forever and it was a couple of months in, and I remember I woke up one morning and I hadn’t flipped my mirror that day.

And I looked in it and I looked up and down and I was like, you actually. You don’t look too bad today. And the room lit up and it just felt like my energy boosted again and it was kind of like straight out of a movie or something. And immediately I felt better because I gave myself that message as opposed to the usual, like you’re disgusting.

And I walked into the library that day at my university. And everyone’s like, you look a lot lighter today. Like, did you do something? I’m like, no, I was just nice to myself. So that’s kind of when I realized that the shift was happening was I acknowledged too. I was in the mirror and instead of meeting it with a, I met it with a, Hey, you’re not.

Yeah. Hey, are you single? No, I’m kidding. But,

and that’s what we call the practice of self-compassion right. Being kind to yourself and finding the things that you. appreciate in yourself in focusing on that, putting your energy and attention on that. but the practice of compassion isn’t seem to be that popular in men.

Gissele: So, but maybe this is a misconception that I have. What has been your experience with compassion in some of your fellow, men in, within yourself?

Harry: I think there was a misunder misunderstanding for myself about what self-compassion was. Cause when I, when, when I was suggested to me by therapists and people around me, I thought it was. Cringe. I don’t, I don’t, I can’t think of another word, but I just thought it was really cringey because they would tell me to like, look in the mirror and say what you’d like about yourself.

And I was like, well, I don’t, I don’t, I don’t like anything about myself. So that seems like a waste of time. And the girl I was with at the same time as the mirror thing, she would try to get me to sit down and list three things. I liked about myself when she realized I was spinning out of control. And I could never find three that didn’t.

’cause sometimes I’d be like, oh, you know, I’m a good boyfriend. Maybe she’s like, that doesn’t count. Like, what do you like about yourself? And I, I never could be. And I guess there was just a misunderstanding because. It could also be the ego talking and the toxic masculinity talking. But I didn’t like thinking of things I liked about myself because I thought it was cringe.

And then once I started getting into the practice, I realized it was a lot less of that. And more of just acceptance because at the beginning I thought it was just, oh, I’m going to list what I like about myself. And I’m going to try to feel cocky. But it’s not that it’s just taking what you have not cockiness is when you compare yourself to other people taking what you have acceptances.

When you take what you have, forget the other people, the way you are is the way you are. And it’s perfect the way it is. And that’s when I really started to lean into the self-compassionate practices. When I realized the difference between acceptance and feeling cocky, because I didn’t want the cocky thing.

I thought it was gross. I thought it was weird. But that’s not what self-compassion is.

Gissele: And you’ve hit the nail in the head and, and that’s true power, right? So when you, when you have to be in a lot of people, confuse self-compassion or self love for narcissism, which they are not the same thing, because the narcissistic, if you consider narcissistic behavior, Requires someone else to do something else, right.

To give them attention, to give them love to, to do all of that. but it’s always externally driven, right? It’s always about someone else. but when you learn to love and accept yourself fully, it doesn’t matter what other people do. It doesn’t matter if they give you that love or compassion or attention, or if they don’t, you really find that you accept yourself fully and are enough.

So what other people, whether they give it to you or not, doesn’t matter. And so in that really is for us the concept of true power, where you can look at yourself and say, there are things that I love and appreciate about myself and the things that I don’t, I’m willing to, I’m willing to accept them. I’m willing to love them.

I’m willing to look at them and have them in my life. indict is, but it’s not a message that is, Given out there, I guess in the larger society, it’s not a common message. you talked a little bit about toxic masculinity, and I wonder what role that plays in sports, because you do have that, you know, like the competition and the there’s an element of, of, of competition there that.

Harry: Yeah, no, well, there, there was definitely elements of toxic masculinity in sports. obviously not all of it was, but I can remember back to when I was a kid, looking up to the older athletes because I just thought they were so awesome because I had no one else to look up to in the sport world. But.

We talked about anger as an emotion and not showing, you know, the softer emotions when these guys would get at a bad time in a race or something happened in practice. They didn’t like they would cuss people out. They would punch the lockers, they would bash their head on the wall. They. That’s really primal anger behavior that was just somehow accepted.

And so as a kid, trying to figure my life out and trying to show, like, how can I express how I’m feeling internally? I looked at that and I was like, oh, that’s accepted. Okay, I’ll do that. That’s a great idea. And so that’s where the hot headedness kind of came is that, you know, I saw this toxic masculinity way of expressing emotion and I just ran with it and I loved it because no one.

No one questioned it. They, they, they were like, Harry, you’re a hot head. You’re a little angry, but we’re not going to question it. If I were to break down and cry, it’d be, oh, oh God, no, no, no, go away. And I saw so many examples of that in the, not just the, I don’t want to call out the swim world, but like in the athletic world, one example was it’s not even in the swim world.

I was playing rugby. And I went to Europe for a rugby tour and side note. We got absolutely pummeled every game because those Europeans know how to play rugby. Let me tell you. And we were just, we were just high school team. We just wanted to go for fun. And so the first game we’re super jet lagged and we have 16 guys for a 15 man game.

So if one person gets injured, we’re screwed. We’re super jet lagged. We’re super tired. We don’t know what we’re getting into and their profile, their provincial team walks in the London, provincial team walks in and we’re like, W we’re going to lose like pretty bad, because they thought we were a team Ontario, but we were just a high school team.

And so they brought their best guys. And so within five minutes, one guy gets injured. He breaks his collar bone. So we have no more subs. So everyone in the game, as it is, has to play the game. And I remember there was this big guy, monster of a guy must have been three 20. And like six feet tall and he could run like a horse and no one wanted to tackle him.

So he was destroying our line. Like he was destroying our team and in Ontario, people were that big, but they didn’t know how to use their weight. So I was like, oh great. I’ll tackle them because I could tackle those guys. Why are you guys so afraid? So I went for the tackle. His knee went right to my template.

I blacked out like out cold. I was limp. I don’t remember, obviously, cause I was fully concussed and I remember coming to and looking around and everyone’s around me and they’re like, are you good? And I was like, I, I think so, because the last thing I remember was I’ll tackle him. I don’t remember anything else.

So it was like, how did I even get on the ground? Yeah. I’ll tackle them. And then the next thing I knew, I thought I blinked and I was on the ground. I was like, oh. And so I get back up and I realized there’s no subs. So I was like, well, I have to keep playing, but my mind. All over the place it’s spinning around and around them going crazy.

And one of the symptoms of a concussion is this whirlwind of emotions and this disorientation and I had both. And so I started like bawling my eyes out, but laughing at the same time. Cause I was so confused with what was going on. And so as we’re playing, I’m still crying and like calling out plays to the team I’m like blue 30 and like crying and shaking and.

In this moment of vulnerability, because my head is so mush right now that the team was great about it. Like they were, they were super supportive, but when I got back to high school, like the next season, people were like, aren’t you the guy that cried like a baby. Oh, And I was like, yeah, cause I got run over by a truck.

And so there was just that idea of what do you even know what you’re talking about? Like the younger guys on the younger team were like, even know what you’re talking about. You’re the guy who cried in a rugby game. And I was like, are you kidding? So that was one example of toxic masculinity is that you’re not allowed to cry when you get a concussion.

And, And I’ll just share another story really quick is not on the rugby field, but in the swimming world, I knew a guy who he had a really bad race and he didn’t do the time that he wanted. And I remember he really started crying cause he had worked all year for this race and he just didn’t get the result he wanted.

And I guess just wasn’t expecting to not get it. And he started punching things and really crying and didn’t know what to do. And the discussion on the pool deck was can a load of that. Like, I guess he won’t be competing anytime soon because the idea was, if you’re, if you’re weak, if you’re showing emotion like that, you’re not a competitor and you’re not a threat to anyone racing you.

So those are just two of the many examples that I felt around the sporting world. It’s yeah, it was everywhere.

Gissele: I think it’s so sad because we do ourselves such a disservice. I mean, we’ve seen it in men, but it’s also like it’s, it’s kinda rampant it everywhere. It’s sort of like, even in, you know, in the workplace, we’ve see it.

and I think that’s why Brene Brown’s message resonated so much because she talks about vulnerability and the power of being vulnerable in. And kind of allowing our emotions to come. Like there’s nothing wrong with anger. Anger is a actual, helpful emotion is what we do with that anger that is, is really, what negatively impacts in other people, but beneath anger, there’s usually a whole bunch of other feelings and emotions that are hidden, like sadness and disappointment in and, and, you know, frustration.

Like your, like your friend, right , like somebody who had worked so hard and then they still are not able to there’s, there’s an element of sadness there. And if we only normalize that, I think we would be maybe a, maybe a healthier society

Harry: maybe. Yeah. Well, one could hope for

Gissele: sure. I wanted to touch on something, that you had mentioned to me when, you and I met, which was, because I think this is so powerful.

The subconscious doesn’t care if you’re joking and there’s so many times we talk to ourselves in our bodies and our, you know, in just it to ourselves in a way that is so not compassionate, that is so like, you know, we’re so used to the sarcasm and putting ourselves down. but I think that is really important.

Can you talk a little bit more about, what helped you learn

Harry: that? Yeah. Yeah, for sure. So, that quote I got , from Mike Tyson, he said it on his podcast and I loved it. I don’t know where he got it, but, I mean, yeah, no, I loved it because for me personally, and I talked about it a little bit earlier was, you know, when, when my nickname was short and wide.

I loved it. I’d love that nickname because as rookie, you know, the team recognized me and they, they thought it was funny. And I was like, oh, it’s pretty funny. Yeah, I’m the shortest guy or one of the shorter guys on the team. I’ll take that nickname. And I ran with it. I didn’t realize that I was starting to accept the fact that I was short and wide, but not in a healthy way.

And that nickname really stuck with me. And, you know, that tailed in with, I used to joke all the time about, you know, I don’t have a swimmer’s body and it wasn’t built for swimming anyway. So, you know, the fact that I’m here is incredible or whatever. And so those two linked together event at the beginning seemed harmless and seemed innocent.

But then as I got into my third year, as I got into my fourth year, I realized that, you know, these thoughts are really hurting. Like I would be behind the blocks. That I think again, how I was going to execute and do these things that I did in practice. My only thoughts were I’ll probably lose, but it’s because I’m not built for swimming.

So eventually my mind really, you know, it went from joking around and saying, oh, I’m short and wide to really convincing myself, you’re not going to get anywhere. And this is why, because you are not built for this. And you are like the exact opposite of the body type that you should.

Gissele: I think what you’re saying is so, so powerful. And I want our listeners to really, really understand why this is so important, is because these words that we say, these thoughts that we have, these beliefs that we start to absorb then become our identity and they become who we think we are. And then it becomes harder to shift that identity.

I because then we start to embody this, like you said, now I am the person who is not fit for this sport. I’m this person who is not going to do it because of this, like these stories we tell ourselves and it can start innocuously. and then, but we don’t realize how we then start to embody it. And then shifting out of it requires us to create a new identity, an identity of someone who is loving and compassionate to themselves and identity of someone who is a great swimmer.

No matter what they look

Harry: like, right? Yeah. Yeah, exactly. And that shift is so hard. It was, it didn’t come to me until I was done swimming. Like that’s, that’s when all the, it really started to work for me, which isn’t unfortunate, but yeah, it’s, it’s a tough, tough transition.

Gissele: Yeah.

Harry: No, no, I, I, my last race was right before the pandemic

trace was January, 2020. So I got out at the right time.

Gissele: obviously, you know, sports are kind of limited because of that. What do you think really helped you shift that identity? Like it was, was it over time or was it like what’s kind of steps? Do you, would you recommend to our listeners and starting to kind of shift that idea?

Harry: Yeah, for sure. Shifting that identity, it was, it still is a process. It’s still, I’m not going to sit here and pretend I’m perfect. And you know, I’m, I’ve got all the answers to everything. I’m still a kid, but, I guess what really, really worked for me, you know, aside from the therapy aside from actually going out and asking for help is the acceptance of I’m not perfect because I think throughout most of my mental health journey, I wanted to be perfect on a multitude of different, in a multitude of different aspects.

I wanted it to be perfect at swimming. When I was a captain of the team, I wanted to be a perfect captain. I want it to be a perfect man. I want it to be a perfect student and that’s just so unrealistic on so many different levels. And I never achieved that for any of them. First of all, I was perfect in the way that I offered, but I wasn’t perfect because perfect is an unrelated.

You know, bar that we set for ourselves. So I think the biggest transition that I had was accepting the fact that I’m not perfect and no one is like, regardless of what you see on social media, regardless of what you see on the news or in the people around you, nobody is perfect. And I think accepting that was really the first step to me going, okay, now what can I do to work on what I have as opposed to what I want.

If that makes sense.

Gissele: Yeah, absolutely. And you know, like it’s interesting to reflect on where these pressures to be perfect come from. Right. I mean, I would say we’re all in imperfectly perfect, right? Like we’re all, we’re all muddling through. Like you said, that common humanity, which is so, so important and compassion, we’re all muddling through.

We’re all have our challenges that we, you know, are choosing to take on. We all have these limited thoughts that, you know, Create kind of our experiences. and so, and we’re all navigating through and we’re all doing the best we can, but the, this desire to be. Perfect to strive. And I used to have the same issue.

I used to have all this perfected wanting to strive, and it’s kind of like a moving target because you can’t quite never get there. There’s always more, right. Like, it’s like, it’s like the race, he just went there. Track just keeps going. It’s

Harry: like, it’s a never ending imagine. Yeah, exactly.

Gissele: Yeah. but it’s, but when you come to really accept yourself just as you are.

You know, faults and all, and you can look at them with, with joy or acceptance. And, you know, like with kindness, life just becomes easier. I just think that in a lot of the structures we’ve built are so built on this foundation, that things should be perfect. You should be the perfect swimmer. You should have the perfect time and that you can, instead of the joy, maybe that there should be in sports, right?

Harry: Yeah, absolutely. There was, one thing I love about sports or in the sport world is when, you know, an example is like in the NBA when players acknowledge other players greatness, as opposed to like trying to bash them and like get too cocky. I love that because. Neither of them are perfect, but they’re both pretty great.

And they can acknowledge that and work, not together if they’re on opposing teams, but they can acknowledge it and then play hard against each other. And at the end of the day, go, Hey, you played really well. Like thank you as opposed to, Hey, you suck and I’m better. And then try to fight them. It’s that, that, that narrative.

So blah to me, I love when people show respect and to if. To clarify, like not striving for perfection, you know, doesn’t mean don’t strive to be great. You know what I mean? Like except who you are and still keep working, but don’t, don’t bash yourself and don’t be so hard on yourself when you don’t get to.

Perfect. I think if we, you know, set the bar a little lower, Hey, I want to be great. Let’s work towards being great, accept who you are now. And let’s work with what you have now. Stop focusing on what other quote unquote perfect people have, and that makes you miserable like that comparison and focus on what you have just because you’re accepting that.

Perfect. Isn’t attainable doesn’t mean that you just give up.

Gissele: Yes. Thank you for that clarification, because I think. is very key. so one of the things we talk about is, the, and so you can accept yourself and you can choose to change, right? And you can choose to improve it. In fact, I think fully accepting yourself, enables you to seek out and be the best you you can be.

Right? Because once you fully accept those flaws , then you can. You know, change them more from, to something else without the resistance, without the, the, I hate this. I don’t want to do this because really what you do when you’re resisting is you’re feeding that you’re putting all your energy and attention on what you don’t like, what you, what you hate, what you don’t want to create.

Right,

Harry: right, right. Yeah, exactly.

I did want to go back to, the concept of the body dysmorphia for a second. I did want to talk about, some of the messages that come from the media around how people should look like. And as you were talking, it kind of helped me have this awareness that we kind of reject ourselves. Like, if everything from, let me back up from my perspective, everything really is a mirror of us and what we feel and what we think about our.

Gissele: And when you look at the society we’ve created is we’ve created these particular look of peoples. There are tend to be whiter . They tend to be thin, or they tend to be more fit. And there’s a lack of embracing diversity, right? There’s a lack of embracing different noses, different body builds , different, you know, like colors.

but I think when you boil down to it, it, it feels like. We reject ourselves, right? We, we look for these ideals because we think these are the ideals, but in general, they’re just reflecting us, not accepting ourselves. And I think the more we do that, the more we’re going to see out in the world, all of this different, different concepts of beauty, because who says that a swimmer’s body is that who says the ideal is that I guess who’s determined that a specific body type is the ideal.

Harry: Yeah. Yeah, no, yeah. I completely agree. It’s and you don’t even realize that what’s in the media affects you until you start feeling terrible about yourself. Like when I, when I was a kid, I would look at, you know, you go to Walmart or you go to the grocery store and as you’re waiting in line to pay, you have the magazine covers around on the, on the rack and you know, it’ll be, it’ll be like, I dunno, I’m just going to pick a name out of a hat.

Like. Who Ben Affleck. Let’s say he gained some weight after a movie role. I don’t know the first name that came to mind. And, let’s, let’s say he has of his body. A little better than average, let’s say because he’s a celebrity and still the comments are like, oh, Ben Affleck in his whale body, or looking disgusting or gained a lot of weight.

And when you look at that and you look at the body that he has, and you realize that it looks better than yours in the whole comparative narrative, not it doesn’t actually look better, but he looked skinnier than what you are. You think, oh my God, like they’re calling him a whale. What am I. Like, what, what does that make me if he’s fat and another good example.

And this was recently was Zach Efron posted a photo and Zac Efron super attractive , but there was a, he gained a little bit of weight, like a little bit of weight. I don’t even know. It wasn’t even that much. And people were calling it a dad bod. And I looked at that and I was like, that is not a dad. A dad bought isn’t an eight pack.

That’s not how that that’s not a dad, but these little comments, like, that’s not how that works. Let me tell you. But it little comments like that can really have such a negative impact if you let them. It’s just because you start thinking, like, if that’s how they label that, then what would they, what would they label me if they saw me?

Gissele: Yeah. It’s so interesting, but people buy those magazines, they buy them, right? Like, so as a humanity, we gravitate towards that comparing judging people. Right. Which I think says a lot about us. Right. And then we take it to the next level of like, well, if that’s what they’re saying about them, what does that say about me?

Right. Like for the longest time, when I would go to the movies, like there was never anyone like in the Disney. I remember I was watching a tangled with my daughter and my daughter looks at me and goes, Hmm, here are the, here are the, the, the, the evil mother because of my hair. And I’m like, oh my God, that’s right.

The only representation of me in, in Disney is the evil stepmother, right? Like the people that have curly hair, big nose, and right. So. Wow. And my kids made the connection. Right. And I think that’s why, like, I don’t know if you’ve heard, but this movie in , which is like this, the Hispanic, the Mexican woman, like it’s it’s because people are seeing finally seeing themselves.

And so I do think things are changing that way. I do think that we are starting to be more accepting of ourselves and therefore kind of embracing.

Harry: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, no, I, I love, I love how, the way movies and even not just movies, like, what am I thinking of? Like music even, you know, you’re, you’re hearing collaborations from big north American artists with like BTS from South Korea or, you know, the.

Spanish music is blowing up. Like there’s this huge array of musical tastes, movie tastes characters, everything, and we’re just all bringing it together. I think it’s beautiful. I think the more we do that, not only is creativity and art going to completely evolve, but like you said, representation is everywhere for everybody.

I think it’s great. I love

Gissele: it. Yeah. And I hope that it expands to. Different beauty types, different beauty, acceptances, different bodies. because you know, and I say this to my children when they compare themselves to other kids, right? Like we’ve kind of had, we have teenagers. So they go through those pieces.

Right. And I’m like, well, imagine if everything was arose, I don’t think flowers are going around comparing themselves. Right. Like if everything was arose, if everything was the same, it would be just so boring. There’s so much beauty in the differences and that diversities and the different bodies. Right.

Nope. But they, they think that’s ridiculous because they see on social media, right? Like people only post the perfect angle, say, you know, they’re not going to put ugly pictures of themselves. how you said that, you know, in the beginning you didn’t like to hear your voice or to edit your voice?

Yeah. I had the same issue with, Doing videos. I started as an audio podcast. Super great, because it was audio only. And then people were like, you’ve got to do video.

And then I was like, yeah, it is what it is. Right. So you learn to, but it’s a, it’s a, it’s an interesting.

Harry: Oh, for sure. I, one of the biggest things that I’ve noticed for myself is when I talk, I start to blush and I’m not sure why it’s just, my neck gets really blushy and my face gets really blushy. And when I started filming, I was like, what is going on?

That is disgusting. And now it’s like, ah, it happens, you know, I’m just happy to talk to people. And that’s just my body’s way of going. Whew. I don’t know, whatever, whatever the heck it is, but yeah, no, it’s definitely a process, especially being on camera. It’s terrible.

Yeah.

Gissele: Yeah. I noticed that I sometimes ask more than one question as I did today.

Like when my husband’s like editing. Right. Cause you have to kind of, but that’s how my brain works. My brain kind of goes like, oh, I’m interested in this and this of course.

Harry: Yeah.

Gissele: It’s good times. I was wondering if you could just share a little bit about your podcast, in about some of the guests that you have and some of the topics that you

Harry: touch on.

Yeah, for sure. So it’s, it’s called the mental corner podcast. what I love about my show is that, you know, I have guests from everywhere, all different countries, all different backgrounds, all different stories. I love the diversity, that comes with talking about this stuff, because like I said, at the beginning, everyone goes through something.

So, you know, some episodes of my show I’ve had musicians on I’ve had actors on I’ve had, athletes on from all different sports. I’ve had, what am I thinking about? I’ve had cuddle therapists, which I didn’t know were a thing until I started this show.

Gissele: I think that’s when people are like, they, they pay someone to cuddle them, right?

Like the whole,

Harry: yeah. Yeah. It’s a, it’s like cuddle therapy. It’s it’s I want to try it one day. I think it’s incredible. But everyone has been super. Well, what I’ve noticed is that everyone is super nice. And what I love about the show, and I love about shows like this is that everyone’s super accepting, and you can freely talk about how, what you’re going through without the fear of judgment, which I think we’ve feared for so long.

But some of the topics we get into is, you know, we get into the mental health, obviously mental health challenges, like depression, anxiety, eating disorders. We get into self harm awareness. We get into. So we get into the topics like that. We get into suicide ideation or. You know, I had a, I had a mother on who lost her son to suicide.

So we get into that side as well, but we also get into, you know, how can I build a healthy habits with myself and food with myself, an exercise meditation, how can I start practicing meditation? How can I start looking at myself better? How can I be there for people? And so it’s just a whole array of things under the umbrella term, mental health.

And I just, I love. What I’ve I love what I’ve created. I, I, sometimes I hesitate to say that because I, I don’t want to sound too egotistical, but it’s not ego. I just, I love this little baby that I have. because it just started off as me and my friend joking around about swimming. And it’s turned into, you know, I’m zooming with a girl from Australia talking about her spiritual journey.

And I think it’s just, it’s beautiful. What the power of internet and communication could be.

Gissele: Yeah. And I think one of the key things you had said earlier was, that one of the goals of the podcast is for the people not to feel so alone. Right. So, you know, like through all of these shows, we’re trying to build community, right.

I’m bring people together, share stories, give each other hope, right? Like lift each other up so that your journey doesn’t have to be just yours. So you can, somebody can learn potentially from your journey or my journey or someone else’s. and so I think there’s something so, so beautiful and loving.

Harry: Right, right. Absolutely. And when I, when I listen to podcasts, like sometimes I’ll find myself pretending or visualizing that I’m in the room with those podcasters, like laughing and talking about it with them. And I think that’s very healing, especially right now. When we’ve been isolated for forever and we don’t get to see big groups of people and we’re not out there with everybody.

I think the power of communication, even if you’re not communicating, if you’re just sitting there listening, I think it’s so valuable for a lot of us because we just, we we’re, we’re hungry for that connection that we just can’t find. Yeah.

Gissele: Yeah. And I think one of the most isolating issues, or one of the biggest challenges of mental health is the isolation.

You feel you’re, you’re alone, that nobody else is going through this. And it’s weird how our mind does that. Right? Like you feel like, oh, look at everybody else seems to be having the best life everybody’s having. Like, and you are not. And it’s like, no, no, there’s so many people. Right now that are dealing with anxiety, depression, body, dysmorphia, all of these things, but in silence, they’re suffering in silence.

and so, I love that these conversations give people the opportunity to start, to, to have hope and find that they’re not alone and that they

Harry: belong. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah.

Gissele: I was wondering if you could share with the audience, what you’re working on, what’s coming up for you and.

Harry: Yeah, for sure. So, what’s coming up.

We’ll season four of the show just started, early January. So that’s kicked off. I’ve got a lot of great guests coming on. I I’m, I’m very, I don’t want. Yeah, no, there’s just a lot of great people coming on. It it’s been, it’s been an absolute blessing that people actually reach out and want to come on the show and talk about things.

So if you I’m most, mostly active on Instagram at the mental corner. That’s probably the best place to find me all the links are in my bio there. but if you’re just looking for the podcast, it’s the mental corner podcast. It’s everywhere. I’ve got YouTube videos as well. The visual version, most people don’t really like the whole zoom call video, but if that’s what you’re into, they’re all on YouTube.

and yeah, just follow that account, follow the podcast for any up-to-date things. That’s all I’ve really got going right now is just trying to keep the message spreading, keep the conversations going and. Yeah, shoot me a follow. Show me a message. If you listen to this, if you need to reach out to someone let’s, let’s kick it.

Thank you so so much. And thank you so much for being on the show and sharing your story with us. And we look forward to having the listeners listen to your podcast as well. Thank you everyone. For listening to another episode of the loving compassion podcast, transcripts are available on our website.

Gissele: Uh, www.maitricentre.com

Harry: by

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