#45 - The importance of healing childhood trauma with Mathew Blades

December 12, 2023
Mathew Blades

Episode Summary

In this week's episode, Aro Co-Founder Joey sits down with Mathew Blades, former award-winning radio host and creator of the Learn From People Who Lived It podcast. Mathew opens up about his battle with panic attacks at the peak of his career and how it affected his relationship with his wife. He and Joey discuss the significance of addressing trauma, especially experiences from childhood, through inner child work. Mathew shares how doing this personal work has made a big difference in how he shows up as a father and husband. You'll gain valuable strategies and tools from Mathew on how to navigate and heal from trauma, including the importance of settling the mind and trusting your instincts when something feels off. Tune in for an authentic and insightful discussion on mental health and self-awareness.

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Episode Transcript

Mathew Blades (00:01):

I went my whole life feeling like everybody else mattered more than I did. And that's just the way I was raised. And I don't think I'm alone on that. I think a lot of people grow up in homes where you're kind of fed this messaging of like everybody else is more important and be a good boy and do the right thing and listen, some of that's going to help you be successful in life, but it's not a real great way to operate your life 24/7. And so I can honestly tell you that until that life changing retreat a couple of years ago, that 100% I did not take care of myself before then. Now I see the value in it. Now I see the value in me feeling good, getting a workout, getting a good night's rest. I can see the way that I'm different around my wife and my kids and my family. And so I understand the value. Now, why that's important,

Joey Odom (01:06):

Welcome back to The Aro Podcast. Hey, it's Joey Odom, Co-Founder of Aro. Hey, we're fun. We're lighthearted here, but we go a little heavy in this episode in a really, really, really good way. Matthew Blades as our guest. Matthew was kind of the king of the hill in media, especially in the western US for about 27 years. And a couple years ago, he stepped away because he had to do a little bit of work on himself, a little bit of self-care, struggling with mental health. That is a big topic right now across the country. And for good reason, it's something that a lot of us are struggling with. And it was showing up physically and he knew he needed to make a change. In fact, we talked about this. The mental health was showing up so physically that he was just forced in a spot where he had to do something.

And I want you, as you're listening to it, I want you to think of somebody who may need to hear it. So that may be you, it may be somebody else, but somebody you can forward this episode to who you think could see themselves in this story. Because he goes into some pretty serious topics that he was dealing with. He talked about dealing with the inner child, going back to these moments in his past that were still, it was as if those moments were continuing on. And then he talks about, Hey, here's some things you can do. He gives some advice at the end. I asked him for some advice for somebody who knows that they're going something, something's off, but they can't pinpoint it. And it was an unexpected answer, but I really like his answer, the advice he would give to those people. So I hope you enjoy this episode. I hope it unearths some stuff that may be good for you to deal with or assess. And again, I do hope you think of somebody who could use it and just forward along to 'em. Tell 'em you're thinking about 'em and tell 'em you think they may enjoy the episode. So sit back for now, relax. Enjoy my conversation with Matthew Blades.

George Washington, Michael Jordan, Matthew Blades. These are three people who walked away when they were on top. Lucky for you. We're talking with one of them today. He's not just a handsome face, a golden voice, and a really cool name. He's experienced trauma, anxiety, burnout, and he's done the work and he's using his experience to give hope and help to others. Gang buckle in because you're about to learn from someone who's lived it. Please welcome to The Aro Podcast, my friend and Chris Powell's personal trainer, Matthew Blades. Matthew, how are you brother?

Mathew Blades (03:46):

Wow, that is single handedly the greatest intro of all time. Wow. Of all. I have never heard anybody serve me up quite like that before. And I have been served up many times. Bravo. That was brilliant.

Joey Odom (04:06):

But you know what? This was all you I just described you, so it's not the intro that makes it great. It's the you that makes it great, bro.

Mathew Blades (04:14):

Yeah, but what made you pick George and Michael and what were the other choices?

Joey Odom (04:21):

There were some others. We could have gone Barry Sanders, we could have gone Wilt Chamberlain. There were some others, but I just thought, okay, we got to put, get the goats together here. We got George Jordan and Matthew Blades. We got to put 'em all on the same one.

Mathew Blades (04:36):

Listen, I'll take it. I'll take it, man. So good to see you,

Joey Odom (04:40):

Dude. You too, man. You're looking great.

Mathew Blades (04:42):

I love the setup, man. Thank you. I'm just going to tell you on the camera, I love the setup for people that don't watch the social, go watch the social, go watch the vids. You got to check it out. It's awesome.

Joey Odom (04:53):

This guy's a pro here, folks. You see what he just did? He just pushed you to another channel. He's a pro. This is not your first time. No. Alright, so you walked away when you were on top. So this is the story. I want to jump right into the story. So 27 years behind the mic, everybody knew who you were. I mean, I think even when you walked away, even Howard Stern made a comment about it. So take us to that. And how long ago was that when your announcement to Step Away was? How long ago?

Mathew Blades (05:20):

So I announced it on my birthday, October 18th, 2021. And then my final radio show was December 9th of 20, 21. 21. We're coming up on two years this December.

Joey Odom (05:33):

So what led up to, or just walk out, I don't want to lead the story too much. Tell me what precipitated this. You're at the top of your game. Everybody knows you. You built up a great career, great name. And then you say just like Jordan, just like George Washington, you said, Hey, I'm going to take a step away here.

Mathew Blades (05:49):

Yeah, who knows, man. I don't know what those dudes were dealing with. But listen, it's like most stories in life. It has a middle and an end. And its beginning was a dream of mine to be a radio personality, something that I discovered on a happenstance visit to a radio station and just thought, oh my God, this is what I'm going to do for the rest of my life. And so the beginning is jumping into that career. The middle is being good at it, actually seeing success and getting to live out these fantasies, man, these pinch me moments where you're being led around a tour set by Taylor Swift's mom, and then she takes you back to meet Taylor. Wow. Getting to interview presidents, getting to sit down with Jay-Z, being able to hang out with NSYNC and the Backstreet Boys at the height of the boy band movement, doing mall appearances with Britney Spears.

These insane things. Dude, these really insane, beautiful, incredible things. And then I don't know if it's coincidental or it's a timing piece, but around the time I start having kids, and then as you well know, your priorities start to shift a little bit and you kind of go, well, hold on a second. What are we going to do here? And it took me a hot sec and a few panic attacks and a round with shingles and a couple other life events where it sort of forced me into a corner. So I don't know if George Washington and Michael Jordan never got shingles, but I did. And what shingles screams at the top of its lungs is everything you're doing is wrong and you need to get yourself together right now. Wow. Shingles comes because of stress. It's basically, it's chickenpox that lie dormant until stress drums them up. And I have a great joke that I deliver on stage. If you want it for the podcast, I'll come

Joey Odom (07:58):

Up here on Let's go.

Mathew Blades (08:00):

So it's interesting because when I go out and I do these talks that I do, I talk to people and folks who have had shingles, they come up to me and we all share our stories. And what's interesting is every shingle one of us says that it came at a moment of stress. You're welcome.

Joey Odom (08:22):

Oh goodness, you know what? You're welcome. I don't even anymore. I don't even cringe at those. I just appreciate 'em. I soak 'em in, I file 'em away for the day that if I get shingles, that one's coming out, I have that one on the ready. It's going to happen it. And you know what? It's going to happen every shingle time, every single time, anytime the opportunity comes up, every shingle time,

Mathew Blades (08:47):

This will probably be a theme in today's podcast.

Joey Odom (08:51):

Maybe that's going to be the title is Every shingle time,

Mathew Blades (08:54):

Every shingle time, not listen, direct 'em right to the traffic. So anyways, yeah, I get shingles. And then what happens when you get shingles is you have to unplug from your life because they're so bad. And I had 'em on my face. And so just any kind of talking or moving my mouth was, it felt like you're being electrocuted. That's what shingles feels like. And when you're a radio personality and your job is to talk for a living, you can't do your job. So I had three weeks off. And what do you think happened? I felt pretty good. I got some rest, I ate some good food. I wasn't exhausted. I got a little piece of my sanity back and I thought I was okay. And then I started getting these panic attacks dude, and I had never had them in my life before. They're crazies.

Joey Odom (09:42):

And what does a panic attack feel like for those who haven't experienced one

Mathew Blades (09:46):

For me? So I got these things called nocturnal panic attacks, which basically means that you wake up out of a dead sleep with your heart racing, you're having a heart attack. And so that's what it feels like to every single person I've talked to says that if they feel like they're having a heart attack, that's how we all describe it. And you just can't get yourself under control. So wild in your head. Even me as somebody who's been a meditation practitioner for probably close to 15 years now, I knew in that moment just breathe dude, but I could not get myself together. So that's what the panic attack felt like, at least for me. Have you ever had one?

Joey Odom (10:27):

No, I've not had one. But I hear about them and it, it's hard to imagine what's interesting about yours. I've never heard of the nocturnal ones. And it almost sounds like you almost, I mean, it feels like that's the body's way of telling you that something's wrong. And for you, it seems like you must have been going a thousand miles a minute during the day where your body only had an opportunity when you were sleeping. It couldn't even slip into a panic attack during the day because you were just so going. I don't know if there's something to that, but just in a moment of rest, that's when it's like, okay, something's wrong here.

Mathew Blades (11:00):

You literally described my life. And that's the pace. You are a morning personality. So you're waking up around 3:15, 3:30 in the morning daily. Most days you're not finished until 8, 8:30, 9 o'clock at night. You're just constantly building your radio show. You're constantly looking for content. You're out doing sales calls, you're writing commercials, you're voicing commercials, you're creating promos. You're planning ahead for events. I mean, there's always something going on. And don't get me wrong, I love that about the business, that pace and that pace and that fury is unbelievable. It's a drug all in and of itself. But I think unless you have a real good plan to take care of yourself, when you have a job like that, you're probably going to end up with shingles and panic attacks. I did. I think that's the deal. And so I believe it's possible to really go at a high pace for a while and not look out for yourself, but eventually that's going to catch up to people. What happened to me. And I just knew in the moment, dude, on that third panic attack, I was sitting in the hospital and I was convinced I was dying. And every test came back and they were like, you're physically fine. There's nothing wrong with you. And I knew in that moment, dude, that was like, alright, it's mental, it's spiritual, let's go to work. And you mentioned it upfront. That's what I did.

Joey Odom (12:37):

And so how long after that third panic attack, when did you decide what was the time between that and then your announcement on October 18th?

Mathew Blades (12:46):

So the third panic attack happened on I think Monday or Tuesday. That Saturday I left for a five day retreat. And that was a difficult thing, man. I made a choice to go take care of myself, man. But I checked myself into that place on my son's 15th birthday and it was life or death for me and there was no other way around it. And it was like if I don't start, and that was the next opening. So this place that I wanted to go to that I knew was going to take the best care of me, they were like, we can get you in Saturday morning. And it was like, okay, here we go. I got to do it.

Joey Odom (13:33):

During that time, how open, well first, what was it like for your wife during that time? For you? What her being a bystander probably what felt in ways like a helpless bystander, what was it like for her and how open did you allow yourself to be with her about it?

Mathew Blades (13:54):

Yeah, it's like, again, it goes back to what I said earlier. There's a beginning, a middle and an end. A lot of my stuff was kind of starting to bubble up in 2017. And for me, it's funny, and I think this is true for so many people, but for me, almost all of my mental issues showed up physically first. And so I mentioned the shingles and the panic attacks, but in 2017 it was back pain and this weird hip pain. And again, going back to doctors and them telling me like, buddy, I'm sorry. Physically we can't find anything. Yeah, you've got a little bit of a bulge disc, but it's not so crazy that it should be wrecking your life like this. It kind of started to come up that way. And I probably entered somewhat of a depression in about 19 or 20 or something like that. And then I think you close people off. That's answer to your question. You're not as open with people. I remember a fight with my wife where she said, I don't think you've said hi to me in two weeks. And it was like, really?

You're in such a fog and so fricking hard about anxiety and depression because when you're in it, man, it's like you hate that you're in it. You can feel yourself in the mud and you're like, God, why can't I get out of this? Why is it so hard? And it's even more confusing for the people around you because they can't see it. The mental health thing, it's not visual. And so it's so hard to know. And the thing about depression is you can have good days, you can have some bad days, but that's usually how it works and that's how it worked for me. There was a lot of good days until there just wasn't any more good days.

Joey Odom (15:50):

So then you made the decision to go into a retreat. What was that? Was that surprising to your wife? And by the way, I don't mean to scratch on this. I'm just curious as people maybe, I guess maybe the purpose of the questions are people who may be sorting through these sorts of things right now, they just know something's wrong and not necessarily feeling like they can talk to their spouse about it. That's a hard thing to do. That is a brave thing to do. What was that conversation like? Or was it so apparent to her you got to do something?

Mathew Blades (16:24):

Yeah. I think the first panic attack that I had scared the ever loving crap out of both of us because again, it happened in the middle of the night. My wife's really compassionate kind. It's very natural for her to be caring and to want to help. I'm not kidding you, she's a cheerleader her whole life. She was an NFL cheerleader that describes my wife to a T. If she's into you, man, she's cheering for you. So that first panic attack was so wild because it took a while for it to get under control. And she was up with me at two 30 in the morning walking around our neighborhood in our pajamas so I could just try to settle down. She knew that this thing was bubbling up. And when we were in that hospital room after the third panic attack and all those results came in, we both just looked at each other.

It was like in an instant we knew that something had to be done immediately. But you asked me a question earlier that I don't think I did a good enough job answering, which is how was my wife in these times? And I know that what I had to do put her in a really wild spot for a bit, right? I mean, that's just a tough thing to go through. And I went through it about as public as you could. I mean, you mentioned it upfront, like Howard Stern brought my situation up on his show and started telling everybody what was going on. So yeah, it's wild. It's wild.

Joey Odom (18:08):

She to that had to inflict some sort of trauma on her. Did she have a recovery process herself after all of this? She had to unravel all of it, or how did she manage through the during and the aftermath?

Mathew Blades (18:20):

Yeah, that's such a great question and there's probably some things that we both could do around that situation. I've had a couple of conversations with her where I offer up this thought that maybe I've just done permanent damage in the relationship and we're never going to be able to fix that piece. We're just going to have to find a way to move on from it. And that's probably the best way to answer that question.

Joey Odom (18:48):

Do you beat yourself up by nature? Do you look back and like dad comment, do you take on, I do that a bit myself where I just think, gosh, it's almost like you're apologetic the whole time through it. How do you land on that spectrum?

Mathew Blades (19:02):

Yeah, I went my whole life feeling like everybody else mattered more than I did. And that's just the way I was raised. And I don't think I'm alone on that. I think a lot of people grow up in homes where you're kind of fed this messaging of everybody else is more important and be a good boy and do the right thing and listen, some of that's going to help you be successful in life, but it's not a real great way to operate your life 24 7. And so I can honestly tell you that until that life changing retreat a couple of years ago, that 100% I did not take care of myself before then. Now I see the value in it now I see the value in me feeling good, getting a workout, getting a good night's rest. I can see the way that I'm different around my wife and my kids and my family. And so I understand the value. Now, why that's important. I didn't understand that earlier. And so to answer your question in a really long ass way, I'm better at letting myself off the hook and doing what I need to do to take care of myself. Now I understand how that's going to show back up for me and everybody else around me.

Joey Odom (20:16):

Isn't that interesting that this whole kindness to yourself leads to kindness to others? It's all of a sudden you just begin to have more grace with yourself, gives you more grace for others, helps you be more empathetic. That's an amazing thing that happens. So in the course of all of this, again, this is my me not knowing anything, but your physical body was telling you that something was wrong in your spirit and your soul and your mind. When did you start to recognize the source of what was causing all of when you had to go dig back into things you talk about now like your inner child and experiencing trauma, and when did that start to one, did you have any suspicion that there was trauma that you were dealing with? And if not, when did you start to say, there may be something here that I need to go back to?

Mathew Blades (21:06):

Yeah, no, I think everybody on planet Earth is acutely aware of the hits they've taken along the way. And I was too, even if you don't really, I, if you take any kind of moment to think about it, we're all very aware of the things that messed us up. And when I speak, I call it a trauma trilogy. I got exposed to porn way too soon. I grew up in a house that was the alcoholic father, a pretty tough mom who spanked and hit and teased a lot and disciplinarian that was just barbaric for today's standards. And then losing my dad. And when I was 23 years old, he had a heart attack and just dropped dead in front of me and I tried to save his life and I couldn't. So yeah, I was aware of the things that had given me my operating system to use the language that I love to talk in now.

So I knew in those moments I really once and for all had to go to war with all of those things and figure out a way that I was going to be able to set them down. And I hope that we talk about this in the interview, but the lessons that I learned in those retreats, I think could save marriages. It could save families. It would give people a real passionate reason to use a product like the one you've created. Honestly, they will step into a place where they understand why it's important. I think for you as a company, that's the biggest question that you have to answer for people. You have to keep telling them why it's important. Because once they figure out why it's important, they'd be dumb not to change. And that's just how we work.

Joey Odom (22:53):

How on earth do you go back to, you talk about your trilogy there, how on earth do you begin to attack those? How do you begin to fight those dragons? Those are all big. And I think not the least of which, and just touch on it briefly, just that exposure to porn for kids at a young age that is mind altering, that begins to, I'm going to use the word perverts, not in a sexual way, but just it begins to pervert what is normal and natural and something that a child should see at a young age. And heck, that alone is worth the battle on smartphones so accessible. But of all of those, how did you begin to attack those? Let people help you attack them? Those are big ones.

Mathew Blades (23:42):

Yeah, they were, man, well, number one, I was ready. That's the first thing. So you've got to be willing, you've got to understand that it's going to hurt and that you're going to have to face truths about yourself that you may not like. You're going to have to feel this really disgusting emotion about how you lived and operated your life for a short while, because you will come to understand how that operating system was set up within you, the reason that it served you until you got to the point that you are right now, and then how you're going to slowly unwire it so you can rewire a new way of thinking about things. And I know that sounds like a whole lot right there, but that is the work, being exposed to porn at five years old is, again, go back. When I say when I speak, I say, if a five-year-old walked in here with a Playboy magazine right now, every one of us would be like, there's something wrong with this situation.

And you're right. And so what it did for me, and I didn't know this then, but I understand it now after working with these therapists was it changed the way that I saw relationships with women. And my whole life I had a hard time saying like, okay, is this a woman I want to sleep with? Or is this a woman that's just a really cool person that I want to do business with? Or that I feel like in some capacity I could have a non-sexual relationship with her. It made those situations hard to navigate, and I don't think I navigated them well for a while in terms of growing up in a home where there's a lot of teasing, shaming, hitting all the things, that's a really complicated one because what you end up doing in that situation is you end up growing and then I'll just speak for myself.

You end up growing up with an operating system that says, gosh, I'm not safe in my own house. Okay, that's step one. The people that love me also beat me. And so I grow up now with this really, I don't understand what is love is, love that, or is it that? And then the other thing that I like to say really loudly is I grew up in a home that was filled with tons of, I love you, tons of hugs, tons of very tender moments, wonderful holidays, incredible family reunions, but we had the other stuff too. So it makes an impact. It really does make an impact,

Joey Odom (26:23):

Which by the way, that's just how on earth as a child, you're talking about all these things as a child that you experience that are very confusing. And again, it just like everything goes into a shade of gray in terms of women relationships, love, but then that's a lot for anybody to untangle. And then you talked about the, well, let me ask this, you're rewiring, and this maybe we can ask on all of these at the end. So in all of that, in this moment, and I want to talk about the third piece of the trauma trilogy, but you're having to rewire your operating system, and then it was flawed. I mean, you would admit this was a very flawed operating system you had been operating on, but it was the operating system you knew. So was that a disorienting feeling to begin to rewire an operating system that again, while flawed was the operating system that you knew?

Mathew Blades (27:19):

It's just exhausting, is the way to answer that question. It's just exhausting, but you know, have to see it the whole way through because you mentioned those two beautiful words that I love more than any two words almost on planet Earth right now, inner child. For me, learning the concept of an inner child was the thing that flipped it on its lid for me. Because when I understood that inner child, the young me, the five-year-old, the 23-year-old, when they had been hit, so to speak with those things, there was an operating system that got built up in them. So a whole set of beliefs, things that they thought about themselves and that was good for them for a while, it did serve them for a while. There's no question about it. But when you do the inner child work, you basically go back and you say to that five-year-old, you say to that 9-year-old like, Hey, listen, thank you so much for helping me stay alive and for keeping me in the game.

But I'm 49 now and I'm going drive. I'm going to drive. It's time to set down the operating system of the five-year-old in time to separate, set that down of the nine-year-old and start acting like an adult. And too many of us, and again, this goes back to some of the teachings that I have, but we still live our life. The event is taking place to this day, and we haven't set it down. We haven't just kind of said, I think one of the things that I said in my retreat, Joey was like, I need to treat these incidents. They were car accidents.

You get into a car accident, but does it affect the rest of your life? Every time you get into a car, are you thinking about getting into an accident Now? It's like, just don't give it the values. And that's the hardest part about the whole thing. And I think when I use the word exhausting, that's what I'm talking about is just working through lessening the value that you gave that moment as though it is again still happening because that's ultimately where you have to set down. You hear this all the time. He's acting like a child or she's acting like a child, and we are, we're acting like that inner child operating system that was set up in us. And so here's another example that might be relatable to the audience. It's like, say you're 11 years old and you're having some thoughts and some feelings, and you go to your parents about 'em and they just shut you down.

They don't hear you, whatever. There's language, maybe there's some screaming, whatever in that moment you felt like you needed to say some things and they basically just squashed it. It doesn't take Einstein to figure out what might happen to that kid moving forward. Simply put, every time they move forward, they might feel like when they have things to say, nobody will really care. And so they will get really good at stopping the sharing of those feelings. Now that has a long-term amplification, that's really tough. So I think that's so cool about the work, and I really enjoy this process, man. I know I've used words like exhausting and tired and it's tough, but I love this process too. It's so rewarding to me to come out of a mindset that wasn't serving me more and move into this new place where you go, wow, that feels fresh, that feels new. Yeah, I can do this too.

Joey Odom (31:00):

So the first two things are kind of ongoing, but losing your dad, that was a moment in time, that was a thing at one time event that happened. And then you have maybe even some baggage before that with being alcoholic and growing up that way. So how on earth do you begin to approach attack something like that?

Mathew Blades (31:24):

Man, that's tough, right? This is the part that's hard. I like to use that word ongoing because while those other things were kind of ongoing, you're right, this was just this moment in time. But however, I did the thing that I think a lot of people do, which is I treated that moment. It was still happening. There were so many days where it felt like it was still happening to me. And I mean, it's such a big thing, right? It's such a monumental thing because, and let me share with you how powerful this story is. In my head, I go to see my cardiologist and he says, why are you here? And the first thing I say to him is, because I don't want my kids to have to watch me die. That's my biggest fear. That's my biggest fear is that my kids are going to have to watch that scene.

It's disgusting. Nobody should have to go through that scene. And I think ultimately what it came down to for me was that idea of it's not still happening, God, it was hard and it was really difficult, and it marked me for life. And the worst thing that it did was it set up a belief system in me that I didn't know enough, that I couldn't be helpful. And dude, I mean, we could spend four hours talking about all the ways that would play itself out in my life, but that's the thing about trauma. That's what it does to us. It sets up these little belief systems within us about who we are, what are we're worth, should I speak up for myself in this case, dah, dah, dah. It sets up all these operating systems that make it so hard to just navigate life from with the word that's coming through is from a pure standpoint to just be open and loving and kind.

It makes it so hard to do that. And I think ultimately that's why I'm such an advocate of people doing the work, man, because until you work on yourself, we have to deal with it. And I'm not trying to be a jerk. That's just how it goes. Until I did my work two years ago, everybody in my family had the worst father, worst husband, worst friend, worst coworker. And listen, I had some good times too, but they got the worst version of me because I didn't do the work. Every one of those people I've just mentioned has a completely different person in their life now. And it's so good. It's so good. I can't believe I didn't do it sooner.

Aro Member (34:06):

I had heard about the Aro and I looked it up and I was like, okay, this seems like this could be a good piece to our puzzle of some controlled screen time. When I think about why and what led me to it is that I feel like no one ever wakes up and says, man, I wish I would've spent more time on my phone. That is not a quote you hear. You don't ever hear that. But yet, at night, we would get our littles in bed, our three younger ones, and I felt like my husband and my daughter and I were veggie out right at the end of the day, and yet we're all three. I'd look around and we're like, we're all three on different screens. I just felt like I wanted our home to be different. I want the spirit and the feeling and people just feeling present. I want them to walk in and be like, man, when we walk in Team Daniel's house, they're present with us. And I feel like that it's easy to not be present when your phone is in arm's reach.

Joey Odom (34:57):

We love hearing stories from the Aro community. The one you just heard actually comes from our Voices of Aro episodes where I sit down with Aro members and they share about their stories and their lives with Aro. Make sure to check out the Voices of Aro episodes, and if you're a member who would like to share your own story with Aro, please email us stories@goaro.com. So let's talk about, let's get practical. Let's talk about some of those tools and the strategy and the stuff that you talk on all the time that someone who can go from this, all of us have some flawed operating system, but someone can go from trauma or the things they're all holding onto or still living as that child. What are some of the things that you talk on that give people the hope that, hey, here are the strategies and the tools to go through this?

Mathew Blades (35:46):

I think one of the first things that goes downhill when you don't feel good about yourself is your ability to take care of yourself. And so you have to first and foremost, and listen, here's the good news. For most of us, it shows up physically. You can see it. You're out of shape. You can't do simple things that you used to be able to do anymore. You know what I mean? You don't feel very good getting sick too much, whatever you name it, man, it shows up a lot of ways physically for people. And so I think that's got to be potentially one of your first cues. It's like, let me do a little body analysis and what's going on here. If you start to notice patterns and things that are showing up again, boom. Okay, now we're aware. Now we're aware that something's happening, something's up.

And I think from there, then it's about the mind, and this is where it gets hard for people, but you have to find, you don't have to, right? But gosh, it's going to be so much better for your healing process if you have some way to work with your mind. I don't care if that's meditation or prayer or breath work, or you can call it whatever you want, but you have to be able to get control of your mind because if you're going to go down the road of trying to rewire a trauma trilogy, you're going to need to settle yourself down sometimes because when the thing shows up again, when you get triggered again, I mean, you're seeing red bro. You're seeing red. That's just what it does to us. And so you have to be able to calm your mind down. So I think if you can get aware and then you can start to work on your mind, those are the first two components, you're going to need that mindfulness later. That's the reason that I think it's so important upfront. Do you have a practice like that?

Joey Odom (37:43):

I do a morning devotion prayer, and now I want to clarify something. So when you're saying work on your mind, are you talking at this stage of it exclusively recognizing things happening inside of you? Or are you saying, or is it like, oh, now go fix it? Or you just saying no, you just have to know it first. Is that the step? You're talking about being aware of something's off?

Mathew Blades (38:08):


Joey Odom (38:09):

That's okay. At this stage, it's awareness, and that's why these practices are important to say, something's off. Right? Okay,

Mathew Blades (38:17):

Got it. My life doesn't feel like it's mine anymore. Maybe it's something is like it was for me where it's like, God, I don't actually think I'm ever going to be happy again. People can get to those places and you can get to some super dark thoughts really fast. And here's the thing about mental health. For most of us, it's a really long journey. Very rarely do you hear about somebody who goes, I'm depressed, and three weeks later they're gone. It's usually, it's a really long road with depression. And so the idea that you're teed up that something's off, and then you start working with your mind, the reason that that's so beneficial is not only because you're going to need it later, but sometimes for some people, Joey, that's all they're going to need. Interesting. Yeah. Physically, they may just need to settle their mind down, get out of their fight or flight response, and just get into the prefrontal cortex and start thinking rationally again.

For some people, that's going to be all you need to do. If there's a step three, it's therapy, and this is where people need to not get hung up on language. Again, going back to meditation, prayer, breath work, mindfulness, I don't care what you call it, just settle your mind down. And this is no different. Therapy is no different. You don't have to go and talk to somebody, although I think that's the easiest and potentially most accessible, and then now we're finally at a place where insurance is going to pay for it. So it's really beneficial to work things through with people, but that's not the only thing available to you. I can tell you right now, bro, that the two biggest ceremonies, the two biggest shifting moments in my life were an inner child ceremony that I did where I forgave those younger few people and a sound therapy, a sound bath, where a woman was playing the gongs and these bowls, and it produced a frequency and it literally rocked me to my core. I cried so deeply, so primal that all this stuff left my body, all this trauma just left my body and those two therapies by themselves. I don't know what you've given a shot to. I don't even know if you've ever been to therapy before, but you could certainly speak to the fact that there's a lot to choose from right now. You just need to opt into one because when you stay still, you lose.

Joey Odom (40:53):

I'm a huge proponent of therapy. I've definitely been to therapy. I think it's so helpful, and I'm glad a little bit of that stigma is not there anymore because we do need others. We need others to help kind of see the blind spots and be able to walk us through. I've said this before on the show, but one of the most helpful things in therapy for me was when I was describing something and my therapist said, Dr. Sperry, she said, oh, that's this. She named it. And so what that told me was, oh, I'm not the first to go through this. Oh, there's a playbook. Oh, others have gone through this. Yeah, the situations look a little bit different, but there's something here that others have been through, which means this is something that others have gotten through in addition to just going through it.

So I'm a huge proponent of that, and I do agree it's that step. And it's funny because you talk about mental health as a continuum. Yeah, of course. I can't do 50 pushups today and then expect that that's going to last me in the next 50 years. Of course, like physical and mental health, they go hand in hand. It's a continuum, which is great. You got to stay sharp. So what is Matthew, the husband, the father, the friend, look like today? How are, you mentioned you're better, but how are you showing up? What does that look like in terms of bringing health of the people around you?

Mathew Blades (42:17):

Okay, there's this idea that I'm a different person, but I know I'm not.

Let me answer it this way. I watched this Instagram reel the other day, and I was talking about imposter syndrome, and the person that was narrating the video suggested that when we have those thoughts about like, Hey, you're not really that person. You're not that great of a parent, you're really not that good at your job. That is actually the imposter and the true you is the one that steps into knowing because you do. Are you courageous enough to really be yourself? And so I think that is what's so unique about the shift in my life, is that I have been, I've given myself permission to shift into a space to be the person that I really truly want to be, which is what we're doing right now, which is using my words in a way where somebody hears them and they go, oh my God. And they just get it right, because maybe you, and I'll just ask you the question, then I'll answer and give you mine. Is there a sequence of words that somebody's ever spoken to you, somebody said something to you and you went, oh my God.

Joey Odom (43:42):

Oh yeah.

Mathew Blades (43:43):

That just changed everything for me. I don't know. It was a verse, a phrase. Does anything come to mind for you?

Joey Odom (43:51):

I know I've had those moments. I know I've had huge moments like that where it's just something clicks in. I can't think of something immediately off hand, but absolutely. I mean, in a way, I think those are, if I were to map out my life, it would probably be, the little turning points would probably be those moments where it's been the something else, someone saying something, and you just seeing it clearly all of a sudden, actually, yeah. Yes, I have. I'll condense the story, but I almost got into a fight at the Atlanta airport once with a fist fight, a fistfight? Yes, with a guy who was walking along the corridor with me, and he mouthed off to me. He said I was walking too slow, and then I mouthed off back to him, and then the next thing we know, there's a crowd gathered and we're yelling at each other at the top of our lungs. It breaks up. He walks off and I make one more comment to him, and he turns around Matthew, and he said something that stopped me dead in my tracks. He said, Hey, a-hole. He goes, my dad just died.

And when he said that, everything came clear. I realized that he wasn't popping off because he was a jerk. He was going through something that he had no idea what to do with, and I happened to be in the line of fire, and because I didn't have my eyes open in my heart and physically that I missed the entire moment. So he storms off. Here's a great part of the story. I ran to catch up with him, and in the middle of the Atlanta airport, I said, Hey, I know I'm the last person you want to talk to. I just want to tell you how sorry I am. I wanted to tell you how sorry I'm, you lost your father. He and I both are sobbing, hugging in the middle of the Atlanta airport four years ago. We still text to this day. He send me pictures of his grandkids.

Yeah, he was a grandfather I almost got in a fight with. Yes. But it was one of those moments. Now that's maybe a little bit different what you said, but that was a moment where it was when he said, my dad just died. I realized everything came clear. All of a sudden I realized how selfish I was being than other people. Everybody you meet is fighting a battle. Nothing about the old saying. So there's one for me. I don't know if that directly applies, but that was one of a thousand moments just like that where someone says something or they affirm a truth that I didn't know or that I didn't fully recognize. So there's

Mathew Blades (46:12):

So good, man, you don't understand how beautiful you are because you're so gifted that you have the language and the ability to communicate the way that you do. Not everybody could articulate that story with the most critical piece of that story being, had I walked down that airport with an open heart and an opened eyes, I probably could have felt seen, sensed that something was off with this guy.

Joey Odom (46:40):


Mathew Blades (46:41):

And I didn't need to be the one that pressed the buttons. But when you're in your own shit, you're in your own stuff and you're not paying attention to anything around you, Joey, right? What's going to happen? Yeah,

Joey Odom (46:54):


Mathew Blades (46:54):

What's going to happen, right. So I love that, man. So for me, the sequence of words that absolutely changed the game, I got into my first therapy session with this woman, and she looked right at me and she was like, I know you feel so broken right now, but she said, you are not broken. There's nothing wrong with you. You just need to step back into your life's purpose more and we're going to help you get there.

Joey Odom (47:22):


Mathew Blades (47:23):

How simple is that? But now I repeat that phrase every time I speak because I feel like if it shattered my world like that, it probably might do the same thing for a few other people. You're not broken. There's nothing wrong with you, so stop acting like you are broken. Number one, stop acting like there's something wrong with you, number two, and get going with the thing you're here to do.

Joey Odom (47:49):

Do you think that the I'm broken was the foundation for your operating system prior to that?

Mathew Blades (47:56):

A hundred percent. Man. It goes back to growing up being confused about relationships growing up in a home where the messaging was a little bit confused, and then entering into my adulthood with that operating system of like, I don't know enough and I can't be helpful. So I mean those things, they left tomorrow.

Joey Odom (48:22):

And so now what you're doing through learn from people who lived it through, I needed that you're taking that message of, Hey, you're not broken. Nothing wrong with you, and I have it written here. You just have yet to step into your life's purpose. So you say, I'm committed to those words now, and I'm going to step in a new chapter of my life to fulfill them. So you're helping fulfill them for yourself and for others around you through the will you tell us about learned from people who lived it, and I needed that.

Mathew Blades (48:49):

Yeah, sure, man. I mean, they're both great podcast projects and learned from people who lived. It was basically born from my retreat. I got home from my retreat, and of course, what is a radio personality going to do when he gets home from his retreat? He's not going to journal. So I literally grabbed this microphone, I put it in front of my face, and I put on a pair of headphones and I sat in my room and I recorded for four and a half hours. And so basically if I set it to a therapist, I put it on the tape. If it was a part of my ceremony, I put it on the tape. I literally tried to articulate as best I could the entire five day journey that I went on so that others could maybe go through the healing process with me a little bit. And then that other thing that always rings true for me is not everybody feels like they can afford to go do something like this. And listen, I wasn't in a great financial position, but there comes a time where you got to reach into your savings account to save your life. And that was my truth for sure. That was my truth for sure.

Joey Odom (49:55):

What I love about this story is this is a couple of years ago, you're going through this and a term you used that I really like. You talk about leaning into the transitional character, which is such a beautiful way to put that. Yeah. I'm in transition. Is there a point where you are no longer a transitional character, would you say, even in this journey and talking with people and learned from people who lived it, and I needed that, are you still, you are the transitional character continuing to learn through it?

Mathew Blades (50:26):

Yeah. So this kind of takes us right back to the question you just asked me a minute ago about the podcast, and it gives me a chance to elaborate a little bit more too. The idea that you're a transitional character and your lineage was something that I learned on my third day of my retreat where the idea was born in me, that I was the person sent here to end the dysfunction. I was the person sent here to make life better for me and future generations of my family. That person was me. And that's the rule I needed to step into. I just need to start living my life like that and stop living it back here. So that's what the podcast really is about. We just sit down and we interview transitional characters. They don't know it at the time, but they all are.

And because they're all these incredible humans who have kicked cancer's ass, kicked divorce's butt, whatever life circumstances has handed them, they found a way to overcome that thing. And when you overcome that thing, you set it down or you learn how to heal it and deal with it and all of those things. You don't keep carrying it with you every single place that you go. And that, for me, that's the gig now is work on attachment. Set things down that don't serve you anymore. Work on what is the value that I'm giving this thing. Is it really that does it need all my attention right now? And I'm not great at this, right? Joey? There's still days I slip, I coach high school hockey at a little situation last week, such a minor little thing. I lost sleepover. Okay? So I'm not perfect, but I'm working on it. And that's the idea of being a transitional character is to say like, Hey, my dad was an alcoholic. How about my boys never see me take a drink a day in their lives?

Hey, you got beat growing up. How about you never lay hands on your kids unless you need to pull 'em out of the way because they're about to get in trouble. We're smarter and we have better information now, and we know for a fact, a fact how we can leave long lasting marks on children. We know how to do it. We can hit 'em, we can shame 'em, we can tease 'em. I mean, there's a handful of things that we can do where you will guarantee marks on your kids. And the idea that I'm this transitional character means that I get to step into a world where that never happens. And then not only that, but I advocate for that to not happen anymore. You can make the last time you did it the last time you did it, you can't absolutely right here and now if you're somebody who has operated that way because that's what you saw growing up and all of a sudden we've talked about it in a way where you're like, I don't want to hit my kids anymore.

Great, don't stop. That's literally what it's all about. It's just to stop. And what's interesting about the transitional character, and I didn't know this then, but I learned it a couple of years after my retreat was there's some Native American cultures that believe every seven years there's people born in the family systems that are those transitional characters that are kind of born into this place of, okay, you're the one here to move us out of dysfunction. And I love it, man. I think it's such a cool role for people to step into because first and foremost, my experience has been that so many of my family members, even extended family members, is outside of my brothers and sisters and moms. They want to come with. They want to be a part of the movement. They too. Were waiting for somebody to be like, yeah, I'm leading. Let's go,

Joey Odom (54:08):

Man. That's good. I want to ask you a question to close out here. So someone listening, let's just assume that someone listening feels like something's off and whether they can pinpoint it or not, they just know that something doesn't quite feel right, something is a little out of balance or something's big. I would love to hear what message one would you have for them? Just maybe those words that could really drill down and be one of those moments like you mentioned. And then the second one, what would be, Hey, here's your next best step. So a little bit of word of just a word for them. And then the second one being, what's the next best step they can take?

Mathew Blades (54:53):

Yeah. So what's coming through me fiercely right now is if you're sitting there and you feeling like something is wrong, you're right. Okay, give yourself some credit. Your guts are good, your intuition is strong. If you're feeling like something is off, congratulations. You're paying attention to yourself. And so that's kind of the first thing, right? Acknowledge it and then pat yourself on the back for finally acknowledging that something is off, right? The thing we do, we try to ignore it or push it to the side, or is that really real? My feeling is if something's been jabbing at you for three weeks or more, it's worth exploring. It's worth figuring out. So that's the first thing, Joey is like, something feels off. You're right. Good. Now what are you going to do about it then? So then what do I want you to do next? Move? I don't care what that looks like. I don't care how fast or how slow that is, but you just need to keep moving. Now, I'm not just talking about exercise. I'm talking about if you try therapy and you don't like your therapist, you move on to something different. If that doesn't feel good, you move on to something different. If that doesn't feel good, you move on to something different. But as I said earlier, you only lose when you stop moving, man. That's it,

Joey Odom (56:12):

Dude. Sounds like I just learned from someone who's lived it. That's what it sounds like to me. Come

Mathew Blades (56:16):

On, man.

Joey Odom (56:17):

I love talking to you, dude. Come on, man. Alright, let's hear people. You do speaking events to corporations. You have your podcasts. Talk about all of that. Where can people go find more information about all those things?

Mathew Blades (56:31):

Sure. Well, we're set up at Learn from People who lived at.com. You can get a little bit more detail on the speaking engagements. I do a lot of workshops, as you mentioned, for corporate America under the umbrella of burnout and self-care. Kind of how I have to strategically package it, if you will, to get in the HR front door. You know what I'm talking about, but here's the cool thing about it is underneath that umbrella of burnout and self-care, I get to share these stories that you and I have talked about today, and I get to connect with people in that really meaningful way. And my feeling is this, and I feel so strongly about this, it's like, man, this stuff only happened to you so you can help somebody else when it's their turn. Yeah. Stop thinking there's some other wild reason for it.

That's it. And so I went through all of these things and so now the way that I can be useful is to just share this with people. And the burnout strategies are pretty much interwoven with the self-care strategies. And when you start to take care of yourself, everything changes. And what is self-care, sleep, water therapy, humor, forgiveness, structure. It's all those things. And most of us, if we're really honest with ourselves and get back what you just said, if we're having those things, something's off, I want you literally to start with that look within and just say to yourself, am I doing a good job taking care of myself right now? Because there's no way around it, man. When you start to take care of yourself, you show up as the best version for everybody else. And that isn't just some who ha fu stuff. That's

Joey Odom (58:16):

Real. Yeah, man. That's good. Everybody check the show notes. We'll put all the info to connect with Matthew. Matthew, you've been extraordinarily open. I think this is, in fact, after we get off the call here, I'm going to do a little bit of mindfulness time, a little bit of self-assessment. This is just

Mathew Blades (58:35):

What stirred up for you. Can I ask

Joey Odom (58:38):

What stirred up is? There's something off. I mean, there's something that feels just, and by the way, this is hilariously, this is my October routine. This is what happens in Octobers for me. I don't know exactly why, but I just start feeling, just start feeling a little bit off. Now. It doesn't help that the Braves lost really badly last night. I'm a big Braves fan, so that affects me much more than it should. You have your Diamondbacks that have done quite well in the playoffs.

Mathew Blades (59:01):

We were at the game last night. Were you

Joey Odom (59:03):

Really? Dude, it was

Mathew Blades (59:03):

Incredible. Four home runs in one inning,

Joey Odom (59:06):

Closed out the Dodgers. That's amazing. So no, there's just some stuff. There's just stuff that I probably just need to figure out what it is. And it's probably, honestly, I haven't worked out in about a week and a half. That's probably a big piece of it. So it's back to the self-care, but taking a real assessment of what something's off. So when you said, we feel like something's off, you're right. So that was helpful for me. Just, okay, there's something off. There's time to do a little bit of an assessment.

Mathew Blades (59:32):

Yeah, go. Just do the work. And that's the thing. Don't give it so much value. Exactly. Don't feel crappy about it. Don't feel like, don't feel any way about it. Just start moving. Yeah,

Joey Odom (59:42):

I love

Mathew Blades (59:43):

It. And you'll just untangle yourself right away.

Joey Odom (59:47):

So good, bro. Thank you very, very much. Thank you. Thanks for passing on to others. I'm excited for people to hear this. This's going to help a lot of folks.

Mathew Blades (59:55):

Oh dude. And I hope everybody on planet Earth puts an Aro box in their house. And I couldn't say that with more sincerity, man. I love the movement you're on. You have shifted me in a major way. You don't even know that. But you have shifted the way that I handle myself on in my house in a major way.

Joey Odom (01:00:12):

Thank you. That's very kind. That's very wonderful to hear. And I agree. Let's get 'em in all the houses.

Mathew Blades (01:00:18):

Yeah, let's go.

Joey Odom (01:00:20):

Alright, brother, Matthew Blades. Thank you my friend. I said it at the top of the episode, but I didn't expect his answer. When I ask the advice for somebody who knows that something's off, but they can't pinpoint it,

His word message for that person, maybe you is if you feel like something is off, you're right. You got to acknowledge it. It begins with acknowledging that something doesn't quite feel right. So here's what I'm going to do right now. I'm going to close the laptop. I'm going to take off the headphones, get off the mic, and I'm going to take about 10 minutes with no inputs. That's important. No phone, no music, no computer, just a piece of paper and a pen. And I'm just going to assess what's going on. Just going to assess, hey, is there something that feels a little bit off? And just take that mental assessment and just begin with the acknowledgement. I have no idea what I'm going to do with it from there, but I'm just going to begin with acknowledgement. I encourage you to do the same. Just take a couple minutes and no inputs and just assess if something may feel off.

And then try to get to the bottom what it is. Don't try to talk yourself out of the feeling, just feel it. Just acknowledge it, just feel it and then decide what to do from there. It may be therapy, and if so, that's great. Maybe talking to a friend and maybe talking to somebody who you had a disagreement with. You need to resolve it. But I'd encourage you to do the same five or 10 minutes, whatever it takes for you. And again, if there's somebody you can think of who would see themselves in this episode, please forward this episode to them. Thank you very much for joining us for this week's episode of The Aro Podcast. Many thanks to Matthew Blades for his openness, vulnerability, wisdom. We can't wait to see you again next week. The Aro Podcast is produced and edited by the team at Palm Tree Pod Co. Special thanks to Emily Miles for video and digital support. And to our executive producer Aro's own, Katelyn Farley.