An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis
Never Give Up, Never Give In, Never Quit. Please, Never Give Up, Never Give In, and Never Quit. You are too valuable to the world. If there’s one thing I know: it is often darkest before the dawn of great change.
As a part of my interview series about the ‘5 Things We Can Each Do Help Solve The Loneliness Epidemic’, I had the pleasure to interview with Dr. Dain Heer.
Dr. Dain Heer is an internationally renowned entrepreneur, speaker, and best-selling author. Raised in the ghettos of Los Angeles, Heer is the co-founder of a diverse range of businesses worldwide, including El Lugar, a resort in Costa Rica that utilizes biodynamic land management, and Castello di Casalborgone, a luxurious castle in Italy.
He is also the founder of the world’s first International Being You Day (May 22nd), a day dedicated to empowering people to be their most authentic selves.
A conscious and creative business leader with a profound understanding of the power of entrepreneurship, Dr. Heer draws upon his personal experience and unique perspective to invite people from every culture, country, age, and social strata to create the money, business, and life they truly desire.
In addition to his diverse business portfolio, Dr. Heer is co-creator of Access Consciousness, a popular personal development organization operating in more than 176 countries, which has contributed to changing the lives of tens of thousands of people around the world for the past 30 years.
He is also the author and co-author of several books, including Being You, Changing the World, The Return of the Gentleman, Body Whispering, Right Riches for You, and How to Become Money. www.drdainheer.com.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share your “backstory” with us? What was it that led you to your eventual career choice?
Twenty-one years ago, I was working as a chiropractor, engaged to be married and living in beautiful California. Yet in my practice, I was frustrated by all the existing modalities and techniques I had been taught. They all seemed to provide only temporary relief and change for my clients and myself.
One morning I woke up, and for the first time in my 30 years on the planet, realized I had given up hope. I had gotten to a point where I had everything that was supposed to make a person happy — and it had absolutely no value to me. I had tried every single modality for inner peace I could find, but I was still dying inside. I was so deeply unhappy I was considering suicide.
I was so unhappy, I actually set a date to end my life and said to the universe, “Either my life truly changes this time, or I’m out of here.”
Well, the Universe heard the demand, and not long after that, I found an article in the local newspaper that read, “All of life comes to me with Ease, Joy & Glory. Call Shannon.”
When I first read that, all I wanted to do was kill this person. I didn’t even know her, but the very thought that someone would take the time to put something so audacious in the paper made my skin crawl. I crumpled up the paper and threw it away.
But the next week, the paper came out again, and there it was again! “All of life comes to me with Ease, Joy & Glory. Call Shannon.”
I knew I had to call her this time since it triggered me so much. I know that if something evoked me to that degree, there was something in there for me to explore. I had always known that. And I had nothing to lose…
So I called Shannon. We ended up chatting over the phone, and she invited me to have my Bars run. I walked in depressed and suicidal, and after one session of what’s called the Access Consciousness Bars, I walked out of it with a sense of joy and gratitude for being alive, and I knew that I would never go back to that dark place again. Stress, gone! Anxiety, gone! Depression, gone! Suicide, ba-bye!
And that was just the very beginning of the most fantastic journey. The tools from Access Consciousness changed my life to such a degree that I knew I had to have more, be more, and create more.
For the first time in a long time, I had an enthusiasm for living that I had been looking for my whole life but never knew how to find. I ended up meeting the founder of Access Consciousness, Gary Douglas, and we started working together.
Today, I am the co-creator of the company. It has grown to be in 176 countries with thousands of facilitators worldwide inviting people every day to know that something different is possible for themselves — and the world.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
There are so many; I am incredibly fortunate. One of my favorite stories of change is when I was invited to work with a lady who had fourth-stage liver cancer.
When I met her, she looked to be about 70 years old, with most of her long hair being gray. During the session, we talked about the joy of life and living that she knew was possible that she had not been able to create in her life. We spoke of the fact that she knew this should be possible and about the possibility of her choosing it NOW.
I put my hands over her liver where the cancer was. In contrast to the suffering and judgment, I thought I would find there, I perceived the beauty within and beneath her condition. As I perceived this, we held hands and wept together, both for what had not been and for what could now be.
At the end of the session, she said she was at total peace and was okay with whatever would occur. She said she would LIVE for as many–or as few–days as she had left on this planet.
A year later, I was in the city where the session had taken place, facilitating an event for a few hundred people. In the end, there was a long line of people taking pictures and asking for hugs… Up comes a beautiful lady I thought I had never met before. She looked about 30 years old, with the most beautiful long brown hair. She seemed to be in a hurry and skipped to the front of the line. She gave me flowers, a card, a beautiful hug, and looked me in the eyes, and just said: “thank you!”
As I was leaving, my assistant said to me: “Do you know who that was?” And I said, “No, I’ve never met her before.” She then told me it was the same young lady who told me she had three months to live when I worked on her 18 months ago.
My jaw dropped, and I started crying tears of joy and gratitude. I was fist-punching the air with enthusiasm, thinking to myself, “Yes! Yes! Yes! THAT is why I am here!”
To know that I was able to contribute to this beautiful being making the choice to live is one of the greatest gifts of my life. And please know, that is what this is all about: contributing to people choosing more and choosing something different. It is not about me healing them — it is about them healing themselves.
I am truly blessed and fortunate to have worked with many people that are now truly living. From my point of view, there is no greater gift.
Can you share a story about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson or takeaway you learned from that?
When I first started facilitating Access Consciousness classes, I was invited to Texas to facilitate a class on any topic I wanted. So I asked my best friend and mentor, the founder of Access Consciousness, Gary Douglas, what topic should I do for the workshop?
And he said, “Why don’t you do it about fun and clearing the issues that don’t allow people to have fun?”
From the moment he suggested this, it felt a bit heavy in my world, but it was my mentor and best friend who suggested it, so I did it. And this four-hour workshop was one of the worst facilitation experiences I’ve ever had in my life!
Not one person laughed, and almost no one smiled. The whole room was HEAVY. Two hours into the class, a little girl lying on the floor pulled on her mother’s skirt and said, “Mommy, when do we start having fun?“
(Even the four-year-old knew that I screwed this one up!)
Usually, the classes that I facilitate are a lot of fun and full of laughter. This one did not have any of that. I apologized to everybody in the class, and I called my friend Gary and said, “Why did you tell me to do a workshop on clearing the issues of fun?”
He said two things to me that have stayed with me forever.
“Number one,” he said, “Don’t trust me. Always trust you. Number two, when you get into a situation that is heavy, change whatever you need to change at the moment so that you can create more lightness out of it.”
He then asked me, “What would have happened if you got up on stage and said, okay, I know this is supposed to be a fun workshop. But let’s go where you want to go?”
From that moment on, I have always gotten up on stage and dealt with what was in front of me regardless of the class topic. I’ve also learned to apply that to my life.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I am blessed to have so many exciting projects — too many to mention here! One of my current favorites is an eco-friendly luxury resort in Costa Rica called EL-Lugar that we are building in communion with the land.
Our desire is to show people how to be stewards of the earth in all aspects of development while also embracing the beauty and elegance that was once part of our culture. One of our requirements is that no tree will be cut down on the property. It is unlike anything I have ever seen before. It has elegance, beauty, and spaciousness to it — and it is eco-friendly.
Another exciting project is a video podcast I have just launched — The Possibility Explorer. It’s a video podcast for the ADHD adventurers out there looking to explore something different in all aspects of life. It features many unique tools and life hacks and hopefully adds a bit of humor and lightness to people’s lives. https://drdainheer.com/podcast/
Oh, I almost forgot! I’ve got a TV show coming out on Ickonic Media, called Is Now The Time? I’m very excited for it to be aired — it premieres on January 15.
Why are you an authority about the topic of the loneliness epidemic?
Good question! How does one become an authority on the epidemic of loneliness? Well, I lived it dynamically for much of my life…
I grew up in the ghetto, where I was the only white face for eight square miles. Even more than that, I had a sense of loneliness because I always felt different than others. I never fit in, no matter how hard I tried. Even though I had friends, I was never “popular.”
Also, I couldn’t figure out what made other people tick. I would look around me and see what other people were choosing, and I just didn’t understand it. I would see them lying and cheating to try to get ahead. They would outdo each other and try to prove that they were better than other people — rather than lifting each other up. And I never understood that.
So, in a sense, I’ve been a bit of a loner my whole life, though for the last 20 years or so, a pretty happy one.
Part of the reason I wanted to end my life 21 years ago was that I felt all alone. Nobody saw what I saw. Nobody got what I got. When you are that different from the people around you — including friends, co-workers, family, clients — it can seem like your very being has no value because there is no one else to acknowledge it. I could not see a way forward.
Luckily, the circumstances after that moment became the beginning of me truly living.
When I began to demand that I explore what was true for me and live my life according to that, the loneliness started to subside, as did the accompanying depression.
I started caring for myself and surrounding myself with people that didn’t judge me. I started having people in my life that cared for me as much as (or more than) I cared for myself. And now, I am surrounded by precisely that.
When you start to acknowledge you and care for yourself, you begin to realize that true loneliness is not a function of not having other people in your life. It’s a function of not having YOU in your life.
Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the main focus of our interview. According to this story in Time, loneliness is becoming an increasing health threat not just in the US, but across the world. Can you articulate for our readers 3 reasons why being lonely and isolated can harm one’s health?
- We are herd creatures.
It sounds so basic — and we are herd creatures who thrive on connection and interaction with others. When that is taken away, our quality of life diminishes; when we don’t get to interact with people, contributing to them and being contributed to, the fuel that moves our lives forward runs out.
2) Not able to change.
While being a herd creature is one of our strengths when we have others around us who can inspire and support us, it becomes a detriment when we rely on the support of others and feel as though we’re not getting it.
When we feel like we are not in control of changing what keeps us isolated, we lose the sense of being in control of our lives. That makes us feel helpless, disempowered, and utterly alone indefinitely.
More than anything — that there is no end in sight — can create an acute sense of loneliness and progress to anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts if not addressed.
In addition, many of us have been taught that it indicates weakness to ask for help or support from others. It goes like this: A person feels lonely. From their point of view, they are not getting the love, support, admiration, and acknowledgment they desire. This often creates a sense of insecurity — making them less likely to reach out to anyone. Instead, they contract to try to keep others away, so others do not see their insecurities. This contraction exacerbates the loneliness and feelings of insecurity, making them even less likely to initiate — or even desire — interaction with others. This, in turn, creates more of a sense of loneliness and the vicious circle is in full spin.
Before the pandemic, there were more ways to break this circle within the motion of daily life. This has become way more challenging and close to impossible for some people, like the elderly, during the pandemic. Currently, isolation is what supposedly will keep you alive — if it doesn’t kill you first.
3) Our bodies are missing each other.
Our sense of well-being not only comes from what goes on in our heads and hearts. A big part of that sense of loneliness can actually come from our bodies. Bodies thrive on touch. When they don’t receive that regularly, many of the so-called happy hormones, like endorphins, serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin, never get produced.
Even before the pandemic, the lack of touch was an issue for many people. However, with the social distancing and quarantine, it has reached whole new levels.
There are scientific studies that have found that if a baby doesn’t get touched, it literally dies. Our adult bodies may be bigger, but here is the thing: they still require and desire touch to thrive. In addition, our bodies talk to each other every time they hang out — so much of the input we get from people is via our bodies, not what we say out loud in words.
Basically, our bodies get nourished by other bodies way more than we’ve ever acknowledged — and I’m not talking about making out or having sex! A hug from a friend, sitting close to someone in a bar, a handshake, or even a pat on the back to let us know we have done a good job from one of our peers can go a long way.
Touch is the nurturing, the kindness, and the caring that our bodies so long for and require. My latest book The Body Whisperer is all about bodies and what they truly require to thrive.
On a broader societal level, in which way is loneliness harming our communities and society?
Since we thrive on interaction and connection, the loneliness epidemic has far-reaching effects, most likely in many ways that we can’t even imagine yet. With this ongoing pandemic, the perceived loneliness has deepened and exponentiated. My guess is now reaching every stratum of society and almost every culture globally.
Societies and cultures are conglomerations of individuals. When one withdraws due to loneliness, they cease to contribute to others energetically the way they used to.
Those around that person now have less of an energetic support system to draw upon to weather difficult times. This causes fewer energetic resources to be available to everyone because of the reclusive nature of someone experiencing loneliness.
Because of this, the loneliness epidemic, if left unchecked, has a cumulative effect that can affect large groups of people. It perhaps starts with an individual, but can extend from there to families, friend constellations, and from there to companies, communities, and so on. This leads to a sense of less ease, often a loss of productivity, and a sense of fewer possibilities that can be detrimental.
In working with tens of thousands of people during this time, I have found that loneliness becomes harmful when people do not realize that something different is possible.
In Australia, they have a day in September called “R U Okay Day.” It’s a day where people reach out and ask someone showing signs of loneliness and depression if they are okay. What if we started living this every day?
Asking someone if they are okay–and listening with no point of view or judgment–lets people know that someone in the world sees them, hears them, and acknowledges what is going on for them. It’s a simple gesture that can go such a long way.
What if everyone in the world knew that there was always another possibility available? My advice: Never give in, never give up, and never quit. Please, just take two more steps. There are ways to change the overwhelming feelings of loneliness or sadness, even if you are alone right now.
The irony of having a loneliness epidemic is glaring. We are living in a time where more people are connected to each other than ever before in history. Our technology has the power to connect billions of people in one network, in a way that was never possible. Yet despite this, so many people are lonely. Why is this? Can you share 3 of the main reasons why we are facing a loneliness epidemic today? Please give a story or an example for each.
- Social media is a big part of this problem. Please know, I am not blaming social media. The issue is not that we have social media. The issue is how we are using — and relying upon — social media to fulfill a void that only we can accomplish for ourselves. Although you are “connected” online, it is rarely the same type of connection that occurs when you are with people in person, face to face. Online, people can curate an image of themselves that often only loosely correlates with reality. And though you may have thousands of online “friends,” how many of those would you call when you really needed support? Probably very few. This is very similar to what we have in so much of the world: many HIGH QUANTITY, LOW-QUALITY items to consume. In this case, the consumption is that of genuine connection. Most people spend a lot of time and energy getting the perfect image or video to show that their life is indeed perfect. Even when — maybe especially when — it’s not. They are more interested in presenting a perfect image than presenting their reality as it actually is. There is very little vulnerability, therefore very little true connection. They’ll show a perfectly-curated photo of their perfect family on a perfect tropical beach — but what you are not seeing is that the baby threw up on mom right after the photo, the parents were arguing right before, and that during the 8-hour flight the entire family was at each other’s throats!
- The need for a perfectly curated image. This ideal of the perfectly-curated image follows people offline also. Not fitting into — or up to — the perfect image is actually a reason why many people feel alone already. In society, there is this idea that you must be perfect or you have no value. When someone starts to experience loneliness, they often feel like something is wrong with them. Partially because of the idea that “perfect is the new black,” those who are feeling lonely withdraw from society, believing they will have no value in others’ eyes. In addition, the sense of real connection is fleeting, even when people get together in person, because they’re focused on their phones and social media feeds or focused on how they are not living up to some standard of perfection that is often not theirs. Also, people have been conditioned to believe that their image is more important than their very being. This leads to a sense of loneliness for people who genuinely desire an authentic, intimate connection with others because even when they have people near them, they have a sense of being alone because they are the rare creature not functioning from the image while many people around them are. Those that are most vulnerable to experiencing loneliness are the sensitive individuals who truly thrive on connection with others. These sweet individuals are often those who are the ones interested in taking care of others. If they withdraw due to loneliness, there is often a void in their social circle, difficult to fill because of their unique contribution. The irony is that the sensitive individual who withdraws due to loneliness often does it because they feel undervalued for their contribution to others.
- The lack of sense of self. A third element that creates loneliness is that people have not been taught to value themselves and to rely upon themselves. In our current world, for both adults and children, many people are more interested in what others think about them than they are in what they think about themselves. This “other” focus creates a disturbing result when one is not able to be with those who validate them and whom they rely upon for support.
Ok. It is not enough to talk about problems without offering possible solutions. In your experience, what are the 5 things each of us can do to help solve the Loneliness Epidemic? Please give a story or an example for each.
1. Contribute to someone else.
Engage in a conversation with someone that is feeling isolated. Let them know they are not alone. Talk to them, ask them questions such as, “What is going on? How are you? Are you okay? What can I contribute to you?” Let them know you’re there and will listen with a non-judgmental ear.
This one apparently-small act can change your life and theirs. This loneliness epidemic is not just occurring because we are not connecting with others. It is occurring because we are not receiving the joy of CONTRIBUTING TO OTHERS.
I suggest finding one small way to contribute to someone EVERY DAY. You’ll be surprised at how much it lightens your world when you see how much it brightens theirs.
2. Get Engaged (No, I did NOT say to put a ring on someone’s finger!;).
One of the great gifts of our current world is the ability to interact online with others of like interests.
My suggestion is to think of something you like doing and go online and find a group of people that do that. Just do a search on that topic, and many resources will usually show up. Visit a forum and read the posts or peruse the comments on a YouTube video and just be a looky-loo for a while. You don’t even have to post anything. But you can.
If you have a more extroverted moment, you could join an online forum and interact with people there. The important thing is to recognize that you’re not alone, even in your love for hairless cats that meow show tunes!
This way of engaging also applies to events you could attend in your local area. There are so many meetups happening, even now. Just search your topic area and then add your city…voila!
3. Stop the Judgment.
We spend so much time judging ourselves and our bodies, and we are so used to believing that we are wrong. Would you be willing to let that go? Would you be willing to consider that you’re not nearly as messed up as you’ve decided you are?
Try asking this question every day. “What is right about me that I’m not getting?”
And just see what shows up.
4. Ask Questions.
One of the things that will introduce more possibilities into your life is something as simple as asking questions. Asking questions can help us undo the conclusions and judgments we carry with us.
The idea of asking a question in this way is not to look for an answer but to ask a question that opens up a different possibility — the question gets you out of the conclusion you are stuck in.
Most of us suffer from answers and conclusions since they don’t allow anything else to show up except for that exact conclusion or the “right” answer we’ve decided upon. Questions can be the antidote; they can open a new door — a new world!
Example of questions you can ask every day.
- What else is possible I’ve never considered?
- What is right about me I’m not getting?
- What can I be or do differently to change this?
Maybe watch this TV segment on beating the holiday’s blues and some questions to ask?
5. Never Give Up, Never Give In, Never Quit.
Please, Never Give Up, Never Give In, and Never Quit. You are too valuable to the world. If there’s one thing I know: it is often darkest before the dawn of great change.
Twenty-one years ago, I made the choice to live instead of die, and it was one of the greatest choices I have ever made! Every time something in my life gets hard, I remind myself to take two more steps and what always shows up is an opening for another possibility that always makes things greater.
What if what is going on in the world right now is the same? What if it is the change many of us have been asking for, showing up in a way far different than we imagined? Would you be willing to take two more steps and find out?
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I would like for every individual on the planet to recognize the gift they are. To truly get the gift it is when they choose to be them with their unique quirkiness, kindness, difference, hopes, dreams, aspirations, and sense of caring for themselves and others in the world. It’s what our world requires.
I would like for everyone in the world to know that they do not have to hide who they are or try to fit into what others want them to be. If we had a world of people genuinely being themselves and valuing themselves, the loneliness epidemic would change dynamically.
What our world requires now is the difference of each of us being able to shine unabashedly. If we choose to be what we truly are, we can come together to create unique solutions to the world’s problems. Even more than that, we, together, can create amazing possibilities that allow us to supersede our problems and create a world where kindness, ease, joy, connection, and possibilities reign.
We are blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
Two actually! Hugh Jackman and Richard Branson.
In a world where so many people are concerned about their image, these two are true gentlemen. They have the fame and the money so many have sold their souls for, but they haven’t given up themselves for anyone’s point of view. I admire them both immensely.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Thank you so much for these insights. This was so inspiring, and so important!
Dr Dain Heer Of Access Consciousness: 5 Things We Can Each Do To Help Solve The Loneliness Epidemic was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.