Permission to Heal

Permission to Heal Episode #66 - A Conversation with Dr. Christian Heim - Navigating Love in a Fractured World

April 06, 2022 Marci Brockmann Season 2 Episode 66
Permission to Heal
Permission to Heal Episode #66 - A Conversation with Dr. Christian Heim - Navigating Love in a Fractured World
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Dr. Christian Heim   

Award-winning psychiatrist, Author of several books

The 7 Love Types: Navigating Love in a Fractured World
5 Steps of Men’s Mental Health: MAKE YOUR MIND A BETTER PLACE
7 Steps to Forgiveness (using neuroplasticity)

Dr. Christian Heim is an award-winning clinical psychiatrist, Australian music lecturer (= US professor), and a Churchill fellow. He is a senior lecturer at the University of Queensland in the School of Medicine and in music and has lectured at the Manhattan School of Music. During his 20 years as a doctor, he has heard the stories of thousands of people. He speaks globally in-person and virtually at law firms, medical organizations, leisure companies, and universities about preventative mental health. Dr. Heim speaks from a place of deep compassion and authority. His talks all combine science, music, and large doses of Australian humor.   

Dr. Heim's podcast - The Dr. Christian Heim Podcast
The
Dr. Christian Heim Preventative Mental Health YouTube Channel

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Dr. Christian Heim: Studies show that we have less friends than we ever have before. We have less people that we rely on. And why is that? Why is it when the world population is going up? And we think that we are more connected. We are actually less connected. I may be talking to somebody in New York City at the moment, but I live in an apartment building where I don't know the person two doors down, you know?

Marci Brockmann: Hello everyone. And welcome to Permission to Heal. I am Marci Brockman, and I am thrilled that you are here. On today's episode of Permission to Heal. We have Dr. Christian Heim from Sydney, Australia. He is an award-winning psychiatrist. He's the author of several books. 

[00:00:17] Marci Brockmann: He's a musician. He's just a lovely, lovely gentleman. And we had a lovely conversation about his new book, the Seven Love Types: Navigating Love in a Fractured World.. We both agree that what this world really needs is more love to coin a bazillion songs out there. But we're all fractured. 

[00:00:43] Marci Brockmann: We're all separated from each other. We're all consumed with devices and work and productivity and a pandemic that's ruptured our relationships throughout the world. And what we really mean. To help combat our mental health crisis is more love in the world. Dr. Christian takes us back to the ancient Greeks and their different languages for the different vocabulary words for the different types of love. My students and I have been talking recently in class about the fact that indigenous, Arctic peoples have. hundreds of words for the word, snow, different ways to describe the word snow and us seemingly primitive, English speakers have one word for love. Every kind of love that there is. Whether it's the love I have for my husband or the love for my children or the love for my good friends, with the love I have for my coworkers or the love I have for my students or my cats or the love I have for sushi or the love I have for music or the love I have for. The people who I stand on the line at the grocery store with it's all different, very different it feels different to them. It feels different to me, it feels different to all of us and yet we all use the word the same word. And so I think it's an interesting way of pulling apart, how we actually feel and realizing that. Because there are so many different types of love, every single interpersonal relationship that we have uses. Many of them sometimes simultaneously sometimes in quick succession, sometimes cyclical, depending on what's going on in our lives. And I think that that knowing all of this helps us create a more meaningful, more, well connected, more loving and self loving life. Yeah. Who doesn't want that anyway. So, stay tuned here is the episode with Dr. Christian.

[00:00:00] Marci Brockmann: Welcome Dr. Christian. Heim how are you today?  

[00:00:03] Dr. Christian Heim: Thank you very much. I am very excited to be here. I'm very excited to talk about something that's passionate to all of us, and that is low.  

[00:00:12] Marci Brockmann: Yeah, love, love, love. You have written a new book called the seven love types, navigating love in a fractured world. I can't wait to get into with you. What made you want to write this book?  

[00:00:25] Dr. Christian Heim: Uh, okay. So lastly, I'm a clinical psychiatrist, which means I, I help people through some of the darkest times that they live some of the most challenging problems that we have on the planet personally. And, so what I start to think about is how could we prevent these problems in the first place? And something that comes up very, very strongly is how difficult is. To find love and to find caring, even with family and friends these days. And then I got to thinking this whole idea of love, which we've learnt a lot about scientifically over the last 20 years. 

[00:01:01] Dr. Christian Heim: It's still a very nebulous area because we have this one word love and it means so many different things. It means love of animals. Love of children, love of friends, love of family, love of lovers, love of golf and music for goodness sake, how she used just one word sushi. That's right. That's right. So, so I decided to look at this thing and to say, how can we can actually understand love not only scientifically, but using ancient wisdom as well.. 

[00:01:28] Marci Brockmann: Beautiful. Beautiful. I was talking to my 12th grade English students this week. We were reading, we're reading a whole bunch of, I love weird stories. Okay. So we've been reading a bunch of. Very odd, off-beat short stories about in dysfunctional relationships. And we're sort of, since my big push is mental health this year as an English teacher, we're looking at all of these characters, all of these couples from a mental health standpoint. And, and what is it about them? Anger shame, blame, embarrassment vulnerability, whatever is causing them to act the way they're trying to act and trying to impart more learning. To my students besides, you know, how does the author use symbolism because who the hell cares about that? Really, and, and we were, we're having this conversation about how we've got one word for every single different type of love that there is. And it gets very confusing when you're trying to navigate what a character is doing in a short story, or when you're trying to navigate what you're doing in your own life. .  

[00:02:38] Dr. Christian Heim: Yeah.  
 

[00:02:38] Marci Brockmann: And maybe we need more words to describe the things that we're doing and thinking and feeling.  

[00:02:45] Dr. Christian Heim: Yes. Yes. And so, so that is the central idea where I decided to look at seven different types of love. And so I, I use the Greek words for it, but then I give translation so that we understand what we're actually talking about. Okay. So let's say we're talking about belonging. The love that you feel just being part of a family, you didn't choose your family. It was, you were born into it. You're part of it. You belong to this family. And because of that belonging, you feel love, but belonging love is also actually broader than that, because you belong. Let's say to a to a group of students who are in an English class. And so there's a sense of belonging in that English class and  

[00:03:28] Marci Brockmann: It is anywhere where you have a community? 

[00:03:32] Dr. Christian Heim: That's right. That sense of belonging to a community. This is why we love our hometown. However, small it is, however large it is. You just feel that you belong there and that, that evokes a sense of love. But of course, that is. Different sort of love to, if you enter a personal relationship with somebody or if you actually make a friend of somebody or if you encounter a stranger and you make a connection very quickly with a stranger, what is that? Is that a type of love? Yes, I believe it is.  

[00:04:04] Marci Brockmann: Yeah, there are a few people that I've met in my life, including my friend. I was telling you about before, who lives in Brisbane? The minute we met, it was like we'd known each other, our entire lives when obviously it had only been ten minutes.. You know, but it was just some connection and I would call that love, but it's certainly not the same love I have for my children or the love I have for my husband or the love I have for my cats. They were all different.  

[00:04:29] Dr. Christian Heim: They're all very different loves. So, uh, we can, we can start looking at the different types of loves. So let's say we started off with strangers. To love a stranger. It means you've got to love something that is very foreign to you first. And so the Greeks had this word Xenia love, and it's not princess Xenia, but let's say in medicine, if you give somebody a pig's valve for their heart, that's called a xenograft. It is a piece of flesh from a foreign animal. So we get this word Xenia, which. Love for strangers and  

[00:05:04] Marci Brockmann: Is it the same root as xenophobia?.  

[00:05:06] Dr. Christian Heim: Yes, it is. You know, phobia means you're cautious or afraid of strangers. Okay. So, you know, philia is loving strangers. So you get people who call themselves Franco files. They love anything, French or Anglo files. 

[00:05:20] Dr. Christian Heim: They love anything English, but it's foreign to them as a principal. And whenever we invite somebody for a meal or we give them a. Shelter for the night, we're experiencing a type of love that is actually very ancient and all these rituals that we have, like breaking the ice with a glass of wine or a glass of a beer or a cup of coffee. These are all rituals that we have to make interacting with strangers safe.  

[00:05:51] Marci Brockmann: Right.  
 

[00:05:52] Dr. Christian Heim: It's really hard to go for your sword when you've got a drink in your hand and see, so we've developed all these rituals so that love can actually grow also there's respect and anybody who's in a love relationship knows that at times your partner is going to say something that's totally foreign to you. You didn't know this side of them and you go, oh my gosh, they are a stranger to me at this moment.  

[00:06:17] Dr. Christian Heim: Right.  
 

[00:06:17] Dr. Christian Heim: So what we do is we use the seven love types to say, okay, in that moment you treat them like a stranger so that your actual erotic love can grow. But for a moment they're a stranger. And so it becomes the same kind of principle.  

[00:06:34] Marci Brockmann: Interesting. Interesting. So, so the, the whole point of it really is to keep navigating all of our interpersonal relationships. So that even within one relationship, if I'm hearing you correctly, you can have many different types of love.  

[00:06:53] Dr. Christian Heim: Yes. Yes. So when I do let's say couples therapy with a couple that are on the the verge of breaking up, right? They think, oh, we've got to get more love. So what they do is they try to ramp up the date nights. They try to ramp up the romance. I try to ramp up the candlelight dinners and put more six into the relationship when maybe what they need to be doing is looking at the friendship side of their relationship, or look at the respect and stranger side of the relationship. Or we spoke about belonging before, when you've been in a relationship for 15 or 20 years. You feel that you belong together even through the difficulties. So looking at that type of is helpful or let's take Liking love. Like you said that you like cats, so the Greeks call this epidemia. They are things that you like, you love kept some people love music. And so people in a relationship, they look for common ground. What do we like together? Do we like surfing? Do we like four wheel driving? Do we like walking and hiking? And these things become very precious in a relationship. And so it becomes a belonging love inside the context of a romantic relationship.  

[00:08:07] Marci Brockmann: And I would imagine with the, the, the ebb and flow of life and the difficulties and the challenges and, and everyone's moods and everyone else's mental health and everything else that goes on living in 2022 on this planet that. There are some times where you might not feel the erotic kind of love for your wife or your husband. And that takes it to a backseat for a little while, while you're navigating. Okay. So let's just do the co-parenting friend thing right now, so that we can get through this difficult patch. And then, and then just trust that if we ride this out together, that the erotic love will bloom again. When the stress is over. 

[00:08:50] Dr. Christian Heim: That's exactly right. And what you articulated that is one of the limitations of the scientific view of love, because science being all about the function. Have we navigate this world to survive really equate, love, and sex that we have loved basically, so that people will keep together to create the, the future generation of the species. And so that we will parent, well, that's all very scientific, but there 

[00:09:19] Marci Brockmann: That reduces us to dopamine and oxytocin.  

[00:09:22] Dr. Christian Heim: Oh, it doesn't mean oxytocin beater, endorphin, serotonin.  

[00:09:27] Marci Brockmann: Yeah, that's right.  

[00:09:28] Dr. Christian Heim: We are much more than a bag of chemicals. And as psychiatrist, this is what I enjoy journey with people who I know are much more than chemicals. So my work has to be informed by the science. We have to talk about the chemicals, but there's more than that. And that exactly articulates. The reason that I went to the ancient Greeks for their wisdom, because for as long as we have been walking this earth, we've been discussing ideas of love and what keeps relationships together and what makes life worth living. That's not a 20th century, 21st century phenomenon.  

[00:10:01] Marci Brockmann: It was an existential question from the beginning of time.  

[00:10:05] Dr. Christian Heim: Exactly.  
 

[00:10:06] Marci Brockmann: And if it's not our interpersonal relationship, That, and that is the meaning of life and what the hell is?  

[00:10:15] Dr. Christian Heim: Yes. Yes. And interpersonal relationships always write very highly as one of probably the, the, the, the thing that makes life worth living the most. 

[00:10:25] Dr. Christian Heim: So Aristotle actually said that interpersonal relationships contribute to happiness more than anything else. So wind forward to the 21st century Martin Seligman in his positive psychology talks about the importance of interpersonal relationships. To our quality of life, but Marci, we live in a world that is taking us away from our interpersonal relationships. 

[00:10:47] Dr. Christian Heim: Studies show that we have less friends, the SES you've got that fun. Then you've got less friends than we ever have before. We have less people that we rely on. And why is that? Why is it when the world population is going up? And we think that we more connected. We are actually less connected. We may be, I may be talking to somebody in New York city at the moment, but I live in an apartment building where I don't know the person two doors down, you know? 

[00:11:13] Marci Brockmann: Well, I live in a suburb, surrounded. I live in a town of about 15,000 people and maybe I know 20. Yes. I knew many more of them when my children were in the public school system here, but you know, that gets fractured when the kids graduate and move away. But of all of the people who live on my street, I know one family. Yes, they live right next door. Otherwise I don't talk to anybody. Yes. You know, I grew up in a neighborhood in the 1970s where everybody knew everybody, all the kids played, all the parents socialized to some degree or another, but by, by the nineties, That wasn't the same way. It wasn't the same thing. There's been a radical shift.  

[00:11:54] Dr. Christian Heim: There has been a very radical shift. And because of that, we lose our sense of belonging that Storge love. That's that's what the Greeks called the belonging love. We don't feel that we belong to a town anymore because we can all be in a bedroom or a living room, with a device such as a computer or a cell phone. 

[00:12:12] Dr. Christian Heim: And you feel connected to the world. The world is not real people, real people are flesh and blood that you can look into their eyes and communicate with and feel that you are sharing this strange thing called life.  

[00:12:26] Marci Brockmann: Yeah. Yeah. And the statistics that you quote in your book about this. If I can quote you to you or quote you to the audience you said in the United States, for example, over 47,000 people took their own lives in 2017, a 4% increase in 2016 and a 33% increase in 1999. In 2018, it was 48,000 something or other was another large increase. 15 times. As many people suffer from schizophrenia that are on dialysis 20 times. As many people suffer from bipolar disorder as then suffer from stroke each year. And depression has outstripped heart disease in causing the most disability worldwide under 18 year olds, it's increased by 63%. And under 30 five-year-olds by 47% anxiety and children increased over 20%. Over 10 years. We've got an epidemic of mental illness here, right? I, I see this as a public school teacher my student, I mean, you, you can attribute it to the COVID coronavirus pandemic, but only to a certain extent, I think that what the, the pandemic did was exacerbate the problem that we already had and at the same time, shine a spotlight on it. So now at least we're looking at it, but. Why don't we do the solution?  

[00:13:54] Dr. Christian Heim: Well, okay. So the thing is that we've hyped, what's called a medical model for many decades. Now, trying to look at mental illness in terms of brain chemicals, all you are depressed because you have a mental imbalance in your. 

[00:14:09] Dr. Christian Heim: Right now, if it was due to brain chemicals and genetics, then genetic makeup has not changed appreciably for about 60,000 years now, why this huge increase. So it becomes clear that this has less to do with brain chemicals and more to do with a problem with our lifestyle. And so  

[00:14:29] Marci Brockmann: Or a problem with toxicity or trauma within our interpersonal relationships. 

[00:14:35] Dr. Christian Heim: And then the question becomes, where does that trauma toxicity come from? And look, we feel always had trauma. We've always had toxicity, but the thing is, and. Bruce Perry, write a whole book on how love is protective against trauma. It is the love side of the equation that we losing. And that's, that's, that's why I do see the solution to be love and which is why in my book, I call it. Psychologists that saw that love is the answer, but not some romantic movie tale of what love is, but actually caring for your fellow human beings, caring for yourself in love, nurturing our relationships, nurturing our relationships with our children and fostering a society that actually is. Pro love where we actually get to have more friends rather than less. But because our technological devices at the moment are so convenient, they are so wonderful and they are wonderful, but it means that we're spending a lot less time with each other. And that's kind of the thing that we've got to turn around, which is why I put together this book, trying to focus people on love again, because we actually really all enjoy. We just need to be able to understand it, to experience more of it again.  

[00:15:54] Marci Brockmann: So, so on a, on a daily basis, like your, your random non holiday Tuesday, let's first for, just for instance, how do we go about bringing more love into our lives? Talking to strangers that we commute with commiserating, with people at the bus stop. 

[00:16:12] Dr. Christian Heim: Yes, that all sounds like the way to do it, but it's actually very, very difficult to do so on a very practical level. And this is why I put the video out on social media addiction on a practical level. It is disengaging from a screen to engage with people because when you make eye contact with another human being, there's a lot more than happens than just you are looking at their eyes. It is parts of. Limbic system specifically, the anterior cingulate gyrus becomes connected to your anterior cingulate gyrus, and it's like, you are magnetically attracted for those moments. And your two brains are transmitting information to each other. That we even can't describe. Okay. So in the book I talk about one thing called the social the eye contact affects. If you have done something wrong in the eyes of the person that you love, and you're looking for forgiveness, that's done through eye contact and the eye contact says, please forgive me. And the. That's right, because they don't look at you, but then when you make, when they look at you, you go, oh, thank goodness. I'm still there. Right? So you start to feel this forgiveness. All right. Let's take it away from two people and go, when you make eye contact with a pet, all right. And the pit can tell if you're in the mood to play, right. You just need to make eye contact with your dog. And he goes, oh boy, are we ready to play are we?? You know, or you just make eye contact with the, with the dog. And the dog goes, you've had a hard. You just need to give me a pet don't you. And so the, the dog comes up here and you, you give them the pet. So again, through eye contact, through touch, through our facial expressions, our brains are interacting a whole lot more than we even realize. 

[00:18:03] Dr. Christian Heim: But if we interact with. Cell phone where we're actually not even open to interacting with another human being. And that's why I'm linking the experience of love with decreasing our experience of screen devices. We don't have to give them up, but we have to decrease it,  

[00:18:24] Marci Brockmann: decrease it. So, so with so many family members. Far away these days, especially with people who were still socially distancing. And there are still people who, you know, we still have incidents of COVID going on and we don't. Do we have any of that connection through like this zoom call or through a FaceTime call? There's no limbic to limbic conversation going on this way. 

[00:18:49] Dr. Christian Heim: There is some just not as much. So for example, as a psychiatrist, I do a lot of work online. Right. But. Work online with anybody, unless I have worked with them face to face first because both of our brains will remember the face to face interaction of what it felt like to be in the presence of the other person. And it's hard to find the words to know what it feels like in another presence of. But real, you do know, and you do remember it. And so yeah, we, we have a son in New York city at the moment and we haven't seen him face to face for a number of years. And, and we, we do this, what we're doing at the moment zooming. And we say, you know, it doesn't feel the same. It doesn't, but you're going to take what you can get. 

[00:19:36] Marci Brockmann: Of course better to have zoom and FaceTime. And so you can have video conferencing. When you didn't. I mean, when I went away to college in the mid 1980s, we all had landline  

[00:19:47] Marci Brockmann: phones own. That's right.  

[00:19:50] Dr. Christian Heim: That's right. So yeah, no.  

[00:19:51] Marci Brockmann: And landline phones. Yeah.  

[00:19:53] Dr. Christian Heim: Yeah. And look, this is why it's easy to see that I'll take note technology is that you wonderful and we have to use it and we love using it. It's just that when it becomes. Work entertainment, movies, music. Even when I jog, I I've, I've got the iPods in and you become cut off from everybody around you. 

[00:20:14] Dr. Christian Heim: Whereas if you just walk down the street one of my favorite things is just passing a stranger and just making eye contact and just, just a little acknowledgement in Australia, we just say, get a ride. It's just it make you die. If you have good interactions like that. The bigger the city like even New York city. Okay. You just walk straight past people and they actually think that you're weird if you make eye contact with them. Fine. That's because we are socially conditioned not to make eye contact. So all these things are culturally informed, informed by how big the city is, but by and large,  

[00:20:52] Marci Brockmann: that's why people think I'm weird. I, I make it a habit of. Talking to everyone that I. Conversation with somebody online at Starbucks. I have a conversation with somebody while pumping gas. I have a conversation with random kids in the hallway at school. I don't know, standing in line at the grocery store. I just chat people up. I remember as a little girl watching my grandmother do this and she had people who I thought were relative strangers calling her grandma because she just. She was like Mary Poppins. She just was effusive with love and was just spreading this kindness and cheer everywhere. And as I've grown up myself, I've wanted to emulate that and copy that in my own life. So people look at me like my mom, my kids, oh my daughter, when she was a teenager used to want to hide because I talked to everyone. 

[00:21:44] Dr. Christian Heim: Yes. Okay. So some people may think that you're strange Marci, but nobody will ever think that you're unfriendly.  

[00:21:50] Marci Brockmann: Oh, God, no, they just quirky. And they roll their eyes at me, whatever I  

[00:21:55] Dr. Christian Heim: embraced that that's but they still know that you're friendly. You are making contact, you're acknowledging somebody else. Else's life and presence. And we all need that. We all actually crave that if we don't  

[00:22:07] Marci Brockmann: and they all smile. Every single person, I talk to smile sometimes surprisingly, but they all smile. I think it makes their day. It makes them.  

[00:22:16] Dr. Christian Heim: Yes. And just sharing a smile means that you've had a positive interaction with another human being, and that's why it makes your day. 

[00:22:23] Dr. Christian Heim: And that's, that's a form of Xenia love or stranger. Love you just smile. Just say hi and get on with each other's day, or you might show somebody some directions we might just share about how gas prices are a bit high today, you know? Th these are the little things that keep us going and make life worthwhile as well as the big things with. 

[00:22:45] Marci Brockmann: Absolutely. So, so what do you, what is your advice about self-love and self-compassion? I think a lot of people have problems with that. I know I am. Much nicer, consistently, much more forgiving, much more respectful, much more generous with other people than I am with myself and my own inner monologue  

[00:23:08] Dr. Christian Heim: yes. 
 

[00:23:09] Marci Brockmann: One thing that I would like to change in myself going forward is being nicer to Marci.. I think on one hand if I think intellectually I, I'm a pretty awesome person and I've got a lot of talents and I'm a very kind loving person and the things I say to myself and the inside of my head, I would never, in a thousand years, say to another. So how do I, how do I apply this, this, this theory of love to myself.  

[00:23:37] Dr. Christian Heim: Okay. Okay. So, so the first thing I want to say, Marci, is that that is actually the normal state of affairs for most people. and over the last 20, 30 years, we've been talking about the importance of self-esteem and what a lot of that has done has put pressure. On us to be kind to ourselves when we don't feel like being kind to ourselves. So I'll talk about a way out of, so another it's people fake being kind to themselves when they're actually very hard on themselves. And the thing is that we actually get to hear all of our thoughts. We get to experience all of our feeds. 

[00:24:09] Dr. Christian Heim: And we get to know that, you know what, there, there are some not nice things in there as well, which is why it's self-love is really difficult. So in my book, what I've done is I've put a chapter on self love, but that's the last chapter. So, so what happens is you go through the journey of understanding, loving other people before coming to love yourself, because when you. Love other people and share yourself with other people. You actually gained respect for yourself. You actually go, you know what? You're you're worthy of love as well. Okay. You shared all of this. You can feel good about yourself. Okay. Whereas if you put yourself first, if you say I am going to love Marci first, you actually lose respect for yourself because if you give yourself love first, what tends to happen is people then put other people second so you end up losing respect for yourself because you're not being a loving person because the nature of love is to love and then be loved in itself. So to give first, and it's really difficult. So after you experienced. Like after you've given a smile, you just passed a stranger and you've given a smile and you've got a smile back and you went, oh, see, Marci somebody else who you've just had a little interaction with. That feels good. So I look at self-love because self-love is really important, but it has to be genuine self-love they can't be a faked or I've got to put myself first before other people type of self-love. So that's why it's like. But it gets it gets a very important looking and it talks about how through loving other people and understanding love. Then it becomes very natural to start accepting and even loving yourself.  

[00:25:53] Marci Brockmann: So, so how do you reconcile? I'm listening to what you're saying, and it absolutely makes a lot of sense to me, but then I'm thinking about what I've heard from. Other therapists and psychologists and other guests on this show, actually who've, who've said things like you can't fill other people's cup from your own empty cup or like using the airplane metaphor where you have to put your own oxygen mask on first, before you help anyone else. So is what you're saying at all, contradictory to the, you have to take care of your own needs before you have what to give to other people, or where does that fit together? Like a Lego something.  

[00:26:30] Dr. Christian Heim: Uh, no, no, I'd say it's contradictory. Okay. so I, I, I do like stepping on a few toes occasionally, you know? That's why it does. So let's, let's take the idea of filling your love cup. How did you love cup get filled? Well, none of us actually are born into this life and we start filling our own life. 

[00:26:50] Dr. Christian Heim: We can't do that, but we don't have the way with all to do that. The people who first fill your love cup are your parents. Then it becomes your family, friends, your peers, and everybody starts to feel your love cups. So in other words, everybody else has given you a dose of love first. So somebody else has given you that love so that you have that reservoir of a love cup so that you can then give to other people. But that is very different to saying I am going to be first among other people, that unfortunately leads towards narcissism, which we have a lot of in this world. And narcissism is basically loving yourself first above other people. So, and none of us actually like the experience of narcissism, but all of us, all of our brains arranged the whole world. Around ourselves that there's just no other way to organize the world. So in other words, we all have a very natural inclination towards narcissism to thinking that the whole world is here just for ourselves. But if we live our lives, that. We're going to find ourselves very lonely. So it really is this idea of give and take, give, and take, give, and take with every interaction. And there is that effort of having to give first before you can take. And so even with yourself, is that dynamic of giving first and then you're able to take because what I find from the idea of looking after your own self-esteem first is that. Yeah, people put themselves first and then they feel bad about themselves and they start to feel good only when they see they can actually love first. 

[00:28:36] Dr. Christian Heim: So it's a bit of a balance, but there's a bit of tension there too.  

[00:28:40] Marci Brockmann: So maybe to combine both of the theories instead of making them diametrically opposite is to, to really just hate the word. Just makes things sound too simple. Yes. Enact or assemble or whatever. Healthy boundaries for yourself, what feels good? And what's okay. And what's not okay. And then within those boundaries give love freely. Cause we all have to get to a point where we're like our, can't say yes to another thing. I have to go home and just sit with a cat and watch TV or take a nap or read a book. Like I can't, I can't give anymore. And so I think if we have the self-compassion and the strength to enact and. Or erect and maintain healthy boundaries that, that, that coupled with this, this new paradigm of love could be a good recipe for mental health. Yes,  

[00:29:40] Dr. Christian Heim: yes it is. And the thing is that a Marci, we're actually not as individualistic as we'd like to believe. We're not 8 billion individuals loving ourselves first and then trying to make relationships with other people. 

[00:29:51] Dr. Christian Heim: We are all part of. Living breathing organism that we call the human rights and we all speak into each other's lives. So in other words, we all share love with each other, and we all take love with each other as well. So either we are being loving when we're connected. Or we're being unloving when we're disconnected. And so what I'm emphasizing in my book, you see, it's the idea of being connected, being connected with other people, because then more love will flow through you. And so it will be much more natural for you to have more love for yourself because you're part of a whole loving flow. But if you're disconnected from that, then you're actually even disconnected from love from yourself. So rather than being diametrically opposed, there's some contention there, but basically people will agree. The more love the better, for example. Yeah, that's right. We will give out middles in society for people who've been altruistic who have risked their lives for other people. We applaud that. We know that it is a good thing to do. We don't give metals out for people who put themselves before other people. No However  

[00:31:05] Dr. Christian Heim: We divorce those people. ,  

[00:31:12] Dr. Christian Heim: very well put. There are times when you have to actually take care of yourself first. So the airplane situation is very valid. Every ambulance officer knows that you have to be safe to be able to take care of other people, but that's actually why you take you take care of yourself so that you can take care of somebody else because you're more likely to take care of yourself if you do it for other people  

[00:31:38] Marci Brockmann: makes sense it makes sense  

[00:31:41] Dr. Christian Heim: complex.  
 

[00:31:42] Marci Brockmann: I love that. I love. So, so I was looking as I was doing your Reese research for this, this conversation, I was noticing that you and your wife, Caroline, do a video series on YouTube.  

[00:31:55] Dr. Christian Heim: Yes. We did for awhile. Yeah.  

[00:31:58] Marci Brockmann: You still doing it or is that  

[00:32:00] Dr. Christian Heim: okay? It's, it's kind of morphed. So we were in, we were in a situation where before the COVID crisis we were going to move to the, to the USA, closer to our son in New York city. And they kind of put a stop to that. And then Caroline. My spouse is a lecturer at a, at a university. She's the professor and we noticed people's mental health, just dwindling. And so we put together firstly, a few videos to help students online and that morphed into an idea of putting something together, talking about some of the issues that I do talk about in my work and in the things that I write and. Posted I put up. And so that became this video series that Caroline and I have put on together. Now we're starting to do discreet videos that talk about a particularly pertinent topics. And the one that has to do with love that we've recently put out is a social media addiction, because what that. It says it's basically, Hey, you can choose between spending another hour online or another hour with your family and friends, right. Okay, what's going to give you the most love.  

[00:33:10] Marci Brockmann: I always think about that cliched story, like on their deathbed, nobody wished they'd spent one extra hour at work. They, they, they would want that extra hour with their family and I in class today, I actually applied that to cell phones. Cause I had watched your video last night and I said, I think to the kids and like no one on their deathbed is going to wish they spent five more minutes playing a video game or another hour on their cell phone, but they're going to want more memories of their families on a vacation or cuddling with them. Significant other, or, you know, that that's what they're going to want. And, and I got a few kids who nodded and a lot of kids who ignored me, but you know, it's teenagers, what can you do?  

[00:33:48] Dr. Christian Heim: And the problem with that is that cell phones are immediate gratification. You get the dopamine release straight away. Whereas let, let's just say, you know, spending another hour with your significant other on the couch. Now that sounds like a whole lot of fun, but if you had an argument with them just two hours ago, it takes a bit of effort to get to that fund. And so all the love that I talked about in the book takes initial effort, but what it does is it gives you long-term contentment rather than immediate. 

[00:34:21] Dr. Christian Heim: And so, we're actually in a dopamine crisis and dopamine is a brain chemical that mediates pleasure in our brain and with our screens, we can have that pleasure instantaneously, but if you want a good relationship, I'm sorry, that is not instantaneous instantaneous type work, which means that you're putting in effort for a better future. And this is the decision that we made. Often do I get a little bit of pleasure now or do I put in the effort now for a bit of future? And in fact, she always better to put in the effort for a better future because you end up with not only dopamine, but also serotonin where you may actually feel at home oxytocin of course, is the love drug where you feel that rush of emotion love, but also trust whenever. Businessmen shake hands. And so you've got a deal. Okay. There's oxytocin flowing there. Okay. And the other chemical I want to talk about is called beta endorphins. And a lot of people know about beater endorphins, because if you run a lot, you will get this rush of endorphins to take down your plane. But yeah, the run is high, but we also get beta endorphins from laughing together, crying together, telling jokes together. Playing music together, singing together, or just having a conversation with somebody. So the, the IgE that Peter, endorphin is there to bring your pain levels down. Well, there's a purpose for that. And the purpose I believe is that we want your pain levels down, so you can spend more time with other people, because let's say you're in an orchestra and you've got a flute solo coming up and got. Hang geo. Okay, good. Well, if you've got a solar coming up, you can't stop the orchestra and say, sorry, this hurts too much. You know, I'm not going to play the solo. 

[00:36:08] Marci Brockmann: I'm not holding this up anymore.  

[00:36:10] Dr. Christian Heim: That's right. You're going to hold it up. And your brain is going to release beta endorphins because you're doing the music and doing this with a whole lot of people. So that for those two minutes, you can do your solo and people can go. That was beautiful. She was proud of it. So there's a purpose behind the analgesic effect of beta endorphins.  

[00:36:30] Marci Brockmann: So that just solved a question for me. I haven't done it in a while since COVID started, but for 20 years I've been singing with a local community choir. And when I stand still for too long, my lower back hurts, but I could stand in sing for an hour and have no pain. 

[00:36:49] Dr. Christian Heim: Yes. Yes. Yes. Isn't that amazing? Isn't that amazing?  

[00:36:53] Marci Brockmann: I never knew why until this moment.  

[00:36:55] Dr. Christian Heim: Okay.  
 

[00:36:56] Marci Brockmann: So that's, it's always a mystery. Why can I stand while I'm singing, but I can't stand other places.  

[00:37:01] Dr. Christian Heim: Yeah. Yeah, because your brain says, this is good for us. It's good for us to be standing with art people feel fantastic. 

[00:37:08] Dr. Christian Heim: Yes. It makes a lot.  

[00:37:11] Marci Brockmann: Oh, I love learning stuff. 

[00:37:18] Dr. Christian Heim: Yeah, Beta endorphin is actually, it's an amazing chemical and. That way we're social creatures. All right. So if you ever wonder how a block a flock of a million birds can just sort of go into the sky at the same second or,, the fish, they just, they just turn sort of all over that schooling fish thing. 

[00:37:40] Marci Brockmann: Oh my God. Yes. Yes.  

[00:37:41] Dr. Christian Heim: There is some of that in us and we see it the most when we engage in media. Because to me when I'm part of an orchestra and the conductor brings down the batch Baton and a hundred people seeing the same thing at exactly the same time, that to me is a miracle, but that is all mediated through the two endorphins because we are together and we feel connected and there's something going on that isn't going on beforehand. And look, I'm just going to take another example for that.  

[00:38:12] Marci Brockmann: I'm enjoying.  

[00:38:14] Dr. Christian Heim: Okay. We've got the winter Olympics going on at the moment. And the amazing thing about the Olympic games. I particularly like the gymnastics or okay. In the summer Olympics, I figured. Okay. Let's take, figure skating because that's on at the moment. How is it that people do better than their personal best when they're at the Olympics? That always amazes me. And one of the answers is beta endorphins because the audience audiences. Yes, everybody is focusing their silence, but that is a silence that's full of this energy. And so this is where we get this idea of flow. When you're flowing with the audience to do something better than you could possibly do yourself. And you will feel this with your significant other when you're just flowing together, right. When you say. We really synching at the moment. Right. Being together all when the family is just humming or when you're with a group of friends around the campfire and you go, Hey, there's something happening here and that's all beat or endorphin mediated that there is something bigger than yourself. And you're flowing with the human rights. You're flying with the people around you. And that is a form of love. Yeah.  

[00:39:28] Marci Brockmann: I can think of instances of small dinner parties at my house, where everybody was laughing and we were feeling that exact same thing or playing games with all of the kids and it's snowing outside and we're inside with a monopoly game, but it just feels like, you know, everybody's in flow or. It happens to me quite regularly when I'm in my classes with my students. And we're all writing at the same time. And everybody's creatively thinking, even though we're all separate and no one's talking, sometimes I write my best things that way.  

[00:39:57] Dr. Christian Heim: Yes. Yes. Because we're looked 40 or 50 people together in a classroom and you're not by yourself. You are part of something. Right. And you're learning something outside yourself. You're growing in life with the people around you, and then you as a teacher feel, ah, this is what life's about. I'm actually doing something worthwhile here and it's very hard to even articulate what that is.  

[00:40:19] Marci Brockmann: Sure. Feels like, you know what it is when you feel it, you know, you recognize it when you feel it. Yeah. Awesome. Okay. So I think it's time for the seven questions if you're ready. Okay. So what six words would you use to describe yourself?  

[00:40:37] Dr. Christian Heim: Six words. That's very hard Marci. That's very hard. Okay. Okay. So I am a highly emotional and pathic, compassionate, fun, childlike, and playful. Lovely. What I do get angry sometimes as well. So let's put that in as a word as well.  

[00:41:01] Marci Brockmann: Okay. What is your favorite way to spend a day?  

[00:41:04] Dr. Christian Heim: Wow. Okay. So  
 

[00:41:06] Marci Brockmann: seasonally dependent, you know? 

[00:41:08] Dr. Christian Heim: Yeah. Okay. So my spouse, Caroline, she's into favorites. What I will say often is I like the variety, so I can love a day alone at the beach. I can love a day alone together with Caroline. Uh, Together doing whatever we do. If that's organizing another podcast or something, we flow together there, or I could be with a group of people. And I use the metaphor of an orchestra, a launch because I've spent a lot of time conducting and playing in orchestras and there's something very special that happens there. So my idea of. day is spent with people touching real issues and sharing feelings of love in the broader sense.  

[00:41:51] Marci Brockmann: Awesome. Excellent. Okay. What is your favorite childhood memory? Here's a favorite. Okay.  

[00:41:59] Dr. Christian Heim: Okay. So my five favorite childhood memory actually has to do with being in community. Uh, I was lucky to grow up in a in a church community where we saw the same people every weekend. And that just gave such a sense of familiarity and belonging. 

[00:42:15] Dr. Christian Heim: It gave a sense of belonging and being part of the community. And yes, I. Did music as part of this community, I sang as part of this community and you just took it for granted. You took adults and fellow children all for granted because that's the way I thought life was supposed to be.  

[00:42:35] Marci Brockmann: I think you might be onto something. I think that might be how life is supposed to be. I find myself watching a lot of TV shows lately that have very close knit groups of friends.  

[00:42:48] Dr. Christian Heim: Yeah.  
 

[00:42:48] Marci Brockmann: You know, and since the whole COVID thing, I have hardly seen my. Because we're all isolated and nobody's getting together and we're not going to places where there are lots of people. So, you know, it's, it's, it's been sad. It's been a loss. Yeah.  

[00:43:05] Dr. Christian Heim: And, and so yesterday I had the experience of going to a funeral of somebody who is who's dear to me and part of that community. But it meant that I saw people that I haven't seen for about 30 or 40 years.  

[00:43:18] Marci Brockmann: Wow.  
 

[00:43:19] Dr. Christian Heim: Yeah, because we moved away, we got into another life, but. To, to just relive some of that community again, where the silliest things were so important and, that somehow made life very worthwhile for me yesterday. Yeah.  

[00:43:35] Marci Brockmann: So a sad occasion brought you some joy, so that's wonderful. I think that's what these funeral rituals are about. Yeah.  

[00:43:43] Dr. Christian Heim: Yeah.  
 

[00:43:44] Marci Brockmann: Yeah. Sure. What is your favorite. 

[00:43:49] Dr. Christian Heim: My favorite meal. Again, I have many favorite meals, but I, I think a good and spaghetti bolonaise, is my favorite simply because it's usually cooked with love. Somebody has three, for sure. Yes. Yes. And they say, oh, I'm just going to put this together and I'm going to make it just like that. And also I, in our family, we headed at least once a week. Always good memories of somebody coming up while I was making this meal sort of saying, oh, what are we having tonight with dinner spaghetti? Bolonaise that's great. You know, so a lot of, a lot of good memories around speaking  

[00:44:26] Marci Brockmann: at least once a week when my kids were little fantastic. Bigger when the kids were home. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. It's easy to always comes out. Well, what, one piece of advice would you give your younger self? 

[00:44:42] Dr. Christian Heim: Yeah, no need to worry. I've made that Cardinal mistake. Many of us do worrying about the things that you can't control. Of course. So silly things like the weather whether people like you or not, and not spending enough times on the things that you can control, like how you spend your time. Or what you see, say to people in the heat of an argument. That's a time when you can sort of think, just think Christian, just think, is this the right thing to say, okay. John  

[00:45:13] Marci Brockmann: respond instead of react.  

[00:45:15] Dr. Christian Heim: That's right.  
 

[00:45:16] Marci Brockmann: Yeah. What is one thing you would like to change about the world?  

[00:45:21] Dr. Christian Heim: Oh, the first word that came to me was everything. I could use a little of that. I know we're here and it'd be nice to say that we should get rid of all these problems, but problems in a way is what keeps us going and keeps us thriving. I suppose the one thing that I want to change is that it'd be nice if we could move together in the same direction to solve these problems rather than move in separate directions. Because we ultimately all want the same thing. We want to be able to have a good time and a meaningful. But but we're actually almost going to war over how that should be done. And I'd like to change that.  

[00:45:59] Marci Brockmann: That's actually a good, a good way of looking at it. If we could move together in the same direction to solve the problems that we all commonly share, we'd actually have a shot at solving, at least some of them. 

[00:46:10] Dr. Christian Heim: Yeah, we would end up having treated a lot of people who have post-traumatic stress disorder from war situations. I never see war as a solution to anything. If we hit investor with problems, it makes huge problems, huge problems in front of a lot of the problems of my life. There's still those that were left over from the second world war. Okay. So if we could have somehow averted that would have been good. I know that's a very complex thing to do, but  

[00:46:39] Marci Brockmann: I've been looking at my own family and talking about intergenerational trauma a lot, like helping me examine. The experiences that I've had in my life with my mom and my grandmother and putting that in the context of my grandmother, who was born in 1915, her life full of experience and trauma and her mother, my great grandmother who immigrated from Russia during the times of the pogroms when Jews were being killed and all of that and the depression and both world wars. Greatly affected the way these women were brought up and then affected my life. And by looking at myself as a, as one member in this continuity of this family completely changed the pathology of victimizing myself, because I no longer looked at myself that way. I was, it was. Just like this big weight that lifted off of me looking at it from that direction. 

[00:47:37] Dr. Christian Heim: That's fantastic because right there, you articulated how you're not just an individual, but you're part of something greater, not only with the people around you now, but throughout history. And, and when we start to bring in history, it unites all of us. We're all part of the same larger family that we call the human race,. And yeah, it'd be good. Just pulling the same direction.  

[00:48:01] Marci Brockmann: It's beautiful. Beautiful. Okay. Now getting a little, a little cheesy and a little modern, and I know you're like anti screens, but you have to, what what TV shows do you binge and watch and love? I'm just curious about this. I mean, assuming you watch TV, you know, I don't know. 

[00:48:19] Dr. Christian Heim: Okay. So, occasionally, my spouse and I find something that sort of speaks to us and it usually has something to do. Family values out in nature and basically people working things out. So I'm going to tell you about the last one that we got into, because this was on Netflix in Australia. It was a series from the 1990s, called Sea Change where a high profile Sydney lawyer, sorry. 

[00:48:44] Dr. Christian Heim: Melbourne lawyer decides to give up the rat race to go to this small town on the ocean and to start to care for some of the people who are leading various. Ordinary lives also. It seems. And the message of the whole thing is actually, you know what, it's people, you care about people, however quirky they are, whatever their past is, whatever they're into. 

[00:49:08] Dr. Christian Heim: If you can start to care for people that is worth gold. So yeah, so that one's called sea change and it's on Netflix, Australia.  

[00:49:19] Marci Brockmann: Nice. That was very cool. Well, thank you so much for this. This was so wonderful. I really enjoyed this conversation. Thank you for being on Permission to Heal and telling us about your book. 

[00:49:30] Marci Brockmann: All of the links to your socials and your website and how to buy your books and everything will be in the show notes. So if you're not driving while you're listening to this, you can just scroll down and they'll all be there. So,  

[00:49:41] Dr. Christian Heim: yes, I just want to say one more thing Marci besides thank you for all of that and thank you for those questions. Okay. Loving yourself is giving yourself permission to heal.  

[00:49:52] Marci Brockmann: There you go. Can't think of a better way to end. That's correct.  

[00:49:57] Dr. Christian Heim: Thank you for the way. Cause you're doing, because it is vitally important. It's it gives so much to so many people.  

[00:50:03] Marci Brockmann: Thank you so much. 




(Cont.) Permission to Heal Episode #66 - A Conversation with Dr. Christian Heim - Navigating Love in a Fractured World
(Cont.) Permission to Heal Episode #66 - A Conversation with Dr. Christian Heim - Navigating Love in a Fractured World