Saturday, August 18, 2018

Interview with Dr. Matthew Welsh J.D., Ph.D, of Spiritual Media Blog

The best consciousness blogs on the internet approach their subject from a variety of angles.  However, it is surprising how often wisdom springs from difficulty. Their story becomes relevant as an example of a mental transformation to achieve better living. I have interviewed psychologist Dr. Matthew Welsh, founder of Spiritual Media Blog to share his motivation and experience about his work in this field. 

1. What inspired you to start your spiritual journey and what inspires you

to continue to serve with your work? 

In college, I experienced a spiritual awakening to listen and trust my intuition. At the time, I was logical, practical, and externally focused on success, and also very stressed out. But, I felt this inner calling to begin to trust my Spirit or whatever you want to call it. This has not always been easy or a struggle-free spiritual journey. For example, after college, I went to law school and then worked for an entertainment agency in Hollywood and then as a trial lawyer for the Department of Child Services in Indiana. However, I was miserable. I woke up most days feeling anxious driving to work in the morning and left work feeling depressed at night. Working as a lawyer just felt so out of alignment with my personality, values, and deeper inner calling for my life.

I felt so lost and unsure professionally that I sought counseling. Counseling helped me reconnect with my authentic Self and better understand my values. I started giving motivational talks on how to find a meaningful career at colleges and non-profits. I began providing career coaching at night and Saturday mornings. Career coaching made me feel so alive, inspired because I was making a real difference in other people's lives.

The combination of the counseling and the joy of career coaching inspired me to quit my job as a lawyer and get my Ph.D. in psychology. I believe providing therapy and counseling is my true calling. I now provide therapy to veterans who have an addiction and PTSD. Helping other people better cope with challenges in their lives, reconnect with their authentic selves, and pursue their deeper purposes in life inspires me to continue to serve in my work. Every day I feel a sense of purpose, contentment, and peace. 

2, What was the most important learning experience of your life?

The most important learning experience for me is the challenges and problems in my life. For the past 15 years, I meditated daily, followed my intuition, gone to psychotherapy and spiritual life coaches, and attended numerous self-help workshops. When I first began, I thought that if I pursued enough self-improvement or 'achieved' enough spiritual growth, then I would always be happy and never have any problems or challenge. I think this is a potentially problematic line of thinking by many spiritual seekers, because of the belief that having positive thoughts and avoiding negative emotions such as anger or sadness, will only attract good things in life. However, it is normal to feel sad, anxious, angry, and have problems. What important is to manage negative emotions and handle life issues in a more healthy and solution-focused way.

3, How do you find people that can help you expand your circle of competence?
I have tried to adopt the attitude that I will never stop learning or growing. So, I try to be open to the possibility that there will always be someone who can help me with whatever I am working on, whether that is through listening to a podcast, reading a book, seeking out professional help, or being receptive to my family, friends, and coworkers. I have also worked with a spiritual life coach on and off for the past 10 years and had about 4 years of professional therapy.

4, How do you find your purpose?

I find purpose by trying to pay attention to what brings me joy in life, makes me feel alive and focusing on living my internal values. There was a time in my life when I was unemployed when I was a lawyer. At that time, I really had no idea what sort of work or career I wanted to do. I just knew that I was unhappy as a lawyer. I felt lost and did not know what my purpose in life was. During that time I began to focus more on identifying and living my internal values. I literally woke up each morning and said the following phrase:

"Who I am is the possibility of being __________"

Then, I would fill in the phrase with whatever internal value I felt like would give me purpose that day. The 2 values that I found myself repeating over and over again were inspiration and authenticity. I tried to create meaning by living those values even though I was not working at the time. This is a powerful exercise because we can not necessarily control our external environments such as our job, relationship status, or physical body. However, we can control whether we are living our internal values. For example, regardless of our external circumstances, we can choose to be authentic, inspiring, honest, kind, discipline or whatever internal value is important to you. This exercise helps us become greater than our external circumstances. Today, each day I wake up, I pick one value that gives me purpose and try to live that value during that day.

5, How do you maintain your focus on things that matter?

Maintaining focus can be difficult when we are faced with stress, pressures, and responsibilities of daily life. However, one thing that really helps me is to have a morning and evening routine where I reconnect with my Spirit or things that really matter. For example, each morning, I meditate for 10 minutes, try to read or listen to something that is inspirational; and while I take a shower, I reflect on what I am grateful for, proud of, or how I experience Spirit. Then I focus on one value I want to live that day. I also have an evening routine where I do some relaxed and restorative yoga for about 20 minutes and then meditate for about 10 minutes. I also am a big believer in discipline and grit. Sometimes, it takes all of the strength you have to put one leg in front of the other, but just focusing on taking that next step or accomplishing that next task right in front of you. No matter how big or small, it can also help your focus to accomplish greater goals in the long run.

6, What is the most common mistake you see in your practice that people

People demonize, deny, or repress negative emotions such as stress, sadness, or anger instead of finding healthy and authentic ways to understand, manage, and express them. For example, some people have been taught that anger is a bad emotion. So, they deny they are angry and repress it. Then, they often let it build up and explode later or act out aggressively and say or do something they regret or feel guilty about. Other people may use alcohol or drugs to cope with their negative emotions. One possible healthy alternative would be to express the anger or sadness constructively by accepting that it is normal to experience those emotions and then talking about those emotions calmly and directly to someone who will listen to you with empathy and compassion.

7, What is the most important message you have learned from other spiritual

We all have a still quiet voice that is capable of guiding us to a meaningful life. Some people call this our instincts, intuition, or an inner knowing. It may not always make sense, and we may experience problems and challenges throughout our life if we follow it. But, this inner knowing can and does help provide us with a peace that passes understanding and greater purpose throughout our life.

8, Do you see social changes pointing toward the betterment of humanity or
toward chaos?

I see social changes pointing toward the betterment of humanity. If you look at the increased social acceptance in America of yoga, meditation, mindfulness, and even psychotherapy over the past 50 years, I believe these practices will continue to help bring about a betterment of humanity. Yoga, meditation, and mindfulness used to be considered "woo-woo" over 50 years ago or rarely practiced. Now, they are regularly featured on the cover of major news outlets, used by VAs and the military to treat PTSD, and can be found in pretty much every city in America. That is a significant increase in just 50 years. Additionally, the #Metoo movement is bringing greater awareness to injustice and abuse of power and also helping to empower people to speak out against injustice and abuse of power. I believe the social acceptance of all these practices will continue to lead to a betterment of humanity. 

 Dr. Matthew Welsh J.D., Ph.D. is the founder of Spiritual Media Blog, a website that features guest posts, articles, interviews, and reviews about spirituality, psychology, and inspirational entertainment. 

After graduating from law school, Dr. Welsh created Spiritual Media Blog to be a source of inspirational content, media, and entertainment. He began his career in Hollywood working for an entertainment agency, the William Morris Agency, and then as a trial lawyer for the Department of Child Services in Indiana. He was not happy working as a lawyer. So, he quit his job as a lawyer to pursue his calling to become a psychologist and obtained his Ph.D. in Psychology. He now works as a full-time psychologist. Spiritual Media Blog is a creative outlet for his passions related to psychology, spirituality, and inspirational entertainment. His hope for Spiritual Media Blog is that it provides you with content that is practical, inspirational, and entertaining.

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