Here is the full transcript of life coach and internet comedian JP Sears’ TEDx Talk: Saying YES! To Your Weirdness at TEDxCardiffbytheSea conference. This event took place on May 12, 2017 at Encinitas, California. JP Sears is the author of the book How to Be Ultra Spiritual: 12 1/2 Steps to Spiritual Superiority.
Listen to the MP3 Audio: Saying YES! to Your Weirdness by JP Sears at TEDxCardiffbytheSea
JP Sears – Life coach and internet comedian
Show of hands, who makes a conscious effort to be yourself? That’s a big mistake.
I think trying to be yourself makes you just like everyone else who’s trying to be themselves. My feeling is that you should try to be unique by trying to be like everybody else. And it’ll make you normal, which is good.
I do believe that the most dangerous liability in our world today is being yourself. Think about it: if you are being yourself, someone might actually find out who you really are, they might actually see you. You might actually find out who you are. People might make fun of you. They might reject you. They might actually accept you too. Which is probably worse. So that’s very scary.
So I really advocate a posture in life of being normal to help protect you from these great threats. Are you guys with me? At least this is what our imaginations say, for some reason. I mean, it sounds a little ridiculous. But I think what’s actually more ridiculous than how it sounds is the fact that we all act this out to some degree.
And it’s also a fact that I just called my opinion a fact. So it’s like scientific, which is great.
Another of my opinions is the most pervasive disease in our world today is being normal. It infects a lot of people. It infects 90% of people. The other 10% are also affected but they don’t know it, they’re silent carriers.
Are you okay? You look sad. Do you want some flowers?
To me, they’re really quite ugly, they just look like weeds. But I hope they cheer you up.
So I’m not a doctor, unless I’m in denial. How would you know if you’re a doctor? I assume like someone tells you. But anyway, it’s my opinion I’m not a doctor, yet I believe being normal, it’s caused by a fear-based mindset of self-rejection. It’s incredibly self-imposed, incredibly self-induced. It’s like, when we’re being normal and that becomes the religion we worship, we treat ourselves like the enemy. We reject ourselves because that ensures us nobody else is going to reject us.
If I reject me first, then you don’t get any of me, because I don’t bring me to the table, so you can never reject me as long as I’m rejecting myself. Which is pretty interesting. It’s like, I’ll kill myself, so that I don’t die.
Nobody else can kill me if I die first. Honestly, I think we laugh because it’s true. I can feel you’re telepathically asking me, “JP, is there a cure for normal?”
I believe so. To me, the cure for normal is your weirdness. Not someone else’s weirdness, but your weirdness is the cure.
Show of hands, who in here is naked under your clothes right now? Cool. So you’re all a bunch of naked weirdos. The cure is inside of you. You don’t need to go figure out how to be weird. I think the design team that makes us, they are way too intelligent to actually make us just normal. They want life a little more interesting than that.
By the way, that statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. It’s not food or drugs. But it is my position.
From my perspective, your weirdness is a big part of what makes you, you.
Does anybody in here know what the purpose of life is? Yeah. Oh, God. I guess that’s the purpose. We’re done, we just figured it out.
So aside from the one narcissist who actually thinks she knows what the purpose of life is, I don’t know what the purpose of life is. But if I was pretending to know the purpose of life, I think it would have a lot to do with you living your life. You actually giving yourself permission to be the miracle that you are, and expressing that, not hiding that. It’s kind of interesting how we’re given this life, which I judge to be something incredibly precious, and then I’m amazed at how much of my time I spend hiding this precious life that I’ve been given. I guess I was profound. We got some sighs.
So what if the purpose of your life was actually to be yourself? Can you slice through the psychological scar tissue of your programming that has you acting normal, so that the miracle of you can actually arise?
So what is weirdness? This stage creaks so much. Which is kind of normal for stages, when you think about it.
So to me, weirdness is something too far profound to actually be defined. So here’s my definition of weirdness. It’s the traits, the tendencies, the behaviors, the perspectives that help make you unique. Again, it’s nothing we need to acquire. I think it’s something we’re incarnated with. The question is: can you take off what you cover up your raw, naked weirdness with?
Some of us would be sitting here saying, “Well, JP, you know, it sounds cool to be weird, but I’m just normal. I wear a suit and I actually pay my taxes on time. And I like doing that. So I’m just a boring, normal person.”
What I hear you say is you’re actually in denial. Microphone check. Whoever invented this style of microphone should be executed. It’s like a water bottle company saying, “This water bottle is meant to be held by your ear.”
Which brings me to my next point. You’re weirder than you think. In fact, you’re probably weirder than you can think. That’s my opinion.
Question for you: who inspires you the most? Think of the person who inspires you the most. And yell out a name for me. What I’m hearing you all say is JP Sears.
Let’s go with who inspires you the second most, because I don’t want this just all to be about me. Okay, now, your names.
Myself. Okay. I like that. But I heard some of you guys saying Alan Watts. You can think of the cliche examples like Elon Musk, Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, like whatever. Whoever inspires you the most, the question is: what about them inspires you? My delusional opinion is what inspires you about them is the fact that they’re weird. I guarantee nobody has ever inspired other people by excelling at normalcy. I’ve tried, it hasn’t worked.
And I think really what inspires us about inspirational people more than their weirdness is the fact that their weirdness actually delivers them to us. We actually – we get exposed to the surface area of who they are. Because they’re willing to risk being their unapologetically weird selves. And somehow, we get inspired when we see someone else being themselves.
We trick ourselves; we think we’re inspired because of what they do or what they have, but I think that’s just a delusion. I think we’re really inspired by them being willing to risk being themselves. And I might be the only one — but I might not be too. I think we’re all very thirsty to experience ourselves.
So when we see someone else drinking themselves — and again, not what they do, not what they have, but who they are, they’re ripping their normal clothes off and we see them being themselves — we say, “I want some of that.”
So what if you found out your weirdness is a gluten-free bread crumb trail that always leads you to you — to your authentic self? So I don’t like to worship weirdness; I love to worship where weirdness leads us, which was really hard for me to say just then. It’s a really abnormal sentence to put together, apparently.
So why I am a huge fan of weirdness is it’s my dogmatic belief, it always leads us to who we really are. Not who we think we are, not even who we want to be, but something far more significant — it leads us to who we actually are, if we’re willing to follow the scent trail of our weirdness.
So on paper, like being weird and not apologizing for it sounds kind of cool. So why do we constipate ourselves from expressing our unapologetically weird selves? Why do we do it?
Well, because there’s nothing but awkward silence meeting the question I just asked, I’ll give you my answer. I think we constipate the expression of our weirdness and therefore the expression of our true selves because we’re all approval addicts.
Why are we approval addicts? I’m curious, who in here has had a childhood? Cool. I saw eight people. The rest of you are in denial, which just means you had a very traumatic childhood, so the memory that you actually had a childhood will come back to you at some point.
I think one of the most fundamental human needs is the need for connection. And when we’re a child, this need for connection is incredibly raw. Babies can actually die from failure to thrive syndrome if they don’t have connection. And what’s the currency of connection we learn early on? My experience — it’s approval. When I feel approved of, I feel a sense of connection.
There are other connections available, but they’re kind of hidden, we typically have to work to find them. So little JP auditions for mommy and daddy’s approval. When he would get their approval, I feel like I matter, I feel like I belong, I feel like I’m connected to. Physically maybe, but more importantly, psychologically connected to — so important.
What do you have to do to get someone’s approval? You have to please them. And what do you have to do to please a person? Be yourself? It’s typically act like them. When someone acts like — especially if you mirror to them the things about themselves they like — that’s how they get approval. We’re talking about approval, not acceptance.
Or we learn to read people and we become what someone else wants us to be, whether we’re acting like them or we just read what’s going to meet this person’s need, and then we become that. Being our authentic self isn’t really part of that equation.
In fact, I believe to some degree all of us experienced as a child times when we would actually step into being ourselves, and we weren’t recognized for it. We weren’t validated for it. We get this sense of approval and therefore we trick ourselves into thinking that’s validation when we’re being what other people want us to be. But here we are when we’re being ourselves, it might go unrecognized, therefore we don’t get approval, we feel kind of just empty, maybe a little bit abandoned, and sometimes even worse, we’ll actually get disapproval. We’ll actually feel invalidated when we are being ourselves.
It’s very rare when we’re children that we’re validated when we’re being ourselves. Apparently, life has a trick in store. We’re supposed to figure that out for ourselves later on.
A little bit about my story — I might as well talk about myself for the next 45 minutes. Myself is my favorite subject. One of the ways I’ve very much constipated myself — my weirdness, yes, but more importantly, me, the real me — is for the first 13 years of my career I kept my inner comedian concealed. Like it was something dangerous that would bring harm to my life.
So about two and a half years ago, I started to give myself permission to not betray myself as much, to not be so constipated with my weirdness. Because I had made up a story: it would be terrible for business, it would discredit me — as an emotional healing coach if I was humorous. Like that would just be a really bad idea, I told myself.
And then I stopped believing it. Actually, I still believed it, but I stopped worshiping that idea, and I started making comedy videos. And my method of weirdness — when I am significantly handsome, and that’s just kind of weird. It’s like, weird how handsome you are, JP. But also, the way I see the world, it’s unique to me, and I guarantee the way you see the world is unique to you. But we’re talking about me, not you, so enough about you.
So I tend to see the world like I see the unseen, and I want to expose it because it is just so fascinating, so amusing to me. And it can be weird to other people, it can be unsettling to other people. It can actually cause other people to disapprove of me. Sometimes they get angry based on how they experience themselves about my perspectives.
But I started to realize something: as long as I’m worshiping other people’s approval, I can never accept myself. And it’s kind of weird, as long as I can never accept myself, I never give anybody else a chance to accept me. When I’m trying to be in an approval-based relationship with everybody, it costs me myself, and it means I can’t be in an acceptance-based relationship, because I’m in a perpetual posture of rejecting myself, not accepting myself.
So what if that’s true for you? Until you learn to actually accept yourself, then you’ll always be worshiping other people’s approval, or disapproval, just depending on if you’re compliant or defiant.
So then the next question that I’m telepathically sensing that you’re telepathically asking me is, “Well, JP, how can we embody a yes to our weirdness?” I mean, I didn’t say how can you say yes to your weirdness, because talk is cheap. Ironically, that’s talk that says talks is cheap, so there’s a hole in that theory.
So how can you embody a yes to your weirdness, which means embodying a yes to you being you? Something I’d ask you to consider is a willingness to embrace discomfort is essential. As long as we fear the fear of rejection – [Train sound] do you think if I get angry and swear at the train, it’ll help things? That fucking train. I’ll play with my microphone for a while. I’ll act like I can fix it, even though I won’t be able to. It really hurts my feelings.
Remind me that I’m talking about weirdness when I can talk again.
Hmm. I’ll pull my jeans up before I start again. So to me, a willingness to embrace discomfort is absolutely essential if you’re going to be yourself, if you’re going to say yes to you. Because if we’re not willing to embrace discomfort, that means I am always, always, always unwilling to experience the uncomfortable fear of rejection. It doesn’t mean rejection will happen, it means I will fear rejection. And by the way, rejection will definitely happen; welcome to humankind.
Brené Brown, she’s one of my favorite authors. I’ve never read any of her books, but I love what she says. She says something along the lines of: he or she who’s willing to be the most uncomfortable is not only the bravest, but rises the highest. Because we’re all so delusional about anything, I make that statement into what I want it to mean, which is: she’s talking about weirdness. He or she who’s willing to be the most uncomfortable is not only the bravest, but rises the highest. So what if a willingness to be uncomfortable is essential for us to embody a yes to ourselves?
I don’t think anybody has ever been hurt from pain, emotional pain. I think we hurt ourselves trying to avoid emotional pain. Our self-preservation instinct, from my delusional opinion, says, “Pain is bad, move away from pain, it might end our life.” I’m modeling the root chakra, not…I should shame you for your sexual thoughts of this moment. Welcome to church. You’re sexual and you should be ashamed about it.
So, our self-preservation instinct says the direction we need to move with pain is away from it, that’s necessary to preserve my life. And then, when we live long enough, or at least, better said, we have enough life experience, we start to get in touch not with our self-preservation, but our self-realization instinct that says, “Oh, pain, yeah, move towards it.”
We have to be willing to feel the fear of death in order to actually live. The self-realization instinct might just say, “Yeah, pain, go towards it, because there’s meaning in that, there’s purpose, and by the way, there’s you. You are on the other side of pain, because it’s you who’s generating the pain.”
So what if pain can become our friend? It doesn’t mean you have to self-induce it, I think as a human, you have enough of it inside of you already. It’s just a matter of being willing to embrace the fires and encounter the discomfort of what you already have inside.
Another consideration I’d ask you to consider, to be redundant with the word “consideration,” which I’ve used three times in this sentence already — It was just an observation, it wasn’t a joke. So this consideration would be: can you challenge yourself to turn your curses into a blessing? Or find the blessing within your curse?
I think once upon a time in our childhood what we were made fun of for the most, what we were most embarrassed about, what we were shamed for the most — it’s typically our gifts. It’s typically our weirdness. And as a child, we look at our weirdness, whether it’s someone who’s making fun of us because we’re the only one with red hair and freckles, and an awesome beard in first grade – so I think we can all relate to that — or we’re the only one that doesn’t like to play sports, or we think we’re the only one who was abused, or we think we’re the only one with a broken home.
Or we think we’re the only one with a home that’s broken, but we’re meant to pretend it’s not broken, we think we’re the only one living a facade. As a child, we tend to experience a sense of “it’s a curse, it’s a burden,” any time we have a sense of “I’m the only one.” The wounded child inside says, “I’m the only one.”
But when we can bring that child and marry it together with our heart — not in a bad way, but like in a support the inner child kind of way — we can be a more whole person today and say, “Yeah, I’m the only one, that’s amazing.”
So would you be willing to bring purpose to your pain, find the blessing of it, so that you don’t have to avoid it?
Then another consideration that I’d ask you to leave here with is amuse thyself. I think if you can embrace the idea of “part of the purpose of my life is to amuse myself,” it’ll help posture you better to embody the yes to your weirdness. Allegedly, there’s a story where Moses came down with the Ten Commandments. My favorite commandment is the one that wasn’t on the tablets, which is amuse thyself.
If you can amuse yourself simply by looking at you, looking at yourself, then I guarantee you, you are not looking very deeply. Look beyond the surface, there is hilarious, ridiculous material inside of you. And there are only two types of people in this world: those who believe that and those who are in denial of the fact that that’s true.
So in closing, I think the best way to begin a closing is with the words “in closing.”
We’re not at the closing yet, but I just wanted to tell you what I’ll do for the closing. I’m just kidding; we’re at the closing.
Would you be willing to consider that in any given moment you have a choice? You can choose the cure for normal, and unfortunately, it doesn’t appear to be a destination cure. It appears to be one of these journey cures, where we actually have to say yes or no in any given moment. And we are always saying yes or no to it. We’re either just conscious of how we’re saying yes to it, or unconscious of how we’re probably saying no to the cure of normal.
So would you be willing to look at what’s most weird about you? Again, if you don’t see it, look deeper. It’s there to be discovered. And when you look at what’s most weird about you, please consider that what you’re really looking at is the real you.
Then the real question is: are you willing to risk saying yes to being you?
Thank you, guys.