Robert Gerzon is the author of the groundbreaking book Finding Serenity in the Age of Anxiety. A Boston-area psychotherapist and life coach, he draws upon a diverse background in holistic medicine, psychology, philosophy, and spirituality. Robert just released a new book called Human Earth Awakening.
In the beginning of our conversation, Robert talks about the decision to sell his home, put his things in storage and become a nomad in Europe, along with his wife. He reflects on lessons he learned from his travels.
In 1997, Robert wrote the groundbreaking book Finding Serenity in the Age of Anxiety. He says that he’s been fighting anxiety his entire life. However over time, he learned that the better solution is to make friends with it: “Anxiety is a form of life energy and I’d be much better off if I learned to dance with it, rather than being afraid of it and trying to get rid of it, medicate away, suppress it, or let it dominate me and drive me crazy.”
Instead of wrestling with anxiety, Robert learned to dance with it. He realized that anxiety could actually be a friend as well as a foe. He says there are three (3) types of anxiety: toxic, natural and sacred anxiety. Toxic anxiety drives us crazy and serves no useful purpose; natural anxiety helps to keep us alive and warns us of danger; sacred anxiety is derived from the deeper questions in life, such as purpose, life, and death. He says: “I learned to change that toxic anxiety into natural and sacred anxiety, so it became a fuel for my own growth.”
Robert also explains into the power of our inner talk. He says that the first step is to become curious about our self-talk and to pay attention to that voice in our head. For example, if I’m feeling anxiety, what is the inner talk in my head that is making me feel that way. Or if I’m feeling happy, what inner talk is making me feel that way.
Paying attention to that inner talk helps to bring some of the subconscious stories, beliefs and programming to the surface. “Once I became aware of that inner talk, I realized that I had a choice about it, and I could choose my own inner talk rather than repeating things that had been told to me by authority figures in the past.”
Robert says that if you don’t like the inner talk that you are hearing, the next step is to ask yourself this simple question: what would I rather be hearing right now? It’s important to identify whether your inner talk is draining your energy or increasing it. Is it healthy and life affirming or is it sending you in the wrong direction?
Robert talks about his new book Human Earth Awakening, in particular the role of story in our lives. Stories help us make sense of the world, and we make decisions based on those stories. Every culture has its origin stories and we also have our personal stories.
Unfortunately, most of our stories are out of date and often times, negative and disempowering. Robert says: “We are running on a confusing mishmash of stories that’s really getting in the way of seeing clearly.”
Robert reminds us that if you think back to the role of story in traditional cultures, these stories were life affirming and designed to help us navigate the different phases of life. “We need more of a global story that can bring us together as homo sapiens, as a species, and help us meet the challenges that are there today.”
For Robert, the pandemic has the potential to serve as an incredible wake-up call. It’s given us an opportunity “for deep radical self-reflection.” We can use this time to ask some important questions, like “what is our life about, what is our purpose here on earth. And on a larger level, as human beings, what kind of planet do we want to have.”
Robert says that what’s happening today is really big because every system we depend on is in a state of crisis. He explains why it’s helpful to look at the the current crisis as an apocalypse. Interestingly, the word apocalypse means an “uncovering.”
Despite the challenges we face, Robert finds hope in the image of the tree of life. Every culture has this universal image for the divine and the transcendent: “My future starts with this next second, and this next second, so I’m not really thinking too far into the future these days even though I have wonderful visions of the future.” Each day, Robert takes time to nourish his tree of life. He says: “It’s a very exciting time because so many things are ripe for change.”
Lastly, Robert offers a powerful message of self-love. He says that when you love yourself just the way you are, things begin to shift and the boulders become stepping stones and the problems become opportunities.
You can learn more about Robert’s new book Human Earth Awakening here: www.humanearthawakening.com You can also find the book on Amazon and most other places where books are sold: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08MBGKD5Q/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1