Addictions and bad habits are things most of us can relate to. I certainly can!Today I chat with Greg Suchy about approaching addiction in an entirely new way, using the Three Principles. Greg has had experience with the AA model, but found himself drawn to the Principles when he was introduced to them. After finding his life turned around, he now coaches and teaches others about this understanding.
Greg Suchy is a life coach with a focus on helping those struggling with habits and addictions. He has also been hosting an addiction webinar series for over two years as well as the local meeting he started recently in Akron, Ohio. He is passionate about helping others live their lives with a greater sense of ease and comfort. [That’s Greg and his cat Monkey in the photo at right. Monkey made a surprise guest appearance on the show. 😉 ]
You can listen above or on iTunes or your favorite podcast app or watch the video here. Below are the highlights, resources we mention, and full transcript.
- Why and how the 3 Principles helped Greg deal with his addictions
- Letting go of ‘The Story of Me’
- Uncovering our innate resilience
- How we are seeking our innate serenity with our addictions and habits
Resources Mentioned in this Episode
- Greg Suchy and Harry
Derbitsky’sAddiction and the 3 Principles Facebook group
- And their YouTube channel
- Book: The Serenity Principle by Joseph Bailey
- Joseph Bailey’s website
- Dr. Bill Pettit
Transcript of Interview with Greg Suchy
Alexandra: Hi, everyone. I’m Alexandra Amor and this is the Stop Suffering About podcast. I’m here today with Greg Suchy. Hi, Greg.
Greg: Hi. How are you doing?
Alexandra: Very well. How are you?
Greg: I’m fantastic.
Alexandra: Good. Let me give our listeners a little bit of an introduction to you.
Greg Suchy is a life coach with a focus on helping those struggling with habits and addictions. He has also been hosting an addiction webinar series for over two years as well as the local meeting he started recently in Akron, Ohio. He is passionate about helping others live their lives with a greater sense of ease and comfort. So welcome, Greg.
Why don’t you start by telling us about yourself and about how you got into being interested in this understanding?
Greg: Growing up, even some of my earliest memories, I remembered feeling like I didn’t fit in even with my family or anything. I always had this sense of discomfort, this dis-ease, this, you know, just not belonging. And it eventually turned into a lot of different addictive habits for me, with food, and gambling, and drugs, and alcohol, all kinds of different stuff.
In 2012, I think I was like, 32 or 33, I ended up in the rooms of AA through my ex-wife. We both had found our bottoms around the same time and I ended up in AA and spen a few years in there.
And, I was sober and very miserable. I hadn’t had a drink or drug, or anything in a few years. I was quite honestly getting pretty close to putting a bullet in my head because it was just a miserable life. I didn’t know how to deal with things without that escape, and I was fine as long as I was at a meeting.
But as soon as I got out of the meeting, it was easy to pretend like things were good for an hour or two. And then afterward it all hit. And it was like, I still had the bills and I still had all these other things going on. And I just had no clue how to handle any of that stuff.
Then I started going to Unity Church because they have a more metaphysical view on the Bible and I was enjoying some of the messages that they had. One Sunday, I’m looking at the brochure, you know, the thing that they hand out and it’s a new meeting, The Three Principles, and that’s it. There was no description. I’m like, that’s kind of weird, but something drew me to it like, “I should go check this out.” And here is Monkey.
Alexandra: There’s Monkey. [Greg’s cat.]
Greg: We’re talking about him earlier. Here’s Monkey. He has to get himself in every shot sometimes.
So I go and check out this new meeting and I show up really early because that’s what you do with AA meetings. You show up an hour early and hang out and you chat with people.
And this guy, Bob Shell and his partner, Marty Cashell, are there, they’re the ones who run the meeting, and Bob pulls me at his side and they kinda dump this whole thing out of me about how everything we experience is just through our thinking and how much simpler life is when we have this understanding. And he just dumps all this on me and the whole time I’m thinking he’s gotta be crazy.
It can’t be this simple. There has to be something more to it than just gaining an understanding of where our experience of life is coming from.
And yet at the same time, something deeper inside said, “This is it.” Like, “You finally found it.” And I was really curious and honestly spent the first year after I found out about the principles trying to prove them wrong. Watching videos, reading books and hanging out with Bob and Marty. Going to webinars and asking questions. And I’m trying so hard to find just one little instance where this actually did not apply. And I couldn’t find a single one. And that settled it for me. It was like, this is it.
This understanding of the three principles really explains everything about how we experience life and the thing that really hit me the most out of it was that suddenly the struggle that I’d had for my entire life of just dealing with life was suddenly gone. It was like, “Wow, I don’t have to take all of this stuff so seriously because it’s just gonna pass.”
Just like it came in. I didn’t have to do anything to make that impure thinking show up and I don’t have to do anything to make it go away. In fact, the more I muddle in it, the more I cloud up the water and lose the clarity. And it just seems to last longer, and be more severe. And it’s just an amazing journey since then.
So, I figured if it can work for me, and I knew of other people it could work for, this needs to be put out in front of people. People need to find out about this because this is true freedom. It’s not a daily reprieve. It’s not contingent on going to a meeting every day or really doing anything in particular. It’s just a matter of what’s going on.
It’s like when you were a kid and you woke up at night and you saw a strange shadow in your bedroom and it looked like a monster or a person, or something. And you were really sure it was something or somebody there to hurt you. And maybe you screamed out for your parents or something, and they came in, they turned on the light.
And suddenly you
To me, that’s exactly what the understanding of the three principles does for people. It turns the light on and shows what the monster really is. And it’s been such a cool thing.
It was a little over two years ago. Like I said, I used to get in webinars and ask people questions that I would love to get on and get a feel for where the guest speaker is at in their understanding, and just trying to maybe test them a little bit. I was a bit ornery back then.
So I’d ask questions I already knew the answer to and just see what their answer was just to see how their view is and get a different perspective on things. So I asked a question on a webinar and got the answer. And it was a different answer than what I was expecting. And this guy, Harry Derbitsky who co-hosts the webinar series with me, he got a hold of me and sent me an email because he didn’t like the answer I got. He’s on the recording later.
Alexandra: Oh, wow.
Greg: And he thought that I didn’t get a sufficient answer. So he gets ahold of me and sends me his website info and all that. And my first thought about him was he’s trying to sell me a coaching package. I seriously thought that’s what was going on, but I’m like, all right, I’ll meet with him. We did a Zoom chat and just really hit it off and right away, we both were on the same page with this idea of starting a webinar.
We didn’t know what to really expect from it. I honestly figured we’d do it for maybe six months and then
Alexandra: That’s so great. I love hearing that. I’ve watched several of your webinars and the people that you get to speak are just amazing. I think you had Joseph Bailey on recently and I’m just reading his book, which the name is escaping me at the moment. [The Serenity Principle] He’s a lovely fellow and I love that chat you had with him.
I want to go back to what you mentioned about the AA meetings. My sense is that you were saying that before you knew about this understanding and you were going to AA meetings that it was sort of like a Tarzan leap. So you would be at a meeting every day and then feel crappy until you got to the next meeting, and sort of go on like that.
And so, the meetings would give you, it sounds like, a bit of a lift at the moment, but then you would drop down again until you went to the next one.
Alexandra: And it sounds like, now, your experience of life is very different from that. Is that true?
Greg: It’s just pretty much the exact opposite. The vast majority of the time, I’m happy and live with this really deep sense of ease and comfort. And occasionally, a storm cloud comes through and I don’t take it so seriously now.
I’ve heard people say a bunch of times, it’s like we’re the sun and the clouds can come through and obscure the view, but they never actually affect the sun. So I keep that in mind when it comes up because having this understanding does not stop us from living life.
We still have the full range of emotions and all the experiences that come along with it. Sadness will come up. If you lose a loved one, you’re going to be sad. I’m sorry, but if you’re a really healthy, mentally functioning human being, you’re going to get sad when you lose a loved one
But what it’s done is when those times come up, they don’t feel as severe, they don’t feel as life-threatening or life ending like, “Oh, my God. This is it. I’m so done.” Instead, it’s like, “Oh, here is just another experience and let me just feel this experience for what it is while it’s here.” And nothing bad has ever lasted forever.
So at some point, I’m just going to wake up and it won’t be there or maybe it won’t be there for a day and then it’ll come back. And then it won’t be there for a week and then it’ll come back, and then a month. And then that’s been my experience with this is that those times are happening less often and they’re less severe. But I really highly doubt they’ll ever go away. And I honestly wouldn’t even want them to. It’s all part of the experience.
Alexandra: Right. Part of the human experience.
We just touched on how the principles seem to be a great way to deal with addiction. Have you noticed the same experience in others in your work with other people on the webinar and with your clients?
Greg: Absolutely. That’s really been the most amazing part of this is the people that I work with and just seeing that light come on for them. And the scary monster in the dark no longer being that scary monster at the dark. It’s such a cool thing to see that.
One of the great things about the three principles is that there’s nothing prescribed or ascribed, or any kind of belief system behind it. It’s not, “This is how things work, so therefore you should believe this, this, and this.” No, if you’re a Christian, you’ll actually become a better Christian because you’ll get more curious about the roots of Christianity.
I have a really close friend from Israel that’s a devout Jew and when I talked to him about this, he caught on fire with Judaism. And it was amazing, the stuff he would send me, the correlations between these ancient rabbis and Sydney Banks. And he’s finding these quotes that are almost exactly the same quote. And it was like, it was the coolest thing just watch him catch fire with it.
Greg: Then he’s a more devout Jew than he ever was and he’s happier than he ever was. You know, so this understanding doesn’t change necessarily, you know, what we believe in. It just helps give clarity to what we believe in, you know.
There are some people I’ve worked with who still go to AA. I personally don’t. It’s just my personal preference, but there are some people who still go to meetings and they still chat with people, and they find a way to work the three principals into their conversations. I mostly don’t just because I live in Akron, Ohio where AA was founded and the meetings around here are pretty strict about what you can and can’t talk about. They don’t say that directly, but there’s an undertone of, “We don’t talk about anything else here. It’s 12 Steps or nothing.”
Alexandra: Right. Yup.
Greg: Which is fine, they do work for some people. So there’s definitely a beauty to that and for the few years I was in there, it helped me have some happier times and stuff. But overall it just, it wasn’t something that really touched me at a deep level.
Alexandra: I’m imagining that’s why you started the webinar series and the local group that you’ve started up is just to share this with other people.
Greg: Yeah. And for free too. It was given to me freely, I feel like I need to give it away freely. I’m not against other people charging for services. I don’t feel like that’s right for me.
Alexandra: Right. Oh, I love that.
Greg: And especially with people with addiction issues. Most of then don’t have money. All the money goes into feeding that addiction. So the last thing they need is one more
I was so lucky to find a bunch of people who are really loving and caring and willing to spend the time with me. Within the three principles
Alexandra: That’s right.
Greg: My place could be a total mess right now and you would never know.
Alexandra: Yes. God bless technology. I love it for this kind of thing and for its reach; that it can reach anybody anywhere in the world essentially from your living room or home office. It’s amazing.
One of the things that I found when I was first learning about the principles is that because it’s inside-out, it’s the opposite to the way we think about life up until the point that we learn about it. It really takes a while…it took me a while anyway to really get my head around what people were saying and the lack of prescription about it too drove me crazy because I would listen to webinars or read a book, and I kept waiting for the person to say, “Okay. Well, here are the three things that you can do.” Right? “Here’s your homework. Here’s the worksheet to fill out,” because I love a worksheet.
When you’re working with people with addiction, do you run into that a little bit too? Is there a kind of a slow start to their understanding or does it depend on the person?
Greg: It really depends on the person. I’ve had people I worked with for months before they, you know, finally started catching on and I had one guy actually show up for my local meeting and by the end of the first meeting, you know, within an hour, he was just on fire with this.
Alexandra: Oh, my goodness.
Greg: It ranges everywhere in between and there’s no way in my experience to predict that. Each of us carries a story with us. It’s the story of me and the key to getting the principles is in being willing to let go of that story because it is all of our deep-seated beliefs and ideals that keep us from learning new stuff.
These principles are simply an explanation of how something works. In the world of human psychology and emotions, and spirituality, whatever you want to call that, these are the fundamental laws that govern that side.
Just like in the physical world, we have gravity and thermodynamics, and all these other principles that just define how things work. And gravity works all the time. It does the exact same thing 24 hours a day, 7 days a week regardless of how we believe it or not and it doesn’t care. It’s impersonal. Just like the three principles, it’s impersonal.
Gravity doesn’t care if you’re walking upright or falling down a flight of stairs. It’s just doing what it does and the principles are just doing what they do. We have a thought, our consciousness makes it appear real to us. It’s that simple. It’s just an explanation of exactly how we experience life.
Alexandra: I love the parallel to gravity because even if you know nothing about gravity, it still applies in your life.
Greg: Yeah. And I don’t know. It gave me a big chuckle. Actually, it was kind of funny. I got divorced almost two years ago and it got me down of course. We were together for over 16 years and it was just time that it was done, on both ends.
And so I was in a bit of a morose mood around a friend who he’s not really open to the three principles. In fact, he kind of thinks it’s a cult and he’s one of those very skeptical about everything. And he sees me sad and he says, “So where’s your three principles now?”
I said, “They’re working perfectly.” I have this thought about being sad because my marriage is over and I’m sad. That’s exactly how they work and it was funny because when he asked me that, it brought me out of that funk for a little bit. It made me chuckle. It was like, “You know what? This is exactly what the three principles are doing.”
Regardless of whether I’m happy because of something that I think I’m happy about, which isn’t true anyway, or if I’m sad about something, or anything in between, or if I’m angry, or whatever, it’s all part of just how things work.
These three principles are what William James was looking for when he founded the field of psychology. These are the fundamental building blocks of human psychology and he said that someday we will discover the principles behind human psychology and that as a result of that, people will find freedom.
And you look at the work that some people are doing like Dr. Bill Pettit in his work with mental illness is amazing. I mean, the people who are coming off medications and, I mean, just, it’s astounding. The impact and
Alexandra: I totally agree.
Greg: And the great thing is it is equally available to every person. There’s nobody that’s more in tune than anybody else. We’re all exactly the same. We’re all experiencing life the same exact way whether we realize it or not. This doesn’t exclude anybody.
There’s nobody who is more preferred or anything. And even with the understanding I have, I still get caught up with my thinking at times. We all do. It’s kind of a fun game
Alexandra: Exactly. I think one of the words I really like when people talk about this understanding is the word “resilient,” and I’ve noticed definitely in my life that I’m more much more resilient than I ever was because I don’t take my thinking so seriously.
When things look really terrible, I know that that’s it’s temporary…it’s a moment by moment experience and it will change. And so, that does tend to make one more resilient. In other words, bounce back from sadness like you said or having a difficult day, or whatever it is.
And I imagine that, and this has been my experience too, that when we’re dealing with an addiction that that element in itself, that resilience that develops just become such
What I have found is that the ups and downs are way less dramatic. And also I take them much less seriously. Would you agree to that?
Greg: Oh, absolutely. So how I view that with resilience, first of all, we’re already resilient. It’s just that story of me gets in our way where we create that story that because this thing has happened, it’s somehow going to impact me for the rest of my life.
You see that a lot with especially sexual abuse victims, especially children and rape victims and stuff like that really where the rest of their lives they have that victim mentality and it’s not all of them. There are some people who go through that and come out the other side a much more charismatic person and a more compassionate person, but there’s a lot of people who carry that victim mentality with them for the rest of their lives.
And every time a memory pops up about it, it turns into a month or two of depression and anxiety, and all this stuff going on. And then they have to go talk to other people about it.
And it’s like, yes, it happened and it was horrible when it happened, but it’s not happening now. And we have a choice because everybody alive has had something bad happened to them at some point. And to each person that is the worst thing that had happened to them. Yes, there are other people who have had worse experiences, but that doesn’t change the fact that for each of us, our own bad experience is the worst that we’ve had.
So we all have a choice whether or not we’re going to carry that with us as part of the story of who I am. “Am I going to be a victim to my past or am I just going to enjoy what’s here now?”
I’ve personally had some horrible things happen to me in the past and I’ve done horrible things to other people. And that’s another thing that kinda throws people off about this, it was all innocent. Everything that people do is innocent because in that moment it looked like the thing that made sense to do.
In hindsight, we can look back and say, “Maybe I should have done something differently.” But in that moment, that made sense. So there’s an innocence to it and if we could all just see that in ourselves and other people, we can all have more compassion and those horrible things wouldn’t happen as often, if at all.
If everybody truly had this understanding and through that whatever you’re going through is temporary, it’s fleeting, it’s not static, it’s not stuck in one spot, it’s going to change, it would help take the edge off.
I’ve spent quite a few years pretty poor, financially. I’ve lost housing. I’ve been homeless. Guess what? I could make a story about, I could continue that type of living, which is very easy to do, and I did that for a while. And I would screw up really good jobs. I almost had subconsciously this fear of succeeding and that kinda hit me one day years ago, one of my managers actually pointed that out to me. She said, “You’re afraid of success.”
Greg: And it made no sense to me at the time. She had this great conversation with me. I’m sitting there the whole time thinking, “This lady is crazy. I’m not afraid of success. That’s what I want more than anything else.”
But it hit me years later. I was like, “Oh, she was right.” I was so stuck in the story of me being a victim of my circumstances, that I created those negative circumstances so that I could say, “Ha, see. I told you, I’m a victim. Life is out to get me”. And that totally changed for me and it can for everybody.
We can all just go through daily life with that ease and comfort that we all want because ultimately that’s what we’re all searching for. That’s why we get into relationships. We think that person is the reason we’re feeling that ease and comfort. But the fact of the matter is we are ease and comfort. That’s our core being. And you brought up Joe Bailey, his book, “The Serenity Principle.”
Alexandra: That’s the one.
Greg: That was the first three principles book I read. And immediately after reading it, I got a hold of Joe, and guess what, he responded and we’ve been chatting ever since. And it’s just been this beautiful friendship that we’re developing.
It’s such a cool thing, but one of the big things I took from that book is that serenity is our natural state of being when we stop doing the things that take us away from it.
And think about it, when you’re putting a drink in you or taking a drug, or going shopping for things you don’t need, or gambling, or whatever, for that moment in time you’ve distracted yourself from the story of me and you feel better. You’re not feeling better because of the shopping or
Alexandra: That’s so beautifully said. I love that, Greg. Thank you so much. Lovely. So this might be a great place for us to wind up. We’re running out of time and I just want to say thank you so much for being here. Like I said before we hopped on, thank you for being my first guest. I really appreciate it.
Greg: Yeah. Thanks for having me.
Alexandra: So why don’t you let people know where they can find out more about you and your work?
Greg: Well, I don’t have a website yet. I don’t know why I’ve been putting that off, but I have a group on Facebook: Addiction, Alcoholism and the Three Principles and it’s the same on YouTube. That’s where all the recordings are for the webinars and I could be reached, my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. So email@example.com and I’ll be glad to connect with anybody who wants to.
Alexandra: Oh, perfect. Okay. Thank you so much and I’ll put links in the show notes to the Facebook group and to the YouTube channel, so people can find those easily as well.
Greg: Sounds great.
Alexandra: Well, thank you so much, Greg. Again, I really appreciate it.
Greg: Thank you, Alexandra. You have a great day.
Alexandra: Thanks. You too. Bye-bye.
Greg: Okay. Bye.
[Sharing image of trees and sunlight courtesy Mark Pell and Unsplash.]