In the introduction, I mention the wildly creative and beautiful videos that Kate E. Stokes has done about this understanding. They are such an inventive way to explore the inside-out nature of thought. You can learn more and find those videos here. (See if you recognize the voice of the caterpillar in the third video. He might sound familiar.) 😉
And I also share a personal story about my exploration of this understanding as it relates to a situation in my family and my reflections on what the Principles can mean to us during challenging times.
Jill Whalen is the author of the book, Victim of Thought: Seeing Through the Illusion of Anxiety, as well as an inspirational blogger at whatdidyoudowithjill.com. She also has many transformative videos on her YouTube channel, which is YouTube/jillwhalen, and she’s happy to speak with anyone seeking more overall peace of mind.
You can find Jill at whatdidyoudowithjill.com
You can listen above or on iTunes or your favorite podcast app or watch the video here. Below are the show highlights, resources we mention, and full transcript.
- Exploring how our identity changes and how that’s possible
- On the personal insights that occur when we’re exploring the principles
- Reflections on addiction around relationships and the insights that changed that
- How we create an idea of the people in our lives through our thoughts
- How the principles help the caregivers of those with mental illness
Resources mentioned in this episode
Transcript of interview with Jill Whalen
Alexandra: Hi everyone, I’m Alexandra Amor from stopsufferingabout.com, and I’m here today with Jill Whalen. Hi Jill.
Jill: Hi, Alexandra, how are you?
Alexandra: Very well. How are you?
Jill: I’m good, thanks for having me on the show.
Alexandra: My pleasure. So let me introduce you to our listeners.
Jill Whalen is the author of the book, Victim of Thought: Seeing Through the Illusion of Anxiety, as well as an inspirational blogger at whatdidyoudowithjill.com. She also has many transformative videos on her YouTube channel, which is YouTube/
Jill, tell us a little bit more about your background. I know you had some SEO consulting years behind you.
Jill: It seems like forever ago, now. I have to like go back in my memory banks for all that other life that was like… That was old, Jill, I tell people, because life seems so different now.
I was a pioneer in that industry. SEO was, for those who don’t know, stands for search engine optimization, but it’s just helping people get their websites found in Google, basically. Google now, it used to be other search engines.
I was a mom at home, 20 years ago playing on the computer, and figured out how to do that. I had created a parenting website and figured out how to do
Alexandra: And then, how did you stumble across this understanding? Where did you learn about it first?
Jill: So, this understanding with the three principals and stuff was, I had decided to lose weight, you know. I had thought about it for a few years, and somehow that doesn’t seem to do anything, just the thinking. And I’d seen other people and friends and relatives that had lost weight and I thought, “
I had never really dieted, it wasn’t my thing. I had been fairly thin most of my life, but I was drinking too much and eating bad foods and things for most of my life. I was about 50 at the time and something in me realized I better do something.
I just did it the old traditional way, counting calories and I had not so traditional, because I had, you know, the Fitbit and the apps and all that, which made it fun for me being a geek. I lost, I forget now what it was, 25 pounds, I think in like six months, which was my goal. But something interesting happened along with the weight loss.
I saw how I was, like, completely different person besides being 25 pounds lighter. My identity was
“How can it be that I can be one thing one day, and something else another day?” Because literally, six months is not a long time in the scheme of my life.
And this is all in retrospect where I wouldn’t have said I was looking at identity back then, but I felt like there was something there with, how can it be that your identity can just change because we think it’s so fixed and solid, it seems like it. And I had always been a certain type, that I would tell people, I’m proud of it, this is me, I am this.
I started exploring stuff online on this subject and then and stumbled upon the Hay House Radio channel online, and was listening to various people. And I heard Michael Neill one day, and I was like, “Oh my God, this guy is a genius.”
I didn’t know what he was talking about, but I thought he like invented it all, at the time, and I just was like, “I don’t know what he’s saying, but there’s something that rings true.” And it sounded way over my head, because he… I don’t know, he sounded
I sent it to my husband. I had
I’m like, “Oh, what…you know, what’d you think? What was he saying?” And he said, “I think he’s just saying that thoughts create our feelings.” And I said, “I know but, what does that mean?” We both took that away, but we didn’t get it at a deeper level. We didn’t have any insights about it.
So, I kept exploring. I kept listening to that same one, he did too. We both listened to that same one, we didn’t know he had like a million others to listen to. And at some point, I started branching out and found some others of his, and I found the Three Principles movies site, but I heard something. George Pransky did an intro to Michael, and it…and I heard the word, “three principles.” All that was before I found
I’m like, “I don’t want anything to do with this health business.”
And eventually, I branched out, I think I had exhausted all of his, and I was watching some stuff at Rudi and Jenny, who are the creators of the site, did. This was maybe a month after I’d first heard Michael or so, maybe six weeks, something like that.
And finally, all of a sudden something Jenny said, she was talking about the relationship or something, and when she just said that “thoughts create feelings” I just saw it at a deeper level. And it was mostly because the night before, I had had a thing with my husband where, he said one word, he said, “okay.”, when I told them dinner was ready, and I invented a whole story in my head about, “Oh my God, he’s mad at me, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.”
It all came flooding back to me that day when she said, “It’s our thoughts that create our feelings and our experience.” And I was like, “Oh my God, that’s exactly what happened to me last night.” And then, well, once I got it as an insight, everything else started making sense. I was able to go back to Michael’s stuff and be like, “Oh, that’s what he meant.”
And that’s the background.
Had you been interested in sort of the “self-help” in inverted quotes,
world before, or was thi your first foray into that?
Jill: Not so much. I wouldn’t say I was a seeker. I was never trying to help myself. I’ve learned since that there’s like opposite sides to the coin.
We all have insecurity, but some of us, we have insecurity and we think we’re worthless. And I had the opposite where I thought I was like better than everybody. But, they’re both just as bad in looking back, except that when you have it the way I did, like you still get stuff done, so it’s actually a little better.
I never thought that anything could change for me, because I was great already and my life was pretty good, and what I didn’t realize was that I had this low level of anxiety running through me my whole life. It was just normal, that was just life. I didn’t realize until it was, kind of, gone or quieted down.
When my mind got quiet, I was like, “What? Where did everyone go?” It was sort of like really weird. So, no, I wasn’t a seeker or anything like that, which in some cases, I think, helps people to…some people can get it more easily because they’re not…I didn’t have a lot of stuff I had to like get rid of.
Alexandra: Unlearn. Yes.
It’s so interesting that you say that about anxiety, because I had a very similar experience, and before I started learning about the principles, and then at the beginning of learning about
And it was only as I started to have more insights, and my mind got quieter and quieter, I realized how much anxiety I actually had, and it’s been quite extraordinary. It’s like a bathtub draining; it’s slow, but it’s steady and it’s still going down. That’s a great segue actually.
Tell us a little bit about your book, and what prompted you to write that, because it’s specifically about anxiety.
Jill: I had been writing in my blog… Once I had retired from the SEO stuff. Actually before…I think it was even before I had learned the principles, I had just… When I had had my, you know, identity change, I just wasn’t interested anymore, which was weird, because it was my passion in life, an addiction for so long, my work.
And then I was just like, “No, I just want to like walk in the woods, and do yoga and stuff, and cook healthy foods.” And so, I had retired from that. For 17 years, or I don’t know, maybe 15 at that point had been writing SEO blogs every other week, and I just switched from that. I just like got rid of that list, and switched over to writing about my insights and things right away.
By the time I did the book, I had a few years’
I had done a webinar thing on anxiety, and so I sort of had this outline. I realized as I started to write the book, that I had already written this outline for this webinar, and I was able to take that and then go back to my post. It was so simple, it basically wrote itself, and so that’s what prompted me to do it.
And yeah, the book has done great. I kept the prices super low; $2 for the Kindle and like $5.55 for the paperback, because I just want to get the word out there. It’s written for people who don’t know anything about this stuff.
Alexandra: It’s a great introduction for people who struggle with anxiety, and then maybe want to learn a little bit more about the principles.
Jill: From some of the feedback I get, it’s so awesome to hear. Most people don’t give me feedback, but when they do and they say, you know, “Oh my God, this book changed my life.” It’s just so rewarding and amazing.
Alexandra: Oh, that’s so nice, that’s lovely to hear. A lot of people who’ve come to this understanding, or some, anyway, talk about having struggled with addiction, and on your blog, you mentioned struggles with alcohol and an interesting one, which was being obsessed with people, including your children.
Walk us through what it was like to see those addictions for what they were, and then to have them shift.
Jill: I always would’ve told you I had an addictive personality, I knew that. I knew I just always wanted to do what I liked to do, and that was what made my business work so
From early on, I liked to do what I liked to do and if anyone came in and said, “Here, I need you to do this.” I’d be like, “No, you’re disturbing my peace,” is how it felt to me, that my peace was being disturbed if I couldn’t do that stuff.
So, first, it was like my husband. We met in college, and then that love relationship was so addicting, and co-dependent, I’d say. We’re still together now, it’s 35 years later. But it was, looking back, certainly a co-addictive relationship I would say, in looking back.
And then when my kids were born they were my addiction. I became this parenting expert. Read everything about parenting and I was a stay-at-home mom and so everything about that.
Then it was my business, and the thing with the other people was, I would have like a best friend ever since I was little, and I would cling to
I knew that pattern too. I knew it was like an addictive thing, but I didn’t know why or how to stop it or anything like that.
And I’m like, “This isn’t about financial freedom, this is about addiction.” I had listened to a bunch of other things about addiction that
And then, when I was taking a shower one day, I had been just listening to all this stuff, and it was kind of rumbling around in my head, and I thought, “Well, I know if my thoughts create my feelings, then they’re creating the feelings of whatever it is I’m getting from these other people.” Which was sort of where the insight was going, but, kind of, about my friendships, my addictive friendships.
All of a sudden in a flash, I saw the whole string of friendships and addictions just kind of like pass through my head, like your life flashing before your eyes, it was like literally in a flash. And I just saw it for that, for what it was as me thinking that these other people were giving me my happiness and then, “Haha,
But the funny thing was after that insight, which was not like about alcohol or anything like that, it was just mostly, it’s sort of about the friendship thing, I just couldn’t drink anymore. I could drink, but I couldn’t get buzzed. I still drink a glass of wine, maybe not every night, but every few nights, and if I drink too fast or have too many, I don’t like that feeling, and this was…I had that insight probably three, four years ago.
It was so weird because the insight wasn’t about alcohol at all. I wouldn’t have told you I had a drinking problem, per se, even though at times I probably, in looking back, maybe, but it’s so weird, like to just not want that feeling. And before, if I wasn’t going to drink, I wasn’t going to waste the calories, I wanted to feel it. And now that feeling is like, “Why would I want that feeling?” So interesting how it just all fell away.
Alexandra: Yes. That’s fascinating. That the insight wasn’t about alcohol or food, and yet, just as another example, and yet that feeling fell away, that’s amazing. Wow. That’s fascinating.
You mentioned your husband a little earlier, and you had sent him the Michael Neill audio initially. Did he continue being interested in this understanding?
Jill: He, for a long time when I first learned it, I kept thinking, “Oh God, my husband needs to learn this. He needs it, I’m good, but he needs this.” And that was my mission was to like get him.
So I would send him things, and I would go to the conferences, and I would go to the relationships’ sessions and try and learn more
It’s me, just me understanding this can change the relationship. And what I saw with that, which is really cool and really helpful, is that just like we have an identity of ourselves
And I realized I have this image of him in my head, and we’ve been together all this time, maybe that’s a little out-of-date. Everybody else thinks he’s nice and stuff, and why do I have all these different ideas about him?
I made a conscious decision, I think. I don’t know if it was conscious or not, where I’m like, “Well, that image isn’t fixed, I can just have a new image”. And I think, with time, just doing that and realizing that like, the relationship itself just changes, one person changes because everybody just wants to feel loved, right?
If you’re like holding this image of someone, let’s just say is mean, you’re not giving them really much love. If you think someone is mean, then that’s the way you’re going to come across them, so they’re going to then act
But when you realize if you change that whole thing, then you act nicer to them, and then suddenly, they act nicer to you without knowing why or what’s happening. It’s like this magical thing, and so, yeah, so the relationship just felt better, and that was, sort of, all realizing, “Well, he doesn’t need to know this at all.”
In short, he’s interested, he’s gotten a few insights. He’s not obsessed with it or anything like I am. We went to a retreat on Martha’s Vineyard. He’d been wanting to go to Martha’s Vineyard anyway, and I said, “Well, there’s a retreat, and I just thought he might come, but he’s like, “Oh yeah, I’ll go to the retreat too.” So he’s…you know, he’s interested…and I don’t care whether he is or not, so it’s even…it’s funny how that works.
Alexandra: I have a good friend who’s interested in this understanding, and her husband isn’t at all. And before I really learned what the principles were, she used to say to me, “It’s enough that one person is learning, and it does change the relationship.” I didn’t understand what she meant at the time, but now that I’ve learned a bit more, I can see how we show up and understand our own thinking does affect the dynamic in any relationship.
Jill: It’s so amazing, and that’s what I’m at some point hoping to write. My next book will be on relationships. I have a lot of blog posts on that as well, so, I’m hoping to do that. It just hasn’t happened yet for some reason.
Alexandra: Well, we’ll keep our eye open for that. That would be awesome.
Alexandra: In your work these days, you coach individuals, correct?
Jill: I don’t consider myself necessarily a coach. I talk to a lot of people, sort of, one-offs and I’m not really making money at it, but you could call me that. I’m not opposed to making money, but I don’t necessarily need to, so I just
Alexandra: Right. When you’re working with someone one-on-one, let’s say, just for example, and they’re perhaps the very beginning of understanding about this, how do you turn their head in that direction?
Where do you start or does it depend on the person?
Jill: It would depend. What I like to do is like give someone my book or something like that, so they get an
But it just depends on what their issue is or whatever, and it’s really about showing people that they have thought
It just depends on what they’re looking at, or if they have a question or problem.
Alexandra: One of the things that I really appreciated that I read on your blog was that…and this ties into actually the address, which is, whatdidyoudowithjill.com, is that your daughter said that, at some point, that she felt that you were younger in the present day than you were when you were raising her.
imagine that has to do with that shift in identity and perhaps the reduction of your anxiety, would you say that that’s what you would attribute that change to?
Jill: Yeah, I think it’s everything. The physical, having lost weight and it’s been five years and I’ve pretty much kept it off, and still am interested in healthy eating and all that stuff. So, a lot of it was that, but I… but yeah, I think all of it overall is just everything, because I don’t have those same bad habits, like being lazy and stuff like that that you’d associate maybe with an older person. I’m so different, so I could see whereyounger might come to mind for her.
Alexandra: And we touched a little bit on your, sort of, obsessive relationships.
Would you say that your relationship with your daughter has changed because of this understanding?
Jill: Well, my kids are all grown, so not so much with them. I mean, yeah, of course with everybody.
I have another daughter who lives here, not the one you were talking about, who has some mental health issues, and that’s been knowing what I know, oh my God, has been so helpful. Because you can see thought
I can’t even imagine what people who don’t know this stuff would go through. It’s hard enough anyway, but knowing this, I mean for me, it’s
Alexandra: Yes. That’s so interesting, and so well said.
I’ve always thoughtwhen people talk about the principles, and talk about mental health, that it’s people with the mental illness that they’re speaking to, but I’ve just now realized, it can also help with family members, caregivers, that kind of thing. If you have someone in your life who is experiencing mental health issues.
Jill: Yeah. Not necessarily to teach them, because they’re not interested necessarily in that, but it’s for your own peace of mind, it makes a huge difference. And you see what’s going on with them, and to remember they’re not broken, and that it’s thought
Alexandra: I was interviewing Jonelle Simms the other day. She’s a Canadian…
Jill: I know her, yeah.
Alexandra: Okay, yeah. And she talked about just highlighting people’s wisdom to them. And I loved that phrase, “Highlighting people’s wisdom.” Rather than teaching, or trying to shove the awareness down their throat.
If the opportunity comes up, she just highlights to people that their own wisdom and wholeness exists.
Jill: Yup. And that’s definitely when you’re speaking with somebody, that is something. If they say something where you see, “Oh. See? That’s what I’m talking about. What you did, you already know this stuff.”
Alexandra: Jill, this has been amazing. It’s been so lovely chatting with you.
Why don’t you let everyone know where they can find out more about you and about your book?
Jill: The blog is at, whatdidyoudowithjill.com, and there’s many years’ worth of blog posts. I haven’t been writing as much lately, because I’ve got nothing left to say. I think I’ve said it all, but there’s so much back stuff that’s all good and whatever.
Alexandra: Great. Well that’s fantastic. So I’ll put links in the show notes to those things, so people can easily find them. So thanks again, Jill, I really appreciate talking to you today.
Jill: Thank you so much for having me.
Alexandra: Bye, bye.
[Photographer image courtesy Mack Fox and Unsplash.]