Aida Vazin Transcription

JEREMY [narration] :

 

Hi everyone and welcome to the in the shoes of podcast where I make it my goal to see life as much as possible from someone else's point of view. Just like we all have a unique heartbeat. Every single one of us sees life only from our own perspectives. Think about it. Can you see and process life exactly as Elon Musk sees and processes life. The answer is you can't, and it applies to every living conscious being here on this pale blue dot.

 

[music plays]

 

JEREMY [narration] :

 

Today I am speaking with Aida Vazin, a marriage and family counselor in Newport Beach which is where we're actually doing the interview. We're doing it outside so just letting you know that, you know, sometimes there's a little bit of wind some background noise and all of that. We're going to be covering quite a few different things here. For one, where she was born, how she had to flee from war, culture shock in other parts of the world, and then when she came to the United States of America. We're going to talk about physical memory, anthropology, mythology, religion, psychology... a lot of stuff. Oh, and including, in case you've ever wondered, which I've definitely wondered: Why do people go in and shoot up buildings and just commit ridiculously heinous acts and Aida, she has an answer. Though it may not be exactly what you're expecting. One last quick note before we get going with this. If you have friends that are deaf or hard of hearing and you think that they could really benefit from, or would be interested in this podcast, then please refer them over to ‘intheshoesof.org’ where I plan on having every podcast episode transcribed or at the very least have a video available with captions. Something of that nature so that, you know, people who are hard of hearing or deaf can also enjoy this podcast.

 

JEREMY :


Aida, thank you so much for joining me. Should I call you doctor?

 

AIDA :

 

No, no.

 

JEREMY :

 

No? Ok cool. I'm going to start off with the first question, which is quite important and it's what shoes are you wearing right now?

 

AIDA :


I’m wearing my black stilettos.

 

JEREMY :

 

Black stilettos?! Nice. Can I get a picture of those too?

 

AIDA :


Sure.

 

[music plays]

 

JEREMY : [narration]


Greg the cameraman pointed out that this was possibly a little bit of a creepy question. Thankfully Aida was a really good sport about it.

 

JEREMY :


If you had to define yourself in the third person. Take a step back. How would you do so?

 

AIDA :


Curious, adventurous, passionate about life, and very joyful.

 

JEREMY :

 

That’s super cool! Can we, kind of like go through a little bit of sequence with your life. So you tell me about where you grew up, how it affected you, what kind of obstacles you faced or didn't face?

 

AIDA :

 

Sure. I actually had quite an interesting journey which is common with a lot of people from Iran who were born in the early 80s or just through the revolution. Iran had an entire revolution in the late 70s and then starting in the early 80s. There was a war between Iran and Iraq, which impacted and influenced a lot of us. And so me along with a lot of other people we were refugees we had to leave.
So I was born in Iran. I don't have any memory because I left before I was two years old. But I have, you know, physical memory. I don't have thoughts that I can go back to. I remember this or I remember that but I have physical memory of it.

 

JEREMY : [narration]


So we found this to be an interesting concept and we didn't really touch upon it until later on in the podcast when Greg, he asked, “What did you mean by that? What did you mean by physical memory?” So Aida delves into it and paints a good picture for us.

 

AIDA :


I didn't have any cognitive memories from my experience in Iran. My cognitive memories
all started in Sweden. I have my first memory when I was in my stroller. I was about two and a half / three years old in our new home. That was my first memory that I remember. So I have a lot of memories in Sweden. But I have physical memory from my experience in Iran. And I'll tell you what that is. There is this Iranian filmmaker Marjane Satrapi I believe I'm saying it correctly, and I think it was the name of her movie Persepolis which is an animation, but it was basically doing the -- like showing the experience of all of the Iranians during the Gulf War and the refugees and what they had to do. And I remember my parents telling me, you know, when the bombings were happening we all had an underground shelter we would go to, you know, we would wake up in the middle of the night or during the day, it doesn’t matter. We'd all run downstairs as a family, hold each other, scared like, “oh my gosh what's happening”, and then. I was quite a precocious child. I was apparently speaking
for sentences at the age of one.

 

JEREMY :

 

Oh wow!

 

AIDA :

 

And so I’m like, “What happened? What happened? What's going on? What's going on? You know? This is my family telling me this, I don’t remember any of this stuff. And then they're like, “oh, it's OK you're safe. Nothing to be scared of. Nothing to worry about. Nothing to be scared of.” And this is just me I guess, calming myself down. I don't know.

 

JEREMY :

 

You were saying that?!

 

AIDA :

 

I was saying that! “Nothing to be scared of! It’s not scary! It’s not scary!” You know? Whatever right? And then I remember, I went with one of my friends to watch this movie Persepolis and I was, I was in my twenties, and we were watching it and, you know, it’s fascinating, it’s cool, it’s this, it’s that and then all of a sudden it goes to a shot where the family is running down the stairs and the sirens are going off and you're hearing bombing, and this is in a movie theater, so you're hearing it, you know surround sound, and I started bawling! And I start bawling and it's just like, you know, those deep breaths, just uncontrollably. I started bawling, it’s like all this that I’m thinking about right now and I'm kind of like choking up a bit. But I'm like, wow, you know I have some trauma that registered in my system because of that. You know, even though I don't have cognitive memories. I don't remember any of that. I don't have a vivid memory of any of that but something inside of me still remembers that. You know, which is true we do have trauma and pre-cognitive trauma that we carry. Which is a true experience. So a lot of us may have reactions, or startle responses, or strong reactions to certain things and we have no idea where it's coming from. Most likely it's pre-cognitive. Yeah, most likely is pre-cognitive that's why trying to figure out where it comes from is not necessarily a good therapeutic approach in my opinion. It's more like OK you have this, let's work on the emotion -- let’s to bring peace to that emotion. And I remember growing up I kind of had a strong startle response in general and I'm like, “OK, well this is where I came from”, you know? So that started making sense to me. But yeah it was very strong, a strong, visceral response. I was like wow! It was just uncontrollable. It was it was this deep pain I guess.

 

[music plays]

 

AIDA :


And we had to flee because wherever we were at they were bombing. So it was either you stay and die or you run and live. And so that was me being introduced to this world, and I didn't know anything  different because this is all I know. And so the first place that we got a visa to -- as refugees was in Sweden. I was about one and a half. And so we migrated as a whole family. So one of my uncles was about to be recruited into the army and so he had to actually leave illegally because again he was either  going to go in the army and die or he was going to get out any which way he could.

 

JEREMY :

 

Pretty obvious choice.

 

AIDA :

 

Right! So we all migrated to Sweden as a whole family unit and we waited there until we got our green cards to come here to the States. And that was interesting because that was a huge culture shock for my family. Iranians you know just like other Middle Easterners are very conservative in nature especially when it comes to things like, let's say things like sexuality. Scandinavian countries, specifically Sweden is extremely open about that. So that was one of the first things that popped out for our family is like, “OK it's just, it's there, it's in your face”.

 

JEREMY :

 

Literally popped out. [laughs]

 

AIDA :

 

Literally! [laughs] So that was like one of the biggest culture shocks or just the weather change you know? Was 10 months of snow! And then two months of sun, 10 hour days of -- just under the sun. So it was an adjustment in that aspect. And then at the same time the social systems were really accommodating to the people that live there. There it’s a very socialist country and a small population I think something like 7 million. So they take care of everybody, very, very well. Which was one of the reasons why we were able to get there so easily as refugees. Right? We were like, “Where can we go? OK, you’ll take us? We’re coming!”

 

JEREMY :

 

Perfect!

 

AIDA :

 

Yeah, right? And I remember growing up there. I have lots and lots of fun memories in Sweden. It was very wholesome. It was very child oriented. They really took care of kids and raising them well and taking care of their citizens. And they were really into creating a wholesome peaceful society. 

 

JEREMY :

 

You didn’t face any prejudice or racism there?


AIDA :

 

I did but they’re very good at controlling it, because everyone there has blond hair and blue eyes, you know, Scandinavians, and here I am this, you know, ethnic looking child. So, yeah, I stood out. I definitely stood out. But then there were other Iranians that have migrated there. So I wasn't the only one. There were other Middle Easterners that had migrated there so I wasn’t the only one. So there
was a sense of tolerance to that. But you know every nation has their pride for themselves and that's the way that they get brought up and whatnot.

 

JEREMY :

 

Of course.

 

AIDA :


And then I moved here when I was six years old. First I was in Los Angeles for like a year and then just straight to Orange County and I grew up here.

 

JEREMY :

 

Oh, OK. How old were you when you came here then?

 

AIDA :

 

I was six years old.

 

JEREMY :

 

Six years old, oh, OK.

 

AIDA :


And I remember thinking to myself about all of the differences. As a child like my first year here, you know, I was thinking in Swedish, I don't remember Swedish anymore because I never practiced it, but I remember I was like, “Wow the children here are so different. They seem really mean and angry!” You know? “Why are they so angry”. They were really hostile. The school I went to in Los Angeles. When I came here to Orange County it was a little bit different. I went to school where they were a lot more embracing. But then the teachers, the authority figures, were a little interesting so my second grade
teacher I remember I was still in ESL. I didn't know English very well and she was talking about, like one of the kids said, “ I just said a bad word”, and she completely implemented the entire judicial system in the second grade. “OK we're going to vote on it. How many people think that she said a bad word? How many people think that she didn't say a bad word? And I was like…

 

JEREMY :

 

What?!

 

AIDA :

 

Yeah, and it was basically based off of opinions of the non witnessing students. And that was what was going to be the final say of what happened. 

 

JEREMY :

 

Wow.

 

AIDA :

 

And I was like, “OK, this is interesting”.

 

JEREMY :

 

That doesn’t sound like justice to me right?

 

AIDA :

 

Well, no. [laughs]. But also, by a different perspective for me here and I'm like, “wow it's the same second graders that are in the court systems right now. I have this expert witness that's going to
tell you that what you said is wrong. And this expert witness doesn't know you, doesn’t know the situation, wasn't actually there when anything happened. But they're going to prove I turned based off of these statements. And that’s exactly the same thing that's going on. You know, I'm like, wow you get socialised very quickly into that. So I was like, “OK, that was interesting”. Also, trying to adapt here to this culture, again family coming as immigrants. They don't know the language very well. They're trying to make ends meet. Things like that. We had to move a lot. We had to move a lot. So I also had to go to a lot of different schools. So I never actually got to connect or find roots anywhere. I was constantly in this observer mode the whole time. “OK. This group of people this school you know they're like this. And then this group of people in this school, they're like this”. And it was always a different vibe everywhere I went depending on the city, depending on the school system, depending on the
socioeconomic status, of the area. I was constantly looking at them, like, “OK, why are these people so different? Why are these people like this?” You know? “Oh, OK I can connect with these people, I can relate to these people”. None of these people even know what a person is! I was always the only one! Like, “OK this is interesting”. So there was, definitely my background, there was a sense of, it was a little hard to connect. But then at the same time I was trained by my life to be very comfortable and
new in unknown situations. 

 

JEREMY :

 

Yeah.

 

AIDA :

 

So I don't I don't have that fear of change or the apprehension. So there were two sides to it. And at the same time, even though I never really connected to one group, I never got really cliquey. It was easy to relate to people because there was always some aspect that I could relate to someone like, because I looked for that. I look for the point of relating. I didn't look for the point of disconnect. Like, “OK this is what we have in common. OK, this is how we can relate. This is --” you know? And I would just -- That's the approach I would always take.

 

JEREMY :

 

Good. And how did that develop your identity then? I guess. Or did it affect it in a bad way at all? It sounds like it’s positive, actually, the way it affected you.

 

AIDA :


I think so. I choose to look at it that way. And at the same time I'm also not really grounded or committed to one thing. You know, so I could look at that as a hindrance to it too. I've also not been very interested in getting into a serious relationship and getting, settling down and getting married and having children because to me it felt like, “OK some anchor. I have to be stuck here”.

 

JEREMY :

 

Right.

 

AIDA :


So it has had its effect in that aspect. Definitely. You know, I can look at it, I’m 33 years old and that part of me hasn't quite sparked yet. And I can look at it and be like, “OK, well let's have a reality check about that, how much of your upbringing is affecting this, because it is right? And it's not necessarily the family upbringing. It's more along... because my family are very traditional into -- they're always like, “I don't understand why you’re not married because…

 

JEREMY :

 

Sure.

 

AIDA :

 

You know, you have your education, you have your career, you have your life, you're of age, you're probably past age! You know, the coming of age for this?

 

JEREMY :

 

Yeah sure.

 

AIDA :

 

Yeah, they don't get it, like it doesn't make sense to them, because this is what you do. These are the steps that you take. You know these are the processes of life. That's all they knew. My grandparents had an arranged marriage, my mom got married when she was in her… when she was 20 actually, 19 / 20. So they were, you know that's what you do, this is what you do, this is what they know. And then now we're here and I’m like, “Well, no, not necessarily. No. No. [laughs] Not me!

 

JEREMY :

 

You don’t have to actually do whatever society dictates that you're, “supposed to do”.

 

AIDA :

Right! So I chose to see it that way. I chose to look at it that way. I've also, I mean you know
again, just in Orange County itself, moving up the socioeconomic ladder has been quite interesting to me as well, too.

 

JEREMY :

 

Yeah! I’m interested in finding out about that as well.

 

AIDA :

 

Right, because when I first came here we were in a little bit more of a lower socioeconomic status and then the population was different too. There was more minorities and at the same time it was a lot more
aggressive like there was a lot of school bullying going on, actual fighting, gangs, teenage moms or moms involved with drugs. I was starting to be offered drugs from the sixth grade from elementary school, like it was just there. It was there was a part of the culture. It was just part of the environment. And then you know, we started moving to more wholesome areas of Orange County, and I noticed the population was different. The demographics were different. Less minorities in that sense and it was a more peaceful environment. And even in my jobs as well too. So when I was working in the areas
that were serving lower socioeconomic status individuals. I was working with that population of individuals as well too as colleagues.

 

JEREMY :

 

Ah, OK, and that was as a counselor?

 

AIDA :

 

Yeah, as a counselor. Yeah. And the way that the work environment was affected and influenced by that, was very different than when I started doing more let's say administrative or higher corporate work and things like that. It was a different group of people that I was working with. And the way that people related in the systems were very different, very different. I always looked at that. My inner anthropologist, sociologist, psychologist, was always like, “OK, this is interesting. OK that's interesting. This is interesting”. So those things always stood out to me. Those things always stood out to me because I've always had to bear it all the time.

 

JEREMY :

 

It’s almost like that was your own life crash course in anthropology.

 

AIDA :

 

Yes.

 

JEREMY :

 

As opposed to college and studying it.

 

AIDA :

 

Right.

 

JEREMY :

 

You know first hand a lot about this.

 

AIDA :

 

Right, and just something as small as just a little bubble of Orange County let's just say. I've been here for about a couple of decades and I could see so much variance in just the small little suburbs of southern California.

 

JEREMY :

 

Yeah

 

AIDA :

 

And that’s just that one place, and then of course that's also motivated me to want to go see so many
other places and think, “Oh, OK, If this is what this little tiny area in the world has to offer. Oh my gosh! That part of me that loves change and new experiences and humanity and so fascinated by people.
I can't wait to go see how other systems work and how other people work you know? With the indigenous people of an area and then the minorities of the area, how they're going to work.

 

JEREMY :

 

And so, but right now you're a practicing marriage and family therapist right? 

 

AIDA :

 

Right.

 

JEREMY :

 

And is that something that you're still going to be doing as you…

 

AIDA :


Yes, I'm actually going completely virtual in my practice. So I’m going to do office, Skype and phone. So I'm transitioning my clients out from the office so I can go across the world and travel and do what I love to do which is help people be their -- you know reach their best potential and remove their obstacles, and it's -- this world is not that scary, and it's not so hard to find joy in life let’s just find what's between you and that.

 

JEREMY :

 

Yeah.

 

AIDA :

 

And let's push past it and let's break through it. And that's just super fulfilling, I mean that's a gift to be able to do that for a living, that's a gift.

 

JEREMY :

 

I agree. That’s amazing, seriously.

 

AIDA :

 

Yeah, I'm very very grateful about that. And at the same time learn, absorb, observe all these kind of things. See what this beautiful planet Earth has to offer.

 

JEREMY :

 

That’s so cool. I'm super excited for you there.

 

AIDA :

 

Thanks!

 

JEREMY :

 

I have my guesses about what the answer is to this but, what would you say then is your primary
passion in life?

 

AIDA :


Definitely. I mean it's question since I became a marriage and family therapist. I definitely believe
that the place to start with creating better societies is to start with creating more harmonious couples. 

 

JEREMY :

 

Ah, OK.

 

AIDA :

 

So when couples are doing well, you know they can turn into like a power couple. Then they can, you know, usually they have children, not always, but then they raise healthier children which they start creating better and healthier, more harmonious societies. And that's the approach or premise that I take. So that's one thing I'm very passionate about. Another thing is, culture. I'm super passionate
about culture and mythology. Because mythology drives cultural beliefs and social beliefs. 

 

JEREMY : [narration]

 

Mythology drives cultural beliefs and social beliefs. That is a really interesting statement right there.

 

JEREMY :


Could you elaborate on that? That would be awesome for the listeners.

 

AIDA :

 

Sure. So you know for example the Abrahamic religions are very popular. From Islam, to Christianity, to Judaism. And then there's eastern philosophy like Buddhism, Hinduism, Zoroastrianism and then
there's there's tribal mythology as well. So I'm learning about African tribal mythology of the Usoon and the Orishas, and…

 

JEREMY : [narration]

 

Later on Aida and I were talking and she recalled some more of the tribal mythologies and was kind of like wondering why she couldn’t remember all of them, but to me it was kind of fascinating that she
was able to recall all of these different mythologies and religions and all that in the conversation. Anyway there's some great nuggets of information coming up.

 

AIDA :


I don't know the terminology as well yet, I'm still learning.

 

JEREMY :

 

No problem, this is very cool.

 

AIDA :

 

Right. But, you know, in Native American mysticism from the teachings of Carlos Castaneda actually. The UCLA anthropologist.

 

JEREMY :

 

That’s right, I thought to was here. Yea, UCLA, OK, cool. 

 

AIDA :

 

And he definitely inspired the inner anthropologist and me. It's very, very interesting to see how
different belief systems work. But how much connection there is among them I guess. I'm I'm definitely more into seeing the connections and the things that create a whole not the separations and the things that create division.

 

JEREMY :

 

Right. And do you think with the mythology that you studied so far, have you found that there are some that are better for promoting a better and healthier society or some that are worse or some that are just -- Or it’s just you know? There's no good or bad about it?

 

AIDA :

 

I haven't delved that deep into it. I don't have quite a personal opinion about it yet. I don't know as much yet to have a personal opinion, but some of the things that stood out to me are that they all seemed to be like teaching grounds. You know they teach people about life and everyone has a certain thing that they get drawn to or attracted to. One of the things that really stood out to me in that one course was the fact that there is a belief system in every society from you know Eskimos to Aborigines to you know Western societies to eastern philosophy. Everybody, everybody, everybody has a belief system. And one of the premises behind that is to try to explain the things that we don't have control over and why they happen. I think there's validity to that. And I think there's validity to the fact that there may be something beyond what our five senses can grasp.

 

JEREMY : [narration]

 

This has been an interesting recurring theme in a lot of my conversations. 

 

AIDA :

 

You know our five senses are quite limited.

 

JEREMY :

 

Definitely -- Our perception of this reality right?

 

AIDA :

 

Right! I always use the dog whistle as the perfect example. Where there's a spectrum of sound, or a sound wave, and our ears can only hear one portion of that. The dog can hear the other portion and that whistles going off and the dog can hear it but we can’t. So just because we can't hear it doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Same with if we can't see it, touch it, smell it, taste it, that doesn't mean it doesn't exist. So there's something more that's driving us and humanity than meets the eye. Which takes me to another place that I'm really fascinated about which is science, and physics, and chemistry, and how everything works is super fascinating and I’ll elaborate on that. You know when you look at how our solar system works nothing new is actually happening. We're constantly just circling the sun and the
earth is spinning around itself and circling the sun.

 

JEREMY :

 

Pretty fast too. It’s kind of crazy.

 

AIDA :

 

Right. So we're just reliving the same thing over and over and over again, which is that cyclical nature of our patterns as humans as well. And then at the same time you look at it there's a very clear order to how all of it works. You know from all the planets and their positions and they never deviate and it works and how there's all this space, but then there's the pull of gravity. And when you get down to an atomic level the atom looks exactly the same as our solar system. It has a nucleus and a proton and electrons are circling around. You know I don't think there's a coincidence with that. That's not like, “oh that's a cool coincidence”. It's more like, there's an intelligence behind that. Right? And so I think human behavior and motivation, mythology and belief systems as well as science, I think those three combinations definitely speak to who I am as a person and why we work the way we do, why do we live the way we do. What's the purpose of life?

 

JEREMY :


Yeah, yeah definitely so -- Wow, you're like almost answering some of my other questions that I have too which is really cool. So when you say mythology I almost feel like. Instead of saying religion you're saying mythology you know? Do you have kind of a, more or less an idea of what your belief system is with regard to that. And coalescing you know your understanding of science and mythology?

 

AIDA :

 

I've read some religious texts I read some books about mythology and Eastern philosophy and obviously native American traditions I’m learning about some African tribal traditions and I think because that part of me, you know, the first word that I used to describe myself is curious. That curious aspect of me is just constantly just trying to absorb and learn and just find a connection between everything. I have haven't committed to one or the other yet. I’d love to, but it’s like, “wait, but I could go over there!” [laughs]

 

JEREMY :

 

Exactly. Exactly.

 

AIDA :


And this is still building up towards something because obviously what I'm going to -- create research and I'm going to go from an angle and a lense, I need to, have to choose a preference or a belief that
I'm going with. So to answer that question I'm still developing it.

 

JEREMY :

 

Yeah, I think that’s a very fair answer too, definitely! And I like that answer, because too often I hear people who are absolutely positive about a certain thing, which always scares me when it comes to dogma, and all of that, you know?

 

AIDA :

 

Yes. Yes. Yeah I don’t reject quite anything completely, but I don't fully say that this is it. This is the only
thing I like. OK, “I like this part of it. I like that part of that, not too crazy about this part. I don't know about that. Well let me find out more,let me find out more.”

 

JEREMY :


Yeah. And I think you probably hit on something earlier that kind of summed it up. It’s that, it’s almost like we're, and I don't want to offend any of the listeners but it's almost like we're creating things, creating these stories and these mythologies to explain things that we just don't quite understand
in our limited capacity as human beings and our finite understanding and finite lives.

 

AIDA :

 

Right, right. And that's what we're constantly doing, that's why research exists. That’s why science exists. That’s why mythology and religion and all the kind of things exist because of exactly what you said. We're trying to understand that’s why psychology exists. That's the whole point of it. It's like, why do you do what you do? You know? I was talking about this yesterday. You know how you said the mythology is trying to explain things that we don't know? I was also attributing in that same dynamic to maladaptive coping skills for example. We use the only tools that we know when we come across a feeling that we don't know what to do with.

 

JEREMY :

 

Right.

 

AIDA :

 

Right?

 

JEREMY :

 

Could you explain or elaborate on that a little bit. 

 

AIDA :


Right. I was talking about someone that's under stress or is dealing with grief or abuse or trauma
and maladaptive coping skills. Some people you know may go towards substance abuse or emotional eating or excessive sleeping like numbing themselves away or excessive TV watching, exercising vigorously to the point where they're you know taxing their body or injuring themselves and stuff, because these things exist and at some point, to some extent they give you feel good hormones and they make you feel better in one moment but too much of it too often they're maladaptive when it comes to emotional coping it doesn't address the underlying pain, fear, grief. You know? Anger. Whatever is going on there, it's not ever addressing all of that. But we're going to go ahead and use the only things that we know that are available to us that we know give us immediate feelings of feeling better when we don't know what to with an uncomfortable feeling. Which is the same exact thing. So people will create mythology and religious systems to explain things like natural disasters, why volcanoes erupt all of a
sudden for no reason, why a tsunami happens, why this area of the world just got wiped out because they don't know what to do with that. There's no control and they don't have the coping skills for it or maybe technology wasn’t built to have buildings that will keep you safe in a flood or something. You know what I mean? In an earthquake? And so they needed to create belief systems to address those fears. I mean that's scary to be like, you know this earth can swallow me alive any minute, and it does, and I have no say in it whatsoever.

 

JEREMY :

 

Right. “Please elder, tell me why this happened?”

 

AIDA :

 

Yeah, “what can I do to not do that again and not be swallowed up by the tsunami”, or something. Yeah.

 

JEREMY :


We want to survive, for sure.

 

AIDA :

 

Right.

 

JEREMY : [narration]

 

At this point I asked Aida when she decided that this was what she wanted to do to help people in this capacity as a therapist. By the way, the wind picks up a little bit so it's a little bit annoying at first but just bear with us. 

 

AIDA :

 

I remember when I started college I wanted to go into the scientific field and you know I was taking my intro to biology, history, and physics, and you know it was really nice, and along those lines I had to take a humanities course, “Oh, psychology looks interesting”, I took psych and I was like, [laughs] you know
I've never been so excited about anything the way I was about -- “This is fascinating! This explains..!” And then all of a sudden I'm like, “oh this is my neighbour, this is my coworker, this is my cousin, that’s definitely my -- Oh, this one’s me, that’s definitely me!” I decided for my bachelors, I would study sociology and cultural anthropology to get a better picture, because I was like, “oh if I'm just going to do only psychology it's going to be such a burden -- like such a tunnel vision in my opinion, that's my opinion. You know I'm like, “OK, I keep learning about the psyche of this person in a very, very deep and profound way. Well what about this person in this society what about this person and their cultural upbringing?” You know? I’m like, “oh, I need to absorb that information as well. I never thought I wanted to go into research. That developed after I'd been such a consumer of other people's research and methods and when I started putting everything into practice I started with myself, I started with my family, I started with friends, and then colleagues and clients. Just pretty much anyone who was open to it. It was like, “oh wow some of these have real bad shortcomings you know? Like, “This is not feasible! You can’t tell a person that's in the middle of an argument to be like stop!” You know? That’s their patten, like you work on something else first and then you address this. Or you need to work first on their internal coping mechanisms before you start adding all of these tools and techniques and some of them just were not feasible you know? Because they just didn't resonate with a certain population. Like “no I'm not going to do that”. Or, “No I'm not going to say something back to my parents”, like, “please don't talk to me that way”, because maybe you come from a culture that you respect authority so much that something like that would be extremely disrespectful. So how do you address that? How do you address that with a person's background?

 

JEREMY : [narration]

 

It's really encouraging hearing Aida talk about taking a holistic approach to her practice. She's not a
believer in boxing things in you know? Like, “things must be done this way”! So kudos to her right?

 

AIDA :

 

And not to sound so negative about the field of psychology, because they're really working on addressing that. They're really, really work on addressing that. But then I realize, well if I'm using all these tools that we have and I'm finding shortcomings why don't I produce something for that gap? There's a gap there. There's a gap in this area. Well, you know that's what you do, then you start creating, rather than just observing. So this is -- And then I realized that since I tend to think on a grand scale, like you know the whole globe, and everybody, I'm like OK well I can't do it in this tiny little bubble called Orange County, I’ve got to go out there and see the rest of the world because what I have to say works for this little area. Can it transfer, is it generalizable to another area in the world.

 

JEREMY :

 

Yeah, That’s super cool.

 

You've seen a lot of things. I mean you've talked with a lot of people but you've seen probably for lack of a better word the “dark side of humanity”, I guess?

 

AIDA :

 

Oh, yeah, yeah.

 

JEREMY :

 

What, in your opinion, and you alluded already to a few things like, you think the secret to really creating better societies is better couples, better -- you know, parenting essentially, what else do you think are like the ails? Things that just like ail society right now? And if you have any ideas for solutions too?

 

AIDA :

 

I think it's just so fear driven, and I think the fact that people are not as curious as they should be, they're just very open to being spoon fed something and they don't go out there to learn more. My true belief, knowledge is power. Learning something new is extremely powerful and empowering. When you put it to practice you know? People feel very lonely, people feel very isolated. Again this could probably be very much specific to this area because other areas of the world they have a strong sense of community too.

 

JEREMY :

 

True, yeah.

 

AIDA :


You know so this might be an ailment in this area, but I think if anything this is this is a part of humanity
that we have to accept. Humanity has got a really ugly side to it. Humanity is primitive, period. [laughs]

 

JEREMY :

 

We really are, no matter how we try to shine it up right?!

 

AIDA :

 

Yeah. The fact that we can put a leash on a dog and have it be our submissive little pet tells you something. I mean it's super cute and I love dogs and I want to pet myself too and I would, you know. I'm not saying that I'm beyond that or past that, just acknowledging that, that’s part of humanity that we can do that. You know, I’m just saying.

 

JEREMY :

 

And that’s a mild example, right?

 

AIDA :

 

Right. That’s a mild example but it's just kind of how we work. And so there's a there's a sense of hierarchy that exists in our mentality, and in all forms of life. You know bees have a queen bee or, you know in the jungle the lions -- you know something like that. I’m gettings really Disney here! [laughs]

 

JEREMY :

 

That’s fine!

 

AIDA :

 

You know hierarchies exist everywhere. And so when hierarchies exist and then tribes also exist, cliques also exist, you stick to what you know, and then fear exists then that creation of us versus them starts existing. And that's where I think is the biggest demise of humanity us versus them. There's no us
versus them. You know? There's there's no us versus them. That doesn't exist. That's a lie.

 

JEREMY :

 

Right.

 

AIDA :

 

You know, it doesn't have to be that way. And I don't like the role media plays in it. Media is very skewed, media is very one sided. The people behind productions have their own agenda. But that's true everywhere. OK I'm just saying all media is bad media, it’s also very good. Like look at something like this. This is also media. But I have to choose to go out of my way or I have to be a person that's interested in these kind of things, this is not mainstream.

 

JEREMY :

 

Exactly right. True.

 

AIDA :

 

So I think there's something missing in that area as well too. To make other perspectives mainstream.

 

JEREMY :

 

Yeah, I agree with you for sure. That’s some pretty heavy stuff. I think that you're really hitting on some  major things there. Especially in this day and age in our society. I agree.

 

AIDA :

 

I looked over your intro for what you're doing and just your premise behind what you're doing and I could totally relate. My belief is now that the Internet exists we are all pulsating at the same beat. We're connected all at the same time, doesn't matter. Across the Ocean, time zone, doesn't matter. We can all
communicate instantly at the same beat. There is no more arrhythmia there right? It’s the same
Heartbeat, you know? With the information just pulsating at the same time, and real, real
time right? So I think it's beautiful, I think that’s beautiful. I think that is probably one of the biggest strongest tools and technologies and creations that we have to reduce and possibly at some point eliminate that us-versus-them mentality and things that I liked about it, like a couple of things that really stood out -- I remember there was this video that went viral on Facebook, and it was this really, really probably impoverished area of Malaysia, they lived in huts or something, I’m getting into the dark stuff because I'm a psychologist I go there.

 

JEREMY :

 

Of course, of course, feel free.

 

AIDA :

 

So it was about a 10 month old little baby girl and this mother was beating this baby severely -- and in the corner was probably six seven year old boy watching this. So he's recording this in his mind, learning. Learned behavior right there. I don't know who is related to whom in what way but I'm just watching. OK. And this is how a cycle of darkness and humanity works. We don't know that mother's
background of why she's doing this. Obviously she's come from some kind of trauma herself too or she is sick or something you know? We don't know. We don't know and we're just seeing that snapshot. Why does something like that go viral? Because it was so painful to witness, you know? Because we know so much better. Like, you don't beat a 10 month old baby, like that severely. I personally didn't even want to believe it was real like, “it's probably a doll”. Like, you just can't hit a baby that much and the baby keeps getting up and trying -- it was it was really painful to watch, to say the least. And of course, whoever is recording is saying things afterwards. I was like, I can't just, you know witness something like that and not know more about it.

 

JEREMY :

 

Yeah.

 

AIDA :

 

OK. So I started researching that, seeing what was going on. So because of that video, a neighbor -- that was a neighbor -- so I guess the neighbor was saying, “hey stop hitting your child, you're hurting them, you could you know kill your child. Stop that”. And because of that video, again technology, that video got to the local police and they took the baby into foster care and they put the woman in jail. Now
if that wasn't there then this baby, who knows what would have happened to this baby? You know what I mean?

 

JEREMY :

 

Yeah. Exactly.

 

AIDA :

 

And I got to know a little bit more background and I was like, “wow this is…” As painful as it was to witness that, look this is from just a really, really, really, tiny, tiny, tiny little corner in the world that I would have never known existed. I would have never known this existed. This went viral on Facebook and I'm seeing this. You know, because of that people were very passionate about it, “this is wrong”, and this and that and because of all of this some justice came out of it. You know I'm not saying we have the best systems out there yet, but some justice came out of it. Something came out of it something proactive came out of it. So that's also what I see where I think this could be a very, very special era with all of this access to this technology. And I think it also brings accountability into
place. I thought when ‘UBER’ first came out, I was like, “oh you rate the driver and the passenger”, I love that. I love that because this is what happens when people go -- and like the sociopath's that have done some of the sickest crimes out there. What gives them the capacity to do that? They isolate and there's nothing monitoring that right? And societies where they’re very community based and everyone kind of knows each other's business. It's really annoying in one aspect because you can't get away with anything but it keeps people in check because you can't get that sick. 

 

JEREMY :

 

Yeah.

 

AIDA :

 

Right? Because you don't isolate, you don't marginalize, you can't go off in a little corner and start creating some sick bombs and like go bomb people and kill masses and things like that. And so things with rating systems like this also keeps people accountable for what they do. And what role they play in anything. So I also think things like that bring a little bit more sense of community. Even though it's virtual, even though there's a lot of room to grow in that area. But I also believe that helps in that aspect too. 

 

JEREMY :

 

Yeah, I agree with you there. We don’t have to talk about it right now, but I'd be interested in getting at some point you’re opinion on the psyche of a person who actually goes out and feels the need to shoot up a school or something horrendous like that, like what is going on in the psyche. Is there a general -- “Well this Is probably what's happening…”

 

AIDA : It all comes down to fear.

 

JEREMY :

 

Fear?

 

AIDA :

 

Fear.

 

JEREMY :

 

OK, how so?

 

AIDA :

 

It all comes down to fear. So you know I've worked with severely mentally ill population like people with psychosis, sociopath's, perpetrators and whatnot, and the more I get into their psyche the common thread between all of them is fear. Whether their fear is being expressed through anger, whether it's through hostility, whether it's violating other people's boundaries, whether it's killing someone off, or masses off, but it's fear.

 

JEREMY :

 

What is the object of their fear?

 

AIDA :

 

I guess that is a little bit more personal, but it goes back to the us- versus-them mentality. A person doesn't want to get rid of a certain population unless they feel that there is a threat from that population. And the reason why I say fear is because that is the core of human motivation. Safety and security, and the core of survival. So anything that comes and taps into that in any way can create sociopaths, and mainly sociopaths. And you know psychosis actually. Most people with psychotic disorders are very, very scared. I mean they're so scared, they’re scared of their own shadows. Working with perpetrators that have sexually abused and molested young children and things like that I guess. Again the entire session they're like this, they're they're just scared. They're just, they're scared.

 

JEREMY :

 

Yeah, OK, let me ask this because I’m curious. So whenever I hear cases, and I have the utmost respect for people who can actually work with them and try to, get them better, address some of the things that are going on and I don't know if the answers about actually solve any of that. Anyway my question is, how do you resolve like your inner, there's got to be something within you that's like, “alright, this is horrific and I can’t stand these actions that this person has done”, and then your professional side that's like, “I'm here to help you”. How do you do that?

 

AIDA :


Luckily you know the stigma of a psychologist is that safe place you can go to, right? And if you make that person feel safe they can open up to those vulnerable places. And that's one of the things that
a psychologist does is create a safe space, a safe environment, and makes it safe it's safe to be you and whatnot.

 

JEREMY :

 

Whatever that you is.

 

AIDA :

 

Whatever that you is. It's non-judgmental, it's accepting, OK, “I'm not here to make you feel bad about your decisions in life. You clearly have yourself and other people in your life that are doing that for you. I don't need to add to that mix. OK so let's work past that and let's see your motivations behind what you've done. Let's see what the core is, what's charging all of that. Let's work through that, let's bring peace to those areas. 

 

JEREMY :

 

Oh, Gotcha. OK. So I want to get at a little bit lighter topic. [laughs]

 

AIDA :

 

[laughs]  OK

 

JEREMY :

 

No, no! This is good! Because I myself can be like, “let's just talk all day about whatever”, you know, go down any sort of rabbit hole and dark place, but I kind of want to know what brings her joy and what her day to day may look like.

 

AIDA :

 

Things that bring me joy? I love being outdoors. I love nature. I love nature, from bugs to worms, to dogs, to cats, to butterflies…

 

JEREMY :

 

From bugs to worms too?!

 

AIDA :

 

Yeah, like I’ll play with bugs and stuff like a…

 

JEREMY :

 

That’s so cool!

 

AIDA :

 

Yeah, it’s really fascinating. Like, “Oh, you move like this and that's so cool. You can just crawl forever
and I can just do this and you can just keep crawling”. So I go and I look at, you know, the back bay here has its own habitat and there's like there one armed crabs and I think they're so fascinating they just sit there and they just go like this with one arm, or one claw.

 

JEREMY :

 

And they’re not born like that right?

 

AIDA :


I don't know. I mean there's a whole bunch of them! So maybe I don't know it's a genetic mutation or that's just what they are it's just, they just stand there -- if you stand still -- it’s like the coolest thing. I just get so fascinated, I just sit there and look at them and think, “that’s so cool”.

 

JEREMY :

 

Mesmerizing.

 

AIDA : 

 

Yeah! So those thing mesmerize me. And let’s say about people, you know I have clients, they mesmerized me as well too. A lot of my clients have honored me by opening to their deepest
vulnerabilities and growing from it and it's just beautiful. It's just beautiful to see a human being go through that, just beautiful. 

 

JEREMY :

 

I bet you get chills sometimes!
 

AIDA :

 

I do.

 

JEREMY :

 

I would, I sometimes get chills in interviews. It’s so amazing what’s happening! So yeah, that’s cool. I mean, when you think of humanity and just kind of going through life in general it seems to me like what you're being -- it's almost like when I look at the sky here it's blue and sunny and, you tend to have
more of a brighter outlook. What do you think about the future of humanity, where we’re headed, and the general purpose of humanity?

 

AIDA :

 

I could use maybe some psychological terms that I've learned. You know, like in behavioral analysis?
 

JEREMY :

 

Yeah.

 

AIDA :

 

So when a change is ready to happen you go through something called an extinction burst.

 

JEREMY :


Extinction burst?

 

AIDA :

 

Yes. Which means it's going to get as bad as it can get, and then the change is going to happen. So based off of what I'm seeing, and how things go, and looking at the cyclical nature, looks like we're probably going to go through one really, really ugly global mess and then from there we're all going to be like -- especially because we have that we're pulsating at the same beat -- we're all going to be like, we’ll be like, “No, this is just… no… we  just can’t do this anymore.

 

JEREMY :

 

Right.

 

AIDA :

 

“This is not for us”. But it's going to go through probably an extinction burst. Which is probably as bad as it can get because without this singular pulse going on, which means the ugly side is also connected.

 

JEREMY :

 

It’s pulsating right --

 

AIDA :

 

Yeah. But I believe in a balance, life balances itself out. This earth has always balanced itself out. And so I think we're going on our way to an extinction burst.

 

JEREMY :

 

Ah, OK. Well that’s a really good way to put it. I’ve never heard anybody call it that. That’s a really cool way of saying, “it's going to get ugly before it gets better”. Get uglier I guess…

 

AIDA :

 

Yes. Pretty much. 

 

JEREMY :

 

Pretty ugly.

 

AIDA :

 

Yeah, really bad! [laughs]

 

JEREMY :


Cool. I just have a couple more questions. The first one is kind of a little bit deeper and very personal to you. When you're on your deathbed and you're looking back on your life. What is it that you want to say, “Oh I'm so glad this has happened. I’m so glad that I’ve built up this legacy and this is what I’ll probably be remembered for”?

 

AIDA :

 

Probably to have opened up an avenue for humanity to be more evolved. I think that whatever avenue that is, but just a path. A path to help people be their full potential, and their best, and to create more harmony in the world. 

 

JEREMY :

 

Aha, that’s cool.

 

AIDA :

 

Yeah. Very, very, very, clear, straightforward. Just more harmony.

 

JEREMY :

 

One last final question. This is one where I’m going to set the scene a little bit for you. And so I want you to imagine that one day you're walking through, let’s say that you’re in London actually, and you've begun your travels, and you're going to have to bear in mind this is going to get a little bit Sci-Fi but that's alright! You're walking through a lush green park. Let’s say it's Hyde Park and all of a sudden this spacecraft comes down, because obviously spacecrafts always come down in the middle of Hyde Park! Out steps an alien who looks like that actor Benedict Cumberbatch, he even speaks like Benedict Cumberbatch for whatever reason, we don't know why! He does but he's like, “I only have 10 minutes here”, and I'm not going to even try to emulate Benedict Cumberbatch. “I only have 10 minutes here but I really, I'm part of -- I'm on a mission to find out what life here on Earth means and you, you've been selected”. You're the only person that this alien is going to interview, about how you see and perceive life on this planet. Would you tell this alien?

 

AIDA :


Oh wow! Great question. What would I tell this alien? I would know, I would know what to say. This is a  very beautiful place. It's majestic. It's quite majestic. The world has so many vibrant colors and experiences to offer and along with everything else that exists there's a duality to our nature. So with the beauty there's an ugly side to humanity as well. And I find that it's very beautiful that we can still
maintain our beauty within the ugly. And there's a lot of variation to experience. From speaking humans to barking dogs to insects that coordinate on a level we don't even understand, you know? So enjoy, that enjoy the variation and how different expressions of life can exist from the one armed crab [laughs], to the little worm that wiggles you know? Welcome to our world! Not a bad place to be.

 

JEREMY :

 

That’s so cool! Well alright, I think that, I think that you have a pretty good impression then so, cool, thank you.

 

AIDA :

 

Thanks.

 

JEREMY :

 

I Love that, that's a really explanation.

 

AIDA :

 

Thank you.

 

JEREMY :

 

Cool. Thank you so much for joining us on this episode of ‘in the shoes of’.

 

AIDA :


Thank you. Thank you very much.

 

JEREMY : [narration]


Hey, Thank you so much for checking out this episode of ‘In the shoes of’. If you like, or don't like the podcast, feel free to leave a review or reach out to me. My email is jnickel@intheshoesof.org . I'm Jeremy Nickel, the host and producer of the show, until the next time, see you later.

 

[music plays]