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  • Hey, it's Marie Forleo and you are watching MarieTV, the place to be to create a business

  • and life you love.

  • If you or anyone you know has ever struggled with sadness or loss or depression, my guest

  • today is here to share an enlightening perspective on its deeper meaning in our lives.

  • Marianne Williamson is an internationally acclaimed spiritual author and lecturer.

  • Marianne has been a popular guest on shows like Oprah, Larry King Live, Good Morning

  • America, Charlie Rose, and Bill Maher.

  • Six of her eleven published books have been New York Times Bestsellers.

  • The mega-bestseller, A Return to Love, is considered a must read.

  • Marianne's other books include The Law of Divine Compensation, The Age of Miracles,

  • Everyday Grace, A Woman's Worth, Illuminata, Healing the Soul of America, A Course in Weight

  • Loss, The Gift of Change, and A Year of Miracles.

  • Her newest book, Tears to Triumph: The Spiritual Journey from Suffering to Enlightenment, is

  • available now.

  • Marianne is a native of Houston, Texas and is the founder of Project Angel Food, a meals

  • on wheels program that serves homebound people with AIDS in the Los Angeles area.

  • To date, Project Angel Food has served over 10 million meals.

  • Marianne also co-founded The Peace Alliance and serves on the board of The Results Organization,

  • working to end the worst ravages of hunger and poverty throughout the world.

  • Marianne, thank you so much for making time to be here.

  • Thank you for having me.

  • I want to acknowledge, once again, I know you've been on the show before and we only

  • did audio because we had some challenges with the video.

  • But thank you for the work that you do in the world.

  • Right back at you.

  • I've told you this

  • Thank you.

  • ...it justit always makes such a difference to me and I'm always so excited when you

  • have a new book coming out, which today

  • It's an honor when you say that.

  • Thank you.

  • Tears to Triumph.

  • Read the full thing.

  • It is extraordinary.

  • Thank you.

  • You've been counseling people for over 30 years

  • Yes.

  • ...in some very serious situations.

  • Indeed.

  • You've also had dark nights of the soul yourself.

  • Tell us about what inspired you to write this book now.

  • Well, actually, why I decided to write the book, I ran for Congress a couple of years

  • ago.

  • And after the election, a few days afterwards, I was being interviewed by Maria Shriver and

  • she asked me if I was sad.

  • And I said, “No, I'm not sad.”

  • She said, “Really?

  • You're not sad at all?”

  • I said, “No, you know, somebodyyou don't go into a political election knowing you're

  • going to win.

  • Somebody's going to win, somebody's going to lose.

  • So I'm not sad, I'm… whatever.”

  • She said, “Really?

  • You're not just a little bit sad?”

  • She said, “I had a cousin who ran for Congress and lost and it was just devastating for him

  • for a long time.”

  • And I just

  • No, it's not sad.”

  • And then about 2 or 3 days later I think, I was actually sitting in my apartment and

  • it was like a black wave, huge wave, was coming at me like a tsunami.

  • And I knew it.

  • There was no mistaking it.

  • And I had been through it once, very, very terrible time in my life, a tragic time in

  • my life decades before.

  • But also, we all go through our dark nights of the soul.

  • And I think also, suffering gives you x-ray vision into other people's sufferings.

  • So, for instance, like when you were talking about my work.

  • My career began right smack dab in the middle of the AIDS crisis.

  • And so from the very beginning of my work, applying these principles in the lives of

  • people in often catastrophic situations has been core to my experience.

  • Now, what I have seen though in the last few years, what we've all seen, is that it's

  • almost like we've begun to make being deeply sad wrong.

  • Something has happened in our society where what I think of as a normal spectrum of human

  • suffering, if you take a risk and really put yourself into it and many people back you

  • and support you and then you fall flat on your face, of course you're going to be depressed

  • about this for a while.

  • If you are diagnosed with a serious disease, of course you're going to be depressed about

  • this for a while.

  • If you go through a painful divorce, of course you're going to be in pain for a while.

  • But those pains are not a mental illness.

  • And what I've seen in the last few years is so many people who are on antidepressants,

  • who are on pharmaceuticals when if you ask them why, describe situations that are depressing

  • but in a way that is part of life.

  • And this is particularly disturbing and I think all of us should be very aware of this.

  • The FDA itself has warned, and does warn, for people 25 and younger, antidepressants

  • can increase, not decrease, the suicide risk.

  • We have huge increase in suicides, we also have huge increase in antidepressant use.

  • So I don't see the causal relationship.

  • I'm not saying there's a causal relationship between taking them and committing suicide,

  • but neither am I saying that we've proven that there's a causal relationship between

  • taking them and not.

  • So I think there's been a pathologizing of normal human suffering that is very unhealthy

  • in my experience and in the experience of many people that I've worked with and spoken

  • to.

  • A dark night of the soul is some of the most transformative times that we go through in

  • our lives.

  • They are sacred initiations.

  • You learn things.

  • That's what's so painful.

  • What's so painful is you have to look at things that are so painful to look at.

  • You have to look at your failure, you have to look at your part in your own disasters.

  • You have to look at your own mortality, you have to grieve the loss of a loved one or

  • the loss of a marriage or a love affair.

  • But I think that the psyche has an immune system just like the body does.

  • If you're in a car accident, you go through something and it's understood it's gonna

  • take a while to heal.

  • Your body is bruised.

  • And we often feel, everybody knows this, you know, you go through a rough time and you

  • feel like you're bruised emotionally because you are.

  • But humanity would not have evolved over the last however many thousands, hundreds of thousands

  • of years were we not imbued with the capacity to take a hit.

  • And that's true not only physically, but also emotionally and psychologically.

  • Catastrophes didn't just start happening.

  • Heartbreak didn't just start happening.

  • Grief didn't just start happening.

  • And in our really arrogance, the modern mind has decided that it can do better than certain

  • natural systems.

  • And we know with our bodies to work with your immune system, and yet with a lot of the over

  • medication that's applied in America today, we're trying to sort of override the immune

  • system.

  • And the psychic immune system, much like the physical immune system, involves taking time.

  • You're gonna be sad for a while.

  • You're gonna be depressed for a while.

  • A lot of people say, “Oh, no, you know, Williamson, you know, don't tread there.

  • This is a physical disease.

  • We see there's a chemical imbalance in depression.”

  • But I ask you, do you know anyone who has been clinically diagnosed as depressed that

  • they gave a blood test to or some kind of brain test to see all this chemical change

  • in their brain?

  • No.

  • Clinicalthe diagnosis of clinical depression is a questionnaire.

  • And when you look at that questionnaire, I don't know anybody who can't look at some

  • of those and go, “Yes, I've been there.”

  • Yes.

  • So I think that it's extremely important that we not stay to a corner of thinking.

  • Look, I have as much respect for biomedical research as anyone does.

  • I'm not sayingand I'm not saying that there's no place for psychotherapeutic drugs,

  • bipolar situations, schizophrenia, and so forth, but not within the spectrum of normal

  • human suffering that we've begun to pathologize in this country.

  • And so I think that if I'm talking to a therapist or a doctor who does not factor

  • the soul into their calculation and I think that it's a soul disease, it's a spiritual

  • disease, whothey're saying what am I to tread on medical ground?

  • I'm challenging the assertion that this is medical ground and who are you to tread

  • on spiritual ground?

  • This is an ancient malady called the dark night of the soul.

  • And if you look, the three spiritual traditions that I looked at in the book: Buddha, the

  • story of Moses and the exodus, and Jesus.

  • They, like all great religious and spiritual systems, have the issue of human suffering

  • at their core.

  • Buddha said life is suffering.

  • That's the essence of suffering.

  • He says that is what I teach, that life is suffering, and I teach the cessation of suffering

  • through the realization, he said, that the things of this world can only bring temporary

  • happiness.

  • Well, you and I live in a culture that says if we're unhappy, we need to get this or

  • get that or get that or get that.

  • Buddha says the very fact you think you need this to make you happy is your setup for despair.

  • And then in the story of the exodus, the whole point is that God sent Moses to deliver the

  • Israelites from their suffering as slaves, and the suffering of the Israelites in their

  • journey to the promised land.

  • And then, of course, the suffering of Jesus on the cross.

  • So it's not like the spiritual traditions don't have anything to add.

  • And so I wanted to write a book where people might feel, hopefully will feel, some guidance

  • and some illumination as to how to navigate these times, not to run away from these times.

  • You know, somebody was telling me the other day that buffalos when they see a storm coming,

  • they don't turn around.

  • They run right into it.

  • That they know that that's… and I heard that before I wrote the book or I would've

  • put it in.

  • That they know that the best way to get through it is to go right into it.

  • And I think there are certain times in life, and I felt that with this last one in my life.

  • This is coming.

  • This isthis isthis couldn't be avoided no matter what.

  • You're gonna have to look at this, you're gonna have to do some deep forgiveness of

  • yourself and others and taking responsibility in all those things or else you will come

  • out of this more, do they say, bitter rather than better.

  • Yeah.

  • You know, cramped rather than expanded.

  • And I think when you're younger, one of the things that's so disturbing to me about

  • this with young people is not only the physical aspect, which is that 25 and younger antidepressants

  • increase, can increase the risk of suicide, the FDA has said this.

  • It's written in a little black box, but nobody talks about it.

  • But I think the 20s are hard.

  • Yes.

  • I mean, it's justit's hard.

  • So in young people being depressed is like, yeah, honey, this is called becoming who you

  • are.

  • And then in older people you're depressed because of who you've become.

  • So, you know, on both sides it's like the dark days are part of the natural order and

  • transformative process I think.

  • So I can even hear someone in the audience saying, “Oh, Marianne, this sounds amazing

  • but I actually am on antidepressants right now.”

  • What would you say to them?

  • Oh, thank you for mentioning that because I think it's so important.

  • I am not a medical doctor and I would never suggest with any pharmaceutical that you just

  • go throw it in the wastebasket.

  • My whole point is we should be far more sober about how we get on them and we should certainly

  • be sober about how we get off.

  • So if anybody is feeling with this conversation that is articulated not just by me but by

  • others as well, and do feel that they would like to move away from pharmaceutical treatment

  • of their depression, obviously you should only do this under the supervision of a doctor

  • who tells you how best to do that.

  • So according to many experts, you know, clinical depression is being alarmingly overdiagnosed

  • and overtreated.

  • Why do you think that our suffering has become such a profit center?

  • Surely you don't reallyyou're not really without the answer.

  • Any of us who think about this are with the answer.

  • It's what I call the psychotherapeutic pharmacological industrial complex.

  • Yes.

  • We're talking about billions of dollars here.

  • Another one that you hear a lot is a lot of young women, girls even, who are not even

  • in theirnot even sexually active yet taking birth control pills to, quote on quote, regulate

  • their hormones.

  • What is this regulate your hormones?

  • Nature has been regulating our hormones for hundreds of thousands of years.

  • Yeah.

  • What is going on here?

  • Another thing I find interesting in terms of our community, Marie, is there's so many

  • people who don't want to touch gluten, don't wanna putooh, I wouldn't want those

  • chemicals in my gut, who don't seem to transfer that into chemicals in your brain so casually.

  • Yeah.

  • What is that about?

  • And you have something else in the book that is really interesting and I… you say the

  • place

  • That which is placed on the altar is altered.”

  • Yeah.

  • And a prayer for a miracle is not a request that the situation be different, but a request

  • that we see it differently.”

  • Right.

  • And then I love that you also juxtaposed that with, you know, for someone who is in deep

  • pain right now, because there will be people watching who are very hopeful and you say,

  • you know, when your spouse has left you after 25 years, where's the miracle in that?

  • When your child has died from a drug overdose, where's the miracle of that?

  • Right.

  • What is your response, this idea that what you place on the altar will be altered?