PRO FILES: JP SEARS
Getting Ultra Spiritual with the certified World’s Most Spiritual Man ®
“There’s a reason why life takes so long, and I think love is a big part of life.” — JP Sears
JP Sears — the emotional healing coach and international teacher based out of Charleston, South Carolina — is also the mind behind some of the funniest viral videos on YouTube. His AwakenWithJP Channel currently has over 86,000 subscribers and continues to release new material every month.
Sears differentiates himself from the gluttony of comedic videos with his subject matter: an extensive background in self-help teaching and emotional coaching combined with his spot-on topical oberservations produce hilarious yet truthful insights into issues ranging from parenting and bullying to marijuana legalization and depression.
Sears continues to achieve the balance between helpful and humorous. In March 2015, Sears released his now most-popular video, “How to Become Gluten Intolerant” — the video currently has over three million views.
While working on his newest video — “Spirituality of Gangsta Rap” — Sears took the time to speak about confidence, his creative process and true love.
ON DISCOVERING HUMOR
I think the humor in the videos actually come from the pain in my childhood — and I know that’s like a galaxy far, far away. But like anybody else, I had pain and challenges in my childhood. And like most other people, I didn’t deal with that head-on in a vulnerable way during my childhood years. I needed mechanisms to cover that up and bury it, just so I could feel functional and feel half-way decent.
As a kid, I didn’t know how to deal with depression, deal with sadness, deal with fear, deal with shame — deal with insecurity. So, I became humorous as a kid; that was my way of creating a sense of, “I’m significant because I can make people laugh — therefore, I matter.” Which helped mask my sense of insignificance and my sense of, “I don’t really matter in this world.”
And here as I’ve rolled down the hill of chronology a little bit into my thirties, I’ve had some time to look behind the curtain — kind of the facade of my humor and discovered: hey, there’s deep pain behind that.
As I learned more and more about my own pain behind my humor, I figured out not only was humor actually a way of self-medicating and deflecting — which in a way is kind of negative — humor has this positive light to it. It has this transformative energy to it.
ON INSERTING HUMOR
I just gradually allowed my Self to be myself on my videos. When I started my YouTube channel, that wasn’t so much the case. There were little slivers of my natural humor that would come out. But for the most part, the first little while of my YouTube life, I would try and conform and think like, “Ok, these spiritual teachers, emotional healing people — they’re all pretty straight-laced and serious. So that’s how I need to be.”
Luckily, I just outgrew that expectation of myself and let my natural humor shine. And honestly for me, it feels good. It feels very therapeutic. And just like a nice convenient surprise is it seems to be a transformative force for — not everybody — but a number of people.
A bonus is it carries the entertainment element. From my perspective, I like to put deep — from my point of view they’re deep, but I’m biased because they’re my messages — deep messages inside humor.
So that these deep messages that normally our egos would be defended to and not let them in because they threaten our sense of familiarity, they threaten our sense of who we are and who the world is to us — when they’re packaged in humor, it’s like they’re seductively disguised to our fearful, defended egos. They can get in, penetrate and have a beneficial germination inside of us to help transform some of the negativity of how we feel about ourselves, how we see the world.
And as my dog is certainly my number one Zen Master, it’s kind of like: when he has to take medication, I wrap his medicinal pill in meat. Because he’ll just spit out the pill; he doesn’t want any part of the medicine that’s good for him. I have to package it in something appealing for him.
To me, humor packaged around a meaningful message is the same thing.
ON BALANCING COMEDY v. MESSAGE
By no means am I always balanced on that. I’ve got some times where I’m easily balanced, and other times probably out of balance. The biggest challenge — and I think also what gives me the best traction under my feet on this — is: I do my best to not please the audience. I do my best to stay true to the message that I feel wants to come through me.
There’s certainly some videos that I’ve done and I look back on and then say, “Yeah, my ego took over. Some of the engineering of that video was out of an attempt to please the audience rather than being true to the message.”
During those times, I’ll see myself maybe concealing some of the serious message. Maybe playing humor in ways that looking back I’m like, “Ah, I wish I would’ve done that differently.” And it’s challenging to do my best to stay focused and true to the message rather than giving the audience what they want.
Because by nature, one of my disorders is I’m a people-pleaser and very co-dependent. So when people are laughing, when I’m getting praise about certain videos, part of me looks at those videos and says, “Oh, here’s what they must’ve loved about them — let me give them more of that” in order to please them, which is really just to gratify myself.
I get into that a little bit. And really I think some of the more grounding words I use is: “Make this video for me. Stay true to the message and make this video for me.” Ironically, I think the more I do that, the more they actually appeal to other people. And some of the videos, when I release them I’m like, “Boy, ok. This one — this one’s going viral.” And they don’t! Like, “Wow! This is so much under-viewed than I thought it would be.”
Like the “Why to Legalize Marijuana” video — I thought that was going to be much bigger than it was. I wouldn’t take it down or really I wouldn’t want to change it, but if I had to do it over again, I would actually realize some of that was engineered around trying to give people what I think they want rather than making the video true to the message. True to myself.
The more I am myself, and the more true I am to the authentic message of me and what wants to come through me, the more the Universe supports me; the more I violate that, the less support there is. And in kind of a semi-quantitative way, you can kind of see how the Universe supports you based on the view count. I know that’s an incredibly one-dimensional way of measuring support, but it’s just a little bit of feedback from the world around you.
ON DEVELOPING VOICE
I feel comfortable, but I could just be number than all Hell — so who knows. With the level of comfort I feel presently, I would say after the first big — big for me — video hit of “How To Be Ultra Spiritual” — I would say three or four of those Ultra Spiritual follow-up videos later.
I think it was about the fifth one came out called “Using Ayahuasca” — which, that video I really went against the grain of some of the people who I used to be involved with. Really violated their point of view of life, and honestly pissed a lot of people off. I think that was really a threshold for me. That was scary as Hell, and spilling out on the other side of that, I came out of it with a lot of self-confidence about the message that wants to speak through me.
I don’t think I mean self-confidence in the egotistical “I’m certain and I know all” kind of sense. It’s much more of a self-confidence in the sense of listening to the message that wants to speak through me, and allowing it to come … that sounds Ultra Spiritual in and of itself — I have to call myself out on that.
But when I get a sense of a message or an angle of comedic delivery or serious delivery, that’s just sort of like the Universe or my higher Self — it feels like it’s really supporting me. So when I feel like, “Ok, here’s this message coming to me”, I have a lot of confidence in that message. And here I am, kind of like just the messenger.
ON BEING SELF
It’s good therapy for me. It’s good practice for me to have the chance to be myself. And it’s interesting how the Universe — just to be incredibly abstract and vague for a moment — the Universe seems to really support me more and more the more I am allowing me to just be me.
When I would try and be who I’d think other people expected me to be, express myself the way I think it’s expected to be for a teacher or coach — the Universe has a funny way of not supporting that false sense of Self. Which is certainly scary and unnerving, yet I think incredibly therapeutic.
I think it helps us in this interpretive dance we’re doing with life. Helps us wiggle in a little bit more deeply into who we are, rather than violating the miracle of our own existence by continuing to be someone who we’re not.
ON KNOWLEDGE OF SELF
I’m needy as Hell. And I hate to say it, but there’s more times than I can count where I fall into a rut of neglecting my needs. My need for self-time, my need for playful time, my needs to just be connected to my emotions and feeling them. So when I go through those drought times, I start to suffer. And I usually don’t know I’m into one of those self-neglect times until I’m at least a few weeks into it.
For me, catching myself when I’ve been neglecting myself under the guise of overworking, over-giving, giving more than what I have the capacity to give.
During those times, I really have to check myself before I wreck myself — to borrow the words of the lovely philosopher Ice Cube. Those are times where I really have to — I hate the word “have to” and I hate the word “hate” — those are times where I recalibrate myself; re-acknowledge, “Hey, I am needy and I’m neglecting my needs here. I need some attention. I need some of my needs met.”
My girlfriend is a big help with that; she’s a great source of reflection for me, she supports me. And my co-dependent human nature, she helps meet those needs, too. Along with that, I work with a dream analyst on a regular basis, so doing the work with her helps me look at some of the wisdom in my dreams that’s teaching me about where I still need to heal; where I’m compromised, where I’m challenged. Where my inner pathology is controlling my life.
That kind of consistent work is pretty important to me, as well. To not only help me out of ruts when I’m in them, but help me just keep filling my cup up as much as I can.
Whoever designed the Human being — I think they were pretty intelligent. And I know that comes from my delusional perception, but that’s my belief. Whoever designed human beings was highly intelligent. So here in the human system — physiologically and psychologically and spiritually, all of that mixed together to form the whole of the human being — there’s this phenomenon that hits a lot of people, especially present-day: the phenomenon of depression.
When you look at that as the enemy, I think that’s really spitting in the face of not only our creative force but I think also our own higher intelligence, which to me is synonamous with our creative force. And it’s to say, “Boy, you are such a horrible engineer. You screwed up. You made this human being so defective that it accidentally creates these horrible, poisonous feelings called depression.”
Ok, that’s one way to look at it and maybe that’s true; it’s not my belief.
How I look at it is: this intelligent source that created the human being doesn’t make mistakes. There is no accident — when we are feeling what registers as an uncomfortable, kind of poisonous feeling of depression, it’s very, very purposefully.
It’s just like someone who has a really well-engineered car. When something’s going wrong in the engine, there’s some kind of “Check Engine” light that comes on on the dashboard. So we could look at that messenger the “Check Engine” light and say, “This is really an obnoxious light. It’s in my eyes; I don’t like the look of it. Look at it — it’s a … red color. Let me take this medication to blur out my vision spectrum, so that I can’t pick up the color Red. That way, I won’t have to look at this light that’s shining in my eyes all the time.”
That’s one way to do it. Another way to do it is say, “OK, these intelligent German engineers who made my car — they put this warning light on here for a reason. It helps me perceive when something under the hood — which I can’t see, I’m unconscious of it — that something under the hood that I can’t see is going wrong; it’s out of balance. So in a sense, it helps me see what I can’t see. Hmm.”
I think that’s what a lot of depression is. And I think listening and learning what the message is that the messenger of Depression is here to deliver — that’s a challenge in and of itself. But first step is: we have to be curious enough to look at depression as a friend rather than an enemy.
We’re used to looking at anything that’s uncomfortable and automatically reacting to it as though it’s a bad thing. But I think we need to be willing to be a little paradoxical in our point of view and realize: just because something’s painful doesn’t mean it’s bad for us, and just because something’s pleasurable doesn’t mean it’s good for us.
So if we can do that — look at depression as a friend — then that helps us become open to receiving whatever the message is that the messenger is delivering.
And it’s certainly a challenge, because it doesn’t deliver the message in straightforward, literal language. It’s a message in a very sophisticated, conscience symbolic language that’s expressed though feelings. So initially it can be like reading Egyptian hieroglyphics where, “Oh, I can’t speak this language!” Well, there’s a lot of information embedded in the symbology of these feelings in the hieroglyphics. That’s why it doesn’t register in our very simple-minded, typical ways that we interpret language.
It’s in my opinion a very deep and profound message, perhaps even coming from our soul. Therefore, the message doesn’t fit in a very minuscule, small package of our normal, English-spoken literal words.
For me, what Self-Confidence really is: being vulnerable. Being raw. Being authentic. I personally believe our self-confidence can only be as high as our vulnerability is deep. I’m not talking about the facade of self-confidence; some of the most unconfident, insecure people wear the facade of being the most confident people.
True self-confidence is a lot of vulnerability that allows the person to risk being who they are.
I think the challenge of a person risking being who they actually are is … we don’t know who we are! Being willing to express who we are is very scary; it’s unfamiliar.
It’s a perpetual process of self-realization for us to feel our feelings and be honest with those. Have a perspective and be honest with that. Have needs and be honest with that. That is to be vulnerable, which for me, it’s expressing the life-blood of who we are.
It’s a very worthwhile challenge; a challenging challenge. And I believe that is what true self-confidence actually is.
To me, what Love is not: it’s not emotional attachment. It’s not expectations. I think a lot of times when people say the word “love”, they’re really talking about emotional attachment, comfort, control and expectations.
To me, what love is: acceptance. Accepting oneself or another person as they are. Not for how we want them to be; not for who we think they can be; not for who we want to be. Accepting one as they are. And I think, especially with self-acceptance — that is self-love.
That’s a very slippery, challenging slope because we have this sort of paradox where we have this thing called Ambition — well, if we’re lucky we have ambition — which can give us the drive of becoming who we want to be. And I think that’s a little bit of a trap for us to get into; as we pursue becoming the person we want to be, we’re falling more and more out of love with who we actually are.
Unconditional acceptance, for me, is what love is. And I think that is certainly a journey, not a destination. Here we are in these very conditional minds that see reality relatively — not unconditionally, not absolute.
There’s a reason why life takes so long, and I think love is a big part of life. I think love is a very fruitful experience that takes a very long time for us to even come close to dancing with.