Gabor Mate is a renowned Hungarian-born Canadian physician who is an expert on addiction and trauma in childhood. In this clip Gabor shows his empathy for an audience member who is suffering with addictive behaviour.

Below is the full transcript of the exchange:

Audience Member (00:02):

You seem to place a lot of emphasis on trait or connecting the original trauma and how that creates, uh, the manifestations in current life and such, um, in situations where, for example, I have a lot of, um, awareness to, well, it could have been this, uh, prenatally or this at age, this happened, or this happened. And that’s what creates me to be this way or to, to respond this way. And oftentimes you can’t know, 100% for sure that that’s exactly what caused it. It could have been something else, but I guess my question is, and I’m kind of confused in it. Um, when you brought up the five beliefs that your son was asked to describe, I could identify with the not having value or feeling unsafe. And then, so my question, I guess, is when you’ve done a lot of digging and you’ve kind of identified where you’re, where these things come from, how do you instill a belief that you actually do have value if that’s a deep held belief and what ends up happening, for example, and I’m almost done is that in my addictive patterns, all say, okay, I’m participating in this, in this addiction, because at this time I did this and I can connect it all together and then I’ll say, but I don’t really care.

Audience Member (01:42):

I’m going to do it anyway and then follow through with it. So I guess the question is, how does one instill compassion for themselves? How do you change the beliefs that you’re not valuable? And

Gabor (01:56):

That makes sense. All right. So thank you for the question. How do you feel about yourself when you engage in those behaviors

Audience Member (02:06):

Poorly afterwards? But it does.

Gabor (02:08):

No. Tell me how you feel about yourself afterwards or shame. You feel shame. Okay. So you know, where self-compassion would begin, would say it would say begin by saying I’m a human being who right now having found a better way to soothe my pain. So I’m going to forgive myself. So self-compassion as a start in the present. It’s not, it’s not some trait that you acquire and then, you know, it’s actually, you have to have compassion for the person that shows up in your life right now, which is you and your addictive behavior. I have to have compassion for the person that showed up at the family dinner and behaved in a certain way, have to stay at, you know, what God worked that night. You didn’t know how else to do with your,

Gabor (03:02):

Okay, so it’s going to start in the present, you know, and you’re quite right. Simply identifying intellectually. The sources of your trauma are not sufficient. I’ve always known what happened to me, but that knowledge did not release me from the pain that takes more work. It has to begin by accepting the pain. It doesn’t matter which of those five things that happened to you or all of them committed cumulatively led to the self beliefs of yours. Um, that’s only important because otherwise you just see yourself as somehow naturally flawed or deficient or morally decrepit. And if you actually understand that, no, really, you know, not to justify anything, but those behaviors, you know, or they did come out of something. And it was my response to a kind of experience that no child should have had to endure. That’s important, but you’re quite right. That doesn’t by itself releases you from it. So you have to begin with that. Self-compassion and that’s, again, compassion needs to be for the person that you actually are. And if right now you’re that person who’s still engaging in addictive behaviors, then have compassion for that person and see what that feels like.

Gabor (04:28):

So that’s where you need to begin. And it’s not a matter of instilling any beliefs I could do affirmations till the cows come home. I’m a saw, I’m a child of God. It all may be true, but it’s meaningless, right? No. How you really, it’s not a question of instilling a belief in your own value. From another perspective, value is a natural quality that you have simply because you exist. So it’s not a question of talking yourself into having value. It’s a question of seeing what’s in the way of your, your acceptance of your value. Oh, there’s this belief that I have no value. That’s why I tried to impress that person so much with my intellect, because I believe I have no value. Oh, so that’s what that was about. So just see the way in which it shows up the belief that you have no value. And the more you can see those behaviors compassionately, the more your natural source of value, which is already in you. And by the way, how do I know that it’s in you?

Gabor (05:45):

How do I know that that natural sense of values in you? Why do you think I know that you choose to believe it? No. You showed me that. Do you know how you’re showing that? No. Who do you think asked me the question? If you didn’t value herself, why would you sit in a group of 200 strangers and ask such a courageous question, something in, you says I’m valuable enough that I don’t want all the answer to that question. I matter, I’m going to put my hand up. I’m going to speak out that part of you is your value. It’s not a theoretical thing I’m talking about. You demonstrated your value right here, where the very fact that you value yourself enough to bring yourself here tonight. You understand what I’m saying? Yes. Great. Well, thank you then. Thank you.

You can see the full interview Gabor Mate did with Rebekah Demirel on You Tube.