Ep. 5: Jodi Hildebrandt: The Counterfeit of Connection

Ken Krogue: Hello everybody! This is Ken Krogue and Thom Harrison with the Eternal Core podcast. We’re excited today to have Jodi Hildebrandt. She’s got a massive podcast of 500,000 people! So we said, “Look, we want to be on your show next time,” but for now, she’s on our show. She’s remote, so you’re gonna see her dialing in through Skype on one of our separate videos here. Welcome Jodi. Thanks for joining us.

Jodi Hildebrandt: Thank you, Ken.

Ken Krogue: It’s exciting to have you here with us Jodi. Thanks for your willingness to come on.

Jodi Hildebrandt: Thank you.

Ken Krogue: Now, I understand we had a meeting at a local Chuck-A-Rama a little while ago to talk through this auspicious day. Wow, you’ve got some amazing things—an organization called Connexions. Can you tell us a bit about it and how you got involved with all that?

Jodi Hildebrandt: Yeah. So, Connexions kind of was created over a period of about 15 years. And the last about five or six years I decided to change the name of my company from Sunrise Counseling to Connexions, because I started learning some principles about how to actually connect myself to God and teach other people how to connect. So that’s when I switched over to the name of Connexions.

Ken Krogue: Wonderful. Now how in the world did you get into podcasting and have this many followers? I want to know. I’m taking notes here. How’d you do all this? This is pretty cool.

Jodi Hildebrandt: Well, you know what, I lay in bed at night and think I’m not quite sure how I got here. I was spiritually prompted to have a radio show one day, quote unquote, and I knew nobody in radio. So, I went to a family member and said, “I need to start teaching people on a massive scale these principles of connection, and I need to get in touch with somebody in radio.” And he said to me, “Well, why don’t you have a podcast?” And I never even heard of that word podcast before. And I said, “What is it?” And he said, “Well, podcasts go to the whole world, it’s on the Internet.” And I said, “That is what I need right there.” I went out to southern Utah, where I was living at the time, and took a little microphone and stood in the desert and recorded my first podcast. It’s gone from there, all word of mouth.

Ken Krogue: You just did it. When was that roughly Jodi?

Jodi Hildebrandt: What’s that?

Ken Krogue: When did you do that? How long has it been?

Jodi Hildebrandt: Started that in the summer of 2014.

Thom Harrison: Wow.

Ken Krogue: Wow, that’s impressive.

Thom Harrison: So did you have any lizards join your first podcast out there in the desert?

Jodi Hildebrandt: No, but a few little gusts of wind. I got some red dirt in my mouth. Other than that, I was pretty much alone. I just said, “I don’t even know what I’m doing here. Let me just teach you a principle I’ve learned over the past couple of years” and just started from teaching the principle of control and how control is so destructive inside relationships.

Thom Harrison: Always.

Jodi Hildebrandt: Yes, always.

Thom Harrison: And so many people seem to think that that’s the only way to have a relationship is to have that element of control. But, little do they know, that they’re destroying it right when it enters in.

Jodi Hildebrandt: That’s exactly right. Well that is the counterfeit of connection. I’d call it disconnect. So there’s two paths, there’s a connected path and there is a disconnected path. And every choice we make either goes down a path of connection, or a path that disconnects. So you’re right. Every time control enters, they are actively disconnecting with each other and themselves.

Thom Harrison: Well, it stops that eternal flow, and anytime you control it, it’s just like strangling that eternal flow. What you’re doing is you’re actually stopping connections, eliminating. But I think so many people think that if they don’t control it, then something horrible will happen. No, it’s the opposite. When you stop controlling, then wonderful things start to happen.

Jodi Hildebrandt: Exactly right. Exactly right.

Ken Krogue: So what were some of the first principles that you pulled together that had the most impact as you were focusing on connections. Teach us two or three of the things that would help us, you know, even today, do better with our own connections. Do you mind?

Jodi Hildebrandt: Yeah, you bet. So, again, this all came very slowly. What I started realizing was that people were not willing, and I wouldn’t call that humble, to be honest and responsible for themselves. So, over the course of probably five years, I figured out that connection is an outcome. Connection is governed by living three principles I’ve learned. You must be rigorously responsible, you must be impeccably honest, and you must be vulnerably humbled. As you learn what those principles mean, and then you choose to live those principles, you will have the outcome of connection. It cannot be controlled. Connection is this byproduct of living in what I call truth.

Jodi Hildebrandt: So I started learning about that when I first started my internship. After I got out of school, I did the school thing, got my license, didn’t have a clue what I was doing, but I faked it really well. That probably was helpful for me, because I was humbled. I was open, I was constantly saying, “Oh my gosh, I don’t know what I’m doing.”

Thom Harrison: Well, allowing it to come slowly, as you said it came slowly, and being open and being vulnerable allows those things to happen. I think a lot of people are frightened of that, but again, that is what allows it to happen. That vulnerability.

Jodi Hildebrandt: Absolutely. That’s exactly how I experienced it. And it happened so slowly that I didn’t even realize that I was being taught from heaven. My first client, where I practiced these principles, was an alcoholic and a drug addict. He was a multimillionaire, very powerful man, and nobody confronted him. I was, you know, late twenties, early thirties. I was nobody in his world, and he was in treatment. I remember him becoming very angry one day and going off on his wife and his children and blaming everybody in his life for his problems. And I heard very clearly in my mind, “Confront him.” And I was like, “Oh no, he’s really mad. I don’t think that’ll be good.” And it was again, “Confront him.” So I don’t remember exactly what I said to him, but I followed that guidance, and I remember him sitting back. I said something along the lines of like, “All right, yeah, you’ve had a hard life and yeah, this and this and this happened, and your wife loves you, and you have three children at home” and you know.

Jodi Hildebrandt: I just started speaking truth to him and he sat back and was silent after I got done. And I thought, “Oh my gosh, what did I just do? I’m going to get fired.” And he looked at me and said, “How dare you?” And I said, “That’s the truth. What you were speaking was not the truth, that is the truth.” I stood my position and my supervisor came in about 30 minutes later and she goes, “Jodi, I don’t know you.” And she said, “But you’re going to be a really good therapist.” said a few expletives to me. And she said, “And don’t do that again, like, don’t confront people like that again, because they’re really upset and he wants you fired.” But, that’s where it all started. And to tell you, five years later I got an email from that man and he said, “Jodi, no one had ever confronted me in my life like that.” And he said, “And that’s why I was sick. You were the only one that had the guts to tell me the truth. And that is why I got well.” And I said, “Well, you were nasty and you were mean, and you scared me.” And he’s like, “Thank you for loving me enough to tell me the truth. You always were honest with me.”

Thom Harrison: And ye shall know the truth. And the truth will set you free.

Jodi Hildebrandt: Yes, that’s exactly right. So I’ve had hundreds of experiences since then. Since then, I feel very empowered to speak truth to people because I watch people’s lives heal, get connected.

Ken Krogue: Wow. Well, the thesis of our community that we’re pulling together as you know, Jodi, is what we call Eternal Core. And our goal is to explore God-centric mental health. Now, there’s been some really fun insights recently with us as we’ve been talking about what does Eternal Core mean? And I was going to see if Thom wouldn’t mind to just take a minute and share a couple of principles. Then, let’s talk through several of them, if we could. I mean even the first two, because I’ve just been through this process myself coming back from a massive car accident in a head on collision at 55 miles an hour that completely took me out of the game. And it was these principles, I had tried everything else, and we now have a good name. We call it Eternal Core. Do you mind just jumping in for a minute, Thom?

Thom Harrison: Well, I know that Jodi understands these things, you know. The first one is “I” versus the “I am.” And you know, so many people get so caught up in that structure of it’s all about me, and it’s all about my needs, and you better be meeting my needs and moving out of that control, narcissistic, egocentric structure into I am, which is help me, teach me who I am, help me see the larger me, help me see what’s going on. And I think you just explained that with your example. This guy was so caught up in the “I” and so everybody was bowing to the “I” that no one would call him out on it. And you called him out on it, and he became angry, and tried to use all of his control and power to get you fired. And then nobody fired you. So I guess he thought, “Well, she’s my therapist. Maybe I have something to learn here.” Any comment on that one?

Jodi Hildebrandt: Yeah, that’s true. I hadn’t looked at it from that angle, but that is true. I just felt fear. I mean I really didn’t know what I was doing other than I followed guidance, and I knew that I was speaking the truth. I believe that when you speak the truth, you’re connected. So I didn’t have all the pieces together at that point, but I knew that what he was saying was at some level creating sickness in him. Then I also watched so many people literally bow to him because of his power and his, you know, his prestige.

Thom Harrison: So reinforcing that “I” structure.

Jodi Hildebrandt: Absolutely. And you know, I worked at a treatment center where there were movie stars and people flew in on private jets and that didn’t animate anything in me. I didn’t really… I mean they were sick. He’s like, “Do you know who I am?” And I was like, “No, I know you’re sick. Do you want some help?” So it helped. It helped that I was not in that “I” with them. And as I continued to work with that population, it was the same presentation over and over and over and over again—that arrogance, that entitlement, that false sense of power and importance when really they were just hurting, and they were scared, and they were lost. They barked really loud, but they didn’t have any structure foundation.

Thom Harrison: Jodi refused to join him in that “I” structure and by doing that, that alone creates a modeling, which starts to change. It starts modeling that connection where then they think, “Oh wow, this is a different connection. I am vulnerable here. I’m not used to being this vulnerable. I’m used to making everybody else vulnerable.”

Jodi Hildebrandt: That’s right. Scared.

Thom Harrison: The second process that we really hold true to at Eternal Core is the idea of the three-act play—that we were something before we came here. We are going through this process now, and this isn’t all there is. There is something else out there. There are these three-act structures. What do you think of that concept, Jodi?

Jodi Hildebrandt: Absolutely, I agree with that completely. And what it does is it helps myself (I like the word model) model for the people who come to me for help. That this is just an experience that they’re having, and it’s not personal. This life experience, it’s not personal. It just is an opportunity for them to practice choosing. They start choosing, and here’s some more principles that I have learned along my journey.

Thom Harrison: I love that. Practicing choice, practicing choosing. That’s beautiful. Please, go ahead.

Jodi Hildebrandt: So I’ve started realizing that there are only two paths in life. There is truth, which is honest, responsible, humble, and there’s distortion. Now, distortion came to me. I heard that in my mind, distorting the truth, and I was like, “Ooh.” And I just turned it into a noun, distortion. So you were either choosing truth or you’re choosing distortion.  Just like you’re choosing connection or you’re choosing disconnection. We’re making thousands of decisions every single day, because God grants us experience. And inside of our experience, there is what I call inevitable pain and then there’s optional pain. Optional pain is another word for distortion. Inevitable pain is called truth. But we as humans, because we’re kind of pansies, we don’t like pain. We always move away from pain. Pain is actually a very powerful concept, because it teaches us about oppositional force.

Jodi Hildebrandt: So if I can empower my clients to understand that their choice is the thing that is motivating them to go one way or the other, then they feel a sense of strength and power and capability to heal themselves. Quite frankly, because, it is “I” that is proceeding onto the experience and choosing which direction I go with every choice, every single one of them. So there’s no space for enabling. There’s no space for blaming. There’s no space for shame, which is another word for distortion. There is no place for it, because I can choose to not buy into that stuff, which I just think is well, Wonderful.

Thom Harrison: I think so many people think that psychology and therapy and psychiatry and mental health practice, that there are these secret difficult concepts. But, everyone that I’ve ever interacted with, like you, who has a successful program and a successful practice, has been able to bring it down to these very simple concepts that just most people don’t do. You know, most people don’t think of these very simple constructs and concepts, which change lives.

Jodi Hildebrandt: Yes. Yes, it is very simple, and it is very challenging to see it happen in your own life. I was just talking to a guy the other day and he said, “My goodness, I sat in group, and you were helping so-and-so see control in his life, and I saw it. And I could see it, and it was so clear. And then, an hour later in my own session, I couldn’t see it with my wife. What is wrong with me?” And I said, “There’s nothing wrong with you. You’re just not used to looking at yourself that closely. You could see him because he was outside you.”

Thom Harrison: Right.

Jodi Hildebrandt: But you have to be vulnerable.

Thom Harrison: There are those blinders that come on when we’re dealing with self, because it’s much easier to say, “It’s my wife’s problem” instead of looking at what we’re doing—contributing and moving into the complicity of those negative processes.

Ken Krogue: I was just gonna say, where’s your audience primarily focused? Is it couples? Is it parents? Is it individuals? Is it people challenged with addictions? I mean, where do you spend most of your time focusing?

Jodi Hildebrandt: Yeah. Well, I started with addictions. When I left my internship, I opened up my private practice, and that’s predominantly who was referred to me, were people with addictions. And I, at the beginning thought, in order to help somebody with a drug problem that was different than helping somebody with an eating disorder or somebody who was a gambler. Then I started realizing, through these principles, that all of these addictions all had these common principles at play. So then I started treating all addictions. Then I started realizing that, “Oh my goodness, this is actually for everyone.” Every single human is struggling with understanding the power of choice, and these two paths that are clearly outlined, and the fear of feeling inevitable pain. And that inevitable pain, it is a good thing—it’s a teacher. So I started out with addictions, and now it’s kind of opened up to an audience of men, women and children.

Ken Krogue: Wow. So you started in a focused, specific area, but your principles were universal. I mean you’re talking about truth and agency, right?

Jodi Hildebrandt: Yes.

Ken Krogue: Wow.

Jodi Hildebrandt: Yes, and how truth and agency frees slash connects the human soul.

Ken Krogue: You sort of walked us through a bit of a case study already with the millionaire and confronting him with hopefully the truth. What does it normally look like? What are the milestones as you’re working with someone, you know? What do you do first roughly? What do they have to realize first? Is there sort of a common pathway or is it all over the map?

Jodi Hildebrandt: My lights just went out.

Thom Harrison: Yes, we’re getting this very eerie look of you. You look like you’ve just moved into a tunnel there.

Ken Krogue: Wow.

Jodi Hildebrandt: Goodness. My whole house just went dark.

Ken Krogue: I’ve had lots of things happen on podcasts, but… We can still see you by the way.

Thom Harrison: We can still see you. Your teeth are illuminating you. Yeah, I wish I was down there with my very strong flashlight. I would be shining it at you.

Jodi Hildebrandt: I’ll tell you. I always wonder. I have really interesting things happen when I start speaking these principles, especially if it’s going to get out to a big audience.

Thom Harrison: Well, the darkness always wants to show its supremacy doesn’t it?

Jodi Hildebrandt: It does.

Thom Harrison: It always says, “Ah, watch, I’m going to do something here”

Ken Krogue: “Let me show you what I can do.”

Thom Harrison: This is kind of fun, because we’re getting this real time, you know. This is fun. Yeah, go ahead, continue talking about light, maybe it will change the other side. We only have five minutes left, so we’re going to continue this even with you in the dark.

Ken Krogue: This will be a record right here. This will be one of our favorite episodes, I promise.

Jodi Hildebrandt: This will go down in the archives.

Thom Harrison: This is when Jodi went into the darkness.

Ken Krogue: What was our question? I don’t even remember our question.

Jodi Hildebrandt:   I do. So you want to know what I do first or what’s my…

Ken Krogue: Yeah, what’s the pathway look like?

Jodi Hildebrandt: Yeah. So what I do is, when someone is interested in working with me, is I will just take, you know, an hour, hour and a half and just hear where they’ve been. And most people come in with numerous diagnoses, and I just listen to their history. I ask lots of questions, gather information. What I’m listening for is their distortion in comparison to how much truth they understand. Then I just put in my mind. I put all the diagnosis stuff over here and all the therapy and I put it over here to the side, and I just start teaching them. I start teaching them about what impeccable honesty is, what rigorous responsibility looks like, and about vulnerable humility. So, by the time they leave a 50-minute session, or an hour and half session, they have concrete tools that they can use against their own distortion. Then we just start from there.

Ken Krogue: That’s beautiful.

Thom Harrison: That’s beautiful.

Ken Krogue: What’s their usual first challenge? Where do they start pushing back like this wealthy guy? I mean, I’m probably asking crazy questions.

Thom Harrison: Well he pushed back and said, “I’m going to get you fired.” I am glad he was not successful Jodi.

Jodi Hildebrandt: Thank you, me too. So the pushback is several sessions down the road when we have a little bit more safety between the two of us. Then I start going after their distortions, because they like hiding behind their distortions, like “I can’t” or “This is too hard” or you know, “I’ve been clinically depressed for 20 years, and that’s just the way I am.” So I start really digging at those distortions and pushing on them. And the people who are afraid to not take responsibility, they’re the ones that push back. People who are in pain and they want solutions, they welcome this stuff. It’s like, you know, the Hallelujah chorus when I start teaching them, because they immediately recognize truth. They’re like, “That makes so much sense.” And, “Oh my goodness, why has nobody ever told me this before?” And, “That’s a simple as this is?” I’m like, “Well, it’s simple in theory, just get home and start practicing it. You’re gonna see how hard it is.” And yes, it is simple, but that’s usually the people that push back or the people who do not want to take responsibility for themselves. And they’ll either work through it, or they’ll leave, they’ll self deport, which is fine. I’m not interested in working with people who don’t want to change.

Ken Krogue: Love it.

Thom Harrison: Yeah. That can become very fatiguing, can’t it?

Jodi Hildebrandt: Yes, it can.

Thom Harrison: Jodi, we appreciate so much your willingness to speak at the conference on September 29. Excuse me, it’s not September. It’s March 29th and 30th at the Little America in Salt Lake City, Utah. But I’m sure that many people after hearing this will move to your podcast. Tell us where they can find that. Where can they locate you?

Jodi Hildebrandt: The website name is connexionsclassroom.com.

Thom Harrison: connexionsclassroom.com. Jodi.

Ken Krogue: Now, it’s spelled a little differently, right?

Jodi Hildebrandt: It’s spelled with an x in the middle, but you can get there either way.

Thom Harrison: Oh, connection with an x in the middle or get there anyway. Thank you so much for your willingness to come on today. And may you have more light in your home.

Ken Krogue: We already know that you have it in your life.

Thom Harrison: Yes, you have it in your life. May the lights come back on for you.

Jodi Hildebrandt: Yes, I will go find out what’s going on.

Ken Krogue: This is one for our record books. Thanks Jodi, we sure appreciate you. Bye Bye.

Jodi Hildebrandt: Bye.

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