Bryan Callen speaking with Elliott Hulse about mental toughness

Bryan: There's something about the way you present things.  But I want to start, I want to start, with what really captured my imagination and one of the reasons I wanted to get you on the Podcast.  And that was that you were talking to a guy named umm, I can't remember his name - he was going into the military ... and he said; 'I'm worried about - Im strong, and i'm fit and i'm just worried about my mental toughness'.  And one of the things that you said that I have always talked to other people about, but not in as clear terms as you did was; mental toughness is by far something, it's a question of letting go and shutting your brain off to stories, real or imagined, about who and what you are and just being in the moment.  Maybe we can start with that as a topic because it feels like, in some ways, that's almost like the whole deal when it comes to trying to accomplish something. 

Elliott: Yea, there's such confusion about sexuality in our culture - and I say sexuality, it might seem strange that I would bring that up, but there are two animating forces in our lives.  Both personally and in the Universe.  And you know, if you go to the East they call it like the Yin-Yang and you see like half of it's black, half of it's white and has a little bit of white in the black and that contrast displays itself in all areas of our life.  When it comes to being a man right, because that's really what the question came down to with our friend was, you know, 'I'm a tough guy, but i'm gonna show up somewhere where there's a tougher guy, and he's gonna be spittin and screamin in my face, how do I man up and handle that?'  And what I asked him to do essentially, was to become more female.  Right?  Because basically I asked him to yield.  

Bryan:  I love it.  Yea.  Yea. 

Elliott: To be tough.  To be really tough, to be really strong you got to also be able to yield.  You've also got to be able to be soft.  Because how many really, really tough guys are listening right now and they're like; 'no, fuck that, there's no way.  I'm not submitting to anyone or anything'.  Well, it's your fear, that's not allowing you to do just that.  So I would say that someone who has the capacity to be a little bit more feminine, is actually stronger of a man, than someone who is way to, overly masculine.  

Bryan: And as you get older you realize, in some ways, this notion of what tough is.  Is so compartmentalized.  I always use the example of some guys can fight anybody, you know, six guys in a bar, but they can't quit a job they hate, they can't get out of a relationship that's not fulfilling, etc, etc. So, fear, courage, are umbrella terms that are very relative depending on where you are.  But I guess what I love about what you're talking about is [that] you can step out of that equation.  There is great strength in surrender.  And I love the way you couch it in male/female terms, because you're right.  That is what so many, and we have a culture that prides aggression umm, that sort of you know, esteems the notion that you're a brick wall and just batter through. - And there is a place for that in life but certainly, I don't think you can get to that next level in anything you endeavor without having more of that Yin energy, if you will, or more of that female energy, right?  You've got to just embrace it.  

Elliott: Oh, in absolutely every regard.  If you're talking in terms of training, working out or anything physical, you've got to understand that your nervous system ... what you would call your autonomic nervous system - [the] part of your nervous system that does all the shit without you having to think about it, like beating your heart and digesting your foods - is broken down in the same particular way.  There's those two halves again.  It's funny how those two halves just keep showing up.  That contrast.  You've got your Sympathetic branch of your nervous system and you have your Parasympathetic branch of that nervous system.  And the Sympathetic branch is that one that is adrenaline, that's go, harder, faster, stronger, hotter, more aggressive, more male.  And you can just imagine, look at the world that we live in.  Everybody is going harder, bigger, faster, more.  And at the same time, there's more and more disease and sickness, disfunction, depression.  And it is because we don't allow (and this is language that is going to be a bit more grounded for most of the people listening, especially if you're into fitness and exercise) we don't allow the anabolic branch of that deal to happen.  feminine, Yin, soft, yielding, resting, digesting is all more anabolic.  So, because we don't use our bodies and live our lives in a way that stimulates more growth hormone, testosterone, all of the things that build you up, which are a bi-product of letting go, we end up having to use synthetic steroids.  So all the drugs and all the disease that we're experiencing, a lot of it is do to this imbalance between Sympathetic and Parasympathetic or to much Yang, to much male, to much aggression and not enough softness. 

Episode #46 of The Bryan Callen Show podcast @ -52:22