Jay Shetty is grateful for his podcast guests who come and share their experiences to help us all understand that we’re not alone on our journey.
By listening to them, we can learn from their experiences and the transitions they’ve experienced.
Lili Reinhart is an actor, executive producer, and author. In addition to her acting career, she authored Swimming Lessons, a collection of poems. Furthermore, apart from her artistic path, she is an activist for mental health and body image and uses her platform to raise awareness of these fundamental issues.
In today’s episode, she opens up about her experience with anxiety growing up and how she is coping with panic attacks.
When starting out as an actress, Reinhart had to work various jobs to support herself and her dream. She tapped into careers ranging from hostess at a restaurant and bakery employee, to sales associate. Nothing came to her on a silver plate. Reinhart had to work hard to arrive where she is today. However, she quit a few jobs because she suffered a panic attack on the first day.
Her anxiety stemmed from the thought of working all these jobs instead of pursuing her dream acting career. “So the anxiety was like, don’t have money, need it, have crippling anxiety and can’t hold a job, but I need a job. So it was very, very isolating.”
Whenever she found herself in a problematic situation that triggered her anxiety and panic attacks, she always found comfort in talking to her mother, who has been her pillar in times of uncertainty.
Living with Anxiety
Jay Shetty can relate to her anxiety story – he also felt out of place upon his return from the monastery. In addition, he found it tough to re-learn social skills, which was a hurdle in finding and keeping a job.
“When you start judging yourself, and you start causing pain towards yourself verbally, or you become internally abusive towards yourself […] you start comparing yourself to siblings and partners or whoever else, the family that’s in your life,” Jay Shetty added.
The body feels panic attacks, which are a physical manifestation of emotions. For Reinhart, her strong desire to become an actress was the one thing that kept her going. Meanwhile, she started looking for a job she could tolerate, rather than one she hated, to avoid having panic attacks.
Jay Shetty admires the actress’ candidness about her struggles. It is easy to look at her now and think she has high confidence because she is an accomplished artist, and things come effortlessly to her.
How It Began
Reinhart began the struggle with anxiety when she was eleven years old and felt very misunderstood. As no apparent external factor was causing her stress, she often felt lonely.
The actress started therapy to exit the constant fight or flight mode, which impacted her everyday life and activities. Reinhart felt that, “You’re not really taking in your surroundings or really living; you’re just surviving.”
She remembers her strong aversion to going to school because she dreaded being surrounded by people for eight hours straight and begged her parents to let her be homeschooled. She was not living in the moment. Instead, she was on a constant countdown, always rushing through life.
Jay Shetty stressed that one of the tricky things about mental health is that it’s not tangible and it feels invisible. So when you can’t see and understand it, it is difficult to grasp why others might feel overwhelmed, anxious, depressed, etc.
It is essential that parents, he explained, understand the extent of mental health and the needs that their children may have, even if, to them, there isn’t any real issue.
Seeking Professional Support
Deep inside, Reinhart still felt like her sentiments were not appropriate or justified despite the support system around her. Growing up, she learned not to cry because there was no need. But now, she has come to realize crying is “the most beautiful thing you can do.”
She encourages people to let out their emotions without shame because this is the healthiest expression of our feelings. There is no need to justify them to anyone.
As a child, she felt isolated and lonely because nobody around her could understand how and why she felt a certain way. There were not as many resources as there are today and mental health was not exactly a topic of discussion. She is thankful for the shift in our society that allows people to speak up about their mental health issues and find support in others rather than pity and judgment.
Jay Shetty emphasized that telling others to suppress their need to cry is a toxic habit. We learn to block whatever emotion would cause us to weep, but we wouldn’t do that with any other feeling. Crying will make us feel better, and there is no shame in it.
Feel All the Feelings
Lili Reinhart has been on a spiritual awakening path in the last years that helped her understand herself better. Her most significant takeaway from this journey was “how vital it is to sit with your feelings and experience them.” This taught her to allow herself to feel all the feelings without any judgment.
It is humbling to experience the euphoria love brings and the excruciating pain brought by loss. However, she learned to appreciate her ability to feel the entire spectrum of emotions and accept that all these feelings can co-exist within a person.
It is essential to accept these emotions, Reinhart stressed, because people come and go during our lifetime. Allowing ourselves to feel both joy and sorrow makes transitions seem like a normal part of life, which they are. Jay Shetty added that he was grateful for the unpleasant emotions because it meant he was lucky enough to experience good feelings.
Learn to Enjoy the Present
If you search online for what to do after a loss, the main suggestion is to pick up a new hobby, a distraction, a new thing to empty the gap. The true challenge is being able to distinguish your identity without the help of external influencing factors, Jay Shetty explained. Acting precisely just to “fit in” only augments the feelings of loneliness and anxiety.
Reinhart is currently trying to re-balance her body and mind and to “just simply exist” without feeling the urge to fill a void. She learned to embrace the absence of things to do, to sit in stillness, and enjoy the present moment.
The main question she asks on this journey is, “How do I find serenity, acceptance, and peace without running away from myself?” The actress still finds it hard to be by herself, without the need for external stimuli; to feel whole.
Jay Shetty warns the listeners that acknowledging and implementing these changes and listening to our bodies, is not an easy task.
Who Am I?
The next step on the healing journey is to create a new identity built on these realizations. Reinhart decided she didn’t want to live in the shadow of others’ expectations but rather, to be true to herself. It is easy to express who you are to others within the framework of their idea for your life, but when that is taken away, people often have trouble describing who they are.
Jay Shetty remembers his journey of discovering his true identity after leaving monkhood. He had to allow himself to learn about who he was beyond his identity as a monk.
“It’s hard to let go of the false identity because it’s a sense of safety.”
On his journey of finding himself, Jay Shetty realized it was a never-ending search “because there’s nothing to look for, there are only things to be and create.”
Finding vs. Creating Your Identity
When he embarked on the creative journey, it dawned on Jay Shetty that everything he built was based on values inherited from his family, friends, or society. Pondering and assessing this set of values led to him creating a whole new list of values and principles by which he wanted to live.
“And that’s how I started to create and be my new identity, rather than subscribing to an old one.”
Reinhart agrees. It isn’t easy to become a new person or part ways with who you’ve been for your entire life. Yet, it is all about making conscious decisions instead of succumbing to who you used to be. Her advice is to distance yourself from the “that’s how I’ve always done it” mindset and build new habits more aligned with your newly created values.
Jay Shetty added: “We’re simply living patterns […] Trying to figure out who we are is a fool’s errand because you just keep getting stuck.”
It is a journey full of hurdles and distractions, but you need to find the creative energy within yourself to become who we want to be. It is vital to admit the transformation is in your hands and you have the choice to live a different life.
The Spiritual Aspect of Healing
To Reinhart, her healing journey was spiritual, as she did soul searching. Along the way, she leveraged the power of crystals, Reiki therapy, sound healing, and meditation to understand who she was and connect with her higher self.
Spirituality is an extensive topic that encompasses different practices. Each individual needs to find what works for them and keep an open mind when trying to find their way. There might be parts that don’t work for you and other elements that bring you one step closer to finding your true self.
Jay Shetty shared that for him, a pilgrimage to thousands of years old temples in Southern India was a profoundly healing experience. Similarly, Reinhart found a connection to the spiritual world in Los Angeles where she could meet various types of healers. She also stumbled across TikToks which talked about spirituality, and found a mentor to guide her on her journey.
Jay Shetty remembers when he decided to become a monk. Most people around him couldn’t understand his drive and need for a different life than a mundane, regular young man. But this choice was necessary to him, and he stood by his decision.
Furthermore, Jay Shetty expressed his belief that exploring various means is a way to find yourself, as long as you are not harming yourself or anyone else. In his view, we are all exposed to the same type of information, and we can only grow further if we sometimes stray from the path and try out at least one less common track.
In her new movie, Look Both Ways,Reinhart plays the character of a woman living two different lives in parallel worlds. It is a “perseverance story,” as she described it, where the main character doesn’t lose herself along the way.
Change is Possible
In Jay Shetty’s opinion, the self-finding journey is based on the idea that you can be multiple things during one life. Many people try to live by one single truth and, in this way, limit their potential for new experiences and feelings.
Dietary change was also a big part of Jay Shetty’s life when he suffered from gut issues. He needed to ground himself and tune into the changes that were happening to his body.
Recent studies show depression is linked to gut issues, and food is essential in fixing these body malfunctions. It is a process of reprogramming destructive patterns and educating yourself to pick up healthy ones instead.
Jay Shetty explained that it is a slow, constant process you must follow daily. Changing your lifestyle doesn’t happen overnight, but it is achievable. The most important thing to remember is to stay open-minded and refrain from judging yourself.
Lili Reinhart’s end goal is to find happiness and peace with herself, and she firmly believes once you start the journey, you will never stop growing. To her, it is an open end with no finish line.
More From Jay Shetty
Listen to the entire On Purpose with Jay Shetty podcast episode on “Living With Anxiety & Giving Yourself Permission to Feel All of Your Emotions” now in the iTunes store or on Spotify. For more inspirational stories and messages like this, check out Jay’s website at jayshetty.me.