Show #446: Rewrite your story with Owen Fitzpatrick

Show #446: Rewrite your story with Owen Fitzpatrick


Owen Fitzpatrick walks us through the tangible realities of changing our perspective and story from victim to overcomer. He shares as a psychologist, therapist, and coach, but also from his own hard story. His recent TEDx talk, “Mind Control: How to Win the War in Your Head,” has had over 50,000 views in the first month as he delivers an entertaining, yet poignant, 10-minute talk. This is foundational personal development for inspiring true performance.

[00:00] Welcome to the Ziglar Show, episode 446. Today we bring you psychologist and recent TEDx presenter Owen Fitzpatrick to talk about rewriting your story -- from victim to overcomer.

[00:13] You can’t change reality but what you can change is how to perceive reality by seeing yourself, recognizing yourself, for someone who is a hero. So, let us say, for example, you are struggling with depression; let’s say you’re broke. You see, I’m broke, poor me, that means life is unfair with me, it is the government, it is this, it is that, telling your story of why you’re broke. You are not telling the story of how you have to overcome.

[00:42] Tom Ziglar and I talk with Owen and cover some deep ground on, as Owen puts it, the war inside your head. Stay tuned, and we will dig deep to find out what truly inspires our performance.

[01:43] Hi, everyone, this is Kevin Miller, your host of The Ziglar Show. Here is another interview where Ziglar CEO Tom Ziglar said, “Kevin, I love this guy, we’ve got to have him on the show!” And, as usual…wow. This is what inspiring true performance is all about.

[02:00] A quick bio for you on Own Fitzpatrick…he’s a globetrotting psychologist from Dublin, Ireland (as if the accent doesn’t give that away…). He is the author of six books that have been translated into more than a dozen languages. He’s delivered talks and courses in more than 27 countries, helping people to understand more about how their brain works. Owen has a master’s in Applied Psychology, had his own television show, and has spoken on stage with the likes of Sir Richard Branson, Seth Godin, and Dr. Richard Bandler. He has presented lectures and talks in University College Cork, Trinity College Dublin, and the Michael Smurfitt Business School. Having traveled as far as countries such as North Korea, Rwanda and Afghanistan for his research, Owen has been fascinated with how propaganda, storytelling, and influence works.

[02:55] Co-founder of the Irish Institute of NLP, Owen has spent many years working as a therapist and corporate trainer. A trained actor and screenwriter, he has specialized in the power of stories as a tool to influence. His recent TEDx talk was an innovative and authentic combination of poetry, rap, storytelling, and science on how to win the war inside your head. [03:19] To find the talk, simply type in “Owen Fitzpatrick TED” and it will show up. You can connect with Owen at

[03:40] So, let’s get to it. Here is our interview with Owen Fitzpatrick and “The war inside your head”!

[03:49] Owen, welcome, and thank you immensely for traveling all the way from Ireland to be on The Ziglar Show!

[04:08] Owen, Tom sent your recent TEDx talk to me, “Mind Control: How to win the war in your head.” I see it posted on November 15, 2016. When I first viewed it, I think there were just a couple hundred views. As of yesterday, I saw well over 45,000. Obviously, you’ve hit a nerve. Do you feel more surprised, grateful, confirmed?

[04:37] I think what I feel is I am really glad that more and more people are seeing it, because that is the one purpose I am doing this. The actual talk, that I really want to do, is different; one I’ve never done before. The entire talk is about the inner war that we have inside our mind, when we talk to ourselves. I know I can do the typical traditional TEDx talk, telling my story or whatever the case may be, and it can reach out to many people, but I don’t feel that it can give such impact to people. So, I want to reach as many people as I can. The most important message I want to give is that you can overcome the challenge which exists inside your head, you can overcome the negative voice.

[06:08] But, Owen, the most important thing is, was there any catalyst for this specific message? And, somewhat in regards to the fact that you can be pretty vulnerable yourself, with your clients, with others, so you said that “I wanna deliver this message.”

[06:40] Yeah. I mean, the message is so important to me. You know, when I was a teenager I was suicidal, I was pretty depressed. The struggle, I mean, that so many people have faced, and I want to be open as much as possible about my struggle. At the end of the day, you know, if you truly want to reach people, you have to be yourself 100% and then you can reach so many people and the people will understand you.

[07:40] So the most important thing is when I am being impressed with someone, it is the authenticity, for example, Zig Ziglar, Tom himself. If you listen to them you will find the realness, being very straightforward, being very real, and you can feel what kind of person they are. And that makes them much easier to understand. So, I just want to be authentic and real as much as possible.

[09:00] Owen, you know one of the things that distracts me about your rhymes, when you talk about transparency, Dad and his delivering the speeches he did, whenever he had more than an hour he used to tell his story. His story of all the struggle. And I think what happens when people see that, they just dignify that because you are not that “expert” on stage who looks down, but you are a friend sitting next to them. When people come to you privately, and they know the back story about you, what is the most common question they ask you?

[10:15] Well, a lot of them want to know how did I become able to do what I am doing. For example, I am working with someone privately, they know my story, they know I used to travel, I teach people, etc., so their questions are “How did you do it? How did you overcome the depression, how did you overcome the struggling, how did you turn your life around?” What I try to emphasize to people is that there are often things which are going on behind the scene. Like, you remind me of your dad. He used to say that motivation is like a bath, you should do it every day. This is the most motivational thing about motivation I have ever heard.

[11:35] Life is a continuous set of challenges that you have to overcome, that you have to work really hard for, and you have to motivate, you have to keep yourself motivated every day. And even if you are not motivated, you still have to act in the way you see discipline.

[11:54] The message I try to get to people when they ask me how I have built a successful life, is to motivate yourself whenever you can, but discipline yourself. Once you realize it, a lot of things will be in your control. You will start to make better decisions, you will start to make things better and in ways you deserve.

[13:05] Most of the time people forget about the fact that motivation is a continuous, consistent thing, Discipline is a continuous, consistent thing.

[13:24] So, “How to win the war inside your head”? One of the most popular things we’ve ever done in this show was offer Zig Ziglar’s self-talk cards to everyone ( The testimonials are profound, at least from the small percentage who actually do them. But, it’s one thing to comprehend the benefit of speaking positive things to yourself. It seems quite another to understand and acknowledge there is a war going on in my head. If I had to guess, I’d say most people think of their minds as just…neutral. There to engage in whatever they need at the moment, but otherwise fairly static and set. Yet, you have found this to be untrue. Tell us more about the war going on inside your head.

[14:28] From my point of view, if you look into the history, if you look into the biology, you don’t have what you need to intend in here. Our brain naturally involves some negativism. Our brain gives us an aim to help us in some way to be able to survive. In order to do that, as people give negative more attention easily, worrying, feeling anxious, depressed, all of these are different strategies used by your brain to protect you in some way. The problem is, oftentimes, after some periods, it doesn’t work so well. So, if you are worrying about something, that is actually good because it reminds you of something in your future. The problem is when someone is struggling with depression, it is not that you think negatively, but you believe negatively. But at the same time there is a positive side of your brain. You need to make it louder.

[17:35] I think this war is real, it is the war for happiness; it is the war against suffering, against depression, against struggling; and I think the key is to recognize that around power.

[22:04] Negative thoughts aren’t bad or wrong; inherent purpose, but gone awry.

[22:15] Talk to ourselves, thoughts…

[22:12] Negative happens, but the point is to ask, “What can I do about it?”

[22:25] make positive voice stronger, work it out?

[22:54] Positive and negative perspectives both distort reality, but one is more useful (positive thinking won’t let you do anything, but it will let you do everything better than negative thinking will).

[24:35] Thinking about what went wrong does nothing to solve what we do next to focus on the solution. Let’s say someone is in a trap and he is listening to his negative thoughts again and again. What should he do to break that cycle?

[25:03] Well, the first thing he can do is to recognize that the inner voice is coming from that need to protect himself, the need to hide away, the need to be able to feel sorry about them. Self-pity is a form of self-love, it can make us feel better. The important thing is that you are not your thoughts and your thoughts are not going to dictate your reality. The second thing is to ask yourself different types of questions, like what can I do about this? So, asking better questions, like what can I do, what can I control? is the better solution for it.

[31:20] I asked you prior to this interview about the main message you wanted to give the Ziglar audience. Part of what you shared was influence. You said, “Influencing others. But first and foremost, influencing ourselves.”

[31:32] Again, this doesn’t feel like a normal perspective. I’d say, as humans we generally view ourselves as existing, and being influenced by what we are exposed to, good and bad. So, to say “we influence ourselves,” are you saying we choose what influences us, or we literally influence ourselves, from our own beings?

[31:58] I think I am saying both, actually.

[32:05] Behavioral economics. Our brain generalizes, which means that is great, which means we are learning rapidly, but the problem is a lot of time we generalize unnecessarily. So, when I say we influence our self, the fact is we convince our self.

[34:15] we have a need for certainty. In times past, it was life and death.

[35:05] Now, when I talk about winning a war, winning an argument over someone successfully, the best way to do that is to ask questions.

[37:14] One of the things that I heard from dad many times, and this is more of sales strategy, the prospects would say no and the worst thing you could do is to change their mind. So, what he would say is, “I don’t want you to change your mind, I want to give you some new information so that you can make a new decision.” So, in the battle or war from inside, the question we can ask ourselves is what new information can we get to make a new decision?

[38:45] Certainty. Personal development, what is healthiest and best.

[38:28] - When you prove a customer wrong, you both lose.

[39:23] - You say, “We’re convicts of our own convictions.” Are you speaking of our tendency to develop beliefs that are part of our image and security, and we close our minds?

[40:25] “Strong belief is the death of intelligence.”

[45:35] In reality, if you have a right mindset in your head, if you are not bullied by yourself, if you like yourself, if you believe in yourself, if you think a good thought about yourself, then being bullied by other people does not work in the same way.

[55: 48] You can’t change reality, but what you can change is how to perceive reality by seeing yourself, recognizing yourself for someone who is being a hero. So, let us say, for example, you are struggling with depression; let’s say you’re broke. “You see, I’m broke; poor me, that means life is unfair with me, it is the government, it is this, it is that,” telling your story of why you’re broke. You are not telling the story of how you have to overcome.

[56:40] So you started to position yourself as a hero of the story. You see, you change your life more by the way you perceive it. If you create a new story, then you can start to believe it.

Not the victim or monster, be the hero and you’ll find a more useful meaning than the voice in your mind. No more begging. Be strong instead. The king is back and will reign, the Connor McGregor of your head. You’re back in charge of your brain.

[58:40] Let us go back in time 10 years ago, and it was 2007. Dad had fallen down the stairs. He gets his brain bleeds, he was in the hospital, he got short-term memory loss (which memory never came back). After a couple of days in the hospital, the doctor came and looked him in the eye and said, “Zig, you really need to think about what you are gonna do because the way you used to speak, you are not gonna be able to do that again. You might consider retiring.” Dad smiled at him and said, “I still have something to say, we just have to come up with another way to say it.” At that point, Dad was working on a book. That book got shelved and a new book came after that, called Embrace the Struggle.