“Emotions can be addictive”

“Emotions can be addictive”
“Emotions can be addictive”

Carlos Jaramillo attends to Clarion in the middle of a move. He is surrounded by boxes in his house in California, which he will leave the next day to move to another one in the same neighborhood. It is said that moving is one of the most stressful situations in a person’s life, so the subject of the interview, and the way the Colombian doctor answers it, is, at least, curious.

With headphones on, Jaramillo moves between boxes. Or he sits in front of the Zoom screen and looks at a point on the horizon, thinking about what he is going to answer. Relaxed, all the time.

A specialist in functional medicine, he has just launched his third book, Anti-Stress (Editorial Planeta), in which he sets out his strategy for attacking the malaise of the times. It can be summed up in the title: “I stop, breathe, observe and restart”.

“No, I don’t get stressed out. I take care of it,” he answers when asked if he isn’t stressed out about moving. And he repeats the well-known phrase that “if there’s something I can’t control, I don’t worry about it because it’s not under my control, and if it’s under my control, I don’t worry about it either.”

Jaramillo (40) was born in Colombia. He is a surgeon, who did his internship at the Yale School of Medicine and completed a postgraduate degree in biochemistry and physiology at Harvard University. Fourteen years ago, meningitis nearly killed him. He spent 40 days in hospital and came out convinced that the medicine he had embraced until then did not have all the answers.

Today he is a celebrity: his first book, “The Metabolic Miracle”, was on the Colombian bestseller list for three years. And it is a star on the networks: On Instagram he is followed by almost two million people and his YouTube channel has 4.5 million subscribers.

In his third book (he also wrote Co-Mo, focused on nutrition), Jaramillo dedicates 175 pages to biologically explaining what happens in our body with stress and assures that An emotion can have such an impact that it can lead to addiction.. On many other pages, he will propose his solutions. But he himself clarifies: “Anyone who wants to sell you a formula against stress is a charlatan at a fair.”

Colombian doctor Carlos Jaramillo. Photo courtesy of Editorial Planeta

–How would you define stress in one sentence?

–I’ll give you the least scientific one, but the one that seems best to me. It’s like the shock absorber in cars. It’s something that’s there and, when you apply a weight on it, it tries to return the pressure that you’re applying to it. It’s made to withstand a certain level, but if you put more weight on it than you can put on it, either acutely or chronically, there comes a point where it gets damaged and doesn’t respond well.

–Are we more stressed today than before?

–I have no way of knowing, it’s so subjective… Thirty years ago there was no Internet and stress was generated by the news, by not knowing about the elections while they were doing the manual counting… Today everything is fast, before you called by phone, they didn’t answer you and nothing happened. Today there is an excess of access.

–Do social media stress us out?

–If I’m a consumer and I want to get stressed, it’s the same as the lady who went to mass twice a day or went to the club to hear her friends’ gossip. Those who share content, which are millions of people, are much more exposed to stress because anyone can come in and criticize with the worst. I have been through that hell many times, and there are days that are easier and others that are more difficult.

–But there are more external stressors.

–Yes. The ice cream that our grandparents ate was a single-serving ice cream. ice cream shop made with natural strawberry, cream and egg yolk and would spoil if not consumed within three days.

–Of all this combo that we have today, is poor nutrition the one that has the most impact?

–It’s so relative… I know people who eat impeccably but are obsessive and don’t leave their house and live in anguish, and others who live a relaxed life and don’t realize that they are stressing their body with food. The two largest entrances that human beings have, which are the mouth and the mind, are the most stressful.

–In the book you talk about addiction to emotions. Can you explain a little more about this?

–Have you seen Inside Out 2? It’s a masterpiece. Human beings have basic primitive emotions, those from the first film, from which secondary emotions are built. You get anxious about what you can’t control and what you can’t control scares you. When you have a basic emotion about an event, the stronger the event, the stronger the emotion is anchored in your memory. That combination generates a feeling. Feelings are much more elaborate because they bring a social construction. That forms my personality in the unconscious and forms the ego, which is what distances us from innocence.

Human beings have a part of their personality that comes from their parents, but another part is formed by us and changes throughout life. But we cling to the belief that “I am like this, it is my personality.” And if there is something we love, and we become addicted to, it is suffering. In the religious community, we come here to suffer for a promise of absolute joy. We have to suffer to get love, at work we suffer to get wealth. In Colombia you ask someone “How are you doing?” and they answer “Getting by, you know.” “But I see you well,” “Yes, I am fine, but you know, the economy is suffering here.” Or we are worried about what is happening in Ukraine. It is one thing to feel compassion, but another to suffer.

–A compulsive gambler, for example, can be banned from entering a gambling hall. How does one detox from the addiction to suffering?

–There’s a really bad joke that goes, “I found my wife with another guy on the living room couch. Solution: I’m selling the couch.” When I’m addicted to gambling, the problem isn’t gambling. I’ve developed an addictive personality. It’s the personality that needs to be changed. At every moment of your life, you should be willing to give up your personality if you’re not comfortable with who you are.

In Alcoholics Anonymous they will never talk about the alcohol problem because the problem is not in the substance, but in the belief that led them to that. “I was driving, I didn’t realize, I reversed and ran over my dog, every time I think about my dog ​​I go to drink. I stop going to the bar because I have serious consequences from the guilt.” Since nobody taught you to manage your beliefs, you go through life… If you are 40 years old and you blame everyone because your father hit you when you were five, it is your decision because you are not able to accept that you are making bad decisions.

–How did you make that change to let go of guilt?

–Ufff… I was hyper-mega Catholic… Did you see “Silence”, the Scorsese film? Explain in another way what happened to me. I went to Japan and with Buddhism I discovered another path, of philosophy, of self-management and self-knowledge, not of guilt or suffering. I take care of myself and I manage myself.

–In your book you say that there is no formula for stress, but you do list a series of tips. If you had to choose one, what would it be?

–The only way out of stress, anguish, and prolonged sadness, The number one recommendation is to put order in your life. Companies are audited, and so is life. Ask them to review your diet, get blood tests, see if your thyroid is not working properly, if you are not sleeping, if you fill your body with toxins, it will interact badly. A low dose of this, this and that is a phenomenal cocktail.

Like a rockstar, Jaramillo has almost two million followers on Instagram. Photo courtesy of Editorial Planeta

In his book, Jaramillo lists Seven Pillars of Well-Being which, he says, must be maintained precisely to put that order. They are food, exercise, meditation, sleep, relationships, habits and saying goodbye to toxins (whether substances or people). But for him, first things first, most important thingsis to see “how I relate internally to myself and from my interior to my exterior.”

“If I have a problem with alcohol, it is my problem. I may have a problem with my interpretation of traffic. Or I may have the worst boss in the world and that is also my problem. Everything that I am not able to accept only shows me a mental limitation of mine. We love to fill ourselves with mental limitations. We love to fill ourselves with rules because we are not able to manage the relationship with my beliefs,” he says.

He argues that accepting that “stress is yours,” which has to do with the way we relate to the world (why, for example, we get hooked on the boss’s mistreatment) is the first step to manage it.

–And how did you achieve it?

–It is not easy. It is a path, a life process, it is not “one, two, three, I got rid of stress”, that is the world of one-size-fits-all things that they want to sell you. When I began this personal process, I tried to evangelize people who were previously suffering that there is no need, we can become masters of ourselves. With many we have a good memory of the friendship we had over the years, but their beliefs remain the same and mine have changed. I am still on this path of renouncing my personality.

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