15 Nov Wes Chapman | Overcoming Trauma & Finding Self-Worth
This week, Mitch talks with Wes Chapman, the Founder of A HUMAN PROJECT. Wes is also recipient of Apple’s “App of the Year” award multiple times and consultant to Fortune 500 companies. Plus, he holds patents on numerous medical devices. In the episode, they discuss how Wes was able to take the trauma of his childhood and turn it into something that would fuel his success. More importantly, they talk about how he’s learned to shut down the cycle of abuse and negativity to live a loving, fulfilling incredibly fruitful and peaceful life with his wife and their kiddos.
As someone who attempted suicide 12 times before the age of 16, Wes Chapman knows all about trauma and overcoming it. Chapman believes that human beings are capable of overcoming any challenge if they understand their inherent self-worth and move forward in that understanding. He’s the founder of A Human Project, which gathers the greatest minds to find creative, scalable solutions to global issues in education, health, and society.
Time-Stamped Show Notes
- [01:50] Introduction and background of Wes Chapman.
- [04:20] Snapshot of Chapman’s daily life.
- [06:30] Chapman’s favorite aspects of the back-to-school season.
- [09:01] Chapman’s childhood.
- [16:35] Shifting your thinking and self-worth.
- [26:00] Practical tips to reprogram the brain.
- [32:51] Self-worth.
- [37:27] Your brain is a highway.
- [43:43] Overcoming pre-conditioned feelings.
- [53:50] We’re chemical beings.
HOW ABOUT YOU?
Listen in and let us know what stood out to you from Wes’s story and the strategies he offers. Comment below and share your thoughts. I’d love to hear from you!
Keep bringing your awesome.
Now… here are some show notes from today’s episode too!
Wes Chapman’s childhood was fraught with trauma. He endured alcohol abuse in the womb and at three months old was diagnosed with Failure to Thrive. At a year old his father abandoned the family, and when he was six years old, his mother left as well. “At a very young age, I was without the community that we’re supposed to start with, and the community that had taken me in and adopted me was abusive,” says Chapman.
He and his younger siblings were abused physically, sexually, spiritually, and emotionally, and that abuse continued throughout his childhood. It was so bad that by the time he was 16 years old, he had attempted suicide 12 times resulting in documented hospitalizations. “That was my childhood. That was my reality,” says Chapman. However, awful as it was, he would never change it. “That experience and what I went through was key to what I am now doing,” he says. “I look at what happened to me and I look at what I’m now doing, and I look at the ability that I had to endure that, and now I’ve got this responsibility to share my story and how I actually overcame all of that.”
Bringing Change to Others
Chapman’s work with A Human Project focuses on youth and their families and giving them more opportunities to succeed. He has no typical day, and instead lives in two work spaces. When he’s on the road, he’s out in the communities having conversations with schools and community leaders, working with psychiatrists, and having face-to-face interaction with the youth he’s helping. When he’s at home, it’s more relaxed work on the business side and making sure that they’re rooted, strong, and building sustainable and scalable solutions. “I have to wear these two hats, the on-the-tour Wes and then the founder Wes,” he says. “It’s very hectic, whether I’m home or on tour.”
It may be hectic, but it’s also exciting and rewarding for him. Working on a school-year calendar instead of a Gregorian calendar allows Chapman to see the kids he worked with the previous school year. “To see them completely picking up the pieces and changing their trajectory — some are miraculous changes and some are microscopic, tiny changes — it’s insanely exciting for me to see that happening,” Chapman says. “I get to be part of that. I get to watch them do that, and it’s very rewarding.”
At the same time he’s seeing the fruits of his previous year’s labors in the children, he’s also meeting new children who are struggling and seeking direction.
Shifting Your Thinking and Self-Worth
We classify events and traumas in certain ways so that we can have a means to the end of understanding, sympathy, and empathy. “Anything you’ve gone through that’s traumatic does create patterns in your brain, does create thought processes that will literally paralyze you in moving forward,” says Chapman.
Chapman contends that it all starts with you and your mirror. “When you’re alone and it’s just you and the mirror, those things you’re saying to yourself are so important because they’re either going to empower you and lift you, or they’re going to hold you back and become self-defeating,” says Chapman. We can all look in the mirror and find something wrong with ourselves in just a few seconds. When we attempt to find something awesome about ourselves in the mirror, it takes much longer. “We are our worst enemies,” Chapman says. “We spend so much time beating ourselves up and tearing ourselves down. What about the things you did accomplish? What about the successes that you did have?”
Of course it takes more than thinking positively. You can’t just wish for a bicycle to appear in your driveway and have it show up on its own. “You have got to get out and get working, but you have to believe in that work that you’re doing and believe in yourself, and then circle back with validation,” says Chapman.
Reprogramming Your Brain
Start a new conversation in the mirror. Chapman used to dislike how skinny his neck was, but after telling himself he was the perfect weight each morning in the mirror, he became more confident, which changed his persona and body language, even his breathing habits. He began looking at other conversations he could change in his daily life. “It was energy, it was the chemical reactions happening in my body,” he says. Those chemicals also affect your gut and health. “We don’t spend enough time talking about the thought process of the gut and how it connects to the brain,” Chapman says.
He recommends thinking of your brain as a highway system. All your experiences dictate the roads, and when you have a negative thought, it reinforces that road for future thoughts to drive on. When you change your conversation in the mirror, you tear apart those highways and start building new ones. “It does start in the mirror. You have the power to re-architect those roads,” says Chapman.
Overcoming Pre-Conditioned Feelings
“First and foremost, get rid of addictions,” Chapman recommends. Most people don’t believe they have an addiction. Most people also cannot function without their morning coffee. “The body is a well-oiled machine as long as we don’t try to mess with things,” he says. Those physical addictions alter the mental side and the chemistry of your body, which affects feelings. “The more your body can do what it was designed to do, the better it will function. The better it will function, the cleaner it will be. The cleaner it will be, the better your experience is going to be with mind-body connection,” Chapman says.
There is feeling and thought process in your gut as well as your brain. The things you put into your gut control the thoughts of your gut, and emotions and feelings are labels for chemical reactions. What’s more, humans can sense these chemicals from other humans. When you start focusing on healthy chemistry in your body, both with positive thinking from your brain and understanding your gut, your chemical output changes. The chemicals you put out attract chemicals in others, in those who will trust you and believe in you, ultimately leading to more opportunities for you.
“The secret to success is you, but it’s getting you to the point where you are the real you,” says Chapman. “You’re dropping all the garbage, you’re focusing on becoming the best version of yourself you possibly can, inside and out, so you allow the world to be attracted to that.”
Keep in Touch
Put the victim to bed and wake the hero instead at Chapman’s hero website.
Check out the work he’s doing with youth and their families at the A Human Project website.