It is pretty easy to fall prey to victim mentality. To avoid being drowned in limiting beliefs or blaming others for your mistakes, you must embrace a thriving mentality and experience self-actualization. Timothy J. Hayes, Psy.D sits down with author, ultra-marathoner, and Iron Man finisher Bill Murphy to talk about growing in the middle of the storm and getting to the next level with a positive mindset. Bill shares some practical tricks for defeating victim mentality, from morning meditations, deep breathing exercises, to journaling. He also shares how joining marathons taught him the importance of celebrating small victories, putting in the hard work, and letting go of worrying thoughts with ease.
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Cultivating A Thriving Mentality With Bill Murphy
Bill Murphy is a nationally recognized mortgage originator who has closed over $1.5 billion in loans and has been a top producer for 25 years. He’s a marathoner, ultra-marathoner, and Ironman finisher. He’s raised over $500,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and he actively supports a number of charities, including Fairway Cares, the American Warrior Initiative, and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. He’s also the Founder of the nonprofit Thrive Foundation.
Bill, will be the first to tell you that he’s nothing special but he has been able to overcome an abusive childhood, post-traumatic stress disorder, mental health challenges, and unexpected crises to finish an Ironman and run the Boston Marathon five times, including one on crutches. He’s a regular guy who is now thriving at the top of his profession, and in Thriving in the Storm, his new book, he explains how you can achieve similar success.
Mr. Murphy, thank you for joining us. It’s delightful to see you.
Great to be on your show, Dr. Tim. I appreciate being here.
I was hoping you could start us off by telling us a bit about how you got into the work you do that’s informed in your book and what drives your passion for it.
There were a couple of concepts that we started with. There was a culmination of years of notes, and journaling, that I put together over the years. I grew up in an environment where I was always made to feel less than and not capable enough. For some reason, not that I was talented growing up but I will show them even as a young kid and perform things out of sheer will. That was the mentality that anything or capable of anything, no matter what God-given talent we have that was on, whether it was athletics, academics or what have you. In addition to that, when I finished the book, I was understanding what a thriving mentality was.
I came up with three mentalities. The lowest level of mentality that we have is the Victim Mentality. The victim mentality is when you are going to bang, snooze five times and not get out of bed, not put your feet on the floor because you don’t have any reason. You find some reason, excuse circumstance, that may have you down and out where you can’t feel like you can get through your day.
A Survival Mentality is the second phase of this, where you can put your feet on the floor but you are going to coast and get through it until that storm or adversity that you are in passes. There’s a Thriving Mentality. It’s like self-actualization when you can perform at a high level in spite of the adversity or the circumstances that were thrown at you.
There may be some severe situations where you have to process and even grieve in some circumstances. To have that thriving mentality, I believe you have to change your mindset. If we start with a victim mentality, we are going to have low-level emotional feelings, maybe sadness, grief, anger, hostility or vengeance. Whatever is there, it’s in the pit of your stomach where you don’t feel like getting through it.
I found that if you start to channel those emotions pretty easily into gratitude and blessings, which are usually things in our lives that are free, it can instantly change that physiology within your body and then you are able to create. Let’s play it out here. You are down and out because you had a couple of rough days, you are not meeting your sales quota at work or you got into a fight with your spouse, your kids or whatever, and you are not in a great place.
If you start to give thanks for your health, your kids, your job or the other things that you have that you can appreciate, that’s going to instantly change how you tackle the day. When you are able to go through that at a higher level, you are able to create. You can create problem-solving. You can create ways to get out of your adversity as quickly as you can. That’s how we came up with that Thriving in the Storm, those three layers of mentality.If you start to give thanks for everything you have in the morning, it will instantly change how you tackle your day. Click To Tweet
Are there tricks that you’ve learned, forgetting from the victim mentality up into survival or from the survival up into the thriving?
I say build your fortress. Building your fortress is preparing your day and ending your day. It’s a bookend. When you prepare for your day, it is the gratitude, the journaling, and the meditation. These things can take under ten minutes. It’s not a long process if you don’t want it to be. You could spend a lot more time doing it. Maybe it’s deep breathing to get into a good mindset. I believe that physical activity is working out in the morning and making sure your day is already prepared. That goes to the night before. It is a little bit of gratitude, journaling, and eliminating distractions. Let’s not put it on the news.
Let’s not binge-watch Netflix into the early hours of the morning. Let’s wind down, get the room dark, shut off the lights, and settle out the mind that way so that when you get up in the morning, you are in a much better place. Those are the ways we book on the day, and it helps. Maybe you start the day off great but then you have adversity in the middle of the day.
It’s because you went through this great routine, you got the endorphins, the dopamine, and all these great feelings within you, then you are able to withstand the adversity that may come at you where someone else had a rough night. Maybe they had three glasses of wine, binge-watched some TV and got into a fight with their spouse before they went to bed, they started their morning off late, and then some adversity, some circumstances happened in the middle of the day, they are going to be less likely to handle whatever stressors come at them.
Low energy is like a pandemic in our culture because we are not eating food that energizes the body. People aren’t exercising the way their bodies were designed to exercise. Most people are at some level or another between your victim mentality and survival mentality because we are trained to think. We have phrases in our culture, “You made me angry. You hurt my feelings. You are scaring me. You are offending me as though the outside event or what someone else does causes my emotions.” We are conditioned to think that way. It is an energy drain when you are living in that range of mentalities from the victim to the survival.
We were talking earlier before we started that you had an episode with Jeff Sucec. This is so true. He mentioned that 85% of our thoughts are daily repetitive and/or negative. To take that step further, research says that 85% to 90% of those thoughts are worry thoughts, only 10% of those worry thoughts that we think happen, and when they happen, it’s never as bad as we thought they were going to be. To take that a step further, we think the same worry thoughts the next day. 85% to 95% of our thoughts are repetitive or worry.
If you can break that cycle, it is a hard trick. You mentioned, what’s a trick? If you could recognize and, and bring into your awareness, your consciousness, “What am I thinking now? What am I thinking at this time? What am I thinking first thing in the morning?” You can catch yourself. A lot of times, it’s natural for us to think about all the stressors, the problems, fitting or not fitting enough things into our schedule, and too much stuff into our schedule, “How am I going to get all this done?” we worry about it, and it never comes true. We waste our time worrying. You are not in a creative mindset when you are worrying. It’s bringing you down.
It reminds me of the book, Happy for No Reason and The Happiness Project, both of which are talking about gratitude lists, breathwork, and the reframing of a situation to either a neutral or a positive. These are things that have been shown over and again. If we were willing to put some effort and mind energy into it, they would yield results. They yield in terms of people’s self-reported happiness levels.
We coast throughout our day too often.
There’s a tendency to think that what our mind tells us we want, which we don’t realize, has been programmed by our family, our culture, the news, and the TV. We have a tendency to think that what our mind tells us we want is going to bring us a lot more energy, happiness, and good feeling than it brings when it gets here. We chase after things from the outside to try and get an internal experience rather than learning how to create that internal experience in our own mind, body, and energy system.
You are spot on with that. You create from within.
We’ve got breathing, breathwork. People know how to do that. If you don’t, you can find a therapist, find a yoga teacher, go to Wim Hof, who has a very energizing technique you can watch on YouTube. I teach people one of those breathing techniques that help bring into that parasympathetic system by holding the breath at the top for a few seconds and resisting the exhale.
There’s a shift necklace there, a whole series of these little necklaces you can buy. There are simply little tubes, and if you breathe out through the tube, it restricts the airflow so that your exhale is longer. There are all these good things people know how to do. What are some of the other things you’ve learned that can help somebody shift either their internal experience or their thoughts?
I’m a big exercise enthusiast, and if you are not, at least get out in nature and walk. You don’t necessarily have to run a marathon or a 5k but you could walk and enjoy. Go to a place, whether it’s early in the morning and try to find beauty or nature. Go for a trail walk where you can take that in because that will change your physiology as well. While you are doing that, and if you are present, you can observe a lot in nature that will transform how you are feeling as well by taking in a nature walk, for example.
I get my best ideas, my biggest rushes, dopamine, adrenaline, and endorphins when I go on my long runs, trail runs, I will take the dog or even on the beach, whatever the case is. Those long distances, I do a lot of triathlons. The biking and the running do well. I like to hike too in nature. I get some incredible ideas, and a lot of times, I will take those ideas that I got on the walk. I will record them and write on my phone, which I put together for the book.
A lot of those were recorded messages over the years of training for the marathons and the Ironman’s, and then I would record them or I would come home and journal them. You go back and look at what you journaled, and some of the amazing feelings, emotions, thoughts, and ideas that came to you are pretty mind-blowing.
You mentioned doing triathlons. How many have you done? What do you think is driving you to do that level of physical exercise?
I love the feeling. I’m on my third Ironman. I’ve done a few. I’ve done 5 or 6 marathons and ultra-marathons. I love the training. I love the commitment. This was a transformation for me. I never used to appreciate the journey. I would always want to get to the finish line and what’s next. I found over the years that the training is the journey where you can learn so much about yourself and what you are capable of and push those limits a little bit, where you can appreciate and celebrate those small victories.
I didn’t feel like running 5 miles but I went and did it. I feel much better now that I have done it. We started this whole thing off with your mentality. That’s your thriving mentality. Doing the things that you know you should do and don’t feel like doing but doing them anyways, watch the magic happen and how you feel afterward. It’s amazing.
You make the commitment to do, let’s say, a marathon for what is your hope to gain through that process?
I run all my marathons for charity, for Make-A-Wish. I have been doing that for several years. The Ironman’s I have done a couple of for charities. I do a lot of these things with charities in mind. If I don’t do them for charity, I’m doing those because it’s a goal that is transformational when I get to the other side. I learned much about myself and what I’m capable of by pushing those limits a bit. I learned to celebrate those victories while I was in the process.
Before, I never used to realize that. I never appreciated it. It would be like, “What’s next?” A lot of people in life and business that are high achievers are always onto, “What’s next.” I find that when you start to appreciate things when you push yourself in any walk of life, you are able to feel better about yourself and not have as much stress when you can see what you are capable of in enjoying the process.
I was hoping you would say and what you are driving at here is that you end up being a different person after you put yourself through the paces, gradually grow with your conditioning strength, and then accomplish it so that the next marathon you do, you are not like the person you were the last time. It’s a building process. You are growing into learning about yourself every time you set a commitment and work toward it.
The other why of all that when you ask the question is that I try to model for my kids. I have been able to provide for them at a nice level. I want to show the legacy piece, and that’s about giving back and making a difference in being significant in society. When I commit to the marathon, I want them to help us raise that money. As a matter of fact, they signed up for the Providence Marathon next year for Make-A-Wish. It was cool to make a run with two of my kids for make-A-Wish in the Providence Marathon. In 2021, I was running for Boston Marathon for Make-A-Wish, and it was in October.
They usually have it on Patriot’s Day in April. I had torn my quad 60 days prior to walking down my stairs on my way to a training run. Boston Marathon was kicking me out because they weren’t going to allow me to either limp wheelchair or crutch the marathon along the route for liability reasons. Make-A-Wish helped me secure a place at my old alma mater, Worcester State College. We had use of the track and the football field.
Sixty days after having surgery on the torn quad, I was able to crutch a marathon. I remember talking to a lot of people who said, “What do you have to prove? You don’t need to do this.” I said, “These kids that are going through this critical illness don’t have the choice to go through this critical illness. I have a choice I can make now. This will bring a lot more awareness to Make-A-Wish Foundation and be able to raise more money.” My kids were a part of that fundraising, and that was the driving factor because I said I was going to do it. I was going to figure out a way. If I didn’t have the why of doing what I said I was going to do for the foundation and my kids, I wouldn’t have done it.
When you declare what you are going to do, you build up all your accountability partners for you. With that being said, tell people your goals. Tell people what you want to accomplish. Tell the ones and be careful. Tell the people that are going to support you and lift you up. You can achieve that. They have your back. That was the whole why piece when you were asking me why I would do the marathons and things. It’s for charity and to bring awareness, and set an example.Tell people your goals and what you want to accomplish. These people you trust will support and lift you up to achieve what you want. Click To Tweet
Do you find when you move from that victim mentality to that survival mentality and then up to that thriving mentality that once you get to thriving mentality, you just stay there? Do you have challenges? Do you have setbacks? If so, how do you address those?
Every day is the process of getting to the thriving mentality if you don’t wake up that way. As I said, they are the same worry thoughts over and over again, so you have to catch yourself and be aware of it. When you get the repetition and the routine down, it’s easier to thrive but you still have to work at it. We all have bad days. Everybody has bad days. It’s not all that Facebook shows us of this wonderful, smiling family at all times. There are always trials and tribulations you have to get through. There are bad days that you have to deal with it. If you are thriving, you’re able to move a lot faster because you are not giving up and being a victim of those circumstances.
You were like, “We got this problem at work. I’m going to get everybody I can involved that can be organized in helping us break through this issue that we have. We are going to huddle up and figure this out. Family, we got this small little crisis on our hands, and let’s get together and figure out what we can do.” Rather than throwing your hands up and saying, “We are not going to be able to do this, sorry,” and not trying. Even in a thriving mentality, you are still going to fail. You got to keep failing ahead, failing forward, so you can keep moving through. It’s not a straight line to that goal. There’s a lot of zigging, zagging, and falling down along the way to get there.
I put to mind one of the speakers and motivational spiritual speakers. She was giving a talk and said to these business leaders, “You are going to need to fail to move forward, to learn, and to grow. You need to be able to fail to do that.” At the end of the talk, this gentleman came up to her and said, “I am absolutely willing to risk failure.” She said, “No, you misunderstood what I said.”
The guy went white as a sheet when she said it. She said, “You need to fail, not put yourself, ‘I’m going to be willing to risk failure and do everything I can to succeed and never fail. I do everything I can to succeed and blame the failure on somebody else.’” She says, “You have to be willing to fail. You have to fail to learn. If you keep doing what you are already good at and do more of it, you don’t have any setbacks and don’t have that much growth because you are doing what you are already good at.”
With the thriving mentality, you are getting up a bit faster. You are moving forward a bit faster after you fail. I agree with that.
What I like about what you are talking about is that you are identifying, “Here’s what this victim mentality looks like. Here’s what the survival mentality looks like. Here are the clues. It will tell you that you are in that one, and here’s what the thriving mentality looks like.” When you start recognizing, “I’m having skate-by thoughts or mentality or I’m starting to slip into the victim mentality,” I can recognize it and choose to go to the next level.
There are many times when people are stuck. I do some coaching in life, and I work with producers. The one thing that I notice is that if you work with them long enough, they get stuck even though you never see it. The things that they get stuck on are mind-blowing. These are people that are thriving all the time. How can you thrive all the time? We have to unpack why you are stuck. It could be self-doubt, unworthiness, and fear of failure, as we talked about. It could be fear of success. It could be anything, and we have to get unstuck and still continue to thrive.
I was talking to a girl. She’s having a career for a year in business, and everything was doom and gloom. “This person messed this up and isn’t that good.” It was a bunch of blaming, and I asked her, “There’s a pattern here. We have been talking, and you made about ten excuses on why things were so bad, even though you have it good and are doing well. You were in a blame-victim mentality.”
She thought for a minute, got a little defensive, and said, “This is why I have been in a rut for the last week because I think everybody is screwing up, and it’s me.” We got to recognize that when we are in that rut, as humans, we are going to go through it. You can’t be positive 100% all the time. Here’s our slip and fall. You are going to fall down and get a little jaded or negative or even scorn to bit, whatever the case may be or, “Why me.”
And as you are talking about there, it reminds me of the Gay Hendricks book, The Big Leap. He talks about we have these upper limit problems, beliefs, and trip-ups, which sounds like the woman you were dealing with in this example, having a career year, and yet, now, as I move up to that higher level, another limiting belief within me starts to reveal itself. Unless I’m able to say, “What am I afraid of in terms of succeeding at a higher level? What am I afraid of in terms of confronting that insecurity that I’ve had buried?” Unless I’m willing to look at that, I stay stuck. As you were saying, this woman got all these other beliefs about how, why I’m stuck, other than what’s going on in here.
Take that a step further to give you where the story was, and we all go through it. She was being promoted in her position. We talked about it. It appears that she’s scared of what’s next. She tried to subconsciously keep herself down, blaming and playing the victim. She was afraid of what was on the other side, even though she was ready for it. We have to work through that. It’s interesting how that affects us all.
If you stay, and learn to identify first the victim, survival, and thriving mentality, you can start to recognize when you are slipping out of the thriving mentality, and then you might look for, “What are some of these upper limit beliefs that I might have that I’m bouncing into.” The key has got to be the internal thing. As you are saying, if I’m blaming someone or something outside of me, I could set it up in my mind that I recognize, “Tim, you are slipping back into the victim mentality,” and then I can reframe it and take a look at, “How am I the creating the excuse or the blame here.”
In coaching, and you are well more versed at this than I am, I had to do a lot of active listening and I said, “Are you hearing a pattern? It’s because I’m hearing a pattern.” I didn’t want to say, “Why are you blaming everybody?” I would’ve lost her. I almost did lose her but, “This is where your craft would come in,” and guided her to where she needed to go. It was like, “There’s a pattern here, and it maybe has to do with you going to the next level and being a little scared.” It was one of those a-ha moments.
Gay Hendricks and other people talk about it in his book, The Big Leap. He points out that a lot of our physical discomfort, our “illnesses,” are a manifestation of us hitting one of those upper-limit problems or beliefs within us. One example that popped into my head was that he had a friend, a colleague at a university. When he was developing these ideas, the friend was supposed to be making a presentation this one morning to the rest of the faculty about some new research that he was planning. He showed up, and he had intense laryngitis. He had no voice. It was cracking and was whispering.
He went and told the president of the university, “I understand. No problem, and we will do something else in this meeting other than what you are supposed to do.” Gay Hendricks pulled his friend aside and said, “Can we talk a bit here first?” Gay knew what was going on with this gentleman. What was going on was that he had been in academia for a long time and was about to make the transition into the private sector with some of his ideas, patents, etc. He didn’t have signed contracts in the private sector, so he didn’t want to tell the people at the university.
He didn’t want to stand up in front of his colleagues and promote all of this stuff that he thought. He probably wouldn’t be there to work through with them. Gay points that out to him. In the conversation with Gay Hendricks, his voice comes back full, strong, and clear as though there wasn’t any “disease process.” We find that time and time again, whether it’s back pain or neck pain or, “I’m coming down with something.” If I can identify, “Where have my thoughts been going? Did I drop out of that thriving mentality, drop into survival or drop into a victim? Have I been spinning this way for a few days or hours? If I’m willing to look at that stuff, I might find some of my aches and pains falling away. My laryngitis is clearing up, etc.”
It’s interesting that you say that. You brought out a great point. If we have these thoughts and emotions that we store that can make us sick, let’s flip that around. What can help us become well, thrive, and self-actualize, or be in the upper limit and get out of that? It’s that process of switching that off. You reminded me of when I was a kid, and kids do this. “I’m sick. I don’t want to go to school.” They make themselves sick. Adults do it too.Flip around the thoughts and emotions that make you sick. Get out of the things that hinder you from thriving or achieving self-actualization. Click To Tweet
You feel sick. The school was the lesser evil of the choices of staying home. If I didn’t feel good, I was going to go to school no matter what, no matter how sick I was. I said, “I feel better.” I would start to feel better going to school. I didn’t want to stay home because of my environment. You pointed that out beautifully with the guy with laryngitis. He created that and was able to change it once he was able to be okay with his feelings and his thoughts.
You could say he created it, or his body created or his energy system came up with it to help him hide what he didn’t want to face. If you think about it in terms of, “I’m generating all of these upsets, these aches, and pains, these upper limit problems because I don’t want to look at something.” What’s the solution? I want to be willing to look at whatever it is. I want to be willing to do the tapping, the breathing, and the journaling.
I want to be willing to ask my body, “What do you need from me? What are you trying to tell me with this backache or whatever?” Be willing to see what comes to the surface and then treat it as though it has some value. More often than not, the energy system, your body, your mind, the whole thing will talk to you if you ask it. Let’s assume we can take a breath and get centered. Let me ask you, what’s an aspect of the book that we haven’t talked about yet or an aspect of something we’ve already put out there that you want to highlight before we wrap this up?
It’s important. I mentioned rough childhood being capable of getting more to that thriving mentality. Chapter 1 in that book is Make Peace with Your Past, and it’s not my own shortcomings, which is part of it. It’s the people that in my life that I felt wronged by that, I forgave. Forgiveness can give you so much. You can be empowered when you can forgive those.
If you stuff that in and you have this ill will or this grudge, you carry that around, you want to talk about making yourself sick like that will do it. When I say to make peace with your past, make peace with your past and forgive yourself for anything that you may be punishing yourself on, also those that you feel didn’t do you right, justice or may have had their own shortcomings with you. Give grace and understand that there’s always a story.Forgive people that wronged you in the past. Forgiveness can empower you so much, so learn not to carry your grudges around. Click To Tweet
When I was able to do that a few years ago, I took Counseling Psychology and got my Master’s degree. I wanted to understand why my childhood was so screwed up with my home environment and what was going on there. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I was saying, “I need to forgive all that. That’s baggage I can’t hold onto because that’s bringing me down.” The second you are able to do that, watch the transformation. When you can let go, and you talk about breathing and forgiving everybody, forgive yourself and be okay and give grace. It’s life-changing.
When you bring it up that way, it makes me think, “It is not possible for me to sit here with bitterness, resentment, and vengeance about people in the past.” Do the thing I need to of what you were talking about earlier of gratitude and moving forward into that thriving level. I can’t do them both at the same time.
A negative and a positive thought at the same time is hard to do.
Give us the title of the book and how people can access it.
Thank you for sharing with us. I look forward to finishing the book, and good luck with your next adventure.
Thank you, Dr. Tim. A pleasure to be here.
Bill Murphy is a nationally recognized mortgage originator who has closed over $1.5 billion in loans and has been a top producer for 25 years. He’s a marathoner, ultra-marathoner Iron Man finisher. He’s raised over $500,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and he actively supports a number of charities, including Fairway Cares, the American Warrior Initiative, and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. He’s also the Founder of the nonprofit Thrive Foundation.
Bill, will be the first to tell you that he’s nothing special. He has been able to overcome an abusive childhood, post-traumatic stress disorder, mental health challenges, and unexpected crises to finish an Ironman and run the Boston Marathon five times, including one on crutches. He’s a regular guy who is now thriving at the top of his profession, and in Thriving In the Storm, his new book, he explains how you can achieve similar success.
- Thrive Foundation
- Fairway Cares
- American Warrior Initiative
- Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
- Thriving In the Storm
- Jeff Sucec – Past Episode
- Happy for No Reason
- The Happiness Project
- The Big Leap
About Bill Murphy
Bill Murphy is a nationally recognized mortgage originator who has closed over one and a half billion dollars in loans and been a top producer for 25 years. He is a marathoner, ultramarathoner, Ironman finisher, and has a second-degree black belt in Krav Maga. He has raised over $500,000 for the Make-A-Wish-Foundation, and actively supports a number of charities, including Fairway Cares, The American Warrior Initiative, and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. He is the founder of the nonprofit Thrive Foundation.
When the storm hits, you have three choices: give up and become a victim; do what you can to survive; or learn to thrive.
You don’t need to have exceptional talents or resources to overcome adversity, be resilient, and achieve extraordinary goals. You are capable of more than you realize. You can learn to thrive. Bill Murphy is proof.
He’ll be the first to tell you he is nothing special, but he has been able to overcome an abusive childhood, post-traumatic stress (PTSD), mental health challenges, and unexpected crises to finish an Ironman, earn a black belt in Krav Maga, and run the Boston Marathon five times—including one on crutches. He’s a regular guy who is now thriving at the top of his profession, too. And in Thriving in the Storm, he explains how you can achieve similar success.
Murphy shares the 9 key principles and the 21 mental exercises that have helped him succeed beyond what anyone thought was possible. By distilling wisdom from studying personal development, sharing personal anecdotes, and telling inspirational stories from other achievers he’s encountered, Murphy has created a straight-talk, self-help resource for anyone who wants to transform their feelings of shame, anger, resentment, rejection, and fear into great success, happiness, peace, and an overall enthusiasm for life.
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