How To Actually Do Self-Improvement – Dr. Tony Daloisio – Psychologist

How To Actually Do Self-Improvement - Dr. Tony Daloisio Psychologist

Tony Daloisio is a psychologist and author of the book “The Journeyman Life”, and he’s here to talk about self-improvement, the obstacles we may find along the path to a better self, and the benefits of making some solid change.

Getting in touch with our emotions, different ways of approaching change, and the benefits of improving ourselves.  

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Hosted by

Sean Galla

An experienced facilitator, community builder and Peer Support Specialist, Sean has been running men's groups for 10+ years. Read Sean's Full Author Bio.

*I’m sorry that I lost my video for this recording. All of the other podcast episodes have video of the MensGroup host Sean Galla.



00:00:00 Intro. Tony’s story

00:07:17 Getting in touch with your emotions

  • Research shows that almost 70% are at a reactive stage when it comes to their emotional development. Their ego takes the lead, creating beliefs and behavior patterns that are designed to keep them safe rather than to express their full potential and creativity. 
  • Men have mostly been raised to be detached to their feelings. However, these are the starting point when it comes to trauma healing. Taking a deep look at your emotions can be uncomfortable, but it’s a solid first step towards self-growth. 

00:11:13 Triggering events

  • Most of us carry around emotional wounds from our past experiences, particularly out childhood. These relate to specific feelings that were unaddressed at the time, and therefore they still come up every now and then when we are in a similar context to that in which the original wound was originated. These are called triggering events.
  • It’s important to be aware whenever we catch ourselves within a triggering event – only by being conscious we can then choose how to deal with it. These can be seen as moments of truth.    
  • The unconscious mind is like an inner landscape that drives our core behavior, of which we are hardly aware of. It’s the operating system we’re built on. 
  • Even though it can seem that we have very little control on the unconscious mind, we can begin to change our patterns of behavior by choosing how to react in a given situation based on our values and who we want to be, instead of on a spontaneous feeling. 

00:15:26 The story of you 

  • In order to heal from trauma, you have to get to know yourself in a three-way path: your external story – meaning the way you describe yourself to the world –, your inner story – how to you really feel about yourself in your mind – and a third story regarding the kind of person you seek to become. 
  • Most of the time, we tend to hang on to the external story, based on the ego and an external image of ourselves. In order to pay attention to the other two stories though, we need to take a pause and dive deep into ourselves. 

00:20:35 Self-actualization can be the hardest thing

  • Making the decision of looking into ourselves in order to change and grow can be the hardest thing to do because it’s not possible to do without facing our deepest fears and pain. 
  • Most of us create some sort of emotional scaffolding around our lives in order to avoid doing that. However, that’s just like a house of cards – it will inevitably fall at some point in our lives. So it’s just a matter of asking ourselves if we’re willing to be proactive rather than reactive, so that we don’t sit around and wait for an emotional collapse to happen.  

00:26:49 Three paths for self-change

  • There are basically three ways to approach self-change: the cognitive behavioral approach, the psycho-dynamic approach and the spiritual approach.
  • The cognitive behavioral pathway involves being aware of those moments of truth, being conscious of the triggering events we may find ourselves in, and then making new choices according to the kind of person we’d like to become. 
  • The psycho-dynamic approach implies understanding your core attachments and old emotional wounds, that are driving your behavior, and addressing from a more analytical stand, aiming to deconstruct them so that they stop having such weight in your every-day life. 
  • The spiritual path entails taking up practices such as meditation, listening to spiritual masters and coaches and similar.  

00:32:38 Three key elements for success

  • Awareness is crucial. The most important thing that’s gonna drive success in a man life is learning to be aware of what’s happening outside – meaning the external context – and inside, concerning his feelings and emotions.
  • Once we become aware, we can then access a second key element for success which is choice. Now that we understand the inner and outer context, we can choose to do things different. 
  • For all of this to happen, we need to develop a growth mindset. This mentality allows us to be open to doing things differently, and to see those moments of truth as opportunities for core change. 

00:34:38 Accountability

  • There’s a psychological principal called “The incorporation effect” – whenever we attempt to make a substantial change, there’s an inner tendency that pushes us to go back to the norm, because that’s where our brain feels more comfortable. 
  • Accountability can be seen as the Holy Grail of self-improvement. It’s important to hold ourselves accountable in order to make it through the resistance that we’ll come across when practicing a new way of doing things.
  • Some great ways of achieving accountability are doing small, specific changes; going public about them (either with a groups of friends, our partner or a close friend) and getting feedback on the way we’re doing things. 

00:42:23 The people component 

  • Surrounding ourselves with people that share the same values than us can have a great impact in ourselves. However, there are some times in life in which we’ll inevitably find ourselves sharing time and space with people that may be in a whole different stage. In those cases, it’s important to learn to meet people were they are, with an accepting rather than a judging attitude. 
  • The best way to help people change and evolve is becoming a role model. As Gandhi put it: “Be the change that you want to see in the world”.  

00:50:49 Three benefits for embracing change

  • There are three important benefits that derive from embracing change. The first one has to do with the relationship we have with ourselves. Working to become our best selves will eventually lead towards a happier, healthier and more enjoyable every-day life. 
  • There’s a second major benefit related to self-improvement that’s connected to the people around you – a better version of ourselves will naturally have a positive impact in our family, our friends and our close community, and will certainly help create a healthy environment. 
  • On a major scale – and as a third benefit – working on ourselves could be seen as a noble contribution towards society. Given that’s very hard for cultural and political systems to change, an individual approach can then influence others towards the path of self-actualization.