Dr. Phil McGraw first appeared on our television screens in 2002, and after 16 seasons, the 67-year-old estimates he has offered advice to 15,000 people.
Last year, Oprah Winfrey released an episode of her podcast Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations with Dr McGraw, and asked the poignant question; “Do you see that there’s a core fault or failing that people don’t get, in terms of taking responsibility for their lives?”
The psychologist and author responded, “I think we’re a society that has been marketed.
“You watch a commercial about fast food, if you look they never actually show the food. They show everybody happy. They show fellowship. Everyone feeling included, smiles on their faces.
“They’re selling a dream. They’re not selling food.”
McGraw explained that people then go home and compare the marketed dream to their own reality, and are left feeling disappointed.
“It’s not what happens in your life that upsets you,” he said. “It’s if your expectations of what’s supposed to happen gets violated.”
The father of two also explained that people are desperately afraid to leave their comfort zone for two distinct reasons.
Firstly, they’re terrified they might fail. The number one human fear is rejection, and failure is when “they’ve rejected what you offered to the world.”
But the second, perhaps more prevalent reason people are too afraid to leave their comfort zone, is because they’re scared they will succeed.
When success happens, McGraw said, you’re expected to keep it up.
“If all of a sudden you do better and you achieve more, the pressure’s on,” he said. People feel much safer when they don’t put too much pressure on themselves.
Winfrey also reflected that the road to change on Dr. Phil often begins with taking ownership of the role one plays in their own lives. Nothing good comes from trying to apportion blame when something goes wrong, she said.
“The weakest that we are ever in our lives is when we put on the victim hat,” McGraw responded.
“And it doesn’t mean that people don’t get mugged. Or run over by cars. Are they victims in that moment? Of course they are.
“The question is,” he concluded, “what are you going to do about it?”