Denis Murphy: My Psyche
“In hindsight I’ve always wanted deeper conversations but it’s not something you can just tell people that you want to have deeper conversations, you’ve got to actually go and find them. The podcast has been a great vehicle for that.”
Denis Murphy, the podcast host of Unconventional Humans and the author of Taking My Life Back has a clear talent for articulating the most complex aspects of internal human life. Whilst many individuals, neither rightly or wrongly, go through their existence showing minimal care for life’s deeper questions, Denis has instead faced them head on. His podcast has offered a platform for others and himself to share their thoughts on topics ranging from spirituality, motivation, the creative process and personality.
“The reason for starting the podcast was always primarily for self-expression. At the start, I didn’t really know what to expect, but thought that it would probably take off. Then I realised how much of a grind it is and the fact that you really need to love it in order to keep doing it.”
Whilst Denis eloquently navigates his interviews with astute insight and profound observations, not only do the conversations of real substance provide the chance for listeners to learn about themselves, but he too has reaped the benefits of delving deeper.
“I lived in France for a while about ten years ago where I had a mental breakdown. When that happened, I had to come to terms with a lot of stuff. At that point it was sink or swim for me so I started to learn about and get into psychology. I started off looking more into my mindset, my thought processes and how they would affect my interactions with people and looking at my perceptions of what I felt were and weren’t possible for me.
“Even having the interviews and conversations with people, I’ve really enjoyed having those deep conversations and have probably lacked an opportunity to do that in my life but couldn’t properly express it. People on the podcast get straight to the heart of the matter, talk about a book, a person or an understanding. We get straight to the deeper stuff, no dancing around things.”
Whilst finding a way to channel these thoughts, feelings and ideas into creatively, what Denis has enjoyed most is the opportunity to speak to a diverse range of people and learn from absolutely everybody and everything.
“Recently someone reached out to me who is doing psychological astrology, so people like that I enjoy talking to, people who are just out there. The biggest thing for me is gaining different perspectives from different fields. I try to take it all on but not cling onto anything. I’ve noticed that black and white thinking is very toxic mentally and it also blocks conversation and your own personal growth.”
In what is becoming an increasingly tribal and polarising world which seemingly promotes defining yourself as being completely for something and, as a result, against another, there is little room for balance or nuance. Because of this, we naturally place imaginary shackles on ourselves and limit opportunities for growth and progression. You become nothing more than a rigid 100 character Twitter bio stating who your football team is, your star sign and whether you voted for Brexit or not.
“(If you see yourself as being just one thing) you become predictable, a walking ideolog. As soon as you latch onto something it’s like that idea consumes you and it takes on part of your identity. I want to have a separation between my sense of self and the ideas I am putting out there. I want my ideas to evolve just like myself. If you latch onto different schools of thoughts then it limits you. It’s about a balance, some perspectives can be taken from here, some perspectives from here. Somewhere in the middle is the way forward. Being aware that you don’t want to latch onto different ideologies allows you to have conversations that are a bit more open, it doesn’t feel as dogmatic or as if I am trying to prove a point or prove you wrong.”
This bizarre notion that any thoughts, views and opinions we possess are as if they are physical part of ourselves, in the same way that a hand or a leg is, is something Denis admits to previously doing. Because of this, it brought with it some unhealthy views on how he perceived himself and how he wished to be perceived by others.
“I was insecure. I had a certain way in which I saw myself. I also had rules my mind would make up. I said in my book that sometimes it felt like someone was holding a gun against my head telling me that I had to be consistent. I had to be a certain way all of the time so people could see me a certain way. All these kinds of unspoken things were going on in my mind that I wasn’t aware of. The biggest thing is more of a space and openness to know that I don’t really know who I am or what the world is about but I am open to exploring it and trying new experiences.”
After having that mental breakdown in France it soon became apparent to Denis that things were needing to change. Writing was the first step to taking back his life.
“I remember I was really getting into writing and was writing something about streams of consciousness and was getting so excited by the whole thing. It was like I was accessing a part of myself I never knew existed. That’s when I knew writing was for me, because I was doing it when I was feeling these feelings I’ve never had before or channelling feelings that I’d never really channelled before. That was when it dawned on me and I realised this was what I wanted to do.”
Now currently in the process of writing his second book ‘The Edge,’ which looks into the idea of creativity and how people unlock their own creative edge, Denis’s passion for self-reflection means that he will continue to create content regardless of how successful it will be or not. For him, the opportunity to express himself is a far greater reward than anything widespread popularity or money would provide.
“Focussing on the process has always kept me going because it’s the only thing I can control. If I focus too much on numbers I’ll try to create content I think people will like or I’ll get disheartened. Validation has to come from within, if you are getting a big following but no real internal validation then the whole thing is an illusion. Thinking that this whole thing is giving you these positive feelings and if it’s taken away then you are devastated, that’s not building a solid foundation.”
What, though, is the future for Denis, his writing and the podcast?
“I would like to have an animated film someday. Maybe in like ten years time someone will buy the rights to the book and create an animated feature. For now, I’ll keep doing the podcast once a week and I’ll publish my book ‘The Edge’ later this year and in the long run, continue to self-publish or to help people publish. I hope that my work begins to spread outwards and the community will take more of an interest and see the benefits of it.”
Describe yourself in three words
Artistic, creative and quiet.
How would your family and friends describe you in three words?
Quiet, good listener and maybe a bit out there.
What is your biggest energiser?
Expressing myself on the podcast or by having a meaningful conversation with someone.
What is your biggest drainer?
Being in group settings with big groups of people. I often feel drained by the experience.
What motivates you most?
Self-actualisation and, in turn, other people being themselves and their self-actualisation. The World becomes a lot more interesting when you don’t see everyone as a carbon copy.
Biggest personality strength?
Caring about people.
Biggest personality weakness?
I used to care too much and was naive to that. More egotistical people could use that against me and I’d be a bit of a doormat.
Best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
My mother said to me ‘everything happens for a reason.’