Ellen: I understand that I am being truthful to who I am and not too many people can say that. But it's hard, every single day, to know you're doing the best you can but you're still up against a huge force. Whether it's verbally acknowledged or not, it's a really difficult thing. A lot of people have husbands or wives or friends or family who don't understand. It's so hard to follow your path when you're not surrounded by support.
don Miguel: I can tell you that we have only one mission and that is to make ourselves happy. The only way we can be happy is by being who we are. We create our own story, but society also creates its own story, and it has the right to create whatever story it wants. If you know that, whatever they say will not stop you from being what you are. Just by being what you are, other people will change—but you don't do it because you want to change them. You do it to make your heart free. One of my greatest heroes when I was a teenager was Muhammad Ali. He said, "I'm the best." He wouldn't go to war because he really believed he shouldn't, even though he knew he'd lose millions of dollars because he was barred from boxing. He said, This is what I am. And he changed a lot of beliefs because he had the courage to be himself.
Ellen: That makes a lot of sense, but it's a hard thing to maintain. I get those fleeting, beautiful moments of inner peace and stillness—and then the other 23 hours and 45 minutes of the day, I'm a human trying to make it through in this world. Especially being in this business, it's really hard not to take anything personally because I have people writing things about me in the press that have nothing to do with the truth. I have people giving their opinions when they see me on TV—if I look pretty, if I don't look pretty, if they like my hair that way, if they don't like my hair that way. So I guess what I'm saying is, should I quit the business? How do you, me—especially me—not take things personally?
don Miguel: We take things personally because it's a habit. Not taking anything personally does not mean that you will not have a reaction or you will not take action. But when you take action you have clarity, you know exactly what you want. When you take things personally, you do things you don't want to do, say things you don't want to say, because emotions are controlling you. When you have clarity it is easier to make choices.
Ellen: Yes, but it's hard to get that clarity because of—is it mitote, your word for that critical voice in your head?
don Miguel: Mih-toe-tay.
Ellen: Do you want to talk about my-toe-tay—or your-toe-tay? What is that voice? If it's not you, who's talking and who's listening?
don Miguel: Okay, first of all, when we were children, we didn't know anything. We were like blank computers. Then it's like someone took a program and put it in our head and this is what we call knowledge. Before we learn, we have no thoughts. As soon as we have words, we have a voice in our head. You have a solution for a problem, but five minutes later you have a different solution for the same problem and five minutes later another solution—and that breeds confusion. Then you no longer trust yourself. I compare that thinking with a wild horse that takes you wherever it wants. I challenge you to take the horse and ride wherever you want. Knowledge should be a tool, not have power over us. We believe we are what we know. We use knowledge to create a personal story. You face life depending on who you believe the main character is, the way you learned to be. Your father tells you that you are this way. Your mother tells you that you are that way. And that's what you become.