Anxiety. Fear. Trauma. Regardless of who you are, where you’re from, or the experiences you’ve had, these (or those?) feelings are commonly shared by millions of people around the world. Of all those, however, trauma is perhaps the most subtle and dangerous wound we carry with us. Oftentimes, it goes undetected, surfacing periodically when triggered during times of heightened stress.
“Interestingly enough, even for the most successful people, trauma can also arise during periods of rest,” says Dr. Sekuleo Gathers. “At a certain level of success, it requires small shifts in perception to accelerate achievements in the external world. This is my sweet spot – the space where I aim to make the most impact.”
As a concierge physician, entrepreneur, author, teacher on Insight Timer, mindset coach, life strategist, and award-winning filmmaker, Dr. Gathers has dedicated his life to the refinement of healing techniques to serve humanity. In doing so, he is able to provide a living example of how embracing inner truth unleashes one’s full potential—both professionally and personally.
Confronting Trauma in Self-discovery
In his own words, Dr. Gathers is, “on a lifelong mission to discover truth; specifically, the truth about myself and the world we live in.” Although he was raised in a middle-class family and attended prestigious institutions of higher learning, childhood sexual trauma and a life-threatening illness fostered feelings of powerlessness, depression, and fear.
“During my second year as a resident physician at the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City,” Dr. Gathers tells us, “I contracted Hepatitis-C from a patient during a routine procedure. This became both the best and worst thing that could have happened. The worst, for obvious reasons, regarding the negative impact of the diagnosis, long-term treatment plan, and potential for liver failure and cancer. The benefit came because it was the first time in 20 years that my life was suddenly on pause.”
Suddenly, Dr. Gathers found an opportunity to rest and look at himself in the mirror. Yet, even during this period of reflection, he did not like the image staring back. It distressed him, causing his anxiety and past traumas to surface.
“I’m not one to believe in the ‘victim mentality,’” Dr. Gathers tells us, “and according to my relatives, I checked all the right boxes to fit the ‘American Dream.’ I was well on the way to a successful career as a physician, married, and had a beautiful baby girl. I asked myself: why did I still feel so empty?”
Finding a Prescription for Truth
According to Dr. Gathers, it was during this challenging period that he learned two secrets that would inform how he approached life going forward. The first, which years later would become the title of his podcast, was the idea of the truth as a prescription.
“I made a clear self-admission,” he says. “My whole life had been devoid of accepting the truth – the truth about who I was, what I really wanted, and who I really wanted to be with. I realized that I had allowed the projections, hopes, dreams, wishes, and stories of others to dictate how I made decisions about my own life.”
The second secret Dr. Gathers learned was gleaned from studying successful people as a means to understand how to forge ahead. Successful people, he found, are often driven by something very dark.
“I realized that the motivation exemplified by some of the most successful people in the world typically stems from a negative experience,” Dr. Gathers explains. “That experience continues to fuel their actions years, or even decades, after the event. These were global figures — luminaries and celebrities — who all ‘made it,’ but continued to be affected and influenced by their own internal demons.”
As with any successful life coach, Dr. Gathers was able to see himself in these successful people and sympathize with them. Although admittedly, much of his success up to this point was derived from the anger he held around surviving two sexual assaults as a young boy, as well as running on the ever-present, Sysiphean treadmill that caused him to continually ask himself: “Am I worthy enough?”
Empowering the Protagonist in Our Own Story
Less than two years after beginning treatment for hepatitis, Dr. Gathers emerged free of the disease with a new lease on life. After completing his residency, he decided to attend the prestigious Lee Strasberg Theater and Film Institute.
“Although I was learning about myself cognitively,” says Dr. Gathers, “I needed a practical way to bridge those emotional and mental gaps. I learned from my psychiatry colleagues how acting can become a vehicle through which one can discover the power of their voice and learn to connect with humans in a meaningful way.”
Through this process, he also began to develop a love of filmmaking, further clarifying how his own journey had been skewed by incorrect conclusions based on the opinions (i.e., stories) of others and life circumstances. He learned how to see life — both his own and others’ — as its own unique movie or narrative. In each life, just as in each story, there’s the main character, supporting actors, antagonist and protagonist aspects, but also a solution to the problem they’re faced with. According to Dr. Gathers, he has found this method of explaining one’s life very helpful and continues applying his knowledge from film school to his mindset in coaching others to overcome their trauma, helping them learn how to transmute it into productivity and self-empowerment.
Today, through his company ConnectMD, he uses his personal and professional experiences to help high achievers and performers strategize for next-level greatness and navigate the next stage of their journey. His work with clients focuses on optimizing energy through a concierge health program while comprehending the power of personal narrative. Specifically, how that narrative can positively or negatively affect the way they interact with the world. In helping clients understand that confronting trauma is the key to finding their own truth, as well as how ego is the biggest barrier to understanding one’s true self, he assists them in answering questions they might have about what’s next and how to tackle it.
“There is power in who you are,” Dr. Gathers says. “There is power in sharing the story of who you are, and who you want to become.”