Coleman Ruiz: Overcoming Physical & Emotional Challenges

Coleman Ruiz: Overcoming Physical & Emotional Challenges

Coleman Ruiz (00:00:00)

  • Coleman Ruiz is a former tier one Navy SEAL special operator.
  • He is now living as a civilian.
  • Coleman's life story includes his time in the SEAL Teams, his post-military civilian life, and his experiences as a father, husband, and someone who has faced significant loss and triumph.
  • His life exemplifies focus, pursuit, family, friends, love, and resilience in the face of unforeseen tragedies and challenges.
  • Coleman shares his experiences with vulnerability and how they have shaped him as a person.
  • Coleman's discussion is beneficial for everyone, regardless of age, gender, or position in life.

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  • Coleman Ruiz is a former professional football player who overcame physical and emotional challenges to become a successful entrepreneur and motivational speaker.
  • He was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder called Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, which affects the nerves in the arms and legs.
  • Despite his physical limitations, Ruiz pursued his dream of playing football and became a starting linebacker at the University of California, Berkeley.
  • After his football career, Ruiz struggled with depression and anxiety.
  • He sought professional help and found that therapy, medication, and exercise helped him manage his mental health.
  • Ruiz now uses his platform to share his story and inspire others to overcome their own challenges.

Childhood, “Wildness” (00:06:06)

  • Coleman Ruiz grew up in a modest household in East New Orleans and attended Holy Cross High School.
  • During his school years, he struggled with rules and authority and was cut from the baseball team.
  • Ruiz found a positive outlet for his energy and wildness through wrestling.
  • Andrew Huberman's research explains the phenomenon of "dispersal" during adolescence, which involves leaving one's home environment to explore new surroundings.
  • This dispersal behavior is driven by hormonal changes and neural circuitry development, leading to a chaotic and unorganized exploration of new experiences.

Wrestling, Combat Sports & Respect (00:13:24)

  • Coleman Ruiz discovered his passion for physical activity through road races and physical training competitions at a young age.
  • Wrestling became an extreme and captivating sport for him, unlike any other he had tried before.
  • Ruiz emphasizes the respect and effort involved in combat sports, particularly wrestling, where athletes face each other with no equipment or means to escape.
  • Wrestling positively impacted his academic performance, with his grades improving during wrestling season due to the discipline and structure the sport provided.
  • Despite the temptations of partying and substance abuse common in New Orleans, Ruiz stayed focused on his wrestling career and maintained good grades.
  • Ruiz achieved an impressive 89-0 record in his last two years of high school and became a state runner-up in his sophomore year.
  • Through wrestling, Ruiz gained admission to the Naval Academy, setting the stage for the next chapter of his life.

Divorce, College Applications & Naval Academy (00:22:26)

  • Coleman Ruiz was inspired to attend the Naval Academy by his uncle and viewed it as an escape from a chaotic family situation.
  • Despite initial rejection, Ruiz persisted and gained admission to the Naval Academy.
  • Coleman Ruiz was a highly ranked wrestler in high school and received a "blue chip" designation but was rejected by her dream school.
  • Stanford, her dream school, had plans to cut its wrestling program but was saved due to public outcry and petitions.
  • Ruiz's college coach offered her a spot at a prep school in Newport, Rhode Island, as a last-minute opportunity to improve her chances of admission to Stanford, which she eventually gained after attending the prep school for a year.
  • Coleman Ruiz is a former professional athlete who overcame physical and emotional challenges to become a successful entrepreneur and podcaster.

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Prep School, Patriotism, Fear (00:31:22)

  • Coleman Ruiz attended a preparatory school with a direct path to the Naval Academy.
  • The school provided rigorous academic and military training, fostering a sense of patriotism and appreciation for his future role.
  • Ruiz's exposure to accomplished individuals in academia and skateboarding broadened his perspective and emphasized the significance of being surrounded by high achievers.
  • Throughout his journey, Ruiz felt a constant need to prove himself, driven by fear and a desire to contribute positively to his surroundings.

Growth Mindset, 24-Hour Horizon (00:40:08)

  • Coleman Ruiz had a growth mindset instilled in him by his father, mother, and high school wrestling coach.
  • Growth mindset is the belief that one's abilities can be developed through effort and hard work.
  • Some people may develop a growth mindset in one area of life but not in others.
  • At the Naval Academy, Ruiz was surrounded by impressive people and had a lot of structure, which helped him overcome his fear and focus on the present.
  • He adopted a 24-hour horizon, focusing on what he could accomplish each day rather than worrying about the future.
  • Self-care was not built into the system at the Naval Academy.
  • Ruiz and his fellow wrestlers engaged in some self-care activities, such as stretching, jumping rope, and swimming, but these were not done purposefully or consistently.
  • Coleman Ruiz attended the Naval Academy in 1994 and met his wife there in 1996.
  • During a recruiting trip, he met Doug Zbek, a sophomore wrestler who invited him to participate in a daring activity.
  • Ruiz and a group of wrestlers broke into the swimming facility, Lun Hall, in the middle of the night and climbed up to the catwalk above the diving well, which was approximately 30 feet above the 10-meter diving platform.
  • Despite the risky nature of the activity, Ruiz survived and went on to become a wrestler at the Naval Academy.
  • Ruiz describes his experience at the Naval Academy and the challenges he faced, emphasizing the importance of having a focused direction in life and finding the right mentor and support system.

Wife, Work Ethic (00:52:45)

  • Coleman Ruiz met his wife, Bridget, during their sophomore year at the Naval Academy in 1996.
  • Bridget was an accomplished swimmer, inducted into the Navy Hall of Fame and winning numerous championships.
  • Despite her achievements, Coleman was drawn to Bridget's personality and genuine nature.
  • Coleman emphasizes the diversity of individuals at the Naval Academy, including exceptional achievers like Bridget and those with different strengths and interests.
  • He stresses the importance of hard work, perseverance, and proper direction to avoid unproductive pursuits.
  • Coleman and Bridget's relationship began as a friendship before becoming romantic.
  • Coleman met Bridget in February of his sophomore year while struggling with intense wrestling training and weight cutting.
  • He considered leaving the academy but decided to stay after meeting Bridget, who made his time there more enjoyable.
  • Coleman relates to the experience of following a high school girlfriend to college and living in the parking lot outside her dorm room.
  • He acknowledges the support of his girlfriend, Elany, in his journey.

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  • Coleman Ruiz decided to aim for the SEAL Teams after realizing he didn't want to join the Marine Corps.
  • He participated in a summer training in Quantico between his freshman and sophomore year at the Naval Academy but didn't love it.
  • During his junior year, he signed up to compete for a spot in the SEAL Teams and went through a rigorous two-day screening process at the Naval Academy.
  • He then attended a two-week mini-BUD/S program in Coronado during the summer between his junior and senior year.
  • After completing mini-BUD/S, he went through a series of interviews with SEALs and was selected as one of the 16 qualified candidates out of approximately 50-60.
  • BUD/S (Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL) school is a screening process to determine who is fit to become a SEAL.
  • At the Naval Academy, around 150 midshipmen express interest in joining the SEAL Teams, but only 80 are selected to attend the summer program in Coronado.
  • During BUD/S, candidates undergo intense physical and mental training, including log carrying, boat carrying, running, and長時間 no sleep.
  • Hell Week is a particularly challenging phase of BUD/S where candidates are pushed to their limits and 85% of them end up quitting.

BUD/S Success Predictors; Divorce & Aloneness; Rebellion (01:04:51)

  • Coleman Ruiz, a former BUD/S instructor and platoon commander, observed that successful BUD/S candidates often share traits such as being varsity athletes, having divorced parents, or being suspended from school.
  • These traits indicate structure, discipline, teamwork, resilience, and a rebellious spirit, all of which are valuable in BUD/S training and military operations.
  • Ruiz emphasizes the importance of a strong sense of identity, purpose, and a solid family foundation for personal growth and resilience.
  • He describes his own experiences at the Naval Academy and BUD/S training, highlighting his determination and the role of fear in motivating him to succeed.
  • Ruiz stresses the need for individuals to constantly seek and define what "right" looks like as they progress through different stages of their development.
  • During his first combat deployment in Iraq in 2003, Ruiz faced unpredictable and chaotic situations that required quick decision-making with high risks and consequences for both his team and the opposing side.

Patriotism, Navy SEALs, Green Team (01:16:30)

  • Coleman Ruiz, a former Navy SEAL, recounts his military experiences and how they shaped his patriotism.
  • Ruiz met influential figures like Colonel John Ripley, a Navy Cross recipient, which instilled a profound respect for military history.
  • After 9/11, Ruiz's patriotism fully developed, and he encountered Vietnam veterans within the SEAL Teams who emphasized mission seriousness and teamwork.
  • After 10 years of service, Ruiz underwent a rigorous 9-month Advanced Training Program to join the tier one Special Mission Unit within the SEAL Teams.
  • The pre-screening process included psychological evaluations and physical tests, and Ruiz met with a psychologist to discuss personal aspects like sleep patterns, feelings, dreams, and alcohol consumption.
  • Bris Linsky, a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, was one of the members of his interview board.

Advanced Training, Tier One, Free-Fall (01:22:15)

  • Advanced training at the command involves a 9-month program to prepare for Tactical Units (squadrons).
  • Unlike civilian free fall jumps below 13,000 ft, jumps at the command are from 25,000 ft with supplemental oxygen, night vision, and an attack board for navigation.
  • Jumps are conducted miles away from the Drop Zone due to high ground speed and cold temperatures at 25,000 ft.
  • Everyone uses IR lights on their helmets and INF infrared lights for visibility during the jump.
  • The training expands on tactical aspects of free fall, making it more challenging compared to Team 3.
  • Approximately 10-15 out of 65 people in Coleman's class did not make it through Green Team to become SEALs.
  • The term "tier one" is used but its exact reason is unknown, possibly related to official documentation and end strength numbers set by the military Congress.

Special Operations, Deaths & Grief (01:26:13)

  • Coleman Ruiz served in the military and SEAL Teams from 2006 to 2011, primarily engaging in high-risk counterterrorism work.
  • During his time in the SEAL Teams, Ruiz worked closely with and lost over 40 friends and colleagues, including his close teammate, Doug, who was killed in action in 2007.
  • The loss of his friends and colleagues had a significant emotional impact on Ruiz, leading him to question the certainty of life and the rules of society.
  • Ruiz emphasizes the importance of considering the possibility of death and ensuring that his family would be taken care of if he were to die.

Mentor Death & Facing Mortality (01:36:08)

  • Coleman Ruiz, a former Special Operations soldier, developed a belief in his immortality due to his rigorous training but later realized the fragility of life after the death of his comrade, Doug.
  • Ruiz experienced a series of losses during his deployment from 2006 to 2011, including the deaths of Tommy Valentine, Mark Carter, Nate, Mike, Lance, and Adam.
  • He faced the difficult task of notifying the families of fallen comrades, which took an emotional toll on him, particularly when he had to inform Adam's wife, Kelly, about her husband's death.
  • Living in a military community, Ruiz found it challenging to separate his military life from his personal life, as he was constantly surrounded by the consequences of war.
  • Ruiz expresses empathy for individuals living in challenging environments, especially those facing ongoing deployments and the risk of attacks, as he experienced the intensity and unpredictability of such situations during his time in Bagram, Afghanistan.

Warriors & Compassion; Trauma, Family (01:47:49)

  • Coleman Ruiz believes that warriors on both sides of a conflict genuinely believe they are doing what is right for themselves, their families, and sometimes their country.
  • He emphasizes the importance of understanding this perspective when considering international conflicts and terrorist activities.
  • Humans can be trained as weapons, but it's not always the weapons themselves that make decisions.
  • Coleman's sons have turned out well due to a team effort with his wife Bridget and a functional home environment.
  • He was able to compartmentalize his military life and be fully present as a husband and father when he was home.
  • Coleman acknowledges that his wife Bridget had a harder time with this compartmentalization due to the demands of his military career.
  • He doesn't remember much of the difficult times due to trauma, but he cherishes the memories of the fun times with his family.

Civilian Life Adjustment (01:52:37)

  • After 13 years of military service, Coleman Ruiz made the difficult decision to leave following a tragic incident that resulted in the loss of many Special Operations personnel.
  • Ruiz struggled to adjust to civilian life, particularly in managing the intense energy and emotions from his military experiences.
  • He initially dismissed the concept of PTSD until he recognized the symptoms in himself, including difficulties in processing traumatic events, managing thoughts and feelings, and experiencing physical symptoms like night sweats.
  • Ruiz faced challenges in adapting to everyday tasks and responsibilities due to his long-term military lifestyle.

Hero With a Thousand Faces, Civilian Return & PTSD (01:57:39)

  • Joseph Campbell's book, "The Hero with a Thousand Faces," influenced Coleman Ruiz's perspective on life and helped him navigate challenges.
  • The book describes the 17-stage Hero's Journey, which includes the Ultimate Boon, Refusal of the Return, Magic Flight, Assistance, Crossing the Return Threshold, Master of Two Worlds, and Freedom to Live.
  • Ruiz focused on the latter stages of the journey, particularly the return to the Ordinary World and the importance of addressing the Refusal to Return stage for personal growth.
  • The Hero's Journey is a cyclical pattern of personal growth and transformation that individuals go through, and having a mentor can be crucial in guiding and supporting individuals through this journey.

Massage, Perspective, Space-Time Bridging (02:07:03)

  • Coleman Ruiz, a former military veteran, struggled with PTSD and other mental health challenges after his service.
  • He found that a combination of physical therapies and mental practices, including psychedelic exploration, craniosacral therapy, and mindfulness, helped him manage his symptoms.
  • Ruiz gained perspective from Richard Fan's "pale blue dot" video, understanding that expanding one's visual field can expand the perception of time.
  • Despite educating himself and trying various therapies, he wasn't getting consistent help, so he tried plant medicines in a controlled environment, which resulted in a positive experience.
  • Ruiz emphasizes the importance of taking a step back and gaining perspective, rather than getting caught up in the details.

Psychedelics, Connection, Warrior Culture (02:14:10)

  • Coleman Ruiz discusses his experience with ayahuasca and DMT.
  • He describes the profound connection he felt to warrior cultures throughout history during his DMT experience.
  • Ruiz emphasizes the potential benefits of plant medicines for healing but also warns of their potential dangers.
  • He mentions a bill passed in Congress to fund the use of psychedelics for PTSD treatment in the military, which received bipartisan support.
  • Ruiz acknowledges that many veterans have benefited from psychedelic-assisted therapy through the Veteran Solutions group.
  • A few months after his positive experience, Ruiz had a difficult experience.
  • He emphasizes that it's not possible to causally link this experience to his previous psychedelic use, as there were many contextual factors involved.
  • Ruiz expresses his openness to discussing his experiences and recommends the Veteran Solutions group for those interested in psychedelic-assisted therapy.

Rock Bottom: Talk Therapy, Depression, Alcohol (02:19:15)

  • Coleman Ruiz emphasizes the significance of seeking professional help and stabilizing one's situation before engaging in psychedelic experiences.
  • He describes his experience with psychedelic medicines as overwhelming and isolating, highlighting the need for a more deliberate and supported process.
  • Ruiz stresses the severity of his depression and its profound impact on his physical and mental well-being, requiring immense effort for basic daily tasks.
  • He expresses deep respect for individuals who have overcome emotional challenges and emphasizes the importance of seeking support, taking breaks, and prioritizing sleep and fitness for overall well-being.
  • Ruiz mentions his decision to stop drinking alcohol during his depressive episode and acknowledges the positive impact of certain habits, such as waiting 90 minutes before consuming coffee, on his energy levels.
  • He discusses finding similarities between the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and his own experiences with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), highlighting the concept of "dukkha" from Buddhism as a low-grade irritation or unsatisfactoriness he carries daily.

Emotional & Physical Pain, Vulnerability, Fighter Mentality (02:25:50)

  • Coleman Ruiz describes the emotional pain he experienced as physically painful, like being cut open and scorched from the inside.
  • He found it difficult to believe that emotional pain could be so physically painful.
  • He realized that many people deal with a lot of emotional pain and that it was challenging to cope with.
  • Close friends rallied around him when he opened up to them about his struggles.
  • Ruiz can often detect when someone in his community is struggling emotionally and they open up to him about their difficulties.
  • He finds it terrifying to reveal his vulnerabilities to others, but he believes that opening up to someone trusted can be incredibly helpful.
  • He emphasizes that there are many resources available at zero cost to help people cope with emotional pain, such as clergy, AA, and other support groups.
  • He believes that the human spirit wants to help others and that people tend to see real pain in others as an act of strength rather than judging them.
  • Ruiz agrees that emotional pain is more challenging than physical pain, especially for those who are not accustomed to it.
  • Coleman Ruiz discusses the importance of vulnerability and opening up about emotional struggles.
  • He emphasizes that emotional pain can be more challenging than physical pain, especially for those who are not accustomed to it.
  • He encourages people to seek help from trusted friends, clergy, AA, or other support groups, as there are many resources available at zero cost.
  • He believes that the human spirit wants to help others and that people tend to see real pain in others as an act of strength rather than judging them.

Suicide, Asking For Help & Support (02:30:42)

  • Coleman Ruiz experienced severe depression and contemplated suicide due to feelings of inadequacy and self-deception.
  • Through scientific knowledge and past experiences, he gained perspective and found the strength to step back from the brink of suicide.
  • Friends played a crucial role in his recovery, providing emotional support and challenging him to confront his negative self-perception.
  • Ruiz emphasizes the importance of seeking help and support during difficult times, recognizing it as a sign of strength rather than weakness.
  • He highlights the value of having friends who are willing to listen, offer advice, and provide protection when needed.

Therapy, PTSD Recovery, Dread; Pharmacology (02:38:32)

  • Coleman Ruiz sought therapy to address PTSD and emotional challenges, recognizing the necessity of talk therapy despite its initial daunting nature.
  • Therapy helped him process and release the emotional weight from past experiences, leading to gradual improvements over time.
  • Ruiz believes in the effectiveness of talk therapy and acknowledges the potential benefits of pharmacology as temporary aids in the healing process.
  • He suggests taking a break from dangerous situations to gain perspective and reduce the risk of harmful coping mechanisms.
  • Disrupted sleep schedules are often observed in individuals who commit suicide, emphasizing the importance of maintaining regular sleep patterns, as alcohol can disrupt sleep even if individuals believe they are sleeping.

Healing Process: Unsatisfaction & Asking For Help (02:44:54)

  • Coleman Ruiz overcame physical and emotional challenges through therapy and a support system of coaches, mentors, and friends.
  • Therapy transformed him, leading to a more fulfilling life.
  • Ruiz emphasizes the importance of addressing psychological pain and seeking help to prevent reaching a crisis.
  • After returning from deployments, Ruiz experienced physical symptoms and emotional challenges due to unresolved stress and trauma.
  • He suggests that the healing process often begins when the pain of staying the same outweighs the pain of change.

Daily Routine, Movement, Nutrition (02:54:03)

  • Coleman Ruiz discusses the concept of the "hero's journey" and emphasizes the continuous cycle of challenges and growth rather than a permanent state of bliss.
  • After overcoming significant physical and emotional challenges, Ruiz finds himself in a more positive and balanced state.
  • Ruiz highlights the importance of maintaining healthy habits such as avoiding alcohol, prioritizing sleep, and engaging in regular physical training, including sauna sessions.
  • Physical movement plays a crucial role in mental well-being, acting as a "final common pathway" that communicates the nervous system's continued relevance to the brain.
  • Ruiz personally experienced the benefits of physical activity in managing his emotions and maintaining a clear state of mind.
  • He emphasizes the significance of sleep and a balanced diet, while acknowledging some neurotic tendencies related to cutting weight.
  • Ruiz describes his light grazing eating pattern, consuming small portions of food throughout the day, including avocado, sliced cheese, and apple.
  • Ruiz stresses that one doesn't need to overeat or consume excessive calories, especially as they approach 50, and shares his experience of cutting out unnecessary things from his life.
  • He reflects on his past involvement in big races and mountaineering adventures and how reducing such activities has positively impacted his life.
  • Ruiz mentions his son's involvement in running at the university level and the conversations they have about the psychology of challenge and the realization that while no one is invincible, we all have the ability to renew ourselves.

Manhood, Range, Parenthood, Surrender (03:02:22)

  • Coleman Ruiz believes men should possess a diverse range of skills and not solely rely on traditional aggressive masculinity.
  • He emphasizes the significance of relinquishing control and allowing children to make their own decisions within set boundaries.
  • Ruiz suggests that men should not let their aggressive side dominate their lives and should cultivate other qualities like kindness and gentleness.
  • He acknowledges the difficulty of surrendering to life's realities and accepting that not everything can be controlled.
  • Ruiz highlights the challenge of evolving from a traditional masculine mindset to a more well-rounded and emotionally intelligent individual.

Current Pursuits (03:10:08)

  • Coleman Ruiz, the Chief Operating Officer at Lids Sports Group, previously worked in private equity and ran a company before facing exhaustion and stepping away.
  • After leaving the Navy, Ruiz initially expected an easier transition but now embraces the challenges and stresses of his work and life, finding joy and fulfillment in his current role.
  • Ruiz feels he is on a positive trajectory, a sensation he hasn't experienced since college, and his sharing of his experiences has inspired millions of people.
  • Ruiz expresses gratitude to Andrew for their communication and support, and appreciates the opportunity to connect with the audience.

Coleman Ruiz: Overcoming Physical & Emotional Challenges (00:00:00)

  • Coleman Ruiz is a former professional athlete and current entrepreneur who has overcome significant physical and emotional challenges.
  • He was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer at the age of 17 and underwent multiple surgeries and chemotherapy treatments.
  • He also experienced depression and anxiety as a result of his cancer diagnosis and treatment.
  • Ruiz underwent multiple surgeries and chemotherapy treatments to overcome cancer.
  • He credits his positive mindset and support from his family and friends for helping him through this difficult time.
  • Ruiz experienced depression and anxiety as a result of his cancer diagnosis and treatment.
  • He sought professional help and engaged in therapy to manage his mental health.
  • He also found exercise and meditation to be helpful in managing his depression and anxiety.
  • Ruiz developed resilience through his experiences with cancer and mental health challenges.
  • He learned to focus on what he could control and to accept the things he could not change.
  • He also developed a strong sense of self-compassion and self-acceptance.
  • Ruiz found purpose and success in his life after overcoming his challenges.
  • He became a successful entrepreneur and motivational speaker.
  • He is passionate about helping others overcome their own challenges and achieve their full potential.

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