Lighter (2022) guides anyone seeking self-improvement through the process of releasing the past and taking power over the future. It’s a combination of wisdom and proverbs as well as a practical guide for doing the inner work of self-healing.
Introduction: How to get over your biggest obstacle in life . . . yourself.
Let’s start by asking two questions: What dreams are you chasing? And, How close are you to achieving them?
If you’re getting in your own way, being held back by past trauma or addictions, or if you keep getting derailed by your own rage and depression, this summary might be able to shed light on the path forward. That path just happens to lead inward, into the inner workings of your mind, your emotions, and your past – all of the things that are controlling you.
The author, Yung Pueblo, discovered his path to healing after reaching the edge of death due to drug addiction and a life of pleasure-seeking. In his work, he talks about the healing journey and the power of actively working on your own growth so you can enjoy success and deeper relationships every day of your life. In this summary, we’ll share some of his stories and advice.
Whether you’ve already begun your process of intentional growth or are just getting started, this summary offers you actionable insights into a deeper understanding of why you react the way you do and how you can free yourself to achieve your goals in life.
Love yourself first.
Self-love is where it all starts.
Loving yourself might sound like a mountain you’ll never be able to scale. Or maybe you’ve gone to the other extreme. Maybe after a lifetime of people treating you badly, you’ve decided to love yourself above all others.
Either way, it’s important to understand what self-love is not. It’s not materialistic. It’s not about giving yourself a spa day or treating yourself to ice cream because you deserve it. There’s nothing wrong with either of those things, and they can be acts of self-care, but that’s not the self-love we’re talking about.
Self-love means having compassion for yourself and treating yourself with curiosity. It’s about seeking to understand yourself on a deeper level. It requires being brazenly honest with yourself at all times, building healthy habits, and accepting yourself unconditionally.
Being honest with yourself isn’t always easy. It means being able to face those moments that you’re embarrassed about or ashamed of and take responsibility for them. It means being able to admit when you’re wrong.
Accepting yourself means looking at those truths you’ve discovered through honesty and saying, “I’m human. I did something I’m ashamed of. And I am still worthy of love.” Of course, you still take responsibility for anything you’ve done, but you don’t wallow in self-blame.
All of this takes time. Building healthy habits is a long game, but you have to make a start. You can begin by being intentional with every action you take and choosing to do what’s best for you and your goals instead of just what feels good. The more you do this, the more self-love will become a habit.
Self-love may at times feel challenging or counterintuitive, but you truly cannot feel love from others if you don’t first know how to love yourself. You also can’t wait until you’ve healed yourself before you give yourself love. On the contrary, healing is an act of self-love.
Love yourself first. Then heal.
In the next section, we’ll look at how to heal from the inside.
Healing happens from the inside.
You may or may not have had a traumatic past. Whether your upbringing was peaceful or turbulent, it still affected you. The fact is, it’s during your youth – though you weren’t conscious enough to realize it – that your surroundings taught your brain how to react.
When you react impulsively now, that reaction is programmed based on past experiences. It’s not a reaction to the situation right now. For example, maybe as a young child your father disapproved of crying. Maybe instead of comforting you, he shamed you. Fast forward 30 years, you’re at work complaining about the coffee being too strong. A coworker walks by and tells you to stop whining about it, and without warning, you’re overwhelmed by anger and you lash out at them.
Now, whether or not the coworker meant anything malicious by the comment or was saying it jokingly, your reaction wasn’t because of their comment. Your reaction was because of a belief you acquired back before you were even fully conscious – the belief that crying was a sign of weakness and shame.
Just realizing the origin of your reactions is an important first step in healing. For our purposes, let’s define healing as reprogramming your brain from being in a reactionary or survival state to being in a conscious or logical state.
The next step is acknowledging that your reaction isn’t caused by things outside yourself but by past programming inside your brain. Whatever is triggering your reaction – in this case, a possibly innocuous comment from a coworker – isn’t the problem. How you’re responding to the emotion is the problem.
The most important thing you can do is allow yourself to feel an emotion without being controlled by it.
When that first emotional spike occurs, use the knowledge that this emotion is a reaction based on past experiences to pause, take a breath, and give yourself the space to ride the wave of the emotion. Once the initial feeling dies down, use that space to think more objectively about what’s happening.
Chances are, there’s a pattern to the things that trigger your emotions. Using the last example, you may notice that your pattern is to react with anger anytime someone questions your intestinal fortitude. Tap into that self-love and take a look at your patterns. Approach yourself with curiosity. Leave judgment behind. Ask yourself what is at the root of your emotional reaction? What do you want that you can’t have? What do you crave that is out of your reach?
Your father didn’t treat you with love when you cried. Wouldn’t it be nice to have had a hug instead of a rebuke? Sometimes what we want is what was lost in childhood. Sometimes we want love from another. Sometimes we want an apology. A new life. A new past. A new parent or spouse or body or home.
The tension between our reality and what we crave is the root of much of our reactionary tendencies. It’s time to let go. And that’s what we’ll talk about next.
You have to let go.
You don’t have to live in sadness, anger, frustration, emptiness, or despair. But to free yourself from these things, you have to do the hard work of letting go.
So what are you hanging onto that needs to be released? The answer to this goes back to that tension we described in the previous section. The difference between what you have and what you want is where you’re living. That space of wanting what you can’t have is dragging you down.
You can’t have a do-over for a bad decision you made. You can’t have a father who didn’t walk out on you. You can’t have the marriage you wanted that ended up failing. You can’t have . . . well, you can fill in the blank here.
But you want it. And that’s the issue. Whatever it is you want that you can’t have, that’s what you have to let go of. And this letting go is what moves you out of reaction and into peace.
To be clear, this isn’t the same as bottling up your emotions. It’s not about forbidding yourself to feel something. It’s about recognizing what’s causing that feeling, taking a breath, and genuinely letting it go because you want better for yourself.
When you’re able to achieve this practice, you’ll not only experience inner peace, you’ll also experience stronger relationships.
But what about being true to yourself? Some people are afraid that seeking growth means being a fake or artificial version of yourself. Let’s talk about the difference between your reactionary self and your intentional self in the next section.
This is the real you.
Your first impulse or emotion doesn’t define who you are. It’s a part of you, but it isn’t the whole you.
Humans have the unique ability to consciously choose their paths rather than being solely guided by survival instinct. Your preprogrammed emotional responses are rooted in survival. But now that you’re no longer a child, you’re beyond survival. You get to choose the life you want and actively work toward that life.
Let’s go back to that moment with your coworker who told you to quit whining. You yelled at them. They walked off in a huff; you went to your office. Now what do you do? First of all, you recognize that they aren’t the cause of your reaction. You don’t blame yourself, but you do take responsibility. You pause, breathe, and think about why you reacted that way. When you remember how you felt as a child being denied compassion, maybe you let yourself shed a tear.
Once you’ve calmed down and come to grips with your reaction, you go to your coworker, apologize unconditionally, and declare your intention to behave better in the future. But there’s more. Because now you get to go home to your own child. He’s sitting at the dinner table being told he can’t have dessert until he finishes his veggies. And he’s crying.
Watching him cry brings up a strong feeling of anger, but now you know where that anger is coming from. You calm down, maybe take a breather in another room, then you come back and give your kid the hug you wish you’d gotten.
Your true self is the person you’re choosing to be. Transformation is in your nature as a human, but it only happens by choice and work. We’ve created a world for ourselves that is constantly changing because we are constantly changing. Transformation is adaptive and necessary.
As you grow, you may find yourself letting go of old ideas or goals. You may even shed old identities. These are simply side effects of clarifying who you really are through the process of freeing yourself from the past and moving intentionally through the present.
Strive for progress.
Growth and maturity aren’t about achieving perfection. Your goal is progress. You’ll experience benefits from progress, and these benefits will, in turn, motivate you to continue your journey of growth.
So it’s important that you look for signs that you’re doing things right. Here are seven signs you can look out for.
One: you’re no longer reacting immediately to things that have commonly triggered you because you’re able to pause and give yourself space to reflect.
Two: You’re looking at others through a lens of compassion. As you offer yourself love and forgiveness, you recognize the work that others are doing and can give them the same love.
Three: You don’t feel the need to avoid uncomfortable feelings. Instead of numbing the pain or running from it, you’re able to ride the waves of your emotions while staying the course of your goals.
Four: you’re able to make choices that benefit your long-term goals rather than acting on what feels good in the moment.
Five: you draw clear boundaries, keeping yourself safe and confidently saying no when you need to.
Six: you’re able to disagree with others constructively, turning it into a learning experience or conversation rather than a fight or argument.
Seven: you can now hear the voice of your own intuition and you find that it’s guiding you in a positive direction.
If you notice these things happening, you’re seeing progress. Now, there’s no magic formula for achieving these things. You can take up any practice you want, whether that’s meditation, yoga, walking in the woods, or whatever makes sense to you. Be with yourself for a little while each day, seek understanding, and help yourself grow.
Love your partner second.
You can only love another person to the depth that you love yourself. That’s why personal healing is the single best thing you can do to improve your relationships.
If you’re in an intimate relationship, partnership, or marriage, it’ll help to share your intentions to pursue personal growth with your loved one. Since everyone knows that communication is the bedrock of a healthy relationship, it’ll help to establish communication guidelines with your partner.
The most important thing for you to agree on is the difference between attachment and connection. Attachment is selfish. It’s about wanting your partner to do or be what you want for your own comfort. Connection is about working together in love and support.
To be supportive of each other, you need to understand that no one can make you happy. Expecting your partner to be the source of your happiness will doom your relationship to extreme stress and likely failure.
Your partner can’t fix your emotional problems and you can’t fix theirs. Support means offering comfort, a listening ear, or simply space during hard times. Support also means both of you are behaving this way. One-sided relationships aren’t healthy for either party.
Support is voluntary. If either of you is placing expectations on the other, or if you feel the other owes their time and energy to your support, then you have a problem. Mutual love and respect rooted in emotional maturity in both parties is the only way for a relationship to truly thrive.
This is what healing looks like.
So how do you know whether your efforts at growth and healing are working?
Measuring growth is challenging. You can easily get caught up in the moments. This one was good, so I must be doing well. This one was bad, so I must be doing badly.
Your best bet is to stay in the present, continue your work, and greet moments of successful progress with joy. If you need to measure your success, take a big-picture look comparing yourself now to who you were when you first started.
Progress is slow and you’ll continue to encounter challenges. Sometimes it’ll be the same challenge and you’ll wonder why you’re still fighting the same battle.
Other times, progress will feel dramatic. You may even experience a fear of losing your old self.
Either way, simply ride the waves of those feelings. Then, in your calmer moments, remind yourself of your intentions and goals for yourself.
As you grow, there’ll be effects whether you see them or not. You’ll experience clarity and the ability to perceive things from different perspectives. You’ll be able to solve problems creatively and compassionately.
Speaking of compassion, as growth leads to humility and humility leads to compassion, the people around you will experience positive effects from being near you. Whether that’s loved ones at home or not-so-loved ones at work, the power of your healing will touch lives.
And you aren’t the only person making these improvements. Self-healing is being sought on a worldwide scale. As we each strive to grow into better versions of ourselves, we’re elevating humanity and paving the way for a better future.
We’re all finding ourselves on a shared path, and that’s a beautiful thing.
A healed world starts with a healed self. As we collectively move into the future, it’s important to reflect on our individual roles in this great big story of humanity. Most people would agree that we want to live in a world of love and kindness. Achieving the kind of compassionate systems and societies we need to advance our species starts with each of us doing the work to become compassionate human beings. And that compassion starts with how we treat ourselves. In short, loving yourself is the first step in healing yourself, your relationships, and the world.
About the author
yung pueblo is the pen name of the writer Diego Perez and means “young people.” The name is meant to convey that humanity is entering an era of remarkable growth and healing, when many will expand their self-awareness and release old burdens. He lives in western Massachusetts.
Motivation, Inspiration, Mindfulness, Happiness, Religion, Spirituality, Self Help, Poetry, Psychology, Mental Health, Philosophy, Personal Development, Autobiography, Memoir, Alternative Medicine, Meditation, Personal Transformation, New Age Meditation
Table of Contents
Introduction My Story 1
1 Self-Love 13
2 Healing 31
3 Letting Go 58
4 Finding Your Practice 91
5 Human Habit versus Human Nature 101
6 Emotional Maturity 120
7 Relationships 144
8 Challenges during Healing 183
9 Internal Changes Ripple Outward 207
10 Harmonizing the World 226
11 A New Era 253
A radically compassionate plan for turning inward and lifting the heaviness that prevents us from healing ourselves and the world, from the New York Times bestselling author of Clarity & Connection
“During the years when I had abandoned myself, my mind felt undeniably heavy. I knew I needed to find a clear way to help me feel lighter.”
yung pueblo’s path to deep healing began only after years of drug abuse had taken a toll on his mind and body. Searching for a way forward, he found that by honestly examining and addressing the anxieties and fears that he had been running away from, he no longer felt like a stranger inside of his heart and mind. And once he dedicated himself to meditation and trusting his intuition, he started to finally feel mentally lighter, with more love emerging from within. This was not an easy journey, and it’s one that he is still on, but it showed him that real healing is possible.
In Lighter, yung pueblo demonstrates how we can all move forward in our healing, from learning self-compassion to letting go to becoming emotionally mature. As the heaviness falls away, our minds will finally stop feeling overburdened with tension and we’ll be able to reconnect with the present. And the world around us will hopefully become more inviting in crisp and newly vibrant ways. But these are just the first steps. As we grow stronger and expand our self-awareness, it’s our responsibility—and also part of the healing journey—to take actions to support the health and harmony of all people. The final section of Lighter shows how we can and must contribute to building a world that is no longer structurally harmful but, instead, structurally compassionate.
yung pueblo’s hope is that as more of us heal, our actions will become more intentional, our decisions will become more compassionate, our thinking will become clearer, and the future will become brighter.
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “An empathetic and wise book that will guide you on a journey toward a deeper understanding of self.”—Nedra Glover Tawwab, LCSW, New York Times bestselling author of Set Boundaries, Find Peace
“yung pueblo is the real deal—a modern sage and guiding light. In his new book, he beautifully illustrates how finding harmony within is the key to creating a progressive society built on compassion, clarity, and understanding. This is a book everyone must read, many times over.”—Vex King, #1 Sunday Times bestselling author of Healing Is the New High
“yung pueblo teaches how to heal with compassion as the driving force. Lighter is an empathetic and wise book that will guide you on a journey toward a deeper understanding of self and help you make impactful changes within and in the world. yung pueblo created a core curriculum on how to heal despite your experiences with suffering.”—Nedra Glover Tawwab, LCSW, New York Times bestselling author of Set Boundaries, Find Peace
“A beautiful encouragement for tending your own heart: for learning and healing, for finding well-being, and being part of the solution for all you care about.”—Jack Kornfield, author of A Path with Heart
“To learn of yung pueblo’s beginnings in this intimate book is a gift. Lighter helps us understand the daily ways in which his deepening practice has impacted an entire generation of seekers. His words leave an indelible mark—his struggle with self-abandonment and his personal process of compassionate self-connection have quietly inspired millions of us. yung pueblo’s humble, potent teachings help us prioritize our emotional maturity in the face of constant change, a vital understanding in these turbulent times.”—Elena Brower, bestselling author of Practice You, Being You, and Art of Attention
“yung pueblo offers insight into daily practices and choices that can remove the burdens of habitual reaction to reveal the freedom of wise reflection. In Lighter, we see that knowing the mind can transform a person, and also transform society.”—David Simas, CEO of the Obama Foundation
“Lighter is the story of one man and of all of us as we seek to becoming lighter, to walk through our lives freely, unencumbered by the weight of the past or the future. It is as inspirational as it is a practical guide.”—Mark Hyman, MD, New York Times bestselling author of The Pegan Diet
“A rare and insightful journey into the author’s own healing journey will inspire you to let go of the past and find a lighter path forward. As always, yung pueblo speaks truth in such an eloquent way. This book is a true gem.”—Sheleana Aiyana, author of Becoming the One
“Facing a pivotal moment, yung pueblo turned inward and learned that through investigation he could build a new way to think and live. He learned that true love of self is possible. Lighter shares his journey in a way that will touch you deeply, as he offers hope that peace is possible for ourselves and the world.”—Sharon Salzberg, author of Lovingkindness and Real Happiness
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Chapter 1: Self-Love
When I ask myself what I was addicted to, no particular drug or craving stands out as the one source that led me into darkness. After I stopped the serious drug abuse, I realized that I had been using a mixture of whatever could bring me temporary pleasure to cover up a void in myself that I did not have the courage to face. The void was never satiated or content. Any enjoyment I could experience or attention that people gave me was never enough. It felt like an endless vacuum that could take in the world, spit it out, and still have room to ask for more.
The shift finally came when I stopped throwing pleasure at the problem and started nourishing myself with nonjudgmental and honest attention. The refocusing of my energy into paying attention to all my changing emotions had an immediate effect. Paying attention eased my incessant craving for more pleasure and I stopped feeling so ragged and run-down.
I was not aware of the term self-love when my personal journey started, but I certainly used the practice as a critical stepping-stone. I would not have been able to move forward into a better life without this gentle and accepting attention that I started giving myself. Self-love was the missing link. It was the key to wholeness that I was unconsciously searching for. I discovered that the appreciation you seek from others will not hold the same rejuvenating power as the appreciation, attention, and kindness you can give yourself.
What Does Self-Love Mean?
Anything powerful and long-lasting requires a sturdy foundation. When a home is being constructed, all attention first goes to the foundation that will stabilize the structure. Once that foundation is firmly in place, you can go on to build, expand, and create something magnificent. The evolution of the individual works in a similar manner. Self-love is the first step that all inner and outer success is based on. Self-love gives your journey the energy and stability to stay on a clear trajectory. It is a profound commitment to self-discovery and to making your well-being a top priority.
Somewhere around 2014 or 2015, a big shift started happening culturally regarding the idea of self-love. In particular, I noticed that the word began entering the sphere of social media in a big way. I like to think of social media as a forum where humanity talks to itself, and at the time it felt as if we had collectively picked up the word self-love and started looking at it in different ways, turning it in all directions to get a better sense of its true meaning. Many individuals were asking themselves what self-love means to them, and at the same time I was going through my own process with the word. I wondered: Is self-love real? Is it needed? Is this something I can apply in my daily life? Is self-love different from self-centeredness? What is the relationship between self-love and healing yourself?
Initially, commercialization surrounded the idea, with mainstream media pushing the belief that you could buy yourself happiness and self-worth. But this is misleading because it confuses your needs with your cravings. The understanding that self-love means giving yourself all the things that you want, especially in the material sense, seems fine to a certain extent, but from the experience of many it is clear that material things can only go so far. Treating yourself to small gifts or going on rejuvenating trips can all fall under the umbrella of self-love, but self-love should not be confused with materialism. Material things cannot give you complete balance of mind and they cannot fundamentally heal your past. It is easy to go to extremes in trying to find solace in external or material things and end up further fueling the fire of craving that ultimately results in dissatisfaction. Thinking of self-love only as what you can buy or obtain does not activate its life-changing power.
Others understood self-love as putting yourself first at all costs. It makes sense that many would embrace this understanding of self-love because too many of us live our lives for others and fall into cycles of people-pleasing without taking the time to properly take care of ourselves. However, we run the risk of falling into the trap of ego if we only think of ourselves. Putting ourselves first in all situations can quickly become another type of extreme that disregards the welfare of others and pushes us to become more and more self-centered. If your ego is growing, then your mind is full of agitation and will have great difficulty seeing reality clearly. If self-love is supposed to help our lives, then this must not be the right direction.
The understanding of self-love that makes the most sense to me is much more internal. It is the way you relate to yourself with compassion, honesty, and openness. It is meeting every part of yourself with unconditional acceptance, from the parts that you find easy to love, to the rough and imperfect parts that you try to hide from. Self-love begins with acceptance, but it does not stop there. Real self-love is a total embrace of all that you are while simultaneously acknowledging that you have room to grow and much to let go of. Real self-love is a tricky concept that requires a sense of balance to be able to use its transformative power—it is nourishing yourself deeply without becoming self-centered or egotistical. It is no longer seeing yourself as less than others, but at the same time maintaining the humility not to see yourself as better than others. The greatest benefits of self-love come from the positive interactions between you and yourself. Self-love is not only a mindset but a set of actions.
Taken to its highest form, self-love is an energy we use to evolve. Ultimately, I define self-love as “doing what you need to do to know and heal yourself.”
True self-love is multifaceted and includes radical honesty, positive habit building, and unconditional self-acceptance. These three pillars work internally and externally to generate and support an enduring sense of self-love.
everywhere there was
once a lie inside of you
there is now truth
a truth that enhances
the connection between
you and yourself
Radical honesty, a form of authenticity that begins inside you, is a warm recognition that you gently apply to your conscious life. This view of radical honesty is not about telling everyone what you think. Instead, it is the root from which self-awareness grows. Thoughts and emotions that were once discarded or ignored are now embraced. Where you once felt the urge to run away, you now challenge yourself to face whatever is there. More than anything, any lie that you formerly told yourself is examined so that the truth may come forward. The key to radical honesty is that this is not about you and other people, but about how you relate to yourself in all situations, whether you are alone or with others.
Radical honesty is not about punishing yourself or harsh self-talk. Rather, it is about calmly being in constant contact with your truth. Practicing this balance is critical. In the beginning, radical honesty may feel hard to manage, but it is truly a long-term project. If you want to see great results, you need to wholeheartedly commit to the process, especially when it gets difficult, so you can reject the temptation to fall back into unconsciously motivated behavior.
If you continue to tread down the path of lies, fear and its two primary manifestations—anxiety and anger—will continue to grow. First, you fear truth and then you lie to be rid of your fear, unwittingly falling into a loop where you actually continue empowering your fear because every lie breeds further anxiety. The only way to put an end to the burning fire of fear is by thoroughly extinguishing it with truth. Dishonesty is the fear of truth.
Dishonesty with yourself creates distance. The more lies you build up over time, the more you become a stranger to yourself. When you cannot accept your own truth, you are moving in the opposite direction of self-awareness. When lies suffuse your mind, life becomes opaque and the right actions you need to take to ease your inner tension become difficult to decipher. The lies you tell yourself will also manifest as a lack of depth in your relationships. A deep connection with another being is not possible if you are deeply disconnected from yourself.
As you practice radical honesty, this distance decreases and your mind starts to become calmer. Telling yourself the truth is the beginning of inner harmony. This harmony immediately makes your relationships more vibrant. In examining your past and uncovering the truth that you previously refused to own, you actually make the power of your honesty stronger. This higher degree of presence allows your self-awareness to flourish. Eventually, your radical honesty matures to the point where it becomes non-negotiable—you carry it wherever you go and in every situation it becomes an asset that informs your decisions.
Where you once coaxed yourself into thinking nothing was wrong, you now admit to yourself that turbulence or hurt was actually there. Where you once forced yourself into thinking you liked something, you admit that you did find it disagreeable. Where you once denied old pain, you admit that there is a wound within you that needs tending.