Guest Episode
April 8, 2024

Coleman Ruiz: Overcoming Physical & Emotional Challenges

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In this episode, my guest is Coleman Ruiz, a former Tier One U.S. Navy SEAL joint task force commander. He served in Afghanistan and Iraq and as a BUD/S training officer. He shares his journey from childhood through the Naval Academy to elite Navy SEAL special operations. He shares the physical and emotional challenges he has overcome and discusses his struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He also talks about the key role of mentors, family and friends in building resilience. Coleman gives us a raw, humble account of hitting rock bottom. He tells of the intense pain, fear, depression and suicidality in his journey of redemption. Coleman’s story is a real-life hero’s journey. He tells it with extraordinary vulnerability and humility. He explains the challenges and sudden tragedies that helped to ground, shape and renew him. His story will inspire listeners of all ages and backgrounds.

Note: This conversation includes profanity and topics that are not suitable for all audiences and ages.


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About this Guest

Coleman Ruiz

Coleman Ruiz is a former Tier One U.S. Navy SEAL joint task force commander. He served in Afghanistan and Iraq and as a BUD/S training officer.

  • 00:00:00 Coleman Ruiz
  • 00:01:55 Sponsors: BetterHelp, Maui Nui Venison & Eight Sleep
  • 00:06:06 Childhood, “Wildness”
  • 00:13:24 Wrestling, Combat Sports & Respect
  • 00:22:26 Divorce, College Applications & Naval Academy
  • 00:29:51 Sponsor: AG1
  • 00:31:22 Prep School, Patriotism, Fear
  • 00:40:08 Growth Mindset, 24-Hour Horizon
  • 00:43:02 Naval Academy, Mentor, Focus
  • 00:52:45 Wife, Work Ethic
  • 00:59:23 Sponsor: Plunge
  • 01:00:51 Navy SEALs, BUD/S, Hell Week
  • 01:04:51 BUD/S Success Predictors; Divorce & Aloneness; Rebellion
  • 01:16:30 Patriotism, Navy SEALs, Green Team
  • 01:22:15 Advanced Training, Tier One, Free-Fall
  • 01:26:13 Special Operations, Deaths & Grief
  • 01:36:08 Mentor Death & Facing Mortality
  • 01:47:49 Warriors & Compassion; Trauma, Family
  • 01:52:37 Civilian Life Adjustment
  • 01:57:39 Hero With a Thousand Faces, Civilian Return & PTSD
  • 02:07:03 Massage, Perspective, Space-Time Bridging
  • 02:14:10 Psychedelics, Connection, Warrior Culture
  • 02:19:15 Rock Bottom: Talk Therapy, Depression, Alcohol
  • 02:25:50 Emotional & Physical Pain, Vulnerability, Fighter Mentality
  • 02:30:42 Suicide, Asking For Help & Support
  • 02:38:32 Therapy, PTSD Recovery, Dread; Pharmacology
  • 02:44:54 Healing Process: Unsatisfaction & Asking For Help
  • 02:54:03 Daily Routine, Movement, Nutrition
  • 03:02:22 Manhood, Range, Parenthood, Surrender
  • 03:10:08 Current Pursuits
  • 03:16:01 Zero-Cost Support, Spotify & Apple Reviews, Sponsors, YouTube Feedback, Momentous, Social Media, Neural Network Newsletter

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This transcript version is not in its final form and will be updated.

Note: This conversation includes profanity and topics that are not suitable for all audiences and ages.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Welcome to the Huberman Lab podcast, where we discuss science and science-based tools for everyday life.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: I'm Andrew Huberman, and I'm a professor of neurobiology and ophthalmology at Stanford School of Medicine. My guest today is Coleman Ruiz. Coleman Ruiz is a former Tier 1 Navy SEAL Special Operator. I think it's fair to assume that most of you have never heard of Coleman Ruiz before.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: And in fact, it was part of his former life job description to be largely covert, such that only his family and friends really knew what he did for a living. He is, however, now living as a civilian. And the reason I invited Coleman on this podcast was essentially to tell us his life story, which of course includes his time in the SEAL teams. But includes so much more that I'm certain is of value to everyone.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Today, Coleman shares with you his remarkable journey from childhood through his teenage years into the military and some of the things that happened during his time in the military, which then informed his post-military civilian life and what it is to be a father, a husband, and somebody who has experienced tremendous loss at various stages of his life, as well as tremendous triumph.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Indeed, if ever there was a life that could be framed within the context of the so-called hero's journey, it is the life of Coleman Ruiz. Coleman Ruiz's life is one that embodies focus and pursuit, family and friends and love, all the things that we think of in terms of having a rich life, but also one that includes many unforeseen tragedies, many unforeseen challenges, both internal and external.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Coleman also shares with a rare and extraordinary degree of vulnerability. The extent to which challenges in life, both external and internal, have helped shape him as a human being. What follows is a discussion that everyone, male, female, young or old, and regardless of position in life, is sure to derive tremendous benefit from.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Before we begin, I'd like to emphasize that this podcast is separate from my teaching and research roles at Stanford. It is, however, part of my desire and effort to bring zero cost to consumer information about science and science-related tools to the general public.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: In keeping with that theme, I'd like to thank the sponsors of today's podcast. Our first sponsor is BetterHelp. Betterhelp offers professional therapy with a licensed therapist carried out entirely online. I've been doing therapy for over 30 years. Initially, I started therapy because, well, I was required to in order to stay in school, but eventually I just decided to keep doing it because I found it to be very beneficial.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: There are essentially three things that great therapy provides. First of all, it provides a rapport with somebody that you can trust and talk about all issues with. Second of all, they can provide support. In the form of emotional support or directed guidance. And third, expert therapy can provide useful insights that you wouldn't have otherwise had access to.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: In fact, I consider doing regular therapy as important as working out one's body in the gym or through cardiovascular exercise. And with BetterHelp, scheduling and doing therapy becomes extremely convenient. They can match you to a therapist that can provide those three things, excellent rapport, support, and insight, and they can do so on a schedule that matches yours.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: If you'd like to try BetterHelp, go to slash Huberman to get 10% off your first month. Again, that's slash Huberman. Today's episode is also brought to us by Maui Nui Venison. Maui Nui Venison is the most nutrient-dense and delicious red meat available.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: I've spoken before on this podcast and with several expert guests on this podcast about the fact that most of us should be seeking to get about one gram of quality protein per pound of body weight every day. Not only does that protein provide critical building blocks for things like muscle repair and synthesis, but also for overall metabolism and health.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Eating enough quality protein each day is also a terrific way to stave off hunger. One of the key things, however, is to make sure that you're getting enough quality protein without ingesting excess calories. Maui Nui venison has an extremely high quality protein per calorie ratio, such that getting one gram of protein per pound of body weight is both easy and doesn't cause you to ingest an excess of calories.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Also, Maui Nui venison is absolutely delicious. They have venison steaks, they have ground venison, and they have venison bone broth. I personally like all of those. In fact, I probably eat a Maui Nui venison burger pretty much every day. And occasionally, I'll swap that for a Maui Nui steak.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: And if you're really on the go, they have Maui Nui venison jerky, which has 10 grams of protein per stick at just 55 calories. If you'd like to try Maui Nui Venison, you can go to slash Huberman to get 20% off your first order. Again, that's slash Huberman. Today's episode is also brought to us by Eight Sleep.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Eight Sleep makes smart mattress covers with cooling, heating, and sleep tracking capacity. Now, I've spoken many times before in this podcast about the critical need to get sleep, both enough sleep and enough quality sleep. When we do that, everything, our mental health, our physical health, performance in any sports or school, et cetera, all get better.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: And when we're not sleeping well or enough, all those things suffer. One of the key things to getting a great night's sleep is that your body temperature actually has to drop by about one to three degrees in order to fall and stay deeply asleep. And in order to wake up feeling refreshed, your body temperature actually has to increase by about one to three degrees.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: One of the best ways to ensure that happens is to control the temperature of your sleeping environment. And with Eight Sleep, it makes it very easy to do that. You program in the temperature that you want at the beginning, middle, and end of the night. You can even divide the temperature for two different people, if you have two different people sleeping in the bed, and it tracks your sleep.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: It tells you how much slow wave sleep and rapid eye movement sleep you're getting. It really helps you dial in the correct parameters to get the best possible night's sleep for you. I've been sleeping on an Eight Sleep mattress cover for well over three years now. And it has completely transformed my sleep for the better.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: If you'd like to try Eight Sleep, you can go to slash Huberman and save $150 off their pod three cover. Eight Sleep currently ships in the USA, Canada, UK, select countries in the EU and Australia. Again, that's slash Huberman. And now for my conversation with Coleman Ruiz. Coleman Ruiz, welcome.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Thank you. Very excited to see you.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Great to have you here. I'm guessing most people are probably not familiar with Coleman Ruiz.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Let's start at the beginning. Where were you born? What was the context of your home life? And maybe let's get up to maybe elementary school, middle school, and whatever top contour or deep details you want to get into, we're all ears.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Okay, I'll bring us up to seventh grade because I would say that was probably the first big inflection point in my life. I was born in New Orleans in a suburb called New Orleans East, we call it. And have an older sister, two younger brothers. My dad was a welder. My mom was a dental assistant and we had a couple of boxers in the dogs. And we had a very... Modest, very modest upbringing. I won't...

COLEMAN RUIZ: Over-dramatize it, but, you know, admittedly, you know, sometimes we got cheese from the lady across the street who didn't want her welfare cheese and... It was one of those. You know, I could tell my parents were fighting for every nickel. And, but it was great. I mean, my cousin grew up across the street from me. He's exactly my age. We had that, at least some of my memory, Andrew, of it was.

COLEMAN RUIZ: It was very pleasant. I learned later that you forget a lot of things in your childhood that were unpleasant. But my initial memories when I started thinking about this kind of thing, and you know, as you and I have discussed, getting professional help, and you start to learn a little bit more about your childhood. But I remember it being very pleasant. You've told me about your background in skateboarding and stuff.

COLEMAN RUIZ: You know, we skateboarded the neighborhood. Bmx was a big thing when we were kids. It was very much a rat-the-streets upbringing. There was a park behind the neighborhood. We would cut through the fence and go, you know, this kind of thing. I played football and baseball and very normal in that regard. I went to the neighborhood school. And then in sixth grade.

COLEMAN RUIZ: I went to what was my high school, but it went it went fifth through twelfth. It's called Holy Cross High School in the Lower Ninth Ward. Which that spot is now vacated because the school, I went back after Hurricane Katrina, the whole school had to be moved. And I went there in seventh grade. And it was a hellacious start. I mean, it was detention after detention, you know, fistfight after fistfight, and damn near.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Were you the instigator of those fights?

COLEMAN RUIZ: Probably some. I definitely fell in with the wrong crowd initially in that sixth and seventh grade years.

COLEMAN RUIZ: I wouldn't say it was so extreme. That like it was complete mayhem but i was definitely on You know, problem, situation, number, whatever, when my parents were called in. And it was kind of the last straw type thing. And, um... I got cut from baseball. My grades were fine. I was always a pretty good student. It was just teenager shenanigans.

COLEMAN RUIZ: And then I went out for wrestling.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Can I just pause you for a second? So on the violence part.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: I have a little bit of experience with this.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Violence can come from trying to protect others.


ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Instigating. It can come from the wildness, just trying to see what it feels like, experimentation. And any number of other things, all the way to pure sociopathy, which we know you are not and weren't. Do you recall feeling something inside that inspired this? Was it for attention? Did it feel good afterwards?

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Yeah, can you recall what it was about?

COLEMAN RUIZ: I think it was the wildness thing, Andrew, honestly. It wasn't... I mean, I believe I don't have a malicious bone in my body. Like, we all have that in us. Obviously, my profession later in the military, you know. I was able to activate that and I feel like I still can and I was certainly able to in sports which is why that seventh grade year was really pivotal.

COLEMAN RUIZ: But even now, it's funny, it's even funny you ask about the wildness because Let me put it in movie terms. Like, one of my favorite movie scenes of all time is in the movie The Town. When Ben Affleck walks in the room, Jeremy Renner is the, you know, his partner, essentially. And he walks in the room and he says.

COLEMAN RUIZ: We're going to hurt somebody. I can't tell you where and I can't tell you when. And he pauses and Jeremy Renner takes maybe a three second pause and he says, whose car are we taking? He doesn't even ask. You know, he's just. They're just wild and excited about doing something wild. I don't promote like going to hurt somebody.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Were you the Affleck or the Renner? Affleck, excuse me, or Renner in that?

COLEMAN RUIZ: I was, I feel like I was mostly the Renner. Put it this way, if you have some good idea this afternoon, Like, let's go fucking try this. I'm good. I'm ready. And I think it's just exciting. You know, I hate rules. I hate being told what to do. It's one of the things that was so frustrating about the military. The rules are in place for a reason. They're written in blood. I get all that. But we're so constrained sometimes.

COLEMAN RUIZ: I think that was just all coming into fruition that seventh grade year. And I enjoyed going wild like it was just fun and frankly we weren't These fist fights and this trouble wasn't Like going to get some kid. Those other kids wanted the wildness too, you know, and so... But the school didn't want that. And then I went out for wrestling that year and I could put it all into the wrestling room And it was awesome.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Before we talk about wrestling and why it was so meaningful as a channel for you, a little bit of neurobiology, or else I wouldn't be Andrew Huberman. There's a really interesting phenomenon that one observes in both animals and humans. Which is that somewhere around adolescence when the hormone surge begins. But even before that, there's a phenomenon called dispersal.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: It's very different than fighting per se or sexual activity per se. It's a literal dispersal from one's home environment or an animal's nest in which animals... And humans, and we're animals after all. Start forging new environments in a very, as you point out, chaotic way. It's not organized. It's a little nuts.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: And biologists and neurobiologists in particular have observed changes in neural circuitry that drive this. So some of it's hormonal, but a lot of it is the brain taking all this input that one has been exposed to, sun, earth, food, others, social interactions. And starting to essentially throw the different paints, the different colors of paint together and just trying things.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Some kids are more prone to this than others. It certainly has a hormonal component. Boys and girls tend to do this differently, but they both do it. And psychologists and neurobiologists see this as a fundamental shift in our underlying circuitry. So just a little bit of food for thought to put what you just described in context. With that said, tell us about wrestling.

COLEMAN RUIZ: I mean, Andrew, in many ways, like I said, that was the first inflection point. It was like.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Immediate, I mean, immediate uptake. Within a week, I knew this was my thing. Maybe the first practice.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: What do you think it was?

COLEMAN RUIZ: So when I was younger, my aunt and uncle... When I was like seven years old, they started taking me to road races. And I'm sure just running races, one mile and 5K races when I was a really small kid.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: For you to run.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Mm-hmm, to run with them. They were into the road racing thing back in the day when it was brand new, you know, the 80s. I'm 48, so. I was born in 75, so I was seven, you know, eight years old at the time. And I was into, like, obviously, can I win this race? I just, the pain. Of the effort. Was so comfortable. And then... It's kind of silly, but like I won the PT competition at like the Boy Scouts thing in Audubon Park.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Pt is physical. Yeah.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Physical training. Physical training. And so I won like the whatever when I was young and built Boy Scouts or something. And then it just snowballed. Then I was just like the physical activity. Still today is, I mean, if someone said, what are you really in love with? It's that.

COLEMAN RUIZ: And so when I walked into the wrestling room It was so extreme compared to anything else I had ever done. Football, baseball, whatever. I never really liked any of those sports. I played them all. But I didn't like them. And always my dad wrestled in high school and college and We were, you know, always rough and tumble in that regard.

COLEMAN RUIZ: I even have a couple of buddies in the teams, you know, who obviously were college wrestlers. There's a lot of wrestlers in the teams. People would always joke about how we're so handsy. You know, our hands are always on each other and... That was just a thing for us. Like, I loved the close contact. I loved the fight of it. What I really love about combat sports, because I boxed in high school between wrestling seasons.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Was the respect.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Tell me more about that.

COLEMAN RUIZ: You just don't have, there are some, of course, like you can see guys hyping it up and doing their thing in UFC these days, and that's totally fine. But for the most part, if you have fighters of any type, like, in a setting when they don't have to do, you know, the stuff for TV and whatnot.

COLEMAN RUIZ: They respect each other because and they respect the effort and Because you know what it takes. And you know how hard it is to face another man in the middle of a mat with no equipment. And nowhere to run and no timeouts and no one to tap in, that's extreme, you know? And it may not seem like high school wrestling is extreme, but...

COLEMAN RUIZ: As you just mentioned something about, you know, development, when you're 14 and you're facing another, like, that's the first time. Is someone trying to take your life? No, they're not. But it feels that way. And then you go and you put in all these hours of training, and you don't eat during the week, and you run stadiums or you run levees.

COLEMAN RUIZ: And, you know, fireman's carries and all of it. While you're not eating and making weight and you're in the sauna and it's just a very tough thing to do, combat sports, and I love the respect that it engenders between the people who do it.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: I think it was Sam Sheridan who wrote A Fighter's Heart. An excellent book. And for anyone, male or female, any age who's interested in the human spirit, I recommend A Fighter's Heart because it's about the different fight sports, but it's really about... The path of self-discovery that occurs in various martial arts.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: And as you said, like, especially boxing is very gentlemanly. You touch gloves, you start, you know, then the, you know, the bell goes off, you go to your corner. Like it's, you know, sometimes people lose it, bite off people's ears and things like that. But, but for the most part, the sport is very, structured.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: As you were doing this, what was happening with school? Did it help, your academic studies? Did it keep them more or less the same. And how did your family and your peer group view what you were doing? Were you considered strange for liking wrestling so much? I mean, you're dieting, right?

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: You're a young male dieting for purpose of sport and performance. You're sitting in saunas, you're running wrapped in plastic bags, all this. I mean, a good friend of ours who was also in the SEAL teams said, one said to me, he said, you know, wrestlers are different. And I think he meant different in quotes.

COLEMAN RUIZ: I think that's true. I, you know, School, my grades immediately went up, Andrew. It was like, oh my gosh, the discipline of all of it. My grades were always better. In wrestling season than out of wrestling season. Interesting.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Like when I was cut loose out of the structure, then it wasn't good. And, you know, between seventh and eighth grade and all that, I didn't have any crazy shenanigans going on. I wasn't going to get kicked out of school, whatever. I was doing normal stuff for the age, but...

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: So the fight stopped.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Totally. Totally, because I could put it into... I could put it into the wrestling space, you know? And I think, I grew up, obviously, in New Orleans, and... I think You know, down there, it's baseball, football, basketball. Wrestling is not. I mean, I was lucky to wrestle in college at all because it wasn't like Iowa was looking to recruit me.

COLEMAN RUIZ: You know, they have plenty of people to recruit, and they don't need any Louisiana wrestlers. Although Daniel Cormier grew up, like, north of the lake. He was four years younger. I was telling this to somebody. We don't know each other. I'd love to meet him. Super impressive athlete.

COLEMAN RUIZ: We heard. That, hey, there's some kid up in the North Shore. I think is where he grew up whooping everybody's ass. His name's Daniel Cormier, and then, you know, obviously the rest is history. But the sport is not big in Louisiana, which is all to say that... We were kind of a unicorn.

COLEMAN RUIZ: We had, it was very odd at my high school specifically, we had one coach, his son either national runner-up. His name was Willie Gadsden. Willie passed away. I think his son ended up at Iowa State, and within the last five or six years was either a national champ or a runner-up. Willie, when I was in eighth grade, Andrew, Willie was at my high school.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Like, I have no idea how Willie Gadsden ended up in New Orleans, but we ended up with this cluster. Of wrestlers at that time with the right coaching and a few kids were going to junior college and coming back and wrestling in college and coming back and There were three or four guys, I remember specifically in eighth grade, because I started, at least in the junior high ranks, I started to take off my second year.

COLEMAN RUIZ: These guys would abuse me in the wrestling room. They were seniors in high school. I was 112 pounds or 132 pounds my freshman year. And they would just, in my eighth grade year, and they would just abuse me.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Define abuse.

COLEMAN RUIZ: In all the legal, normal wrestling ways. Like, there's the... Wrestling gets broken up, obviously, by weights. You've got the heavyweights on one end of the room, the lightweights on the other end of the room, and the young kids stay with the young kids for the most part. And a few of these guys would drag me down to the varsity end, and I would wrestle with the middleweights, and they would beat the shit out of me. And...

COLEMAN RUIZ: Eventually you get to the point where you're like, fuck this, I had enough. And that's when sort of things started to turn. But I think that wrestlers are different, and my peer group... One or two of my really good friends wrestled. But most of them played other sports. And so... But... In every sense of the word, life got better for me because of that sport. It changed my life.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: So you wrestled all through high school? Oh, yeah.


ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: At that point, were you discovering relationships, girls?

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Were you partying? Were you a drinker? Use drugs?

COLEMAN RUIZ: No drugs. I mean, it's New Orleans, right? It's like one of the things that was tough. I'm glad I got out of the city, frankly, because it was party time outside the season. Yeah, girls, girlfriends, normal stuff in that regard. Lots of drinking. Lots of rat in the streets, you know, in those days in the 90s.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: But you kept it inside the lane lines. It sounds like no drunk driving, no arrests.

COLEMAN RUIZ: A little bit of that, but nothing crazy in that regard. I think I understood the consequences, and I really cared about my career. I really wanted to wrestle in college. My grades were excellent. My SAT score is not so much. But, um... I started winning really fast and you know my last two years in high school I was 89 no and I almost won my sophomore year so I was Runner-up in the state my sophomore year.

COLEMAN RUIZ: I always joke with the boys. All my boys are way better athletes than I ever could think about. Your sons? Yeah, yeah. And, um... But in eighth grade, I made Varsity and it was like, was it eighth grade? Yeah. And I lost like. 75% of the matches, you know, but you just grind it out. And it's how I got into the Naval Academy, which is a whole nother story.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: So let's talk about that. So you finish high school. Mm-hmm. You head to the Naval Academy. Why the Naval Academy?

COLEMAN RUIZ: There's actually a crazy story behind this, which maybe we'll circle back to, but...

COLEMAN RUIZ: The summer? Gosh, I had forgotten that this started in seventh grade, too. The summer between my seventh and eighth grade year, my grandfather was too...

COLEMAN RUIZ: Young to join the Navy, and he wanted to go to the Naval Academy during World War II. And he lied to the recruiter and he got into the Merchant Marines.

COLEMAN RUIZ: His, I'm pretty sure, first cousin. My uncle and my cousins are like first cousins once removed. My uncle Jim Therrell was at a family reunion in Mississippi. Which we were at. And he didn't mention the Naval Academy. Family reunion ends. They all go home.

COLEMAN RUIZ: And he starts sending me Naval Academy paraphernalia. I knew nothing about the military. And... I just thought about it, you know, and he would send me stuff, you know, you didn't, we didn't have the internet, right? He's sending these booklets.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: And you don't like authority. No. So I've not been in the military, but I've done some work with y'all. Yeah. And there's a lot of hierarchy and authority.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Yeah, that's true. The truth, Andrew, is like, it was just, it just seemed exciting. I wasn't really thinking about the implications as 18 year olds, you know, it looked very exciting to me. And Having gotten some professional help in the intervening years, what I really think was a big part of it?

COLEMAN RUIZ: Was my parents got divorced my senior year in high school and The Family Unit just blew up, right? And so... It also represented an escape. You know, get out and go. Get your life out of New Orleans and just go. Just go do something.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Were you a part of that? That obviously you were part of the family that got divorced. Was it chaotic? Was it controlled? You and I are the exact same age. We're both 48, born in 75. Back then it was a lot less common for people being, they called them broken homes back then.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Nowadays, I don't think they call that. Everyone just cites the statistic that more than half of marriages end in divorce as if perhaps to normalize it, but that's more than half.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Do you recall feeling distraught about that? Or was it just kind of the natural consequence of something you had observed a long time? Like, oh, that kind of makes sense.

COLEMAN RUIZ: No, it was a shock to me. It wasn't a shock to my older sister. Um...

COLEMAN RUIZ: I just remember, this was the thought at the time. This was like seared in my brain. This has nothing to do with me.

COLEMAN RUIZ: That wasn't like some sophisticated view. It was mostly, fuck this, I'm not dealing with this. I have my own life. They're going to have to do what they're going to do, meaning my parents. I'm getting the hell out of here.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Not a bad mindset for a kid at that stage. If it had been four years younger, that might not be the best mindset. But as you're heading off to college, that's... Reasonably healthy mindset as opposed to getting enmeshed in the what happened and this and that can i ask you at that stage you're 17 18 years old at that point Were you journaling at that point?

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: No. No, no journaling, no introspective work. Zero. No school psychologists. No thinking about or talking about your feelings. It's Wrestling Naval Academy, social things. School SATs, like very standard. We're almost like talking like a superficial list of like what happens at the end of high school in 1990.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Andrew, it's the word superficial, and I carried this forward for years. Which I'm sure we'll talk about here in a second. Those binary focus areas.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Like, I was literally just going after them at full steam.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Stronger, faster, more intensity with zero introspection, no excavation of the psychology of anything. Just full steam ahead, like, let's go.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: No meditation, no breath work. Zero.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Which was not. Adaptive in the long run.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: And we'll get to how that played out in the long run. But nonetheless, you got into the Naval Academy.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Didn't first. Okay. So I applied. You know, my uncle's doing all this stuff. Anyway, I applied. And I didn't, I still have the letter of the thanks, but no thanks. You know, you're not qualified.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: How'd that hit you?

COLEMAN RUIZ: At the time, it hit me kind of like everything I did when that age, when it didn't work out. Admittedly, Andrew, it was like...

COLEMAN RUIZ: There's got to be a way around this. Like, shit has to work out. But it feels terrible, right? Like, you have a moment of, what do we do? And... My kids have heard the story a million times. My wife was a blue chip swimming recruit for Navy. And so she was into the Naval Academy when she was at the beginning of her senior year of high school.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Right? What's a blue chip?

COLEMAN RUIZ: I mean, in my understanding, a blue chip is like you are at the very top of the list, and the coaches put you straight into the admission cycle saying, nobody else gets in until this person does.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: So they wanted her, they didn't want you.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Not only was she a blue chip, and I got the no.

COLEMAN RUIZ: I guess. Well, the wrestling coach called me a couple of weeks after my no, which is now in May. I'm about to graduate from high school. I'm not accepted anywhere.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: You only applied one place.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Actually, two, which... You may burst out laughing when I tell you what the other one is. Because no internet, I got a mailer. In a pamphlet from Stanford, the wrestling coach. I didn't know what Stanford was. I had no idea that the college was even prestigious.

COLEMAN RUIZ: I didn't know they had a wrestling team. I filled out the application and wrote the letter thing, and I sent it into Stanford and, of course, never heard back from them. But I applied to two places, Stanford and the U. S. Naval Academy.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Well, for those that follow wrestling, that's a great story. And I'll just briefly mention that a few years ago, there almost wasn't a wrestling team at Stanford. They had plans to cut the wrestling team despite having a— NCAA champion at Stanford. But, you know, the power of people gathering and petitioning works and wrestling and a few other sports that were being cut from the curriculum.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Were spared.

COLEMAN RUIZ: It's amazing.


COLEMAN RUIZ: So happy to see that. Yeah.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: So Stanford does have a wrestling team.

COLEMAN RUIZ: So the coach, back to how I ended up getting in. I appreciated my college coach called and he said that I'm recruiting. I have one more spot at the prep school, which is in Newport, Rhode Island. I'm recruiting another kid from Pennsylvania. If he takes that spot, then I don't have anything left.

COLEMAN RUIZ: And we were exploring going to prep school and stuff like that, oblique ways to get in. And he called me sometime in May, like right around graduation, and said, can you be in Newport in July? That kid went to, I think he went to Lehigh. And I went to the prep school.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Newport, Rhode Island.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Yeah, Newport for a year.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: I've been It's a nice place. Yeah, it's great.

COLEMAN RUIZ: And so you wrestle for a year. I mean, you do school. You know, you're in West Point as a prep school and Colorado Springs as a prep school. We joked that my wife was first person in our class accepted and I was last. Which is highly possible, actually.

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ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: They'll give you five free travel packs with your order, plus a year's supply of vitamin D3K2. Again, that's slash Huberman. So you're in Newport. Does that have a portal to the Naval Academy?

COLEMAN RUIZ: Yeah, if you graduate prep school, you're straight into the Naval Academy. Like they fully expect you to be there the next year.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: When junior year rolled around and senior year rolled around of high school, didn't anyone pull you aside and say, hey, you might want to like apply to a few other places? You might want to consider what? You do if this doesn't work out, what do they assume you're going to do? They just head into the city of New Orleans and bus tables?

COLEMAN RUIZ: Zero guidance, Andrew, really, like from my high school. And I think.

COLEMAN RUIZ: The ecosystem I was in, like people just didn't really know how to do that. You know how to apply to schools. I mean, my parents obviously helped when I applied to the Naval Academy, but when I look at the system that kids go through now to go, you know, their process to find the best college experience. I never had one conversation with a guidance counselor about what to do.

COLEMAN RUIZ: I just didn't. I mean, I just got very lucky. A few people, my high school wrestling coach intervened, I think at some point, and called the Naval Academy to speak to the coach to say, you should give this kid a chance, but he didn't, they didn't know who he was, you know? I'm so lucky and so fortunate that I ended up where I ended up. It's why I took it so seriously.

COLEMAN RUIZ: The focus with which I applied my time In high school, I took that to 10x degree when I got to Newport because I knew this was my chance.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: There's something magical to that. I can relate to that. So you're in Newport. Yeah. And describe what a day was like. Is it all wrestling? You're taking... General education classes like one does in the first two years of university.

COLEMAN RUIZ: So the way the prep school is set up for the Naval Academy is they're basically teaching you the first semester of the Naval Academy. So you take... Calculus, physics, chemistry, I think you take an English class, etc.

COLEMAN RUIZ: And you go through like a pretty hellacious first couple of weeks because you're away from the flagpole where no one can hear you scream. You know, you're up in Newport, you're not in Annapolis where everyone's watching. And you do a couple of hellacious weeks for an 18 year old who's never been in the military before.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: So you're in the military technically, if you go to this.

COLEMAN RUIZ: You're actually enlisted in the Navy.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Okay. So they get moonies to some extent.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, they do. And then you do.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: You're wearing uniform, you're jogging in the morning, you're doing salutes and marching.


ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: And you have bugling, they're doing taps in the evening. Yep. All of it. Got it.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Yep. And you live, there's 300 people at the prep school. It's distributed basically amongst folks coming from the fleet, so guys who did four or five years in the military somewhere, and they're coming into the Naval Academy from the fleet. And then athletes, and then sort of a mixture of other folks who need a little extra school, right?

COLEMAN RUIZ: And then you do a full school year. You're competing. It's basically a redshirt year. That's not a redshirt year. I competed up and down the East Coast against, you know, all the other prep schools. You finish that year in May, and then you're done with the prep. The prep year is fine. It's a little bit of a shock when you're 18, but it's fine.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: I've always been curious about these military schools and the people that go to them and what happens to people there. Did you have any sense of patriotism prior to arriving at this prep school? And did that sense of patriotism, you know, I'm talking like love of country.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Understanding the history of our country and its position in the international landscape. Are you thinking about that stuff? Are they feeding you that? Or is it really like wrestling, get through the march, shower up, go to the next thing? Is it very like plug and chug?

COLEMAN RUIZ: No, no. The feeding of, and I really appreciated this, the feeding of those concepts starts when you get there. But I was deer in a headlight, like I didn't think about. My life in this way at all when I was headed there. I mean...

COLEMAN RUIZ: What you get very early because the school very quickly starts to bring really high-level, accomplished people. Colonels, admirals, whatever, generals, to expose you to these people. I do remember sitting there within weeks.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Like, this is way bigger than I thought it was in terms of... How serious this situation is, you know, and how serious this ecosystem of people take this because I didn't have. My dad wasn't an admiral. He was a welder in New Orleans. I didn't understand the bigness of it.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: One of the reasons I ask this is that various times throughout my life, I've had this experience of seeing people close to me doing incredible work. When I was a postdoc at Stanford, I had Nobel Prize, was given that one week to the guy next door to me. So you see him in the morning and you're hearing it on the radio. And obviously, I didn't have that kind of stature or talent in science.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: I think I'm a good scientist, but good enough to... You don't get tenure at Stanford, but then there are levels within the game. Yeah, yeah. But there is something very special to the experience of having people close to you physically and in the same ecosystem as you described it. Achieving amazing things. I also saw this in skateboarding. I mean, there were a lot of... Let's just say failures to.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Integrate with normal life. But there are also some guys that I grew up with who started companies and set world records and had their pro models. And then if you zoom out from that and you go, wait, I'm in this community, it changes one's self-view about what's possible. So I think that's what you're describing.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: And I think it's such an important thing for people to experience at some point, even if the goal isn't to be at kind of world scale, you know, for people to realize that the town they grew up in, the family they grew up in, that context can expand. Yes. And so do you recall being at this prep school and kind of third person-ing yourself and thinking like, well, I'm Coleman Ruiz.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: I'm from New Orleans. I went from this to this to this, the way you've been describing it. And I'm here. And they were like. I'm around some incredibly impressive people and I'm here. Like once you make that recognition that you're there, a whole bunch of things can open up.

COLEMAN RUIZ: No, I actually came at it from the opposite way. And this has been a hard thing for me my whole life. And I have to watch out. For this perspective, is I felt like every day I had to wake up. And earn my place there? I was never good enough for myself ever. So next day up is a restart to prove myself again.

COLEMAN RUIZ: On whatever standard I'm picking that day, right? Looking back on it, I realize. It was somewhat arbitrary because it was just day by day. I didn't think, I'm Coleman Ruiz, I made it here, look, I'm part of this. I was afraid. I think Mike Tyson talks about being afraid every time. I was afraid every day. And I fought for...

COLEMAN RUIZ: Like a position in this place every day. Now, that was adaptive in some regard, right?


COLEMAN RUIZ: Because to me it was... Let's go. Like, today's another new day, and it's 100% all in, full go. I hope everybody's ready.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Do you ever recall falling asleep at night and thinking like... Well, like...

COLEMAN RUIZ: I had a good day.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: I had a good day or I'm scared, you know, they're going to discover I can't keep up. Totally. Or I can't keep up. All the time. So a lot of fear. I mean... Yeah. Yeah, a lot of fear.

COLEMAN RUIZ: All the time. And some of it I do, I genuinely know and believe, now Andrew, that it was well-intentioned. Like, I wanted to do a good job for the group, whatever group I was in.

COLEMAN RUIZ: My platoon, my squad, in the case of the prep school, you know, that first experience. I mean, I was talking about this with my wife the other day, just because stories come up. You know, we had a 25th reunion at the Naval Academy and this kind of thing.

COLEMAN RUIZ: I was a really good runner for my group in high school, like the people I was around. I ran cross country when I was younger. And anyway, I did, I suppose I'm going the other way. I sort of did have some level of confidence in my ability. And then I got there and like all these college cross country runners, like my son is now, just crushing me.

COLEMAN RUIZ: And I think, sadly, because it was just sort of in me, that fed my fear. Like, shit, I thought I was better than this. Clearly, I suck. I have to get to their level. So I did have a very well-intentioned excitement around just do a good job with the people you're around. There's something.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Onto that and wild you know as we spoke about Um... But I was operating out of fear for... Decades.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: But there was a I need to get to their level statement in there. It wasn't I can't keep up. I better find a different path.

COLEMAN RUIZ: No, no, no, no. I knew I could get to their level with enough work. You know.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Was that something that your father or your mother or both had instilled in you? Oh, for sure.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Yeah. And my high school wrestling coach was...

COLEMAN RUIZ: Let's call it maybe from the old school. If you worked hard enough, you could get there.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: So this is the essence of growth mindset long before Charles Dweck coined the phrase growth mindset. It's not there yet.

COLEMAN RUIZ: When I first read her book, I'm like... When people teach us to shit when we were kids.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Yeah. You know? Well, some of us got it, some of us didn't. And it can be very context. Dependent, right? I mean, I think that's one of the more important and often overlooked aspects of Carol's work and Allie Crum's work is that we can develop growth mindset in one domain of life, but then another domain of life, we get, you know, kicked in the teeth once and we're like, I can't do that.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: There's a carve out where I can't function. Some people do that. Some people don't. And we don't understand enough about it to understand, you know, whether or not it's a global circuit, you know, and it's, there's a lot of context, but.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Okay, so you're hanging in there at least. You're surrounded by some very impressive people. There's a lot of structure. So we're a long way from the pre-wrestling days. Oh, yeah. Yeah. This is the opposite of chaos.


ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: This is structure.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Yeah. You're told what to do every five minutes, more or less.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: And this is scary feelings. Fear is a scary feeling. But you're channeling it. And you said the unit of the day became important. It's like, what can I do today? Yes. You're not thinking about the week. You're not thinking about the season. You're not thinking about... Becoming some war hero down the line, you're just... 24 hours.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Do the next day.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Yeah. How was your self-care at that point? Or is that built into the system?

COLEMAN RUIZ: It's not built into the system and it was zero. I mean, it really was, Andrew. Like, it was the old school.

COLEMAN RUIZ: We were not doing anything sophisticated back then.

COLEMAN RUIZ: I mean, there's no... We stretched. And in the grand scheme of things... This is going to sound weird because there still is a lot of primal nature to combat sports, But in the grand scheme of things, we were probably on the upper end of sophisticated like wrestlers jump rope, they stretch, they do aerobics, you know.

COLEMAN RUIZ: I've been in a sauna since 1993. You know, it's like not purposeful, not to cut weight in a garbage bag, but there is some level of... Some level of balancing out your training, you know? Wrestlers like to swim during the season because you're getting out of that hot room. Like, you end up accidentally... Doing some of these things, but there was no self-care.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: You eventually go to the Naval Academy.


ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: The actual Naval Academy. And that's where you met your wife.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Yep. In 96, my sophomore year.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: So when you get there, what's different than the prep school?

COLEMAN RUIZ: First of all, it's... Big in the... Macro, not just geographically big or footprint square footage wise. It's big. The concept is big. You know, like. The superintendent of the school is a three-star admiral. You hear about his career. You know, you're 19 years old.

COLEMAN RUIZ: So there's two. Incredibly important people. In my life, in those early years at the Naval Academy.

COLEMAN RUIZ: A guy named Doug Zembeck, who's dead now. Who most people... Of my service time will know who he is.

COLEMAN RUIZ: When I was on my recruiting trip to the Naval Academy and I was in high school, this is complete accident. Doug was a sophomore. We call them youngsters at the Naval Academy. He was a sophomore. And we're the same weight class. So coach matched us up because it was my recruiting visit. And... My first, this is back to being wild.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Literally my first night on the grounds of the Naval Academy. I'm sleeping on Doug Zembeck's floor of his room with his other two roommates. And sometime around 3 or 4 a. m. I get woken up. It's like a bomb goes off. There's a bomb didn't go off, but there's 12 other gorillas in the room, all wrestlers, maybe one or two other guys.

COLEMAN RUIZ: And... Doug is hustling. I don't know any of these people, Andrew. Like, I just met Doug the previous evening. We just flew into town. He wakes me up. He's hustling me to get my shoes on. Again, I'm just this high school kid. And then within two to three minutes. All 15 of these gorillas bolt out of the room. And Doug grabs me and I'm just following them, right? So we race out of Bancroft Hall.

COLEMAN RUIZ: It's maybe 4 in the morning, 3.30, 4 in the morning. We race out of Bancroft Hall, the barracks. We run across the parking lot into Lejeune Hall. And Lejeune Hall is... The swimming facility. And the wrestling room. That's it. That's the only thing that's in there. Right, the doors, we run up to Lejeune Hall, the doors of Lejeune Hall are locked with a chain on the outside and one of our, Doug pulls on the chain.

COLEMAN RUIZ: So that the doors open enough at the top that the 142 pounder can climb up and like get inside that little gap in the doors and run over and open one of the doors that isn't chained this is what you'll later do professionally i still have exactly and what i frankly did as a kid like back in the day and so I'm terrified because I don't know what's coming, you know?

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: And so you don't bother to ask, what are we doing?

COLEMAN RUIZ: There's no time. There's just no time. Like these guys are, to me, they're full blown war heroes. They're not, they're college kids, but I'm. 17, they're 21, all these wrestlers. I'm hoping I'm going to come here and be their teammate, you know?

COLEMAN RUIZ: We run into Lejeune Hall, go to the second story. We climb up the utility ladder. Where Public Works goes to get in the ceiling above. The white foamy ceiling tile things. So we're now on the catwalk where the HVAC guys would be working. And I'm starting to get a sense of what's coming.

COLEMAN RUIZ: We go. A couple feet down the catwalk, everyone stops.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Someone reaches over the catwalk and pulls one. Chalky ceiling tile out. So now you can look over the edge of the catwalk and see right through the ceiling into the diving well. Remember, the diving well has a 10 meter platform, and then we're another I don't want to over exaggerate this. We have to be another 20 feet. Into the ceiling.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: So you're above the diving board, what most people call that.

COLEMAN RUIZ: We're way above the diving board. Okay. We're five feet above the ceiling, which is 20 feet above the 10 meter. Right. And so.

COLEMAN RUIZ: And now, I've... Realize what's happening. And two or three wrestlers, you climb over the catwalk, get, you know, backwards, get your hands all the way down and then very lower yourself in a reverse pull-up so you don't. Kick the ceiling tile. And three or four guys go and you can hear them hit the water after what is a terrifyingly long time when you're, you know, my age and just in the dark.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Oh yeah. No one's supposed to be in there. Um... And then one of the guys looks over when you're a recruit you're called a drag And they're like, drag, you're up. And I'm lowering myself, Andrew, and I kick the adjacent ceiling tile and it hits. The dive tank and it turns into pancake batter and goes to the bottom of the pool.


COLEMAN RUIZ: And one of my teammates is like, you motherfucker. One of my future teammates, you know, he's going nuts. I drop. I live. And this is back to Doug. I come up, Doug clearly goes behind me, but I don't hear him. And one or two guys are going nuts, you high school piece of shit.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Like, you're going to go down to the 15 feet and pick it all up. And Doug comes up and he... Just blasts everybody. He's our responsibility. This is not his fault. We brought him here. Like just totally backs me up.

COLEMAN RUIZ: And then the rest of the visit happens. I end up there. Doug's no senior. I'm a freshman. And...

COLEMAN RUIZ: He's just the legend. He was an All-American. And to this day, Andrew, you need to hear this loud and clear. Like for all the people you and I both know and the people I've been around, no other human. In my life have I met with his physical and mental toughness not even close. The guy was born in the wrong century is the way I describe him. And he was...

COLEMAN RUIZ: Like my mentor and he was my guy, you know, and he was killed in 07.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Marine. Yeah, we'll talk about Doug. You've written about him.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Yeah, he's unbelievable.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: So I feel like I know him a little bit, thanks to you. We'll get around to that for sure. I think people are getting a sense of where we're headed.

COLEMAN RUIZ: So that's the, to answer your question about like that, the bigness of the Naval Academy, that's how it started for me. Like everything was just on steroids. You know, all these kinds of people.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: I get the impression, at least up until now, that you're kind of just You just go with what's right in front of you.

COLEMAN RUIZ: A hundred percent.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Like there isn't a lot of pause and reflect. Although your rudder is not. Haphazard. It's not random. No. Well, yeah, I can say right now, you and I are as similar as I, you know, we may be in certain respects like... We're very different in this way. Like there isn't a, there isn't like a foraging, you know, in biology, we call them random walks.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: You know, a lot of, a lot of organization that comes out of biology is through random walks, like animal or human, like finds a node and moves. And, and life is like this Steve jobs talked about not being able to connect the dots except in retrospect.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: And I, and I subscribe to that and his life was a bit of a random walk, but that we're guided by some central beam of, of uniqueness. Robert Green was when he was on the podcast talks about that. Your beam is more narrow, it seems. And the propeller behind that beam is high RPM. Yes. That's very clear.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: And what I'm not hearing here is like, yeah, you know, at one point I paused and wondered whether or not I wanted to, you know, be here wrestling in the Naval Academy. Or even what I might do when I get out. Am I going to work for an investment firm? What am I going to do? Your horizon, it seems to be. About 24 hours at that point.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Yeah, I hope not anymore, but at that point.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: No, at that point. I mean, I'm no psychologist. Yeah. But it just seems like you're, it's not like you're playing checkers, but you're optimizing for a fairly short horizon.

COLEMAN RUIZ: There's no question that's right. And the other part that was probably the most important to me, Andrew, was the person or the group. Because... This is going to sound very arrogant, but... When I got to, I'm going to this prep school, I'm going to the Naval Academy. I think on day one, I'm going to literally meet the cream of the crop in the country. And that was not the case.

COLEMAN RUIZ: And it was not the case at the Naval Academy. And frankly, it wasn't the case in the teams either. Like, I'm not saying I'm better than anybody, but I thought every single person when I got to the Naval Academy was going to be entirely focused on whatever our mission was. And I didn't even know what my mission was there, right? I just knew I was going to be told what right looks like.

COLEMAN RUIZ: And Doug. Not only did I meet him in high school and have the luck of having him as a teammate and a mentor, for me, he is what Wright looked like. So a focused beam and a propeller running at high RPM with the right, you know, quote-unquote swim buddy, so to speak. Was literally all I cared about. That was it. Everything else was white noise.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Were there other interests at the time? I mean, presumably you listened to music every once in a while.

COLEMAN RUIZ: I mean, I would, whatever.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: But didn't fall in love with it. Didn't feel the need to pursue anything else, learn an instrument, do anything else. It was that narrow beam.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: You met your wife in 96?

COLEMAN RUIZ: Mm-hmm. Sophomore year at the Naval Academy, yeah.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: And was she as driven? Is she as driven? I mean, she's obviously a very talented swimmer, presumably works hard as well.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: It's kind of interesting. I didn't realize until a few years ago that the both of you were, you know, military.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Yeah, she definitely just different, different driven, way smarter, way more.

COLEMAN RUIZ: You know, it's obviously not one-to-one for men and women, but way more successful by... Gradient standards. She's in the Navy Hall of Fame. She was Patriot League swimming champ. She was on junior national triathlon team when she was 20, I think.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Really talented in every regard.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Ninth in our class, I think. First female graduate, number one female graduate, our class.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Tell me more about that. How does that work?

COLEMAN RUIZ: You have a I don't even know exactly how the grading first of all, her grades are The academic success is just remarkable. And then you get a military grade and you get a physical grade, not for your athletics, I don't think, but it's like your PRT scores, which is your physical readiness test, all this military stuff you do.

COLEMAN RUIZ: You get this other cluster of a grade that goes along with your academic grades. And... She was number nine in the class and the first female graduate based on that cluster of grading. And, I mean, she's an amazing person.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Was her success in academics and swimming, was that part of what drew you to her? No. No.

COLEMAN RUIZ: No, she was just nice and, you know. I didn't really care about the achievement. It certainly sounds like I care about achievement because of the narrow focus, but... It wasn't really that. You know, she was just really normal. In a group of a lot of abnormal people, frankly, like there's some kooks at these schools, you know, and I'm probably in that category.

COLEMAN RUIZ: I don't know, but everybody's just really different there. You have this athlete group. I mean, you know, Andrew, I mean, you went to Stanford. I mean, some of the... You know, the group of...

COLEMAN RUIZ: Naval Academy in West Point, like these schools who produce like the Rhodes Scholar level person, like that cluster of group, like at Navy, I remember. They're super impressive. I mean, and then there's the rest of us, like, doing our best, getting pretty good grades and stuff, but... There's very different groups inside. You know, the school.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Yeah. Yeah. I looked at some of my colleagues, like a former guest on this podcast, Allie Crum. You know, she's an incredible scientist, was a Division I gymnast. And is a licensed clinical psychologist. Also maintains a healthy relationship with children in the home. Like, I just go, who are these people?

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: You know, I mean, you know, every once in a while, we talk about the person with the quote-unquote extra gear. You know, like some people just seem to have that extra gear, and I don't want to take anything away from Allie or anyone else's incredible work ethic that goes with what people perceive as an extra gear.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Who knows if they have an extra gear or not? I always just want to know what their parents did. Yeah. And it turns out, Ali's parents, I hope I have this right, but recollection. Of this is that her mother ran a theater group and her father was a martial arts teacher.


ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: So, you know, there's nothing that speaks to academics per se. And I find that really important to me and to highlight because I think people hearing this conversation and Hear about people like alleys and other examples like that. You think, oh, yeah, you got to come from an academic family to end up at a.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: At a top tier institution or to win a Nobel Prize. In fact, there are so many exceptions to that, or you have to be a natural athlete or be born with some genetic gift or some extra gear, as it were, in order to succeed. But I think so much of success is the thing that you seem to operationalize really quickly, which is.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Really focus on that 24-hour horizon and where one has seen failure to just keep going. I mean, a big part of it is just to keep going, but also to make sure that you're continuing to go.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: In a direction that is adaptive and functional. Because imagine had you not found wrestling and you had gotten into some group where the metrics of success were around dealing weed or doing something which back then was highly illegal, now is varying levels of legality, but where the points came back for effort in domains of life that could take you down into the gutter.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: And you see this. So I'm convinced that- The work ethic is the fundamental piece, but there has to be that rudder. And the rudder has to be pointed in the right direction. So along those lines, you meet Bridget. Yeah. And was it instantaneous?

COLEMAN RUIZ: No, we kind of had a friendship first. I felt like at least we've discussed this. I mean, I instantaneously enjoyed her company. So I met Bridget in February of sophomore year. I was on the campus of Naval Academy, it's called The Yard. I was on The Yard all winter because the wrestling season is the shittiest time ever, right?

COLEMAN RUIZ: It crosses over the holidays, you have to make weight during Thanksgiving, you have to make weight during Christmas. We were on campus, on the yard. And it was easily waist-deep snow, and we were doing two-a-day practices. Everybody else was home on vacation.

COLEMAN RUIZ: That winter, I considered leaving, and thank goodness for no cell phones and stuff, because I didn't know how to leave. It was like...

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: You consider leaving, like, leaving the Naval Academy?

COLEMAN RUIZ: Leaving the Naval I was just... But it didn't have anything to do with the Naval Academy, really. It had everything to do with that moment. I was miserable. Like, I was making... I wrestled 190 my freshman year and Doug graduated. He was the 177 pounder.

COLEMAN RUIZ: So sophomore year, I dropped into his spot. I went down to 177. Fighting weight for me is like 193. But, you know, back then, Andrew, I'm lifting a lot. I was 210 to 215 in the offseason, and I cut to 177 sophomore year. And I was just generally miserable.

COLEMAN RUIZ: If it was easy to leave, I probably would have. And then I met Bridget in February and I was like, fuck it, I'll stay. She's better than this place.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Having followed my high school girlfriend off to college and not gone to college when I got there, I just lived in the parking lot outside her dorm where I can relate. You know, there's a I probably wouldn't be sitting here today were it not for.

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ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: So if you would like to try a Plunge Ice Bath or sauna, you can go to slash Huberman to get $150 off either product. Again, that's slash Huberman. So at what point did you decide you wanted to... Aim for the SEAL teams?

COLEMAN RUIZ: It's a great question. I mean, things, you know, as compared to... I had a gunnery sergeant in the Marine Corps at... Prep school, who I thought, these are back to the first people you meet in this environment, Gunny Flynn. And he was great. Like he was super hard on us, but I obviously kind of loved that. And I thought I was going to go into the Marine Corps and Doug wanted to go into the Marine Corps.

COLEMAN RUIZ: I'm a freshman at the Naval Academy. He's my wrestling partner. Doug could literally tell me to jump off of a building. As long as he came with me, I'd do it. No problem. And enjoy it all the way down. Doug was going into the Marine Corps. I thought I was going to go into the Marine Corps. And I did a summer training in Quantico between freshman and sophomore year.

COLEMAN RUIZ: And it was okay. It was good, but I didn't love it. And... I met a couple other guys who were going to compete for spots in the SEAL teams who were years ahead of me, but to answer your question, junior year... You get, you can sign up and say, I want to start competing for a billet. We had 16 spots in my class. I think there's 32 spots these days.

COLEMAN RUIZ: You know, the force has grown since 9-11, obviously, and...

COLEMAN RUIZ: And I want to say maybe 150 or so people, they put you through. This weekend, overnight, two-day, hell two-day things at Navy. Some people quit. I don't know how many go to what we used to call mini buds in the summer.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Between junior and senior year, you go out to Coronado and buds instructors, they still have it. It's called something different. Um... You spend two weeks at the BUDS compound, and they run you through a mini program.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Sorry, BUDS, some folks listening to this won't know the acronym.

COLEMAN RUIZ: The acronym is Basic Underwater Demolition SEAL School. That's our school in Coronado.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: It's a screening process for who gets in, who doesn't.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Yeah, and when you're at the Naval Academy, it's obviously different than guys coming into the enlisted ranks. You have this pool of people, 150-ish guys say they want to go. Sometime junior year, they run you through this weekend pretty hard at Navy. Because we have SEALs stationed at the Naval Academy.

COLEMAN RUIZ: And then I'm just going to guess that goes from 150 to 80. Maybe 80 guys go. To the summer program in Coronado when you're still, you know, a midshipman at the Naval Academy. I've never, maybe people have quit minibuds, I don't know. But I don't know if I really saw anybody quit the two weeks we were out in Coronado.

COLEMAN RUIZ: And then you get, you know, greeted on your performance and stuff. And then you come back for senior year and you go through a series of interviews with a bunch of SEALs who come out and do interviews and you don't really know what you're doing.

COLEMAN RUIZ: And then they select down, I don't want to again overdo it, but it's probably seven, I don't know, maybe 50 or 60 qualified guys, they select you down to 16. And so to answer your question about when I got interested was when I knew I didn't want to go in the Marine Corps, I never, ever had the Top Gun fever thing. I wasn't interested in flying.

COLEMAN RUIZ: I just wasn't interested in anything else but something super physical. And that seemed like the best, the next best thing. And because I grew up in New Orleans and spent a lot of time in the water, that wasn't intimidating. That screens a lot of people out, obviously. Yeah, and got selected in the group of 16.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Was at Bud's after graduation, you know, a couple months after graduation.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: There's been a lot put... Out into the world around buds you know people have seen the log carrying the boat carrying and the screaming and the set said screaming the the instructors and the and the running and the you know, clasped arms in the water and hell week, no sleep, and on and on.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: It's obviously tough. It culls 85% of the people that go out there thinking that they are the absolute last person who would ever quit, ring the bell, so to speak.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: You obviously got through. A while back, you mentioned to me three things that you think predict whether or not somebody's going to get through buds. And before you tell us what these are, I just will just tell people that, yes, of course, you made it through buds successfully and went into the teams.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Very successful career in the teams, but you've also been a buds instructor. So you've been on the, on the, On the other side of the equation too, what are those three things?

COLEMAN RUIZ: Yeah, this was, as you know, this was very anecdotal, but it lined up.

COLEMAN RUIZ: When I was back there in 05 as an instructor, I feel like we're not scientists, right? But I feel like we tried. Every correlating data pull that we could pull from pull-ups to run times to you name it, to regions of the country that people grow up near water. At least back then, nothing correlated. And so I was a first phase OIC, officer in charge.

COLEMAN RUIZ: And so our team in first phase, we can talk about what that is in detail if you want to, but first phase is in charge of hell week, you know, hell weeks in the first two months of training. And a couple of the guys said, all this bullshit about this can get you through, that can get you through. I bet.

COLEMAN RUIZ: That every single person we talk to out here on the grinder has one of these three things. They were a varsity athlete in high school or college, their parents are divorced, or they got suspended from school. I guarantee it. And we would walk around the grinder and ask. And I mean... You know, this isn't going to pass an independent review board, but it's got to be 90 to 95%.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: So that's incredible because, you know, so much has been made of Bud's and Hell Week. And just to just fill in a few of the blanks for those that aren't familiar, Hell Week is what it's five nights, no sleep. You get an hour or a couple minutes on one day, but you're basically in constant movement for about a week. You are. And that's when most people... Voluntarily ring the bell.

COLEMAN RUIZ: And most of them do it before Wednesday.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: And I know it's got chaotic components, guns going off, blasts. It's got hard work, boring components, people trying to make it through who have no sense of how long the run is going to last or what's going to happen.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: And you hear all this stuff like, okay, you just don't quit or you just go meal to meal. But what you just described is really interesting. Let's break those three things down because playing a varsity sport, has certain elements.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Having divorced parents has certain elements, and getting suspended in school has certain elements. Let's start with...

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Divorced parents first. Because varsity sport, I think we can probably just quickly say, okay, there's structure. You have to listen to somebody. You have to be able to push yourself. You have to have some level of physical competence. Coachable. Coachable, mental competence, work with others. So there's something there, right?

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: And you presumably have to go through junior varsity to get there. So there's some oomph and required in any event. But the divorced parents piece was surprising to me, still is. What? You have divorced parents. So do I. Divorces occur for any number of different reasons. What in the world do you think is the...

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: The consequence of or that of a divorced household that would predict so well, at least in this back of the envelope measurement that you made, but as an instructor that people would get through this excruciatingly difficult period of time.

COLEMAN RUIZ: For me, it was one thing specifically. I felt like I was alone. If I didn't have the team. So I don't know what it would be for other people, but I was like, if I don't have this team. Then what team do I have? So, I'm not leaving. You could crank up the cold and misery as high as you fucking want.

COLEMAN RUIZ: But I'm not leaving.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Yeah, that hits deep. I didn't do buds. I didn't even know what the SEAL teams were, but I certainly know the feeling of looking outside of the household for a sense of family and belonging and the feeling that like I'd much rather, like almost from a place of joy, like I'd much rather die for these people, hopefully not with these people, but much rather die trying to save others and to do well in that. Than to quit.


ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Yeah. That's a powerful thing that you just shine light on. I don't think... Of the hundreds of interviews with team guys, X team guys, buds, instructors, et cetera, that are out there. I don't think anyone's ever highlighted that.

COLEMAN RUIZ: I don't think I was aware of it then Andrew, but I just, you know, again, it's in, it's in retrospect.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Well, the retrospect is in large part what we're here for.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: To go a little deeper on that, I think that A lot of people have challenging homes. Their parents aren't necessarily divorced. Talking, of course, about...

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Trying to understand the human spirit. Certainly not accomplishments per se, but the human spirit. So I think that a lot of people, especially nowadays, they look to their home life and if, you know, God willing, they had a great home life. That is the base. It's like the touchstone for them that they can return to.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: But for a lot of people... Even people who go home for the holidays or who touch in with their parents. Whether or not they're divorced or not, they don't feel like that family unit is really a solid thing. Maybe they're in a place, I see this a lot, where they're the parent.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: They had to grow up taking care of the parents. I see that a lot on both the male side and the female side. I see that. So... You're saying that... One strong predictor of getting through is a feeling of people want essentially making it there like almost like. Biological identity to get through.

COLEMAN RUIZ: It was certainly the case for me. I mean, when I got, again, I don't really like to overdo these things because it tends to feed the mythos a little.

COLEMAN RUIZ: But when I got to Bud's, Andrew, like, when I got to the Naval Academy, I had a very strong sense of this is my chance. And you know, you develop over the years and you spend time thinking about this and having mentors. When I got there. That was very much my first time of You better bring the nastiest shit on the planet. Because I'm not leaving here.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Like, it's just not, I'm not, I'm just not going, you know? And there's a Navy bit to it too. Like, I didn't want to do anything else in the Navy. So back to fear. I was afraid I would get stuck. Doing a job I didn't like. But there's some, people are not wrong, you know, about buds. There's some very difficult days where... You do start to wonder, like, is this really worth it?

COLEMAN RUIZ: And I... That I never once I thought about quitting. It never crossed my mind because I just had these other things that I really had to do for myself and my life or else I felt like I was going to have nothing. And so... Again, I don't think operating out of fear is particularly adaptive. But sometimes it, you know, the bit in your teeth is useful.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Yeah, certainly in my own life I could say, you know, getting real scared about Being 19 and essentially realizing I'm not good at anything. I'm not good at anything. And I was terrible at a lot of things. And some of those things were taking me down a dangerous path that that was the fear. I'm grateful for the fear piece. It, it would, it, it scruffed me. And, Let's talk about the suspended in school.


ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: First of all, that implies getting caught.


ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Not just misbehaving, but getting caught. What do you think that's about? So we're really talking about a sense of rebellion against authority or the system that one finds themselves in.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Which is super important for our line of work. Like for me, again, I can only speak for myself. For me, it was the wild fuck you factor. Like, you have to... There's just a nasty reality of the work we had to do. You know, I was in from 98 until 2011.


COLEMAN RUIZ: In the SEAL teams from 98 until 2011. Everybody knows what was happening between 9-11 and then. It's not that it didn't stop happening. I know, you know, from my own experience, from 03 through... 2010 was extremely intense and Obviously, the military has rules and we need rules. And you follow the laws of armed conflict and you follow the rules of engagement. There's no question. About that, ever?

COLEMAN RUIZ: But the shit that happens to you out in the field for real does not follow any pattern. And so... If you are a complete, you know, non-suspended from school rule follower, I'm not saying you won't be successful. I'm sure plenty of people are. But in our line of work, if you ask people, most of them had a weird streak as they were coming up.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Like they have a little bit of a... A side eye when somebody tells them this is how stuff is like, maybe it's like that But you don't know that and Where it really became clear for me, Andrew, was... Look, at every stage in your development, you're still looking for what right looks like.

COLEMAN RUIZ: And when I was a, I'm now a Naval Academy graduate, not that that means anything special, but I'm smart enough. I'm now in my 20s. I'm at Bud's and I have this recollection later, like people are always telling stories about the teams. And when you're a new student at Bud's, you kind of believe everything the instructors tell you because it's pretty impressive shit.

COLEMAN RUIZ: And then you find out later when I checked into SEAL Team 3, you actually start to understand the arc of the job. It was like all these guys were telling training stories. Those weren't real combat stories. They never said... That that was a story from training. And so my point is like...

COLEMAN RUIZ: What you hope guys are getting it now, but what we didn't get a lot of was the real story in a sense, meaning. I will say definitively, my first combat deployment was 03 when we invaded Iraq. I was a platoon commander when we invaded Iraq. And I remember within a week of being in that situation thinking not one single instructor had the experience to mentor and coach me on this, not one.

COLEMAN RUIZ: And so. You have to go back to that wild, suspended... Fuck you factor mindset. Like all your silly rules about how the military works. None of that shit's happening out here. Like, all this other stuff is happening that doesn't have anything to do with your training manuals.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Except for... The things you don't violate, which is to your best of your ability, stuff happens, but the rules of engagement and laws of armed conflict, everything else is a toss-up. The tactics aren't. That's not a toss up, but you know what I mean, like the environment is completely chaotic.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: It's a new sport.

COLEMAN RUIZ: It's a brand new sport that no one coached you on.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: And it's high risk, high consequence. For you and your teammates, but also for the other side.

COLEMAN RUIZ: I mean, every...

COLEMAN RUIZ: 15 seconds is a new consequential decision.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Yeah, because you obviously don't want to kill civilians on the other side either.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Of course not.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: So you obviously get through Bud's. You probably weren't surprised given your mindset. You probably weren't surprised.

COLEMAN RUIZ: No, I wasn't surprised. At this point, I'm maybe building a little self-confidence and just operate out of fear.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: But happy, presumably. Oh, yeah. Yep. And... What's... I feel obligated to ask. Well, I'm just curious to ask that you, you know, you've been in a system of military for a long time. Is there a bigger, pole of patriotism there or that's just, it's there, but I mean, are you thinking about country or are you thinking about team? You think about the day?

COLEMAN RUIZ: Yeah. I mean, at this point, you know, I'm fully indoctrinated in a sense, you know, the Naval Academy really does give you a sense of, again, bigness and you meet people from home. World War II in Vietnam and You know... An amazing guy, which we can cover later. I wasn't around when he was coming up, but Colonel John Ripley is a guy who won the Navy Cross in Vietnam.

COLEMAN RUIZ: The book, The Bridge at Dong Ha, is about him. He knew my, this is back to my Uncle Jim who introduced, he and my Uncle Jim were buddies. And I met him. He's since passed away. I met Colonel Ripley. When I was a plebe at the Naval Academy, I worked with one of his sons now, friend, teammate, mentor. He was a great guy.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Colonel Ripley. He's a legend. Like, this guy's a Navy cross winner, should have won the Congressional Medal of Honor by all accounts. If you read the book, the Bridget Dong Hai, you are going to have... No ability to understand why he's not dead. And these are the kind of people you meet. So back to the patriotism, you know, thing. By the time I was in the teams, I knew where I was sort of in this ecosystem.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Admittedly though, what I didn't really have, Andrew, because it I mean, I love the country, of course, but it wasn't. Again, I didn't grow up with a dad who was like, you know, this was always in our house or... It just wasn't that big of a thing. This came for me after 9-11, obviously. But yes, the patriotism and the importance of the job is there. But when I remember checking the SEAL Team 3, what...

COLEMAN RUIZ: Would emerge very quickly for me because we had Vietnam vets in the training cell at SEAL Team 3 and just some amazing people. What I realized right away was, okay, playtime is completely over.

COLEMAN RUIZ: And that was very useful, like early lesson. Not that anyone was fucking around in buds, like, you know, it's serious. But you meet a guy like Master Chief Martin, who's got 100 combat missions from Vietnam. He's about to retire. He was like the third person I met when I checked into the team. And you suddenly are like a kid again where... There's just no fucking around.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: So you're in the teams. Presumably liking the work.


ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Loving the team component. It's hard. It's unpredictable. And that's part of the... The fun.

COLEMAN RUIZ: It's amazing. Yeah, the job's amazing.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: You do a number of different deployments. And at some point, you get called to try out for the Tier 1 division within the SEAL teams. Maybe just explain a little bit of what Tier 1 means. And, you know, we don't want to speak in code here, but we just got to inform people that there are levels within the...

COLEMAN RUIZ: Teams and that yeah tell us what tier one is yeah well i'll just refer to a special mission unit it's probably the easiest we have a bunch of teams on the east and west coast as a lot of people know nowadays this shit was not public knowledge years ago yeah so so you've got these different units within within the seal teams yeah so you You have to raise your hand.

COLEMAN RUIZ: You know, I was 10 years in, Andrew. I was at, I had been platoon commander during the invasion of Iraq. We came to Monterey, I went to school and went back to be a budget instructor. It was 10 years, I felt.

COLEMAN RUIZ: I think it was time to, you know, take my shot. It's a little risky because it's hard to make it through. You know, green team and stuff at the special mission unit, it's a nine-month. Advanced training program. You're 10 years into your career. You're not 22 anymore.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: And not everyone gets called the green team. Not everyone can go. You can't say, I want to go. I want to try out.

COLEMAN RUIZ: You can say you want to try out and you do a pre-screener. Okay. So the command training staff, I'll call it the command for purposes of this conversation, because I'm familiar with that term for us. The command training staff comes out, they put you through all this stuff. Some of it's psychological, some of it's physiological.

COLEMAN RUIZ: I don't think we did a blood test, but they checked. The trainers checked everything on me. Which I thought... This is actually a description of why the unit's tier one. I was... Even in the pre-screening, it was the first time, the way I joke about it is like I really felt like I was doing what was in the brochure. Like it was real varsity stuff, you know.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: I'm presaging a later conversation that we'll get to, but at this point, had you ever sat down with a psychologist and done a therapy session?

COLEMAN RUIZ: That was no therapy, but I sat down with a psychologist because they put us through the battery, the Neo-PIR, the Raven, stuff like that.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: They're asking you, how do you sleep at night? How do you feel? All of What do you dream about?

COLEMAN RUIZ: How much do you drink? And you say, two beers a week.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: And you're lying.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Everyone's lying.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Yeah. But now it might be two beers a week.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Now it's zero.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Zero. Yeah. Right.

COLEMAN RUIZ: But yeah, so it was good screening process. I was like, oh shit, these guys are not messing around. This is exactly what I wanted to do. And the physical tests ramp up. And coincidentally, I worked for him later, still friends with him now. On my interview board was Britt Slabinski, who won the Congressional Medal of Honor.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Britt was on my interview board. And he's a great guy. And so yeah, then you just wait and if you get picked up You go out, you know, to the East Coast and you're really rolling the dice because I was on the West Coast. You move your whole family, sell your house. You may not have to sell your house, but we did. And you move and you're going to do.

COLEMAN RUIZ: A nine-month advanced training program at the command just to get into a tactical unit, you know, which we call squadrons. And the best way... Tactically for me to describe the difference. And look, my time at Team 3 was amazing. I'm not diminishing it. But let me just use free fall, military free fall, for anybody who's, you know, even done civilian free fall.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: It's jumping airplanes.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Jumping. Yeah. So if we go to the drop zone and we go jumping, right, FAA regulations have you jump at 12,999 feet because as soon as you go above 13,000, you have to use supplemental oxygen, which is not a huge deal, but it's a pain in the ass for the airplane to have it. And so...

COLEMAN RUIZ: 99% of all your jumps, well, at any standard drop zone, your civilian jumps are going to be below 13 grand. For all of our jumping at SEAL Team 3 is below 13 grand. It just makes the training more efficient. And you'll jump during the daytime, maybe a little night jumping. You'll probably have some lights for safety.

COLEMAN RUIZ: And if you look out of the airplane... You would be able to see the orange T on the drop zone. That's your standard jump profile. Maybe you'll jump with some weight. You'll certainly jump with your weapon. Probably your helmet, but not all your jumps, because you're bringing guys from zero. To be able to do tactical military free fall as a group.

COLEMAN RUIZ: When you go to the command, Your jumps are... From 25,000 feet. You do 30 minutes of pre-breathing on oxygen, helmet, night vision, zero lights, an attack board that has your navigation system on it, 100 pounds of gear, your weapon, your oxygen, all your shit. And 45 dudes piled up in a C-17.

COLEMAN RUIZ: And you drop. Miles away from the drop zone because your over ground speed at 25,000 feet is hauling ass, you know, because of the wind. And if you take your hands out of your gloves at 25,000 feet, it's curtains. Like you're not going to be able to use your fingers because it's so cold. And you jump from way away.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Obviously, and all your jump is completely blacked out. Everybody turns IR lights on, their helmets and their infrared lights, so you can see through night vision. And you got to fly that canopy multiple, multiple miles and land everybody on a drop zone. You know, that's, if you take every tactical thing we do. And Expand.

COLEMAN RUIZ: The same way you would expand free fall that's the difference at the command which is look i was I want to own this. When I was at Team 3, because you think about this. I had many, many moments where I was thinking, Oh! Fuck it man, those guys aren't that much different. Like, we're super high end, right? And we are. And then when I got there, I was like...

COLEMAN RUIZ: This is another level.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: What percentage of people that go to Green Team get through?

COLEMAN RUIZ: I think I had 65 in my class. You don't drop that many. 10 guys didn't make it or something, maybe 15-ish.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: So then you were... Why do they call it Tier 1?

COLEMAN RUIZ: No idea. It must have some official reason. Because if you go into... Like real documentation, Andrew, like there's... There's echelons in, you know, this command is echelon this, this command is echelon this. In the military, Congress sets end strength numbers. It says, the Navy, you get...

COLEMAN RUIZ: At the one time, because I took some class, the Navy had like 355,000 people, and that's the Navy's end strength. And they have to distribute those numbers across everybody in the Navy. I don't know why it's called tier one, but I think it has a, you know, has a reason.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: So you got through. Mm-hmm. You were accepted. And then you're doing very different sorts of things than you were doing previously.


ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: So my understanding is this is largely counterterrorist work. So all the work in the military and SEAL teams is high risk, high consequence, but now it's... Special Operations, that's the name.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Implies where things have to be worked out. You know, on a... On a case-by-case basis. It's highly unusual. It was unusual before, but now it's highly unusual circumstances.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: What was it like to be there? Did you like that family?

COLEMAN RUIZ: I loved it. It was the best place. To work.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: And this is 2000.

COLEMAN RUIZ: This is 06 through 2011 for me.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Okay. So it's post 9-11, through 2011. Yep. Okay. So. I'm sure a lot happened and most of which we can't and won't discuss. And that's not what's important here. But.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Clearly you met and worked with some amazing individuals. I happen to know because we've spoken before and we have some common friends in that arena that you had both the privilege of doing this work in this really important wartime, but also the unfortunate experience of... Of being close to and working with quite a lot of people that were killed.



COLEMAN RUIZ: So, I mean, I don't know why I did this or why anyone does it. It's way over 40, but I try not to...

COLEMAN RUIZ: Over-affiliate myself with a larger group than I actually knew. But the people that I personally knew, Andrew, it's exactly 40.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: And we could spend probably weeks detailing how impressive each and every one of those people was in their individual cases. This is perhaps an opportunity to put a call out. There's a wonderful book. I think an important book that isn't so well known in the array of quote unquote military and SEAL books, which is the book about Adam Brown, a fearless book.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: I heard they're going to make it into a movie. But what I like about the book is actually has very little to do with the SEAL team. Totally. That's the thing. Is that Adam had a serious, serious problem with addiction that he masked at times and it came back to.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Pull him under various times while he was in the teams. And, I know you worked with Adam and you're close. Yeah. So, that's a great book for anyone that wants it a different sort of book. It's really about addiction and family and his discovery of the path out of all that.

COLEMAN RUIZ: His tenacity is incredible.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: It was an awesome, awesome book at human, about an awesome, awesome human.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: So you do those years. Um...

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: And then. You know...

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: What happens when 40 people close to you die? I have to imagine involves that you get pretty good, unfortunately. At taking what each and every one of those is a tragedy and just continuing. Yeah. So let's just talk about that for a bit, if you're willing. Yep.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: So guys are getting shot and blown up, and you're close with them, to say the least. And... What was your role in the, in the aftermath? Like, like how did, what do you do? You, you, Go to a funeral, you, you, you, uh... Toast a few beers, and then you go back to work.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Minutes. That's kind of... You know, in the most simplistic terms, Andrew, that is exactly what happens.

COLEMAN RUIZ: There's obviously... You know, a lot more that goes on, but if you script the diary, so to speak.

COLEMAN RUIZ: It's, it wasn't, you know, a funeral every three months, but on average, if I average it out, cause I've done this in You know, excavating. The last few years. We were at a funeral or memorial effectively every 90 days. And, um... In that time period.

COLEMAN RUIZ: But it wasn't obviously, you know, that simple, like for for me and our family.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Doug was my first super close teammate killed and it wasn't in the teams, right? I'm now at the command. I was back from Afghanistan from Kandahar. This is way before the Marines built up. A hundred kilometers west of Kandahar, we were operating.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Six of us with like 180 Afghans kind of. The Wild West back then. And Doug was killed that. Summer of 07. And I got a phone call from a friend. I was standing in my kitchen in Virginia Beach. And it was like...

COLEMAN RUIZ: Like the whole scaffolding of the world was just gone.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Because at that age, and here I am, like, I'm some kid. I was in my 30s. But I'm thinking.

COLEMAN RUIZ: You know, things get more and more serious as you go, like at that time. But when Doug was killed. And I was at Paul Baroness'funeral. And, you know, we came up to Annapolis. He was living in Annapolis because he was working. It's now been publicly released, which is nice for Pam because she can talk about it more. He was working at the agency. And, um...

COLEMAN RUIZ: When after his funeral and just the days around that, and then I go back to work. And what I mentioned earlier about Doug and what I knew about him just as an operator, he had been a company commander in Fallujah. He was on the front page of the L. A. Times. Tony Perry is a reporter in San Diego.

COLEMAN RUIZ: He was in Fallujah following Doug. The guy was—and Doug is not like a public people. People were just attracted to him to tell his story. I have so many stories that I heard later from his bosses, his regimental commander, you know, told stories about his unit in Fallujah, his sergeant major and his amazing guy.

COLEMAN RUIZ: I've talked to him about like what went on in Fallujah. Doug is just a fucking legend. I mean, he was awesome. And the dominant thought. After his funeral was. If things, it's not that you don't think they're serious, and I mean just about life, Andrew. It wasn't just about combat action and hard deployments. It was about...

COLEMAN RUIZ: If Doug can be killed. All fucking bets are off. They're all off. Like, if I didn't respect the rules before and didn't think society was particularly ordered in a way that I respected, you know, shit that I think is made up. I knew when Doug was killed that it's all fucking made up. Like, he was supposed to be.

COLEMAN RUIZ: The Immortal One.

COLEMAN RUIZ: And if he's not, none of us are. Like everything has to be reevaluated. You know, how old was I? I was 32.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: And you've got kids at this point.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Mm-hmm, yeah, yep. Yeah, Ollie wasn't born yet, my youngest.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Because you now have three boys.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Yep, three boys, 21, 18, and 14, and the older two. Were born. My middle son was two at the time.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Did it occur to you at the point when Doug was killed... Or maybe some other point that, you know, at some point you could die.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Oh, I mean, that's what I mean, Andrew. You know, personal work and therapy afterwards. It was then that I started looking over my shoulder. Just in general, like everything was suddenly like has to be watched with a vigilant eye.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Something that close friends, close male friends of mine have told me, these are friends that are married with kids. And I've heard this from people that were in the military. As well as those that weren't, was that it was very important to them to marry somebody who, were they to die, they knew their kids would be. Well taken care of.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Oh, that one's not even, there's no questions.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Yeah. So that, that was a, a, like a primary criteria. And I think in your line of work, I mean, that must be especially important because the probability of Dying is... Well, let's face it, it's much higher. As my sister who doesn't like sharks once told me, she said, you know, the best way to not get eaten by a shark is to never go in the ocean.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: You know, there is a way to limiting probabilities. She'll swim in the ocean a little bit. But the point being that when you're in the military and you're... You're Shoot, move and communicate is a big part of the job description and the And the enemy is also taught to shoot, move, and communicate that there's a decent probability that you could die.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Did you ever think, okay, well, if I die... My kids are okay because Bridget's solid. Or were you still just operating on this 24-hour schedule that you had adopted way back in the seventh grade?

COLEMAN RUIZ: No, I think well, maybe. I'd have to ask her that question.

COLEMAN RUIZ: I think I was backed away from the 24-hour ledge a little bit.

COLEMAN RUIZ: I... I knew that the boys obviously would be taken care of with my wife like that was never even never crossed my mind probably until you just asked the question that was almost just like table stakes.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Back to this adaptive but maladaptive behavior.

COLEMAN RUIZ: When Doug was killed, I just realized I had to work even harder. To try to stay alive.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Because if you met the guy, there is, I'm going to say it probably multiple, there is not a fucking human on the planet. That was as tough and as focused and as... Hyper dialed in to how to do the job. 100% effectively.

COLEMAN RUIZ: As he was.

COLEMAN RUIZ: It happened to him, you know? And I just never, it's almost embarrassing, Andrew, to say I never thought about it like that until Doug was killed.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: And yet, and I'm not challenging that at all, of course, I mean, life, circumstances, the other. Team gets a vote too.


ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Right? I mean, somebody can be seemingly indestructible, oh so capable and talented, and get T-boned at an intersection. Right? Like that. Yeah. We've known people like that. All of us, you know, you hear these things. That's why they're called tragedies.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Yeah, we just, like to put it in context, we have to remember is part of the beauty. Of taking a young person and taking all the ingredients that a person comes into special operations, pick your service. I'm agnostic. I mean. Some of my best buddies are Army and Marine Corps. I'm agnostic to the service head.

COLEMAN RUIZ: When you end up at a certain point and you look back, you realize for 10 or 15 years... I've been indoctrinated in a very adaptive way. To believe that I'm immortal. Because if you didn't...

COLEMAN RUIZ: You certainly wouldn't jump out of an aircraft at 25,000 feet with no lights. And you for hell for sure wouldn't go into some of these fucking towns we go into and end up in these firefights. Like you have some weird. I'll speak for myself. I was entirely convinced that I couldn't be killed.

COLEMAN RUIZ: And I just because I was in some way Andrew convinced that our training was so good that that shit wouldn't happen to us.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Let's take a step back for a second and acknowledge the truth all around that. Set of statements, which is that I think most people can think of the government and the training programs as.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Honing the body, but... It's probably not lost on you at this point in your life that you're a weapon. Your mind became a weapon, right? Your body became a weapon. You were a weapon of the military from the inside out. And in the statement you just made encapsulates that.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: And that weapon honed itself for a long time, but then that's what the military is. It creates weapons out of humans. And I'm not demonizing the military whatsoever. I want to be very clear. I realize that statement could be considered differently, but that mindset encapsulates that.

COLEMAN RUIZ: So- So with the other guys, I want to make sure I finish your question. So it started with Doug, and then, you know... I don't know what direction you want to go here specifically, but then it just kept going, Andrew, right? Like at that time. Doug was 07, and then we went to Iraq in the winter of 07, 08, which was... Complete mayhem. And the troop was... I mean, my... My troop. In the winter of 07-08.

COLEMAN RUIZ: We're like... Fucking superheroes.

COLEMAN RUIZ: And a guy named Tommy Valentine was the troop chief. And we got home, and he was killed in a parachute accident after all that shit we went through. Badger, a guy named Mark Carter was killed in that deployment. We got home and Tommy was killed in a parachute accident. And me and a guy named Dutch, we went up to Minnesota. To notify Tommy's parents and his sister and his brother.

COLEMAN RUIZ: And we're not, the Navy calls them CACOs, like Casualty Assistance Officers. These are jobs in the military where you're trained to do this stuff. You know, one of the things that's amazing about us is if a guy gets killed, we send a team guy there. But think about the team guy.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Like, it's great for the family that you send the team guy. But we don't know shit about sitting with a family who's about to be notified that their son, in this case of Tommy, was killed. Britt went to Christina's house, Slab, Britt Slabinski. He went to Christina's house, and me and Dutch went up to Minnesota. And...

COLEMAN RUIZ: I'm shaking right now. Like I was shaking the whole drive. We had to get to International Falls all the way up north. The Valentines are incredible people.

COLEMAN RUIZ: And I mean, notifying a family was just... It was brutal. And so this is, this is, this is 08. And then it just keeps coming. It's Nate and it's Mike. And it's Lance and it's extortion in 2011. And in the middle of that Adam gets killed, right? Like tons of people know about extortion because it was one helicopter, obviously full.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Well, maybe we just briefly want to mention that was August 2011, as I recall.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Yes. Yeah, August of 11. Yeah. So, but in 2010, Adam is killed.

COLEMAN RUIZ: And... I got a phone call and I wasn't best friend. I mean, Adam had some very close friends as a command that I don't want to make some, anybody give the impression that like me and Adam were boys. We were, we knew each other well, right? We went through green team together. He was in a different squadron though. So you sort of get separated a little.

COLEMAN RUIZ: And... I got a phone call in the middle of the night. From one of my buddies who's still in, who is another legend. And, um...

COLEMAN RUIZ: I answered the phone and it's midnight. I knew something was wrong. And we were kind of in this pattern then, Andrew, like actually a few of the commands were. Like our partner command and a bunch of other guys we work with in other units. It was a hard time. Like, guys were fighting hard overseas, and that just comes with the consequences we know, you know?

COLEMAN RUIZ: And I get the phone call in the middle of the night. I'm like... And so... This guy tells me, you know, get your uniform. You need to come in. Something happened. And I'm like, I fucking know what happened. Like, tell me who it is. And they, you know, didn't want to say it over the phone, which I get.

COLEMAN RUIZ: And I... I had like one of those moments where I told him, no, I can't. I can't do that again. Like, you have to get somebody who knows what the fuck they're doing.

COLEMAN RUIZ: And he just didn't let me off the hook, you know? Get your shit and come into the command. Because you've got to do all this prep stuff.

COLEMAN RUIZ: I walked into the conference room. I mean, I remember it clear as day. I walked into the conference room and I could see it on everybody's face. Again, this is 2010 now. They were. More terrified than I was. And these are, you know, civilian guys, guys who retired who are now civilians. They work at the command and amazing people. They looked like... I don't know if you've seen, Peter Jackson's remake.

COLEMAN RUIZ: They shall not grow old. Oh, you have to watch it. They shall not grow old as Peter Jackson took. Real war war one footage oh i did see that yeah yes put the color and the lip reading and it and there's a scene i don't know if it's a battle of the bulge or exactly there's a scene where This young unit, Army unit, is about to go up over the top and run across an open field.

COLEMAN RUIZ: The camera pans over. And there's a young kid with his rifle in front of him. With a bayonet affixed to it, his helmet on, His lips are sort of flat and pursed. And he, everybody in that conference room looked like him. When I saw that movie later, I'm like, every single person looked like him. And they told me it was Adam, and we were going to go notify Kelly.


COLEMAN RUIZ: And he had little ones at that point savannah nathan yeah they were small and We knocked on, she had a sort of a stained glass. Like window? And I could see her at the top of the The stairs?

COLEMAN RUIZ: I was the worst man. It was the worst.

COLEMAN RUIZ: So we sat with Kelly and a bunch of other guys were there, of course. It wasn't just me. And we did our best.

COLEMAN RUIZ: And I learned later and, you know. Reading Paul's work, Dr. Conti and other people. Like that was it, dude. I was like a, I don't know if it's a locust or whatever that sheds their skin. I literally like left a shell of myself on Kelly's front porch and walked out of my skin.

COLEMAN RUIZ: It was, that was tough. That was tough. And so that was kind of the tempo, to answer your question, like it wasn't exactly every 90 days.

COLEMAN RUIZ: But almost every 90 days from 06 to 2011 for me, I got out in the fall of 2011, it was memorial at the theater, memorial at the people's house.

COLEMAN RUIZ: And our neighbor across the street in Virginia Beach, she lost her husband in 07, so one house over. So she was best friends with us. And so you are trying to live two lives. You have this. Military life with all these consequences where Every bone in your body is telling you to...

COLEMAN RUIZ: Go full Spartan. Like, no, not that the Spartans didn't have families because they did. Whatever. Nothing else. Like, just cut off every other thing in your life completely. You have to go do this, and you have to do it full on because clearly all bets are off. Like, we're barely making it through. We're losing our best guys.

COLEMAN RUIZ: And how the fuck do I survive at this pace? And so because we're all in the same community in Virginia Beach, you're around it all the time when you're home, you know, and you should be because you're supporting your teammates'families, and that's important. But it was just, it's almost like a dream, you know.

COLEMAN RUIZ: When I think about it now, how do... How did we live like that? How does anyone live like that? And I know, you know, my experience as a military, people go through, you know, all sorts of tough situations and different walks of life. But I have so much compassion for anybody who's trying to live in an environment like that where You know, you are going on the next deployment.

COLEMAN RUIZ: I mean, look, Andrew, we left Bakuman in 08 before Tommy was killed. Three fucking weeks later, guys are getting blown up in the same area. And they got all the debrief from us. They knew exactly where to go, but it was just such a kinetic environment.

COLEMAN RUIZ: It was almost like you couldn't stop it, you know? It was just like the balls rolling. When I think about people overseas and, you know, different situations that countries find themselves in right now.

COLEMAN RUIZ: I can feel it for them, you know, what it takes. It's a...

COLEMAN RUIZ: It's an intense environment.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Certainly that comes through. I think years ago you said to me, And this will be an important way of setting aside which side people are on, you know, whether or not you side with. One group in the Middle East or the other, you feel for everybody that one of the things that you said that really rung in my ears for a long time is that The Warriors on both sides.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: In their own minds. Each and all of them. Are just doing what they think is right for them and their families. You cannot erase that fact. Like whether or not the government of this country or the government of that country or group was correct or incorrect, whether or not you're even talking about a terrorist cell versus a military, a formal military group or special operations group that in the minds of the warriors.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: They're doing what they truly believe. Is right for them and their families, and sometimes country as well. And when I heard that, it was sort of a, you know, it's sort of an obvious statement on the one hand, but it's a very important one, I think, to the... Psychology that, you know, everyone's fighting tooth and nail.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Because they believe that they are right. Or... They're just fighting tooth and nail for whatever reason. And that was an important thing for me to hear and I think about that a lot when I see any news stories about international conflict or Terrorist military conflict, terrorist civilian stuff. Even people, there's something about the human brain.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: People get this into their mind, like this is my job and they're doing it. It doesn't justify it. Right. But. Going back to this thing of being a weapon. Yep. Humans can be trained as weapons, and it's often not the weapons themselves that are making the decisions about where to go and what to do. Sometimes it is. Um...

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: At this time, Coleman, what's going on with the three boys, with Bridget? I mean, you're... I mean, your boys have turned out really well. They're amazing. They're amazing. And there's no coincidence there. And obviously it was a team effort with you and Bridget. But there are a lot of things about the way the scenario you're describing here that speaks to like.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: How can a home function? But obviously... It functioned well. You know, it's remarkable, but it can't be due to chance. So were you able to compartmentalize, like, the moment you hit your front door? Your dad at home, your husband, your, and was that a pause in a conversation with yourself at the front door, that's just something that becomes reflexive.

COLEMAN RUIZ: I mean, I...

COLEMAN RUIZ: I think it was just reflexive. It wasn't really a pause at the front door. And admittedly, the story I would like to tell is that I was super zen about it and I had this process. And I would come home and I would take this off and put on regular dad things. And I think I was just.

COLEMAN RUIZ: By the same level of effort that we put into what we were doing. Bridget and every other wife, mom.

COLEMAN RUIZ: At least the ones that I knew, they put that level effort in as well. It made our home life. Just very comfortable. So it was easy. Like I didn't have to go through some process, right? It was, this is how I remember it. It was easy for me. I don't know if it was easy for Bridget. She would have to answer that question.

COLEMAN RUIZ: It was easy for me. And so I felt like for the most part, Like I was, I wasn't like platoon commander dad, you know, some movie, you know, the great Santini type dad, you know, I think Pat Conroy wrote the great Santini. His dad was crazy apparently or it's like, that's what he writes about. It wasn't like that. It was more of.

COLEMAN RUIZ: This home is such a relief. And Bridget is so dialed that I don't have to, unfortunately, hard for Bridget, I don't have to do anything. You know, the time that I'm here, I can be here. And then... You know, go away again. And so it's, as we know, what trauma does to the mind. Like, there are many, many stretches of that time period.

COLEMAN RUIZ: That... I just don't remember.

COLEMAN RUIZ: And what I do remember is mostly, obviously, the fun times, the front yard, the whatever, playing with the boys. Doing roughhousing and going on vacation and stuff. But when I was in the grind, when we were in the training cycle of our cycle or deployment or whatever, I don't really remember. Sections of it.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: So, A lot far too many. I guess even one would be far too many doorbells ringing on doorbells you decide to get out.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Was that a conscious decision based on time, conscious decision based on, like, I would like to have the rest of my life?

COLEMAN RUIZ: You're done. I don't like to call it a regret, you know? But it's just kind of emblematic of where I was. It was the right decision. I do not regret getting out at the 13-year mark, not for a second.

COLEMAN RUIZ: I needed it, we needed it as a family.

COLEMAN RUIZ: It was a snap. It was a snap decision. It was like a, what do we say, 24 hour decision?

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: 24 hour horizon.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Standing on the ledge of the 24 hour horizon.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: And you said, what year was that again?

COLEMAN RUIZ: That was the fall of 2011. Yeah.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: So that's about four or five years before you and I met. Yeah. Yeah. So extortion, we don't have to touch into it too deeply because people can look it up, but this was a massive loss of special operations, including a lot of SEALs. It was basically a helicopter shot out of the sky with a...

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: With a rap with a grenade right yeah rpg rpg people can look it up if they want to and there's a lot of material out there about it it's just can only be described as a tragedy so and i'm not trying to make light of it i just think you know that we could do there's a lot to explore there for in a different discussion kiss you're out Now the probability that you're going to die is much lower. Provided.

COLEMAN RUIZ: It's not what my nervous system said.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Right. But you're out.


ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: And... What do you do? Meaning, what do you do with all that energy? The energy of. The way you've been operating up until now, these intense battle rhythms, vampire schedules, as you call them. But also, what do you do with all the energy of what happened? You know, I think this is where...

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: I think our conversation really... Hopefully has been related to other people as we've been going, but that, you know, Sometimes I stop and I'm like, I know I'm supposed to process all this stuff. You know? That's happened. But it's like, what do you do when so much has happened?

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Or when something's happened that you know you have to move on from, you know you need to compartmentalize, but that lives in our nervous system. So are you thinking about that? You're colman ruiz at that point you're just you're just going forward just fucking crazy i mean.

COLEMAN RUIZ: I just didn't know, you know, it's 2011. It doesn't sound like that long ago, but still. In 2011, this was not a topic for conversation. You know, and.

COLEMAN RUIZ: I took maybe one week to process out. I turned in my gear. I turned in my badge. And my next visit to the command years later, I had to be escorted on by people I worked with in the same fucking squadron. Like, so within a matter of one week, I'm a stranger. Like, I can't get on the base. There's reasons for that. I get that. But I'm just using it as a. I mean, to make the point.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: There was nothing dishonorable about how you went. Just that there's security reasons.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Once you're out, you can't just drive on the base anymore, you know?

COLEMAN RUIZ: This is like emblematic of, of course, I didn't talk to anybody about it, not even Bridget, but at the time, in those first, call it couple of years or even couple of months, I don't know.

COLEMAN RUIZ: The question you just asked me is a question I was asked, like, what do I do? Like, not with work. Like, what do I do, period? With life. Like, how do I manage my time? And I'm not some bumbling idiot. It's not like... I was walking around the neighborhood. Like trying to figure out where my house was.

COLEMAN RUIZ: I had just been in that environment for so long, to your point. That, um...

COLEMAN RUIZ: I didn't know what to do. I didn't know what to do with... My thoughts, my feelings, my, you know, I could go to the Buddhist five aggregates, my thoughts, feelings, perceptions, physical form, like all these things I've learned about and thought about later that have helped so much.

COLEMAN RUIZ: I didn't know what to do with any of it. I didn't know what to do with night sweats. I didn't know what to do with, I thought the term PTSD was the biggest fucking joke on the planet until I read all the symptoms, and I'm like... Wait, wait a minute.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Sounds familiar.

COLEMAN RUIZ: And so it's that. And so I remember, like, even the little things that kind of make the point of the big things. I didn't know how to get a dentist. I could just go to the dentist in the military. You know, I thought when I was walking around the food line that somebody was going to call me and say, come back to the base because, like, the bubble went up.

COLEMAN RUIZ: You just, I had zero context and didn't have... The courage or the not even not even just the courage but know who to ask right it wasn't The mentoring, one of the most important books in my life in the last 12 years has been Joseph Campbell's The Hero with a Thousand Faces. For the back end of the hero's journey. And...

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: I haven't read it. I know I should. I know I should.

COLEMAN RUIZ: You should actually listen to it.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: I should listen to it.

COLEMAN RUIZ: It's better to... I've probably only listened to five audiobooks in my life. I prefer to read in paper because I can take notes. In the margin, that book is better listened to.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Hero with a thousand faces.

COLEMAN RUIZ: The hero with a thousand faces.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Could you just highlight a couple of the things that you took from the back end of that that somehow shifted your mind toward like, like cued you? I'm thinking Coleman Ruiz circa 2011 is like. I'm like, what do I do now?

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: And then something cues you. There's like a beacon someplace. It's like, I always think of this like a texture of something. And you're like, oh, I want to, you know, you want to feel it more to get a sense of what it is. Is that about right?

COLEMAN RUIZ: It was in that case for sure.

COLEMAN RUIZ: So Joseph Campbell wrote that book in 1949. And The Hero with a Thousand Faces is effectively the 17-stage hero journey, which, by the way, George Lucas... Says and has said many times publicly, he built the arc of Star Wars around the 17-stage hero's journey. He credits Joseph Campbell's book for...

COLEMAN RUIZ: Helping him. If you ever read it or you go through the 17 stages or you see it or watch a short video anybody You'll see how damn near everybody's life, which is why it's called the monomyth He describes it as the monomyth or the cosmogonic cycle a little weirder term for it.

COLEMAN RUIZ: But what he lays out in the book is, I don't know, maybe. Supposedly 2,000 years of culture across multiple cultures. The book is incredibly complicated in that sense. Andrew, when I so I listened to it audio first and then went back to it and listened to it in paper. I could not believe how a human could put this narrative together, honestly.

COLEMAN RUIZ: And so But the summary I struggled with the first 10 stages a little bit, but I'll try to come back to them. If you look at the image when you lay out the 17 stages, the way it's in a circle is the ordinary world. And the extraordinary world is on the bottom of the page, right?

COLEMAN RUIZ: And there's a horizontal line. The diameter of that circle goes horizontally across, and the extraordinary world's on the bottom. The ordinary world's on the top, okay? And so let me talk about the back end of the journey first because what I was mostly concerned about with when a friend pointed me to...

COLEMAN RUIZ: To that book was my return to the ordinary world. And he told me, Coleman, you've got to read this book. And so the back end of the hero's journey. In the return section, is three, seven stages of the 17. It's the ultimate boon, which is you learned something big. In life.

COLEMAN RUIZ: It depended on everybody learned something where you sort of realize that something big happened to me. That's the ultimate boon. And you have this incredible desire to do something with it. It's either knowledge or it's experience or whatever. And... The ultimate boon you have and you feel.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Like this life thing. And then the next stage is typically... Refusal of the return. You really don't want to come back to the ordinary world because you feel that there is some level of consequence that maybe... You can't handle or somebody won't understand, you know?

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Or maybe it's too mundane. You'll be... Maybe. You'll feel adrift.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Totally, yeah. And this is in the description of the stages, what you just described as part of that description.

COLEMAN RUIZ: The next stage, you're coming up back into the ordinary world on this return, is Magic Flight. And the way it's described in, you know, myths or in real life is. You have to escape that extraordinary world and take one more dangerous flight. Or sneak away, or something is catapulting you to take that ultimate boon and fight against that refusal, you're taking magic flight.


COLEMAN RUIZ: And then there is...

COLEMAN RUIZ: Is it? It's assistance, I think. Yeah, it's like assistance from a, like a special. Power or something, which could be your own or somebody else. All right, and then suddenly you're into the last three, which is crossing the return threshold into the ordinary world. Master of two worlds where you finally... Realize, through help and or process, where you can hold these two opposing life experiences in place.

COLEMAN RUIZ: And then the very last stage, 17, is freedom to live. And when you can. I'm going to give you my little pet theory in a second. When you can work your way through those stages. You can have the freedom to live. What I realized potentially happened to me, just my internal feelings about, you know, my coming in out of the military and back is. If you skip or you don't figure out how to deal with the refusal to return, and...

COLEMAN RUIZ: And you just pick, I'm going to call it the next big thing. You catapult yourself into a new cycle. And you never finish. And one of two things has happened. You're either two people trapped in the ordinary world or you're one person trapped in two worlds. I don't know which it is. It's either two worlds in one person or it's two people trying to live in one world.

COLEMAN RUIZ: But shit gets crazy, right? Because you just haven't done the cycle. And it sounds very mischievous. But if you read A Hero with a Thousand Faces, you're like, this journey is not new. Like this is thousands of years of very typical human cycle. Now, if we go back to the top of the circle, I'm going to try to screen through the first 10, which will be very obvious for Star Wars fans.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Just think about what Luke does. And I'm not like a super Star Wars person. I've seen the movies, but it's a call to adventure. Most of us have a call to adventure of some sort in our life. Refuse to call, help from a mentor, Crossing the first threshold. The belly of the whale, which is described as When you first truly separate, this was me leaving for college, when you first truly separate from the...

COLEMAN RUIZ: Ordinary world. Road of trials.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Meeting the Goddess temptations, atonement with the Father, apostasis, which is kind of like... Dying of. Death while you're still alive, and then you're into those return stages. And when I first read that book, Andrew, I was like, I'm trapped in the return.

COLEMAN RUIZ: I'm trapped somewhere in the return. Just emotionally. And one of the places... That I was absolutely trapped in the return. Was I didn't have the mentor. To help me cross the threshold. I knew I had to move on in my life.

COLEMAN RUIZ: I knew I had learned something extremely valuable. I knew that there was a way through because people across thousands of years of humanity have done it. I don't think I'm special And I never had the mentor. I got mentors later, you know, a couple years out.

COLEMAN RUIZ: And it reminds me... That So I got out in the fall of 2011, in the summer, one of my very good friends who lives in Connecticut, he works in New York. He brought me to a lunch. At some fancy club in New York. With a guy named Buddy Buca, Paul Buddy Buca, who won the Congressional Medal of Honor. He was a West Point grad. He won the CMH in Vietnam.

COLEMAN RUIZ: I'd been around a lot of, you know, famous military people. Lunch was very normal. Buddy was amazing. It was a normal lunch. We didn't talk about much. Impact. We didn't talk about combat action or whatever. There was a green velvet set of stairs. We were leaving the club, the upstairs. We were coming down the green set of stairs. If I remember, Buddy's a little bit shorter than I am.

COLEMAN RUIZ: He reached out his left, I was on his left. He reached out his left arm. I was a stair, one stair below him. He stopped me. I turned to my right to look at him. He looked at me. He said, son, you have it. You know that? You have it. P. t. s. And you're going to have to deal with it. And we left. I got in the cab and I left. And I remember thinking...

COLEMAN RUIZ: You might have it. But I don't. Because that's the old days. Like, we were prepared for this shit. I was still convinced. That I'm good. Like nothing happened to me. Nothing in the military happened to me. That's just normal stuff. And all of our training, it's a story I told myself, all of our training prepared me for that.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Like this. The rest of my life is just going to be nothing. Bad's going to happen. Because I'm good, whatever that meant. And when I started to learn more and read more and talk to people who were helping me. I remember Buddy telling me that and Back to those return stages, Andrew.

COLEMAN RUIZ: It's just incredibly important for me. To understand. That my journey is not special. We are part of a long history of evolution that people who go through very challenging... I mean... The 17 stages in Joseph could not be more accurate to my life. Particularly the return.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: And of course, if one looked from the outside, they would agree with your mindset then and say, you're alive. 00,00,00 00,00,00 You certainly done very hard things, extraordinary things. You're married, you got three kids, they're thriving.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Ptsd, post-traumatic stress disorder. And things like it, because I don't think any single acronym or diagnosis can capture anything. I think Paul Conti made that very clear to us in the mental health series. Names by necessity.

COLEMAN RUIZ: But it's a framework that certainly taught me something.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Absolutely. And, and And certainly those who haven't been in the military, maybe had a seed event of something challenging or whatever it is, you know, many people struggle with these kinds of... Things that live inside them. In their nervous system. They pack it down. Maybe they don't, but... That was inside you at that point.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: I think you and I first got acquainted in somewhere around 2016 when you and some other folks from tier one community and related communities started coming to lab. My lab, and I never really talked publicly about my lab, has been involved with various things in Canada and the US. I'm not trying to create any mystique there, but it's not a point of interest what we did.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: But I recall at that time just thinking, This guy's just an amazing... Team guy. But in any event, You know, we got to know each other a bit, and my sense then was like... It's like a... That's kind of indestructible, right? And now I realize nobody's indestructible. We're flesh and bone. But, um...

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: But if we may, let's fast forward a bit to a couple years later. If you're willing to talk about it, maybe talk about... Some of the... The evolution that happened. So you started working a job, you're getting back into civilian life. Yep. And, I recall a conversation about this time of year. Probably about three years ago. Yeah. And you had done what a lot of...

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Vets from tier one operations have done and are now doing, which I actually have mostly favorable outlook on, which is there. Now these are, I want to be very clear, legal and sanctioned explorations of the psychedelic space.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Right. And I remember you called me and you described the experience that you had had. And some of the connection with warrior culture that that had helped emerge for you. So could you explain what happened there?

COLEMAN RUIZ: You know, probably the entry, Andrew, is... As important, you know, meaning it's not all about books, but this is actually another thing I've really learned. You know, I was very intellect and achievement central.

COLEMAN RUIZ: And as you can see how easy the emotion comes out now, I kind of very frighteningly understand people who like feel stuff a lot more.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: It's a whole other landscape. It's miserable. Well, wait, it is. And yet it's, I agree. It's a very uncomfortable space, you know, but we'll get, we'll get there.

COLEMAN RUIZ: It's a journey for me. I put it that way. So, you know, there's a bunch of other. I'm a voracious reader. I really enjoy it. And you know, my entree and little window into the world of getting that kind of help. It came from a lot of different areas.

COLEMAN RUIZ: I found... In our area, a craniosacral therapist who... It still seems like, because I mentioned it to people and it sounds fringe to them, it's a very light touch, not even chiropractic-like, and it's closer to myofascial type of massage.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Some tapping. Yep. Very like on the top of the head.

COLEMAN RUIZ: The part I actually love the most is the back of the neck sort of manipulation.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: You're lying down relaxed.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Yeah, you're clothed. Super easy in terms of that. Um... A couple years of that, just because of athletics, I love massage and that's kind of my entree.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: So through the body, somatics. Yeah.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Which frankly, in many ways is my favorite. Back to the physical orientation to the world is what's useful to me.

COLEMAN RUIZ: But also, I mean, I read Sam Harris's first book, End of Faith, in 2006. And so I've followed him for... 15 years, religiously, read all of his books, lying, moral landscape. And his...

COLEMAN RUIZ: I don't know him personally, so public stuff notwithstanding, that's not important to me. But waking up and I took an online course with Robert Wright. Who wrote Why Buddhism is True, but that's really not what he's known for, you know? Princeton professor.

COLEMAN RUIZ: He's so funny. He's very humorous. I started to work my way.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Into, I don't have some like, I don't want people to think I have some like whiz bang, like spiritual practice that's whatever, you know, but it became very interesting to me, this, I needed to find, I started to realize I needed to find a way. To back away from the 24-hour ledge.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Like that super hyper focus. I needed to get a little bit of perspective. One of my favorite short videos is Richard Feynman's Pale Blue Dot. I needed to just back away. That reminds me. Thank you so much for talking about. Time-space bridging, I think, the other day.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Yeah, I'll cue people to that clip in the caption. It's a way of taking oneself out of one's immediate sphere of vision. And looking, literally looking further out into one's environment, and then back again as a perceptual exercise of understanding that as our visual field expands, our perception of time also expands. The binning, the chunking of time.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Yeah. That and mine, your conversation years ago about Horizon. And activating the parasympathetic system instead of sympathetic. I just very slowly started to realize I needed to back away from the small picture. And the reading and the cranial sacrum massage. I was still not really getting consistent real help. But I thought I could do it through educating myself intellectually.

COLEMAN RUIZ: And I thought it was time to, and it was, it has short-term consequences, but long-term, it's been amazing. To you know, deal with the plant medicines in a controlled and curated environment. And that experience was. Super safe and quite amazing actually. The weekend or the... Three or four days. Was super intense, but I didn't leave there thinking.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Again, I kind of thought, I'm good. That was great.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Yeah. A couple of things. One, we've covered psychedelics on this podcast before. I say this not for liability reasons, but just really to emphasize for people's safety to protect them. Plant medicines are illegal most places still. This is changing.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Mdma has been filed with the FDA as a potential treatment. It's not yet legal. These things have great power to heal in the right circumstances, and they also have great potential to harm in the wrong hands or circumstances. People with...

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: You know, potential for psychosis, et cetera. But, With that said, I remember I was on, I was driving. I was on a phone call with you around this time of year, three years ago. Maybe it was four, but I think it was three years ago.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: And I said, what was your experience with, Ibogaine DMT like, and you said You know, it was among the most profound experiences of my entire life. And I recall you saying that you felt that it had connected you through time to all the warrior cultures that had preceded you. Not just U. S. Military, but all warrior cultures. And you sounded great. You sounded like...

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Better than great. You weren't high, but you just sounded like, man, like, like something had, had, had synced up. Yeah. And I thought, this is great, you know, and I hadn't explored plant medicines, at least not in a long time because I had done the recreationally as a youth, which I do not recommend. It took me down a bad path. But, and more recently I've explored them in controlled conditions, but...

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: I thought. Awesome. You got this new job. You did some very controlled and again, physician-assisted Ibogaine DMT experiences. You're telling me how great everything was.


ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: And then... About, I think it was about three, four months later. I got a very different call. And, If you're willing, you know, I remember that call.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Maybe you can tell me about yeah so i mean this yeah the experience it was incredibly powerful You know, humor is such a powerful way to get through hard times is while laughing. Yeah. But it really was, Andrew. I mean, to be fair to...

COLEMAN RUIZ: Thousands of years of... You know, people having experience with these things. We often joked about like what? Poor sucker reached out and grabbed that root for the first time and chewed on it. The iboga tree, boy he found out.


COLEMAN RUIZ: Or she, yeah.


COLEMAN RUIZ: To be fair. Probably, you know, some session. That wasn't supposed to go that direction and someone chewed on the wrong route but It was extremely powerful.

COLEMAN RUIZ: I've heard that. You know... The 5-MeO for some people is not much. It's like black. For me, it was just liftoff. And, um... I saw an entirely perfect geometric mosaic in light blue and white. And...

COLEMAN RUIZ: That was the warrior culture connection, like that whole 20 minute ride. It was just something else. As you know, I guess.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: I haven't done it.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Noetic is the word.


COLEMAN RUIZ: Yeah, that people use. It's very difficult. I don't have the language for it. And a couple months later, the bottom dropped out.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Yeah. And I want to talk about that now. I also want to emphasize, I know a good number of people that have had the same experience you did with Abigail and DMT through the Veterans Solutions Group.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: And I know Marcus and Amber Capone very well. Actually, a bill just got passed in Congress that Dan Crenshaw helped. I helped spearhead to bring funding to the use of psychedelics for PTSD treatment in military.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: And I should mention, because this was interesting to learn, that that bill was highly bipartisan. I'm not going to name off the names because if I do, there's going to be a lot of cringing, screaming, and yelling.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: But it's like if ever there was a bill that was supported from both sides of the aisle with like the most diametrically opposed names who came together around that funding, it's that bill. And just striking. And so this is a very bipartisan thing. So I will say a number of people. Have been greatly benefited by the Veterans Solutions work.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: But... And we can't causally link what happened to you afterwards at all. There's a lot of contextual stuff. So we're not doing that, but we're, we're an open book here. And I think that's a great group, by the way, veteran solutions is amazing. A few months later, you said the bottom dropped out. So what happened and when did you start to notice it? And then maybe we can talk about that phone call.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Yeah, I think.

COLEMAN RUIZ: You know, looking back, Andrew, I think a couple things. Most people who call me about... You know, friends who say, hey, should I go do this? I initially tell them, well, 100% of the time. I tell them, no, until. Until you get...

COLEMAN RUIZ: I was having this conversation last week with a guy who I never met before. You need to stabilize.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Your situation, whatever your situation is, through some very slow, deliberate Dr. Conti level help. Because... In the case of I'm happy to see that some people are using just a wider spectrum of on-ramp, not the nuclear option to start.

COLEMAN RUIZ: I can tell you unequivocally, Abigain and 5MEO DMT, two days apart, is the nuclear option. And it's not right for everybody. I'm not a scientist. There's no question. That cannot be right for everybody. That just doesn't make any sense. There's other ways to enter, I believe.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: And when you say the Conti option, well, just for those that didn't see the series with Dr. Paul Conti, we'll put a link to it in the show note captions. But what Coleman's referring to is talk therapy with somebody highly skilled. Yes. And perhaps also. Prescription medication, if that's necessary, maybe hormone therapy, if that's necessary, that's up to the physician, but clearly talk therapy with a skilled clinician.

COLEMAN RUIZ: I believe I needed, I don't know what other people need, I needed a mentor to help me. Contextualize what I was coming from and what I'm going to. And... My experience, you know... What the plant medicines was, it kicked the door wide open and took that beautiful ice sculpture, perhaps at a person's wedding, and shattered it on the floor. And I was again left alone.

COLEMAN RUIZ: My fault, not anybody else's, left alone to figure out how to put that ice sculpture back together. Peace by peace. And my belief is I could have avoided that. By having a much more deliberate process. So when suddenly the ice sculpture was on the ground and every bit of... Intellect that I built over, you know, however long, four decades.

COLEMAN RUIZ: I was flat on my back. And as I told you, Andrew, and I've been, you know... Really verbal about with so many friends who only want to talk about it in quiet circles, which I totally understand and respect. And if you want to talk about it in a quiet circle. はい Email the Humor Life podcast and you can give them my cell phone number because I know how important it is to people when they're in that stage.

COLEMAN RUIZ: That was another thing that I never thought was possible for humans.

COLEMAN RUIZ: It was severe. Depression. Severe. And I was so... Because I guess I just never thought about it again or never had a mentor. The shocking thing, Andrew, was how shocked I was. It was like, if I had known something like this was real, not that I would have listened to anybody if they said it.

COLEMAN RUIZ: But the most shocking thing was that, again, this could happen. To me. And when it did happen, I was completely... Unequipped. To deal with, it took. Forget Hell Week. Forget every other thing in my life. It took...

COLEMAN RUIZ: 10,000x the energy of anything I've ever done in my life before. To just put my feet on the ground in the morning. I could not PT. I couldn't run. And you're like, I could not fucking.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Function. I did function somehow to some level. But it was so... Terrifying? I just have, for anyone listening who has been through, I just have such incredible respect. For people who have dealt with it and have learned to get through something like that.


COLEMAN RUIZ: Oh, yeah. Or any, pick the title, right? Whatever tough situation someone's in emotionally, I have such tremendous respect for them. Because I would have been...

COLEMAN RUIZ: Years ago, the guy who like, just tighten up your boots and get to it. It's not possible. Like, you have to get help from people who care about you. And you have to step back away from the problem set somehow. And work through it, you know, step by step. One of the most helpful things, and I feel so fortunate that I never really had, like, the chemical dependence thing. It was easy for me to stop drinking.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: When did you decide to stop drinking?

COLEMAN RUIZ: It was around three years ago or so-ish.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Prior to this lapse into depression?

COLEMAN RUIZ: No, no, right during. Yeah, right there.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: You just figured alcohol is a bad thing right now.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Yeah, and I mean, look, you and I have been friends for a while now, aren't you? Some of... The things you and I have discussed and I hear you talk about publicly, they were just good reminders, you know?

COLEMAN RUIZ: One of the things I absolutely hate, but I do every day, which is wait 90 minutes to drink coffee. Oh, it's the worst. I cannot tell you how much of a difference that's made in my energy throughout the day. And the drinking was similar. You know, I, like, look, I'm just going to drop it for a couple weeks.

COLEMAN RUIZ: And then suddenly... My sleep's better. My fitness is better. You know, so, you know, we all, even my friend, you know, you chat about stuff. Oh, what are you doing at this age? You know, I'm approaching 50. That helps you stop drinking. Everything else, like all the other recommendations come second, at least for me. Um...

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Was that pretty easy for you to do? Because I know there's a big culture of drinking in the teams. Yeah.

COLEMAN RUIZ: I was just lucky.


COLEMAN RUIZ: So my point there is, you know, just the respect I have for people who... Who worked through stuff like that. And I was going to say, the reason I referenced the drinking is because I started reading a lot about the 12 steps, AA, I've never been to an AA meeting, but the Simpson, the PTSD, and the 12 steps, I'm like, oh my God.

COLEMAN RUIZ: This is me. I need to go through these steps in my own way, not for drinking. But for whatever this low-grade, the way I've described it is, you know, the Buddhist obviously called dukkha, so unsatisfactoriness, this low-grade irritation that I carry around every day.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Um... The one amazing thing that... A couple of months did for me, and the way I describe it visually is if someone cut me from neck to belly. And filleted open my chest and took a propane torch and scorched me from the inside and then put me back together and said, start over.

COLEMAN RUIZ: That's how it felt. That's literally how it felt. I mean, I could not believe, Andrew, and you can obviously, you know, Dr. Conti can articulate this better. I couldn't believe how emotional pain could be so physically painful.

COLEMAN RUIZ: That whole experience, again, the shocking part was the shocking part. I just didn't think it was real. And so then when it was... And I'm like, how many fucking things do I have to deal with, you know? And I realized everybody deals with a lot of stuff.

COLEMAN RUIZ: And it was challenging. And then slowly... You know, it got better. And better. And, um... Guys like... You know, friends, very close friends. A very, very small tight group were Thank you. Man, what people...

COLEMAN RUIZ: What do you do when you finally tell them?

COLEMAN RUIZ: And you think, oh, this guy's going to... He's never going to talk to me again.

COLEMAN RUIZ: They do the opposite.

COLEMAN RUIZ: They rally immediately for you, you know? And then guys that aren't in your inner circle necessarily helping directly. And they're in the next circle. Because now, this is very weird, back to like the feeling thing, I can not 100% of the time, but a lot of guys in my community, if I speak to them and they're in a bad spot, I can detect it within five seconds. Just the tonal and kind of like the tempo.

COLEMAN RUIZ: And when you tell that ring of people, not your super inner circle, they dump it immediately. As soon as you open the door, they're like, hey man, I had a couple of tough... Like months, you know? Boom they're right in for the most part they open up yep And that really scares me, Andrew, because I know...

COLEMAN RUIZ: Like, if we need to flip the switch this afternoon, like, we can flip the switch.


COLEMAN RUIZ: Meaning, like, I can go to old school, you know, 15 years ago. That's what you and I have discussed in the past, is kind of come back to... You know, the fighter mentality is the problem with. That, the hardcore, intense, focused. That's easy. Like, it's so easy to do that tough stuff.

COLEMAN RUIZ: That's easy. This is the hard part. And that's what... You know, was so challenging. It was to go to people who normally we do, you know, the... Yeah, yeah, let's do this, let's do that, let's do something crazy. Okay, well, tell that same person who you've built.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Persona, identity, you know, around them and with them. They're like, you're this guy. And then you have a tough spot now you have to go tell them the opposite like I'm really not doing well It's terrifying.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: It is terrifying, but I second with both arms your statement that when We actually open up to somebody trusted. Hopefully a friend or somebody close to us, but like some people go to... Clergy or AA or any number of the different resources. And those resources really are out there at zero cost. They really are there if one has to look a little bit, sometimes a lot, unfortunately, but they're there.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: My experience has always been, and in observing others, that there's something about the human spirit that wants to help. And sometimes that help comes from somebody who's really been through it. But even if somebody hasn't been through it. There's something in our nervous system that sees real pain in somebody and contrary to what we think, they don't judge and think that everything...

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: That the person who was hurting was before was a fraud. The contrary, they see it as an act of strength. But it feels like hell to reveal that. It feels... I totally agree. I think all the tough stuff, all the anything physical is like a fraction of the emotional pain. And thank you for highlighting the physical aspect of emotional pain, especially if one isn't accustomed to it. If one isn't accustomed to it.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: If you're willing, you know...

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: How bad did it get? I mean, the call you... We had. Suggested it was bad. I sometimes refer to a line and I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I've seen that line a few times in my life. I've been right up next to it a few times. And now if I ever see it. I know to do many things when it first comes into my visual sphere, the line, of course, being the point at which one is considering taking their own life.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Yeah. Something that happens far too often, even once is far too often. And... And we've sort of skirted around this topic. After all the wartime stuff and the gunfights and people dying and the doorbells, there have been a lot of friends of yours and some of whom I know but most of whom I don't.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Two this year.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Who continue to kill themselves, to put it bluntly. Where were you at with respect to that line? Because depression is one thing. There's mild depression, there's severe depression, there's recurring depression, there's management, and on and on and on. But ultimately, that's the thing that... Uh...

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Hopefully everyone's seeking to avoid. And it's a... Yeah, how close were you?

COLEMAN RUIZ: I would say that was probably, I really want to say one day. And the truth is, it was one day.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: It lasted one day.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Being that close to the line.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: But it only takes a moment to go.

COLEMAN RUIZ: That's the scary thing, right? And it probably lasted... A couple of weeks, but... There was only, back to the buds thing, like I never thought about quitting. I thought about it one day.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: What was the thought?

COLEMAN RUIZ: It was, I mean... Sort of like the classic symptoms, Andrew, I was up all night sweating and shaking.

COLEMAN RUIZ: It's back to the shock of it. It was, okay. I actually was able to step like one of two things is happening Either. I am fundamentally bad. There's no way you can feel this bad and be good. So one of two things is happening. Like, I'm just bad. A bad person.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Which I know is not true. Or something bad got inside of me that I have to get rid of, and I don't know how to get rid of it. And so... Sweating, shaking, you know, up at three in the morning and legitimately thinking. This is just the scariest thing for anybody in the situation.

COLEMAN RUIZ: You think with every ounce of your being. That people are better off without you. And then somehow... Thankfully, through chemistry, neurobiology, past learnings. Um...

COLEMAN RUIZ: I stepped back away from that very quickly. But the feeling... Of putting me up to that line didn't go away. I just intellectually was able to... It was kind of where the maladaptive behaviors, you know, back to training work in your favor. Which is I'm not quitting.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Like, this can't be just me, even though it did feel like just me. I mean, you suddenly become the core of the entire existence of the universe. You think, like, you're it, you know? But in the negative side of it, not the... Adaptive side of it. Because the pain is just so extreme.

COLEMAN RUIZ: But I was able to back away from it and then over I'm so grateful to so many of my friends. I can't imagine how many hours, if we collect up those hours, how much time I spent with them on the phone.

COLEMAN RUIZ: And one of my, in the, like, in those really hard weeks, maybe a little bit after that injury, one of my buddies, I was actually just talking to him yesterday because I had time in the car.

COLEMAN RUIZ: The tough love side of it, when you're feeling that poorly, is a little tricky. Like, I probably wouldn't deliver tough love unless I really thought the person could handle it. I think you've got to really deal with kid gloves at those moments.

COLEMAN RUIZ: But one of my buddies told me, If you do something to hurt yourself, You will have proven to every person who knows you that you are a fucking liar and a fraud. Everything you've been about your whole life is a fraud. And Andrew, I was, we were on the phone. I was like.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Whoa. My God. He just went 10 ring. I mean, dead center. And it that was a pivot like that really helped me a lot.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: So that's what you needed. I mean, I don't know that that's what I would have needed. I recall when we spoke, because I'm obviously not professionally trained in any of that, I just remember thinking, how do I put this into language that Coleman's going to understand?

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: And I just said, you know, I think your goggles are, I know one thing for sure, which is that your goggles are foggy. So you have to outsource. Your decisions now.

COLEMAN RUIZ: I think you might have also told me to outsource my identity. Mm-hmm. And that helped a lot because...

COLEMAN RUIZ: It was that idea of you have foggy goggles, you're clearly like not on stable ground. Everything you believe about yourself. Just let it be the spokes of a wheel that somebody else can hold for you for a period of time. I was like, well, I can do that. And then my other buddy, I didn't want to be a liar and a fraud. I was like, I can do that. Yeah.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Thank you I mean, I'm grateful for the opportunity, but unfortunately, I've had a few circumstances where people close to me. We're at... At that edge and and i'd be lying if i and say i've been at that edge so i knew where i had some sense of where you were at Um...

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: And under those conditions, I don't think there's a playbook. I mean, obviously, when people have a plan and they're thinking about implementing that plan, those people need to be put under protection from themselves.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Fortunately it didn't come to that.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Yeah. And you know, a few friends just did the basics, Andrew, which was. I really wanted to talk to you at that time because I knew you would give me some advice. You know, I was so uncertain about just the, I'll just say the chemistry, but the chemistry and like something is not right. Yeah. And, you know, different friends offer different and some friends just. Sat and listened to it all. And when I think back, it's like...

COLEMAN RUIZ: I would take a bullet for them. Because I just took it, you know, and let me offload it. It's an amazing experience for let people help you, which I was never willing to do.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: No, and you were, we have to highlight something that might have been overlooked earlier because we went through it quickly, but that you were, you know, you were commander of a unit, so you're head of a family. I know Bridget's also head of family. There's a trade. You try. You go back and forth, right, exactly. But you're used to leading and protecting others.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: I think it's awesome that you're able to. Have access that, that, raising your hand and asking for help. You have to, it's, it's, it's such a, it's such a, a sign of strength and skill and doesn't, and it feels like the exact opposite in the moment, the exact opposite.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: And then we go to these narratives like, Oh, if I've ever done that in the past, people didn't help that, you know, we come up with a million excuses, but in the end, it's, it's. It's such a thing of strength to do that. Um...

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: So you did ratchet yourself out of that very, very dark hole. And, um... I want to place this in the context of this hero's journey. Would you see that, you talk about the magic flight that you're against, like the refusal, you won't go back. But so it was accepting, it seems that there was.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: That some pieces of you needed work. Yeah. That there was this PTSD, this gentleman that you mentioned. Yep. Saw that. And you refuse to kind of deal with it. And so shine a light on it and God, the universe, whatever your beliefs are. Force you to see it.


ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: And you went to the very bottom. But not out the bottom.


ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: What was the process of putting things back together?

COLEMAN RUIZ: I mean... Really, I mean, a lot of it, Andrew, was cutting out. So as a practical matter, I mean, I'm going to go just go back to regular therapy because I don't. That.

COLEMAN RUIZ: I mean, my therapist is amazing.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: So at what point did you enter therapy? Immediately then. So you got a quote-unquote therapist.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Oh, yeah, yeah. I mean, effectively.

COLEMAN RUIZ: You know, and... Bridget and I at some point. It was, it was, Bridget was like, this is. This is it, like full-time help. Effective immediately.

COLEMAN RUIZ: And I knew it was necessary, but if I'm really honest, like, I would have avoided it. I would have somehow, like, tried to go.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Through the situation without like full-time help. And I mean, once a week therapy. Yeah.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: So the idea of sitting down with somebody and talking about past, present, and maybe some ideas of future was, was worse to you than jumping out of a plane at 3000 feet or going into a gun fight?

COLEMAN RUIZ: Not even close. Not even close. And...

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Hearing yourself say that, dude, you realize how- Ridiculous. Well, how untrue that must be at the physical level, but the nervous system doesn't know. To quote Dr. Paul Conti, the limbic system that experiences or creates this sense of fear and dread doesn't know the clock or the calendar. It's like if you go, meaning if you experience that, there's the idea that it's going to go on forever. I think that's the fear.

COLEMAN RUIZ: That's correct. Yep, that's exactly right. Thank you for saying that. The fear was... This will go on forever. Um... But... So, yes, I just.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Did not want to, you know, back to Bessel van der Kolk's, when I read this word in his book, Body Keeps the Score, alexithymia, if that's a real thing, where you can't put language to, you know, what's going on.

COLEMAN RUIZ: I didn't want to put language to it. I couldn't. I just didn't feel like it. Like I just felt like gutting through it. And then... I got You know, once a week therapy, amazing people.

COLEMAN RUIZ: And I don't know, Andrew, the first three months was, you know, I mean, gutting through. I just couldn't I couldn't seem to shed that emotional like. The burden of... Pick the category of stuff. From the last, let's just say, 20 years. It was just, but it was all, I couldn't stop it from coming out.

COLEMAN RUIZ: And obviously that's a good thing. And so that just continued and every day got, and when I say ink, this is the tough part for at least me. And I know a lot of guys like me. The gains are minuscule, you know, but things improved slowly but surely.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Were there ever moments where you felt you were drifting backward?

COLEMAN RUIZ: Not really. And that was nice, you know? You see that? There's some stall, you know? Plateaus?

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: You don't have to share this, but... Because I'm a believer that talk therapy can be very effective. Certainly that's an experience. I wouldn't be here if it weren't for two in particular amazing people who really helped me along the way in that way. But I do think there's a place at times for pharmacology to assist the process. Sure. I know nowadays people hear SSRIs and they demonize those.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: That wasn't I'll come clean. And then maybe if you feel like it, you can I had a bout of depression during my postdoc, did a short run of Welbutrin and Bupropion, which is more of the dopaminergic, noradrenergic agonism, mostly adrenaline, noradrenergic. It really helped. It nuked my memory at the dosage they suggested, which meant I had to take a very low dose.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: And then eventually I came off. And I think that that's one thing I learned from Conti, which is that... Most of these medications were designed to help people get over a bump, as opposed to be taken continuously. Some people need to take them continuously. I have been able to be away from that for a long time, but I think pharmacology can help.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Oh, yeah. I think I'd have to go back and look. Four months, maybe, of pretty low dose of Welbutrin. Thanks to...

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Yeah. Yeah, that's about right. Yeah.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Thanks to my buddy, Jimmy. You know, I called him and... I asked him what he thought, and he said, well...

COLEMAN RUIZ: You use a gun sight on your weapon, don't you? And you use glasses if you can't see. Nah, you need reading glasses. You need glasses if you can't see, right? It's like, fucking take the war butchering, man. Chill. Like, just get it. Get some space. Back to the space-time bridging concept. Just get back away from the danger for a few months. That really helped.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: And that's very different than the backing away from the danger with, say, alcohol or drugs. And look, my stance on cannabis is some people can use it safely. Most people probably cannot, but some can. But there's something different about the drugs that have an addiction potential or the drugs that disrupt sleep.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Like ultimately, if you look at people who commit suicide. And I spent a lot of time with this literature in almost every case. In the preceding weeks, there's a disruption in sleep schedules, meaning disrupted from what they were doing prior to that when they were not probably suicidal. So then you think about alcohol disruption of sleep, even if you think you're sleeping.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: And like it's there's a story like a common theme starts to emerge. So you stabilize sleep, you were getting some dopamine and neurodegenerative assistance from the low dose of Wobutrin. And you're basically also just offloading. You're just letting it all out. With a therapist.

COLEMAN RUIZ: With a therapist. And the thing that strikes me as, to your point about my resistance to therapy versus jumping on airplanes or whatever.

COLEMAN RUIZ: The most important people in my whole life. Since day one have been people that have helped me. Coaches, parents, friends. Boom. Doug. We're colleagues. The guys that I work for now, like other, you have all these people helping you and then you hit this thing. It's so unusual.

COLEMAN RUIZ: I'm like, I don't want anybody to help me and I don't want to tell anybody about it. Like, what is that, Andrew? That was the, it's like, what is that? And it's not like I wasn't in these environments where I've been coached and mentored. I've had coaches and mentors on my ass my whole fucking life. Like, instructors, you know, it's a non-stop.

COLEMAN RUIZ: And I don't know, like I couldn't I just couldn't do it until I did it and then and you know it's been a process since and i'm super grateful for it and I don't know where we are in the journey, but in terms of like the hero's journey, but I hope I'm at freedom to live some version of it because.

COLEMAN RUIZ: With my re-this is dangerous because I only say this like with my really, really, really close friends. I know this is going to more people in my cl-I feel like a completely different person. And none of that stuff really ever goes away. It's all a process, right? And I'm never going to stop the process. But I don't even recognize myself.

COLEMAN RUIZ: In some ways. Anymore. And that's been a good thing because in those... Times when I was just on the 24-hour horizon sometimes. I just did not know what the fuck was going on other than exactly what I was doing, you know, and it's just an odd experience to be in a different place. And it's scary to know.

COLEMAN RUIZ: That without that experience and without people really kind of forcing me to get help and things forcing me. I might be doing the same stuff, which is a hard way to live, you know?

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Or worse. Or worse. You might not be here.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Or worse, which has happened to many of our buddies, you know? And I want to go. Like retroactively hug them and collect them up in like a net and say guys just stop for a second You know, like we...

COLEMAN RUIZ: It doesn't have to go there.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Yeah, I feel the yearning in that statement.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: I suffer from a terrible...

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Very destructive, debilitating desire to travel back in time and fix things. It's like, I know I don't have, my graduate advisor, who unfortunately all three of my graduate advisors are dead, but she used to say, my time machine's broken.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Anytime I'd raise something, you know, the coulda, woulda, shoulda. My time machine's broken and we know that, but I felt that statement in every cell of my body. It's clear you would. But you're also, in sharing this experience and this information, you're doing that now.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: In what we call in biology, in the interograde fashion. And, you know, somebody, many people are going to hear this and cue to the recognition of what's happened to them, hopefully before they get to that line.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Yeah, you have to.

COLEMAN RUIZ: You just get to tell somebody, you know, it's like, it's crazy how simple that is, Andrew. I mean, months.

COLEMAN RUIZ: I can't tell anybody.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: And maybe we drill into this a little bit deeper because I think that this really speaks to the global experience of being human where unlike a physical wound where if you see bone exposed, you're like, this is pretty serious. We all have different thresholds for what we can tolerate in terms of pain and seeing ourselves wounded.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: We all don't have to decide what's the difference between hurting and injured. But when it comes to psychological stuff, we don't know. We also are dealing with it. A world now where some people feel psychologically injured by everything, you know, so that's the extreme there. But what we're, I think. I think...

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: What comes through. And I think people need to. Perhaps highlight in their minds is when something's kind of nagging or scratching at you beneath the surface, that voice, what do you think that voice is?

COLEMAN RUIZ: I call it the low grade pain. Okay, for me, it was, there was a low-grade.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Just slight hot burning. Starting in 07. Probably before that, but...

COLEMAN RUIZ: It was for me, it was a weird mix Andrew of like an uncertainty, a seeking, a this just doesn't feel right, like it has to be fixed. There has to be an intellectual and achievement way to sort of get around. This is where. The Buddhist writing and thinking really helped me a lot. There has to be a way around. This low-grade unsatisfactoriness Somehow. My sense for me, and I'm obviously not, you know, the Dr. Conti in the room.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Just because of all the things I've learned, it just had to be... This constant, I'll use the word trauma, but for me, it was like, Something had to happen to our system. Obviously it does. Something happens to our system that is a little bit of a, boom, there's a shock there. Boom. And then a buddy gets killed and then it's not even always with death.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Then you have extreme firefight or, you know, close call. And then it's just boom, boom, shock, shock, shock, shock. It's almost like getting TBI for the nervous system. It's just a constant high. To me, it always felt like That constant high end. Now, if you keep going, perhaps...

COLEMAN RUIZ: If you never recognize any of it and you just keep jacking the dopamine and the adrenaline your whole life, maybe you can just never recognize it. But for me, when I shut the engine off and I decided. It's not really how I wanted to live, and I was trying to work out of that low-grade whatever I was residue that I was left with.

COLEMAN RUIZ: It was like every time I came home from deployment, I would get sick that night. Like I would have a fever that night. Headache and fever. And I tend to get sick at the end of the year. Last two years it was Christmas. This year it was Thanksgiving.

COLEMAN RUIZ: You know, Bridget and I always joke about it. It's because I slightly turn the engine down a little.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: And then the you know the immune system yeah that's the way it works everyone thinks stress depletes the immune system and indeed it can yeah but if you think about an evolutionary adaptive you know, ways. Go, go, go, go, go, allows you to stave off the infection, or at least to not have the symptoms of combating infection.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: And then when you relax a little bit, go on vacation, boom, you get sick, which is not to say constantly stress, but you need to modulate. You got to modulate. But when you're on deployments, you don't have the option. You're in gunfights every day. Yeah.

COLEMAN RUIZ: So as soon as you turn it off, you get sick, right? But for me in this particular instance, what do I think it is? I think it was... All of those experiences at once. Turning the generator all the way off of the electric panel fully off and then It just all came out.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Well, for people... For anyone listening. Who is facing that feeling, that underlying feeling, or who is challenged with like... A breakup, loss of a loved one. Fear about the future. Languishing because they don't know what the future holds. Or the feeling that quote unquote, so much has happened.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Or some combination of those five things.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Where do you think the healing process starts?

COLEMAN RUIZ: I hope, again, back to the hero's journey, I hope for every single person that it's not. A rock bottom moment. But it seems like if you follow a lot of enough people and you hear enough stories.

COLEMAN RUIZ: You've talked with Dax, right?


COLEMAN RUIZ: Yeah. He talks about it nonstop. Like, unfortunately, I think a version of Bottom. Is where the process starts.

COLEMAN RUIZ: All the people I know, the stories they tell me. The process started when they hit some version of bottom. What's the quote that I love is, you don't change until the pain of staying the same is worse than the pain of change.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Yeah, amen to that. I have experienced that more times than I would like to admit. And that brings me actually to... This more macroscopic question, my understanding of the hero's journey. From obviously I haven't read or listened to the book is that we don't complete this cycle and then rest at the ordinary world where we are.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Living in bliss and peace forever. We actually have to go around that wheel over and over and over again, hopefully not going to bottoms that put our lives in danger, but...

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: It is not a process in which we ever really get to cruise. So let's orient. Coleman Ruiz in that cycle. You seem to have returned to the ordinary world.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: For those listening and not watching, whenever you describe the...

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: The feeling of getting through, but also the, that people assisted you, you smile. Thank As friendly a guy as you are, I think in the first three years I knew you, I didn't see you smile once. That's probably true. I didn't see you smile once. I just thought, like, man, these, like...

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Tier one team guys they're they're serious locked in they're locked in but you smile a lot now yeah so i think you're back in the ordinary world what are the things you're watchful for? Like, you're not drinking, you pay attention to your sleep. You always trained, you always did it. You call it PT, but physical training.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Yeah, yeah.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Cycle, run. Swim.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Lots of kettlebells.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Yeah. Every morning.

COLEMAN RUIZ: I train. Probably five out of seven days. And the two days that I don't train, I'm in, I have a sauna at my house. I'm in sauna at least for an hour.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: It's so funny how team guys talk about getting into cold or getting in the sauna like it's just a regular thing. They never post it to social media. For them, it's just part of the routine. Yeah.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: But I say that because I think a lot of people think it's like this esoteric biohacking thing. Wrestlers and people in the military are custom to like sauna cold, sauna cold, just like cardio lifting weights. It's not this esoteric thing.

COLEMAN RUIZ: No, no, no. I mean, I think on average, there's a sauna in Finland for like every single person in the country. So we didn't invent some amazing. Recovery process by doing sauna.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Right. What do you think? What do you think it is about physical movement that helps the mind? Obviously, I consider it necessary, but not sufficient. Like you need to do the talk therapy, the working through, the writing, the reading, the introspection, the talking to other people, maybe pharmacology, but it's... It does seem to be so important for resetting us. What do you think it is about physical movement?

COLEMAN RUIZ: I mean, since it might go back to John Rady's little anecdote in Spark, you know, the sea squirt, I guess, swims around, and as soon as it does whatever it needs to do, it just dies when it stops moving. Oh, yeah.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: So the sea squirt is this aquatic animal, a plesia, as it were, that when it... Lands on a rock, stops moving, it actually digests its own nervous system. That movement is the great Nobel Prize winning scientist, Sherrington, that said that movement is the final common pathway.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: That movement is the way that the nervous system tells the brain and rest of nervous system that it's still needed here on Earth. Which I like. It's like a... It reminds us of our own utility in a neural way.

COLEMAN RUIZ: I mean, whatever that... Is. And you're right, the chemistry and the neurobiology of it all. This goes back, again, going back to seventh grade. I was at the end of the rope on the detentions and the suspension. And I have this very clear memory that before my dad got home, like I ran laps, I don't know how many, but a lot around the block.

COLEMAN RUIZ: And by the time he got home, I was like, whatever my punishment is, I'm good. Like, I'm not worried about it. That physical activity for me all the time, I don't want to overdo the runner's high thing, but whatever that is. That's what I think it is. Like when I'm in motion, are my heart rates up?

COLEMAN RUIZ: For the most part. Everything's fine. And I'm clear-headed, and... I cannot be. Again, dropping drinking. I can't be lethargic and sit around. Like I have to, you know, take care of myself in that regard.

COLEMAN RUIZ: I watch my sleep super close. If it gets past 1030, I'm in like a full blown panic. I need to get to a pillow. The basics. Like I don't do anything crazy, really.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: You eat what you want.

COLEMAN RUIZ: No, no. I would say on the neurotic scale of things, that's probably my most extreme. There's probably a little bit of cutting weight, kind of like eating disorder issues, if I was guessing. Not that extreme.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: So you eat meat, vegetables? Yeah.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Yeah, yeah. But I'm a really light eater. I eat like a bird and probably... Eight times a day, maybe more.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Eight times a day.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Oh, easily. I'll have... You know, thanks to you, I'll wait an hour and a half to have coffee, which is miserable. You're welcome. But it's amazing. Thank you. It's helped me so much.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Well, you know, I take some shit for it because some people say, do I have to? Well, if I train first thing, then I'll have my coffee first thing. It was really to stave off the afternoon crash. But a lot of people find that experiencing that natural wake up and look, it's 90 minutes.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: It's not, it's not like cutting out for two days or two weeks or Michael Paul. And I think quick coffee. And I was like, why in the world would you do that? Yeah. Why in the world? I love coffee, love Yerba Mate. I always have, from, from, from first sip, which by the way, I had my first gourd of Mate, Caffeine Mate when I was four, there's a picture of me and my grandfather's up.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: That's hilarious. Argentine side. Yeah. So, but the, the point here is that, You know... These practices, these things, I think that they involve a little bit of discipline, but they, they, they really can have an outsized effect, I think.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Oh my goodness. Yeah. It's incredible. I the eating thing and then maybe you know one more mental thing in this regard I'll probably have... Maybe an avocado? In the morning? Mm-hmm. And then... Two hours later, maybe one hour later, I'll have sliced cheese and an apple. And then...

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: So you're a light grazer.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Really light. I probably have the smallest plate at dinner in my house.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: We've always been in great shape. Like visually, you're tall, you're lean, you're strong. Yeah. Yeah. I think we're realizing now that you can still train on, you don't have to be like gorging oneself with calories.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Especially now, right? Like we're both approaching 50. It's actually surprising how much I've discovered we can do on how few... Calories and i'm not trying to like test it some crazy way but then just eat throughout the day And, you know, macro life experience, Andrew, I just cut a bunch of extra bullshit out of my life.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Big and little things like I don't I try to just do my job and, you know, do a good job at it. Hang out with my people, friends and family, and all the extra shenanigans. Like I'll maybe do, you know, I was always doing. Some big race or some big mountaineering adventure or I was just piling stuff into my schedule.

COLEMAN RUIZ: I might do one race in like in the spring. Everything else is... Casual, work really hard at it. I like cycling a lot. It's one of my favorites. And go hard, but I'm not. Trying to race cat 2 or you know win some event or that release of extra bullshit in my life has been as big as anything else.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: And your boys presumably take some time and attention in here. Yeah, they're great. Yeah. Your son's a runner, a university-level runner.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: A lot of our conversation gets to some kind of core.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Features of being human and the psychology of challenge and thinking one is or others are invincible, discovering that none of us are invincible. But that we are renewable. You clearly illustrate that. There's a... There's clearly a message that everyone is gleaning from this, many messages.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: はい What if any... What revision or adaptation do you think we need of the concept of being a man, growing oneself into a man? I'm not a gender studies, sociologists, psychologists, neuroscientists, but... Setting all the sociology and the nomenclature aside, If you had a short list of things like, seems like...

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: You. I believe that it's important to be able to do hard things. But sometimes those hard things are not the hard things that you aren't. We think they are like sitting down and telling one story being more terrifying than going into gunfights overseas.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Yeah. Yeah, I mean... Funny that the prelude a little bit is I'm not a gender studies scientist either, a sociologist. I stay away from most of these conversations, you know.

COLEMAN RUIZ: But they're barbed wire they just people seem to be so over activated over stuff it's very odd But for me and my life experience, Andrew, it's range. I like to use David Epstein's book title, right? It's Range. Um... And I've noticed this so much because of parenting and watching my boys grow into men.

COLEMAN RUIZ: If I think about, I'm going to come back to range. If I think about myself at 17 or 18.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Not my parents, not my coaches, unless I really wanted it, you could not fucking tell me what to do. You can't tell me what to do now. Like, if I want it, I love the mentoring and the teammateship and the things that get you where you want to go.

COLEMAN RUIZ: But if it's something I don't want to do, I'm not doing it, you know, no matter what. And so... If I think about that in terms of being a dad or manhood is Let's take it back to my kids. I think I'm one of the most important parts of my job.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Is to release the grip and take the reins off and just barely keep them inside the boundaries of A lot alive, you know, because they're gonna make all their own decisions anyway, and they have to All right. And so I think a big part that I see and I saw myself a lot for years. Was we overgrip sometimes as men, like we are so afraid of losing control in an already uncontrollable world. That we overgrip everything.

COLEMAN RUIZ: And I over gripped everything. And suddenly when I'm not over gripping stuff. Things are going better. And, um... When it comes to range, it's okay. For me, it's okay to have your tough guy moments, your fighter mentality moments. I would never want to lose that because... No matter how much help I get, when I'm out with my family or my wife or my boys, my head is on a fucking swivel. And if somebody touches them.

COLEMAN RUIZ: It's curtains. And we need to keep that because that is just a part of life. Like you have to be. You cannot move through life with blinders on. Like, there are people who are not good people. And it's okay to have range and have that in your toolkit. What I don't think is okay to do is to let that slice of the traditional, whatever you want to call it, aggressive manhood, be your whole life.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Like, that's just not functional. You know, it's not good for relationships. It's not good for parenthood. So... Every other little tool you can put in that toolbox, it takes you all the way over here to what we might consider, oh, Coleman's going to, he's soft now. No, no, don't mistake my kindness for weakness. There's a category for everything, and I think that makes you such a much more complete person.

COLEMAN RUIZ: It's made me a more complete person. It's difficult. I feel like I'm brand new at being able to do other things in my toolbox. Like, this part's easy. I can go jump to that in a nanosecond. This part over here of normalizing... You know, life across a whatever, 80, 90, it's really hard. To sort of Excavate the normal shit. But that's what I think we need to do. You know what I mean?

COLEMAN RUIZ: It's okay to be kind and... Calm and gentle and you know that's there's nothing wrong with that.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: And I'm guessing the word surrender probably held a far different meaning for you in the past. A lot of what you're describing is surrendering to the realities of life that we can't control everything. And just how painful it is to undergo that surrender. And here I'm talking to myself, too. It's a process I'm still deeply involved in. You know, somebody who's tried to, you know, go rung over rung as best I can.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Doesn't Andrew speak to our, like, evolutions? Like, that is so difficult, at least for me and guys like me. I'm putting you in my group here. That is so hard to do. Like, that just tells me more about... The evolution of our male system.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Like that part's so easy and this part is not so easy, but man it's a It's a battle to remind myself, you know, slow down, listen, just the basic shit. You don't have to go attack every problem like a fist fight.

COLEMAN RUIZ: It's tough.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: It is tough. And I think that the more that I resist surrender, the more that, well, I believe in God, so I'll just say God, but God, the universe or whatever it is for people. But for me, the more that God places me in circumstances that make the act of surrendering harder. Like if I would just do it on my own, it wouldn't have to be so hard.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: I wouldn't have to, a good friend of mine, I'll mention my name, Tim Armstrong. He just said like. You got to hit every branch on the way down. You know, he was telling me I had to, you know, he's like, you're a stubborn punk rocker. You have to. And he was talking about himself too. Like there's certain, there's certain phenotypes where we have to, but, but they're like, the universe just screams out.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: You don't have to, you can actually just like lower yourself down on a rope to the ground. And walk away, but then there's that stubbornness. But I think that the stubbornness has its evolutionary adaptations too.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: And the hero's journey, nothing in the hero's journey says that the transitions between these different states are linear, are of equal duration, are of certainty. Only that they exist and that there's no way, as you point out before, to skip steps.

COLEMAN RUIZ: You can't skip. I couldn't skip. If somebody skips, nobody, nobody skips.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: And whether or not somebody tries to skip through psychedelics or through being the toughest or through the acquisition of money or just focusing on family, you know, a family obviously super important, but, but that's not going to accomplish the other aspects of, of the, of the journey. It's a huge part of it, but it's not, it's not the only part again, necessary, not sufficient.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Yeah. It's like, again, it's the 12 steps or some, I'm not that experienced in it. I just read about it a decent amount. It's like hitting every branch, but you gotta follow the steps, man. Or you can live with that low-grade pain non-stop.

COLEMAN RUIZ: It's not a good way to live.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: No, because even if you're not conscious of it, it erodes you in ways that are very destructive.

COLEMAN RUIZ: I wasn't conscious of it at all until the universe, as we say, came in with a fucking wrecking ball. And said, fine, you're not going to listen. I sent you all these messages, you're not going to listen? Okay.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: I think it's important that we...

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: At least briefly touch on where things are at right now. Because. It would be remiss for us to give the impression that like you're sitting there meditating, you're drinking your coffee 90 minutes late, late after you wake up, you're sitting there in bliss and thinking about all the great things that happened, how you made it through.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Like there's still a lot happening right now. So, to the extent that you can share. You're working all the time. What are you doing nowadays as a vocation?

COLEMAN RUIZ: I was in private equity for a while before I met you. I run a company for... The company's for a really good friend of mine named Tom Ripley, an amazing guy. And then I stepped away because I was exhausted and I didn't know how to say it. I didn't know how to tell anybody. Like I needed to escape again, take magic flight somehow, you know.

COLEMAN RUIZ: And he and I are incredibly close like he was one of the guys who is in that super tight inner circle.

COLEMAN RUIZ: And then I came back to it with this team that I'm on.

COLEMAN RUIZ: I serve as the chief operating officer at Lid Sports Group, the largest brick-and-mortar licensed sports retailer. In North America, we have 2,000 stores. During the holiday, we have 8,200 employees. Amazing team, the private equity firm that I work for is an amazing team. The company is an amazing company and just incredible group of folks.

COLEMAN RUIZ: And so yeah, I work a lot. I was out here doing store visits in San Francisco and LA and that's it's all good and I think Um...

COLEMAN RUIZ: I do those little things all day long, all the time, but no, I am not sitting on a mountaintop. Like most days, there's no meditation at all, Andrew. It's meditation as a workout. Tom and I throw kettlebells around multiple times a week.

COLEMAN RUIZ: I do those other little things, but... The difference for me is I'm okay with it. And I say that because... I was incredibly busy, you know, before when I first got out of the Navy. And I wasn't okay with it because I thought, again, this is back to the hero's journey. I thought like the return. To ordinary life was going to be sunshine and rainbows.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Like, look, I have the ultimate boon. I had this big experience, not that I wanted to be like front and center in the media, but Here I am, world. It's calm out here, right? Like we get to chill and have a good time and Sleep and nothing is stressful in the real world, right? Wrong. I just wasn't ready for that. Like, I really genuinely thought. That it was just going to be easier.

COLEMAN RUIZ: And so... When we talk about the low-grade pain injury and like the, you know, what is that? To me, that was one of the biggest frictions, like, holy shit. I did all this stuff, all these deployments, lost all these buddies. And there's no fucking rest. Like... The regular world, it's supposed to be easier. At least that's the story that was in my mind.

COLEMAN RUIZ: Going through all the stuff we just talked about. Now I'm... Okay with it. Like, I like it. I know how to manage my life. I know how to manage my time, for the most part. I have a different relationship with my teammates and my mentors and my bosses and my own work life. And... I love it. Like, I feel like...

COLEMAN RUIZ: I'm back to in a very different way where I was when I was in the squadron back in 07. I feel like I'm on I hope this doesn't get clipped, but for me, I'm on another level. Like, I really feel good about where I'm headed. And I haven't felt like that since I went into college, you know? I felt like shit was just deteriorating, and now it's not, which is nice.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Well, the beauty of what you just said and everything you've shared today is that I don't know if it occurs to you or not, but...

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: You've been providing mentorship to... Millions of people in the form of Sharing your experience. Of your own hero's journey. And I want to thank you for making it so... Clear as to what your experience was and being unafraid or perhaps afraid and doing it and telling us anyway, exactly what that felt like. Even better in that sense, you know, and, and stepping into that fear. But also...

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Making it so clear that while you're Your life experience is, you know, extraordinary. Seal teams, tier one teams, all of it, that... You know, everyone's life has these components of extraordinary and the opportunity for extraordinary and the... Return and renewal through the ordinary world.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: So much of what you shared has meaning regardless. People are male, female, young, old.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Thank you for being a mentor. Today and for having the bravery for stepping out into the... The quote-unquote ordinary world, which is oh so unordinary.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: If you're willing, I think it'd be great to have you back in a... Maybe a couple of years and see where you're at. Meanwhile, you and I will be in touch often as, as we, as we frequently are.

COLEMAN RUIZ: So thanks Andrew. Appreciate it.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Coleman Ruiz. Thanks for everything you've done. Thank you. Thanks for everything you're doing. And, Thanks for coming out today and sharing with us what real life's about.

COLEMAN RUIZ: It's always great to see you. Appreciate the time. It was a joy. Thanks.

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Likewise. Thank you for joining me for today's discussion with Coleman Ruiz. If you're learning from and or enjoying this podcast, please subscribe to our YouTube channel. That's a terrific zero cost way to support us. In addition, please subscribe to the podcast on both Spotify and Apple.

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ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Or guests you'd like me to consider hosting on the Huberman Lab podcast, please put those in the comments section on YouTube. I do read all the comments. Not so much during today's episode, but on many previous episodes of the Huberman Lab podcast, we discuss supplements.

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ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: Again, that's Huberman Lab on all social media platforms. If you haven't already subscribed to our Neural Network newsletter, our Neural Network newsletter is a zero-cost newsletter that provides summaries of podcast episodes, as well as protocols in the form of...

ANDREW D. HUBERMAN: One to three page PDFs, protocols on things like deliberate cold exposure or optimizing dopamine, improving your sleep, neuroplasticity and learning. We have a foundational fitness protocol that details cardiovascular and resistance training workouts. And all of that is available to you completely zero cost.

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