MEET MITCHELL

I’m Mitchell Smolkin – a psychotherapist, author and speaker who promotes the idea of finding dignity in your suffering in order to become closer to others and yourself.

I have worked internationally with thousands of individuals, couples and families as well as organizations and businesses, bringing together the latest and most inspiring thinking from neuroscience and the philosophy of psychology in order to better understand how to work through blocks to embodied connection.

Prior to turning my attention to writing, public speaking and consultation, I built a successful international psychotherapy practice on two continents and was the managing director for a foundation as well as a senior producer at Canada’s largest performing arts centre in the heart of Toronto.

Presently, you’ll find me hosting my show, The Dignity of Suffering. I also speak at conferences and to organizations when I’m not writing, running, doing yoga or discovering the next craft beer.

My Story

I once sat in front of my grandfather with a map of Europe on the table. I asked him how he as a young man survived the second world war, how he traversed hundreds if not thousands of kilometers with the Red army, as the Nazis invaded his town and murdered his entire family. Did he go by train? Trucks? He looked at me and slapped his knee. “You walked?” I asked…he just nodded his head and looked down at the ground. Moments later, when I asked the names of his siblings and his parents who had perished, names that had never been spoken out loud in my lifetime, his lips began to tremble, we both started to lose consciousness, and then as if an elastic broke, the conversation was over; I knew that those memories and that pain were his to hold and his to protect.

I learned that day that each of us has a story and a unique way that we go into the world and ensure our survival. What others think about the decisions that we have to make or the reasons we got to where we are is less important than our own understanding of what made us who we are. The connection to our own personal narrative is paramount lest we attack the very foundations upon which our lives are built. Although I wanted nothing more than for my grandfather to be able to let me in that day and share with me his personal memories of the family he had lost, the gift he had given me was his ability to tolerate that anguish, build a family himself, and bear with dignity an incredible suffering that only he could know and decide to share.

At the same time, it became clear to me that it was vitally important that I help put language to that loss, that the process of investigating and finding the poetry for our suffering matters a great deal to human development, that our ability to free ourselves from the bondage of what cannot be spoken is a worthwhile and fruitful pursuit.

His strength to bear the unbearable continues to fuel my passion to meet others in their grief and to keep exploring our shared inheritance of memory, loss and of meeting our human experience with curiosity and compassion.

This is why I became a psychotherapist, this is why I started the Dignity of Suffering Podcast, and this is why you are reading this today.

I have discovered the simple truth that where we break is where others are let in. This is no easy task and one always must learn it over and over again, but it is the key to intimacy and it is the key to finding dignity in our suffering.

Join me on this ride as we empower each other to be braver, more open and willing to touch the edges of what we do not know, for it is in that capacity that we grow, learn and change.