Since the launch of the Oprah Winfrey Network in Canada, I have been a huge proponent of the channel and the programming. In December 2012, I was absolutely elated to receive an invitation to preview the upcoming show Life Story Project, that was scheduled to air in 2013. Since it’s airing on January 3rd, I haven’t missed an episode. Dale Curd, the man behind the idea and co-host of Life Story Project is a down to earth individual that just about anyone can talk to. He’s just that real.
Dale Curd is a trained psychotherapist specializing in Individual, Family and Group Psychotherapy as well as an experienced communicator reaching audiences across North America. Dale specializes in decoding men’s issues and de-mystifying male behaviour. He’s been dubbed the “go to guy on men” for CBC’s Steven and Chris and hosted a weekly national call-in radio show called Guy Talk, on Toronto’s Newstalk 1010.
Curd authored a national advice column for the daily newspaper 24 Hours, and he is on the Advisory Board of North American health magazine, Maximum Fitness. Curd operates a private practice in Toronto and is Director of The Mens Program; a network of emotional support groups for men. He co-founded and launched Changebullying, an experiential workshop for students to reduce the frequency and severity of bullying in schools.
Wow what a career…….and now he can add co-host of Life Story Project on the Oprah Winfrey Network in Canada to his amazing history.
After much discussion about his Changebullying workshops we started off the interview talking about empathy.
Dale, I believe that we are all born with empathy, how does one lose that trait?
As humans, we start life living from the heart and this is where empathy resides. The older we get many start living more from their head and from their ego. Although we are all technically connected, we are no longer connected in a deep and meaningful way. By living through the ego, we are driving this big open hole in society and in turn longing for that deeper and stronger connection through the soul.
I told Andrea today how impressed I was with the way both of you listened to people on the couch during the episodes of Life Story Project. How are you at listening in your day to day life?
I’m much better listener as time goes on. I’m one of those individuals that other people feel comfortable sharing with. I’m fascinated with people’s stories. I’m an engaged listener.
On Life Story Project, everybody offered their story freely. We received so much generosity from them. From speaking to someone on the set, discussing their stories on the couch, to parting ways, everything was done with a sense of connection and people walked away feeling validated.
I heard that you presented the idea of Life Story Project to someone involved at OWN Canada. How did you come up with the concept of the show?
Myself and Mitch Gaborie, the director of Life Story Project, have been friends since high school. He’s always been fascinated with what I do for a living. We were sitting in a coffee shop in downtown Toronto and I pointed out that there were so many people in there that were having such intimate conversations in a public place. We started talking about this concept and wondered if people would be willing to have private conversations with a person in a very public space in front of cameras. We started working together on a concept that OWN may like.
Life Story Project is a perfect show for the OWN network because of the connectivity with people. I don’t know if this show would work on any other network.
Were there any particular stories that you could really relate with your life?
Any story about children really resonated with me being a father and parent. Especially stories about the loss of a child. I have not lost a child but it certainly reinforces how special my children are. As well, any story dealing with a serious illness or terminal illness really connected with me. On one episode, there was a firefighter who told his story about struggling with depression. A close friend and myself have had to deal with deep depressions in our lives and his story really hit home.
Find my own feelings that connects to their feelings. If I’m open to that in moment, fear of new things or loss, it’s amazes how that informs and teaches me.
Was it difficult to refrain from “helping others” while they were on the couch?
Not really, because I understood my role at that moment. They weren’t coming to see me professionally but to share a story. Were their moments where I wanted to reach out to people about what they shared and how they were sharing to make the experience more comfortable for them? Absolutely.
When people are ready, they seek someone like me.
Biggest Ah-ha moment
In the second episode, Failures Mistakes and Triumphs, I spoke with an elderly woman. When I asked the question, “At the end of life, what is going to be most important to me?”, it hit me that I never had grandparents in my life to share my life with. Until that moment, I never acknowledged how much I missed having grandparents. After speaking with her, I had a real longing for not having grandmothers in life.