Lori Gottlieb — The Power of Getting to *Unknow* Yourself (#415)

Photo by Shlomit Levy Bard

“Insight is the booby prize of therapy.”

— Lori Gottlieb

Lori Gottlieb (@LoriGottlieb1) is a psychotherapist and author of the New York Times bestseller Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, which is being adapted as a television series by Eva Longoria and the creators of the Emmy and Golden Globe-winning series The Americans. In addition to her clinical practice, she writes the Atlantic’s weekly “Dear Therapist” advice column and contributes regularly to the New York Times and many other publications.

Her recent TED Talk is one of the top 10 most-watched of the year, and she is a sought-after expert in media such as the Today show, Good Morning America, CBS’s Early Show, CNN’s Newsroom, and NPR’s Fresh Air. Her new iHeart podcast, Dear Therapists, produced by Katie Couric, will premiere this year.

Please enjoy!

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, Stitcher, Castbox, Google Podcasts, or on your favorite podcast platform. 

This podcast is brought to you by Four Sigmatic and LinkedIn Jobs. More on both below. 

#415: Lori Gottlieb — The Power of Getting to *Unknow* Yourself


This podcast is brought to you by Four Sigmatic and their delicious mushroom coffee featuring lion’s mane and chaga. It tastes like coffee, but there are only 40 milligrams of caffeine, so it has less than half of what you would find in a regular cup of coffee. I do not get any jitters, acid reflux, or any type of stomach burn. It’s organic and keto friendly, plus every single batch is third-party lab tested.

You can try it right now by going to FourSigmatic.com/Tim and using the code TIM. You will receive up to 25% off on the lion’s mane coffee bundle. Plus, you will receive an additional 20% off at checkout. Simply visit FourSigmatic.com/Tim. If you are in the experimental mindset, I do not think you’ll be disappointed. 

This episode is also brought to you by LinkedIn Jobs. Hiring can be hard, and it can be super expensive and painful if you get it wrong. Today, with more qualified candidates than ever—but also more noise than ever—employers need a hiring solution that helps them find the right people for their businesses. LinkedIn Jobs provides just that by screening candidates with the hard and soft skills you’re looking for so you can quickly find and hire the right person.

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What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.


Want to hear an episode with another fascinating therapist? — Listen to my first conversation with Esther Perel on this podcast in which we discuss polyamory, why happy people cheat, how to find (and convince) mentors who can change your life, what she learned from Holocaust survivors, and much more (stream below or right-click here to download):

#241: The Relationship Episode: Sex, Love, Polyamory, Marriage, and More (with Esther Perel)



  • Connect with Lori Gottlieb:

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram


Note from the editor: Timestamps coming shortly. 

  • What story did Lori share on stage with The Moth, and why did she choose this over any other story she could have told?
  • What is the hierarchy of pain?
  • The difference between idiot compassion and wise compassion, and why there’s a time and place for each.
  • How to listen to someone’s story in a way that invites self-reflection.
  • How can we better communicate—and avoid escalating conflict—with each other?
  • As a term that can mean different things for different people, how does Lori define therapy, and what might be the benefits of learning how to “unknow” yourself?
  • Lori relays a story of her own that vividly illustrates how we all orchestrate our lives to keep certain storylines going — even when they don’t really serve us — and explains why we do this to ourselves.
  • What distinguishes a good therapist from a great therapist?
  • A memorable time when Lori’s own great therapist improvised to great effect.
  • One of Lori’s favorite maxims about her profession: “Insight is the booby prize of therapy.” What does it mean?
  • How did Lori’s therapist’s improvisation lead to meaningful behavior modification that broke a self-perpetuated cycle of suffering?
  • To Lori, what are the pros and cons of administering therapy in person versus writing advice to a general audience in her Dear Therapist column? Does she ever worry about the consequences of missing the mark or having someone misinterpret her advice?
  • What approaches can someone take to better identify their own blind spots, and what advantage does a therapist have over even a well-meaning friend or family member in helping us find these blind spots?
  • As someone who doesn’t know me very well, in what ways does Lori think we’re most alike and most different?
  • What did Lori’s university-era struggles look like, and how did her educational focus change over this time? How does her work in journalism correlate with her work in psychology?
  • When Lori looks back on her life’s chapter changes, which decisions or transitions were the hardest? Did she agonize for an extended time before initiating these changes, or were they quick in the making?
  • Lori believes that acknowledging life’s hundred-percent mortality rate ultimately makes us happier. How did she come to this conclusion, and what perspectives has she developed as a result?
  • How does Lori help people get past denial?
  • What we’re doing to get through the challenging times ahead. 
  • What book has Lori gifted the most?
  • How did Lori decide to dedicate her energy to the two big projects going on in her life right now: a television series adapted from her most recent book and a podcast being produced by Katie Couric?
  • Parting thoughts.