SubscribeiTunes | Spotify | Newsletter

Leave a review to help other dads find the show and become better men and fathersLeave Review

Today’s guest is Connor Beaton.

We go deep talking about:

  • How to begin exploring shadow work as a father
  • Understanding your reactions and the steps you need to take to deal with these reactions towards things or other people that trigger you
  • Why it’s important to  label your feelings by saying out loud what you feel
  • Joining a men’s group or even hiring a coach to help you stay grounded
  • Why it’s important for men to regulate their nervous systems in order to shape how they attach and build relationships
  • The significance of your childhood as a man in the formation of your wounds and shadows
  • Understanding that your past has contributed to who you are today, and if you are unaware of your past, it will continue to shape your future

CONNOR BEATON is the founder of ManTalks, an international organization focused on men’s health, wellness, success, and fulfillment. 

He is also a coach, teacher, podcast host and speaker to help men (and women) from all over the world walk thought their darkness and grow in the realms of mental clarity, relational communication, actualizing their potential and sexual intimacy. 

Connor has a no-BS attitude coupled with compassionate understanding of our own human limitations. He has coached hundreds of men (and women) though private coaching, group work, workshops, retreats and masterminds, and has shared the stage with world class speakers like Gary Vaynerchuk, Lewis Howes, Danielle LaPorte, and many more.

Find Connor online at:

Curt Storring 0:00

Welcome to the Dad Work Podcast. My name is Curt Storring, your host and the founder of data work. This is episode number 86. Becoming whole with Shadow Work for dads with Connor Beaton. We go deep today talking about how to begin exploring shadow work as a father. Understanding your reactions and the steps you need to take to deal with these reactions towards things are people that trigger you why it's important to label your feelings by saying out loud what you feel, joining a men's group or even hiring a coach to help you stay grounded. Why it's important for men to regulate their nervous systems in order to shape how they attach and build relationships, the significance of your childhood as a man in the formation of your wounds and shadows, understanding that your past has contributed to who you are today. And if you're unaware of your past, it will continue to shape your future. Connor Beaton is the founder of man talks an international organization focused on men's health, wellness, success and fulfillment. He is also a coach, teacher, podcast host and speaker to help men and women from all over the world walk through their darkness and grow in the realms of mental clarity, relational communication actualizing their potential and sexual intimacy. Connor has a No BS attitude, coupled with compassionate understanding of our own human limitations. He has coached hundreds of men and women through private coaching group work workshops, retreats and masterminds and has shared the stage with world class speakers like Gary Vaynerchuk, Lewis Howes, Danielle Laporte, and many more. You can find Connor online at man, or on Instagram at man talks. Guys, I'm really excited to bring this episode to you today. When I started this podcast, Connor was one of the first guests I had written down on my dream guest list because I have been following him and watching his work for a number of years now. And I just love the authenticity with which Connor shows up Shadow Work is one of the most misunderstood parts of men's work inner healing work. And Connor breaks it down in such a way that is very accessible, and makes it very clear how and why it's such a useful tool to go deeper and understanding who you are, and why you are that way and accessing it in order to process and finally integrate your entire self to become a whole. So I don't take anything away from this episode by giving too long of an intro here. I'm going to leave it at that and hope that you guys enjoy this conversation with Connor Beaton. Right before we get into that, I want to remind you guys, we have two spots left in our Wednesday men's group for dads. This is a place where you get to do life with other dads walking the intentional path on their journey to become better men, husbands and fathers. And if you are finished doing life alone, if you'd like to stop being the lone wolf, if you want to have real brothers who have your back, who can see you, hear you support you and even challenge you along your journey. I'd love for you to join us. Like I said, there's only two spots left, the Thursday group is full. We've gotta wait less. Wednesday has two spots left. We meet weekly in the morning Pacific time, if you can make it and you're ready to have some accountability with other men on your journey to becoming a better father and husband and man. Please join us you can apply at Dad.Work/Group. That's Dad.Work/Group. Hit the Application button there send me an application and I'll jump on a quick phone call with you to make sure we're the right fit. Otherwise, guys, here is this conversation with Connor Beaton. Enjoy

all right, dads, I am very excited to have Connor Beaton of man talks here with me today. And Connor, I really wanted you on to talk about shadow work. I'm literally getting questions in my men's groups right now about how to do shadow work. What does it look like as a dad. And yet, the thing that I want to start with is your own journey through fatherhood. Because I, as a sort of external observer, have looked at you and your posts and the things you share on social media. And I go like, Oh, man, I wonder if it's easier to be a dad when you've done this work for years. And if you're just like the best dad in the entire world now, or if you still get triggered by shit. And so my question is like, how was that journey? And how has that journey been for you already having this base? Are there things you struggle with? What was most surprising to you becoming a dad with this, you know, wealth of knowledge that you already have?


Yeah, I mean, it's definitely I would say that I am much more well equipped to enter into parenthood now where I am in my life than where I was prior to having done any type of self development work, especially shadow work. You know, I think Shadow Work is is paramount. I think that every man should should do it at some point in his life, and it's a huge part of of the work that I facilitate, and what I've, you know, sort of wrapped my book around I guess you could say that I'm writing right now.

As for becoming a father I mean, yeah, it's still it's still shows up, right? It's not that I think the false notion that most people gain around the shadow is that you're going to do some shadow work, and then your shit is never going to show up. Right? That's like somehow and this is this is what we fall into as men okay, I swear on your show by

That way, I just want to of course, okay, make sure before I start dropping any, any bombs or anything, but, you know, I think the false notion that most men fall under is that there is some one size fits all solution that is going to absolve them from their problems, their pains, their challenges, their obstacles, you know, because the masculine core in us really craves freedom, and desires to have a sense of liberation from anything that's unsavory in our lives. And so I think that a lot of men, you know, whether it's in their relationship, their marriage, their work, being a parent, being a father, sometimes go on this journey to try and find absolution, which is the, like, masculine illusion of freedom, right? It's not that we find freedom, in dissolving all the problems in our life, it's that we become more equipped as men to face and handle those problems. And so, you know, I think one of the interesting things about becoming a dad, I mean, for me, it was a very spiritual journey, in many ways, you know, here is this little entity, coming online interacting with reality in in such a fascinating way, and just watching my son start to take in the world, you know, to literally watch consciousness come online, it's like, what a potent thing to experience and be present for. And so I had set up

before, like, when my wife and I, when she found out that she was pregnant, I decided that I want to spend as much time with with my newborn child as possible. And so I, you know, set up my business to take basically two and a half, three months off of work to just be with my wife, and my and my son. And I think the most challenging part to maybe just answer your question directly, was staying grounded in the middle of the night, you know, like, during the day, I'm, I'm pretty much like, 99.9% of the time during the day, I got that shit down, it doesn't mean that he's still doesn't bring stuff up, you know, he's walking around, now he's a year, he's a year plus old. And he's, you know, getting into the phase of like, throwing food on the ground, and is such a wonderful phase, where he's starting to, like test a little bit, you know, test limits, and climb up stairs and stuff. But I think the real hard part was like, just at night, you know, it's like, I'm present all day, especially when I went back to work, you know, reading my book. Because after, after my son was born, I got a book deal with sounds true. And so I started to write this book called men's work. And, you know, during the day, I would output so much, you know, I'm running this business, I have employees, I got to pay people, I'm working with men from around the world running men's groups running this, you know, online forum with hundreds of guys writing this book. And so I'm putting out a lot of energy and a lot of presence and a lot of creativity throughout the day. And, and then at night, when he would wake up, I was like, Ah, I just don't have patience for this. Like, holy shit, I didn't realize how much this like little, you know, human being was going to disrupt, like, I knew, cognitively, that it was going to disrupt my sleeping patterns, but then to be in the disruption of my sleeping patterns was like,

you know, hellfire and brimstone came up to me. And so it was a good, thankfully, my wife had all the patients in the world at night. And she was like, you know, I'm good. I got this. And so I really had to reflect at night of like, what's going on for me, and it definitely brought up a lot, you know, for me around around my childhood, you know, and not being, you know, welcomed at night in the bedroom. And, you know, I had memories come up with like having to sleep on the floor as a child when I had had nightmares. And so like, all this stuff surfaced up, and I was like, okay, cool, I get to process and work with this. And now it's like, this beautiful experience of getting to be with my son, and, you know, rock him and put him back to bed and hold him and all those things. So, yeah, so that's, that's a little bit about the journey. I think it probably gave you more than than was necessary. But no, that's we're going to start that's perfect. Thank you. And that's such an interesting metaphor, in a sense of, you know, being triggered when you're completely out of any resources. And that's when most of the good work actually happens. It's like, okay, I've done my meditation for the day, I've journal, I've done all this stuff. And then you're tired at the end of the day, or in the middle of the night, and suddenly, boom, you get hit with it. It's like how strong is your nervous system? How strong is your practice truly. And then I'm the same way thankfully, my wife is also very patient at night because I wake up and I'm just like, How dare you wake up from sleep? Like, how dare you? Not you know, I'm building a business and writing a book and doing all this important shit.

Curt Storring 10:00

Right, exactly. Yeah, I relate to that a lot. And we've struggled with that. And just being able to find that calm patience in there, I think is it's the hardest, hardest place to find it. And therefore, I think it's also the most useful place to be doing that if you're going to have this awareness, which I think is just, it's unusual, right? And I would like the men to just understand who are listening. Like, it's unusual for a man to have those thoughts to have these feelings. And then to think about like, oh, what's real for me here? Like, where does this coming from? Where's my childhood impacting this, I want to like pinpoint the sort of strength of work that you brought to that. And I was gonna leave leave this for later. But it actually relates to what you're talking about here. You made a post recently on stillness and practices that you use to stay grounded. And I wonder if you just talk a little bit about that, because men obviously listening to this love, the practical aspect of things, and how they can make these things work in their life. And I would love to go through sort of the the self work or love practices you do, but then touch on stillness a little bit, because it's so underrated. And it's one of the things I struggle with most. So could you just walk through some of the things that you do to get you in a grounded space?


Yeah, so, you know, maybe I'll just preface this by like I was, I was the

complete opposite of a still child, you know, like, I was one of the first kids in my school to be diagnosed with ADHD and put on Ritalin and, you know, like, I was just a little jumping being and was a bit of a class clown. And so what I'm prefacing this, because it's, it's not something that comes natural to me, you know, I distinctly remember sitting down and meditating for the first time and being like, What the fuck is this? Like, why do people do this, you know, this is insane. This is a kind of torture. And so I just want to preface everything that I'm saying is that this took me years to cultivate, you know, it didn't happen overnight. And it didn't come easy by any means. So for all the fathers that are out there listening that are like, you know, meditation sucks, or just, you know, being in stillness or doing these these practices, it's like, yeah, it's challenging at first. You know, in the morning, I've really created a sort of like ritual in the morning, every single day, and for years that rituals changed. You know, I believe in not having to stay entrenched in one ritual, one routine in the morning for our entire lives, I don't think that that's necessary. For some men, that might work. But for me, that definitely didn't work. So you know, over the years, it's changed from journaling in the morning to yoga, to breathwork, to meditation, to, to what it is today, which is I get up, I drink, about a half of one of these, a mason jar, 32 ounce Mason jar full of water, I have some greens, I go and stretch and do some yoga, I do some breath work and maybe some Kundalini yoga. And then I'll get a little bit of physical activity in and then I'll come back to my breath work. And that breath work is it can vary, but most the time it's like a Wim Hof style breath work, you know, where I'm doing 40 5060 breaths, and then a hold. And then at the very end, I'll do somewhere between five and 15 minutes of a breath cycle. So I'll be using what I call the double breath. So breathing into the belly, into the chest, and then exhaling. And I'll just do that for about 1015 minutes. And that that cycle is usually pretty good for getting me up and getting me moving in the morning. And then I'll spend time with my son, usually, he's up by then. And I'll spend time with my son, I'll make him breakfast. And all of this is part of like the sacredness of my morning ritual, right, making him his banana oatmeal in the morning. Being present with him, feeding him having eye contact with him breathing with him, just like helping him to regulate his nervous system first thing in the morning, all part of my ritual. And then after, after that's done, sometimes probably four days a week, I'll get a workout in and then I will go and take a cold shower. And so the cold showers sort of like the the closing part of my of my morning ritual. But those are all we also have a lake right up front of our house. And so it just D thought a few weeks ago and I went and jumped in. And so I've been getting some of my some of my cold plunges in in the morning, which has been pretty, pretty awesome. Nice. Okay, that's like a smorgasbord of just like amazing self care rituals in the morning. And I love what you said about not being so specific about needing to maintain this thing forever. Because mine very similar. You know, there's stretching, there's meditating, there's sometimes journaling sometimes breathwork almost always exercise or movement. Yeah, and it's changed like a million times. Every kid that I've had. It's changed every like, you know, big business change. It's changed. It's just about feeling into what's right at least in

Curt Storring 15:00

My case for that time, but also making sure I allow myself the barriers and the boundaries of ensuring I do something. So as long as that space is protected, I'll fill it with whatever I need to do that time. And I appreciate that you sort of do that, too. And I'm wondering, what about the stillness piece, because you said, you can sometimes go into nature, turn your phone off, go for a walk without presumably without, you know, music, or podcasts or something like that. And then I have been trying to do that more often. And I think John Weinland had a challenge, which is like, go sit in a chair for for an hour, and do nothing. It's like, it's like hell, for a lot of guys, especially in our constant Go Go Go world. And I'm wondering how you have been able to develop that. And if you started small, and why you even do that in the first place? Because it's so unusual these days. Could you walk us through that?


Yeah, I mean, that's a good question. I don't necessarily have an origin point for where it began, I think, you know, my, my previous career, I was a classical singer. And so I trained in in music, and sing opera, which is such a strange, past and career, but I got to travel quite a bit. And so there's a lot of moments of being solo, you know, in various countries around the world, or getting ready to go on stage or just prepping before a show. And I kind of got in this habit of like, I needed to find stillness in order to prep myself to go on stage and perform in front of 1000s of people sometimes. And I found that in those moments, it was very challenging. I also found maybe this is sort of like a strange thing to do. But I remember when I started doing this work, when I started working with my mentor, who was this wonderful French Canadian guy named Bernard, who was in his mid 70s, when I met him, and he was very, very, very well versed in Union psychology, and cognitive behavioral therapy, NLP and a whole bunch of different modalities. He would when I would go and work with him when I was really dysregulated. Right? When I was really angry or frustrated about something that was happening in my life,

he had the foresight to realize that I really struggled to be with the physical and emotional sensations that were arising in my body. And so he would literally force me to sit down and just close my eyes and breathe in the intensity of what I was feeling. And so sometimes our sessions were for an hour, you just got to sit there and breathe. And I would, I would just say, Do you know, I was like, What the fuck is this, like, I'm paying you for this shit. You know, this isn't a saying like, How dare you it was just like, all the anger and the fire and the rage would come up. And so I carried that practice forward. You know, he didn't do it very often, it was every once in a while. But it was enough to trip something off in me where I was my mind. And my body was like, I don't like that. But I need that. And I think for a man, that's a really, really good indicator. I don't like that. But I need that. I don't like that. But I want that, you know, and so start to look for these things in your life where you feel drawn towards something that's hard, you know, because most often, what I usually say is the things that you have resistance to lead you towards your edge, and your ads lead you towards expansion. And for a man expansion is equal to being in alignment with his purpose. So I've, I just started this practice where when conflict would happen in a relationship, I would just go sit down for 15 minutes, in the heat of the fire of my anger, I would go off into nature and go for a hike, and I would leave my phone, you know, at home. And so this started to just become like this practice and routine. And for the last 12 years, I lived in Vancouver, British Columbia, and it was very easy to just go off into nature, it was very enticing, to go sit by the ocean. And you know, I lived five blocks from a place called Kid speech in Vancouver. And I would just go sit down by the water, I would go for walks. And so it kind of became a habit, you know, there was a rooftop balcony on the apartment building that I lived in. And I would go sit up there, and I would leave my cell phone in my apartment, and it just started become this like, practice where in moments of frustration, anger, disappointment, I would go do that. And in moments where I was bored, I would just go do that. Right. And so it started to become this habit in this practice of just go find stillness, go find silence. And in those moments, something really profound started to happen was that I found that I started to crave that stillness, you know, and I started to meet myself in a more depth oriented way. You know, because I'd spent so much of my life running from how I felt running from the things that I thought

Running from the challenges and the obstacles that were in my life and how I related to them. And I started to realize that not only could I tolerate more, but that I was able to understand my position better. And I was able to understand what I was experiencing at a more, again, depth oriented way. Like, I like to say that the aim of stillness, the aim of stillness, and silence is to grow deeper down into yourself as a man. And we can get so busy building, creating, you know, checking off tasks from our to do list that we miss out on the opportunity of drilling down into who we are. And the depth is what most men are actually lacking and craving within their life, regardless of what they've been able to create externally. So that practice is just something that I've kept, you know, I've I prioritize it on a weekly basis, whether it's me leaving my my phone, and any music at home, and just going for a walk around the block, or we have a doc here by the lake right now, where we live. And sometimes I'll just go sit down by the water for 1520 minutes in silence and contemplation, or like I did on Saturday, where, you know, I drove to a hiking trail, and put my phone on airplane mode, and just went for a big hike, you know, in a trail run, and found a rock to sit on and meditate and just contemplate my life and where things are at, and where things are going and what I want to develop and, and to just be present for the fullness of my life. You know, if you're a dad, your life is full, if you're a working father, and you're in a relationship, your life is full, you know, you probably have a lot going on. And so to create time of emptiness is to be more present to the fullness of what's going on. And that's beautiful, because it creates some space within yourself. So every time I come back from these experiences, I have more space, I have more room within me to be present for my wife, to be present for my son, to be grounded, to be calm, to be regulated.

Curt Storring 22:09

And that's I think that's really the aim is to regulate ourselves through these types of experiences. So I'll pause there. Yeah, man, thank you for sharing all that that was beautifully laid out. And I think it's it goes hand in hand, which I'm glad because we're gonna get into it is is the ability to sit with the discomfort is going to be very useful in shadow work, at least in my experience, because you're almost bringing these things up on purpose. And to be able to then sit with them is extremely important. So as you go through this work, if you're listening to this, developing a practice, and that's what I tell the guys that I work with to like the number one thing, the first thing that I tried to get them to do is to develop a mindfulness practice, whatever that looks like, just so that they can become more aware of how they feel what's real for them. Because just in my own journey, being able to see where I was on the anger crescendo, lower on the actual graph, if you will, allowed me to practice the things I needed in the moment to, you know, get down from that height. Whereas before, I didn't notice until it was like already volcanic. And so being able to sit with what is and not judge it, which I think is another huge part of this is extremely important. But I do want to jump in. So we have enough time to sort of cover it adequately in, you know, half an hour, what is that going to be adequately for shadow work, but let's dive in there. Could you give a quick overview of shadow work and why we might want to take it more seriously and then we'll get into sort of what that looks like.


Yeah, let's see where should we begin there?

Well, let me just let me just start with a quote from Carl Jung, because Jung is Swiss psychologist and he is the sort of like the founder of this concept.

Back in the early 20th century, and in a lecture, I think, at Yale in 1937. He said that the the new man must bear the burden of the shadow consciously, the new man must bear the burden of the shadow consciously, for such a man knows that whatever is wrong in the world, is in himself. So whatever's wrong in the world is in himself. And he only learns to deal with his own shadow.

When he has done something, oh, sorry. And when he learns to deal with his shadow, he has done something real for himself and real for the world. So in many ways, Jung saw this work as the the real sort of like penultimate experience of being able to contribute something meaningful to the world. So I just want to emphasize that because I think that it's valuable and important. So what is the shadow? The shadow is the part of us psychologically, that is hidden from us that we don't know about ourselves and

Generally our shadow is created in moments of pain, of disconnection of embarrassment of shame. So it's all of the hidden, rejected repressed parts of yourself that you have tried to disown. And that you have tried to hide from both yourself and other people, sometimes more from other people than yourself, right? So for example, if you're a man that has a very strong inner critic, right, so you have a very harsh inner dialogue, you know, like, I'm such a piece of crap, and what the fuck is wrong with me? And why can I get this shit, right, and I'll never amount to anything, that inner critic is a manifestation of your shadow. So other people, you might hide that part from other people, you might not be somebody that openly self deprecates in front of your friends, or your girlfriend, or your wife, or whomever. But you might be very present to it. Right. So the reason why this work is so important for me, is because in many ways your shadow is responsible for your reactivity. Your shadow is responsible for when you sabotage, your shadow is responsible for getting in the way, and creating a tremendous amount of resistance towards the aims, the goals, the life that you want to create for yourself, for your career for your family. So your shadow is the obstacle, right? So if you think in a mythological sense, the shadow is both the cave and the dragon that you must enter and face in order to gain some of the reward. Right. So the other thing that I would just emphasize here, and then I'll pause, because I don't want to overwhelm anybody listening to this is that

your potential as a man is on the other side of entering in and doing this work. So if you want to actualize some of your potential, it requires that you face and own the on the disowned parts of yourself. And by doing so you begin to actualize some of your potential. So just a quick example. Say you're somebody who grew up in an environment where your your stepfather was you sort of verbally abusive, he's very loud, lots of anger, lots of volatility, high, very direct, and sort of overly assertive, and you were very afraid of him. And you grew up to be somebody who was more timid, right, a more timid man who

Curt Storring 27:27

maybe gets walked over in relationships doesn't speak his mind doesn't speak His truth very often, because you have coded, you have coded assertiveness and anger as a problem as bad thing. So where did that anger? Where did your anger and your assertiveness go, it's not that it's disappeared, it's not that it doesn't exist, it's that it's been disowned, and it's in the shadow. And so if you start to do the work, to start to own some of that anger, own some of that assertiveness and act with a more assertive orientation, you are, in essence, bringing up some of your potential right into being you're actually bringing that potential app and working with it. So I'll, I'll pause there for a moment. Yeah, thank you for that, that was a very clear overview. And I've often thought about this as being the place where we get to shine, or at least the work on this is the place where we shine the spotlight, to see all of these Gremlins if you will, of a past life, or the ego defense mechanisms that come up to protect us against the pain that you're talking about. And at least in my journey, a large part of becoming sort of the mature masculine, the the men that I now feel like because I felt like a boy for most of my adult life that came from integrating that so that I could find balance. And what I mean by that is when I think of your example, I think of the timid man, he only has one side, he's got the timid side and he can access the anger he can access the assertiveness and in my own journey of doing Shadow Work and healing I have felt as though I have been able to access the duality of each side now. So I now use discernment to go Okay, does this need assertiveness? Or does it need, you know, gentleness? Does it need, you know, the power of my anger in a righteous sort of way? Or do I need to turn the other cheek if you will. And I have found that to be like, the most satisfying and content place in my entire life, to sit in between these two places, with an integrated side on either way. So there's the side that I you know, might my wounded self will go to automatically, which is, you know, like you say, the the self critic typically. And then there's the side that I can choose to access that's not as natural but now I have access to it. And I can choose which part of my life I access in, you know, each side of the pendulum. So that I think is at least why to me this is so important, because now I've got a full range. Now I'm more of a human. I'm literally more human in my humanity, and in my manhood, because I can access these things at once hurt me. It's not they don't still hurt me in many cases.

But accessing them is just like, it is the riches. It's a reward, as you said, and I wonder then how this looks, and maybe we're maybe we're missing something important here. So I'd like you to jump in if we need to. But the question I had is like, how do we do this? How do you access this? Because I love being triggered after the fact, obviously, not in the moment. But it like shines this light, it's this red flag, it's a red flashing light, like, hey, Shadow alert, like, there's something here for you to deal with. And so that's great for me. And it sort of comes naturally after doing this work for a while. But how can we start to interact with it, because I also don't want guys to just be like, oh, let's dive in, and then just get blown away? Because I know it's scary it can be to be in there. So how would you start to guide a man into this sort of work? And what resources or tools or tactics would you use? Or do you use for men going down this path?


Yeah, good question. So I would say that the first place to begin is by looking at your reactivity, or your lack thereof, right? So reactivity being when you become angry towards your partner, when you become you know, volatile, when you yell become loud, aggressive, when you shut down when you become passive, aggressive, judgmental, shaming, criticizing, etc, right? All of that is your reactivity. And your reactivity is that neon sign pointing towards the shadow, right? It's saying, hey, it's not you consciously, that is acting in this way. It's your pain. Right? There's a great quote by a colleague of mine, Francis Weller, and he said, your pain has its own intelligence. And in many ways, what's happening when you become reactive is that you are acting from the intelligence of your pain. So you are attacking the other person, you're criticizing them, you're, you know, you're not listening to them, you're just trying to get your point across, you're becoming aggressive sometimes, or shutting down completely and threatening to disconnect from them in some way, shape, or form. And all of that is your shadow. So where do you begin, arguably, the best place to begin is starting to look at your reactivity. And there's a few signs I'm going to give you around what your reactivity looks like. And then I can maybe I'll just tell you exactly how to begin to work with it in a in a sort of like simple step by step way. So you know that you're reactive, when there's a disproportionate reaction to something as if something much larger has occurred, right. So you come home, and your partner says, oh, you know, you did you? Did you grab the milk from the I'm just giving an arbitrary example, did you grab the milk cuz you got the eggs, like I asked you to know, I forgot, I can't believe that you forgot, and then you blow up, right? You're like, you know what, screw you, you don't understand what I have going on. And blah, blah. That's, that's a disproportionate reaction to something. Hearing yourself, say the same thing over and over and over again, that almost like you're reading from a script, that's another example. A sudden influx of emotional intensity. Right? So feeling overwhelmed for a lot of men, what happens when they're reactive? Is this energy surges up the body and into the head? And when that energy reaches the head, they almost act completely unconscious. Right? So feeling that influx of energy? And then I think one of the last ones is using universal language. So you never, you always right, using that kind of language is a really good sign that you're operating from the shadow. How do you deal with reactivity? So I'm going to give you a few simple steps. The first one is Get really clear and really familiar on your personal signs. What does it actually look like when you're reactive? What does it look like? What does it sound like? What does it feel like? So what does it first off? What does it look like? Does it does it look like you engaging with a certain person, right? So for some people there they become more triggered right? By dad, by one of their children, like one very, like one specific child or many other their wife will say something very specifically. And it's in those moments, and, and you can see what it looks like on the other person's face. And you can see what the interaction looks like. What does it feel like? What does it feel like in the body? You know, do you feel intensity in the arms? Do you feel like you want to make fists or punch holes in the wall? Do you feel a heaviness in the chest like you're collapsing in and it's harder to breathe? Do you feel like your feet want to run away and actually take you out of the room? Right? That can be a sign of reactivity as well. So get really clear on what it feels like looks like and then what does it sound like? Right? What do you hear yourself saying constantly and continually when you're in that reactive state? The second thing is naming out loud, right? Say, either first and foremost to yourself. Okay, I'm definitely being reactive right now. Definitely reactive. I'm angry. I'm closed off, I'm shut down. I don't want to communicate

I'm pissed off you, whatever it is, but label, I am reactive. And then if it's helpful label it with the person that you're in conversation with, right? Ideally, you're practicing this with your partner. And you would say, No, I'm feeling really reactive right now. And then the step three is see what you're actually feeling. So whenever we're feeling reactive, we have oftentimes felt something first, we feel embarrassed, we feel sad, we feel lonely, we feel disconnected, we feel ashamed. That that we forgot to do something we feel abandoned or neglected in some way, shape, or form. We feel hurt because of something that has transpired. But Lee labeled what you're actually feeling. Now, the thing that I want to preface between step two and step three, between nailing out loud that you're reactive, and saying what you're actually feeling is that you might not be in a place to have that conversation. So you need to use some discernment and say, No, I'm feeling reactive, right now. Let me just pause this conversation and figure out what I'm actually feeling. Right, great, I'll come back and just chat with you. And just like five minutes, go and take a few minutes, sit, breathe, feel. The last one is shift your attention from head to body, from head to belly. So start to move some of your consciousness breathe in through the nose, and breathe down the frontline of your body. And practice breathing lower into the belly, and move some of your energy and attention and consciousness intentionally down into the lower part of your body. Because as I said before, when we're reactive, we move into a sympathetic nervous system response, right? We move into fight, flight or freeze, and we become disconnected from our bodies. So our nervous system actually takes over and hijacks. So that might mean that you go sit and pause and breathe. Or you can do it real time in the moment, right? If your reactivity is only a three or a four, if your anger is only up to three or four, you can sit in the conversation, breathe brings, bring some consciousness down into the lower part of your body. And and really ask yourself, can I handle myself in this situation? So those are just some simple steps. That's what reactivity looks like how you can start to manage it, I would say, tools and resources, there are a couple decent books, I mean, I would just go to Jung himself, there's a you know, there's a number of books that you can go and read on that topic. There aren't like specific Shadow Work books, I'm totally there's one. There's one of this like an amalgamation of a bunch of different authors and and the title is totally blanking me right now.

But if you're interested, I would just say go and find a program and do a course right, I've created a shadow work course, that's in depth. And I mean, literally hundreds and almost 1000s of men have gone through it and found good results from it. So I would say go and find a shadow work course, there's other people that do this work that have done an exceptional job putting a course together. So find a program and find a decent book, and go through it yourself and start to implement some of this work. But the big question is,

I think the other big question is, what are you hiding? stuff to get clear on what you're hiding? Right? So like, ask journal, ask yourself on a daily basis, right? Like, what do I not want to share with my wife? What, what have I been hiding from my friends? What have I been hiding from my family, whatever I've been trying to hide from my colleagues or co workers, and start to really get into contact with the emotions, the narratives, the stories, the actions that you have been withholding from the people around you. And potentially just the act of doing that might put you into contact with a lot of shit. Like, I remember when I started doing this work, half of my life was a lie. You know, I mean, like, the majority of my life was just bullshit, you know, and I was, I was lying to my girlfriend, I was lying to my friends, I was lying to my family members, like holy crap. And so just start to come into contact with some of the things that you have been withholding and hiding from the people around you. I think that will also be very, very, very helpful. Thank you for all them. And this is it's such like a wild can perhaps should be like a lifelong pursuit, I suppose. Because it sounds like okay, I do these things. And then I've got this like little program and then what? And it's like, okay, go and at least for me, it's been helpful to do this with other people. So I like your suggestion to find someone to get a book to go deeper and take this shit seriously. But for me, it was like men's group was the container I needed. You know, hiring a coach has been very helpful. And I know you've got resources for that as well, which we'll throw in the show notes. And you can tell us at the end of the episode, but like, if you want to seriously do this, you got to start doing the basics, and noticing and then just being like, wow, like you said, How much bullshit is there in my life, so that you can clear it away? And it's scary. It is fucking scary to be like wow,

Curt Storring 40:00

I'm leading a life that is not authentic. Because of like, my three year old self is running a lot of this programming like that's Terry was terrifying to me. I was like, well, now what? Where do I go? Who do I become? I've been, you know, a child for so long. It felt like how do I now become a man? And it's just like staying in the work. And it's doing all these things that you were talking about before to stay in your body and to stay aware and grounded, at least it was for me. And I wonder if there's, like, maybe final points on that that community aspect you're doing with other men? Do you want to jump into?


I mean, I think the big thing is prioritizing, regulating your nervous system. You know, I think, if you stripped down a lot of men's work that's out there in, in the ether, right? Whether it's men's work on Instagram, or men's groups, right, every man or the stuff that I'm doing, or whatever, a lot of it

comes back to how do you as a man, regulate your nervous system? How do you be in relationship with the intense emotions that might arise? The intense thoughts that, that you might experience and the sensations that are happening in your body, because the reality is that the pain that you are given is the pain you're gonna pass on, if you're not conscious to it. And again, it's not that you become, it's not that you eradicate your pain. As a man, it's not that you eradicate the childhood trauma that you had, or the abuse that you experienced, or the abandonment or neglect, or bullying or whatever. It's that you learn to carry that pain more effectively. And you learn to transmute that pain into something more effective. Right? And so, yeah, I would say,

find someone that you respect and want to work with somebody that you resonate. And, and, and don't necessarily stop looking for that person until you found them, and then dive in, you know, and go as deep as you can with that person or that group, for a period of time, because I think what I've seen a lot of, you know, in the personal development space today, even if you just look on Instagram, I mean, there are so many people that are doing this work now that it's hard to use discernment to say, Who Who am I actually going to benefit from, you know, and not everyone's going to resonate, right. I think the work that I do, some men don't, they just don't jive with it, right? They want to go and do like a Navy SEAL style boot camp, they're not interested in in what I'm doing. I remember I was working to suicide, and I was working with a Navy SEAL was and I walked him through an experience, I was leading him individually through some shadow work and in a group that I was running. And he I was helping him process some stuff that had happened in the war and some of the things because he was in Afghanistan. Some of the things that were coming up in his relationship, you know, he found this woman that he really wanted to be with, and a lot of his anger and frustration was coming out.

And after guiding him through this experience of doing some shadow work and helping him come into contact with what he had gone through.

He came out and I said, How was that and he said, You know what, honestly, I'd rather rush a machine gun nest, than go through what you just what you just led me through, like, that's the hard shit I don't I don't envy the men that have done that. And so it really is hard work. So find somebody that you trust. So find someone that you respect, dive in deep with them invest in it. And I think the most crucial part is, is go through it with other men. You know, for a lot of men, part of what this will bring you into relationship with or into contact with is that you have a wound with the masculine culturally, in your family, in your friends. And there's something within you that is yearning to be initiated, right longing to sort of meet this confrontation of something that you haven't ever experienced before, you know, something that has been missing about who you are as a man, as a husband, as a father, as a partner, as a leader. And so that confrontation is wildly important. And doing it shoulder to shoulder with other men is equally as important. Like it's actually imperative. If you're just doing it silo, like all of my clients that come in to work with me one on one, it's a prerequisite that they go and do men's work, whether it's with me, and and the groups that I run or through another forum. It's just a requirement. You have to go and do some of this work alongside other men to de stigmatize the notion that you as a man facing your shit, and quote unquote, getting your shit together isn't an isolated anomaly, right? It's you have to break the lone wolf mentality. So that's my two cents and rant on that. Ya know, I often say that lone wolves don't raise cubs. So, you know, if you're a dad and you're a lone wolf, like sort your shit out, man.

Curt Storring 44:59

And it's so funny to you, I don't know where that came from, like lone wolves literally die or suffer or go back to their packs. I wish that like I could trace this back, maybe somebody has. But what you said about that veteran who you know, would rather have run into machine gun fire. I relate to very strongly not because I have ever done that, obviously. And I, you know, I'm glad that there are people like that, who are willing to do that. But I remember a breathwork session, I've shared this before. I was doing a breathwork session, I was just really judging myself I was doing with a facilitator. I was like, I don't really want to feel these things right now. Like, I'm kind of tired. This is kind of annoyed at myself for having these feelings, that she's like, Oh, isn't hard. It's like, oh, thank you. Like, it's so hard. She's like, Oh, don't straw men do hard things. And it's like, oh, fuck, like, now I got to do it. Like y'all called me out on the masculine desire to do hard shit. And it's like, okay, this is perhaps the hardest thing I've ever done, is dealt with my own shit. And I would like to ask you whether or not because in my life, it has certainly been true, but how important? Is your own childhood as a man in the creation of these wounds and shadows? Are they like, significantly childhood related? Or are they sort of childhood related? What's been your experience with that?


Yeah, I mean, from a personal perspective, and from a professional perspective, you know, with the, with the amount of men that I've worked with, now, I would say that, that a huge percentage of it is childhood related. You know, we, there's a lot of scientific literature to show, your nervous system and how you attach and build relationships is all developed in the first seven years of your life. You know, so if you experienced abandonment, neglect, abuse, you know, any of those things, having parents that were just gone a lot, having parents that were just there all the fucking time, you know, having parents that were arguing constantly in the house, and loud and volatile, all of that will have shaped the way that your nervous system responds to conflict, it will have shaped the way that your nervous system responds to any form of confrontation, anything that you don't like. And it'll shape how you attach and build relationships with your kids, with your partner with the people that you work with. So, you know, I would say that it's absolutely imperative, I think that there's value in being able to go into it, I think that there's, you know, for a period of time, I think that it's valuable for people to go into that and to go to go as deep into it as they can, so that they can emerge and have a more robust understanding of who they are and what built them. You know, your your past has contributed to who you are in the present. And if you're unaware of your past, it will continue to develop who you are in the future. And so you if you want to create change, you have to learn where to interject, you have to learn where to create new choices and new decisions where you can shift the flow of your consciousness of your decisions and choices and to choose new ones. Right. And so yeah, that's all I'm gonna say on that. It's yeah, it's imperative and important. Okay, I believe the same things. And I, you know, have read the books and some of the literature on like, how important the first, there's, you know, four years, seven years, there's these cycles, or these these points in childhood, it seems where beyond that, it's not like, you can't get better at the things but there are very clear points after which it becomes very difficult to change that. And when I was doing sort of the more painful part of my work, I would ask myself, Okay, why? And I just try and go back and I was like, Okay, why? And it went back a little ways. Okay. Well, she said this, I was like, Well, why did I was so upset about that, and suddenly was like, oh, like, I am upset about this, because I feel abandoned as a three year old when my dad left me. And then my mom was away because she was sick. And like, suddenly, everything made sense. And I'm not saying that's necessarily the truth, the case for everyone. But I have also seen that most of these wounds and these these shadow projections, if you will come from how our parents related to us. And that's maybe the last thing we should touch on is like, as a dad now. It's like, oh, shit, I am dealing with my father wound, if you will. And I'm making one in the process, like, Oh, my goodness to be so aware of this is sometimes overwhelming. And it's like, okay, you, you just gotta be okay with the fact that there are tools, you know, the love that I can express are going to be better than the the result that I had with my own father, because he wasn't doing this work and didn't

Curt Storring 49:31

resolve any of it with me. And so it's so interesting now, to see how I was impacted and to just see the ways that I've impacted my sons already. How has that played into your fatherhood? Being so aware of like, oh, shit, I'm dealing with my own integrating that what do I do?


Yeah, I mean, it's, I often joke about this is why Yogi's and gurus don't have children, you know, is that it's an inescapable

knowingness, inescapable knowingness that you're going to cause them pain. unquestionable, right? Like, you're going to fuck your kids up, whether you like it or not. And it's and it's not. It's not in a negative sense, right? I don't mean that in a derogatory heinous sense or nihilistic perspective of like, well, then why should I even bother? It's simply that there are inevitably going to be things that you get wrong. And that in itself is a part of the human experience, it doesn't mean that you shouldn't do your absolute fucking best. It doesn't mean that you shouldn't try and invest and put the work in and reflect and build in the routines and the regimens for you to be the best version of you humanly possible. It doesn't mean that you shouldn't do everything in your power to maintain healthy relationships and connection, and be aware of how you're raising your kids and the impact that you're having on none of those things. But it doesn't mean any of those things, it simply means that they're going to have their own experience, and is not up to you, as a father to determine whether or not

whether or not to try and rob them of their own growth to try and rob them of their own experience in life. That's not it, that's not on you. It's not That's not for you, you know. And so, our work, so how I've approached this man will just speak from a personal perspective, how I've approached this is, I'll do everything in my power, you know, I would take a bullet for my son, I die for him, but I won't live my life for him. Right, I won't compromise my purpose for him. I won't compromise my marriage for him. That's not, that's not going to happen. Right. So he needs me to be an example of what it looks like to be to be a man who has direction, who has vision, who has purpose, who has love for his wife, who is who is flawed, you know, he deserves that, as a human being as a boy, as a child, he deserves that. And so I've tried to approach this from the perspective of, I know, I'm gonna get things wrong, and the best that I can do, the most earnest and honest and human thing that I can do is just own that, you know, to be like, I did that wrong. You know, like, I screwed that up. I'm sorry, man, you know, and I'm sure that will happen. I'm sure that will happen countless times. And I think that that is, that's really the work that we as men are being asked to do, collectively, is to own our shortcomings and our flaws and our failures, and when we get things wrong, and but also to know where the line is, you know, to not take on so much to say, that's not my responsibility. And I'm, I'm not responsible for that. And I won't, like don't try and put that on me. You know, I think that I think that our sons and our daughters also need to see that, to see that we as men are capable of, of drawing some lines in the sand of what we will tolerate and what we won't tolerate. Because there's a lot of nonsense out in the world today and confusion in the world today. And chaos. And so,

so that's how I've approached it just from I'm flawed, and I don't need to pretend to be perfect. But I will be an example, you know, of someone who can be fully human, who did the work, to make things work and to be whole, and to be as complete as I could be, and to pursue what what mattered to me and to build shit that mattered to me and to live my purpose and to do all of those things. And if I can come from that place, then I will feel fulfilled in my role as a father, you know, and I think that

my, my invitation would be for the men that are really listening to this to ask themselves, what what is my vision as a father, and if I was to lay on my deathbed, and to have my sons or my daughters, sitting by my side, holding my hand, with their heart on my chest as I take my last breaths, as my heart beats it for the very last time, what and who do I need to have been in order to feel fulfilled in that moment as I leave this plane, and that's just how I try that's how I that's what I try and return to it doesn't mean I'm perfect at it by any means. I fuck that shit up all the time. But it means that I keep coming back to it and I keep returning to this notion of like, what I'm doing is so valuable and so important as a parent, and I will honor that responsibility in as many moments as I consciously can't because Damn, it's important, bro. It's fucking epic. So thank you very much. I want to clip that like entire thing and just share

Curt Storring 55:00

Every dad that I know, thank you so much for being here, man, this has been beyond my expectations. Where would you prefer people find you?


Instagram is usually a great place at man talks and then you can go to my website, man And yeah, I mean, that's we're just about to launch the new site next month, so it's gonna be it's gonna be good. Can't wait. Nice. Okay, so you've got courses, you've got man's community, you've got a book coming out, when's the book out by the way? Book will be out in January of 23. So it'll be right at the beginning of the next year. So I think pre sales will probably go up in December. But if you follow me on Instagram, then you'll get all the notifications of that and yeah, I mean everything everything else lives on the website, the courses and the men's groups and all that kind of stuff. Beautiful. Okay, Connor, thank you so much. I really appreciate this bro

Curt Storring 55:56

that's it for this episode. Thank you so much for listening. It means the world to find out more about everything that we talked about in the episode today, including Show Notes resources and links to subscribe leave a review work with us go to That's DAD.WORK/POD type that into your browser just like a normal URL Dad.Work/Pod to find everything there you need to become a better man, a better partner and a better father. Thanks again for listening, and we'll see you next time.

Transcribed by

Leave A Review – The Highest Impact, Lowest Cost Way of Supporting the Show

Are you enjoying this podcast? Do you want to say thanks, and help more fathers find this episode? Please leave a review for the Dad.Work podcast on Apple Podcasts.

Ping me at or on Instagram @dadwork.curt and send me a link to your review and I’ll give you a shout-out on the podcast!

Leave A Review

Free 10-Day Elite Dad Challenge

Lead Your Family, Save Your Marriage, and Raise Great Kids

10 Emails. 10 Challenges. 10 Days.
Life-changing Results. Join us 👇

Get our FREE 14-day Better Man, Better Dad Email Series to learn the best tips, tools, and practices I used to suffer less, love more, and parent confidently.

Get our Free 14-Day Better Man, Better Dad Email Series

Learn some of the fundamental tools, practices, and tips I've used to suffer less, love more, and parent confidently.

Become a better man, husband and father...and never miss an episode.

Join the Dad.Work Email Newsletter