#10. Fatherhood as a Spiritual Practice – Dan Doty

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My guest today is Dan Doty.

We go deep talking about:

  • Fatherhood as a spiritual practice, 
  • Depth of conversation and connection, 
  • Presence, 
  • Being vs doing, 
  • Communicating our needs, 
  • Why being tough and being open-hearted are not mutually exclusive, 
  • Men’s work, 
  • Why it’s important to remember that YOUR life matters, and 
  • The importance of doing the work with other men.

Dan Doty is a writer, wilderness guide, men’s work leader, and somatic meditation teacher, and has been at the forefront of a global movement of men opening up to themselves and the world. He is deeply steeped in nature and committed to practicing and sharing work that brings our wildness and our love out into the open.

Find Dan online at:

IG: @danieldoty

Web: dandoty.com

Curt Storring 0:00

Welcome to the Dad.Work podcast. My name is Curt Storring, your host and founder of Dad.Work. My guest today is Dan Doty was super excited for this conversation. Dan is definitely one of the men I look up to most when it comes to being a father and living an intentional life. And it was exciting to be able to talk to him, I actually had been going through one of his own offerings on fatherhood. So it was fantastic able to pick his brain more here for you. So we go deep talking about fatherhood as a spiritual practice, depth of conversation and connection, presence, being versus doing, communicating our needs. By being tough and being open hearted are not mutually exclusive men's work, why it's important to remember that your life matters, and the importance of doing the work with other men. Dan dodi is a writer, wilderness guide, men's work leader in somatic meditation teacher has been at the forefront of a global movement of men opening up to themselves and the world. He is deeply steeped in nature and committed to practicing and sharing work that brings our wilderness and our love out into the open. You can find them online at Dandoty.com. That's dandoty.com on Instagram @DanielDoty. We'll get in this episode in a moment, I just want to remind you that all of the show notes, everything else you would like to learn about Dad.Work resources, links, socials, our private Facebook community, our course called conscious fatherhood, all of that can be found at dad Dad.Work slash pod, that's dad.work/pod, type that into your web browser, and you will get everything. With that being said no further ado, let's get into it.

Dan Doty, thank you so much for joining me. Welcome.

Dan Doty 1:54

Excited to be here, man. Very excited.

Curt Storring 1:56

Nice. So I wanted to jump in first with the question that I like to ask to the dads that come on here, which is give us an idea of your biggest strength, and also your biggest struggle with fatherhood right now.

Dan Doty 2:09

I'm really good at making pancakes man. I'm like, really, really fucking good at that. Oh, man, big biggest strength, or let me turn my game down a little bit. But biggest strength, I would say if I had to, if I had to pick one, it would be just being plugged in. being plugged into the family and the kids it's, it's something that I feel like I trained a lot of my adult life to be able to do and it's honestly, one of my bigger joys is just to truly just be plugged in the kids and fucking love it. biggest struggles right now would be the establishment of functional repeatable systems. And that means that could mean a lot of different things, you know, part of part of the dead game is, you know, my business, you know, running a business and making money for the family. And so I'm working very hard to establish systems there. But it also means the same thing for like, buying groceries every week, so that we don't have 50 fucking cans of refried beans and not any milk, you know, like, the putting things on a loving autopilot in ways that are I like I'm very clear on the importance of that. I'm not always the best at the execution or like, my mind doesn't jump to that very naturally. So. Right?

Curt Storring 3:32

Does that Do you find that it's actually easier to deal with that? Because you are in the moment? And you're so present?

Dan Doty 3:40

That's a good question. I think. I think that's possibly Yes. And possibly No. Because I do feel like it's been my, a lot of my life experience has been, you know, showing up being with whatever there is and going for a ride, right? Going on that ride. But But I, it takes a different type of mindset to step back, assess the needs, build functional systems to support those needs, right? I think, yes, you can do that. You can build those systems from an unconscious place, or you can build them from a conscious place. So sure, but it's still the building of the system. That's not it's not my first nature. Right?

Curt Storring 4:26

Well, thank you for sharing that. I like to get that first thing just we can sort of put some, some meat on the bones of the men who come on here and just understand that, you know, everyone's going through their struggles, and everyone's good at something as well.

Dan Doty 4:38

Yeah, so it's like I The other thing I'm not really good at is to punish my children. I tend to send them out in the woods naked for like weeks at a time. And I don't know if I should do that or not.

Curt Storring 4:49

I don't know. Damn that's, that's right on the precipice of being the perfect thing to do. Maybe not.

Dan Doty 4:57

No, that was a terrible joke. That was a joke. That's not really at all, probably not, in today's climate to make jokes like that, but

Curt Storring 5:06

that's good. I'm glad you went there. So the reason like the biggest reason that I wanted to have you on is because I've heard you mentioned fatherhood as a spiritual practice. And when I'm going through people who are teachers, or people who are just coaching or sharing their wisdom, it's very rare that fatherhood goes past dad jokes, or like that means on how hard relationships is and how, you know, happy wife happy life, and you just like went all the way. fatherhood is a spiritual practice. So I want to just start by asking you like, what the hell is that mean?

Dan Doty 5:39

Yeah, totally. I don't know, man. Let's figure it out. I mean, I think the first place to start is that I, I'm a very spiritual man, I've lived a very deeply, intently, purposefully spiritual life, and I don't even like, doesn't feel even great, like proclaiming that but it is a truth it is it is the truth, I think, in some ways. You know, the past little chunk, six, eight years of my life, I have chosen to put myself out there with an intention to sort of declare a few things. You know, the first run was all about, hey, world, men have emotions. And when you don't, when they don't actually step up to that and own it, that it's, it's harmful to them and everybody else. And so let's, let's see if we do that differently, that so it's in some sense permission, like, Hey, guys, if we acknowledged our humanity, and now and it's not as explicit now, but I feel like what I'm up to a little bit here at this point is is is similar with spirituality being like, hey, like, there is it's the divorce in my, in our current times from an authentic spirituality is a real thing is a really real thing. And so I feel wildly grateful and fortunate to have lived the life that I have lived and have the life that I currently have. And, you know, my spiritual practice in life is first and foremost. So from that perspective, fatherhood almost couldn't be anything otherwise. Like, from my perspective, that life is spiritual practice, that that is my perspective that everything that occurs is is a, like, statistical miracle miracle. And, you know, like, what are I you know, the questions I tend to ask and have asked for a long time is like, what's actually important? What is actually important, right? Like, and even from a very young age, like, the things that people told me were important, I'd be like, now you're full, you're full of shit. You know, like, these things, you're telling me about status and all that stuff? Like I get it, I get it. And I'm not I'm not denying you your belief in this but I'm just like, it's it ain't for me. And so that's the basis but I think to go a little further with it, fatherhood is spiritual practice is that there is an element of fatherhood being the Oh man, I mean, it's, it's almost like I'm trying to make an analogy, like with the Olympics, the Olympics are going on right now. So you know, in some sense, maybe you, you know, your whole life. And like fatherhood in some sense is like the time to perform right? It's the time to be there. It's the time like, you know, all systems go and play in your heart out like going all but the thing is, is that we're really not we haven't been training for this. It's like so we get to the Olympics. And we realize we like an Olympic swimmer, but I don't like it. I haven't been in the pool. It's like, Oh, shit. So what what I see, opportunity for fatherhood for men is a, the the most effective accountability training for getting your shit together, finding out who you are, how things work, what life is like. And because you kind of have to write, you don't have to, but you do, you know, for the sake of your children. So I that that's, that's where I'm going with that. It's just at this point, I think it's an amazing opportunity. It's an incredible opportunity to to take this human life thing. deeper.

Curt Storring 9:27

Yeah, yeah. And that's, I'm glad you said the word opportunity because that's exactly where I was going to go. It's like you can be blind to it and you can just suffer through it and you can go like, oh, man, this is so hard. Or it's like wow, I'm in the dojo now. I'm actually practicing fatherhood, like as practice has been insane for me. You know, like, it's bright, all the triggers. It's made me eat so many shit sandwiches. And luckily, I was talking to a friend about this yesterday. I love eating shit sandwiches when it comes to being triggered because it means that I get to grow and what a better place then something So important in both our life and our children's lives, then like fatherhood, it's amazing.

Dan Doty 10:05

Yeah, I mean, in some sense, I feel a little bit bummed that, you know, when it's go time, we haven't maybe done, we, you know, we're, we haven't been training for the Olympics, but I don't, but that that might be a really naive perspective, I think that I think it's biological to, you know, or whatever sense of sort of evolutionarily biologically, like, you know, we become fathers where life shifts dramatically, right, in Part Part of that is a, it wrenches us us from the current norm of narcissism, at least a little bit, right, and probably not fully, or maybe just a little bit, but it does take our locus of focus away from our own self, and, and places it into something outside of ourselves, or at least, you know, from one perspective outside and from another way the family unit can be seen as just a continuation of the lineage of your family, like the family as an organism is a really interesting perspective to take here to

Curt Storring 11:09

do want to go deeper on that.

Dan Doty 11:12

Sure, yeah, I mean, I, this is this is not backed by science, or anything, this, this is just what I've been working with, with, with some of my father groups and individuals, and just the, you know, there's this perspective that I've been playing with where, you know, you can think about your father, and your mother, but just think about your family. And there is biological continuity there, right? Like, there is a living part of them, which turns into the living part of you, and we can kind of turn around, you know, metaphorically, and look at this unbroken chain of human life behind us. And it's just, it's just wild, it's just a wild perspective, to think of how many lives and how many breakfasts and how many hurt feelings, and how many fucking deaths and how many marriages and how many burn like all of the and it's just like, I kind of like you'd like to imagine seeing the sea, just unending sea of human life that goes back beyond. And here we are riding the emergent edge of it. We're right here right now. And then we become parents and like, you know, we like take a part of ourselves and combine it with another one all of a sudden the prop it's like, What the fuck, man, this is wild, right? And then just to feel that open heart, just to feel them open wild. That's another part about the spiritual nature of fatherhood. You know, not only does it change perspective in terms of responsibility, but it blows your heart The fuck open. Right? Yeah, it just it changes fundamentally changes like our expand this, maybe it's not true for everybody. I felt a lot of love in my life before my children, but like the depth and the profound nature of of that the purity of my love and protection for my children, like it's crazy. It's crazy, right? And so there's just something going on. And so I feel just very, very clearly that it is what what a gift and what a gift to be alive in a time where we're, we have enough resources, and I'm coming from the most privileged perspective, like a white straight, middle class brought up, you know, person on this planet, and and I feel like I just feel called to, to use that for good, right. And to and to I don't know, I lost my train of thought a little bit there. But

Curt Storring 13:49

that's all good. Yeah, the, I guess just to like, really break it down to the final sort of quarters. I just see it. And I think what you just said is exactly right. And it's just such an opportunity to blast your heart open and to build your spiritual self if you just give it a chance. And I think that's like why I wanted to have you on to explain that because a lot of the things that I'm seeing is like, I just would never have known that that existed emotionally or otherwise. Actually, if I didn't hear someone else say it. So what I want this to be as an invitation for dads to be like, oh, like fuck, I didn't even know that this could be like that, because a lot of guys aren't there yet. So it's a journey it can be arduous journey. And I was interested with what you said about sort of blowing the heart open. Because for me, I was coming from a very closed heart when I had my first kid, a very closed heart and I am still feeling the repercussions of that now as I continue to build and repair that relationship. And it wasn't until the second one that it was like okay, this feels pretty good now, but the third one having done some of this work on myself, which I think is another huge point to make, which is like guys, if you're not doing the self work, You're not going to be a better dad to begin with. But the third one I felt exactly that it was just like this huge explosion and like I can just sit with him for hours and just look into his face and just like there's everything that I need there it gives me this present moment awareness unlike anything else I've ever experienced. So you can go there and I want everyone to know that you can go there and then it's okay that's a struggle so just

Dan Doty 15:23

absolutely yeah and so let's take it out of the potentially like woo language of a heart blown open which I personally love that phrase but what i think you know underlying most of my what I would say my life's work at this point with all the men's work and all the fault just everything that I've done is I mean what you named is true right? Like there are there are possibilities in our basic life in our relationships with our family, our relationships with our partners and lovers and our anyone there are realities that are we can all touch that are actually quite innate to human beings that just are not people where people are not aware of them so you know I did I was the co founder of a organization called every man and I and I hosted the podcast for about 120 episodes and the the where was I going with that? Why don't I bring up the podcast? Oh, it was an episode a couple episodes got the most attention over the course of three years one was a conversation with my wife one was a conversation with my father right I had famous people on I had celebrities on but like when what the feedback was with my wife and my dad both of them the feedback was the same It was like I've never heard anyone talk to their blank that way before I didn't know you could have that open of a conversation with your father I didn't know that you could be that vulnerable with your wife and it was just like a mind blown right? It was just like a holy fuck it was like a different thing. And so So yeah, I just I say I share that to affirm what you said that we don't know what we don't know and when we've been raised in a culture that keeps such a wild distance between us and everybody's family is different right so so some families there's like love and intimacy and connection flowing like water and others there's not right and but I would say in general I think what underpins my entire mission no matter what I've been doing is simply the fact it's kind of like shaking guys and say hey, you can love and be loved way more than you currently are. You can build the capacity to give and receive love on such a scale that's so far beyond what we've been trained to in our lives and if we were to do that things will fucking be better just kind of flatly be better right and so when it comes to the again to the Father to spiritual practice, like I think this kind of can kind of come up side and slap you on the head or you know slap your heart open and have it spill open a little bit and be like oh, whoa, what is this? What is this element of my humanity? This is wild. This feels really profound. This love Yeah. Yeah,

Curt Storring 18:19

I love that you said love and be loved. That's something that I've used in my meta meditations which is like me you love and be loved for my own children because that capacity has been it's life changing and you like like you said it's a little bit woowoo there's like all of this stuff and guys are very distrustful sometimes if they haven't been initiated into that sort of feeling or speech and again, like I just want to say it I just want but it's not I can say that

Dan Doty 18:45

no, but you but that's the thing is it but fatherhood takes it out of that language and that can't because it's not like anyone like I don't care unless you're embittered and hardened right loving your children like what is a more universal value than loving your fucking children? Yeah, like I don't know actually don't know there is one other than maybe drinking enough water to not die right like that is fundamental humanity fundamental and it's not even just humanity look at nature right look at look at all the cat means look at the kitten it's just it's just it's it's fundamental to the survival of humans. So loving our children is not it's not fucking Whoo. It couldn't be you know, it's so that's interesting. That's a that's just an interesting thing. Like, I want to Yeah, kind of like open the door, raise that bar for dads and just be like, hey, it's cool. Like, let's celebrate that shit. That's what our world needs. And that's then that's where this actually leads for me is that my belief at this point is that this capacity of responsibility and love and leadership that it takes to truly be As a father, it is exactly what our world needs. It's not the only thing. Obviously, that would be a quite a patriarchal thing to say. And that's not what I mean. But I do, I do believe, like that protective love that sort of, I have no clear knowing, like, I'm taking care of this. So valuable.

Curt Storring 20:26

Yeah. 100% I want to go briefly into maybe more tactical ness. I mean, I like giving people ideas on how this actually looks in their life. In one of your courses, you face some of your marketing material calls it an anti absent father course. And I really like that it's like how to show up with presence. And I'm wondering, like, what are some of the ways dads can act as if this is a spiritual practice, which they may or may not buy into. But I think we've talked about enough to get the main idea, but like, what does it look like practice wise, or just in the moment, to be present to really like sink into this feeling that we're talking about right now?

Dan Doty 21:08

Yeah, so I would say that the biggest doorway to or maybe for me, the easiest doorway for being present is is the body itself and so let's let's just make it really simple like we can be, we can choose to be dominated and lost in our mental code. cogitations are our thoughts, right? Like we all know, that we can do that we can go to our head, or we can sort of learn to drop our awareness into our body. And so that's I mean that very bluntly, and simply like, what do we smell? What do we see? What do we hear, like our sense our innate, you know, sensory sort of input is what I'm talking about. And and that doesn't exclude the mind. Right? But But what it allows for is a an alternative, really, I guess what, when I think about being president or or embodied in here, it's that there is a viable alternative to just being stuck in our head and being lost about work. And we all know, we all know this, this isn't, this isn't a mystery for anybody. If we're sitting if we walk in the door, but we're tripping out about what somebody said at work three hours ago, we know that feeling we know. But what I don't think we always know is no is the alternative, right? Or an alternative that doesn't come after two beers, which I don't, don't, I'm not I'm not shitting on that I like beer. But an alternative that is present and aware and kind of with it, as we as we are just here. So really, what we're talking about is his focus, where we focus and how we focus our attention. And so you know, a present father would might look like me coming home. And, you know, as soon as I walk in, the boys do their, you know, they run over and, and I could half acid, and and I'll do the motions and still be lost somewhere else, or I could, you know, take take a beat and consciously or train myself, that's even better, to like, Alright, get down, like take a breath, give them a full hug, receive their full hug look in their eyes, like, like, let curiosity come over and just give myself to that moment fully. Right? And I think again, we all innately know what that does, and how much we want that and how much we needed that how much our kids want and just just that right and it's this understanding that our, our full attention and presence is just worth its fucking weight in gold and diamonds and everything right? And so that's that's the that's like, what it may look like, the how I mean, there's a lot of ways you could there's a lot of ways you could go by this, but I would say the how generally, from my perspective has something to do with learning how to let go, learning how to feel more, and learning how to surrender and relax. And and allow yourself to the the luxury of getting over yourself. And whatever you think is most important in the moment.

Curt Storring 24:26

What are some of the ways that you've done that, particularly in the training aspect?

Dan Doty 24:31

I mean, I think I started my training in martial arts as a kid. I was in Taekwondo for 10 years, it was a lot of my life. And so I think that taught me a lot of body awareness. I think it taught me you know, focus and surrender and a lot of things but so that was one one thing that really helped me. But I was unaware I was, you know, it's not like I was some super present kid. But I do remember being in practice and being all the way there, right like that was a very distinct set of memories. I have need time in nature is can be a huge thing, particularly extended time. And nature can be something that begins to unwind your nervous system and sort of help you sink into a more, you know, analog physical state of being men's groups, I'm basically just giving you a catalogue of the things that I love, and men's groups and therapy, and any, you know, bodywork, acupuncture modalities that help you again, slow down and sink into a natural rhythm of where your mind and your body can begin to come together. Meditation I would say would be the king, Daddy, especially if you get into a practice or a, you know, a focus with that, that really means something, there's a lot of meditating out that I think that doesn't really go anywhere. But if you get into some that does go somewhere, that can be a rocket ship for this deep, you know, practice rule relating practice with loved ones, right with friends, just you know, with your, if you have a wife or a husband, or you know, your partner, whoever is your partner, that can be the playground for a lot of feedback for when you are and when you're not present, which is probably happening for everybody in some way, whether it's a conscious way or unconscious way. So there's a lot of ways but I think, you know, if there's somebody listening that that's just like, okay, where do I fucking start? I mean, obviously, Kurt, you have programs to help I have programs, I have offerings to help. And I think that's, that's a great place to start, obviously. But wherever you're compelled to slow the fuck down and get over yourself, whatever means is a good place to start, I would say. So if you, you know, be like yoga, get your ass to yoga regularly, and you'll start, you know, start having some salt, I guess what I would say is, if you're coming from a place where this feels foreign, you need to find you basically need to find some way to like, plug, stick your finger in the hose of your mind, and plug it in for a minute, like just create some little level of space where something else is unfolding, and something else is occurring. And so it's hard to, it's hard to get very far on the path if you're just reacting and like feeling like you're like being swept downstream all the time.

Curt Storring 27:35

Yeah, yeah. And all of those are like, that's a laundry list of amazing ways to get into the body. And for me, personally, it was meditation. I remember still the very first time the first week that I started meditating. And I finally found the so called space between the stimulus and the response. And so my son did something that triggered me. And I caught myself before I was like, What the fuck, and I just didn't say anything. And it was just like this, it blew open my mind in terms of like, what was possible. And it's just been like this massive journey ever since. Just like he said, it's that one little plug in the mind where it's like, Wow, I didn't even know it could be still like this. And I'm also glad that you mentioned slowing the fuck down. Because I'd like to get into that a little bit later. But for me, just reflecting on my journey right now is it hasn't been until I stopped doing these practices, and started being with these practices by slowing down that they had lasting, deep effects. So just want to throw that caveat in there as well that like you can do all the things in the world you can like, crash, being mindful. But like until you slow down and let it catch up to you. Doesn't always say that you actually

Dan Doty 28:51

you just gave the best explicit explanation there, right? So carve the word carve all of your experience into being and doing into those two categories. And if you want to be more embodied and present, like stop fucking doing that all the time and and find ways to be like that I that actually is, I would say the most accurate and simple way to name it. So yeah, you nailed it.

Curt Storring 29:14

Good. Okay. But let's,

Dan Doty 29:18

let's take that. Let's take that one step further. Right, because think back anybody listening, you know, if you are a dad, or even if you're not that think back on meaningful times, with adults when you were a young person, right? And like, here's an example. I like, in all the way at my deep core, I love fishing, like I love to fish. It's just like one of the most like interesting, exciting things I could ever do. But my dad made fishing about doing he made it about getting up and going and going to the right place and like, you know, the it was miserable. It was miserable. I didn't Like anything to do with it, right? And so I had this concept, I still have it. And now I'm like taking my kids fishing and trying to undo my own, like my experience around fishing. But you know, juxtapose that with my mom who took me hiking, and then this is not like a mom, dad, favorite thing. That's not what this is about. But my mom would take me hiking, and we would just go out in the woods together. And, and I know, without a shadow of a doubt, she was able just to plug in, and we would just be in the woods together. And those are the things that I'm like writing books about now. Right? Like that's, like that was that filled me up in every way. And so I think that's a really good thing to ponder. And so when we are talking about being present with our kids, I think that's maybe some of the best language to use is like, Can you just be with them? That's my kids want, right? They don't want me to didn't want me to do shit. They don't want to they don't want to do shit. They just want to be like, they just at this point, right? And that'll change. We'll want to go do stuff, too. But anyway, yeah,

Curt Storring 31:07

yeah, no, that's an excellent way to look into. And I love the prompts to look into your own life. Because we somehow get divorced from the fact that, like, we had the experiences when we were kids that our children are having in some way now, except we're now the parent. And I mean, there's a lot of stuff in men's work, as you know, in therapy, the father wound and all that kind of stuff that we can get into, maybe not now. But to really understand that, like, you have this treasure trove of how it feels when people act certain ways, if you can just recall, because it's not that long ago, however else you are, you know, we have finite license, it's not that long ago, and a lot of us can feel into Oh, right, this person still brings whatever feeling to mind, because of how they were with me, and then use that as, like a litmus test on how you're then acting with your own kids. You know, like, there's this built in

Dan Doty 31:59

100%, I would even take it a step further, right? Like we can, we can examine our childhood. But then, you know, and I mean, this with all of the love, and I and I include myself in this, but I think we're all far I think we're oftentimes operating on subconscious, like behaviors that are that are really not that different from our kids, right? Like, a lot of our needs are still the same. Right? They're, you know, we have developed a lot of compensation mechanisms in our lives, but right at the core of it, you know, like, what, what do I really need, you know, probably, like a good meal a night asleep, and a good warm, snuggle, right, and like, rhythms, you know, same things my kids need. So I think, two things, one, we pretend that we're not human, or we get you know, we pretend that we don't have these basic needs, which isn't real. And but the other is that I do think there's a lot of value. Really, like when you become a dad, I think it happens naturally, right? We have little ones and then all of a sudden, oh, I have a memory of, so my son's one and a half and he's doing this thing and all of a sudden, oh, I'm flooded with his memory of when I did that thing at this age, you know, and, and so there's a lot of really interesting, this is something I'm fascinated with. It's just like the recreation of our parents lives. Or I mean, recreation of our lives in our children, and how that was maybe a recreation of my parents life, it was a recreation of his, but you know, it's just like, Whoa, so that that principle, my sort of flagship fatherhood program is a deep dive, like a really deep dive for a small group of dads and the point of that program is to really do that, that deep looking and feeling and pondering and exploring and then be like, okay, I am drawing a line in the sand and I am I'm willing to do what I want to bring forth from that my generational patterns is this and what I want what, what ends with me, like, so maybe the, you know, the undercurrent of violence and misogyny my family, it fucking ends here. It's done. It's not going to my children, and sort of really getting clear and then you know, not saying that just making that decision will change it, but then be like, Alright, what do I have to do?

Curt Storring 34:26

Yeah, yeah, chain breakers. I've heard out referred to Well, yeah, braking. I mean, that's some of the work that I focused on is like, What? What part of the generational trauma or whatever you want to call it stops here. And how much responsibility is that? And how much am I just slowing down that train so that my kids will at least be better suited to then break it if I can't do it myself. And so just being so aware of all of these things, there is such richness and like when we talked about first just like being present like just think and feel A little bit deeper into each moment. And all this stuff reveals itself if you're a student of it, so I'm just, I love hearing about that. And I really appreciate that we went there. And something that just came out there wasn't gonna go into but like needs. I love that you mentioned that we all have needs that we're all like children in many senses, because I've just recently understood that communicating my needs is a thing that can happen without the assumption that they will then be met. And so I've really leaned into like, like right now, for example, I feel as though I've been holding a lot of space between men's group, my wife, my kids, I've been doing a great job of that. And I just feel like I want someone to hold that space a little bit for me, and just to affirm me. And I go, like, Oh, that's exactly what I see for my kids. They just want to be held, they just want to be affirmed. And it's okay that I want that. And I don't have to feel ashamed. And it doesn't have to be a story. But like, I just feel that things are starting to I'm starting to say it now, both for myself to get to maybe be met, but sort of on a meta level to show the kids what it looks like to healthily ask for a need to be met. And I think communication as a father, as a man as a human, I mean, we could go there for hours on how to communicate those needs. But man, how does that come up in your life? How are you communicating your needs? What else comes up for you there?

Dan Doty 36:23

I'm pretty good man. I mean, a lot comes up, I, I got, I got some early, well, I got to be careful. Like, there's still places that are really hard for me to communicate my needs. But the place where I first sort of came into contact with this was right out of college, I became a wilderness therapy guide. And that was my first career. And so I was out in on long term wilderness expeditions with you know, groups of eight to 10 struggling teens, you know, have crazy, half violent, you know, Wild Wild boys out in the woods, it was awesome. So and we were delivering a therapeutic service, right? So these, those are the things we talked about, like, you know, how do we communicate our need, as opposed to stealing my dad's car and driving it off? Cliff? I communicate my need other than punching someone in the face, you know? And, you know, that began to work on me too. You know, I spent a handful of years doing that a lot of time on the woods. And I mean, there's been a lot of phases of it, right? I think I think there's like, the caveman phase of, alright, I have this need, I must declare it right? Or it's just like this, like that basic phase. And I think that goes a long way might might be all we ever need to go through. But but I do feel like there's that there's potentially different stages of it to where you start to decipher Alright, this need is real. Where does it go? Right? Like, who do I bring this to? Do? I bring all my needs to my wife? Do I bring one to my men's group? Do I bring it to my therapist? Do I bring it to my friend? Right? It's also the inquiry of Okay, this need if I looked deeper into it, right? Is it a need? Or what what's its inception point? Right? Excuse me, it's, is this a wound? Or is this a need born from an old wound that I need to address in an even deeper way and hold more space for? Or is this you know, just something basic, like, man, I could really use a hug. And I need to hear that I'm doing a good job, you know, and so, yeah, I think it's really it's, it's really like a fundamental basic skill, right? And I think that should be built into the human curriculum as often as possible. But one thing said, If anybody's curious, there's a whole really, really beautiful. I'm not Well, a couple things. Most people have heard of Abraham Maslow and the hierarchy of needs. I think that's just it's just such a good tool, if anybody hasn't, you know, really gone and looked at that it's worth even just a Google search to look at it pondered for a mental for a minute. But then an even deeper set, which is fun to look at is the it's called human needs psychology. And it was a bunch of research researchers that brought out seven, I think it's seven, six or seven fundamental human needs that if you take it seriously, and you basically make an overlay on your life, and you see where your what's not getting met, and what is maybe getting met more than it needs can can have really, you know, foundational changes. So, yeah, thank

Curt Storring 39:54

you for sharing that. And it's a little, little thing that just came to mind. So I'm glad that you drop those resources in Well, they're shifting gears maybe a little bit. I mean, who knows, we'll just go with the flow. But a quote that I came across in doing some research for this was from a piece he did for health line called the four promises this father made to his sons. And the quote was, my boys are legitimately tough in certain ways, but not at the price of their hearts. That's the end of the quote. And that just like, that just flew off the page for me. And I'd love to get me just like some thoughts on that. Like, why? Why the hearts? How is the toughness? Look, how do you keep toughness with an open heart? Like this? Maybe big topic? Maybe not. But you want to riff on that for a bit?

Dan Doty 40:40

Yeah, yeah, for sure. I mean, I think this speaks very much to like what I've been at for a long time, which is pulling apart the twisted and Tangled like, thought streams in our culture that say that being tough and manly, like necessarily are necessitates the lack of compassion, or sympathy, or empathy or vulnerability, which is just not, it's just not accurate. It's just flatly, not an accurate stance. And I think that, you know, there's been a popular sort of culture and things will say that, you know, you are one way or the other way, but the reality is, we all have access to it, like an entire spectrum of potential human experience and feeling states and all of these things. And we may have, we may be wired, we may be enculturated, to have a penchant to be, you know, certain ways other than other than others. But the reality is, we can all be aggressive, we can all be sad, we can all be tender, we can all be loving, like it's just it's, you know, unless there's maybe a very, very, very, very, very small percentage that have legitimate like psychosis. Right? And then maybe that's not possible. But anyway, there's, I mean, there's a couple there's a couple quotes or a couple sort of examples that I guess I'll mentioned really quickly, and one is a Terry real, are you familiar tell you real, he's a psychotherapist, he's one of maybe the best in the world, couples therapists. Anyway, I look up to him. He's a bit of a hero. And so he's done a lot of amazing work on men and masculinity, and just as a ton of experience. And so I need to actually find where I found this, but I read a quote that he had once it was either he was with a tribe of Maasai in Sub Saharan Africa, or sub. Okay, I'm just gonna get to it, I don't have the details on where the hell this came from, in a way I'm supposed to. But anyway, it was someone talking to an elder of the Masai tribe. And, and the, the, they were talking about what it meant to be a man or a warrior. And it was basically like, a real warrior, when confronted or when attacked, or when someone threatens the tribe is not just is not just capable of defending, but it will, it's, it's just like you're setting off a nuclear bomb, like there's that level of like, wild warriorship that will just like go the distance to do what's necessary. And then on the same side, on the same hand, that that where he is not only able to hold a child, but he's able to be the most tender, like like subtle, soft, completely surrendered, like tender loving presence, Father touch, right? And so it's, it's like it that sets up. The other example I was gonna say, was from a book on the man, I got to do a little more homework before these interviews. It was a blood moon. You know what I don't even need to give it it was another example of a more indigenous lifestyle where the men of the tribe were pretty brutal warriors. But also when, when looked at closer, were some of the most loving and connected and gentle fathers that people had ever seen. So anyway, what I'm bringing out here is this is this understanding that we have the capacity, and you can almost think of it as skill sets, like we have the capacity to be deeply, deeply, deeply feeling. And also deeply, deeply, deeply like focused, like whatever however you want to put that in the positive light, right? Like it like a killer in the right way. And, you know, just I just think that we've, over time or I don't know how it's happened, maybe maybe it's media, but it's dumbed that spectrum down for people. It's just Like, you know, I'm I'm a jock that means I'm this way and I like can't be nice and soft and kind. But honestly what I think a lot of it has just been for probably many societal reasons, a negation of vulnerability and basic, I would even say humility for men and males in general, right? And so, there's been these enculturated sort of stances where,

you know, boys don't cry and they, they don't do all these things. And you know, I do believe that things are changing and I do see it in our younger generations right now. Like they're, they're not they seeming to not ascribe to a lot of those, you know, same norms. But yeah,

Curt Storring 45:48

yeah. Okay, man, thank you. This one yeah, it's such a it's not a struggle. But it's, it's an interesting one, because you're talking about two, like you said, extreme ends of the spectrum and occupying the both ends at the same time, in a sense, and to teach a moment, not not the same moment not to baby maybe not, but to be the container in which both of those extremes exist. Yeah, to be able to embody either one of them when necessary, rather than halting yourself when the moment calls for vulnerability, because like, Oh, I just can't go there, like whatever it is. So I think that's a noble pursuit to instill in our children.

Dan Doty 46:30

Yeah, no, I mean, I will what like the visual that comes as you say that it's like, yeah, imagine like, on one end of a scale is like the, you know, the, the heart ass and on the other end of the scale is this very, very plugged in, you know, tender person. And I feel like the bandwidth that most people live in, as if I know most people, the bandwidth that a lot of people live in, is muted. It's like a gray, right? Like the top end of one is, is is one and we just and we just kind of, you know, from our traumas in our past on just a lot of things like we're kept in that were kept in that sort of safe middle zone, which I'm sure has a has a survival function to it, but I it bores me and I don't think it's good for kids. Yeah, yeah, I

Curt Storring 47:19

see it almost like a pendulum where you can't swing farther than you know, a couple inches to either side, rather than guess getting the full range. That's been my work to be honest, like I have been in the pendulum of anger to neutral and my work has been like how do I swing it over to that gentle kind and all that kind of stuff? So like, this is my work not even my kids work that we're touching on now. But like what, how do you talk to your kids like this is one thing that I didn't really know and I went through this whole period of like looking into conscious communication with my kids. And you know, emotion coaching is from I think like maybe a Gottman book. And it's like there's this way that you can empathize and validate with your speech and with the way that you're just in your being in your body and I guess paying attention being present but like does anything come to mind with the way you talk to your kids versus how you observe other people

Dan Doty 48:14

you know what like for I have a celebration thing to celebrate which would be the people around me in my little bubble here. I see an immense amount of good examples of how kids adults talk to their kids I'm seeing a lot of good stuff I feel like I'm learning all the time you know hanging out with other families but I you know, maybe to bring back where we were earlier about the being present thing it would just be for me the underlying principle just might be the slowing down the being there like the but that's not always possible either. I think that's that's like there are moments to pick and choose and I think you know, maybe one thing to think about there for me too is just like quality over quantity it's not like every moment needs to be this dropped in like well I'm right here all the way like there are times that we have to get the fuck to school and like I don't like I can't actually handle you climbing on my back right now. Right? So there's like the whole like I don't know but I would think that in terms of probably what I'm doing without thinking about it, is I am just paying attention I'm paying attention to them on a holistic level even if it's like you know there are times where I'm super unconscious and I might bark at them and leave but but it's not very often that I don't notice the look on their face, right? And just be like, oh, okay, that you know, I went across the line they're they're feeling they're probably feeling something and when I can repair it right away, I will. Right I can start and I can't always right then But my sense is is like, how do you talk to kids? My sense is well, you will 100% know, like, like, from an embodied place or somatic place, like you can know, like, Did I just talk to them in a way that added more love to the world or, or like, trampled on their, you know, soul? You know, and I think it's pretty it can get pretty subtle but I don't even know if it is you can tell we can parents know, we know we know when we're acting in a way that's not helpful to our kids, right?

Curt Storring 50:35

And it just goes all the way back like everything, everything is just like how present Can you be? Like, can you even notice that? Because like I'm working on that I know you're doing it, as you just said, and there's a lot of guys who are very heartened by that. And I'm still keeping in mind the guys who are like, I just don't know. And so again, like part of this is like, how deep Can we go. But the other part is like, I don't want to leave out the people who are like, I didn't even know that was a thing. I didn't even know I could go after a rupture. And that's that's an interesting thing. Sorry. Go ahead. So pay

Dan Doty 51:06

attention to body language, pay attention to your child's face, look at his eyes or her eyes, like, like, take that moment, like, if you have I mean, the first step to pretty much any of this is awareness, right? And so if you don't have awareness, maybe this conversation is a little bit of the plug in the pipe. It's just like, Oh, I need awareness. How do I find awareness? So I would say, how do you how do you find awareness at the earliest stages would be you like, this might be enough to start you down that path, even just like just that first, like, Okay, hold on, how do I do this? And just pay attention. Like, really? Like, it's also about prioritization, I think, right? It's like, if you have an insight that oh, my God, like, I couldn't be more present for my kids, then I would take that message. And I would proclaim it to other people who are around you, like, honey, but wife, husband, I realized, man, maybe I could be more present for a kid. And I don't know, like, just get it out there, right? Like, get people's feedback, like, don't hold it in yourself. So So some of the basic principles of, of, like, human intimacy here are don't hold things in yourself. If you're like, part of the reason I think a lot of men don't take steps is because they feel less than they feel like they're not doing good enough. And they don't have any capacity to sort of open up about that, like, how they wouldn't even know where to start. And then I would also just say, like, in, like, set yourself up in a moment where you have some clarity, and you're feeling okay, think about your priorities, like what actually matters, like like, and just start start just as it can, it doesn't even have to be formalized, but just in your own head, start this conversation of like, oh, man, am I you know, to my happy with the way that my kids are, you know, going to bed every night feeling like him like I don't know, I my guess is this shit is happening. Every father's like, I've not met a single father, where this isn't going, it's just the, this is always going on. It's just Am I how willing Am I to like, fully feel that and be honest with that, or get it out in the world, right, there's a process of going from like being stopped to like getting some momentum going. So but that's why fatherhood is so great, too. Because, you know, seeing our child's pain tends to overrule our fear of our own.

Curt Storring 53:41

Like that. The thing, this is such a dad podcast to hear my kids screaming in the background. Yeah, the the thing that I was gonna say there, just in terms of like, having that space in the mind to think about how your story is going, is that like, I thought about it as I have a story of my father. And it's, you know, there's a father wound part to it, there's also just the good stuff, I have this story of who he was, how I interact with them all the rest of this. And I had to realize that my kids are gonna have a story about me. And I have the ability to influence how that story looks, you know, like, I'm quite a bit of an author at this point. And just that understanding that like, wow, they are going to have a story about me, no matter what do I want to put in the work to be the author? Or am I just gonna, like let it play out because I just couldn't let it play out. And I think that could be a good exercise for people to do.

Dan Doty 54:40

I agree with you. And I would add another layer to that, which is, it's not just about what your kids story of you will be but it's literally like, how do you want the rest of your life do you want do you want to connected? Like, do you want like this person that you You love more than anybody else to stick around and be with you and have fun things and like have this like, do you want to spend your life with your kid? Or would you like to not think about it and then watch as life pulls you apart and you just, you know, suffer in some kind of bullshit mediocrity family, you know station where you just like, give up. That's a little harsh, but Oof, man. Yeah, that's,

Curt Storring 55:24

that's that's legit. That's

Dan Doty 55:25

that's what but but that's but the cool thing. But the bright side of that is this is that what's good for our kids is good for us to fundamentally, right? Like that. And that's why this is Ken is such an opportunity. And it's not just like, get your shit together dad for us all for them. But you know, that's part of it. But it is very much that there's no better way to learn, right? Like, and I promise you, man, this is what you want to even if you don't fucking know what you want people around you, you are a human being you are wired, and you've evolved to meet other people at a very, very deep level. And this is one way that you can invest in that.

Curt Storring 56:07

Yeah, the thing that comes back to me and the things that I'm trying to get out there in the world, is that it's not about parenting tactics. It's not about like, oh, here's how I operate as a dad, how you operate as dad comes back to how you are fundamentally. And so I see that, at least in my own journey is suffering less, loving more, and then parenting confidently rather than the other way around. So I think it's very important that you made that point about what life you want, because you still matter. And all of this is not like none of this will be possible without you getting your own life together. Whatever methodologies, modalities, therapy, whatever you need, like, yeah, you're speaking into their lives, which is a great gift, but also, you fucking matter. As a dad as a man.

Dan Doty 56:53

I love that 100% and that, you know, it's cool to see that come online, right to sort of start to see men begin to regard themselves with as much care. I mean, I had a moment I wrote an article, a blog about this. But I had a moment last summer, probably about a year ago now. And I was putting my, my youngest at the time was a year and a half or so. And still, at that point, sometimes I would like rock him to sleep, you know, I'd like put them on my chest and shoulder and walk around. And I just had one of those, like, big heart blow open moments, you know, and it was it was just so soft and beautiful. And he fell asleep and and I didn't do this on purpose. But it just came over me. And it was a I felt all of that love, like that wild amount of love for him. And then. And then I just had this flash of me at his age. And it was like, oh, what if I felt that much love for myself? What if I imagined that I was holding my own young body and I bro I just broke open in tears. And it just like unfolded. It's just like, Hey, dude, you can love like, it doesn't have to be the baby you like, you get that much love to write you like we all do. And it was profound. It was profound man. Really beautiful, beautiful moment.

Curt Storring 58:27

Yeah, that it sounds like that's what the inspiration was for the meditation we did in your body dad course last week, maybe. But holding yourself feeling held like your babies must feel held in your arms. And that's actually a good segue. If you've got like a few more minutes just to finish up here. I'd love to get your story, I guess on the importance of doing this work in community, whether that's men's group or in programs like yours, like I just mentioned, I'm in one of your programs. I can't speak highly enough. I just love having the container that you said. It's called the embody dad for anyone listening. But like maybe just finish off here with how and why is it so important for men to do the work amongst other men?

Dan Doty 59:14

Yeah, I mean, it's from a practical perspective, it's an insane accelerator. It's just an in like, the amount that we can learn amount of collective healing and learning we can get from each other is it's just things will go far faster if you're willing to step into a communal space like that. But part of the reason that it is so powerful is is that every one of us has this like laundry list of reasons to think that we're different or not good enough or a part or separate then, and like it's just bullshit. I'm here to tell you that's like, fucking bullshit. It's just a strange quirk of humanity, that we're all wondering walking around wondering the same things about ourselves. And whether we're you know not valid and and we're fucked up because of it and so like doing a men's group or men's trainings will quickly quickly and powerfully show you that much of the energy that you're spending on you know worrying about quality x y&z about yourself is will be better spent elsewhere and that you're actually just fucking fine. You are so that's that's like a fundamental thing that happens too but it's it's, it's for me it's a multifaceted reason to do it in community. I mean, another thing that men are just generally missing is real deep friendship. Right? And there's an you know, there's a couple like friendship. We see is this equation at every man that there's like, what was it? It's time multiplied by vulnerability equals depth of friendship, right? I came up with that several years ago, and we don't have time anymore. Right? Now, maybe some of you do. If you do. Fuck yeah. But vulnerability and openness will quickly break open relationships for you that that maybe you haven't ever had or haven't had in a long time. And man, we need each other again, like we're just we're not evolved to to like be loners, we're not evolved, we don't have like, we're basically set up in a societal space now, where each one of us is out trying to learn the same fucking lessons without like conferring with others. It's just like, what is negative? Like, very dysfunctional? Right? Like, that's just really dysfunctional. If you and I were, you know, trying to solve some really big problem, but we never talked about it. It's just like, what the fuck? Why would that this doesn't make much sense anymore. So yeah, I can't see enough. You know, my, I founded co founded every man and it's still going strong. There's online groups. There's lots of opportunities these days, I think opportunities are just growing and growing. To get in community. But yeah, I, what I'm mostly, you know, working on now is, is the fatherhood space specifically, and it's just something extra part of it is selfish, right? Like, I I want to be around dads, personally. And there is that extra, there's just that extra shared life experience that makes it you know, a little bit even more elevated. Its power. Yeah,

Curt Storring 1:02:34

okay, ideas. So many of these conversations already have mentioned about the power of doing work together. And so I just like every opportunity that I get to have someone else other than me say it. Yeah, I'm really glad to open it up. And for me, the last few things that I love about doing the work is that it keeps me on the straight and narrow, guiding myself toward the man that I want to become because I constantly get checked. am I showing up like this? Do I have the accountability show up like that, and the last thing is, like being a lone wolf so to speak for so long, which you know, I just want to throw it out there a lone wolves can die they're not often the way to live as a wolf. So if you think you're cool, because you're a lone wolf then you know, maybe check yourself a little bit, but there's only so far I could go without speaking my truth to another man. And for me, it started with my grandfather, which I'm very grateful for, but from there joining men's group and now leading men's groups, there's only so far you can go by yourself and only when you open up to other men in a safe vulnerable container Can you truly go as deep as perhaps you need to go and I'm just so grateful for that and I want every man and every man to know that so yeah, I just want to finish with that. Is there anything else you're excited about right now anything else you feel like you just need to squeeze out here so that everyone can get the Dan ot wisdom I mean we

Dan Doty 1:04:01

just brushed on at the beginning of meditation and nature and some of those other things too and you know I'm I'm in the process of really remodeling my my career and my focus and a big part of what I am leaning into is is meditation and teaching more meditation and specifically doing it in a nature setting and it's kind of much of my favorite thing in the world to do but to be honest, I guess it's to go on a wilderness trip and drop real deep drop in and so yeah, that's a I guess maybe what that is is just a I don't know there's like it's interesting. I'm not sure you know where long path but these that you will be listening to this, but you know, I guess a little a few shortcuts would just be like it's gonna lead to you being you right? Like like whatever it is that that floats your boat whatever it is that you love like Well like I think that you don't have to go spend years trying on other people's lives you really don't you know and you can learn from each other obviously we can like we can learn new things and new ways of being and that's that's all great but generally speaking I think the message is that you're you you're great and we just need you healthy and and as full as you can be and that's what your kids need and that's what the world needs to answer slow the fuck down and slow the fuck down?

Curt Storring 1:05:40

Yeah. Where can people find this meditation retreat and everything else you offer? I know you've got a lot of programs and a lot of coaching access. So where can people find more?

Dan Doty 1:05:50

DanDoty.com. Instagram I'm @DanielDoty. I'm trying to get that fixed to be to match. Yeah, one other thing I just mentioned quickly is I'm also offering programming as like a precursor to fatherhood. So for men who are either you know, trying or have already conceived or men who are maybe struggling with their desires if they want or don't want fatherhood it's kind of my newest offering that I'm that I'm kind of testing out right now. So I'm excited about that.

Curt Storring 1:06:26

I love that I've been thinking about that myself is how do you get people ready for this before shit hits the fan like we were talking about originally you're doing the work in this like house on fire? So they offer some like that. Love it. Cool. Check that out. dan dowdy.com dan, thank you so much, man. I love this.

Dan Doty 1:06:44

Yeah, you're welcome.

Curt Storring 1:06:52

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 review work with us. Go to dad dot work slash pod. That's dad.work/pod. type that into your browser just like a normal URL, Dad dot work slash pod. You'll 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.

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