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My guest today is Ryan Walton.

We go deep talking about: 

  • The reality check of becoming a father,
  • Finding the courage to ask other men for help,
  • The switch from controlling your own emotions and reactions instead of controlling the world around you, 
  • The power of therapy, men’s groups, and regulating your own nervous system,
  • The convergence of personal and community healing and responsibility,
  • Awakening to your own story and the narratives that drive your life,
  • Practical tools to slow down and start doing the work in only 3 minutes,
  • The importance of having guiding principles as a parent,
  • Showing up powerfully for your children in a way that there is NO doubt that they know you’re on their side,
  • Dealing with the devastation of a shattered identity and how to get curious and rebuild your life,
  • The power of taking responsibility for your life. 

Ryan Walton (Daring to Dad) is a certified Integral Coach and works with men fathers to deepen their connections with their children and impact on the world.

Find Ryan online at:

Web: DaringToDad.com

IG:@daringtodad

Curt Storring 0:00

Welcome to the Dad.Work podcast. My name is Curt Storring, your host and the founder of Dad.Work. My guest today is Ryan Walton of daring to dad, we go deep talking about the reality check of becoming a father, finding the courage to ask other men for help to switch from controlling your emotions and reactions instead of controlling the world around you. The power of therapy, men's groups and regulating your own nervous system, the convergence of personal and community healing and responsibility, awakening to your own story and the narratives that drive your life practical tools to slow down and start doing the work in only three minutes. The importance of having guiding principles as a parent showing up powerfully for your children in a way that there is no doubt that they know you're on their side, dealing with the devastation of a shattered identity and how to get curious and rebuild your life and the power of taking responsibility for your own life. Ryan Walton is a certified integral coach and works with men and fathers to deepen their connections with their children and impact on the world. You can find more about Ryan at daring to dad.com. and on Instagram at daring to dad, I really enjoyed this conversation with Ryan, I love the stuff he's putting out on Instagram. I know he works very closely with fathers and has a great story of his own to share. And I was very excited to get his feedback and his insights, his wisdom, having been in this space and being doing this work for so long. With that being said, let's dive into this amazing conversation with Ryan Walton.

Ryan, thank you so much for joining me. I have seen your stuff on Instagram. And honestly, there's all this stuff that I see I was scrolling through just before our chat and I was like you're talking about how obedience as a child is not something we teach as like the the holy grail of parenting. You're talking about nonviolent communication, you're talking about trauma, you're talking about grief and Anthony de Mello quotes, and I was like, Man, this guy is like, so on the page of all the fatherhood stuff and the men's sort of work stuff that I've done. I'm so excited to talk to you for so thanks. And welcome.

Ryan Walton 1:58

Oh, absolutely. I mean, anytime I can talk about these things. with other men, I think it's so important. I think it's needed work. It's needed. I know that first and foremost has I need it. And I have needed it in my journey as both a man as a father and as a father. So happy to have this conversation. And thanks for thanks for following along and interacting with stuff, man. It's great.

Curt Storring 2:22

Yeah, absolutely. And I want to start with that. What was your journey to fatherhood? Like? Because it sounds like from what you just said, like me, it was sort of this? Oh, no, no, I've got a lot of work to do. So could you walk me through just like what it was leading up to fatherhood? And then how that sort of affected you moving forward?

Ryan Walton 2:40

Yeah, you know, I grew up with a very loving, very engaged, father myself, and, and it the amazing part about that is my father didn't have a dad growing up, you know, my dad's dad took his own life when my dad was about six years old. And so my dad really didn't have a model for fatherhood growing up. And it always blows my mind. Because, you know, statistically speaking, you know, that should create all sorts of, you know, problems for him as a dad, but my father, you know, made some decisions in his life to reengage to find some grounding and peace and he married a fantastic woman and my mother, but was very loving, great, engaged, and emotionally, physically, mentally with his heart, but this whole being, not to say that every family and every everybody brings their stuff to the table. But because of that, I was always really excited about becoming a dad had a lot of ideas about what I would be like as a father. At the same time I came, I come from a background, there's a pretty, like conservative religious backgrounds, and a lot of my ideas about fatherhood, masculinity, were supported and came from a worldview, a very conservative religious worldview. I worked as a pastor for a number of years. And shortly after exiting that world is when my son arrived on the scene. And when that happens, and he was early on, I came face to face with realities about who I was in my life and stories I was telling you about myself. I had to come face to face with the reality of my life, no longer the myth or the what I thought about who I was, but who I really was. and all these things you hear about children coming into our lives and exposing those areas is 100%. true is true about me. And so I find I found myself, you know, there's that quote, you know, by Mike Tyson, everyone has a plan going into the ring and to get punched in the mouth, right? That was fatherhood for me. And I found myself really struggling, really, really struggling early on. I was angry, I was anxious, I would get frustrated. Um, my relation, the relationship I had with my wife was on the rocks. And I didn't know what to do, you know, I was in. Fortunately, you know, I was in the social media space. And I just started sending out these like, SOS is like, help, like, is there anybody else out there who's experiencing and have walked through this type of thing. And slowly, other men, other dads began to respond, as I was sharing in writing. And it was other dads, other fathers, other men who helped me in that time, and supported me, even, you know, people from all over helping support me that really helped bring me through that time and help me get re grounded help work through my own stories and narratives about who I was unpack some of those things. really saved me and saved my relationship with my kids, my marriage. So yeah, that was that was it, for me, was a challenging season. But I'm really grateful for those communities and people. And so here now, you know, years later, I find myself in a place of being a lot of times the person who responds to those SOS messages and founding found myself working alongside men, fathers to experience the fullness of this time in life, and this role we play as fathers. So that's a little bit about my background, man.

Curt Storring 7:25

Yeah, thank you for that. And I resonate so strongly with anger, anxiety, frustration, relationship on the rocks, and I want to go there, but first, I have a question about your father. And that is, have you talked to him about why he was able to develop these skills as a father himself? When, like you say, statistically, he absolutely should not have been the man you just described him as?

Ryan Walton 7:49

Yeah, uh, you know, I think my dad, you know, he found faith when he was in high school, you know, so he got involved with some groups and organizations that really helped. I think, you know, come along, he did have some mentors, probably some pastors, youth leaders, and things like that invest into his life. And he made some different choices, away from some of the substance abuse that had riddled his family, and found an outlet in doing some of these other things and getting involved in, you know, having just having a purpose, you know, which was, you know, became safe, raising a family and found himself in those places that really, I think, pulled him out of some of those things. I think, obviously, you know, if you were here, he would talk about that there's still those voids and those things that, you know, he missed out on and didn't quite learn, but I think that was really what gave him a new opportunity, and kind of pulled him out of some of the heartache and trauma that exists within his own family.

Curt Storring 8:57

Right. So being able to have those people to reach out to much like it sounds you did it, just putting out that SOS and being like, I need help. And that's so interesting, because not enough men, in my experience, are courageous enough or willing to put out that SOS. So what was it about you do you think that gave you this sort of courage to be like, Hey, I don't know what's going on, rather than just sort of bottling it up? Was it that you had just gone through this huge transition, which I want to get to a little bit later? Or was there something else about you that just allows you to ask for help?

Ryan Walton 9:33

I think it's both. I think there's something about me that is a comfortable processing publicly and communally. That is something I appreciate about the background that I do have. I grew up in a in communities and in spaces that valued the work done in community. And there was something about The power of communal connection and our connection with people and being able to voice out whether, you know, a small group or, or whatever, and even then moved away from some of the religious institutions that I was a part of earlier on, I think that's something that I do appreciate and value that that I've taken is saying, hey, being able to reach out and say, Hey, I need help and look for others. So that's something I learned early on in my life, that was a value. By nature, and by my jobs and roles, I do a lot of platform and public communication. So, you know, not really being timid to speak up and voice out, probably helped me a little bit as well. I think also, part of it was I didn't know where else to go in that moment. I didn't know where else to reach out to. And my outlet is often, you know, creative storytelling to writing, photography, and all that I think just kind of created this point where reaching out in the digital space was where it landed for me.

Curt Storring 11:03

Yeah, what a unusual story of using social media for such good and having a community. And I think what you do on Instagram, what I'm doing on Instagram, it's like, it's, it's so that people have a place to do that. Because I get messages almost every day being like, this is what's going on. What's my next step here. And it's amazing to just have guys sort of see that it's possible. And that's why I love doing this podcast. That's why I'm asking you about fatherhood and like struggles and stuff like that. Because hearing that it is a struggle for so many men, especially who look on the surface today. Like it's cool. Like, there's a lot of work that went into that for us, for you for me. And so why don't we go back to the anger piece and the anxiety piece frustration? How did that show up? And what was sort of the turning point when you're like, Man, I got to do something, and what was it that you then did to sort of start working during that inner work to get over that

Ryan Walton 11:57

I would just lose love would just lose my shit so easily. When it came to crying and behavior, when things got out of my control, I had really no ability to manage my own reaction, trying to manage the behavior of essentially a baby and all these feelings of being unworthy, unprepared unready surface to the top. All this feelings of not being enough for this child or my family surface to the top. And that was really the source of the anxiety is not being enough not being good enough not being equipped enough. Can I you know, can I hack this. And honestly, it was therapy, it was therapy, it was men's groups, it was really getting vulnerable with my own stuff. It was sharing and that he was learning mechanisms to manage and regulate my own nervous system and my own emotions. That really helped me to overcome, you know, so a blend of a lot of real theoretical stuff and like, you know, internal heart, you know, asking the deep questions, but also really practical things, skills, you know, disciplines and exercises to regulate my own nervous system and manage my own reaction and emotions. To dig into why, you know, that stuffs happening, this all was a part of my own healing.

Curt Storring 13:48

Right? And how did you go about doing all this because for me, when I look back, I was such a I see myself as being such a terrible father at first i same sorts of things, worthiness, I was trying to control everything, but my own emotions. And I just felt like I was so bad that it was either completely change everything, or like they'd be better off without me. And for me, that was even so far as suicidal ideation. And I feel as though I have spent like full time hours working on myself. But like, it's really worked. And that's so like, a message of hope that I like to share on this show is just like it can work. So how did you go about do all that doing all that? Was it sort of like dive into everything at once? Was it like, let's do a little bit of therapy that opened up something else? Was there like a roadmap that you followed to do that work?

Ryan Walton 14:41

Oh, gosh, I wish there would have been no, there was no roadmap and there was at least, you know, in eight or nine years even kind of social media digital communities have evolved so much and you know, at that time you men's work men's groups, the only ones I knew were happening. We're in like churches, right? Like I had no idea of any other groups of men getting together and like talking about real stuff working through healing. I have a mom and brother, who are both therapists there, you know, and therapy has always been really openly talked about and supported and my family. So that was my first step was always really believing in the therapeutic process and talking with a trained professional in that way. I think that's where it started out a lot, was my work with a therapist, working through my own history, my own anxieties, my own anger. And then it just began to evolve, I just really began to find it to be healing. And I just started to engage more in healing type of work. So whether that was reading books, listening to podcasts finding out and then as social media continued, blew up finding other people who are having the same conversation and joining in on those finding men's groups. And it was only a couple years ago that I really started looking into like the coaching space, and working with men's coaches, men's groups, and really fell in love with that work. I will say this as well, Curt, you know, that I think, some of my motivation for healing. When I left the church life when I left, being a pastor, and really had a complete worldview, melt down and rebirth, I really started exploring a lot of activist work and a lot of activist circles and what was happening in the world. And I began to really explore a lot of areas that I was never exposed to before a bit whether it was you know, racial justice, you know, gender justice, all you know, socio economic to all these began, all this work I began to do. And I found myself searching a lot for Okay, as kind of a white sis straight, you know, man in the world, what is my what is mine to do when it comes to some of the greatest issues facing our time. And that journey along with my journey, as a father has really all led me to the work I'm doing now. All my experience with like activism, and all this stuff, and my research and study there kind of led me to like, what's going on with men? What is going on with men, and that is, like, Tino ultimately was like, first and foremost, take care of yourself and take care of like your people. And I was like, you know, what we, we, as men have work to do, like, everything kept pointing me back to that I, as a man have work to do and everything. You know, it just land just landed there so hard for me. And so I think the work in both of those spaces kind of brought me to what I'm finding is so important today and my place and what I'm up to. So this is what this, this is my activism, but it's also the work I'm doing in my own healing, as a man and as a father. So I think those two streams are those two things are kind of working side by side for me.

Curt Storring 18:15

Yeah, and I love that there's a personal aspect of responsibility and a societal aspect of responsibility. And it does come to this head, which is, I mean, for me, I like to look at things I look at, you know, the world. And if I go, how do we create a more peaceful world, a more just world a more loving world. I think and I'm, you know, biased here, just based on what I've experienced myself, we can heal the world by healing the man and specifically the fathers, because the trickle down effect of a father, being a better father to his son or daughter, who then build better families and communities and more inclusive spaces, like 2040 years from now, I think that's the future is starting with the men where we can help ourselves to then expand into our societies and communities. And so what is that thing that you think men need to do? What kind of work do you focus on now? Helping men get to that point, so that we have sort of the society and personal responsibility that we're just talking about?

Ryan Walton 19:14

Yeah, that's a good question. And I think we're, a lot of times I start is just to simply become awake to the story that you're living, becoming awake to the narratives that are dominating your life. The questions that are driving all of your actions and the ways that you're showing up and just simply, for me, it's kind of helped create a small crack in that movement for someone to be able to pause and to become reflective and evaluate, and step back for a moment. Right? And be and see it, hear it, experience it. I think that's the work that's done personally, right. But then it's also, if we can begin to do that work personally, we become more aware of how we're doing that collectively, like how we can sit and hear, as, as men, and maybe even more specifically, white men, because I think that's the experience that I have, and can probably speak to with the most precision and expertise, how we can be reflective of how we are showing up collectively, how we have shown up collectively, historically. And when we can first, like, do that with ourselves, and take ownership of ways we have shown up and break some of the cycle and those stories, we become more skillful, even being able to do that and hear that as a collective. And oh my gosh, if we can begin to see our part in racial justice, and gender equality, and all these types of things that begin to come up with violence, all these things come up, I think that's, that's where it's at. So I think the work is, is is there. And I think there's a mandate, there's a mandate these days, on men and on fathers, we're evolving. Individually, we're evolving socially as beings, and, you know, the, hey, the kind of whatever 1950s show about like, Dad waking up and breakfast is made and going out and working nine to five and coming back and just patting the kids on the head and sitting on the couch and smoking a pipe and reading the newspaper, like the evening, like that story. Like we're, we're we've all beyond that. Right? We're evolved beyond that as as, as people. And I think there's a there's a mandate on fathers and men these days to play more of an integral role. And, and a partnership in raising of children, and our engagement in the world. And I think talking to men about how we we step up to the plate on that is going to be is really, really important.

Curt Storring 22:26

Yeah, and I love that this is all sort of surrounded by awareness, and this awakening, because I think all of this work, like all of it to become better man, partner, Father, you know, person in society, it all has to be done through coming to terms with what is and that means taking that break, like you mentioned, and stop the inertia of your life and replace inertia with intention. And so can you talk a little bit about the ways that you do that, whether it's with yourself, and your experience, sort of growing through fatherhood, or even with your clients now, as a coach for men? What are some of the ways that we can practically maybe it's sitting down and meditating? Maybe it's journaling? Like, are there things that you use yourself and with your clients that give men the sort of pattern interrupt to have the conversations that you're talking about here?

Ryan Walton 23:15

Yeah. It can start out in really simple ways. You know, I find that a lot of guys I work with sometimes it can really feel overwhelming. Like like out there's there's a lot of these ideas about like, oh, healing, and like oh, finding like yourself, right? There's these big ideas, right? That way that some of us are guilty hear even like on social media, kind of the whatever the the consciousness healing world, right, can throw out these really massive promises. And so many guys I, like, you know, work with or interact with, it's just like, I'm just struggling to kind of get through the day. And we have to balance some of these big ideas with very practical small steps, right? You know, cuz that's what it took for me. Like, practices in in stopping the moment, right and taking a break. How are you taking care of like your body, how you taking care of your body, how you take care of your mind, how you take care of your heart could be Gosh, I'm trying to think of a simple practice that I worked with someone recently, okay, I work with some clients that I introduced and actually gets three minutes long. I'll have them do this multiple times a day is just to stop. The first minute is to sit and take inventory of what you're noticing surrounding you, like you literally visually look and you notice small details of things around whatever room you're in. Okay. Myth number two, you take a step closer you begin to notice what you're feeling physically. Where are you holding tension? Oh, my my feet are cold. I have an itch on my bag. What are you feeling physically number to minute, number three is, what are you experiencing internally? I'm feeling I'm feeling anxious about this big meeting I have with my boss later on feeling bad about the way I interacted with my partner earlier, I'm excited for going out and getting a drink. But whatever it is, right? So you just feel you see, it's three minutes, but it's like, it's just stopping it stopping and coming in contact with yourself coming in contact with what is and realize, oh, my gosh, I'm feeling this way. Right. And then when something comes up later, or maybe even realize, oh, actually, when I got upset with my kid earlier, I actually wasn't upset with him, I was actually really upset because I'm not feeling like I'm really doing great work. And my boss is upset with me, and I'm frustrated at myself. That's actually the thing, right? And when we can do that over and over again, we begin to catch on to how we're feeling. And we, we, we begin to catch it before it even you know, before we get angry with the kid, right? We Oh, you know what I did a check in earlier, I know I'm feeling this way. Because of like this other thing out here. I'm not gonna let that drive my relationship with my child anymore. So it's like little practices like that, right? That you can sometimes give to men and we can take on ourselves, that can interrupt a moment. Right? And all of a sudden, we reclaim our power, we reclaim control of our lives versus this other thing reading it so we can check in if we know that. Hey, you know what, oh my god, I have some guys I know. I'm struggling. I just I love just binging out on Netflix, or any I'm just I'm hooked on just smoking weed every night. I'm drinking all the time. Great, cool. What are some practices that begin to tap into? What is driving that? Right? What is leading, you know, what is leading you? Because you're not like something's pushing you to that. Right? I think that that's what's important, because a lot of us are not actually living our own lives. The stories we're telling about our lives are what's living us.

Curt Storring 27:04

Absolutely, man. And that reminds me, I think was episode six with Dominic core to CIO I had on here we talked about drift, this idea that like most of your life, is lived on inertia. And like 95% of the things you do in a day is just habitual, not thinking about it. And when it comes to the important things like parenting, and your relationship and a feel about yourself, you have to find a way to stop, just like slow down and do exactly what you said, that's an amazing three minute tool that anyone listening to this can just like, pause this and do it right now. Just see how you're feeling. Notice what you notice, externally, internally. And then finally how you're feeling. I love that. So thank you for sharing that.

Ryan Walton 27:41

Yeah, yeah, cuz we're doing our we're doing this stuff. You know, there's I don't people talk about, like healing and healing ourselves. Like, I don't think there's like a moment when like that that happens. But what we can do as parents, yep. Fathers, mothers, any anyone on a spectrum of parenting, whatever is people, right? We can begin to introduce practice and disciplines into our life where we're working through and finding clarity around what's going on with us. So we're not, we're not setting that in between ourselves. And everyone we're interacting with, you know, we're able to, I'm able to interact maybe with my son when he's having a really hard time. And I'm no longer interacting with him through all these things I'm bringing to that. But I'm actually able to set those things aside, I'm able to see him for who he is clearly in that moment without bringing my own stuff to that moment, right. Which is, so often sometimes what we're doing as parents, right, we're looking at our child, but we're looking at him through the lens of all the things that we're experiencing all the our frustrations and anxieties. And we pound that onto this interaction. These kinds of practices, and working through our own stuff allows us to see you and have those moments and engage our kids with more clarity and with our whole selves.

Curt Storring 28:59

Yeah, and you stop projecting onto your kids, which man I had the hardest time with personally, I was going like, oh, you know, my oldest son, I just couldn't connect with him, whatever I did. And I see now it's because I was doing exactly what you said, I was putting this lens up of all my own shit that I hadn't yet worked through and that I couldn't take and put beside me. And it wasn't until I started doing things like meditating or journaling that you realize you can just come to a point, like you said, where you put it aside and you work through it you feel through and I think that's an important note for everyone listening, like get into your body, feel what it feels like, there are clues there. There's always clues there. And that can bring you an immense way on your sort of healing journey, so to speak. Yeah, I, I want to sort of sort of switch gears not not use switch gears, but just to like fatherhood as a as a whole ideals around fatherhood. Because I think with all the work that you share, just with the way you speak on Instagram, I've heard you on some lives and stuff like that. I think that you have some great ideas with what it takes to be a father and be parent today, leading our children not to be who we want them to be, but to open our hearts to them so that they can become who they need to be. So do you have any like ideals or fundamental principles you use? Maybe just perspectives that you sort of father overarching everything, the numbers, you know, raising a child?

Ryan Walton 30:21

Yeah, I guess this person really getting clear on like, what is mine to do? You know, and I love this conversation on guiding principles. I think it's, it's a practice and a discipline that, like, I work through with fathers who I'm coaching with is to come up with guiding principles, because those are important because when, when the going gets tough, and in those tough moments, if you know what your purpose is, if you have kind of these this Northstar, you're moving towards it can really help the decision making process, I have a story about that, just second, I'll tell you how that plays out. But, you know, one of those things is figure out what is mine to do. And mine, what's mine to do is to discover who these people are like to get unbelievably curious and inquisitive and be learn what you know who these little people are, and then help create an environment for them to be all that that person is in the world, right to allow that to thrive. Right. So it's not so really discovering, getting clear on who they are. And equipping them and empowering them to be all that in the world, and creating the space for that. That's, that's one of my that's probably at the top for me, is what is mine to do. And I think sometimes in seasons or time as well, I'll have some things that I'm really focused on. Right now in my life, I you know, I have a highly sensitive emotional child, and you know, my nine year old who struggles in sometimes emotionally in a lot of ways. And we've been through a lot, you know, I don't want to get into a lot of the details that that because that's kind of him in his story. And I'm respectful of kind of his own privacy there. But I would just say this, it's been really, really, really challenging. On on us and our lives. And one of the focuses I have right now is what am I doing? That's really strengthening my relationship with my kids, like, what is going on? What am I what can I do that is going to change relation that bond because that's the most important thing. So how that plays out is for example, I got a call from my kids school a couple weeks ago, that kind of a fight had broken out, you know, and these are just like third grade boys, right? playing on the playground just escalated. All these guys are friends are like all little brothers. And all of a sudden, someone's mascot stomped on and then ketchup got poured on someone else. And there was some middle fingers thrown up and some F bombs and some a couple people got hit right. Of course my son's in the middle of this. I get I get pulled into the principal's office. I'm walking there. Now, before I'm even through the door. I have made a decision. Right? Because this is not one of my guiding principles right now. The most important thing in this moment is my relationship with my son. Everything else like is like another thing. That's the most important thing right here. So I walk in, you know, you sit in there out. So the principal's office, like just he knows, you know, you messed up or whatever. He comes over and gives me a hug. And are you telling us he's angry? He's mad at the situation. We walk in? The vice principal says actually she says to me, can I talk to you first and have him wait outside, I actually have a different idea. I would like him to come in and I want to talk with him first and have him I want to give him an opportunity to tell me about what happened. Right? She said, Okay, that's fine. So he came in, and his little phase of his long hair dripping over his eyes. And I parked his hair. And I look at him and say, Hey, buddy, like, I want you to know something right at the very beginning is that I love you. And nothing you could ever do. Nothing could ever say will ever change that. Right? I know this is a hard moment. But I tell you what you and me are forever.

And I want you to know that like I care deeply about I'm so sorry, this whole thing's happening. I know this is hard. And we're you know, we're going to do it together. I started out that way. Right. And the whole thing shifted. Right when I went in there thinking In my relationship with my kid first, the whole thing should he felt like, it was disarming. It created that connection. And sure, it was hard to be in there and the by sprints and all this kind of stuff. And there were things that had to happen, right? Dark still these boundaries. And you know, he had to face the consequences for kind of what he did and all that. But he and I came out of that bonded, right. And that, is that, right? So these kind of guiding principles for me, like, you know, are really, really important to get clear on what it is, what's ours to do? What is the most important for me as a parent? You know, I think it's impossible really important to communicate those with your partner, if you if you have a partner you are raising children with, you know, are you in agreement with the sayings? Are you supportive of these kinds of things? All that is, I think, essential. So thank you. The ways that it can work out? Well, yeah, I'm

Curt Storring 35:56

just, I'm feeling so much just love and receptivity to what you're sharing right now. Just yeah. What a great job. You did. So well, there, I just want to reflect back like, that is such a gift. And one thing that I noticed was that these principles were all about your son, your children, they weren't about what you wanted. They weren't about Well, I hope he's, you know, XYZ, when he grows up, it's like, no, here's very fundamentally as a human being, what I want for you is just to be you. And let's like, let's explore that. And I think it's a very important sort of meta note here to remember because he talked to some people going like, Well, what do you want for your kids? And it's like, all I want them to do this, this and this, it's like, Well, okay, well, what do you want? For them? Not for you? Yeah. Do you see that come up as well?

Ryan Walton 36:42

Yeah. I mean, absolutely. And I will say, you know, I have definitely things that are me focus in the sense that like, you know, one of my things is, and for us, both my wife and I, as we know, that our reaction to things is really going to be what dictates that day environment, right? Young children are working out so much. They're working out so much emotionally and physically and mentally. And so, there is a mantra that we have around just our ability to regulate and our reaction to things is being central, you know, to to what's going on our reaction to the hard moments, the celebratory moments how my four year old, my four year old daughter was, we signed up for soccer first, like team sport, like she'd ever done for first youth thing. She's so excited. Went to the soccer store. She got her shin guards, cleats, and she was like, just vibing out and like her soccer gear. She got there practice she's great practice little dribbles around. First game, first game, we walk over to the field, Red Cross Street from our house, everyone's in their uniforms. Just everyone watching this game. She looks out there and just goes, nope, and just went right over the sideline, and has sat for every game. All season long. She practices, she chooses him but she has refused to get in the game. Right. And internally, I'm a little frustrated. You signed up for soccer, we're going to all these practices what what is you she's great. She's there's nothing physically he shoot like, you know what I mean? And, and we're showing it and I feel bad that like she can't seven for these other players, right? There's all these things happening in me. And in my wife, we're like, what's going on? Like, why would she get in the game. But one of our managers has a family and our values as we show up, we show up for each other. So for her, she's not gonna play, we're gonna show up, we're gonna show up for our team. Even if she sits there. We're gonna show up and we're gonna cheer her on. And we're gonna celebrate every movement towards like participation, right? And along the way, it was really important for us to communicate to her again, focusing on the relationship, play or not play. We love you. We love you. And we're not we're not expressing disappointment in her as a person, because she's not going in to the game. Right? Now. There is good news in this story, by the way, like on this last Friday, she got in the game for the first time. And she she did like nine minutes. It was amazing. We were all just like, you know, but I also reminded her afterward, you know, even though she got in and we were all really happy that she she never needed to do that thing to earn our love. Right. So again, always going back to what matters. I might have gotten off track from like our original question, but like,

Curt Storring 39:46

No, this has been, I love I love this. This is my favorite part so far. It's just like, let's get so real. And the such good examples of like how you do these guiding principles, these values. Like if you're listening to this right now ask yourself Do you have family values? Can you tell people what they are? Yeah, that's an important thing. Do you do you talk to your kids? Like very specifically about our family values are? Or is it mostly right now about like, just showing it?

Ryan Walton 40:12

You know, we can we have lines and phrases we use a lot. Hey, hey, we show up for each other. Hey, you know, I love we love, you know, like, no matter what are through all, you know, we have these phrases we use and now even they even know some of these phrases. It was funny, you know, there's the whole like, you know, Glennon Doyle, we can do hard things. Phrase on if you follow Glennon or anything like that, you know, she has this she's a New York Times bestselling author, She's incredible. But yes, we can do hard things phrase, it's kind of become. And we'll use that sometimes. And I, you know, remember the other night, my four year old daughter repeating that back to me, when I was struggling through something, she's like, No dad, and you can do hard things. And we, my wife, and I both like each other. And just like, we could tell, we were just busting up kind of laughing internally, but also like, oh my gosh, like these little phrases they do here that they do sink in. And so we do repeat those we don't have like, abdominal wall anywhere or written down officially. But I think there are phrases we use that do sink in with our kids.

Curt Storring 41:10

Yeah. And I think that's just the perfect balance. I think if you got them written down, it might be a little bit overkill. Yeah, but living them is the best teacher, as you say they they pick it up anyway. I would love just in the last sort of 10 minutes, we've gotten together to talk about your story, you wrote a post on your website, daring to dad.com called My journey out of evangelicalism. And we've touched on it in this before. And I don't want to go into the whole story because people can read that. And I encourage them to do so. But it did tie into some themes we've been talking about on this podcast, the last three or four episodes, which are doing hard things, like you just mentioned, and identity shifts. I just talked to former pro baseball player, and he was telling me about just how difficult it was to step out of this life as a baseball player and become like, well, who was he took him, you know, years of soul searching to find out who he was below all of that doing, who he actually was in the being. And so my question is sort of twofold. How did you process the decision making to be like, well, this doesn't align anymore? And then how did you go about finding your identity? If there was this sort of, you know, blowing up explosion of identity at that time?

Ryan Walton 42:25

Yeah. You know, I would say this, as well, you know, this journey for me is a decade plus, this is yours. This isn't just like, you know, one moment for any one thing and, you know, six months later, or whatever. This is a long process. You know, I was, I became a pastor in my early 20s, I finished college, I went to like a Christian university, took a job as a pastor right out of college, moved to Northern California, and was like, you know, I kind of joked that I, I started a church when I probably should have gone to therapy. But that's where we're at. And I was doing this work really early and moved to Northern California, and I don't live in a huge city, but a city big enough to be like really diverse. And I was living in downtown. On my own, it was really the first time I'd been on my own. And I began to experience different kinds of people and interact with different cultures than I'd ever really experienced before. And it was like, slowly beginning to get brick by brick out of this Doundation that I had built on who I what I thought the world was, and meeting people who I learned were, and the other or the sinner, even maybe sometimes the enemy and we're going to meet people. And I was like wait a second, hold on these stories. I was told about this type of person of ours not true. What else? What else? What else have I not been told? And Brick by Brick just began to kind of take back that foundation and it was beautiful and devastating, devastating, you know, for to like identity who I thought I was. And it would this was this disrupted my identity like that I had attached myself to but it was also like, my vocation. Like my, all my relationships, kind of my place in the world. Everything I'd studied and like spent four years going to college to be doing. All these kinds of things just crumbled, just crumbled. And it was so it was very devastating. really thankful during the times that I felt kind of spirit I found religious and kind of spiritual communities on the margins, who I always thought were like crazy free You know, and I always thought I was like knocking at their door like, Hey, I'm here now, you know, can I come in? And can we chat? I'm really grateful for those spaces. But yeah, it was really hard. And I looked to a lot of things to find identity and to wrestle with those things. Even like, in my marriage, you know, we got married when I was in my early 20s, we dated, got married all within these, this type of community. So it was my kind of spiritual deconstruction, or religious deconstruction involved someone else right and evolved early on, you know, children and all these types of things. And yeah, the identity shifting is really hard, you know, no matter what, and to your point, like with a lot of men, when am changing jobs, retiring, becoming a parent shifts and identities can be really, really hard. And it was definitely like that for me. And it's been a it's been a very, very long journey.

Curt Storring 46:02

Yeah, thank you for sharing that. Are there any tools that you use for yourself? Just to like, your, your whole world has been blown apart? Now. Devastating, I think was a word you said? Yeah. What do you do? Like you start going to these sort of so called fringe groups, but like, how do you find out who you truly are? Because I'm guessing and you can tell me if this is wrong, but you probably don't identify as you know, you were evangelical. And now you're like this other thing? You're probably more like, I'm Ryan. Is that? Is that safe to say? Yeah. I mean, what kind of things can you do to go there?

Ryan Walton 46:34

Yeah. Well, sometimes it's really easy. And for a lot of people who are going through any type of like religious, you know, deconstruction type of thing, where there's questions beginning to rise, we immediately want to go grab the next thing, right? Because all of a sudden, we were like, addicted to finding this identity outside of ourselves. This one thing gave us identity for so long, that's not there anymore. I need to run and find something else quick. Right? I need I need to find another label something I can, like, gravitate towards, right. The problem is, a lot of times, what we do is we take ourselves, and the stories we're telling just to that next thing, right? We if we came from a fundamentalist thing, and we never actually explore like who we are, we're just gonna take our fundamentalism and put it on something else. I've seen this happen, like, a lot of people will really leave like religious fundamentalism, and they'll become activists, and they're like, fundamental activists, but you're like, equally not as fun. You know, it's like, we if we don't stop, and we don't actually reclaim some power in our lives and agency over our lives, right, we just take it to the next thing. And so, you know, in the work I do with people around religious deconstruction, again, we pause, we stop, and we ask deeper questions about our own desires, our own stories, our own narratives, our own inner workings, right. So that whatever is we whatever context we do walk into next, we walk in with a new perspective and a grounding in our own in ourselves in our experience, right. So we can walk into those with a more expansive view of the world a more expansive view of ourselves. And I find that that is, is as been helpful and healthy for people. So I think that that's part of that's part of the work and identity, whatever it is, right? So you're in a place where you lost a job, or you're going through a career change, or you're retiring, you know, your former baseball player, you know, whatever, athlete, I've been making those big things. That's a real time to get curious about yourself and your own story, right? And to make that your next, you know, exploration, right, so that whatever you do find, you're going to walk into really clear on who you are and what it is that you want, and what it is that you desire in the world and what kind of life you want to live.

Curt Storring 48:57

Yeah, yeah, thank you for that. And this brings to mind, probably the last thing we'll get into, yeah, why it's so hard to sit with yourself, you're attached to this thing, that's not you, you're attached to, you know, you move it on to the next thing. So that at least you know, the way I think about it, so you don't have to sit with who you truly are. Because you might not be comfortable with that you might not like what you see. And that speaking of sort of principles, guiding principles, and one of the thing I thought for my own children, is, let me help them develop their sense of self worth and confidence, so much so that they're never worried about tying their identity to an opinion, or to you know, something else in the world. So is there anything on that sort of last point that comes to you does that does that ring true? And it's just so hard to sit when you're uncomfortable with yourself? And you got to do this work to get there?

Ryan Walton 49:49

Yeah, like the idea of sitting with yourself was uncomfortable, you know, like, doing it. It's a whole other like Jedi level. Yeah, because it's so easy and even pop Hitler, and it's even rewarded in culture to like, blame something else. And don't get me wrong, like, there are structures and powers in place that are like shitty and need to be torn down, right? Whatever. And pick, pick your scapegoat, it's easy to say, Oh, we want to we want to in America, we want to blame Donald Trump, we want to blame, you know, when we're playing this political party, we want to blame X, Y, or Z, right? And, you know, the culture, social media, all these rewards are moral outrage on those things, right. But when we sit with ourselves to what here's, here's what it does, when we sit with ourselves, when we claim responsibility, and ownership, when we sit with what is we have radically shifted our ability to make impact, because we're blaming all these other things, right? We're basically saying it's, it's these things that are responsible for changing, it's these things that are responsible for the shift that, you know, to make me and everybody else happy. But when we sit with ourselves, and what is and the reality of stuff, all of a sudden, we're we're reclaiming the power, right? An example could be because I find that these examples are healthy or helpful. One a an exercise I know, my coaches have led me through and I've I take this practice to even my clients and stuff is just to do an exercise where Tell me about your current state and your current barriers that your face without any stories, say only the facts. Only the facts. Don't Don't interpret them. No, no interpretation, no stories. Tell me the facts. What actually is what can you prove in a court of law of what your current status? And sometimes in doing that when we get to the reality of what is without all the interpretations, stories or putting things around? All of a sudden, it's like, oh, okay, this is what is. And this is what I'm responsible for. Right? Because if we can take responsibility for it, we, we can take responsibility for changing it. If that makes sense. Right? Okay. I find that to be incredibly empowering. So sitting with yourself and sitting with what is can actually be very restorative in our ability to make impact.

Curt Storring 52:28

Yes, that was exactly the missing point to my thought that I was needing. I didn't know I needed. Thank you for going. Yeah, yeah, it reminds me the question on one of the questions and Byron Katie's the work. If you know, listening, if you've ever heard that, one of the things she asked you to do with your thoughts are to ask, is this true? And if you're like, Yeah, it's true. Then the next question is, are you 100%? Sure, it's absolutely objectively, you know, impossible without a shred of a doubt true? And the answer is always like, Well, no, I can't like really know that because nobody can know that. And from that place of, like, okay, no story, then exactly, you're right, you get to take responsibility for it. And it's not, what I like to say is, it's not your fault. Like all the wounds, all the traumas that you react to from your past childhood, whatever, that's not your fault. But you are the only one responsible for doing anything about it. And like you said, it's the only way to make change. So if you're not satisfied with something in your life, or the world, take responsibility for it, see what happens.

Ryan Walton 53:26

Yeah, it's, it's so true. Because, you know, for many of us, and, and trauma aside, you know, I make sure like, I'm not I'm not a therapist, not trauma therapist, not my area of expertise, right. But so many of us are, like walking around as a, like, with this big, like, look what happened to me, sign on us. This is what happened to me, right? I was this I was that, or I used to be there or whatever, right? And we're walking around with that even like, we show up at work like, oh, it was, Oh, my kids weren't getting ready on time. And it didn't make the bed and oh, the traffic was terrible. And oh, they got my coffee order wrong. And I'm my boss is terrible to me. Oh, look at all these things happening to me. Right? And we're constantly walking around with this. The, the power, you know, my joy, my ability to impact is based on all these other things that are happening to me. Right? But when we can sit with ourselves, we continue to take ownership and flip those things. Okay. How are you taking responsibility for all that where you know, game changer, game changer?

Curt Storring 54:32

Yeah, one of the questions I like to ask myself is how am I complicit in creating the conditions I find myself in? Oh, man, like, Oh, yeah.

Ryan Walton 54:42

That's a that's a big one you gotta care without can lead to all sorts of craziness. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. I love that.

Curt Storring 54:48

So okay, we're at the top of the hour now and you got to run. What? Give us just a quick overview of what you do. Men will have heard this in the intro, which I'm going to record in a moment. But what do you do and where can people Find you.

Ryan Walton 55:01

Yes. I am a certified coach and I work with men and fathers to deepen your own experience and impact on the world. I work one on one and I do some occasional groups and things like that you can find information about that. I'm daring to Dad calm I'm probably most active and probably on Instagram way too much but daring to dads my social my instagram handle I'm on there a lot talking and just sharing my own experience and thoughts on fatherhood, masculinity, faith, all those things. So that's where I'm at

Curt Storring 55:42

amazing daring to dad.com and on Instagram, okay, yeah, Ryan, this has been so much fun. I really loved sort of the flow we got into talking about you know, your own children and just your story and very much appreciate the vulnerability and going there so thanks, man. It's been a joy.

Ryan Walton 55:57

Absolutely.

Curt Storring 56:05

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 di d dot w o RK slash pod. type that into your browser just like a normal URL, Dad dot work slash 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.

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