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Today’s guest is Shana James.

We go deep talking about:

  • How men can become more emotionally available
  • The difference between an emotional dump and an emotional share
  • Our invisible influences and how it impacts others
  • Trusting your intuition
  • Discerning your emotions in the moment
  • Expressing our emotions in a constructive way
  • Staying connected to our partners in the heat of an emotional breakdown
  • Suicidal thoughts in men
  • Depression as a result of not opening up, and
  • Balancing our emotions with our masculinity without getting lost

For 15 years Shana has coached more than a thousand leaders, CEOs, authors, speakers and people with big visions who step into more powerful leadership, start and grow businesses, create more effective teams, increase their impact, get promoted, find love, rekindle spark, create a legacy, and become more personally inspired and fulfilled.

She’s been known for her ability to assess, in just a few minutes, the cause of dissatisfaction and stuck points in your profession and love life. Then she creates a clear and unique path for you to have true success and incredible love.

Referred to as a secret weapon, she cuts through distraction and provides direct access to your confidence, power and clarity. She’s also a translator between women and men, providing effective tools to transform conversations and dynamics that have gone awry into connection and collaboration.

With an M.A. in psychology, DISC certification, Coaching training, more than a decade facilitating groups and workshops, starting multiple businesses and helping hundreds of entrepreneurs start their own, her range of skills is unlike many other coaches.

Mentioned on this episode:

The Great Man Within Podcast

Authentic Man Program

The Man Alive Podcast

Find Shana online at:


3 Ways Men Lose Influence at Work and With Women:


The Man Alive Podcast:

Curt Storring 0:00

Welcome to the Dad.Work podcast. My name is Curt Storring, your host and the founder of Dad.Work. Welcome to episode number 47. With my guest Shana James, we go deep today talking about how men can become more emotionally available. The difference between an emotional dump and an emotional share are invisible influences and how they impact others. trusting your intuition, discerning your emotions in the moment, expressing your emotions in a constructive way. Staying connected to your partner in the heat of an emotional breakdown, suicidal thoughts and men, depression as a result of not opening up and balancing our emotions with our masculinity without getting lost for 15 years, Shana has coached more than 1000 leaders, CEOs, authors, speakers and people with big visions who step into more powerful leadership start and grow businesses create more effective teams increase their impact, get promoted, find love, rekindle Spark, create a legacy and become more personally inspired and fulfilled. She's been known for her ability to assess in just a few minutes the cause of dissatisfaction and stuck points in your professional and love life. Then she creates a clear and unique path for you to have true success and incredible love. Referred to as a secret weapon. She cuts through distraction and provides direct access to your confidence, power and clarity. She's also a translator between women and men providing effective tools to transform conversations and dynamics that have gone awry into connection and collaboration. With an MA in psychology, disc certification coaching training more than a decade facilitating groups and workshops, starting multiple businesses and helping hundreds of entrepreneurs start their own range of skills is unlike many other coaches. You can find more about Shana online at That's SHANAJAMESCOACHING.COM She also has a free guide for you to download which is called 3 Ways Men Lose Influence at Work and With Women. You can find that at shanajamescoaching/threeways the number three and then wa y s find her on Facebook at true success for men and you can listen to her podcast the man life podcast and her website or finding an apple or wherever else, you get your podcast. I first heard about Shana on The Green Man Within P odcast with Dominick Quartuccio and I ended up listening to her TED Talk. And it was just fantastic in the way that she describes how men are suffering because we don't open up because we do not have emotional intelligence or as she says emotional availability. And so I think you'll learn a lot about why it's okay to have emotions as men how to process them, how to start to become more emotionally available, and how to use those skills to deepen your relationship and to expand your love life in ways that you probably don't even think are possible right now. And I love sharing this kind of thing. Because this type of work has been instrumental in my relationship over the last number of years in just deepening that and finding what a true partnership can look like, rather than a partnership where you feel like one side is giving too much one side is taking there's a bit of resentment building. All those are terrible ways to have relationship and so I was excited to dig into all of this with Shana. And with that being said, We're gonna jump right in with this episode number 47 With Shana James, here we go.

All right, I am here with Shana James, I am extremely excited to talk to you I heard about you first on the great man within podcast with my friend Dominic core to Chico and just loved what you're laying down with Dominic. So thank you so much for sharing your wisdom with the guys here at the Dad.Work podcast. Thank you so much for having me. Yeah, and the overarching theme of this conversation I'm hoping is going to be emotional intelligence. And this is something that we talk about a lot on this podcast and it's never something we've really dived deep into how do you even become emotionally intelligent because for a lot of guys, it's like either it feels weak or they've just like no idea where to even go Yeah, so the maybe the place to start is like why is this such a hard thing for us? Why is it a black box? Yeah, man to like not feel their emotions. Can you just go go there first go there.

Shana James 4:03

Yeah, well, first of all, I just love the synchronicity. So I have a year long program for men and right now the module this month is I'm calling it emotional availability. And but I talked about emotional intelligence within it because you know, in a way emotional intelligence is that the capacity to notice and you know, experience your own emotions. And then with availability, I talked about it as okay then being able to communicate those emotions to someone else. And then also to receive somebody else's emotions, right, which can be really hard as a man to see and experience like the intensity of women's emotions because we tend to have a wider range or we tend to be more expressive. Now you just asked Right? Like, why is it that men don't often feel comfortable or don't tend to express as much emotionally I mean, when I look at the history, and coaches and parents and

I just want to I want to express the difference between like an emotional dump this has been really really helpful for the men I've worked with, and emotional dump and an emotional let's call it like, an emotional share. Right? And so I think this is where with women, it can also go wrong or go wacky. So if you're expressing your emotion and you're like, oh my god, I'm falling apart I need you to save me or fix me. That tends to evoke more reaction than if you're like, wow, you know, I'm sad and you're you could cry, you could feel whatever you're feeling but you again, you're not needing to be fixed or saved. That creates a very different response usually. And so as a man I would just think about right like, I think also because there isn't a lot of experience or practice with it sometimes if you're feeling emotions, you might go to like, Oh my God, I don't even know if I'm okay. I don't know what's wrong with me. Is there something horrible happening and so that's a great place to either right work with you with Curt or work with me or a therapist or someone to get yourself to the place where you can express without thinking, Oh, God, you know, I'm going to fall apart. This is going to be horrible. Everything's gonna go wrong for me. Your whatever your worst case scenario thoughts are, so that then when you're in a relationship with someone you love, right, the stakes aren't as high when you're practicing with us, and then you can bring it back to that really important relationship.

Curt Storring 10:13

Yes, thank you for jumping in. That's such a good point. And this is like, really impacted my life too. I learned how to do this through a lot of practice. And one of the teachers I followed, his name is John Weinland. And he's being able to hold the container of your own emotions and feminine side so that you can then hold it for other people in the storm. And you're not doing what you said, which is of this emotional dump out of control. And what I find is men usually go there, when they let it build. It's like, there's this relief release valve where they just can't hold it in, and then it just all comes out. And so I've been encouraging the men in my groups to just go there sooner, like they bring the problem to me with the relationship. So have you talked about this? It's like, well, no, not really. It's like, Well, dude, just like start the small conversation, ask questions, get curious. Yes, for us how you're feeling? So is that sort of like a healthy way to do it? In your experience? Yeah,

Shana James 11:10

that you're Yeah, I love that you're having them do that, right? Instead of like, it builds a build a build, because of the shame of I shouldn't say this, or there's something wrong with me. Or maybe I'm not manly. If I'm having these questions or feelings come up. I love what you said, right? You know, start small, I have this memory. It's gonna sound like a non sequitur. But I promise it ties back, I have this memory of being in my garden one day, and like, having watched the kale plants grow to like seven feet tall. And there was so there was, and there were blackberries and thorns, and everything was just like, totally out of control. And I was getting poked and bleeding. And I was like, if I had done this months ago, right, if I had addressed this, instead of letting it get out of control, I wouldn't be bloody right now. So it's like, you know, when you can say something, when it's small, it goes a lot better because there's less tension and fear and resentment built up. And then we actually can be in a little bit more of a grounded place as we're communicating that emotion instead of, I'm totally overtaken by this emotion. And I'm right, like, in my own bloody experience with it. Yeah, it goes a little better.

Curt Storring 12:18

Yeah, I love that. Just a visual metaphor there of just being in the garden overwhelmed, cuts everywhere dirty. It's like, Oh, why didn't I do this earlier? That's exactly, yeah. Yeah. Okay, I want to give guys like, motivation, I guess. Like, maybe let's dangle a carrot for some of the men who are just like, Well, no, sounds like a lot of work. Like that might be, you know, feminine. Like, I don't know what think about this. And, you know, thankfully, in this audience, most guys have done some work on this. But for the guys who are like not quite there, what are some of the benefits that you've seen with the men that you work with? Who really try and embody this and share their emotions become available? What kind of life do they live? When they

Shana James 12:57

do? Such a good question I just had so many flashes go through. I mean, one flash that just went through is a man who I've been working with who and this happens for a lot of them who are, you know, starting over after a long term relationship or divorced and allowing themselves to share, like, Hey, I'm not in the most clear place right now. Right? Like, you know, I can be with you. And I might have a lot of feelings coming up. And, you know, just just being more honest and vulnerable about their humanity, I would say, as opposed to like, I'm the rock, I'm the dude, I got it together, I got to show you that I'm super confident and great at everything. And, and what they bring back to me is that the women are like, holy shit, like, I've always want this is what a lot of the women say, I've always wanted a man who could actually open up with me, you know, who's still strong and clear. And like you said, God his own back or has his own container, but like, really lets me in and shares what's going on. So I've seen women kind of start to fall for the men in this way. And I'm like, please use this superpower for good because, you know, it's, it's, it's powerful. And, and then I often like to bring it back to the bedroom because I think sex is a very concrete way to see what's happening, or feel what's happening. And so what I find is that, you know, because emotions are actually a part of your visceral experience, if you're shutting down your emotions, you're the pleasure and ecstasy and connection that you can experience in sex will be very dull compared to what you can experience if you are opening to everything, all the energy, emotions, sensations that are moving through you. Right, you'll actually have a much wider range of pleasure and experience and I think you can't really get to those, you know, places of union and ecstasy and like magic and transformation. No healing that happened in sex, unless you're actually able to open that, that channel of emotions.

Curt Storring 15:07

Yeah, and I would have had no idea what you're talking about there with, you know, the ecstasy and all that kind of stuff, I would have had no idea I would have thought it was full of shit, like even a year ago. And the work that I've been doing has really shown itself in this realm specifically, with like, transcendent experiences. And that's like, Oh, my God, like everyone ought feel this way, or have the opportunity to feel this way. Because it's not just like this, the thing that we do and sort of enjoy and then go about our ways, it's like this connection that is so deep to both each other, but also like the universe, spirit. And that's, like, extremely exciting, and I had no idea was even there. So you

Shana James 15:49

become talking about that. Right? Like, is it it's hard to describe what that is and how to get there. But you know, the emotions to me are, are one of the main doorways, I would say.

Curt Storring 15:59

Right? Okay, so men can have women fall for them have better side? What, what about leadership? Because I know that this is an area you work with, too? What does it look like outside the bedroom? And in the boardroom? So to speak?

Shana James 16:15

Yes, yeah, one of the things I talk about are the invisible influences, right, and how we impact and influence people without even realizing it way beyond the words we say or the things we do. And so when you are actually tuned into your emotions, you can then you can attune to other people as well. Right. And so I've talked with a lot of men who they have gotten promotions, or they've, you know, had deals that they navigated that were about to follow apart. And yet they had that sense of like, Hey, I think there's something that isn't being said, or there's something going on for you, or I'm like, in touch with my gut instinct. And there's something going on here that we really need to address. So I would say, you know, it supports trust and respect and collaboration, therefore, and so leadership becomes much more human. I don't know if you know about the Aristotle projects that Google did a while ago, and it was like, what did they call it? It wasn't emotional safety. Maybe it was emotional safety, basically, like the thing that had teams be most effective and most collaborative was some if it wasn't emotional safety. That's that was the gist of it. Right, that people could feel safe to actually be who they are, and bring what's real and going on for them to work, as opposed to having to compartmentalize that and leave that at home. And so it has a really big impact on leadership as well.

Curt Storring 17:48

Hmm. Right. That's something that a previous guest Larry Hagman brought up he says, he's trying to create psychological safety,

Shana James 17:55

psychological safety, I think that's, but that's in part of it. A big part of it is the emotions right? That not that you and Brene Brown talks about this? It's not that you like, you know, oh, now I'm being vulnerable. And I'm going to go into my office and cry every day. But the depth of what we experience in life is really often communicated much more in what we feel than what we think. Hmm,

Curt Storring 18:20

yes. And I, again, have experienced that because of a lot of hard work and a lot of pain, and a lot of doing it the other way. Yeah. And so like, like I say this all the time on this, on this podcast, like the message here is one of hope. Because if you're not there yet, like I just I was hurting so bad. And I thought that there was just like, no way to carry on. Like, I knew the statistics, I knew that fatherless children and families were terrible, statistically. And still, I thought I was worse than being. And so from that point, I'm now sort of starting to be able to experience these things you're talking about, and like, sit with the gut feeling and use intuition. And yeah, just have like, transcendent relationships. And so like anyone listening, this is fundamental. This is so much of the work that we do here. And so I'm just so excited talking about this stuff. It's so

Shana James 19:12

you, you're showing how possible it is that you're a living example, you know, as a man, I can talk about all the work I've done with men, and you know, it's been 20 years, there's a lot of men, and I'm not in a man's body or hormones or chemistry. So you know, you're a living example of what's possible.

Curt Storring 19:29

Yeah, thank you. I would like to know now that we've like, set it up. This is a nice, slow, easy pitch for all the men who are like, okay, Sign me up. What the hell do they even do? I'm sure there's like a million places to start. So perhaps like a broad overview, whether that's baby steps, whether that's practices. Yeah, that's getting help, like, where do men go to start the journey of developing this emotional awareness, intelligence, availability, whatever you would like to add to the end of emotion? Yes, right.

Shana James 20:00

Well, men's groups are a great way to do this, especially men's groups that really focus on you know, the emotional aspect not just the masterminding or business aspects. So that's a great way to do it working with me or a coach is a great way to do it. And you can start on your own by one of the practices I love to give my clients is asking, Okay, what are you feeling right now? And so you listening, right? You can you can check in and say, Okay, what am I feeling right now? And usually, the answer is, Well, I think I feel or even just, I think that dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, you know, these things are happening in life. And, and so what you can start to do is realize, okay, there are these layers, right? My thoughts are one layer, my emotions, or another layer, my sensations in my body or another layer. And so if you can start to pair, the emotional experience, and you get familiar with like, the basics, right? I'm mad, sad, happy, scared. You know, there's, there's a couple more, but those are the basics, if you can just start to pair that with whatever you're thinking about. Or you can kind of discern, okay, I'm having these thoughts. So if I go back to what am I feeling right now? And what are the actual sensations in my body? And it can take a while. I mean, I imagine you've done a lot of this, Curt. So it's like it can take can take five or 10 minutes of sitting there, or it can take months or years for I've had men, you know, take months to me. Oh, that feeling of burning in my chest? Like, that's shame or that knot in my stomach? Oh, that's fear. You know, and so yeah, I imagine for you, too, right? Like, how do you start to sense not just think about life? And what's going on for you?

Curt Storring 21:47

Yeah. Do you ever use the feeling wheel or the emotion wheel? By Gottman? I think it is.

Shana James 21:52

Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it's great, right? To just have a sense, like to even have in front of you, I used to have that on the refrigerator for my kid when my kid was younger, like, okay, you know, this is what's going on. These are the feelings. And here are the options. Or here's what we can do about this, right? I remember, it was like, you know, get a hug, or punch a pillow, or all these different options in that case, right for how do we express our emotions in a healthy way. But first, we have to even be able to track Oh, this is what's going on in my body and in my heart,

Curt Storring 22:26

right? Okay. So the first step seems to be just self awareness, which I usually put as my first, like, anything that I do with any of the dads working with us, it's like, start noticing your feelings in your body. And then again, like you said, sort of map them to an emotion. Because this is typically where it is like, I would feel rage in my gut and the central column sort of below my heart, it would, it would feel like it was curling in on itself. So like, I got very specific with this feeling. Yeah, and I could see it coming a mile away now. And that's another benefit that I found is just when I feel more deeply, and when I'm more aware of my own physiological reaction. Yeah, I can notice before it gets to that breaking point where I go up and yell at my kids. So this is like, fundamental, do the work to get more clear on how you feel with self awareness with meditation? Do you do any other practices like mindfulness or breath work or anything like that with the men you work with?

Shana James 23:26

Yeah, I do a lot of mindfulness and a lot of, you know, call it inquiry, just kind of inquiring into what's here in this moment, especially when situations are challenging. And I practice it myself too, because my child for whatever reason, you know, we were put together in ways that we really agitate each other. And so I often find myself overwhelmed in my child's presence. And, you know, I have to do a lot of witnessing and kind of internal meditation, to not explode and to not react, right? And to make a request of like, hey, you know, like you said, okay, if I'm feeling this kind of rage or irritation inside, if I tune in and start to notice that and then realize, okay, I don't want to communicate from that place. But I can start to make a request or communicate, right, so now we're kind of going further down the road of, alright, our emotions can actually lead us to know, oh, there's something I need here. Or I need something to change here or, right. I want something here. I don't know if I just answered your question. But yes, right. So you can start to meditate and use mindfulness practices breath work is another amazing way. plant medicines are an amazing way but breath work, to not have to necessarily ingest anything breath work, you can really titrate your own experience. So you can start to feel emotions. And if you if you get overwhelmed by it, you could always just stop the intensity of the breathing. And come back and write and then keep working with it.

Curt Storring 24:58

Yeah, can we go to the needs and the boundaries and what our emotions are showing, because this is such a huge point, like, I think and you said made a request, which reminded me of nonviolent communication by Marshall Rosenberg. And one of the things that's coming up for me is like, he suggests in that book that you can use anger as like an alarm clock to wake us up when a need isn't yet and when we're acting in a way that it makes it unlikely to be met. So could you talk a little bit about that? Like how emotions can actually pinpoint underlying needs?

Shana James 25:30

Yes, emotions underlying needs, okay, well, the first layer that's coming up for me too, is that in one of my practices, when you can get in touch with your emotions, you can also experience the qualities of you that we sometimes disown. So I think about anger, when I'm experiencing my anger, and I can take the content out of it, or I can just set it aside for the moment. One of the things that I get in touch with is strength, right, I get in touch with strength, I get in touch with clarity, I get in touch with like fierceness or loyalty or dedication. And so that's another reason to like, it's these underlying aspects or qualities that we aren't necessarily always expressing or that we might have a hard time expressing our emotions give us access to those. So that's a slightly different than the underlying needs. But I think we do have a need to be, you know, to feel strong, or to feel expressed or even to feel loved or to feel supported to feel our hearts. And so right if we don't make ourselves wrong for the emotions that are arising there, you know, if we had to call it compassionate curiosity, right, if we're compassionately curious about, oh, I'm feeling sad, right now. I wonder what's going on that's causing the sadness. I'm feeling misunderstood. And, again, if we don't make ourselves wrong about, oh, well, if I'm feeling misunderstood, that means I'm weak or I'm wrong, or I'm high maintenance, or I should be some other way, then we could just simply have a conversation, right? Where we say, Oh, I noticed, I'm feeling a little sad. And I feel, you know, going back to that conversation we had yesterday where actually, I noticed I feel misunderstood. And it becomes a lot simpler. And I'm not saying it's easy, because I still have a hard time with this. You know, even in my romantic relationship to sometimes get those words out, is really challenging. But you know, the emotions definitely take us from that layer of heady should be this way or having expectations and to just like, Okay, what is actually happening in my heart and in my body? And in this, this visceral moment, right here?

Curt Storring 27:40

Yeah, so much good in that. And when you said, not to make it wrong, I had even written a note like, Okay, make sure you come back and say, like, there's no judgement here. Just nailed it there, because that's where a lot of guys get held up. It's like, okay, I feel sad. Oh, and, like, you know, sadness is weak sadness for pussies. Like, I can't feel sad. What it takes practice, like that's another thing I'm hearing is you just got to keep showing up and doing the reps, because it gets easier. And then where are some of the best ways to practice because like, some men might only have their partners. And I don't imagine that's like the best place to try out the like, newest fangled ways. And you still got to be able to do the practice with your partner or elsewhere. So I know, you've mentioned men's group you mentioned, like coaching with yourself,

Shana James 28:27

and it might have as a human practice partner, or like a woman factor. Like that's what I love doing is like, Oh, we get to practice and I get to love you in those places where you feel shame or embarrassment or awkwardness, right? And yes, you can do it with friends. You could be the one who goes first and says to a guy, friend, hey, I noticed I'm feeling some emotions. And I'm having a little bit of, you know, shame or embarrassment around it. But I'm wondering if we could talk about it, right? Or would you be open because oftentimes, men, from what I've seen, like, if you open up the doorway, they might not go first. They might not say to you first, just like you haven't said to them first, hey, I'm feeling you know, some of these feelings. But we all have them. That was one of the things I learned from 20 years ago or so when I started working with the authentic man program as a woman coach, and it rocked my world because I really got to see behind, you know, 1000s of men, and whatever masks or facades, I was like, Oh, my God, everybody is tender. Everybody is struggling in some way. Everybody has longings and fears and like that it's just not. It's not gendered. You know, it's very, very human.

Curt Storring 29:45

Yeah, and that's one of the things that I have been meaning or have continued to say and have been saying, on on purpose is that like, if you are a man, you are there for a human. Yeah. And if you're a human, you have emotions. Like come on, guys. This is not like some special thing, where only the weak men have emotions and the real man like, are just rocks inside and wondering why their life sucks, like, deep down inside you think you're a rock trust me like that's how I was for a long time. And I was just completely empty. unsatisfied. No drive no purpose, like, sucked. felt cool on the outside and when people thought I was stuff but

Shana James 30:18

right, but then inside? Yeah, it's only still paying. Yeah.

Curt Storring 30:23

What? How do we bring this to our partners? So we've been practicing maybe we've been like secretly meditating for a couple months for like, I think I feel think I feel joy, I think I feel like embarrassment. How do we start bringing this to our partners, especially if this is not part of our relationship? And maybe your wife your partner at once this? Maybe she's on unexpecting of it? Is there a way that sort of gentle to start bringing this? Because of course this is where like the minds are, these are where our most trusted human relationship likely are? Who knows our so called weaknesses or tender sore spots? Yeah. How do you coach men to start having relationship or conversations in their relationship with their partners?

Shana James 31:04

Yeah. Well, I love the call it kind of the meta conversation or the the conversation about the conversation or the conversation about relationship dynamics, you know, because oftentimes, we'll be in the middle of something. And if it goes down in a way that doesn't feel good, and we try to like talk about it, but the emotions are high. So I love setting the context and having couples set a context of, hey, there's something that I've been exploring, you know, could we explore this together, or, Hey, I am really practicing, being more aware of my emotions. And I would love if we could do that together, because I noticed and you can give a kind of buy in again, like, I noticed that when I get really upset, I've often said things that I'm not proud of, or I've done something that hasn't felt good, I've walked out of the room, or I've treated you in a way that hasn't felt good. And so what I'm really attempting to do is stay more connected with you. And it might look a little messy and be a little weird at first, but could we could we try that together?

Curt Storring 32:11

Yeah, amazing. That sounds like you're inviting vulnerability and messiness. And just like, I'm not really sure about this, but it doesn't blame you're not immediately going for the jugular with like, Oh, I just realized that you make me feel this way. Right. And, yeah, that's a very gentle approach. I love that.

Shana James 32:29

Anytime you're saying you make me feel any way I would say, oh, you know, if you don't get slapped or punched or wood or something, like you're, you're gonna get some kind of retreat or some kind of upset. But

Curt Storring 32:42

yeah, you're Yeah, there's a very important side point there that nobody makes you feel anything. It's completely your responsibility for your own emotions and your reactions, which is why we do this work in the first place, right? And

Shana James 32:53

kids, your kids come back, and they're like, mom, or dad, I don't make you don't start using our word all

Curt Storring 33:01

the time. Yeah. All the time. Yeah. Yeah, um, the next thing I want to talk about is just like the risks, the risks that go along with this. And like, I could go extremely deep. And I hope that we'll have time for some more questions here. But I want to know, the risk because you said in your TEDx talk, you know, to men suicide, let's just start there. Because we've now seen, like, the possibilities, we've got a little glimpse of what it might look like to bring it into the relationship. But what if we don't? What can happen? What have you seen happen?

Shana James 33:31

Yeah, I mean, suicide is it's, it's so sad to me to see that a lot of men feel isolated. And if they don't feel suicidal, there's a sense of like, some part of me is dying inside, right? Or some part of me is feeling so unseen or misunderstood, and that life feels gray or dim, or, you know, just depressing are depleting. And are you said that yourself, right, that you went through a period of feeling? Yeah, like so much intensity, I want to put words in your mouth, but that sense of it gets dark from what I've seen for men, and it's scary, and it's something that I don't want, you know, for any man to have to experience. And so I think oftentimes, if you're a man out there who's listening and you're like, wow, I've felt depressed or depleted or even like, part of me is dead inside. A lot of the fear is that I've heard from men is like, well, if I open up and I feel something, it'll never stop. And often what I've seen is it's kind of the opposite depression and that heavy, dull place is more consistent as a result of not opening up and not expressing and so you know, I think there really is an incentive if you're feeling down or you're feeling like some part of you is dying to find a safe place, you know, start to find a place where you can open up those crevices and really see because that's where your vitality as to when we shut the door we shut turn the dial down on any part of us, the rest of us suffers as well.

Curt Storring 35:09

Yeah, that brings to mind the phrase, name it to tame it, as well as feel it to heal it. And they're just like, you know, little sayings that get tossed around in this kind of work all the time. But man, is it ever, like potent and vital to do that I experienced that in men's groups so many times where a man was like, Oh, should I say this? Should I talk to my partner about this? Hums and hot and all this justification, like logically flawless? Yeah. And then he goes in like shares, and it's like, oh, man, that was the best decision ever, like, weight off my shoulder I open now I can focus my energy elsewhere. Are you seeing this with the guys you work with?

Shana James 35:47

Yeah, right, like so much more energy freed up to focus on life and relationship. And, you know, the other side effect is that I've seen a lot of men who have been left or the women have been saying, I don't, I don't love you anymore. I don't feel love for you anymore. Right? If you're not feeling and you're not emotional, or having any kind of emotional, visceral experience, she's going to also feel dead and inside. And so it, you know, it can kill a relationship. And, and the other part, we're talking about incentive, as I've been, as I've been getting older, and working with men who are getting older, I often see that a man's erection is tied to having some kind of more emotional connection, the older he gets. And so there's often a sense of like, Oh, my God, you know, my body isn't working the same way it was. But oftentimes, when I talk to men about that, and we get in there, it's like, oh, I don't feel if you're feeling dead inside, right? Like, there isn't just even physically, there's not as much blood flow and vitality and energy moving through your body. And so if you're shutting down and constricting parts of you that could be expressed, it's going to impact your body and your sex life as well.

Curt Storring 37:08

Yeah, and that is such an important point, because I have heard the same thing with repeated porn use, for example, and men will just go like, Oh, well, I'm, you know, 40 plus now. And it's just how it goes. And I'll take something and figure it out. But it's very often from at least the guys I've talked to something that is numbing, or like you say deadening, whether you're taking action to numb with pornography use or something like that, in a way that's not sort of conscious and intentional. Or like you said, you've got this like lack of feeling, which is probably just burying and repressing all the things that you need to be feeling. And then there's like, yeah, it's just like a blocked pipe. And I don't mean to use the word in the phrase pipe in the situation, necessarily, but it's a good fit, I suppose. Yeah, yeah. Do you? Um, can you talk about the balance now between, like, the masculine strength and courage and getting shit done? And like not wanting to lose that, while then bringing in this like, feeling? Part of ourselves? Like, how can we balance these things without getting lost one way or the other?

Shana James 38:15

Yeah, that's a good one. I mean, part of what I've found, in my own practice, and working with men is, you know, there's two different kinds of will, there's more of a forced will. And then there's more of a innately driven or kind of like a will that bubbles up from inside us that doesn't that's not as exhausting and pressured and forceful. And so it can be a kind of odd shift. Because, right, you can start to feel like, Oh, if I'm not doing the super masculine, or if I actually make room for emotions, and somehow, I'm not going to get things done, or I'm not going to have that edge or that drive. And that edge and drive, you know, that they can be really great. And I also believe you can take the qualities of the edge and drive without having to, you know, over masculine eyes or like, right, like, I don't know, have to have it together all the time. Right? That's, that's when I see men working 6080 hours a week or even 40 hours a week and then putting in time with the kids and not having any replenishment and so, what I find for men who started to allow that emotion is it can be a challenging transition, because you may not feel like doing things at a certain time or you may work a little bit more slowly at times, but I think the trade off eventually when you get to that place of, of merging your capacity to be emotional and to be clear and thought and to be action oriented, right? It really its source says those parts of you at sources your action. So I don't know if that makes exact sense. You can ask me questions if I need to describe it more. But there is a way where I see men burn out from trying and forcing and pushing. And oftentimes, when you start to open up access to your emotions, or like you said, your gut and your intuition, it becomes more of a flow rather than a push.

Curt Storring 40:24

Yes, that is exactly that's spot on. That's like what I experienced. And so to hear that from you like the flow, yeah, that is the thing. And I sort of experienced the same thing. And what I like to do is like, I like to explore sort of extremes in a lot of these areas. So I was in like, a super flowy mode for probably six months earlier this year, late last year in a transitionary period between businesses. And I just like, did whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, and like almost nothing got done. And I'm very fortunate to be in a position where like, I can do that. Yeah. And it was so useful to be in that and just feel everything and like, go outside and be in nature and get that side of it. And then I was able to sort of shift back to the center of this pendulum, if you will, and operate in that so that I can access my get shit done badass self when I need it. And also then, like, get into the flow state. And one of the things I just want to challenge guys listening to if you think that being in the flow state is not very strong or tough. I was doing a breathwork session one time, and I was sort of judging my own feelings. And the facilitator said, Do strong men do hard things? That's like, Well, yeah, and she's like, what could be harder than sitting with your emotions right now? So yeah, man. So that one hit me.

Shana James 41:45

No good, right? Because I find Oh, man will jump out of helicopters and go whitewater kayaking, you know, whatever it may be. And then the thought of or the thought of, or the feeling of having emotions can be like, Whoa, Shit, I don't I'm not going there. And right, reframe or like you just did, oh, this is a challenge. My offer the challenge of not covering over and not, you know, blowing off my emotions with food or drink or drugs or driving or whatever it may be, right? That's an awesome way to to frame it.

Curt Storring 42:19

Hit me, like so squarely in the heart. I was like, Okay, I guess I'll do this. And it was great. It was so good to actually do that kind of work. And it continually is. And I would like to get your thoughts on how we bring this to the next generation, specifically, dads and their sons. So like, I am just very open with my sons. Like if I need to cry, I'll just do it. If I need to express my emotions. I will say it. But have you worked with with dads specifically to sort of pass this on? To their sons? Yeah,

Shana James 42:50

yeah. And I love that you're doing that, right. Like why? Yes, our kids learned so much from example, not just from what we say. And so if they never see you cry, or they never see you get upset, and then kind of wrestle with yourself and be able to witness and communicate, you know, then they're not going to learn. So I think it's not about being perfect again, and trying to be the rock and having all together. It's like, oh, allowing them to learn from our humanity. So sharing your own emotions, sharing stories, I think about times that you felt upset or you cried, or I love also the the debrief or the coming back to a situation later because we all blow up. And we all have, you know, whatever we say things we're not proud of, and to be able to model that, that we can come back and say, you know, I was thinking about that. And I realized that I was feeling angry in that moment. And I wish I had handled it like this, right? Or I could have said this to you. And it probably would have felt a lot better to you. And so I'm trying and I'm doing my best. And my kid and I had a conversation about that this morning, where I went in one day and rushed the teeth brushing to get out of the house. And I was like, Oh my God, you've been in here forever. You haven't brushed your teeth. And my kid was like, it's been 20 seconds mom and I was like, No, it hasn't and, and then today we were practicing. And so I was like, Okay, I know that day I rushed you This is you know, slightly different, but it's the same realm. I know that day I rushed you and I'm really working hard to not rush you today. So and and then I also asked like, Okay, would you be willing to get going on this so that I'm not feeling anxious, and you don't have to feel rushed? And so just to have that open dialogue about oh, sometimes I get anxious. Sometimes I get nervous. Sometimes I get mad, and we all we still love each other and we can actually talk about it together is a great way to go.

Curt Storring 44:45

Yeah, thank you. And I love that that sort of ties into what we're talking about originally with like just being able to express your emotion. So if you can't express your emotion, the default is typically I'm just going to yell louder. Like you'll be scared enough that you'll eventually do what I say And that's just like, it's so damaging in so many ways to children to be talked to like that. And you know, that's where trauma is formed, that's where neglect happens. That's where you feel like you're not seeing and what you're doing by, you know, providing this space to share the feelings behind it. And then requesting, as if you know, that your child is this full human, who doesn't have to do what you say? Like it's a lot easier when they do. And like, I have had to surrender the fact that like, I need to let them to make their own choices and suffer the consequences sometimes, yes. And sometimes the consequences are like, Yeah, I'm gonna get upset, and I might act poorly towards you. And like you said, coming back to debrief and apologize, even has been like a game changer for me. And just like owning it, taking Extreme Ownership. And like, that's also

Shana James 45:48

really key here. Yeah, being willing to hear their emotions and when they're upset with you, and instead of just being like, well, this is what parents do, or, you know, like, I think that's how we kill our relationships with our kids. And so to be willing to hear like, yeah, I hated when you said that, or I was upset with you for this reason, or I bought a Hanukkah present for my kid. And it did not go over well. And it was like, you know, will you I told you, I didn't want this. And I'm first response was like, Well, that was two months ago, I thought maybe you'd grown into it or something. Right. And my head was like, No, and I felt really misunderstood. You know, and I was like, nice, okay. And I had to really, like, I was about to just be like, you're ungrateful, I can't believe this, I bought you a present you're exploiting, you know, and there was some of like, Hey, we got to learn to communicate instead of throw a fit about something, you know, but I also really got, and I came back to later, like, I'm really sorry, you felt misunderstood. And I'm going to try better to, you know, to really listen and know what you need and want. And would you helped me also by, let's practice, like, can we, you know, try to use our words, even when we're having strong emotions. And sometimes you need space to go express your emotions. And sometimes we can do it together. But, you know, again, it's like a collaborative thing. We're working on it together. Yeah,

Curt Storring 47:07

I love that your child used misunderstood. Instead of like, mad. I've experienced that sort of thing to where it's like the vocabulary. Like, I know that I'm doing a good job on emotions when my kids really Yeah, I feel misunderstood or disappointed or disgruntled or like, where are you getting this good insight? Oh, yeah, I guess I'm doing okay. So I want to make sure in the time remaining, that we talk a little bit about what you do, and how you can help them and listening who feel called to check this out more and learn more about you. So could you please walk us through what you do I love Did you say a love and leadership coach? Like I just yeah, love that. So could you please give us a quick overview, and then where man it can find you to learn more?

Shana James 47:48

Yes. So I mean, like I said before, sometimes I think of myself as a practice partner, or as a woman ally. You know, most of the men who work with me find that they just, you know, and I don't think that women men should work with women or men, right? A lot of men say like, we should only be taught by men, because we've had so many women in our lives, and then others, you know, whatever. So I just want to break that down. Like it's totally okay at different points in your life to have support from men that support from women to have support from both so I just love being a woman ally, who, you know, I've had a relatively non conservative life, wild life, playful life. And so I don't have a lot of judgment for men and desires and whatever form of relationship you want to be in. And so I just love, you know, being a support for really helping men get clear, what do I really want and need? And who am I fundamentally instead not based on the expectations or the cultural norms, but like, what lights me up and what's meaningful for me and so whether it's in the realm of love or leadership and career, you know, that's those are the the places I tend to go with men mostly, most men come to me for support with love and relationship, whether single and wanting to be in a relationship or married and feeling like something's not quite working here. And, you know, I want more I want more passion, I want more depth. Often men who write are kind of sensitive and don't feel like the typical male, or they're opening up to like you said, Wow, I'm actually feeling things and I don't really know where to put them in what to do with them.

Curt Storring 49:32

Amazing Yeah, I'm glad that the space exists. Honestly, like I love the female ally thing and all that kind of just support it somewhere different to go so where is what's your website and where can people follow you? Do you have like a specific social that you're most active on?

Shana James 49:47

Yeah, yeah, I'm social. I don't know social. I'm struggling with social media. But I would say my website is Shana James coaching, calm and Shana is Sha Na. And there are many many resources They're about dating and relationships. And I think if you click, we can put the link in the show notes. There's one where I have a guide around three ways men lose influence with women and at work. And so we could put that in the in the notes. Yeah. And as far as I'm on Facebook and LinkedIn a little bit, but yeah, if you head to my website, or my podcast is called man alive, and there's hundreds of episodes there with incredible guests. We'll have to get you on there two

Curt Storring 50:28

days. Yeah, I can't wait. I saw Jason Gaddis was on every recent guests and love Jason. So yeah, this is definitely a place to go. I honestly, I think I signed up for one of your email lists, like quite a while ago, and got like a list of questions on intimacy. I think it was it was like okay, yeah, I've got the questions. Yeah, exactly. That's exactly. So yeah, like I have, I have been a seeker of what you're espousing for a while now. So that's a good recommendation, I suppose. But all that being said if this episode has fired you up has lit you up please check out Shana Jas. And yeah, talk to Shane I guess has been so fun. Thank you so much for spending the time with me and hopefully there's another episode cuz I feel like I got a ton more questions on everything that you just finished saying about purpose and all that kind of stuff. So

Shana James 51:19

one minute alive. That's gonna be awesome.

Curt Storring 51:21

Amazing. All right. Thanks. Take care. Thank you that's it for this episode. Thank you so much for listening. It means the world to find out more about everything that we talked about in the episode today, including Show Notes resources and links to subscribe leave a review work with us go to That's DAD.WORK/POD. type that into your browser just like a normal URL, 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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