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Why Men’s Emotional Wellbeing is Declining & How to Fix It | Connor Beaton | Better Man Podcast Ep. 087

Why Men’s Emotional Wellbeing is Declining & How to Fix It | Connor Beaton | Better Man Podcast Ep. 087

One of the most understated things that most men carry around unknowingly is some type of deep grief or sadness that comes from your childhood. 

But therapy doesn’t give the best route to confront, address, and accept these deep-seated feelings. To make matters worse, most men are so out of touch with their emotions that they can only try to explain them logically. 

But emotions don’t happen in your head. They live in your body. 

Understanding this tells us why so many men lead lives of quiet desperation, isolation, and depression. And nobody’s a better guide to healing your emotional wellbeing than today’s guest: Connor Beaton, founder of ManTalks. 

Connor had it all on the outside looking in. But behind the scenes, his life was falling apart in every aspect. 

One day, after hitting rock bottom, Connor apprenticed under an old-school psychologist. And since then, he’s not only turned his life around, but leads other men to transform themselves. 

Connor reveals a ton in this episode including… 

  • Tactical ways to improve your emotional awareness and health 
  • The root cause of why you find yourself in a repeating cycle of self-sabotage 
  • How doing psychological shadow work can improve your marriage (and save you from divorce) 
  • Why men are so bad at understanding their emotions (and easy ways to improve your emotional IQ) 

And so much more. 

The state of men’s emotional health is in sharp decline. But Connor has strategies and tactics that can help.

The Better Man Podcast is an exploration of our health and well-being outside of our physical fitness, exploring and redefining what it means to be better as a man; being the best version of ourselves we can be, while adopting a more comprehensive understanding of our total health and wellness. I hope it inspires you to be better!

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Show Highlights with Connor Beaton

  • How replacing the word “therapy” with this is the easiest way to start your emotional wellness journey (3:30) 
  • The emotional health of men is in sharp decline: These are the 4 main reasons why (7:54) 
  • Why it’s paramount for men to define masculinity instead of continuing to let society define it for us (13:52) 
  • How female-centric psychology deprives men of key aspects they need for therapy to be effective (16:12) 
  • Who else struggles to share their deepest problems with other men? Connor reveals how to have these tough conversations here… (24:43) 
  • How your inner dialogue shatters your confidence, fills you with shame, and traps you in isolation (29:05) 
  • Do you feel like you’re on a roller coaster of self-destruction? This is the reason why… (32:54) 
  • 2 tactical tricks you can start today to turn your inner critic into your inner hype man (35:55) 
  • The self-fulfilling “Shadow” prophecy that causes unnecessary suffering in men’s lives—and how to break out of this vicious cycle (50:08) 
  • How ignoring your shadow parts make them grow stronger and more destructive (and how to mine the gold from them instead) (54:02) 
  • Why all your deepest fears and insecurities rear their ugly heads in your relationship—and how to accept them before they undermine your marriage (1:12:35) 
  • The “Charge & Intensity” secret for getting out of your head and into your body to feel your emotions (1:20:41)
Episode 087 – Why Men’s Emotional Wellbeing is Declining & How to Fix It | Connor Beaton – Transcript

Dean Pohlman: Hey, guys, it’s Dean. Welcome back to the Better Man podcast today. I am really excited to have Connor beaten from man talks on the show. I found Connor was doing some Instagram searching, looking for guests to focus on men’s emotional wellness, men’s mental wellness, going to all that stuff that we really like to talk about here. Going beyond physical fitness.

Dean Pohlman: And I found Connor and I. I was extremely impressed with the work that he’s doing it. It’s so it resonates so strongly with the work that we’re doing on the Better Man podcast. So, Connor, I’m really excited to have you here. Thanks. Thanks for being here.

Connor Beaton: Awesome, man. Thank you so much for having me. Appreciate it.

Dean Pohlman: Yeah. So Connor and I haven’t met before today. We talked a little bit before the show to shake off some of the the awkward vibes. And so my first what I really want to do with this episode is try to understand how you, Connor, how you got into the work that you’re doing. And before we do that, I think it’s a good idea to explain kind of what is the mission with man talks, What are the goals?

Connor Beaton: Yeah, I mean, the goal of the organization is just to give men resources and tools to help them lead themselves better in their life, you know, to lead themselves better as fathers, husbands, business leaders, to have a deeper sense of discipline and connection to themselves, self-esteem. So our our tagline is, it’s not therapy, it’s training. And I like that approach because for a lot of guys, you know, for some men, they’re adverse to therapy.

Connor Beaton: They don’t want to go to therapy. For other guys, there’s, you know, they’ve tried therapy and hasn’t necessarily worked. You know, it’s or it’s been it’s worked ish, but it’s lacked some of the tactical approaches that we as men often want and need. And so, you know, our organization has a bunch of different opportunities for men to better themselves in whatever area they’re wanting to to work on.

Connor Beaton: But specifically in the realm of psychology, relationships is a is a huge cornerstone for what we do and yeah, to providing tools, resources, opportunities for guys to kind of dive in and do their inner work, as we say.

Dean Pohlman: Got it. I mean that I have two responses to that. The first is that the, you know, the shunning of the word therapy can be, you know, can be slightly detrimental because it’s it’s saying therapy is bad. You know, what’s it’s reinforcing that concept. But on the other hand, the idea of reframing it as training and something that is because when you think of training, it’s inherently it’s something that’s hard to do, it’s uncomfortable.

Dean Pohlman: And guys know that most guys I won’t say most guys, but a lot of guys have gone through, you know, playing sports when they were younger, playing sports in high school. And, you know, the idea of going to the gym and working out, pushing themselves. So and that is, you know, I think that’s really a that’s a really important concept to self improvement, to self-development.

Dean Pohlman: If you aren’t going through some discomfort, if you’re only trying to optimize strategies and be more productive, then you’re skating around the issues, you’re going around the deep work that needs to be done. So I like the idea of of reframing it as training, and it is a good way to get guys in who are kind of turned off by therapy.

Dean Pohlman: But in reality you are you are easing them into therapy. So I guess is there is there a way that you how do you do that? How do you how do you start at training and ease into we’re going to talk about some uncomfortable stuff.

Connor Beaton: Yeah. I mean, a lot of it is, you know, the content that I create is very much dedicated towards speaking to men directly versus speaking about men. And there’s a lot of content on the Internet right now that’s talking about men, right? About what men need to do, about what men need to fix, about how, you know, men should do X, Y, and Z, Right.

Connor Beaton: Train their bodies, train their minds, be in relationships, how they should treat women, yada, yada, yada. And for a lot of guys, that is it’s not effective. Right? It’s like, why are you talking about me versus talking to me? So the first thing I would say is I create content speaking directly to men. And I always I always like to think that there’s just one person on the other side reading the message.

Connor Beaton: So that’s one thing. The second thing is I, I share a lot of my own personal experience, and I talk about stories from, you know, the men that I’ve worked with over the years because I’ve been doing this for a decade. I’ve worked with, you know, thousands, maybe tens of thousands of guys from all over the world. And so I have a pretty large, I guess you could say, data set to kind of pull from a real life experiences and patterns that show up within our lives.

Connor Beaton: And I just talk about those things. You know, I talk about how we as men, for example, sabotage. I talk about the roots of those sabotage, you know, sabotage mechanisms. I talk about, you know, where porn fits into these things or coping mechanisms like booze and alcohol. I talk about, you know, infidelity and and why that happens and, you know, how it shows up in relationships.

Connor Beaton: And I just talk about these things in a very practical way, peppering in, you know, stories from my own life where, you know, where it’s applicable. And I think for a lot of men, that type of approach where they’re not being talked about, they’re being talked directly to, and then, you know, I’m talking about issues that are relevant for a lot of guys.

Connor Beaton: You know, a lot of men are struggling with things like isolation where they don’t have close friends in their life. I talk about some of the challenges that men are facing in our current society. You know, the fact that, you know, one in one in four kids are going to grow up in a fatherless household as an example, which can be incredibly detrimental to young boys.

Connor Beaton: And I talk about real life challenges that men are going through. You know, I talk about suicide rates. I talk about how, you know, 66% of young men aren’t dating and and aren’t engaging in any type of sexual dynamics with with anybody. I talk about how more young men are living at home than ever before. And and I talk about the real challenges that men are facing.

Connor Beaton: And when I do that, men are like, Yeah, I’m going through that. I feel alone or I’m struggling with porn or I’m smoking way too much weed and I don’t know how to stop and I don’t really know why I’m smoking so much weed. So I just talk about like the real shit that guys are dealing with and, you know, if it resonates with a man, then he digs in and if it doesn’t, that’s okay.

Connor Beaton: But I’m doing it in a way that’s and I think this is the last thing that I’ll say I’m doing this in a way that is non-religious and non nationality based and nonpolitical. And for a lot of men that is a huge relief because a lot of the content that’s out there that is designed to help men is very nationalistic or very.

Dean Pohlman: Religious.

Connor Beaton: Based code or or is super embedded into a political view. And for me, I can’t stand that. I just like, I don’t care what religion you practice, I don’t give a shit who you vote for. It’s like, here are the tools, Here’s the conversation I think we all need to be having. If we can strip away some of those other pieces, and if we can do that, we can find commonality as men and have some really meaningful, profound conversations and connections and build some really, really necessary bridges, I would say, within our modern day society.

Dean Pohlman: Yeah, I love that. I totally agree with that. I mean, as soon as you identify that you’re indirectly or you’re coming from a certain political philosophy, you can, you know, some people are just going to listen to whatever you say, but you’re also alienating like, you know, 50% of other people and it just makes the message so diluted.

Dean Pohlman: So, I mean, I. I love that. I love that you’re doing that. I when I was younger, I think I was more I think I posted more political things. And now I’ve I’ve I’ve shied away from doing that because I think it dilutes the message. I think it’s something that it isn’t. You know, I know some people really like it, but on the other hand, I try to imagine, like, what would what would it look like if somebody that I really liked posted something political and it didn’t align with how I thought.

Dean Pohlman: And I think, I really used to like this brand. And now I’m like, now it just feels weird, you know? So I love that you’re doing that.

Connor Beaton: Yeah. And there’s there’s tons of people that are out there doing that. Right. And so if guys want that, they can go find it pretty easy. But if men are looking for a space that is, you know, non there’s no religious or political affiliation whatsoever, it’s not about promoting some type of nationality that, you know, is sort of you’re all welcome under this banner, then That’s what I’m trying to create.

Connor Beaton: And it doesn’t mean that I don’t have my own political views or, you know, spiritual views. It’s just my my interest is not on pressing those on to other people. And my my intention is never to try and co-mingle those things with the tools and the resources that we’re trying to provide men, because those things are apolitical. You know, they’re a religious they’re they’re they they sort of precede those things and they don’t need to be tied up in in in those doctrines, you know?

Connor Beaton: And so and again, if people have those things, I’m totally fine with it. I’m like, you know, go for it. So and one last thing they’ll say is, I know I could probably be more successful and more popular if I double down on those things. That’s the funny thing. You know, It’s like my account would probably grow much faster if I was more polarizing and, you know, pick the political side and, you know, did all that stuff.

Connor Beaton: But you’re right, it would alienate a lot of people. And so I’ve had people do me and be like, you know, how come you’re not talking about this political thing that’s happening? Or where do you stand on this political thing or, you know, those types of things. And I’m like, that’s not what my work is about. You know, it’s not about trying to inform men about how they should vote or what religion they should choose.

Connor Beaton: That’s not it. It’s giving them tools and resources so that they can be the best version of themselves regardless of who they vote for or what religion they practice.

Dean Pohlman: Yeah, I think the other interesting part of this is you probably have people on either side reaching out and saying like, Hey, man, you’re like, I can tell that you’re really aligned with this philosophy, this, this, this religion, this, this political party. You should talk more about it. And you know, people, people from both sides will look at that and say like, this is exactly what we’re talking about.

Dean Pohlman: And in reality, you know, it’s like both sides are trying to claim it and you’re like, no, you can just you can just have thoughts that aren’t associated with either side. And so I.

Connor Beaton: Yeah, Anyway, well, I’m glad that we live in this. We live in this very strange time where a couple of things are happening that maybe we’ll maybe we’ll touch on through the course of this conversation. But one of them is that if you have a platform, people who follow, you have the perspective oftentimes that you should talk about what they want you to talk about and that you have some type of social or moral duty to discuss things that they think are important versus the freedom and sovereignty of you as an individual.

Connor Beaton: Getting to curate the platform in the way that you want it and talk about things in the way that you want. And for me, that’s a core foundational pillar of masculinity and of being a man is that I get to have the sovereignty and authority over how I’m curating something. So that’s one piece. And the second piece is we’ve entered into a time, in my opinion, where for the first time in maybe ever, but for sure, for sure, and for the first time in a long time, masculinity is not necessarily being defined by men.

Connor Beaton: It’s largely being defined by society and largely being defined by women. And that’s not a knock on women. I’m not saying that, you know, that that’s inherently, you know, so negative or bad. But what it is what it does do is that it shapes a lot of men’s views on what masculinity is and what it means to be a man based on a based on seeking a woman’s approval.

Connor Beaton: And so it outsources a lot of a man’s inner sense of sovereignty. It outsources a lot of a man’s independence, it outsources a lot of a man’s value and sense of self-worth externally to a woman’s validation. And so men can get caught running around in today’s society, constantly trying to prove themselves to women in these very small ways, because they’ve been told that in order to be a good man, you have to get the stamp of approval from a woman.

Connor Beaton: And so I think that’s one of the things that is is challenging for a lot of men, especially when it comes to the the work. And the last thing I’ll say is the that’s because the therapeutic space is very much female dominated right now. You know, 78% of therapists are women. And when you look at the graduation rates of universities and colleges, you have and abnormal amount of women going into therapeutic and psychological spaces and a rapidly declining amount of men going into these therapeutic spaces.

Connor Beaton: And so the conversation of therapeutic modalities, how we heal, how we develop ourselves psychologically. They are largely very female centric. All right. So there’s this huge emphasis on figuring out what you’re feeling and validating your experience without looking at where do you feel incompetent? How do you actually develop a deeper sense of competency and capability within your life, which is a very masculine oriented thing.

Connor Beaton: And for a lot of men, when they go into therapy, some of it is that they’re feeling something that they need to talk about. Some of it’s that they need somebody to witness their grief or their sadness or their anxiety or depression or whatever it is. But the other part is a lot of men enter into a therapeutic environment because they feel incapable or lacking competency in some area, whether it’s communicating with their girlfriend or wife, whether it’s a competency of being able to deal with their anxieties or it’s something else.

Connor Beaton: Right. That they they are feeling insecure or they’re feeling depressed because they don’t have a certain level of competency in being disciplined in eating healthy, in moving their body. And they actually need a structured pathway to help them build out that competency in a more robust way, which will alleviate some of their internal suffering. But that’s sometimes lacking within the therapeutic field.

Connor Beaton: So I know I just said a whole bunch of stuff, but that gives you a little bit of insight into who I am, what I do and what I stand for.

Dean Pohlman: Yeah, I mean, that’s a lot to unpack there. So rather than do that, I’m going to do so I’m going to talk and focus on just one thing. But you were saying the need for a structured pathway so in that sense, it sounds like a lot of men are seeking, say, seeking out psychology or seeking out psychiatric support as a form of mental coaching.

Dean Pohlman: And I want to kind of use that to segway into your experience and what got you started on this path. Maybe what you maybe you know, what you were doing before you started this type of work and the experiences that that that led you into it?

Connor Beaton: Yeah, I mean, in many ways I was the last man who was really struggling to find his way in the world, who had outsourced a lot of his validation and worth to women. I was I was really the archetype of what I, you know, what I’ve been talking about. So I I’m just trying to think about what parts of the story I should tell.

Connor Beaton: But I mean, you know, if you had met me 12, 14 years ago on paper, it would have looked like I had a really great life. I was traveling the world, I was riding motorcycles. I had an interesting career. I was a musician. I had a great relationship with this woman that I really loved and cared about. But behind the scenes, I was a complete disaster.

Connor Beaton: You know, I was using drugs. I was drinking way too much. I was watching so much frickin porn. It was crazy. There was lots of infidelity. I was cheating a lot. There was lots of lies. And so, you know, I was I was a man who on the outside looked like he was doing well. But behind the scenes was really, really struggling.

Connor Beaton: And not many people really knew how bad it really was. And that obviously was not sustainable. Just so we’re clear, it was not sustainable. And and what ended up happening was all of that sort of came to a head and I hit bottom, you know, I bottomed out, I hit rock bottom. My girlfriend found out that I had been cheating and I had been lying.

Connor Beaton: I was questioning my career and I decided to leave that career and so everything kind of fell apart almost all at once. You know, I found myself in a pretty dark place. You know, I didn’t want people in my life to know that I had been lying and cheating. And so I moved all my stuff into storage. I lived out of the back of my car for a few weeks because I was so ashamed of my actions that I didn’t want people to know what I had done.

Connor Beaton: And when I came out of that, a couple of major things shifted the trajectory of my life. One, I was fortunate enough to have a mentor in my life who kind of took me under his wing. And he was in his early seventies. He was this little French-Canadian man named Bernard, and I called him my white Yoda. You know, he was like this.

Connor Beaton: He was like this really interesting French-Canadian character who knew a lot about union psychology and cognitive behavioral therapy and Zen Buddhism and, you know, he was in his he was in his mid seventies. And I ended up spending you know, what would happen is I would end up spending about two and a half years apprenticing with him and I would pay him when I could for his for his time and his teaching.

Connor Beaton: And when I when I couldn’t afford it, I would help him around his farm and he was farming asparagus and I would chop wood and help him with the asparagus farm and help him with his Rottweilers. And in turn, he would teach me about psychology and he would teach me how to work with people, and he would teach me psychological principles and modalities and how to implement them in an, you know, a psychological, analytical way.

Connor Beaton: And so it was this very old form of apprenticeship, you know, sort of blacksmith apprentice.

Dean Pohlman: You had, which an authentic apprenticeship. What an amazing experience.

Connor Beaton: Yeah, it was really, really profound. And but that came out of me being transparent with him about what was going on in my life because he had he was in my life already. And when things started to fall apart after I lived out of the back of my car, I, you know, I kind of came to this moment in my car where I was like, this is not working, you know, And and I kind of, you know, had this very, very hard conversation with myself in the car one night, which I wrote about in my book.

Connor Beaton: I wrote a book called Men’s Work. And I wrote about in the book where I’m in the back of my car. I had this like two door Pontiac G5, which is such a in my opinion, a piece of garbage is such a piece of shit. It was like a 2007 Pontiac G5 and it was black and it had chrome rims and it had two racing stripes down the middle and this like big field in the back of the trunk.

Connor Beaton: It was really this God awful, you know, exhaust kit and everything. Like it was just it was terrible, man.

Dean Pohlman: It sounds it was like.

Connor Beaton: Yeah, it’s like one of those cars that you definitely it’s like pimping out a Toyota Corolla, you know, It’s like it just I don’t think it should be done. Yeah, but you know, and I found myself back there and and I you know, I’ve been reflecting for weeks now on everything that had unfolded and where I found myself in life.

Connor Beaton: And I was like, this isn’t working, you know, And I can either just end it or I can tell people what’s going on. And I had the the decent common sense to realize that telling people the shit that had been going on in my life was better than ending it. And so I started to talk to people and I, you know, told Bernard would have been going on and and he was a very welcoming and kind and and offer to support me and and help me through it.

Connor Beaton: And then the second thing that happened was that I opened up to a buddy of mine that I had gone to university with, and I had actually lived with him. We had lived together in this house with two other guys. And, you know, it’s like this really great house. You know, we had parties and it was it was a good, good time.

Connor Beaton: I was cheap rent, which was also very, very good, although the house was a piece of a piece of crap. But anyway, I ended up opening up to him and telling him what had been going on behind the scenes, and I just laid all the cards out on the table. I told him about the lies and the drugs and the booze and everything that had been happening.

Connor Beaton: And after telling him and opening up to him about everything that had been going on, I braced for, you know, some type of criticism from him or, you know, like what the hell is wrong with you? Like what’s going on? And instead he just thanked me for being honest with him and broke down a little bit. You know, he he got pretty emotional and proceeded to tell me that he had tried to commit suicide six weeks before our conversation.

Connor Beaton: And I remember sitting there kind of dumbfounded because I knew everything about this dude. I knew what he liked to drink, you know, the type of scotch that he liked, the type of food he liked to eat, the women he liked to date, the TV shows. He liked to watch the sports, he liked to to to check out.

Connor Beaton: But I didn’t know the deeper aspects of what he was struggling with. And he didn’t know those things about me either. And that would become not just a defining conversation, but I would start to see that same pattern in so many of my male relationships where I was very close with men but didn’t actually know what was going on behind the scenes.

Connor Beaton: And I started to realize that many of us as men walk through life not actually sharing our struggles with our closest friends, and it’s brutally isolating. And so I would see this time and time again. And so many of the men that I was friends with and, you know, eventually I would started an event where I had men come out and sort of like share their stories.

Connor Beaton: And it became apparent that just countless men were struggling with this. So I’ll pause there that probably gives you enough insight into why I started what I started.

Dean Pohlman: Yeah, I mean, I just want to speak to that very basic practice of sharing struggles like a good example for my own life last week. I’m sure you’ve been through this. I know you’ve been through this. Every entrepreneur goes through this. But, you know, I had I had one of these moments, like a couple of weeks ago. It was an evening.

Dean Pohlman: And I just had you know, I didn’t feel like I got enough done that day. And I was just thinking like, this is all falling apart. This is all going to fall apart. I’m not going to be able to pay my mortgage like my wife is going to be furious with me. Like all of this stuff that I’m building is just not going to work.

Dean Pohlman: I texted a friend of mine, I was like, Hey, you ever get that feeling where, you know, everything’s just like falling apart and there’s nothing you can do? And he said, Yeah, all the time. I’m like, thank God. And I felt so much better just to know that somebody else was going through that same struggle that I was going through.

Dean Pohlman: And it’s something that’s so simple and it’s yeah, I think I think your description of, you know, being close with men, but not really knowing what’s going on behind the scenes because, you know, men just aren’t having real conversations. It’s something that I consciously do now with with friends is I try to have real conversations and I try to ask you, like, what’s going on with your life?

Dean Pohlman: Like, what are you struggling with? I’m open about things that I wouldn’t normally have been open about in the past. I grew up in a very small talk focused environment, and any time someone started talking about something deeper, I was like, Can we just talk about the weather? Why are you talking about, you know, these deep thoughts? It just felt really uncomfortable.

Dean Pohlman: And then I realized that’s what I what I really wanted. And, you know, for me now, when I tell people that I’m able to have those conversations with I want to hang out with again and people who just want to namedrop and talk about people they met and try to impress you with that. I’m like, I don’t this is draining.

Dean Pohlman: This just feels painful. I don’t want to I don’t want to do this. So yeah, anyways, that’s my initial response. But I want to ask you about I want to take you back to, you know, where you hit rock bottom and understand what you truly went through in that process. Like, what did you realize was happening when you when you realized it wasn’t working?

Dean Pohlman: What were you feeling?

Connor Beaton: I mean, I think that behind the scenes I was battling with a lot of shame. And, you know, one of the things that I’ve come to realize, because I do a lot of very deep work with men now, and so I’m trained in Gestalt therapy and union psychology and developmental psychology. And I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some of the best practitioners in North America.

Connor Beaton: And one of the things that I’ve seen time and time again, and this is something that I struggled with and to speak about that personally, but one of the things that I’ve seen time and time again is that we as men can have a brutally terrible inner dialog and and the way that we speak to ourselves can be borderline abusive.

Connor Beaton: It can be toxic, even though I kind of hate that word, because it’s, you know, yes. In the in the modern day therapeutic industrial complex, toxic masculinity and toxic this and it’s like, crap. Like let it go. But, you know, it can be just brutal. And the way I talked to myself internally was terrible. And so, you know, if you could pick yourself up and drop yourself into my body when when all of this was going on, my inner dialog was a mess.

Connor Beaton: The way that I talked to myself was terrible, you know, And and it was terrible because I was carrying on a legacy of how other people had talked to me and how I thought I should be treated because of the circumstances that I experienced as a kid. And what I’ve come to realize is that the majority of people, the majority of men, especially as we’re talking about men, mostly the majority of men carry on a legacy of how they were spoken to or treated internally.

Connor Beaton: And so, you know, I grew up in an environment where I was oftentimes verbally abused, you know, And, you know, I had somebody that was saying things like, what the fuck is wrong with you? You’re a stupid piece of shit. How come you can never get this right? And that was a pretty consistent narrative that I would hear.

Connor Beaton: And so I became an adult who talked to myself like that, and I would use what I now call dark motivation or shame based motivation to try and get myself to do things. So any time that I did something wrong, how I tried to correct that was speaking to myself in that way, right? What the fuck’s wrong with me?

Connor Beaton: It’s so stupid piece of shit. Like how come you can’t get this right? And I was carrying on this abusive legacy of what I experienced growing up. Now I realize that not everybody experienced, experienced that type of commentary, but for a lot of people, they experienced a lot of criticism. They experienced no support. Maybe they experienced neglect or abandonment, and all of those things produce an inner dialog that is that is often very shame based.

Connor Beaton: And and what we end up doing is we try and use or leverage that shame as motivation. And it never works. It might work for a little while and you might actually get really good results with it.

Dean Pohlman: Works for a little bit. Yeah, but it, but it’s, it’s, it’s like eating sugar, right? Like you get a little bit of a boost, but it comes it messes you up later on.

Connor Beaton: Yes. Yes, exactly. You know like I’ve I’ll, I’ll just say I’ve worked with a number of musicians over the years, you know some some guys from, you know, the biggest heavy metal bands, some rappers like some of the biggest rappers right now. And what’s fascinating about the majority of them and I’ve worked with athletes and, you know, entrepreneurs and all that kind of stuff.

Connor Beaton: But what’s fascinating about most of these men is that they have this very shame based inner dialog. And what ends up happening is that it drives them for quite a long time. They can usually have a good amount of success and then they peak or plateau or they find themselves with diminishing returns where they’re starting to self-destruct and they can’t figure out why they’re self-destructing.

Connor Beaton: And behind it is almost always this shame based motivation that they have been propelling themselves through life, through their career, in their relationship, in their success, by leveraging this shame mechanism internally. And when it peaks, when it can’t get them any further, they don’t know how to break through the, you know, the glass ceiling. They don’t know how to get beyond the plateau and actually start to develop an internal structure of healthy communication, of healthy self dialog.

Connor Beaton: And this is what I had to develop. You know, I literally had to do a couple of things and I’ll be specific and tactical here. Number one, I was lying so much, I didn’t know what was real anymore. You know, I was I was lying about so much shit in my life. And so I had to develop a practice of catching myself real time in the moment, just embellishing stupid crap, you know, because I would I would alter things.

Connor Beaton: I would embellish things. Probably my most common form of lying was just lying through omission. So I just wouldn’t say something. You know, if my girlfriend or somebody of my family was asking me a question, I would just find a way to not answer and I would omit the truth, you know, or I would omit the answer. So I had to start to correct myself.

Connor Beaton: And this was just kind of like this ongoing daily audit where I was listening to myself talk. I was listening to my thoughts and I was constantly just correcting like, Nope, that’s not right. And I would I would interrupt myself and say like, Hey, you know what? I don’t think that was correct. I think it’s actually this or, you know, I think I got that wrong or you know what?

Connor Beaton: I embellish that. Let me let me tell you what it actually you know, what actually happened. And through that process, I started to refine and weed out a lot of the lies and a lot of the just nonsense that that I was speaking. And as I did that, I started to get very clear on what was happening in my life.

Connor Beaton: And I realized that telling the truth, you know, there’s the cliche like telling the truth will set you free. I think that in some ways it does. But what it also does is it creates a pathway forward. So if you’re a man that’s lacking direction or you’re lacking clarity on what to do in your life, telling the truth is almost always going to produce a pathway for you to walk.

Connor Beaton: It’s going to create direction in your life. So number one, I had to start to audit myself, audit my language, audit my speech, audit what I was saying. And I had to and what I called it was just autocorrect. I started to autocorrect myself. So that’s number one. And then number two was I started to work on developing an internal structure of self validation, of actually appreciating myself, being able to recognize myself for doing things well, which I had never done before.

Connor Beaton: Like even when I got things right, I would, I would find a way to beat the crap out of myself, even if I had done a good job. And so I had to start to correct that. And so every day I did a couple of things. Number one, I developed a pretty rigorous gratitude and self appreciation journaling process, which we can talk about.

Connor Beaton: Yes. For people that want that. And then I would just practice it every single day. I’d be, you know, I’d be walking to work, I’d be walking to meet a friend, and internally I would be having a dialog with myself that was like, you know what? I’m really glad that I got up and went to the gym. Today was frickin hard, but I’m glad that I did it.

Connor Beaton: And, you know, I appreciate myself for drinking the water this morning and not having that extra cup of coffee. And I really, you know, I respect myself for not eating the piece of cake last night and just, you know, letting or not eating the ice cream last night and actually going to bed on time, even though it took me an hour to go to sleep.

Connor Beaton: And so I started to have this internal conversation with myself that was more about recognize Asian than it was about shame and self-destruction. So those are a couple tactical things that hopefully will give men an idea of what was going on, and then we could talk about some other things that might be helpful.

Dean Pohlman: Yeah, I mean, and those are the so I want to go back to the first thing, which is this, this, this autocorrect process that you’re doing. And I’m curious, number one, what did you did you feel like you had to give something up to create space to be able to have that practice? And then what did what was it that kept you doing it consistently?

Dean Pohlman: What was it that made you keep doing it? Because change is hard and changing your inner dialog is really hard. But the way to change it is, like you said, just having that awareness to recognize what’s going on first and then. And I love that you also, instead of just letting it happen and then not correcting it, you would say, Actually, that’s not what I meant to say.

Dean Pohlman: And then you went back and because that’s, that’s brilliant, because a lot of people just wouldn’t do that.

Connor Beaton: Well, okay, so this is where you’re going to peel that layer back and go a little bit deeper into why do we actually lie in the first place? So part of what I had to do was discover the roots or the origin of why I was lying so much and what I discovered was that lying for me was an adaptive strategy.

Connor Beaton: And this is a psychological term, an adaptive strategy. We all have an adaptive strategy to survive in the environments that we grow up in. Yes. That sometimes are lacking, Right. So if you are a child that’s growing up in an environment where, you know, if you get something wrong, Dad is going to blow up and yell at you or call you certain names or you’re going to get hit, you are going to adapt a strategy to try and keep you safe in an environment where it’s not safe for you to do what?

Connor Beaton: Tell the truth. Right? You’re going to adapt a strategy to help you not have to tell the truth or avoid it, because telling the truth or being honest might get you punished. Hit, you know, called the name, you know, abandoned. You might not get talked to for a number of days, like there’s just a lot of different results.

Connor Beaton: So. Right. I had to really.

Dean Pohlman: Leading to that fear of abandonment. That’s that’s what it is like. It starts as, this feeling of discomfort. But ultimately it’s rooted in this very deep fear of I will be abandoned and people will not take care of me if I don’t lie. So. That’s right. Yeah. It it’s so powerful and people don’t realize how powerful that is until they actually peel back the layers like you did.

Dean Pohlman: So. Yeah.

Connor Beaton: Yeah, yeah. And what’s interesting is that when you look at so there’s a whole field of psychological study called psychological development or developmental psychology, and in developmental psychology, which is very connected to, which is a very fancy way of saying how we develop our relationships, the foundation of our relationships as attachment at the root of developmental psychology. What they found is that in the first seven years of our life, we’re trying to do a couple of things.

Connor Beaton: Number one, we’re trying to make sure that our environment or our world is okay, that it’s secure, that it’s safe, that it’s trusting, and how that how that actually happens when we’re very, very little. Right. Like when we’re when we’re an infant is through our mom, through our primary caretaker, because there’s not really a lot of difference between our nervous system and our our neurological experience as a baby and what our mom is going through.

Connor Beaton: And so if you’re a child growing up with a hyper anxious mother and you know, you’re six months old, that anxiety is going to be something that you feel is going to be something that you are experiencing and it’s going to color or contextualize your world. The next stage is you’re trying to develop a sense of, am I okay, an individual?

Connor Beaton: So you reach about three year, you know, 18 months to three years old or four years old, and you go through a stage where you’re trying to figure out because, you realize, I’m separate from mom and dad. I’m actually this my own little autonomous being. And as you go through that phase and my son’s in that phase right now, he’s about to turn three.

Connor Beaton: As you go through that phase, you’re trying to figure out, am I okay? And, you know, if I do something wrong, am I okay? Or if I push back, am I okay? And what can happen is, as you’re going through that phase, which we all call the terrible twos and the, you know, the whatever threes is you’re going to phase.

Connor Beaton: Yeah. The three nature. Yeah. Thank you. You’re pushing boundaries and you’re throwing tantrums and you’re doing all these things to see can I be okay and get into trouble? Because the foundation of attachment and I don’t think this gets talked about enough and I’ll tie this into the work that we do with men. The foundation of attachment. As my colleague and friend Dewey Freeman would say, is to go through a hard time with somebody else and come out the other side.

Connor Beaton: Okay, Those are the building blocks of relationship. Those are the building blocks of attachment. So the big question that we all have, because you have to remember a child is 100% dependent on a parent. So what happens is, as men is we lose sight of that. We lose sight of the fact that we were once one day a kid that was 100% dependent on a parent.

Connor Beaton: And so when they took away attention, when they hit you, when they, you know, told you that you were dumb or they said, you know, what the hell is wrong with you? Those things were internalized within you to such a degree that told you you can’t go through a hard time with that person and come out the other side.

Connor Beaton: Okay, So we have to be able to go through those experiences in a large part. It doesn’t have to be perfect all the time. So if you’re a dad out there listening to this and you’re like, my God, am I f ing up my kid? No.

Dean Pohlman: I mean, you.

Connor Beaton: Just.

Dean Pohlman: You are.

Connor Beaton: But yeah, you are.

Dean Pohlman: We all.

Connor Beaton: Are. We all are. And you’re going to. There’s no such thing as a perfect parent. But if you can predominantly help that child go through a hard time, go through the temperature Antrim, go through throwing the food on the floor and, you know, driving the trucks into the wall and whatever it is and come out the other side.

Connor Beaton: Okay, You will help that child develop secure attachment. You’ll help them develop the foundation of I’m okay. There’s nothing, quote unquote inherently wrong with me and my world is okay. It’s safe to trust others, it’s safe to be honest with them and open, etc.. For me, that did not happen. That was not present in my life. And so I didn’t trust others.

Connor Beaton: I didn’t think I was okay. I thought that there was something inherently wrong with me. Fundamentally, at the very deep down core of it, I believed there was something wrong with me and it came out in my behavior. It came out in my thoughts, it came out in my inner dialog. And I fundamentally felt like I was broke.

Connor Beaton: And that might sound extreme for some guys. It might sound right on the money for other men. But what we have to do is start to look at our relationship to a couple of things. Number one, our inner dialog, which is going to give us insight into how we feel about ourselves. And number two, the primary relationships that we had growing up, which, you know, some men are don’t want to do, So men just don’t want to look at their childhood and they don’t want to give credence and and power.

Connor Beaton: I guess you could say to the fact that maybe their childhood impacted them in ways that they that they struggled to admit or see. But we have to do those two things. So I’ll I’ll pause there because I just had a bunch of. Yeah.

Dean Pohlman: I mean so one thing I want to say, which you said but haven’t said directly, is that your inner dialog becomes what your parents told you. So the discussions that they had with you, they that’s, that’s your inner voice. So use them saying, you know, you’re not good enough, What the hell is wrong with you? That eventually leads to what your inner dialog becomes as an adult.

Dean Pohlman: And that’s really significant. So, you know, if you’re looking for the answer.

Connor Beaton: One thing that’s like one thing to that. Yeah, it, it is either it’s either what your parents said to you directly or what you thought they were thinking. So kids are little bundles of egos, right? They’re just super egocentric beings. Everything is about them. And so if you do something wrong as a child and you can tell that your parent is visibly upset, disgusted with you, disappointed you, but they don’t say anything, you are going to personalize that and you’re going to fill in the blanks for what you think they are saying or experiencing.

Connor Beaton: So it’s not always this direct conversation of what’s wrong with you? Why did you do that? It is sometimes a child filling in the blank of what they think a parent is saying based on what they’re observing. Because, again, kids are these little balls of ego and they’re constantly scanning their parents looking for him. Okay, did I screw up?

Connor Beaton: How are you feeling? Am I still safe? Is our relationship still okay? And so that can get internalized because. A lot of men say, well, you know, my my parents, they never criticized me. They didn’t abuse me. They weren’t, you know, verbally abusive. But I still have this wildly unhealthy inner dialog now that can have come from a coach or some other type of mentor, etc., or it can have come from what I’m talking about, which is you as a kid, personalized your parents, maybe avoidance or neglect, because maybe they just never engaged you.

Connor Beaton: And so you personalize that as there must be something wrong with me that you aren’t willing to connect with me. And that gets filled in. So I just wanted to add that in because that’s pretty important.

Dean Pohlman: Yeah, I appreciate that. I’m not an expert. That’s why I have you here. So it’s not just what was said, it’s also what was not said.

Connor Beaton: That’s right.

Dean Pohlman: Okay. That’s good to know. I’m trying to think of. I’m trying to think of kind of my my personal experience with that. And there were the other thing that I’m thinking about this is there were certain behaviors that were rewarded and certain behaviors that were not rewarded. So, you know, you learn that some behaviors are okay while other behaviors are not okay, which leads you to believe that there are certain parts of yourself that are good and certain parts of yourself that are bad.

Dean Pohlman: And so a lot of this is just where the conversation has led me. But for me, a lot of and you probably realize this and we kind of hinted at it in our conversation before with this idea of shadow work, but it’s it’s realizing that there is no part of you that is and you might correct me here, but there’s no part of you that is in hair only bad or you you can’t think of yourself as some part of you that is wrong and some other parts of you that are the right parts, but it’s accepting all of the parts of you and coming to terms with all of that.

Dean Pohlman: And that’s I think that’s a big part of of of men’s work as well, realizing that it’s not just you don’t just get to pick and choose the parts of yourself that you like and focus on those, but you have to integrate all of it.

Connor Beaton: Yeah, Yeah. I mean you’re you’re, you’re pretty spot on, right? Is that what we as men do oftentimes, which causes a lot more suffering than it does help, is that when we identify a part of ourselves that we don’t like, we try and kill it off. We actually take this very sort of like, aggressive, violent approach towards it.

Connor Beaton: You know, for example, I’ve worked with a lot of men who have struggled with depression or anxiety. And what almost always happens is those men come in and when I say, what have you tried to do with this part of you? How like, what’s your relationship like with your anxiety? Usually their responses, I fucking hate it. I hate it.

Connor Beaton: I hate this part of me, you know? Or what do you do with your sexual insecurity? I hate this part of me. Nobody knows about it. You know, I don’t tell my buddies about how I’m dealing with this sexual challenge or this problem or this sexless, sexless relationship or marriage that I found myself. I do not talk about those things.

Connor Beaton: So what inevitably happens is that a lot of us as men try and use the the tool of avoidance or disdain as a tactic to deal with the elements of ourselves that we don’t like. And what it actually does is instead of getting rid of it, because you can’t do that, you can’t cut out your anxiety, you can’t, you know, lop off your insecurities.

Connor Beaton: What it actually does is it empowers it actually creates more strength in that part of you. So Carl Jung created this concept of the shadow, and I think it’d be important to talk about this because a lot of what we’ve been talking about within my personal story has to do with my shadow was running my life and I had to come to terms with it.

Connor Beaton: And this is true for a lot of men, but the shadow, simply put, is the psychological part of you. So part of your identity that you store all the things about yourself that you don’t like, that you’re afraid of, that you feel insecure about, and specifically that you do not want others to know about. That’s the big one.

Connor Beaton: You do not want other people as generally women to know about these parts of you, right? You do not want them to know about your fears. You don’t want them to know about how you feel insecure. You know, in some ways sexually or financially or in your body.

Dean Pohlman: So that’s it’s compartmentalization at its best for men. It’s putting all of the stuff you don’t like into a box and keeping it tucked away so you never have to deal with it again.

Connor Beaton: Yes. Yeah. It’s like I call it sometimes I call it like The Hurt Locker, right? Because it’s also the place where we store our pain. You know, like a lot of men that I’ve worked with had childhood abuse, whether it’s sexual abuse or physical or emotional or mental. And a lot of the times those men have tried to relegate that pain to you, to their to their shadow.

Connor Beaton: It’s like, I don’t want to deal with this. This doesn’t serve me. If I can just forget about it, then I won’t have to deal with it. And where does it go again? It doesn’t leave you. It just goes into your shadow. And so at some point and this is a great way of thinking about this, at some point, that becomes the the dragon.

Connor Beaton: That’s creating the self-sabotage in your life. So there’s an American therapist named Francis Weller who says that your pain has its own intelligence, your pain has its own intelligence. So you can think about kind of like a you know, you’ve got you’ve got Superman. And then what was his name? Mantle. You blanking on the antithesis of Superman. There’s like the alter ego of Superman.

Dean Pohlman: And I can’t help being sorry.

Connor Beaton: I can’t. I know I can’t.

Dean Pohlman: Feel Superman something.

Connor Beaton: Yeah, yeah. Evil Superman. But you can kind of think about that version of you is trying to get your attention. It wants to have a relationship with you, right? Like your resentment. The way I’ve described it before, is imagine you sitting at a big round table and you’re sort of at the, you know, quote unquote, head of the table.

Connor Beaton: And then on one side or all the parts of you that you like, and they’re they’re kind of like, you know, Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, right? You’ve got these different parts, your humor, your physical strength, you know, your good looks. Those are all sitting at one side of the table and at the other side of the table are your insecurities, your fears, the choices that you’ve made, that you’re ashamed of, etc., etc..

Connor Beaton: Now imagine that you only talk to the one side of the table that you like, but the other side of the table wants your attention. They want to be a part of the kingdom. They want to have a say. They want to be seen. They want to be understood, they want to have a voice. But you continue to ignore them.

Connor Beaton: What do you think they’re going to do? They’re going to talk louder. They’re going to try and sabotage to get your attention. They’re going to try and kill the other parts of you that you are giving a lot of attention to and affection to. And so it creates all of this inner turmoil and havoc. And so for a lot of men, myself included, that’s why the sabotage was happening, was because there was this whole other part of me that I didn’t know how to deal with, that I was afraid of that I didn’t want people to know about.

Connor Beaton: And I tried to systematically cut it out for myself. I tried to just like ignore it entirely instead of welcoming it in and beginning to work on. Like, okay, here’s this insecurity. How do I deal with that? Is there truth in it? Am I insecure for a reason or a purpose, or am I insecure because I’m lacking competence in some way and I can actually develop a skill?

Connor Beaton: And so in doing this, we start to work with the shadow, we start to welcome it in and for a lot of us, for all of us, what I’ll say is that there’s there’s gold in the shadow. So there’s actually this one cool concept, this one part that’s super important. And Jordan Peterson’s talked about this, whether you like him or not, we’ll just set that aside.

Connor Beaton: Jordan Peterson has talked about this notion of entering into the cave, facing the dragon, because the dragon has the gold. That’s a metaphor for facing your own darkness, your own shadow, because in that shadow is the gold. So an example of that, just to take it out of concept and into reality, you might be a guy that grew up being told that men that are angry are bad and evil, and in order to be a good man, you cannot be an angry man.

Connor Beaton: And so what did you do? What you wanted to make your mom happy because you saw how much your father, you know, his anger and their divorce wrecked her. And so you disassociated and disconnect from your anger, putting it in your shadow. It’s not that it removes itself from you. It’s not that you don’t have anger. It’s not that it ceases to exist.

Connor Beaton: It’s that you disconnect from it. And that anger is the thing that you actually need in order to do things like set boundaries, have your own voice, say no to things. And so it’s very common that men who are boundary less nice guys, you know, constantly saying yes to things that they don’t want to do, building resentment in their intimate relationships, finding themselves in relationships with women that kind of run the show.

Connor Beaton: And they feel railroaded constantly and they’re resentful because of it. It’s very common that those men, their anger is in their shadow, and that’s the gold. Being able to connect with that would actually help them set boundaries, tell the truth, say yes to the things that they want, say no to the things that they do not want to do.

Connor Beaton: And you have to go and confront that part of you that is kind of scary, you know, or terrifying. So hopefully that example gives some insight to the men that are listening to this.

Dean Pohlman: Yeah, no, I’ve lived that example. I live that example. I had a I had an episode episodes of Wrong Word. I did some I did a session with somebody who had on the podcast and did an energy session of some I don’t know what I don’t even know what was called basically an exercise he wanted me to do.

Dean Pohlman: He was like, Okay, I just want you to get really mad. And I was really reluctant to do it because it’s really easy for me to get mad. But I didn’t realize this until he asked me to do it. But when I was going through that process and the reluctance behind it was, if I get mad, then I will not be loved.

Dean Pohlman: And so I had this deep shame behind anger and my pattern with anger was the irony of that was anger was like my default emotion, because that was I think part of it was that was what was acceptable. As for me as a child, I could be angry. I couldn’t I don’t know. I for whatever reason, sadness wasn’t, I wasn’t as accessible.

Dean Pohlman: So anger was easy, but it was also something that I had tremendous shame around and, you know, it was a it was a stupidly expensive session. But if I got something out of it, I realized that I had anger or I had shame behind my anger and that in order for me to move forward, I had to bring anger into the fold and I had to accept this part of me that was angry rather than or accept that anger was a part of me, rather than continue to, you know, try to try to keep it out.

Dean Pohlman: I think another really good metaphor for explaining the things that we try to put down, the things that we try to store in this Hurt Locker, it’s like holding a ball under water. It’s like holding a beach ball under water. And the harder you try and hold it down, the harder it tries to come up. And that’s what you think of when you think of emotions, you know, coming out or bubbling out.

Dean Pohlman: They you’re trying to keep it down, you’re trying to drown it. And it’s the more you do that, the harder it is, the harder it’s trying to come out and come to the surface. So I think, what you said there is stuff that that men can really benefit from. And then going way back to the start of this topic with the two things that you did, number one, autocorrect and then leading into the shadow from there.

Dean Pohlman: The one other thing I wanted to is even if you don’t experience these things from your parents, even if there’s not someone in your life who is shaping these beliefs about yourself, you absorb cultural expectations and societal expectations about how men are supposed to deal with these things. My dad was he is a doctor and he wasn’t at home a lot for me.

Dean Pohlman: He was gone like all day. And then he would come home at, you know, I have vivid memories of looking at the clock and wondering, Dad’s home. And it was like 715 or 730 at night every day. And so for me, my dad didn’t talk to me a lot about these kinds of things. I didn’t have someone who was teaching me how to be a man, so to speak.

Dean Pohlman: I had. And so my teacher for that was society and society taught me that men are supposed to be, you know, all of the things that we’ve heard. Men are supposed to be reserved. Men are supposed to be resilient. They’re not supposed to complain. They’re supposed to kind of shut up and get work done. And I was rewarded for those behaviors.

Dean Pohlman: Those are the part of me that I, I like to display at my table of me is like, yes, you pushing through that workout, Good job, you being tired, but not coming out for a sub because you’re doing really well and you’re helping us, you know, win the game. Good. But these parts of you that that were weaker, these parts of you that craved more acknowledgment, those parts where those parts were not rewarded.

Dean Pohlman: So those were things that I kept in the shadow. So, I mean all of this this hits really hard with me. And I say this to, you know, kind of share some of my personal experience with that. But also to ask you, what’s the path, what’s the path forward? What’s the work involved to addressing these things look like?

Connor Beaton: Yeah, first, I just love to ask you a question, if that’s okay.

Dean Pohlman: Please do.

Connor Beaton: Have you ever looked at the connection between your anger and not having doubt around?

Dean Pohlman: I don’t know. I don’t know if I’ve ever looked at it like that. I think my mom also worked a lot. We worked in a I lived in a very I grew up in a very professional oriented household. So dad is a doctor. Mom started as a nurse, then became a lawyer. And so I I didn’t have as much access to my parents and my mom was and even now is very difficult access emotionally.

Dean Pohlman: So all of the goals behind this podcast are addressing the stuff that I really need to work on. So I mean, to go back to answer your question directly, no, I don’t think I have.

Connor Beaton: Yeah, well, I appreciate the kindness and, you know, in his here’s I’ll say without going into something in there you.

Dean Pohlman: Can you can pay me back if you want. I’m going to I’m comfortable doing this. There’s extreme power and vulnerability. And for some reason, my superpower seems to be expressing vulnerability to you in a way that relates well with other guys.

Connor Beaton: Love that. So in the attachment model that my colleague has created, he’s been he’s 74. He’s been doing attachment work and developmental psychology for 40 plus years, trained, you know, 6000 therapists, yadda, yadda. In his model, when we are trying to connect to a parent or a primary caregiver. Right. Whether you’re adopted or raised by a grandparent or an uncle Grant when we’re trying to connect to them and we can’t get connection from them, okay?

Connor Beaton: We’re not getting our needs met. There’s two options for us as a kid. One is rage and the other one is shutdown. And those are the two options. And what’s interesting is that if we cycle through those things for long enough, what we end up doing is we learn that it’s not safe for us to connect to that caregiver.

Connor Beaton: And so what we end up connecting to is we all need attachment. What we end up connecting to is some form of addiction. And I’m not saying this is you, I’m just following through the cycle, okay, for for the listener. So instead of attaching to a caregiver, we attach to a substance, an object, or a behavior substance object or behavior we attach to a substance like food, weed, booze, etc., We attach to an object, right?

Connor Beaton: It might be something that you own or you know, you might also see women as an object unintentionally. And so you you try and attach to those things through porn or only fans or behavior like gambling, watching pornography, sex addiction, hiring prostitutes, etc.. So when we go through this cycle long enough of being a young boy who’s trying to connect with mom, we’re trying to connect with that.

Connor Beaton: And we can’t get that connection. It’s not that we stop wanting it. It’s that we just look for it somewhere else. So we look for it in the things that are closest to us. For me, it was food. When I was younger, and then that would go into a myriad of addictive behaviors using alcohol, using drugs, using women, using pornography, all as a means of trying to self-soothe.

Connor Beaton: Because I didn’t feel safe in actually building a healthy connection with another human being. It didn’t feel safe for me. And so as I heard you talk, what was very clear for me was that rage was how you tried to express as a child, that you needed something more than what you were getting and that you that you actually needed some attention because there’s a certain type of helplessness to being a child and wanting attention and wanting closeness and not being able to get it.

Dean Pohlman: Yeah. And rage was also weirdly accepted. Like, I you know, I played I played sports, I played football until everybody hit puberty but me. And then it wasn’t any fun. So I stopped playing football, but I was still good enough to I was still strong enough and big enough, but strong enough and fast enough to play lacrosse, which is, you know, a sport that involves you getting to push people and hit people with sticks.

Dean Pohlman: So and and and weightlifting. I was really very intense in in weight training when I was in high school. And so, you know, having been able to channel that rage into those activities, it was weirdly rewarded. You know, I was I was commended for being a being a beast, you know, in the weight room and being being really strong and and and and enduring on the field.

Dean Pohlman: So, you know, it was rewarded. But yeah, yeah, that’s just where that took me.

Connor Beaton: Well, yeah, I mean, there’s a bigger piece in here and, you know, I think it’d be interesting at some point if we did like a session session as a podcast and we could dive into it and I could help walk you through some of that if you’re ever open to it. And I’m happy, happy to do that. But maybe what I’ll say on the last piece is that one of the most understated things that most men are carrying is some type of deep grief and sadness from feeling abandoned or neglected growing up.

Connor Beaton: The obvious ones are experiencing sexual abuse and physical abuse. That’s obvious for most guys, right? We’re like, Yeah, you know, I got beat up by my dad as a kid. That sucked. I know it had a net negative impact on me or my dad had rage issues and would yell all the time or, you know, mom would criticize me constantly and I could see how that had a net negative impact on me.

Connor Beaton: What’s harder to see are the ramifications of abandonment and neglect not having dad around in the way that we wanted, not having some of those lessons and teachings that we desperately craved. Having a father who would talk to us about what we were feeling or experience thing, having a dad that would teach us how to do basic things, you know, like my son’s three.

Connor Beaton: You know what I did with him yesterday? I let him help me chop down some trees on our property, and he couldn’t have been more ecstatic. He was absolutely loving life like he was so happy. And, you know, I. I have him help me light fires, you know, we go chop wood and then start a fire. And he there’s nothing in the world that he would rather do in that moment.

Connor Beaton: So clear, because every son wants to learn, wants to be around, wants to connect with dad and the vacancy of that and the absence of that, that leaves a deep type of well, of grief, of sadness, of self-questioning. What’s wrong with me usually is underneath all of that, how come you didn’t want to spend time with me? Why weren’t why wasn’t I good enough?

Connor Beaton: We personalize it again. This isn’t you as an adult. And again, I’m not talking to you directly, right? I’m just talking in general to the men listening. It’s not the wise, educated adult that feels that way. It’s the child that feels that way. And the thing that I want everybody to know listening to this is that if we don’t deal with that, it shows up in our relationship.

Connor Beaton: That same wound as a child. Why wasn’t I good enough for Dad to spend time with? Why wasn’t I good enough for Mom to be around? You know, why did they have to yell at me and you know, treat me that way will show up in your relationship because your primary attachments growing up create the foundation of how you will do.

Connor Beaton: And so what happens is that we become adults who still have that wound and that pain carrying within us. And instead of healing through it, we projected on to our partner. Right. And and we say things like, How come I’m never good enough for you? Or why do you always do this? Or why won’t you just prioritize my needs and my wants?

Connor Beaton: Like how come we always have to do what you want or, you know, refusing to refusing to just acknowledge our partners when they’re desperately saying like, I just want to know that I’m good enough for you or whatever it is, right? Yeah. That is at the very core and essence of a lot of relational conflict. It’s the pain that we’re carrying that we then project out into our relationship.

Connor Beaton: And Carl Jung had this great quote. He said, Women stand at the very edge of what men know about themselves. Women stand at the very edge of what men know about themselves. Women stand at where a man’s shadow begins. Now, for me, this is one of the most profound lines that I have ever read, because what it told me was all of my fears and all of my insecurities were destined to come out in my relationship with women.

Connor Beaton: They were going to come up and they have. And for the majority of men, that’s what’s going to happen. And it’s why relationships are so hard for us sometimes, is that we don’t want to admit that our own insecurities and fears and not good enough and pain and grief and sadness, they activated by the person that we love the most.

Connor Beaton: And so the majority of men that I work with, they have attachment stuff. You know, it’s really at the end of the day, it’s attachment issues that are plaguing them in their marriage, in their relationship, in their career, you know, in their work with their, you know, CEOs and VP’s that they’re working with or their boss, their manager, their attachment issues that are showing up.

Connor Beaton: And those are the things that we need to start to address. So I just wanted to say, say a couple of those pieces.

Dean Pohlman: Yeah. No, it’s it’s, it’s getting to the it’s getting to the root of those things. I totally agree. I we had our be the so I host retreats called be the better you and they’re very much some come thinking that they’re going to be attending a yoga retreat and they don’t read the they don’t read the website and it’s actually much more focused on self-improvement and all of the stuff that we’re talking here.

Dean Pohlman: And so we have these deep conversations. And one of the guys who came, you know, he was he was the guy who was here to do a yoga retreat. He’s like, my wife likes yoga and I want to be better at yoga. So that’s why I’m here. And he was he had a he had this beautiful breakdown where he he was he was so moved by other people’s pain and his inability to feel his own pain.

Dean Pohlman: And and then it was because his dad, he didn’t have enough as much time as he wanted with his dad and the thing that I do and the same thing that he did, he immediately followed that up with a justification. But my dad was working. He was providing for us. He was being a good father, know he wasn’t a bad dad.

Dean Pohlman: It wasn’t there. And we we try to we try to logically justify why we shouldn’t be emotionally feeling a certain way instead of acknowledging the emotion, the emotion that’s there. So I know we don’t have a lot of time, but I’m kind of curious like, what does that emotional work look like? What are those? You know, I think you talked a little bit about journaling, but what does that work look like that that really helps you get to the root of these things?

Connor Beaton: Yeah, I’m going to give you some tactical things. I first just want to say, you know, it’s the role of the father to make room for a son’s disappointment, not to be perfect. And the challenges that a lot of men feel, the pressure of being this perfect father when what’s actually like, I’m not going to be perfect for my son.

Connor Beaton: I’m going to be a great dad, you know, like I’m going to I’ll probably crush it just to be cocky and arrogant about it. I’m going to be good. You know, I’m going to help I’m going to support my dad, teach him things, and I’m still going to get shit wrong all the time. I’m going to get stuff wrong.

Connor Beaton: You know, I’m going to lose my temper once in a while. I’m going to miss cues of understanding what he needs, what he’s asking for, you know, I’m going to get things wrong. And so my job as a dad is to make room for his disappointment when he brings it forward, because that will inform me and give me data and information as to how to parent him better, not because of who I think he needs to be, but because of who he’s telling me he is.

Connor Beaton: That’s the big kicker. We get so lost as parents and our parents did this as well, trying to mold and shape our kids into who we think that they should be. And that can be helpful. I’m not saying don’t do those things. I’m not saying, you know, let your four or five year old run wild and be whoever the fuck they want.

Connor Beaton: I think that that’s, you know, oftentimes brutal on a child because they need some direction, guidance and structure and order. What I’m saying is when they come to you with a disappointment or a frustration, hear what they have to say. Make space, make room in your life as a father to be wrong and and to and to hear that disappointment and to hear that opposition.

Connor Beaton: I wrote a quote one day that I said, Every son has the right to oppose their father, and it’s the duty of the father to accept that opposition of the son. You know, that for me is at the heart of it. I know my son’s going to oppose my authority one day. He’s going to oppose my thoughts. He’s going to oppose my way of living.

Connor Beaton: He’s going to oppose all of those things. But I know that he’s doing that in this beautiful effort to try and define who he is as a man. That is my job. So I just wanted to put that out there. And if it resonates with some guys, great. If it doesn’t, they think it’s garbage. That’s okay to keep on keeping on the emotional work number one is you have to be willing to admit that you are feeling something in the first place.

Connor Beaton: And if you’re not sure what it is if you are what I call emotionally constipated and you’re not able to get your emotions out, find somebody that you trust you can work with that will help get some of that out. Because for some of us, for some men, they have been so conditioned to emotionally suppress and repress what they’re feeling that asking them and this is what happens to a lot of guys in therapy is they go into therapy, they start talking about things.

Connor Beaton: And the therapist says, well, how do you feel about that? And the guy’s like, I have no freaking clue. I have no idea. I just genuinely don’t know what I’m feeling.

Dean Pohlman: No, isn’t that weird, though? Like people say, like, how do you feel? Like, I literally have no idea. And I do that people, I, I have to practice that. How do I feel? Like I don’t know. Let me think about it. And then as soon as you say how to why am I thinking Why am I thinking about how I feel?

Dean Pohlman: I just You don’t think about how you feel. You just feel how you feel.

Connor Beaton: Well, that’s so that’s the skill that the majority of us men have not been taught. We have been taught to deal with emotional problems using rational equations. And it doesn’t work. And so, you know, your wife or girlfriend brings you some emotional problem and you’re trying to think your way through it and it creates more conflicts. Why?

Connor Beaton: Because she’s not asking for a rational solution. She’s asking for you to witness or understand her emotional experience, not even her emotional problem. She’s saying I want you to reflect back to me what you think I’m experiencing internally, which requires you to be able to do that. So, number one, be able to recognize where you are emotionally. Are you a man that struggles to feel anything in your body?

Connor Beaton: Right? Are you stuck in your head? That’s okay. Work with that. Find somebody that can help you, specifically somebody that knows what they’re doing when it comes to somatic work, somebody that can help you get into your body next is begin to do exactly that, begin to work with the somatic experiences that you’re having. So emotions happen in the body.

Connor Beaton: You feel, you feel things, you feel heat, you feel tension, you feel tingling, you feel contraction, you feel movement. You feel something that is an energy, right? It’s why a lot of people will say that emotions are energy in motion. So you’re actually having to tune into the information of energy physically in your body because it’s just a different form of information.

Connor Beaton: Right. So if you have a thought, I’m angry. That’s different than the information of I feel angry, which for me is oftentimes heat in the chest. I feel a lot energy in my chest. It’s almost I’ve described as like the Iron Man core. You know, Iron Man’s got that thing in his chest. That’s his power center that, like, power turns on for me.

Connor Beaton: And then all of a sudden I feel it spreading out through my chest. I feel this energy down in my arms and slowly it wants to move up into my face and into my head. I feel heat, I feel, you know, energy in my hands, like a strength in my hands. I feel my feet wanting to move. All of that starts to happen.

Connor Beaton: So you have to you have to start to what do I experience physically when I’m feeling a certain emotion? What do I experience physically? When I am feeling a certain emotion? There’s a couple simple ways to do this. My framework is you start to work with charge and intensity I charge an intensity. So every emotion has a certain kind of we could call electrical charge or an experiential charge or a sensate in charge.

Connor Beaton: Right. And that charge can be anger, explosive heat, shame, charge of contraction, sadness is maybe the charge of heaviness. And then the intensity is just how strong do you feel that charge? How intense do you feel that charge is? Is your anger two Is your anger a six? You know, is your anger a nine out of ten? And you’re you know, you’re about to explode.

Connor Beaton: So you start to look at what are the experiential or somatic or physical signs that I’m feeling a certain emotion. And it can help you to just write these things down at first, right? You can say you could just keep like a journal page for each emotion. This is what I did at first because I was like, emotionally, I felt a lot, but I couldn’t differentiate between what I was feeling and I felt a lot intensely.

Connor Beaton: So I was somebody that when I was I was intensely angry. When I was sad, I was intensely sad when I felt anxious or depressed, I was intensely depressed and anxious. And a lot of that was because I had just never taken the time to tune in to what I was actually experiencing. So you can write anger on the top of one page and anxiety on the next one and grief on the next one and sadness on the next one and disappointment on the next one.

Connor Beaton: And shame on the next one. And then just see if you can start to identify as you go through your days. When you feel anger, ask the question, What does it feel like in my body? What do I experience in my body? And I’m going to give you a very simple cue to help you do that, which is you have to use the breath.

Connor Beaton: Your breath is the access point to body, and it’s the access point to your nervous system. So, for example, the more stressed out you get or the more anxious you get, the faster you are going to breathe and the faster your heart rate is going to go. And that signals to your brain to release stress chemicals like cortisol and adrenaline, etc..

Connor Beaton: And so if you are stressed out and angry or anxious, a good way to start to tune into your body is to take a deep breath in through the nose, exhale out the mouth like you’re breathing out through a straw and ask yourself, what am I experiencing in my body? And you might want to do that a few times.

Connor Beaton: You breathe in, you exhale out and you notice what you’re experiencing in your body. And what you might notice is tension across the shoulders, tension in the chest. Maybe you feel some heat or some tingling or some contraction, and you start to identify what emotion is attached to that sensation. This is just a very good way to go about it.

Connor Beaton: But the breath is the access point for the majority of us. We’re walking through life, breathing very shallow, breathing very quickly, and for a lot of guys to come in to work with me, their bodies are almost always in a stress response. Their bodies are like in a what’s called a sympathetic, dominant state, which simply means that you are in a more fight flight or freeze oriented on a regular basis.

Connor Beaton: And for a lot of men, they can’t get out of that state. And so this is where things like porn, booze, weed come into play because those things can hijack our system and push us down into a what’s called a downregulated state or a more parasympathetic state or more relaxed state. Right. Smoking the weed, jerking off and, you know, orgasming that hits the reset button, which is why porn can be so addictive.

Connor Beaton: And so you have to start to use the breath, what am I experiencing in my body to identify some of the sensations where they are in the body where your breath is at in the body, how easy or how tight or how quick the breath is, and you want to just start to develop more body awareness. So I think I’ll just pause there.

Connor Beaton: Hopefully that gives men enough to go on to to begin. But those are some of the those are some of the tactics to feeling your feelings.

Dean Pohlman: Yeah, well, I think that Segways perfectly into everything we do with mental yoga, which is breath awareness, body awareness. So it’s it’s cool to hear that. That’s a great way to and ironically that’s probably why I’m doing all of these things now because I focus enough on breath and body to realize what’s going on. What are these other things that are happening?

Dean Pohlman: Why am I not happy yet? That’s awesome. All right. I got real I have a extremely quick part two rapid fire questions, and we’ll just burn through them. And you’ve been amazing at giving long responses. So this one would just be short. And we’ll have to we’ll have to wait for more for our our follow up episode if that does happen.

Dean Pohlman: All right. What do you think is the one habit, belief or mindset that has helped you the most in terms of your overall happiness?

Connor Beaton: Changing my inner dialog, having a respectful, appreciative self, validating inner dialog, developing that self validating inner dialog changed my entire world.

Dean Pohlman: What’s one thing you do for your health that you think is overlooked or undervalued by others?

Connor Beaton: Overlooked or undervalued? I mean, you know, I could say all the regular shit I work out six days a week, I drink lots of water, I don’t drink alcohol or smoke weed. I’m, you know, I’m sober, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. But honestly, I think the thing that is overlooked and undervalued is I laugh a lot with my son and my wife and my friends.

Connor Beaton: I Like I look for the funny moments where maybe some people would get annoyed with their partner, you know, their wife or the girlfriend, or they get annoyed with their kid. I look for the moments to just laugh at like the benign and arbitrary stuff that happens because that’s just so good for my mental health and it’s so good for my physical health.

Connor Beaton: Like, I just feel better. So I just look for the moments to laugh.

Dean Pohlman: That’s how I feel whenever I watch commercials. Like, that’s not funny. I’m like, But it’s funny to me, so I’m going to laugh. What’s the most important activity you regularly do for your stress management?

Connor Beaton: Breathwork I do breathwork every day.

Dean Pohlman: But what’s the most stressful part of your life day to day?

Connor Beaton: a stressful part of my life, day to day.

Connor Beaton: I mean, it kind of changes in the last two months. The most stressful part was I just lost my mom. She just passed away a couple of weeks ago. And so that was that was pretty stressful because I live 2500 miles away from her and my family. And so that was that was stressful. You know, I went home, I spent weeks with her, but it was stressful to try and figure out whether or not I was doing what I needed to do so that I didn’t have regrets after she died.

Connor Beaton: So that was stressful. But it’s it was worth it in the long run.

Dean Pohlman: Yeah. I’m sorry to hear that. What do you think is the biggest challenge facing men and their well-being right now?

Connor Beaton: I mean, I think there’s a couple different avenues to this. I think one is the outsource thing I talked about at the beginning. The outsourcing of defining what it means to be a great man and what it what masculinity is to women in society and culture. I think that is incredibly dangerous. And then secondly, I think the isolation of men from men, I think we we under index how much we actually need depth oriented, meaningful male relationships and how much our lives will flourish.

Connor Beaton: We actually have that.

Dean Pohlman: Yeah, I was thinking about that as you were saying it throughout the show. But I think part of the reason and you’ll probably agree that we aren’t as responsible as we would like to be for the definition of masculinity and being men is that men are isolated from one another. We don’t have enough opportunities to get together and talk about these things.

Dean Pohlman: And we are. We do that because at least in my interpretation, because society tells us and has told us that the ideal man works during the day home, takes care with his family and stays with his family all the time and doesn’t have time to go off and do, you know, guy things and I’ll just finish by saying a lot of my understanding of being a man does come from woman, does come from what my mom told me about men.

Dean Pohlman: And now a lot of what I’ve been doing the last 15 years has been unlearning a lot of that because I realized that that was my mom’s frustration with men. And that wasn’t that wasn’t that that’s her personal experience that wasn’t that shouldn’t have been defining what my goals should be as a man. So this was an amazing conversation.

Dean Pohlman: Probably one of the best interviews I’ve had on this show. A ton of information. And here I know we jumped around, but there’s so many really useful pieces of information and things to explore and unpack. I know for me, I’m going to go look up somatic work in Austin when I’m done with this, so I’m excited to do some of that.

Dean Pohlman: Yeah. Connor, thanks so much for having me on here. Where wait, I said that wrong. Thank you so much for being on your. You felt like this was your show. Almost was awesome. Thank you.

Connor Beaton: Thanks for having me, man. I appreciate it.

Dean Pohlman: And what if people want to keep up with your work or learn more about your retreats? Where can they learn about that?

Connor Beaton: Yeah, go. Go to mentor Dexcom. We’ve got an online group with like 500 plus guys from around the world called the Alliance. That’s a great place to begin. And online retreats or in-person retreats. And then you can follow me anywhere at Man Talks. I’ve got my own podcast. We’ve got a YouTube channel that’s going strong, and then Instagram where I try and respond.

Connor Beaton: So if you have any questions for me personally, feel free to do me at Man talks on Instagram, and I usually try and respond to as many of the DMS as I possibly can.

Dean Pohlman: Cool. All right, Connor, thanks again. That was awesome. Guys. I hope you got a lot out of this episode and make sure to tune in for the next one. I’ll see you guys on the next episode.


Resources mentioned on this episode: 

  1. ManTalks: Need help applying what Connor talked about in this episode? Head to his website, Man Talks, here to learn more: https://mantalks.com/ 
  2. ManTalks Podcast: Check out Connor’s podcast, Man Talks, wherever you listen to podcasts. 
  3. Follow ManTalks on Instagram: @ManTalks or via this link: https://www.instagram.com/mantalks/

Want to unlock more flexibility and strength, reduce your risk of injury, and feel your absolute best over the next 7 days? Then join the FREE 7-Day Beginner’s Yoga for Men Challenge here: https://ManFlowYoga.com/7dc

Tired of doing a form of yoga that causes more injuries than it helps prevent? The cold, hard truth is men need yoga specifically designed for them. Well, here’s some good news: You can start your 7-day free trial to Man Flow Yoga by visiting https://ManFlowYoga.com/join.

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