Demystifying Men’s Apprehension Towards CRAFT and Therapeutic Support, with Steve Andrews

Hopestream for parenting kids through drug use and addiction
Hopestream for parenting kids through drug use and addiction
Demystifying Men's Apprehension Towards CRAFT and Therapeutic Support, with Steve Andrews
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ABOUT THE EPISODE:

It probably doesn’t surprise you that the majority of Hopestream Community members are moms. About 70% of therapists are women, as well, and women are significantly more likely than men to seek out their services.

Last year, we launched The Woods, our private community for dads, stepdads, and male co-parents. And as much as we would love to help more dads who have kids struggling with substances, they don’t come flocking to our services. 

I wanted to dive into this imbalance and asked Steve Andrews to join me for a conversation. As host of The Woods, Steve brings a lot of harrowing personal experience to the table. When his son first began misusing DXM, Kratom, alcohol, and marijuana in middle school, he had no idea how bad things would get. (To hear his whole story, check out his first appearance on the show at the link below.)

Now, with his son in full recovery, Steve is a practicing therapist. He’s seen this gender dynamic play out within himself, in The Woods, and the world of therapeutic practice. Today, he gives us his best take on why men seem to have a natural aversion to approaches like The Invitation to Change and CRAFT and how we can reframe those ideas in a more accessible way.

EPISODE RESOURCES:

This podcast is part of a nonprofit called Hopestream Community
Learn about The Stream, our private online community for moms
Learn about The Woods, our private online community for dads
Find us on Instagram: @hopestreamcommunity
Download a free e-book, Worried Sick: A Compassionate Guide For Parents When Your Teen or Young Adult Child Misuses Drugs and Alcohol

Hopestream Community is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and an Amazon Associate. We may make a small commission if you purchase from our links.

Brenda:
 0:46You’re listening to Hope Stream. If you’re parenting a young person who misuses substances, is in a treatment program or finding their way to recovery, you’re in the right place. This is your private space to learn from experts and gain encouragement and support from me, Brenda Zane, your host and follow mom to a child who struggled. This podcast is just one of the resources we offer for parents. So, after the episode, head over to our website at hopestreamcommunity. org. I’m so glad you’re here. Take a deep breath, exhale, and know that you have found your people. And now let’s get into today’s show. Hey friend, welcome back. I hope you’re ready for a really meaningful and I think very insightful conversation today. And after you listen, if there’s a guy in your life who you think would benefit from hearing this, I really hope you’ll pass it along. I pulled Steve Andrews back to the microphone. Steve is our host in the woods, our private community for dads, because we’ve been noticing a common theme of dads and stepdads being somewhat or sometimes downright reluctant to adopting new ways of interacting with their kids. And when that kid is misusing drugs and alcohol, it’s a challenge. And when I say kid, that could be a 16 year old or a 26 year old. Because regardless of their age, if we’re in a parent or caregiver relationship, we think of them as kids. Steve gave me insight that I just can’t get from other people, mainly because he’s an experienced dad who’s been on the roller coaster ride with his own son, and he’s also a therapist. So he’s got a good amount of perspective on the dynamics around this topic. We talk about why therapeutic language can be a real turnoff for guys. Why women tend to make up the majority of members in HopeStream community, the stark absence of friendships in many men’s lives, and why asking for help, especially for their relationship with their kids, isn’t something that comes naturally to most guys. There is so much in this conversation I even share about a recent incident with my husband that had quite an impact on our relationship and Steve provides his perspective on it. It’s so good. And it’ll be really good if you will share this with a guy in your life. Here we go. Welcome back, Steve, to Hope Stream. I’m really glad that we’re taking the time to do this today because I’ve just noticed over the last couple of, well, maybe I shouldn’t say the last couple of years, the last year or so, some of these trends around some of our guys either the ones that are, you know, in the community or that you’re learning from and talking to, or the spouses or partners or ex spouses or ex partners of the moms in the stream. And so I was like, Hmm, who can I get on to talk about this? Obviously you’re the, you’re the right choice. So welcome back.
Steve:
 4:16Don’t hype it up too much. We’ll see how it goes.
Brenda:
 4:19Well, it’s important because. You know, moms do tend to take the, the lead on this. And I only say that because, you know, I volunteer with the partnership to end addiction. We have free zoom calls four days a week, 90 percent of the people on those calls are women. I, so, and I hear the same thing about the helpline. We see the same thing in our community. So I think it’s just, and I said this on an episode not too long ago, it breaks my heart because dads are struggling too. Dads. dying when they see their kids, you know, doing these things. And I don’t know that they’re getting the support that they need to get. So that’s why I kind of wanted to just talk through some of this with you. If nothing else, just maybe for you know, a mom to pass on to her husband to say, or partner or spouse or whoever, you’re not alone.
Steve:
 5:15Yeah. I mean, I think for one, I don’t think it’s unique to, to hope stream. I mean, you, like a friend of mine who used to be a pastor, it’s like something like 70 to 80 percent of. People that show up in churches or women not unique to this category. I would, I would imagine like on social media too, most engagement might be female. I don’t know. But I would imagine in things where there’s like chatting involved, I’m just guessing on that. I don’t know that.
Brenda:
 5:42Right. We do not have a scientific study.
Steve:
 5:44We don’t. We don’t. But, just intuitively, I would kind of gather that, but I think anything that, that says I need support is not really, really well received by a lot of guys. And I think, like, if you were to get a whole group of guys together in a room and say, you know, what are the qualities that make a real man? Like what, what makes a, and I say that in quotes, real man can mean a lot of different things. But I think at the top of the list would be self reliance and like that we shouldn’t be a burden on other people. Like I hear that, that phrase probably more than anything. Like I’ll ask even the guys in the group. It’s like, you know, do you share this with any of your friends? And a lot of them, they’ll really have close friends. And B no, because they don’t want to burden their friends with this stuff, talking about their kids issues. They don’t want to burden their friends. So that puts guys like in a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation. So. If they do say something, they feel weak, so that feels bad. And if they don’t say something, then they just like bottle it all up and then next thing you know, I mean, like the, the stats for male suicide, I mean, I’m just going to go ahead and go dark there, but it’s like, it’s four to one, or I think, I don’t know. To, to what the rates are for women. So that’s, they’re damned if they do them, damned if they don’t. And that, that’s a, that’s a, that’s a rough lose lose situation for a lot of guys. So they, this is where we end up, I think Thoreau said, like men lead lives of quiet desperation. That’s what we see. Even phrases like man up, it’s like, what does that mean? And that basically means don’t feel and means bottle things up. It means don’t express, create the illusion that you have everything together, that you’re competent, that can handle things even if things are spinning wildly out of control, you’ve got to maintain the illusion that things are, I, I got it. I got it.
Brenda:
 7:55Yeah.
Steve:
 7:56So, I mean, when it comes to any kind of support or seeking support, there’s just a, There’s like a stain on your masculinity because of it.
Brenda:
 8:06I’m trying to understand, like, is that because you’re, you’re thinking, I don’t want to be a burden on somebody or I don’t want to look weak because of the other guys around me or because of the women in my life might see that? Like where, where, what mirror are you looking in when you’re having that thought?
Steve:
 8:25I think it’s all of that. I don’t think it’s one thing, but I think men definitely have this internalized sense. It’s like growing up. Here’s what you should do. There’s a whole list of shoulds. A man should be strong, a man should be the provider, a man should, it’s a list of shoulds, right? And then yes, sure, like women have their own sense of, internalized sense of what it means for a man to be masculine. And so like, I’ve heard this, you know, I hear this recently, so my wife’s going through breast cancer. The first thing I hear from women too is, Steve, you got to be strong for her. Same thing, right? So we all have expectations of what these gendered expectations of, of what we want and are expecting from the other person. And it’s like, let’s get real for a sec. It’s like, if you came home and your husband was sobbing into a pint of Haagen Dazs, Saying that I had a really bad day today. How would that, how would you like that?
Brenda:
 9:25Well, I, first I would be completely shocked because it’s not behavior that you, that at least I see all the time. So I’d be like, Hmm, what’s going on. But I actually had a really vulnerable conversation with my husband last night unexpectedly, but it came out of a little bit of like a. Friction point and then it turned into this really beautiful tender moment where we had a conversation that we really needed to have. And then afterwards he said, well, what was your favorite part of your day? And I said, this, this was my favorite part of the day because I saw him. Let down that guard, let down the mask, be vulnerable. And it was amazing, right? Because it’s like, I know he’s in there, but I don’t see that very often. So I think, and I obviously you and I can’t speak for the entire population, but I think we have this tendency to. Really hold back, telling anybody about our kids struggling because either we don’t want to burden them or we’re embarrassed or whatever. We don’t want to look like we don’t have our, you know, act together with our family. This very same thing is true where it’s like when I do tell somebody that, and you’ve experienced this, they nine times out of 10. 9. 9 times out of 10 are supportive. They’re like, Oh my gosh, I’m so glad you told me this. You feel closer to that person because now you’ve shared something very, you know, personal. And I think the same thing would happen between spouses or partners or whatever. If we got the opportunity, especially as women, I’m speaking from The female standpoint, if we got the opportunity to see that in our men, in the men in our life, whether it’s our father or a brother or a partner, I don’t think we just, we don’t get to see it enough. So then that just perpetuates like, Oh yeah, no, my husband, he’s got it together. He’s, you know, whatever. And then it just sort of goes on and on and on.
Steve:
 11:35And I mean, for one, I think it’s awesome. You guys had that moment and I’m, I’m wondering like in, in a lot of couples, it’s like, what are the conditions that make that? Kind of pain revealing himself possible,
Brenda:
 11:45right?
Steve:
 11:46You know, like one is like, he’s mature. He’s not, he’s not a kid anymore. It’s like, as a young man, I was very different from the way I am now. And I would say, even like in my friendships with other men now, like I’ve, I vastly prefer my friendships now. It’s not as competitive. And I think guys are just willing to kind of let their guard down. A little bit more because it, time has taught us that, but, but there are also certain conditions that kind of have to feel safe with you, you kind of probably gave him enough space to kind of like formulate some thoughts that might’ve been hard for him to articulate, like this stuff isn’t all like, especially the emotional content, I don’t think is on the tip of every guy’s tongue because it’s like, You grew up with like the skin in your knee and it’s like, stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about. Like there are various degrees of that. Let’s say it wasn’t that bad, but it’s kind of like suck it up, buddy.
Brenda:
 12:42Yeah.
Steve:
 12:42Like we get a lot of this emotional blunting because we were kind of taught there were some unacceptable feelings.
Brenda:
 12:49Yeah.
Steve:
 12:50So I think just articulating it is very difficult for a lot of guys, but it requires like some conditions.
Brenda:
 12:58Well, and that’s how we started actually talking about doing this episode is for a lot of us, this language of like specifically the invitation to change and craft and like the psychology tools that you have and use, it doesn’t come naturally. And it can feel so foreign when you’re trying to ask an open ended question or you’re, you know, you’re doing these things that we know through research and science are proven to improve our relationships and our communication and all of that. And to help our kids actually and loved ones accept help for, you know, a substance use disorder. But it feels so awkward coming out of our mouth and it’s like, wait a minute, did I just say that? Cause that sounds really weird. And you were like, Oh yeah, for, for guys in particular, this is really challenging. So I think, you know, it’s just worth calling out that if you’re, you know, if somebody is struggling with this and like, man, I can’t do this, it just feels weird coming out of my mouth. And my kid looks at me like I’m, you know, a clown. That’s normal. That is totally normal.
Steve:
 14:09It is. And it’s like, I think it’s another hard sell for guys like, okay, you’re, let’s say you’re a 45 year old guy, you’re a grown ass man. And all of a sudden you’re going to go pay some, pay a therapist or pay a couple’s counselor to, it kind of comes across condescending. It’s like, don’t use those words, use these words. And it’s kind of like, you know, come on, man. It’s like, I’m paying for this, right? A like learn. If I say I need to learn something that implies that I don’t know something. And that goes back to the, like the, whatever the bullshit mail code, whatever we want to call it, it’s like, you’re supposed to know that you’re supposed to be self reliant. So I don’t know if there’s as much openness to, yeah, new language and like, I think it comes across, I think just the therapy field in general comes across to a lot of guys as, okay, this is something of, by, and for women right now. And statistically they wouldn’t be wrong. I think it’s over 70 percent of counselors are women. It’s probably higher than that. Many guys that I’ve spoken to. Have had the experience where they go to like a couple’s counselor and they kind of get picked off. It just creates, it creates a no thanks kind of attitude.
Brenda:
 15:26Yeah.
Steve:
 15:26And I, and I think it’s worth noting too. It’s like, it’s something like 50 percent of people in America, just across the board kind of think that going to therapy is like a sign of weakness.
Brenda:
 15:35Right.
Steve:
 15:37That’s just off the top. So I think there’s a lot going against. Right. support for men. And I wish I knew, I wish I, I wish there was a silver bullet to just kind of get through to guys and let them know it’s okay for one. But even just saying normalizing it is one aspect of it saying it’s okay is one aspect of it. But to desire new tools reinventing yourself having better, like to desire that. It’s kind of an admission that you’ve been through. Fucking up on some level. And that’s, I think that’s really, it’s not pleasant. It requires a degree of introspection that I think can be very uncomfortable for people.
Brenda:
 16:23I think you are a thousand percent right. And I think you have to want something enough and you have to come to the realization that I’m not going to get what I want by doing what I’ve been doing. So therefore I want to do some new things to see if I can get that thing that I want. Do you know what I mean? So it’s less about I’m inadequate. I, you know, I need to do X, Y, Z. I need to be better. I, I think of it. As it made us, cause I have four boys and I have a male husband. And so I’ve just seen a lot of this, like in my own parenting of really driving toward the want, like, what do you want? Well, a, I don’t want my kid to be. to die from a fentanyl overdose, or I don’t want my daughter to die in a car accident because she’s drunk behind the wheel. So if that’s what you want, then how do you get there? It’s not about what I, what I don’t know or what I’m, you know, and, and trust me, This is not just men. I am talking to moms all day who are very resistant, very resistant. And so I always go for that. If that is what you want, let’s figure out what it’s going to take to get that. And that might require some new stuff. And you’re probably, you probably already have a ton of stuff that you need. It’s going to help and work for that. We just got to, you know, maybe we just have to like revive it in you.
Steve:
 18:02It’s almost like the invitation to change model for even getting people in the door.
Brenda:
 18:08Yeah. Yeah.
Steve:
 18:09Because it’s like, there’s a degree of receptivity that’s even necessary to do that.
Brenda:
 18:15Well, and we say that all the time is if you have a, a co parent who is resistant, whether it’s a dad or mom, a step parent. Use the invitation to change on them because that will help get them to see, Oh, maybe I do have some motivation to try some of this new stuff. So it’s a little, what’s the movie inception, like where you go one level in another level. You’re going two levels in to get back to the level that you want to get to. If that makes, and that probably doesn’t make any sense, but you know what I mean?
Steve:
 18:51It makes a ton of sense. I’m a nerd. I love that. Yeah. It’s the story within the story, right?
Brenda:
 18:56Yes, yes, yes. And I think the most important thing for for people to remember if your co parent is resistant is the very first tenant of the invitation to change, which is behaviors make sense. It makes sense. If you have a partner who is resisting this and pushing back and not willing, there’s a reason they’re not just a jerk. Like there’s a reason why, and you just talked about a lot of them. All of those are reasons why you would be resistant to this. So understanding that and developing that compassion and empathy to say, man, that would suck to be coming into this with all of that baggage. And now you’re asking me to do this. Like of course it makes sense. You’re going to push back. So I think we can really just start to apply some of the, those same skills. Which is a lot, it’s a heavy lift when you’re trying to do this with your child. And now you’re also trying to do it with, you know, a co parent. That’s a lot. That’s like a full time job right there.
Steve:
 20:01Yeah, that really is.
Brenda:
 20:02It’s huge. It’s huge. I think one of the things that I see a lot in our members in Hope Street and community, we tend to attract highly educated, high functioning. Very, you know, successful, very passionate, loving parents, and they really want to make a difference, right? That’s the reason why they’re willing to invest in a membership, willing to invest in their time. And yet a lot of times when they hear, Oh, you’re going to have to do a lot of this work and adopt this learning mindset. It’s like, whoa, whoa, whoa, what? Like I am a PhD in this, or I am a CEO of this, or like, what are you talking about? Like, I got it. I know. And you gotta kind of step back and say, I’m going to kindergarten because guess what? I didn’t go to school and get my PhD in addiction psychology. I’m not the CEO of the partnership to end addiction, right? Like we have our specialties. And our expertise in one area, but it might not be this area. Most often it’s not. Do you see that with, with guys that you work with as well?
Steve:
 21:19Yeah. I mean, I think like the word that pops in my head is competency extrapolation. That’s sort of like where you you’re good in one domain. You think it’s going to apply to all domains? And it is, it is not the way it is. Most of the folks coming to HopeStream, like other stuff hasn’t worked, right? So like,
Brenda:
 21:37yeah.
Steve:
 21:38When, when it hurts enough, you’ll try new things, you know?
Brenda:
 21:42Yeah. When it hurts enough and you want it enough. It’s kind of like when you get to the point when you’re overweight and you get to that point where you’re like, that’s, that’s, that’s, I want my freedom back, right? To move around. I want to fit into these clothes. I want to look a certain way. That’s it. I’m going to make a change. I’m going to learn a new way of eating. I’m going to learn a new way of moving my body. It’s the exact same thing. So sometimes. You know, moving the analogy, like just one notch over to something else that people can relate to, I think can be helpful as well, because you’re right. You have to want it and it has to hurt enough. It’s the exact same thing that our kids have to get to is they have to want a different situation enough. And that most often comes because what they’re doing is not sustainable anymore. They’re, they’re in too much pain.
Steve:
 22:39Yeah.
Brenda:
 22:40Obviously not everybody gets to that point, but that’s where I think recognizing that we’re both doing the same thing. In different ways can, can lead to some of that empathy to say, Oh dude, now I get it. Like I’m so resistant to making this change. I get it. Why you are too.
Steve:
 23:01I’m just as excited about learning new language as you are about not smoking pot or whatever. I’m just as stoked about that. Yeah.
Brenda:
 23:11It’s like, I’m looking forward to it, but it is also, you know, even though just because most of our parents are in their. Mid forties to, you know, late fifties, I would say is where the bulk of people are age wise. You don’t tend to start to learn new stuff at this age, right? Like when you’re in your twenties and your thirties, you’re learning a lot of new stuff, whether that’s raising kids or you’re, you’re at work or whatever. I, as an example, I joined a writing class, like I taking a writing class because I want to write a book and I don’t know how to do that. And so I joined a writing class and I am learning so much about sentence structure and like, you know, all of this stuff. And I’m, it’s lighting up my brain, like a whole new part of my brain that I haven’t had to use. So it can also be like, just looking at it as like, Hey, I’m just learning something new. Like, this is a really cool opportunity. And I think what I hear from, from everybody who learns about the imitation change and these tools, communication tools, they’re like, Oh my gosh, this has helped me so much at work. It’s just going to be helpful overall, regardless of what, you know, what you’re using it in.
Steve:
 24:23But even the way you just described that. It’s like you’re open to something different. You’re curious about it. You’re engaged with it. And I mean, I, I know this about you personally is like reinvention. You’re not scared of reinvention like that. Like to me, that’s like living creatively. Like if I were to. Like, I think that’s an easy thing to, like, get behind, is just like, I think that’s a very creative way to live, is like, this is like some new stuff that I’m trying, and some folks would be very scared at the prospect of reinvention. Some folks are on the other side of the spectrum, where it’s like they’re eager for change and they want something different. It’s the implied indictment that what you’ve been doing is wrong. That’s the hard thing. It’s a, and maybe, maybe it’s a framing thing where it’s like, here’s your, yeah, this is your opportunity to do something new and add to your toolkit. That adding to your toolkit doesn’t sound that bad, right? Hey dads, if your child is struggling with substances and mental health, you’re not alone. You’re in a club no one wants to be a part of, and we know that fear, confusion, and frustration can be overwhelming. That’s where The Woods community comes in. The Woods is a completely private, 100 percent confidential digital refuge where you’ll find resources and educational content that can help you navigate the intricate challenges of substance use. Learn strategic approaches to support your child more effectively. Benefit from the expertise of guest speakers. Engage in live discussions and connect with other dads who understand exactly what you’re going through. Try it free for two weeks to see if it’s a good fit for you. After this episode, visit thewoodscommunity. org and become part of our group. Now let’s dive back into the show.
Brenda:
 26:22I would love to just walk through some of the big, like the chunks of the invitation to change and talk about what the tools and skills are within the, within those and just see Do a little bit of a pressure test with you to see where you think you, we might meet the most resistance with dads in particular. So there’s three big chunks of the invitation to change. The first is understanding. The second is awareness. And the third is actions. It’s pretty like they’re really smart. The folks at CMC, they broke it down into three because they know that people think in threes, so awareness, understanding and actions. So in, in the understanding section, that’s where we talk about behaviors make sense. Like we just talked about with, of course it makes sense that you’re resistant to this, or, you know, of course it makes sense that you’re going to medicate. With a D with weed when you have ADHD and you’re not getting relief any other way. So behaviors make sense. One size doesn’t fit all just meeting. There’s a lot of different ways that people get into recovery and or just. There’s not, you know, there’s not one treatment for this. There’s so many different ways that that happens. There’s also different ways that we, as parents cope with this. So one size doesn’t fit all for us either. And then the idea that ambivalence is normal and that you will see lapses and you will see what looks like crazy making you know, behavior on your child’s part. So in that bucket of understanding, you What stands out to you as something that you’d be like, yeah, I don’t know about that.
Steve:
 28:02I think there’s a lot. I mean, again, there’s the thing where you’re saying, I don’t understand now. Like I, I don’t, I don’t do this now. Like I can, I can see a defensive reaction to this on some level, but I think like where my head goes, it’s like, you just described a process. The understanding is a process and it’s not an immediate thing. And I think in the same way that. It takes a lot less time to spank a kid than it does to explain what’s going, what they did was wrong and how this is going to impact them in the future. That takes time. It also takes a degree of awareness. It takes some space to be able to like, okay, we’re going to, I’m going to sit down and explain this to my child. It’s a lot easier to just spank a child. So I think, and I’m putting myself in the position of like a lot of men. Like, let’s say you’re busy, especially like our, our demographic is kind of like busy professional types. It’s like, I just want my kid to stop doing what he’s doing. Like, like I think it’s easy to focus on the, the behavior and not the understanding part. And part of this is like, it’s easy. I think there’s a tendency, this is a broad generalization or for people to externalize that problem. Right. My kid’s fucking up. That’s externalizing the problem. Understanding is something that I, that’s an internal thing I have to do. Right. That requires a lot of, that requires effort, work, time, space, a degree of introspection. You just made my life more complicated. That’s what you did.
Brenda:
 29:45Right. And clearly it’s his problem. Cause he’s the one that’s, you know, smoking weed all day.
Steve:
 29:50Yeah. And that’s where, I mean, you know, now like it’s part of a system and I’m contributing to it too. And my reactions contribute to it too. And that’s where this goes back to the, the male programming thing. It was like, I get emotional when I start talking like that. I have to be in a soft place, and if I’m taught my whole life that I gotta be in a hard place, it’s hard to get there. But I get, like, I get visibly emotional when I start saying it, like, because I project myself back into my own family where it’s like I have an effect on this system and it’s a profound effect,
Brenda:
 30:34profound effect. No, that’s very good insight. That’s really, I like the, the sort of the external versus internal and yeah, it is way easier to externalize this and be like, well, something’s got to change over there. Not in my house, not in my own personal house. Right.
Steve:
 30:53Yeah.
Brenda:
 30:54Well, and that leads directly into the next bucket of the three, which is awareness. You can think about this in, in the invitation to change approach is these are the things of what you can do on your insides. So already I’m feeling like this is not going to be the most favorite topic. So the, the kind of the bucket, the main points in, in here are self awareness, willingness, and self compassion. Self compassion is just universally something that at least in the United States of America, and I know we have listeners all over the world, but here in the United States of America, it is not a thing. It’s not a cool thing to have a lot of self compassion. It’s like drive hard, do the thing. You know, if you fail, just, you know, you got to get back up and do it again. We don’t spend a lot of time being compassionate to ourselves. And like you just said, the self awareness is, Oh, wait a minute. I have an impact on this. It’s the mobile, right? Where you touch the one thing on the mobile and the whole thing jiggles. It’s exactly what it is. So this, this is a tricky one. This is a tricky one for everybody, but I would imagine, especially for men.
Steve:
 32:06Well, my, my head’s just swimming with a bunch of things on this, but I think self compassion is especially hard for guys like I hate the words toxic masculinity because I don’t think it’s specific enough. I prefer and I stole this from a friend of mine violent masculinity where there’s a specific form of masculinity and I think that shows up a lot as self loathing self compassion is self loathing. They don’t get along together. Like, so if a guy’s gotta be tough, have a shift together all the time, create this presentation of perfection. And there were at least. Self reliance. When we don’t measure up to that, that turns to self loathing. That rings true for me. And I think that makes, oh boy, that’s just hard. That’s a, that goes counter to the whole awareness thing. So I think, like, when we talk about, for one, guys don’t use words like depressed for themselves. Very rare. Like, I don’t hear that a lot. I think that’s really what’s happening is just a form of self loathing and shame about where they’re failing and not living up to a lot of things. So I think the more that we can kind of name that, Hey, that’s what’s going on. A lot of these words, they get overused in culture and they lose all meaning. So that’s where I don’t even like things like toxic, messy. I just don’t,
Brenda:
 33:23I don’t
Steve:
 33:24know if it’s useful, but there is a form of violence that men do to themselves when they’re not living up to, to like what they perceive as the standard. It’s violence. You know, people talk about you can act in or you can act out. That’s, it’s acting in. I think guys do that really, really well. Really well. So yeah, I start getting soft when, when I start talking about that. Like I,
Brenda:
 33:48I know.
Steve:
 33:49Well, I start getting emotional about it too. I’ve got three sons and it’s like, I, I would love to think I’m pretty good at this. And it’s like, I still, still contribute to it too. And this is where it’s like, My heart gets broken too. Like I, I wasn’t expecting to kind of go there today, but like, yeah, I definitely get very emotional about this. I do.
Brenda:
 34:11It’s a lot to put on our young boys. It’s a lot for our, our, you know, teenagers and young adults because they are soaked in this social media world of. I think, you know, just like women are like the perfect body and the perfect diet. And then you got to have your Bitcoin act together. And then what are you doing with your investments? And, you know, bro, what’s going on with your, you know, car and your stock market? Like I see my kids going through this. And it’s like, Oh my gosh, that is a lot. And so yeah, the, the kind of internal violence is a really good insight that we’re, we’re not all compounds and they’re not living up to. whatever their idea of the right guy is. And that might look different to everybody, right? If you live in the South, it might have a cowboy hat on. If you live in New York, it’s probably got a, you know, different, a different vibe, but everybody holds something up there. And when you don’t meet that, that, yeah, I think you’re right. That self loathing is, is not going to contribute to self compassion. It is not going to make you want to be more self aware for sure.
Steve:
 35:31Yeah. There’s almost more incentive to just keep going. Just get whatever you’re doing. I’m just going to keep going. I’m still alive. At least there’s that, you know, and so it’s working, whatever, whatever that means. Even if we’re, we’re damaging our relationships,
Brenda:
 35:46the actions bucket is the one that covers communication tools, behavior tools, and the idea that this is going to require practice. So the communication tools are kind of noticing when to engage and when not to engage. So the red light green light thing where you know whether or not it’s a good time to try and engage with your child or your partner or your boss or whoever. Again, these tools apply to everybody. Active listening, open ended questions, right? The whole motivational interviewing. So, ors, open ended questions, affirmations, reflections, and summaries. And then what we call the information sandwich, which is just a way that you can set yourself up to offer some information and not have it completely blow back in your face. What do you think about the communication tools going Yeah.
Steve:
 36:42I mean, I do think this goes back to like the, I’m a grown ass man. Don’t tell me how to talk. I’m going to talk just fine. And what I’m doing is fine. You have to be at the point to do that. You just, you have to be ready to give something else a whirl. And it’s like, it’s tough. That’s a tough sell. That is a tough sell to an adult who’s supposed to be fully baked and has, has his stuff together. You know, it’s just not, I don’t think it’s appealing. Even though, and maybe it, maybe it does come back, we’re both from advertising, maybe it’s how we package this, this thing. It’s like, maybe it’s about taking your relationships to the next level is more than, but I think what guys hear is you’re doing something wrong. What you’re currently doing is wrong. I find this a lot. I’ve done this little test in groups in the Behavioral Health Center is like, if I have a mixed group, group, men and women, I’ll be like, all right, how many, Like, in your heart of hearts, you’re, you’re worried that you’re not enough. It’s generally mostly guys that raise their hand. And then I’ll ask this, like, how many of y’all in this room are, you’re, you’re worried in your heart of hearts that you’re too much? It’s most of the time, that’s mostly women. That’s a, that’s a very small sample of emotionally charged people that are not having a good day, but I think that is kind of true. Like, I think in general, men are more worried about being not enough. And women are more worried about being too much. I’m too, I’m too much. I don’t know. What, how does, how does that sound to you? What do you think?
Brenda:
 38:18No, that totally makes sense because our cultural conditioning is stay quiet, stay small. Don’t make a lot of noise. Don’t upset anybody. Make sure everybody in the room is happy, you know, keep the peace and do it all with a smile and make sure your makeup is perfect and your hair also. And by the way, you have to be really thin and then you got to have like a great outfit on no
Steve:
 38:43pressure, no pressure at all.
Brenda:
 38:47So we’re, we’re told like there’s, there’s a damping down. Like you are too much. If you get outside of this, don’t make a lot of noise. Don’t call him out on that. Don’t, you know, that’s, that’s not how we roll. So that makes complete sense to me. I think you’re right. It just comes back to like, well, I’ve been doing it wrong. And I think I would challenge anybody to, to just reframe that, which again is one of these therapy terms that we all sort of roll our eyes at, but it’s not that you’ve been doing it wrong. You’ve been doing it how you know how to do it. And if somebody, you know, like if you are an airplane pilot and you’ve been flying a plane one way, and then somebody came with this new. Rocket plane and said, oh, well yeah, you could totally fly this. You’re just going to need to get a little bit of more information. Is that because you’ve been doing it wrong this whole time? No, it’s just new information. So that would be my reframe coming from a non therapist.
Steve:
 39:47Language is essentially a technology, right? So, so this is like new technology. Yeah. This is new. This is new technology at your disposal. This is, I mean, language of all, it’s just like technology. So I don’t know. There’s something kind of, kind of neat about that.
Brenda:
 40:03This is the, the operating system upgrade. And then the next section is a behavior tool. So this is where we talk about increasing, we want to increase positive behavior and we want to decrease negative behavior and doing, I think that’s a given, right? Anybody would say, well, yeah, that’s. Sign me up, but the way you do that might not feel so like cozy, which is positively reinforcing your young person, even if they’re still doing crazy stuff, like you got to find positive things to reinforce affirmations, right? So affirming. Yeah, man, Steve, I could totally see why that would have pissed you off. Like, you know, doing the affirmation thing and then allowing for natural consequences. What I hear, I’ll just tell you what I hear and see, and I want to get your thoughts. I hear that the dads are actually better at allowing the natural consequences. Like, well, he’s going to go out and do that. Like, okay, let’s see what happens where mom is like, no, no, no, no, no, I got to rest. You know, I got to, I got to make sure that and then, and then always like rescuing from the natural consequences. I shouldn’t use the word always that is a bad word to use. Very often we’ll be wanting to do the rescuing. What, what do you think about that?
Steve:
 41:26Hey, you’re, you’re spot on. Yeah, That’s exactly the way it played out with me and my wife at least, you know, our little sample size of that. But I think there’s something with this like finding the one small thing, the win that people are doing amidst all the chaos that they might be doing. It’s, it’s very hard and I think maybe it feels very false to a lot of guys. Like I’m not being real about the situation or I’m not being realistic. Maybe I’m, I’m guessing like this is. Some of my own sense of it. And I would say that the motive, like the, the core of that is probably fear. I’ll give you an example. That’s like right on the spot in my head. My middle son, he’s the one that I had the most problems with. I still get scared around him. Right? So he, he was essentially like math illiterate and he’s, he’s going back to college. She’s like reinventing his life. He’s married. He’s. He’s doing ROTC, he’s re enlisted in the army but in the ROTC program to be an officer. Like he’s improving himself. It’s all great, right? And he, he’s, tells me when he’s excited that he’s doing great in his statistics class. He’s doing great in his statistics class. Like I should be like, and there’s my should, encouraging him, that’s fricking awesome dude, that’s awesome, that’s great, right? That’s what I should be doing. Like I should be ginning that up. And then I’m like, all right, dude, what’s eight times six and he can’t answer it or he’s having a hard time with that. Like the, the most core basic thing I need to call him and tell him that I wish I hadn’t done that. I get like, this is one, like, but if I’m being real with myself, I’m scared, I’m projecting, I’m foisting my fears on him. I’m like. I like, if you don’t learn this, you’re, you’re going to be out with people and like, it’s got, this is going to come up again and again and again, you’re going to be in a leadership position again and again and again. It’s fear. So like my personal fears for him get in the way of me finding like the good thing that he’s doing.
Brenda:
 43:46Right. A perfect, perfect example of why we get in our own way. Even when we know the thing that we should do, we get in our own way. And isn’t it interesting that this is the exact same thing that our kids go through. They get in their own way. They know what they need to do. They know what they should do. And they choose something else. And so it’s very easy for us to get on them about that, right? You said you weren’t going to use this weekend. You said you were going to, you know, whatever. And then you look what you did. You did the opposite. We do the same thing. It might not be with weed or kratom or fentanyl or whatever, mushrooms, but we do it in other ways. And so just seeing some of those parallels in how we struggle with the same stuff, like different wrapper, like we’re vanilla and they’re, you know, rocky road, but it’s the same thing
Steve:
 44:55from the receivers standpoint. So like from my son’s standpoint, I imagine how much that hurt. I imagine like a 15 year old version of him. That’s kind of like, it’s fucking up on a lot of levels, right? He was but to not hear enough of the, Hey man, I saw the, I saw what you did, the way you completed that task. And I really appreciate how you. He did that. You showed up. But again, like that take, that takes effort and time. It takes effort and time. And some degree of like, I’m going to like, if it kills me, I’m going to find one great thing to say about what he did to that.
Brenda:
 45:41Exactly.
Steve:
 45:42You know,
Brenda:
 45:45I wish I knew the episode number right off the top of my head of your first episode. If, if you haven’t heard that. Be sure to go back and listen and I will put it in the show notes because what Steve went through with his son is on par with what many of you are dealing with. And I think it would be really important to listen to that episode because he does go into more detail about what you were dealing with at that time with him and how you really struggled to define the compassion and empathy and all of that. Like it does not come naturally. So it’s, you know, just message of the day. If, if you’re angry and scared and, you know, hurt and all that, yeah, of course you are. And it’s not until you start getting some of this information, you know, learn the information that’s going to help you learn to fly the rocket airplane that you will be like, Oh, okay. That actually makes sense. Doesn’t come naturally. Even Julie, she was on an episode. Specializes in, you know, counseling people with addictions. And when her son went through it again, I’ll put that episode in the show notes as well. She was like, Oh no, that’s not the first thing that came to my mind that I should be compassionate and empathetic.
Steve:
 47:08Yeah. Can I piggyback on something you said too? Well, just like the word empathy. Like I think a lot of folks can choose empathy. With sympathy, like empathy can look like, Oh, that’s so sad. I feel bad for my kid. Like that’s, I, I wouldn’t question if that’s empathy, like to me, empathy is really putting yourself on somebody else’s shoes and seeing the world. As they see it where it’s like, this is why the drugs make sense. This is what, you know, it’s fun to hang out with my pals and it’s fun to do that. Like really understanding. And that’s this guy, Chris Voss he wrote, never split the difference former FBI hostage negotiator. He called it tactical empathy. Like, like there, like it is tactical. It’s almost strategic On some level where it’s like really putting yourself in somebody else’s shoes to understand what their motivations are. It’s a smart move. I don’t think guys like the sympathy thing. I don’t think that that guys are good at the, Oh, poor kitten is hurt, you know, whatever. But I think we can get into a place where we’re like, I’m going to put myself in his shoe, in my son’s shoes or my daughter’s shoes. Cause I need to, that’s part of the understanding.
Brenda:
 48:28Absolutely. I’m really glad you said that because actually it, it usually doesn’t feel good when somebody is like, Sympathetic, right? It feels condescending. It feels trite, like it just doesn’t feel good. Whereas as empathy does. And I think the word strategy is really crucial because what I talk about a lot is these, this information makes you strategic in how you approach. Your child or your partner who’s might be struggling with substances or a parent or a brother or sister Instead of just like you and I were at the whim of our kids behavior, right? Like we’re just like being yanked around by the chaos and the craziness because we didn’t have these tools at the time That instead of that you can actually have tools where you’re like, oh, I know what this is I know how to deal with this I know what to say right now. I know what not to say right now. I know how, right. You’re like, and you could think of it just like you were talking about this negotiation book guy. Of course, when you go into a negotiation in a work setting, you are going to have some tools in your head, right? You’re not just going to willy nilly go into a negotiation. You are going to be prepared. You’re going to know what you want. You’re going to go in with some tactics. Like if he says this, I’m going to say that if she says this, I’m going to say that, right? You know, how this is going to go. That’s exactly what we are providing in the invitation to change is it’s those tools. It’s the, the, like how this chess game is going to go down. When they do this, you’re going to do that. When they say this, you’re going to say that whatever. And so I feel like it’s a. It’s almost like a playbook when you feel like all hell’s broken loose in your family and you’re like, what is going on? I don’t know what’s happening because I’ve never had this situation before. Right? And I’ve never had a 15 year old who smokes weed all day and is having psychosis. These are, this is the playbook of how you deal with that. And of course you didn’t have this playbook before. Why would you? Why would you have this playbook? So, and I hear this back. This is what I get back from the moms in the stream is I tried that thing and it worked. I totally didn’t think it was going to work. I didn’t, you know, I just tried it because you said to experiment with it. And it worked. And so when you start using these tools and the other person’s behavior changes, you’re like, Oh, very cool. Like we both have dogs, right? When you have a dog and you take the, take them to obedient training, the person that’s leading the class is not talking to the dog. They are talking to you because you have to change how you’re communicating with the dog to get the dog to do what you want it to do.
Steve:
 51:22Oh, that’s so true.
Brenda:
 51:24We can’t force our kids to do anything. With better predictability, we can orchestrate our behavior and our words. That will impact them and, and we watch them change and it’s, and I don’t, I’m not, I’m not comparing our kids to dogs. I’m just saying it’s the same dynamic, you know, when you take your dog and you’re like so happy when you leave the class because they sat next to you. Even when the guy walked by with the poodle, your pit bull still sitting next to you and you’re like, good job. But it was what you did to make that happen.
Steve:
 52:00Yeah. I love that analogy. Actually. It makes a lot of sense to me. I love it.
Brenda:
 52:07Well, I think this is great. Such a great conversation. So needed. Steve is in the woods community. Twice a month just hanging out talking like this with guys who are all have kids struggling Nobody has to feel weird because you all got messed up kids. No The kids are all That’s the that’s the thing that brings everybody together in the woods And so there’s no need to feel bad about that. But I just love that you’re there to hang out with guys Talk about this stuff in a non prescriptive or therapeutic way, just to see what’s going on and how this can be helpful. So, I just think that’s really, really cool. And there’s not. A lot of spaces like that for guys, right? Especially if you are really, you know, you’re terrified that your kid’s gonna die or be homeless or stay in your basement for the next five years. Like those are really tough things to be dealing with. So to have a place to kind of hash all that out, I think is great.
Steve:
 53:10Yeah. I’m honored to be part of it.
Brenda:
 53:13It’s very cool. Very cool. So, hope stream community. org. If you’re interested, you can find the information there. There’s a little thing that says parents, that’s, that’s you. So go there and check out how it all works and you can hang out with Steve a couple times a month, see some cool guest speakers and, and get some of this information. You know, it’s just net new information that you of course wouldn’t have ever had. So thanks for hanging out, chatting with me. It’s been fun as always.
Steve:
 53:45Thank you. Always enjoy it, Brenda. That was a lot of fun. You take care.
Brenda:
 53:50Okay, my friend, that’s a wrap for today. Don’t forget to download the new ebook, Worried Sick. It’s totally free and will shed so much light on positive tools and strategies you can use right now to start creating conditions for change in your home. and in your relationships. It’s at hopestreamcommunity. org forward slash worried. And as always, you can find any resources mentioned during today’s show at brendazine. com forward slash podcast. That is where every episode is listed and you can search by keywords, episode number or the guest name. Plus we’ve created lay lists for you. Which make it easier to find episodes grouped by topic and those are at brendazine. com forward slash Playlists, please be extraordinarily good to yourself today. Take a deep breath. You have got this You are not doing it alone, and I will meet you right back here next week

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