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Jayson Gaddis talks about relationships and the lockdown

By May 21, 2020 September 2nd, 2020 One Comment

“And I don’t quite see, and I don’t have the ‘witness’ enough to see that my conditioning is the very thing holding me back.” – Jayson Gaddis

Mark is the founder of the Courage Foundation and at this time of year they strive to commemorate all the veterans of foreign wars. Especially those who came back wounded psychologically in addition to the physical wounds suffered in service to their country. The scourge of Post-traumatic Stress affects many veterans and the Courage Foundation offers the Veteran Integration Program to help struggling veterans reintegrate and find Post-Traumatic growth. Go to to find out more.

Jayson Gaddis (@jaysongaddis) is a psychologist and expert on marriage and relationships. He is the founder of The Relationship School, and is also the host of The Relationship School podcast. Today he talks to Commander Divine about the ongoing challenges of relationships, as well as some of the specific issues around the COVID lockdown.

  • The most important Part of a relationship is mutual growth
  • Shame is self-directed, guilt is other directed
  • You need to be with strong emotion, pain and discomfort. Conflict is where growth comes from.

Listen to this episode to get a better grip on how relationships work, especially in the current situation.

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This is Mark Divine. Welcome back to the Unbeatable Mind podcast. Thanks so much for joining me today.

Hope you’re enjoying your lockdown. I certainly am, and we’re having some interesting times. So super-stoked to talk about a little bit of that with Jayson Gaddis today. And we’re going to talk about how to strengthen your relationship, when you’re locked down with your family.

How interesting. What a perfect time for this.

One other thing, this podcast has over 1500 reviews – 99% of them are five-star – but every review does count. And I’d love for you if you haven’t to take a look at placing a review. It really does help.

And I think we’re ranked number 20 on iTunes for health related podcasts. So that’s awesome. So thank you very much for your support.

So today – like I mentioned – Jayson Gaddis. He is the founder of the relationship school and super interesting guy. He’s really made it his life mission and passion to help men become more emotionally strong, and to be better at relationships, better parents, better spouses…

And – like I said – he’s the founder of the relationship school, and he’s on this mission to help you transform your life through strong relationships. I mean, I’ve said this a lot of times to my clients, but your emotional development is going to be expressed through how you communicate with other human beings. Starting with your loved ones, right?

So back to “Staring Down the Wolf,” you want to be a good leader, start there. Start there, and Jason’s here to help us today learn how to do that.

Jayson, thanks so much for your time and I really appreciate you being on the podcast.

Jayson: Yeah. Stoked to be here, Mark.

Mark: So tell us a little bit about where you are right now and what’s going on in your life. Because I imagine you’re sheltering in place just like most of us.

Jayson: (laughing) Yeah, big time. Yeah.

So I’m in Boulder, Colorado and I’m hunkered down here with my family. My wife of 13ish years, and two kids – nine and eleven – boy and a girl.

And it’s going great. Overall, I’d say Boulder’s awesome cause you can get outside. And I ride my mountain bike every couple of days. And I go on walks. We have a trail…

Mark: They’re not going to roll you up and throw you in the pen for riding your bike without a mask on? Or anything like that?

Jayson: No, no. Although, some dad actually in town just got arrested for playing softball with his daughter at a park. Because they’ve closed some of the parks down.

So, I thought that was kind of ridiculous…

Mark: Yeah, I think I saw that on the news. That was you guys, huh? That’s crazy.

Jayson: I think it was here. I don’t know… maybe it was somewhere else.

Mark: Well, I live in Encinitas and they literally rolled up 22 people for sitting in their cars watching the sunset the other day. What the heck is that about?

And they fine – they rolled up a bunch of surfers the day that Gavin Newsom closed the beaches. They figured “Okay, we’ll make a show of this to scare other people.”

And they arrested surfers and fined them a thousand bucks. You know, a lot of these surfers don’t have a thousand bucks…

And I’m thinking “that makes perfect sense to me,” right? “Let’s go ahead and punish the healthiest segments of society to make a statement.” Makes a lot of sense, right?

Like, we’re punishing all the small businesses, who can’t make it back. They can’t be closed for 30 or 60 days. It doesn’t matter how much stimulus money you throw at them.

Jayson: Yeah. It’s like, another trial we weren’t expecting, is the cops or someone to like tell us we can’t…

Mark: I know, well there’s like three strikes against this whole thing. First, obviously there’s COVID, which you know I don’t want to mitigate the issues around that. It’s definitely viral and can be deadly for a certain segment of the population.

But the main blow has been basically this knee-jerk reaction to shut down the economy. And we’re not going to necessarily go into that – but now everyone’s reeling from that. Far more than they are from the COVID virus. Unless you were that one of the very few – the point zero four percent of population that will get actually medically affected by that.

And then the third – to add insult to injury – is to turn on the police state around that. It’s like “oh come on,” right? “Really?” It’s hard for Americans who grow up with that individualistic mindset, and to want to be outdoors and be healthy.

All of a sudden you’re forced to stay at home.

Jayson: Yeah, yeah. Agreed. Yeah, I wouldn’t want to be those enforcers personally…

Mark: I wouldn’t either. Now, check this out. So a lot of people are gone from like constant distraction. A lot of really successful people are on the little gerbil wheel, you know? Up and at it, commuting to work, non-stop meetings and calls.

And when they get home, they plug right into TV or whatever… and then their spouses – whether it’s male or female – are doing the same thing with their little routines. And this has just been the normal.

And all of a sudden, it’s all come to a stop. And you have people in the house together having to have conversations – often deep conversations – with each other, and with their kids, for the first time in a long time. What do you think about that?

Jayson: Yeah. I mean, this has never happened and we’re in such an unusual time where – like you said – our routines are screeching to a halt and now we’re trapped at home.

If you’re in a great relationship or you love your family – even that’s gonna be stressful, because even if you love your best friend, you need space from them from time to time. You don’t hang out with them 24/7.

So in a marriage or a family situation – especially if you’ve lost your job or your kids are now all at home because the schools are closed, this is just a recipe for a shit-show. And child abuse and domestic violence…

And we’re seeing that. Numbers are going up of child abuse and domestic violence. All the reports are coming in.

And that’s scary. That’s problematic.

Mark: It is scary. I don’t know if you saw the meme – but some of the funniest memes have come out as a result of this – at least in the early days. I think people are starting to get a little fed up. I haven’t seen so many funny memes now.

Jayson: (laughing) They’re losing their sense of humor.

Mark: (laughing) Right, but the first weeks… this one was really funny. It relates to relationships and being at gonna take the red pill or the blue pill.

But anyways, what he says is you know “in this time of crisis, we’ve all got to step up and you can either a) stay at home with your wife and kids or b) – and before he even got b) out of his mouth, someone from the audience goes “B, B. I’ll take B.”

Jayson: (laughing) Oh, man.

Mark: (laughing) It was just so funny, because it’s like “yeah. Wow, you know? A lot of people are thinking that. “Wow. I gotta do that?”

You know, I’m like you. I’m very blessed to have a great relationship. I’m enjoying the time with my wife and son… and our extended family. And it’s really been nice.

My son is going a little bit bonkers. He’s 21 and he’s taking all this distancing very seriously. And a lot of his friends are, and so he’s not going out with them. Which I applaud him for.

But it’s tough, right? If you haven’t… you know… look, let’s just get into like how do you define a healthy relationship? Let’s just talk about first between husband and wife or significant others… we can talk about kids later. How do you define that? And then how do you go about building that or repairing it, you know? There’s a lot to cover here.

Jayson: Yeah, cool. I mean, it’s probably subjective – but in my mind, a healthy relationship is one where two people are a team. And it’s mutual.

The metaphor I use often is if we’re out in a storm in the ocean and we’ve got this little dinghy – me and my wife… both of our paddles better be in the water. And yeah, there’s a time for me to paddle harder or more… and there’s a time when I need to rest, and she needs to paddle.

But what happens if I’m the only one paddling, and she’s not doing anything, we’re gonna go in a circle. And it’s gonna be really frustrating.

And this is what I see a lot of couples do. And I think that’s true in a business partnership, even a great friendship… if one person is kind of doing the heavy lifting for the relationship, it’s just bound to lead to resentment over time.

So a healthy relationship is one where two people are paddling, you know? And we face the challenges together. And if the challenge is between us, we also learn how to face that as a team. And not make each other out to be the bad guy or bad girl.

It’s just like work. You grow and develop yourself. I don’t see many relationships last where there’s not mutual growth going on.

Mark: Yeah, I agree. Now what’s interesting to me is you say one person might be doing the work. You know a lot of the women listening are saying “well, yeah, that’s me. I’m doing all the work. And my husband is like ‘what are you talking about? I don’t even know you’re talking about.’”

So there’s this kind of like lack of dialogue for a lot of guys – and it can go both ways, so I don’t want to throw men under the bus. But my experience, of course, is that men typically turn a blind eye to the emotional development. And often don’t even know there’s a problem.

Until the wife finally just sits him down, or slugs him over the head and says “listen we got a problem, right? I’ve been trying to communicate with you about this.” But maybe she’s not doing it skillfully, or maybe, he’s not able to listen.

So, I mean, both partners… in order for them to row in the same direction, have to be aware of their emotional issues and how they’re impacting the other person. How they’re showing up and how their words and way of being are landing.

That’s not easy, is it?

Jayson: No, no. It’s very tough. And like you said in your example there – where the guy is kind of clueless like “what are you talking about?” And in his eyes, maybe he is working his ass off. Just not on the relationship. He’s busting his ass to provide for the family, let’s say and maybe she’s not totally getting or appreciating him for that.

But a lot of guys – because they got shut down as boys around their emotional life – they learned that love means “I do a bunch of stuff for other people.”

And that’s good, that’s cool. But if a man wants a heart connection with a woman and have like sexual intimacy that’s actually interesting and fulfilling. And a deep bond. His heart has to be online. He has to learn emotional intelligence and emotional literacy. And a lot of guys – you know, they’re afraid of that, because their conditioning has told them “you’re a pussy,” or “you’re gonna get your ass kicked if you go there.”

I mean still – like, so embedded in the male psyche. So there’s a lot of undoing that needs to happen here.

Mark: From your work with the men’s groups or the men’s training that you do – what are some of the biggest signs, or tells or, you know, possible… you know, I’m not sure what word I’m gonna use here. But anyways, what are some of the biggest obstacles that they’re facing? In terms of like things that are there and they’re not aware of it, and you help them see it.

Jayson: Yeah, I think the biggest one is male conditioning. That is the single biggest obstacle that that men have, I think. And the thing that makes it so hard, Mark, is that conditioning – you’re blind to it. Because you’re living inside of it, right? So it’s like a prison. And I don’t quite see and I don’t have the witness enough to see that my conditioning is the very thing holding me back.

So a lot of guys I teach… it starts with just having a view that there is in fact this thing called “conditioning” and you’re subordinating to it every day when you believe all the bullshit messages men receive about emotions, and vulnerability, and relationships.

And that’s the first place to start. Is to kind of help a guy wake up to that. And I think – as we talked about on my interview with you from my podcast – is a lot of guys aren’t gonna wake up to that until they’re in a tremendous amount of pain. Pain was the thing that woke me up on my journey. I was completely… had a big ego and I was very defended and it wasn’t until I was in enough pain that I submitted and it was like “okay, maybe I’m the problem,” you know?

Case Study


Mark: Well, tell us a little bit more about yourself. And let’s use you as a case study. What was your conditioning like? How did that come about? Because your story will parallel a lot of guys, I’m sure. Just like mine would.

Jayson: Yeah, for sure. So pretty normal, middle-class childhood – where I had a stern father, who was an entrepreneur. And he worked his ass off, 7:00 to 7:00 every day. And he was a professional athlete.

So I didn’t get much of dad’s kind of heart connection, love emotion… it was very much “my way or the highway.” And then on the playground I also got the message that Jayson… because I grew up very sensitive, very emotional, empathic little boy. But I got the message from my environment that that was not going to be okay.

So I tried to bury that, right? As much as I could. And fit in. And I did that – I became good at sports, and I fit in. And I was decent at school.

And then eventually when girls started entering the picture in late adolescence – it was pretty late for me – I just had a lot of insecurities. And I had this big kind of mask, and one of my friends taught me – because I was like “man, you get so many girls to like you. What’s the secret?”

And he was like “act like you don’t care.” It was another layer of conditioning added on top of this just years of conditioning, of stuffing my feelings and that worked. Strangely. You know, certainly to a specific type of woman that I was dating.

And then I had no problem dating women, but all through my 20s – and I was partying and drinking, a bit like you in your early years – and I was disconnected. I was pretty lost. And I kept learning how to get girls and even guys to like me – but it was all at the expense of my integrity. I was just burying my truth. And I really didn’t know who I was. I was pretty depressed inside, and I was disconnected from myself. Which is why I was drinking so much. And using drugs.

Nature was kind of my happy place, where I’d kind of find glimmers of myself. And then I would go back to just boozing it up with the guys.

But enough failed relationships… I kept women at an arm’s length. And it was like the 7th failed relationship after about 10 years with another awesome woman. We were in a Whole Foods parking lot, and I was dreading breaking up with another awesome person. And I had been kind of rehearsing it on the way to the Whole Foods parking lot.

And was “okay, how am I going to say this?” I was trying to get her to break up with me, because I was too much of a coward to just look her in the eyes and tell her.

And we started to break up in the car, and I’m just hearing myself repeat myself. Like, I’d been here so many times… and I just said out loud, “I think I have a problem.”

And she’s like “yeah, I think you do.” And she suggested counselling.

And I was like “well, wait I’ve been here before. And I’m breaking up with you. And I’ve had this conversation many times. And I’m starting to see in this moment that maybe – just maybe – I am the problem here.” Because I’m the one common denominator in all these failed relationships.

And she’s like “yeah, I think you are.”

And I drove away. After that breakup, we hugged and it was cordial. I actually felt pretty liberated – not because I kind of got it over with – but because I was on to myself. And I was like “holy shit, if it’s true that I’m the problem, I can actually do something about that.”

And then from that day forward, man, I just haven’t looked back. And I just went to grad school, studied psychology, and have devoured personal growth and relationship work ever since.

Mark: Wow. You went all in. Most guys would be like “maybe I’ll go see a therapist or buy a self-help book.” That’s awesome.

Mark: Well, that definitely qualifies you as an expert, both from an experiential side as well as the academic side. Tell us about… one of the things that I’ve noticed is these two themes of guilt and shame come up again and again around relationships…

And also the inability for individuals to kind of open up and connect deeply. What is your view on that? And I know… like, I’ve devoured a few of Brené Brown’s works, and she’s really big on studying shame and guilt and its role in the world. And how like it’s not limited to just like a small percentage of our population. It’s almost universal. It’s like baked into our culture, right?

Jayson: Yeah. Oh yeah. And then we got these institutions that really reinforce the guilt and shame approach, right? Schools and religion and all that.

So, yeah, guilt and shame are huge drivers for relationship pain. And people really not getting empowered.

And so if I were to define both – and we teach this in our courses – shame is the perception that I’ve caused myself more harm than good. And guilt is the perception that I’ve caused more harm than good.

So shame is more about self.

Mark: Self-directed and guilt is other-directed.

Jayson: Yeah, that’s right. So, just to use an example to ground this let’s say I’m… and a lot of shame is born out of comparison, in my opinion. Comparison to fantasies and comparison to other people. So if I’m on Instagram and I’m comparing myself to Mark. Or like I look at your workout versus mine. I’m like, “oh shit. What’s wrong with me?”

Because I’m comparing myself to you expecting myself to be like you. So I’m gonna feel some shame about that.

Now guilt on the other hand is like, let’s say you and I had a conversation. And you said “hey Jayson, I really need you to be here at 5:00 a.m. for this workout.”

And I said “cool.” And then I slept in. Not only am I gonna feel shame, because I let myself down, but I’m gonna feel guilt, because I let you down.

So I think shame and guilt are huge, because people are in a world of comparison right now. Especially with Instagram and social media and it just leads people to feeling bad.

Mark: Do you think they always go hand in hand? Or can they exist independently?

Jayson: I think they exist independently. For example, yeah, so like masturbation. A guy masturbating to porn is a classic one, right? A lot of guys… I’d say most guys… are gonna feel shame after that, unless it’s part of their practice… they give themselves permission to do this. It’s a self-pleasure practice. Their partner’s in on it – which is very few guys.

Mark: (laughing) Right. You don’t find that in many self-development books, right?

Jayson: No, no. But that is one path for porn that can be okay for some guys. But very few guys are doing it that way, right?

So yeah, I think a lot of guys just mostly you’re feeling shame more than guilt around their porn use. If they’re in a partnership and they’re hiding it they’re gonna feel some guilt.

Mark: Mm-hmm. Interesting. Yeah, I see that’s very, very helpful actually to parse those out and to define them like that. And so you say these are coming largely from culture – a culture of comparison, a culture of perfectionism – and that’s all part of what we would call our background of obviousness or your conditioning. So you’re inside the bottle, you can’t read the label.

So you found clarity through many years of failed relationships. (laughing) Is there a quicker way?

Jayson: Yeah, I think so. You know, I say to people a lot like there’s just really one thing required to have a good relationship. And it’s just very simple, it’s just a willingness to work on it. And if someone has a willingness to work on it – anything’s possible. You don’t have to like read a hundred books or go to a three-year master’s program degree in psychology like me.

You can you can be willing and be communicative in your behavior and your actions to your partner, or family member, or friend – and that is everything. It goes such a long way.

And that’s usually what another person needs is just, you know… I need you to come and meet me halfway here, and be willing.

Mark: Right, I love that orientation. Just that mindset. That I’m gonna enter into a relationship with someone – like a singular relationship – a love or a heart relationship. With the objective of us growing together. I think it’s kind of rare about, but what a nice approach to that, right?

I mean, that’s the way it worked with my wife and I. She is a therapist, you know, we approached it as kind of a “we’re friends first, and then we’re gonna…” there was no way that we weren’t going to grow or I wasn’t gonna grow.

And of course she’s always committed to growing. And so we’ve had a ton of therapy together – both individually, as well as couples therapy – and it’s a daily practice that at first feels like work, and we call it work.

But ultimately, it’s really joyful and playful. And becomes just kind of the fabric of who you are.

Jayson: Yeah I’m so with you man. It’s another cool thing we have in common there, is being married to therapists. And early on that was not so pleasant for me…

Mark: (laughing) Totally. I remember the first time I got hit across the head with a two-by-four. I’m a Navy SEAL, and I’m like “hey honey. You want to go down to McPs with me?” Which is the bar that all the SEALs hang out in Coronado. We weren’t married yet, but you know we’d been dating and we had chosen to be exclusive.

And she just looks at me – she goes “no, but go have fun.” And in that last sentence I was like, “she clearly doesn’t mean that, nor does she want me to go.” I was wise enough to look at her and be like “okay. Maybe I won’t go yeah.”

Jayson: Yeah, our fights were… early on our fights were like 3 hours long, because we just were analyzing each other – two therapists just trying to figure each other out. And most of it was trying to label the other person – “no, you’re the one that’s projecting. You’re projecting.” Very little ownership.

But we got smarter, and now we’re very…

Mark: Yeah, that’s another really good point. Just going to school and learning about it doesn’t make you a great communicator. Or doesn’t make emotionally aware. You’ve got to experience it.

This is like embodied work, right? You gotta really own it, to feel it.

Jayson: Yeah, I think one of the toughest things is marriage. To be married to another human being and then to move in with them, share finances and add on kids to the mix… I think it’s a steep path. And I often say to people “look, I don’t recommend marriage to anybody, unless you like to grow and develop yourself and learn about yourself. And you like human behavior, and learning about other people. Then it’s actually awesome.”

But if you’re in it for comfort and like it just feels good all the time, I think that’s a recipe for failure, because most people are gonna… again, they’re gonna kind of come into it expecting not fighting and it’s if you meet the right person or find the “one,” it’s all it all kind of works out and we’re hunky-dory and everything’s great.

And that’s a fantasy. It’s another fantasy that I’m gonna feel ashamed about, and then I’m gonna probably blame my partner, because I don’t want to feel my shame. So I’ll blame.

And then I’ll try to get out of that relationship and blame it on the person, rather than “Wow, I missed this massive opportunity to learn about myself.”

Mark: Right. We’ve talked about therapy – or we mentioned therapy – when is therapy appropriate? What kind of tips can you give – especially for guys who like my dad grew up thinking therapy was for people who were just really broken. It wasn’t for normal guys like him, right?

So I’ve been calling it emotional coaching, right? So maybe that’s one idea, but how do you approach this with your folks?

Jayson: Well, to just set up the conversation – to answer it well – I just need to acknowledge that I’m a coach now. I transitioned – I let go of my license many years ago, because I wanted to help more men. And I also wanted to make relationship work more accessible. Like “therapy” still has quite a bit of barrier for people, because they have a lot of preconceived notions about what it is. And it’s only for broken people like you’re saying. Or there’s something wrong with you, or you have a mental illness.

And so I’m a big fan of therapy or coaching. Like it’s fine, as long as the practitioner is good and knows what they’re doing, then it doesn’t really matter.

But it can be so helpful to get an outsider to help you see your shadow. To help you see your blind spots, and help you see what you’re not seeing. And it’s immensely helpful.

So I like to kind of reframe the whole thing as like “look, I’m not great at relationships – let’s say – so I want to find a mentor to help me get better at this thing.” And it might be that mentor is a coach or a therapist, you know?

It’s the same with a personal trainer. Like, I know myself. We talked about this when I interviewed you. I cut corners sometimes in my workouts, and you’re like “how you do anything, is how you do everything.”

And this is where I need at times – especially if it’s not high enough on my values – I’ll need some external accountability like a trainer to hold me to what I say I’m gonna do, right? And that’s gonna make me stronger.

Versus if I kind of think “I’ve got this,” which a lot of men are sort of like “no, no. I got this. I know my wife’s kind of having some problems with me, but I’ll figure it out. I can do this by myself.” And then he doesn’t tell any of his male friends. He hides it, and then he keeps thinking he’s gonna figure it out someday. And I’m just like “dude, that’s so much slower than hiring like a therapist or a coach or someone good at this.” Or maybe not good at it, but at least studies it. “To help you through and develop yourself.”

Mark: Yeah, I mean we can save ourselves years or even decades of pain by doing this. You know, everybody I could say… they’re inside the bottle they can’t read the label. They really don’t have – they haven’t been trained to appreciate the impact they have on other people. Their words, the emotions behind the words, the energy behind the emotions…

And so this is why we get aggressive and passive aggressive behavior. Or just passive behavior and the person delivering it is utterly clueless. They think they’re being fine. My issue, because my father was really aggressive and had a lot of anger and violence… you know, I had a lot of intensity from that. That was my positive projection.

I was super intense. Guess what? It was really positive. I think the way we are brought up has its positive and it has its shadow.

And we leverage the positive, but we don’t take her the shadow, often. And so I leveraged the positive to become a Navy SEAL. I was number one in my class. Now, there was a lot that went into that – a lot of training and preparation mentally and physically – but even if I hadn’t done that, as long as I was prepared I would have made it. Because I was used to pain. And they couldn’t do anything to hurt me that my father had already done.

And so I see a lot of seals and special operators and military guys and women like that. And they don’t even acknowledge it, or know it. That on the other side of that strength is a shadow, right? And so you come out with like all this aggressive and passive aggressive communications.

And one of the reasons I got off active duty when I was a lieutenant – after about eight years or right around the cusp of Lieutenant Commander, or whatever – I just couldn’t grow in that environment any longer. And I was married now to this therapist and I was like “man, there’s a whole ‘nother world that I need to step into.”

And we can’t grow beyond the system – whether it’s family or organizational system – that you’re stuck in. I went off on a little bit of a tangent, but…

Jayson: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, I mean well I can relate.

Mark: It doesn’t make you a bad person because you have these issues. Everyone does. So to acknowledge that, get a coach. Just save yourself a lot of time and pain and go for it, you know?

Jayson: Yeah, I think the Achilles’ heel of sort of a quote-unquote “strong man,” or a very resilient or stoic or powerful guy is the often maybe in your case and mine, it’s rewarded so heavily, and the vulnerabilities punished so heavily, that it sort of sets up a very lopsided male when he comes into a relationship, right? It’s gonna be much harder for that type of guy to have a deep emotional bond that lasts many years.

Because he’s just operating from “tough is better. Vulnerability’s weak. Emotions are weak.” Because what I was doing – all these women… because I’d buried my emotions, I was attracting into my life all these emotional women. To get me to own this disowned part of myself, right?

And so as soon as they got emotional, the conversation got hard. I would just push them away. And then I’d go get a beer and go climbing. And I just couldn’t stand it.

But little did I know that they were actually trying to help me wake up, and help me own and take responsibility for my sensitive side. Which now is a tremendous superpower, right? What helps me grow this business so powerfully and have an awesome family, is this part of myself that I was rejecting.

Mark: Right.

Fracking and how to avoid it


Mark: You talk about disappearing in a relationship? What is that like? Is that what you were doing when you grabbed the beer and slipped out the back Jack to go hiking? Is that disappearing?

Jayson: No it’s more like some of us are… there’s two attachment styles generally speaking… I mean, there’s four, but let me just keep it really basic here. There’s people that go toward relationship under stress. They go toward the other person, because they’re anxious.

And then there’s people who when it gets stressful in the relationship they go away from the other person.

Mark: Codependence more?

Jayson: Not necessarily. Codependence can look like that where I’m trying to help you, but you don’t help me back. That’s more codependence.

Distancing is just like hiding out, is some someone who… let me just talk about distancing. Distancing because it’s easier to understand – is you and I get in a fight Mark. We’re in a relationship. And I’m the one who shuts down and you want to keep talking about it. And I just shut down and it’s really hard for me to come back around. And it takes me hours or days to come around.

This is extremely problematic in relationships, but it’s very normal. And it really has to do with people’s earliest imprint of connection in the first two years of life. Their attachment style.

And it has a massive impact later on. And again, it’s not a problem from a growth standpoint. It’s a huge problem if you just want things to kind of be easy.

Mark: Mm-hmm. So disappearing is when you do one of these things, right? Which just shuts you off from what you are.

Jayson: Yeah, I think disappearing is I just go away and I shut you out – exactly. And it’s not really fair. It’s not really cool. Like it’s okay to do that for a period of time – like a couple hours or a day. But to stay kind of hiding and not dealing with the problems that we’re encountering is just not cool. It’s not respectful to your partner.

Mark: Yeah, that can be pretty painful, actually.

Jayson: Totally, yeah.

Mark: So how do couples develop the skill to have these conversations? I think you use the term “therapy talk.” Like between each other – so that we can help each other grow through these challenges?

Jayson: Yeah. If I’m talking to a man I probably don’t use that term “therapy talk.” Because that can be off-putting. But it’s just like again, I talk about like just relational literacy and can you understand your partner’s way of communication? It’s gonna be a little different than yours.

Can you understand your own? Are you open to feedback? Are you open to reflections? Is there a willingness – as we talked about earlier – online? Because again like we’re gonna navigate not only challenges in our relationship, but we’re going to navigate challenges like we’re dealing with right now – the coronavirus, and the economy tanking. And one of us loses our job…

And this these are enormous stressors for some people. And if we don’t have a good system of communication if we don’t have agreements in place to help us navigate difficulty – primarily conflict and stress – we are basically subordinating to our history. And our reactivity of the scared animal living inside of us.

And that that just doesn’t go that well for people. So we all have to learn how to – I call it a scared animal, like our nervous system and our brain – that gets scared when a person raises their voice or goes away. Our scared animal kind of flares up a little bit. And we have to learn how to work with our own scared animal, and the scared animal inside of our partner.

And a lot of it comes down to good communication. But there’s another huge piece – as we talked about on our podcast – which is meditation, mindfulness… really just the ability to sit with discomfort. And so many people don’t know how to do that, right? Because as a kid people got punished or whatever with their emotions so it’s like “oh, my experience is bad. My experience is problematic. My experience is gonna lead to hitting or fighting or distancing.”

“And I don’t want that. So I’ll just avoid being in my experience.” And so, so many people as you know are disconnected from their experiences. So, I always teach couples – you got to learn how to be with emotion. Be with strong emotion and pain and discomfort.”

Mark: Right. And that also allows you to be able to listen.

Jayson: Absolutely.

Mark: If you’re all caught up in your emotions, and you’re not dealing with them, or you’re not present to them… your mind is going to be spinning out of control. And you’re gonna end up shutting down.

And then you have no capacity to hear, or to listen to with what’s coming out of your…

Jayson: Yeah, well said. And that’s so much of what our partner wants us to do. Is to listen and to be present. And my wife – we have a rule of thumb in our marriage that I now teaching in our school – which is I don’t understand her, until she feels understood.

And that’s a big one, because before that I was just like a dense dude and I was just like “no, honey. I do understand you. Here’s what you said.”

I’m defending myself and she’s like “well, I don’t feel understood.”

And I’d be like “well, I do understand you.”

Like, where’s that conversation gonna go, right?

Mark: It’s still about you, and not her, right?

Jayson: Yeah, so I just switched the frame and said “look, from now on I don’t really understand you until you let me know that I do.”

Mark: I love that. And so many guys are taught or have the paradigm that they’re there to fix. You know, we addressed this at the beginning. The male paradigm is “I’m the producer and I’m the fixer. And so as long as I’m making the money and providing for the household, then check. That’s 50%.”

“And then if anything’s broken – including the relationship – then I’ll fix it.” But the woman doesn’t want to be fixed. They’re not broken, they just want to be understood.

Jayson: Yeah, we call it fracking. No fracking in communication. The F is no fixing. R is no rescuing. A is no advice-giving. C is no complaining. And K is no killing her experience.

So it’s just an easy way to remember, “Like, don’t do that. Instead, try to understand her experience. Listen a little deeper. Validate her… there’s so many things we can do differently, but a lot of guys are just habitually fracking on their partner.

Mark: So what is your best advice to interrupt the pattern and to get into a listening, receiving, not fracking mode for a guy?

Jayson: I mean the breath is huge… if you can take ten breaths, five breaths one breath… these are just like you teach – it’s just state changes sometimes that can help us calm down, right?

So that’s big. Calling a timeout is okay. Hold on, I’m overwhelmed or I’m noticing I’m escalating… all of that can be difficult to do in the moment, and I think what’s more important than what do we do in the moment or beforehand – besides setting context and making sure we have agreements in place – is to know that we’re all going to have conflict. It’s going to get messy. We are going to raise our voice. We are going to shut down or dissociate or do different things.

The key is how quickly you can return and can you return with that willingness online? A willingness to listen. A willingness to take responsibility for your part. The research shows that it’s the repair – it’s not the conflict that’s problematic – it’s the unwillingness or inability to repair that’s problematic…

Mark: Right, right. That is profound, because you’re right… most people try to avoid conflict, and because of that they dance around the issues or they ignore or deny the issues.

And then get stuck. And then the growth stops. So the conflict’s not the problem, it’s just like looking outside and saying “change is the problem. If things will just go back the way they used to be, we’d be fine.”

Well, no. Your inability to change is the problem. Conflict is where the growth comes from.

Jayson: Oh my god, totally. Yeah, this situation we’re in right now. Like the pandemic… I mean, I’m growing like a weed right now. Because I’m being forced to adapt, you know?

Mark: (laughing) We all are.

Now, we’re running out of time, but I want to talk about… it’s one thing to have two people having a relationship. That’s enormously complicated in and of itself.

But then you introduce kids into the equation. I’ve seen it be like the number of relationships becomes exponential, right? Each individual parent has a relationship, and then there’s the joint relationship between the parent and the kid. Then you add two kids…

And what was one, two, three, four like five different relationships, becomes like ten all of a sudden…

And I’m making those numbers up you know what I’m talking about. How does that complicate things? I mean I just said it complicated things, but what’s your perspective? And how can we navigate?

Jayson: Yeah, I think first of all people should have kids if they like feel inspired to do so. Knowing that it’s gonna be a tremendous lift and a lot of work.

If you’re having kids cause you should you’re gonna have a very hard time parenting. And a lot of people I think just compare and go well “I’m 35, I should have kids now. And it looks like kids is fun and other people look like they’re happy, right?”

Or you see the opposite – looks miserable – which is more what I saw.

Mark: There’s so much conditioning around that, isn’t there? Social conditioning? Is like people don’t recognize – “I grew up with four siblings, so I’m gonna have four siblings.” They don’t realize that that’s a pattern. That’s a conditioned pattern.

Jayson: Yeah, yeah. Exactly.

So you got to do the deep work to find out if you want to be married or have kids, because I didn’t want either. Cause I just looked around it looked like a shit-show to me.

But I had a turn, because I did the work and I was like “wow, I actually I do want to partner with someone. I actually do want a family.”

So if you get to it – yes, then it’s like be prepared to completely transform yourself. And allow your kids and your children to educate you and to help you grow.

And I mean it’s just unbelievable. I think one of the greatest accomplishments in my life is being a dad. I love being a father. And I recommend it big time, but you have to be willing to roll up your sleeves and deal. My kids have pushed me almost as much or more than my wife.

And I want that in my life. I want that accountability, I want to grow like that. And also it’s taught me about love in a whole different way that I wasn’t prepared for. To be loved by children is spectacular, and then to love children, even when they’re being a pain in the ass…

It’s like yeah, there’s so much here that this could be another podcast. But I’m a big fan and I do encourage people to find out if that’s something you want.

But be prepared to like be dismantled a lot and to grow a lot.

Mark: Right. Yeah, I agree. The puzzle pieces all come apart and then you have to put them back together in a new arrangement.

And it’s all about the “we,” “us.” It’s not about “me” anymore, so it’s a great way to grow beyond the limited ego.

Jayson: Yeah, you said it. It’s so much about “we” now. And my wife and kids keep me accountable. I have a very focused mission, I’m very mission focused like you.

And if I’m too mission focused, my wife and kids will let me know in some way shape or form. And because I want a family, I don’t want to go all in on my mission at the expense of my marriage or kids, right?

At the same time if I were to go all-in on marriage and kids, I would feel like I’m missing something with my mission. So it’s this amazing Koan really and a balance between my mission and my family. It’s just a constant balancing act.

Mark: Yeah. And sometimes that ebbs and flows, like the current crisis a lot of individuals, breadwinners are thinking “holy cow, man. I’ve got to step up to the plate and figure this shit out.

And so yeah there might be a conversation to be had with your family. Be like “hey, you know, I might be a little bit on edge. Or I’m going to be focused on this mission. I’ve got to save my business or whatever…”

And they’re gonna cut you a lot of slack. And then you make it up for them in other ways. It doesn’t have to be time – it could be just presence for the amount of time you do have with them.

Jayson: Yeah, totally. And I find that – I don’t know about you, but I’m guessing it’s true for you – is my partner provides me so much fuel to do my mission. Because if our connection is strong and good, I feel like anything’s possible.

When our connection’s not great, I feel like I’m hobbling around a little bit. Not as strong.

So that’s the power of like a partner and also even a family, is there can be a lot of life-giving nourishment and energy there. And if it’s draining then that’s just a sign that you probably need to put more attention on there and work through the challenges that are occurring.

Mark: Yeah, I agree.

Jason, thanks so much. It’s been really, really enlightening. Really appreciate your work and your time today.

Where can people find out more about your work and what you’re doing?

Jayson: Yeah so it’s and our podcast is The Relationship School. Got hundreds of episodes there if you know conflict, and communication, and listening, and sex, and all that stuff…

Mark: Very cool. And so people can reach you through those channels if they want to reach out and talk about coaching or anything like that?

Jayson: Yeah, yeah. is probably the best place. And you can email us there through the contact form and it’ll eventually get to me. Yeah and we have trainings and events. We train coaches now – relationship coaches. And we have lots of cool stuff going on.

Mark: And you’re retooling your business you mentioned? So you’re going online just like everyone else. (laughing)

Jayson: Yeah. It’s wild, right? Like we have a lot of in-person events like you and we’re trimming those to now virtual events. We have a couple virtual events coming up in May.

I’m excited. I’m just like “yeah, let’s see how this goes.” And what’s cool is we’ll reach more people and hopefully get more international people able to attend.

Mark: Now assuming that we can meet up you know in large groups again, you’ll bring back the in-person events? Or what are your thoughts on that?

Jayson: Yeah, absolutely. I think we’re kind of aiming for the fall. And maybe that’s a liberal or conservative estimate – depending on who you’re talking to. But I think the fall, we have our first event live in October. We’re not going to do anything before October, I don’t think. At this point. I don’t know about you.

Mark: Well we have a SEALFIT Kokoro event – a crucible event in July. And so we’re not sure. We haven’t cancelled it, but you know, we’re just gonna play it by ear.

Jayson: Yeah. Day-to-day, right?

Mark: Yeah. Day-to-day. We’ll see how that goes.

All right. On that note Jayson thanks again. I appreciate you and I look forward to watching your work unfold. And I’m here to be of service if I can help you out with anything.

Jayson: Yeah likewise, Mark. Thanks so much. I really appreciate what you’re up to, and who you are, and how you roll.

Mark: Hooyah.

All right folks. That was Jayson Gaddis. Check him out it or the relationship school podcast.

And it’s really important work. I mean this is like where the rubber meets the road for development. I mean, what happens under the roof of our homes is the richest most fertile ground for growth. So don’t blow it off and reach out to Jayson if he can help you.

So, on that note, stay focused, seek the opportunities, pay attention to the trends… but don’t get sucked into the fear. Maintain that Unbeatable Mind. And we’ll get through this stronger and more resilient. And then we can rejigger, and reorganize for a more productive and more inclusive future.

On that note, this is the end of the Unbeatable Mind podcast. My name is Mark Divine. Thanks for joining me.


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