Redefining Mental Wellness for a Happier You

April 4, 2024

Julie [00:00:01]:
When I tell you that you need to just you just need to find yourself a notebook at a quiet place and just get ready to go all the way in with this episode. I am not kidding around. Today, we welcome Dr. John Deloney.

You may know him from his podcast. You may have heard me talk about him in reference to his books, both Building A Non Anxious Life and Own your Past, Change your Future. Both books are just so impactful. They’ve been so impactful in my life.

I’ve been recommending them and talking about them. I’m about to hand them out on the street corner. I think they’re just so incredible. And today, Dr. John and I sat down with a conversation about books, around anxiety, around parenting, around relationships, around connection, around marriage, and about life in general. So get ready.

Buckle up. Get some get some note taking stuff ready because this one this one is a good one. You’re gonna wanna listen to this one a couple of times.

I’m nerding out a little bit because I can’t believe we’re having this conversation. I just as I told you, I feel like we are just already really good friends.

And I know that you went to school in Texas. I can’t wait to hear if you grew up in Texas, but I gotta tell you, hook them horns. I don’t know.

[Casual Conversation]

Shaping a Non-Anxious Life Amid Daily Chaos

Julie [00:02:43]:
I don’t know how it was for you growing up in Texas. I grew up in the middle of the Midwest, and I don’t know how it was for you growing up in Texas, but in the Midwest, in my generation, nobody talked about mental health.

No one talked about anxiety, no one talked about any of that, maybe it was different for you but that’s what it was for me and the fact that you’ve written 2 books on this, it just, were people talking about this? Were you kind of like, what?

John [00:03:08]:
My dad was a homicide detective and a SWAT hostage negotiator at the Houston Police Department. No. It was not a lot. But here’s the thing.

I think if I were to be honest about it, I don’t think it was couched under mental illness, cause I think a lot of what gets couched under mental illness today is not, in fact, mental illness.

We talked a lot about sadness and having a broken heart, and you take some time and grief. We talked about those things, but they weren’t labeled and withdrawn from the human experience as something special and other.

And so I think by having it part of our vernacular, part of the way we just were like, my dad knew if you’re involved in something really messy at work, you have to take some time, and you gotta talk to some people about it. Right?

Otherwise, your body’s gonna act all all wonky. And so, no, we didn’t talk about it at all. And, also, everything wasn’t over pathologized either. So it’s kinda both and.

But, no, I was haunted by stuff, and I didn’t have a name for it when I was a kid. And, that wasn’t great. It wasn’t great.

Julie [00:04:21]:
And I think I mean, I don’t know how old you are, but I think we’re close enough in age. It was it was probably a little bit of our generation that

John [00:04:28]:

Julie [00:04:28]:
Lots of that was swept under the rug. No one talked about any of that and here you are with what are fast becoming 2 of my most recommended, most talked about, I can’t I mean, if you if I just opened up this lid, it’s almost silly.

I should have underlined all of it because every other thing is underlined. This book came along as the best books do right when I needed this book. So let’s talk about building a non anxious life.

Even though it’s not your first one, this is the one that I found I stumbled upon because the universe was like, I think you need this. Yes, I do. Here we are. And let’s talk about like, how do we get here? How do we get to you writing this book?

John [00:05:12]:
Do you want me to give you, like, the stock answer or the truth? I’ll give you the truth.

The truth is the first book did way better than any of us thought it was going to.

Own Your Past, Change Your Future, it did really well. And before that, I had written 60 pages. They called them quick reads here. But it was just 60 pages. It was a pamphlet. My son called it a pamphlet. My daughter said she’s 8.

She goes, dad, that’s not a book. And I was like, you’re right. But long story short, somebody mentioned something about anxiety, and I was like, dude, that’s not the problem.

And that turned into, hey, you need to write that down. It turned into a little 60 page pamphlet. And, basically, it was supposed to be a business card because I was new to all of this. I don’t I didn’t, you know, I’d never written anything. I was just a nerd.

And, that overnight sold 100,000 copies without any it just kinda blew up.

And so when we sat down, the truth of it is I wanted to write a book on either adult friendship and what’s going on there, loneliness, or I wanted to write a book on marriage. Because I think marriage is important, and they’re falling apart everywhere.


The question, like, kinda like, is education worth it? A question that’s never been asked before in human history… we’re starting to ask that about marriage. Is it worth it?

And so I wanted to write that book and the publishing team was like, well, that’s really cute.

You’re gonna write a book on anxiety because it’s done well, and this is what the people say that they wanna talk about. And so when I got to writing it, I realized I didn’t wanna deal with it. I was done talking about it.

And then as I got halfway through it, I realized, oh, you don’t wanna talk about this because you’re not living this stuff that you’re lecturing America on how they should be doing with their life. Right? And this whole time, I’m at a show that’s exploding.

Like, all this stuff’s happening. And, again, you and I were talking offline. I’m just an academic nerd, man. I’m just such a nerd, and I don’t understand what’s happening. So, anyway, all this is happening, and I realized, oh, I’m not living this.

Why should we advocate for a holistic approach to overall health?

And so it was about halfway through the book. I left my house and checked into the hotel and started back from square 1 and was like, what’s what’s true?

And so the book shit I mean, it was a rewrite, but it shifted from me lecturing America to me pulling up a stool at the bar saying, hey. Me too, man.

Let’s figure this thing out.

Julie [00:07:37]:
That feels very Matthew McConaughey. Checked into a hotel, took my you know, he went out to the woods and took his journal.

John [00:07:44]:
Had to. I mean, I was trying to change the oil while the car was driving. I can’t can’t do that. Right? And I have 2 little kids and or not too little anymore.

And my wife, we had what’s now become a famous showdown in the garage, when she was like, what are you… I’m watching my husband die in front of me while you’re celebrating everything. And that was a big wake up call for me.

Julie [00:08:10]:
So that’s where Building a Non anxious Life came from?

John [00:08:15]:
Yeah, I mean, it’s 20 years of working with families and young people, and dealing with anxiety myself, and then a publishing team saying, I want it’s kinda like you mentioned, like, the universe was like, you can’t you can’t go around this one.

You gotta go right through it. And, when I got done, my wife told me she says, if not one person buys this book, it was worth the hell we all went through as a family because I got my husband back, and that was cool.

Julie [00:08:38]:
I mean, you say the new questions we need to ask are how do I build a non anxious life where the alarms aren’t ringing all the time, and how do I build a life that offers me peace, purposeful work, resilience, deep relationships and joy? I have that circled.

I mean, the part about peace and purposeful work resonates so deeply. And I think it resonates with our generation. I just think it resonates with humans. I think it resonates with women.

But talk to us a little bit about these, these daily choices, because I felt like every time, especially with the health and healing one, but every time I’m like, Yes, every time we get you to check them, yes, yes. And it was high fiving everything.

John [00:09:18]:
So I think the top down view is that anxiety is not the problem, and not everyone’s struggling with it. And if you look at the data, not all of our genes shifted overnight.

So it’s not something that all happened to us individually at the same time. So we have to ask ourselves, what happened?

And I think, ultimately, we’ve created a world that our bodies weren’t designed to live in.

And so if you think of anxiety as just simply an innate alarm telling you that your body’s identified some areas in your life where you’re not safe, then anxiety is actually a partner.

It’s like a copilot. It’s not something to shut off. And so instead of approaching my ADHD, my anxiety, my OCD, my ruminating thoughts, instead of my waking up at 3 AM and 3 AM and 3 AM, instead of approaching those as the problems to solve…

Ask yourself, what’s my body trying to protect me from? Because I should be able to sleep all night. That’s innate. My body needs that.

If it’s waking me up at 3, it’s trying to tell me something. That’s the more important and instructive conversation. So when I tried to reverse engineer, what kind of life do I want?

And I remember when my wife and I, when our marriage was on the brink and we sat across the table from each other, and it was very much like, hey, we’re gonna be adults about this.

If we’re done, we’re done. But no screaming and hollering and fighting. Are we finished? And both of us said absolutely not, but we couldn’t keep being married the way we were.

And so the project we gave ourselves was, what do we want this house to feel like when you walk in the door?

And I remember, my answer was, I want it to feel warm, and I want you to be happy that I’m here.

And I want you to throw a wet towel at me when I walk in the door, and I want my daughter to charge at me screaming, and I’m in a sword fight I didn’t know I was in. I want my son who’s 13 making fart noises. Like, I want that one.

And she said, okay. Well, here’s what must be true for that to be a reality. And so I took that same approach here.

If I want this life where my body goes and it’s not sounding the alarms, what has to be, what do I have to do during the day, the week, the month, the year to make that reality? And so nobody chooses to be anxious.

But we can get way upstream and make choices so that our body doesn’t feel like it needs to get our attention all the time. And that’s what was this, like, okay if I distill that on all the neuroscience, all the nerd stuff, and made this as accessible as possible and, by the way, I wrote the book for people who only read one book a year.

I tried to make it as conversational as possible. It’s like, what are some choices I can make? And here they are. Right?

We’re gonna take, we’re gonna break it down. If you make these 6 daily choices over and over, like brushing your teeth, then you’re gonna wake up in 1 year, 2 years, the one about paying off what you owe. Right?

When your body, if your body would be failing you, if it lets you sleep all night knowing that if you get fired tomorrow, they will take your house..

And they take your cars, and they take your food, Your body would be failing you. That’s a war inside your body. Right? So that took me and my wife 15 years to pay off everything. That’s crazy. Right?

But that’s what it took, and that was a journey we took together. So some of these things are quick and long.

But, ultimately, I’m trying to hand people a road map to how do you build this world despite the chaos and all the news channels and people whose careers depend on you being out of your mind.

How do you live in that world? And your body knows, now we’re good. Right? And so that was the 6 daily choices.

Julie [00:13:00]:
It’s interesting because the question that I’ve been asking myself is that I feel like a lot of women my age, my generation are asking themselves, maybe not in these exact words, but I keep saying I kept saying, how can I feel better?

That’s what I and that’s what I keep hearing from women too, like, I just wanna feel better. And what women hear a lot is the physical part.

And especially as you get older, you know, the physical part and and all of that, and that’s all well and good, but there’s a lot of emotional turmoil that comes along as a parent, mom or dad, but especially for women, as we get older, and I kept saying, how can I feel better?

I wasn’t even using the term to your point – anxiety. I wasn’t using it. I don’t even know if I was using stress, although, you know, I just keep saying, how can I feel better? How can I make my brain calm down? You know, I don’t wanna say “got answered”, but certainly felt better after reading this book.

Societal Pressures and Personal Growth

John [00:14:07]:
Appreciate that. I think that questions are pervasive, especially for women, and, well, men too. I think women have been so lied to in such a pervasive way, that you’re it’s this it’s I call it the American Guilt Factory, and you can’t you can’t win.

And I’ve watched my wife, who was an award winning elementary school teacher Who got a master’s and a PhD, not for anything other than to be better at being a teacher. We moved, and the small Texas town wouldn’t hire her because she ain’t from around here.

The only people who would give her a job were 2 local universities, offered her positions. So she became a professor, became a nationally renowned person in her world, and then started having kids, and then she decided she wanted to go part time, then she wanted to stay at home.

And there was never a moment in her life when she had peace. All outside voices were telling her whatever it is you’re doing, you should be doing something else if you were truly you. Right?

And then you try to do it all at the same time, and then it just builds and builds and builds. And then, if I can make you feel off kilter always, then I can sell you something as a cure for that off kilter. Right?

And so women, especially, are told, if you just get this promotion, if you just do get these right clothes, if you get this right car, to get a house that looks like this, a laundry room that looks like this, a kitchen looks then it then finally, you’re gonna feel, and it’s a lie. It’s just not true.

And men are told that they are the problem with everything in the world, and they’ve ruined everything, and it’s all their fault, and they should just shut up and go home. Right.

And in mass, they have. Right? And now that’s not that’s not good either. Right?

Julie [00:15:56]:
That’s not good either. No.

John [00:15:57]:
Right. So I think it’s a matter of reverse engineering it. Like you said, I just wanted to be able to breathe. And I wrote about this in the book.

It’s not an antidote to never have a problem. But the story I told in the book is in the middle of rightness, my cousin just died.

And, man, he had borrowed heavily against all 9 lives. Like, man, he was on borrowed… he had no tread left on the tires.

But by spending years building a non anxious life and getting to a place where I was not gonna let a bank tell me and my family what we were gonna do the next day.

I was not gonna remain in an abusive work environment because I was gonna drive a crappy car before I did that. Right? I was gonna figure out how to tie 2 car seats into a Corolla before I bought the Tahoe that I really wanted, but that was gonna mean, Chevy Motor Company was gonna be telling me what I was gonna do the next day.

I just couldn’t… I couldn’t live that anymore. What that bought me when my cousin died, it bought me the privilege of being really sad.

And we were really sad for a while. But my brain never took off on me. I was never anxious.

Can we afford to be sad?

Can I afford to take off of work?

Can we… about this aunt and uncle? It’s gonna be that I don’t care about any of that. I have a non anxious life. So now I get to be really sad.

Now I get to deal with the problems in my marriage. I get to deal with my troubled teenager because all this other stuff, my body’s not going to war with me and my decision making.

Julie [00:17:36]:
Well, it’s interesting as a female too because we can be worried, because being worried is not selfish.

Worrying is about other people. But the minute a female starts talking about, you know, I’m actually sad that my children are grown up.

Well, now that’s now that’s on you. Or gosh, maybe I’m a little jealous of this amazing life that they’re living here. Well, now that’s on you.

All of these other emotions are all and so women generally have to just say, well, I’m just worried. I’m just worried because that’s very non selfish.

And to get to the point where you can just say, no, actually, I’m sad. And maybe I’m jealous, and maybe I’m worried, and maybe I’m happy, and maybe I’m proud, and maybe I’m all these things.

That to me felt like feeling better too. Like being able to say all those emotions to your point, like, I just wanna be sad today. Today, I’d like to be sad. And I don’t want someone to tell me that I need to feel any other way.

John [00:18:31]:
Well, and it’s it’s the, we’re growing up in such a bifurcated weird planet where there’s 2 roads. There’s only 2 roads.

Either you are your feelings and you live those feelings out. If you feel a thing, it is true all of a sudden, and you need to make life decisions based on how you feel, you need to not do important things because of how you feel, that’s path 1, and that’s insane.

Feelings aren’t designed to tell us the truth. They’re designed to keep us alive.

And then on the other side, the other story we’re told is if you have a feeling, it’s because you’re weak and you’re a coward, you need to shut your mouth, quit being so selfish, and put your nose back to the grindstone and get after it.

Both of those are insane. Right? And so we have to come to a place where… this happened to me yesterday.

I don’t know anything about this artist, so he may be a terrible person, and he may be wonderful.

There’s a guy that just popped up on my Instagram feed when I was trying to not think about the fact that my son, the baby boy that I prayed for for years.. That we went through years of infertility, then he came out of nowhere, and he leaves 8th grade this year.

He goes to high school. I got 200 weeks left before he’s gone. Right? And this Noah Gunderson guy that pops up on my Instagram, and he is singing an old Counting Crows song that I used to hold hands to girls in middle school and high school with and in the dark and think, the world could never feel this good, right, when you’re when you’re 14.

And he’s singing this Old County Crow song. Dude, I started sobbing so hard I took my daughter who’s 8, her little it’s not a dog.

It’s like a squirrel mated with an animal with a dog. It’s barely a dog and it’s a poofball of a thing and I took it and we went out in the front yard, and I walked around my acres outside of Nashville sobbing because my son’s going to high school, and I don’t I’m not ready for this.

And then and and then I went in to help with dinner because I had stuff I have to do too. So it’s both a thing. Right? I feel this thing, and then go do the right thing. Right? Both are true. And so I’m calling it the new third way.

But you have to feel it, and you have to own it, and you have to be okay saying it out loud, and I’ve gotta go do the next right thing.

Julie [00:21:15]:
All that’s true. We can’t just sit in the sad or we can’t just sit in the I mean, I suppose you could, but that’s not I don’t think the life any of us were put here on earth to live.

I think we’re put here on earth to be extraordinary, and sitting in that doesn’t help us get there even on the days when it feels like we don’t know the next right thing.

Chances are we probably know some tiny, tiny little…

John [00:21:37]:
Go for a walk. Right? And and, by the way, mental health professionals, that’s my gang. We screwed up. We told everybody that mental health was just getting all the right thoughts and feelings in the right order. That’s not true. You gotta go do stuff. Right? You have to move. You have to exercise.

You have to be with people. You gotta join a group of like minded people. You gotta have a coach or a mentor. You gotta have people in your life to keep you that are holding you. I had one mentor tell me it’s like swinging through the jungle on a vine and your vine runs out and you let go.

You don’t see the other vine coming, but you see your mentor up there in the tree and you know, okay, one’s coming. Yeah.

And you’re falling through the you gotta have those people. Right? You can’t just sit and thank and thank and feel and feel and feel and think and think and feel.

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Julie [00:23:39]:

So your 6 6 daily choices,

  • reality
  • connection
  • freedom
  • mindfulness
  • health and healing, belief

I mean, I’ve been in the health and wellness space for a long time, so the health and healing one really resonated a lot with me.

And I wonder if you think or found or believe,

Do people even believe that they need that baseline of health and healing anymore?

Do people believe that they’re worth having that health and healing anymore? Where have we gone off the rails with just being semi healthy?

John [00:24:14]:
I mean, I think it’s as basic as what I would call the over professionalization of just the helping professions. I go to a Dr. for my knee. I go to another Dr. for my gastrointestinal issues. I go to another Dr. for x.

I go to a mental health provider for my psychiatric for my medicine, but I have to go to somebody else to talk about what’s going on because my person who writes me pills isn’t trained on how to listen. Right? And then I go to my pastor for spirit. So I think we’ve created this.

There is no such thing as mental health and physical health and dietary health and nutrition. There’s just health. 

And you can’t possibly expect your body not to try to get your attention if you are metabolically unhealthy. It’s just that I can’t eat, dude. I’m telling you. I just got some news about my show today.

It has exploded in a way that they’re saying, like, one the guy who runs our YouTube channel here says, I read about this in school.

I’ve never seen Wow. And it’s so cool. And you know what I did? I walked across the building straight to this one receptionist area.

She’s got tons of jelly beans in this big huge thing, and I just mainlined them like an addict. Right? Because I’m an introvert who, like, doesn’t know what’s happening, and sometimes insane amounts of sugar and gummy products make me calm. Right?

Until my blood sugar collapses and then I become a terrible human. Right? But like I can’t possibly expect to to avoid feeling uncomfortable by eating garbage and expect my body not to try to get my attention and say, hey.

Hey. Hey. Hey. This is gonna cost us a night of sleep. Let’s not do this.

Or to make me feel a little bit anxious when my blood sugar falls through the floor, or to I can’t not deal with those childhood traumas and expect my kids to not carry some of those bricks that got put in my backpack. Right?

And so, yeah, I think it’s a baseline of saying, no. I’m worth being well so that I can go be the mom, the dad, the brother, coworker, the neighbor that I know I can be, but I need some help with this stuff.

So, yeah, I think we don’t believe we’re worth it. I believe that the Dr. will give us a knee replacement without ever asking about our weight challenges. They will give us a prescription for medication without ever talking about childhood trauma.

It’s just all crumbling underneath us. And so, just look in the mirror and say, no. I’m worth feeling better, like you mentioned. I’m worth my knees and my back not hurting every time I sit up. I’m worth fixing that and crick in my neck.

My crick in my neck was trauma related. It was not chiropractic in nature. Right? The chiropractor made me feel good. You know why? Because he looked me in the eye. He talked to me for a while. He put skin on skin contact.

He made me feel confident, and he [noise] and I always feel good. Right?

After I did some hard trauma therapy for a season, I haven’t had it before. You know what I’m saying? So it’s all wound up there together.

Julie [00:27:32]:
Yeah. So we are all so connected. Everything is so connected. And to your point, I feel like we think it’s different little threads instead of everything just woven together into 1, like, do just one being. Okay, you mentioned the bricks?

Let me my I, the bricks, the bricks. This is what this looks like, so this is your Own your Past, Change Your Future.

These stories are bricks, the bricks we carry around not that I need to read your book to you, it’s fair.

John [00:28:05]:
No, it’s been a couple of years, go for it.

Julie [00:28:07]:
These two pages, the bricks we carry on have a profound lasting downstream effect on our bodies and our relationships, many of these bricks are traumas, either the big cinder blocks, the tiny pebbles.

But this one, you get to determine what happens next. You can set the bricks down and I would suggest you have a responsibility to set the bricks down, to choose healing and forgiveness. You owe it to yourself and you’re worth it.

That visual for me was everything.

And I will tell what I wrote in the the little notes here, when I read that, first of all, it was like it was so spot on to what I was feeling and it was like the first time I’d really heard it articulated that way in a way that made so much sense to my brain visually too.

What I thought first to myself, but the bricks are comfortable. And that’s what makes them hard.

That’s what I wrote down. Setting them down feels scary because the weight of them is comfortable.

John [00:29:05]:
And sometimes the weight keeps you feeling something, or it keeps you what you feel like, if I set these down, I’m gonna float off of out in space.

Yeah. I so I have to acknowledge this upfront. I’m a 6 foot 2, 195 pound Texas male. My parents are still married after 50 something years.

I’ve got an amazing wife, 2 healthy kids. Like, I’ve got everything lined up for me. Right?

And I’ve spent the last 2 decades plus sitting with students and their families, whether it was telling a mom and dad, hey, your child has died.

Your child is no longer with us or telling a young person, hey, they called me to let me know, and I’m telling you your dad’s had a heart attack and he’s passed away.

Or all the marginalized students who’ve just their parents won’t let them come home for Thanksgiving anymore.

Or they got treated wrong.

Like, whatever the thing was, no matter what conversation I had, we always landed in the same space, which is, what are you gonna do now?

And what I didn’t realize until I got out of those private conversations, those private rooms, and I quit I started this crazy world that I’m in now. Right?

My son’s like, dad, you used to be cool when you’re a Dean of Students. Now you’re just a YouTuber. Right?

So when I used to have, like, a real like, I did not understand, I didn’t fully metabolize this disempowerment culture that we live in.

Everybody’s defined by the worst thing that ever happened to them or their characteristics that people may use against them.

And that’s all you’ll ever be. That’s the cap on your life.

You sit over on the side, and we’re gonna send you a check. Somebody else will come take care of you because you can’t do it because x, y, and z. And I’m telling you, I reject that because I’ve seen it.

I’ve seen these kids on the margins go out and do amazing things, and I’ve seen parents say I’m sorry. I should never have said that to you. I’m gonna do right by you. And I’ve seen kids who lost everything and mom and dads who lost kids.

They circle back. There’s one father I still text ever at the beginning of every hunting season, and I had to call him and talk to him about when his son passed away.

And his son was in him. That was what they shared together, and I still text him to this day.

I’ve seen it. And I just can’t participate in this culture of disempowerment anymore.  And so, whatever it is you’re carrying, and by the way, most people didn’t put those bricks in their own backpack.

Their dad did. Their uncle did. Their grandparents did. Their neighborhood did. Whatever.

But at some point, you have to decide, am I gonna keep carrying this? And this is gonna be my legacy, or I’m gonna set this down and learn how to walk free. And, I’ve just seen it.

And I guess, I often find myself believing in the person across the table more than that person believes in themself. And so that’s the genesis of that. I just want people to say yes.

It’s like being on a boat all day. You know, you’re out skiing, you’re on a boat, and then you get on the land and it just feels weird because you figure walk. That’s what it’s like.

You gotta figure out how to walk again, and it’s worth every crooked wobbly step.

Julie [00:32:14]:
Yeah. That analogy, hands down, that analogy is game changing, it’s life changing. Because when you can start to identify what those bricks are, and start to take them out 1 by 1, and I keep thinking, if I don’t do this, I’m actually giving these to my daughters.

John [00:32:32]:
You’re handing them to your kids. Yeah.

Julie [00:32:33]:
I’m handing them to my children. Now, why would I as a parent want to do that? Right. I better get to work figuring this out.

  • Why am I so anxious?
  • Why do I feel this way?
  • Why am I so worried?
  • Why am I feeling like this?

You know, the catalyst for me was a transition into us becoming really officially empty nesters.

Because I know it’s hard when your child goes to high school, but when your children are grown out of your house making their own money and their own decisions without any input from you, it is a whole new ballgame.

John [00:33:07]:
I spent 20 years hugging, weeping dads on move in day, and I was like, I would roll my eyes and be like, oh gosh.

And then I dropped Hank off when he was, like, 2 at a, like, a Tuesday, Thursday school from noon to 11 AM. And I sat in the parking lot and wept. I was like, my son’s gone. And I’m like, so, no, I know it’s coming, man.

Julie [00:33:27]:
It’s the weirdest transition in the world. It really is.

John [00:33:29]:
Okay. But can I think it’s important? The bricks are they show up, and they will pop back in and you didn’t realize it. Here’s another analogy that I think resonates well.

Your body puts GPS pins and things that happen to you when you’re young, and it scans the environment 24/7, 365 for that potential threat again. What does that mean?

Here’s what me and my wife are experiencing right now. We have a son going to 9th grade. 9th grade for me was 9th, 10th, and 11th, and 12th grade. I peaked.

I’m one of those losers. 18 was it for me, and it was downhill until I crashed.

t was so fun. It was madness. There were no phones. It was just punk rock shows and football games. It was stupid. So dumb.

My wife recognized like, like, 9th grade girls have you… I’m preaching a choir. Like, it’s holy. It’s hell. It’s hell. Right?

And it never let up. It never let up. So entering into high school, her body is saying not safe, not safe, not safe, not safe, not safe, not safe, not safe. And mine is going, oh, my goodness. Right?

And my poor son is in the middle going, right back and forth, back and forth. And so, we have to say, hey, my experience where high school is amazing is not his. Right.

And you didn’t realize it, but you woke up yesterday morning, and you had another brick in that backpack that we didn’t even know was there.

Because your body’s trying to get your attention and say, high school wasn’t safe for you. It’s not gonna be safe for him.

John [00:35:11]:
And why was it not safe for you? Because of this one guy tried this, because this professor looked at you this way, because this like, all those things.

And those bricks aren’t in my backpack, but you know what else is in my backpack?

I had really bad acne. And I had one girlfriend when I was 16 years old. She’s so beautiful. And she looked at me and said, you would be so cute if your teeth weren’t so yellow. And to this day, I’m in my forties. I still smile, like, with my mouth closed to this day. And so I am carrying crap around.

But as parents, I have to acknowledge that or I’m gonna start poking at my son. Hey, make sure you do this. Hey, woah, woah. Yeah, my wife’s gonna say, Hey, let’s not go to that party. Let’s don’t do this. Let’s sit on this. And what? He’s gonna have to carry that.

John [00:35:56]:
That’s not his job. That’s not his job.

Julie [00:35:58]:
Yeah. But that is probably the hardest part of parenting. It’s the worst. It’s the worst. To know it, to be self aware enough than to do the work on it.

But what I will say to all the parents out there, well, to anyone, but parents, especially to all the parents out there, if you’re doing the work, your kids are seeing you do the work, that is huge.

John [00:36:19]:
That’s the gift. That’s the gift. It’s not that it’s not healed with the period. It’s, oh, my mom’s going to the gym.

Oh, my mom’s going to therapy. Oh, my mom just went in and came back into my room and said, hey. I didn’t handle that right.

It’s not your job to make me feel better because I’m the adult. I love you. You can’t talk to me that way, but I love you. And we’re gonna come back tomorrow when we talk. Like, they’re watching you

Julie [00:36:41]:
They’re watching that.

John [00:36:42]:
You’re giving them a path for, okay, when I say the wrong thing, when I fall down Yeah. I now have a picture of what that looks like to get back up. Yeah. That’s the gift. That’s the gift, not perfection.

Julie [00:36:53]:
Right. Especially as they get older and, you know, they see us transition into this next chapter, what I saw, my parents, it was just a completely different generation, and just kind of how they went through midlife and empty nesting and all of that.

It’s very different. I mean, 40 looks different now than 40 looks different then. 50 looks different now than 50 looks different. It’s just everything looks different.

And so it’s kind of part of the parental responsibility for me to give them a different roadmap, because it’s just different. And it doesn’t have to look like it did.

And you don’t have to be sad all the time. And I’m just really I’m just really glad your books fell into my life when they did.


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Growth Day

Curated by world-renowned High Performance Coach, Brendon Burchard, Growth Day is packed full of masterclasses and messages from some of the world’s top mindset and motivational coaches.

John [00:37:35]:
Well, I’m really grateful for your kindness, man. That means a lot to me. Because you write those things in, like, spun out in a hotel room all by yourself surrounded by trash, candy, and, wishing you weren’t such a loser.

And so it’s good a year later that somebody picks it up, and it’s like, no, this is helping me out.

Julie [00:37:54]:
Actually, it’s like yeah. It’s game changing. So what’s next? What’s next for you? I mean, this podcast, this podcast is amazing, that is like going off the rails.

Tell me this quickly if you can. How do you separate what you take in on the podcast from from home? Like, you take a lot in on the podcast. How do you not take that home?

John [00:38:17]:
The podcast part is easier, mainly because this sounds wild, but all I have is a voice. And so, like, it still makes me laugh that the YouTube show’s taking off because it’s basically the most annoying thing. You?

Watching somebody talk on the phone, which is what we all hate when we’re with somebody, and they’re like, hold on. I gotta talk on the phone. That’s the worst, but that’s the show. Right?

But it’s somebody calling in. And so it’s a voice. The part I just sat with a family, in the worst nightmare.

And so in real life, I still sit with folks, and there’s a family just, they’re they just, buried their daughter with pediatric cancer. And, that I have not been able to shake yet. And I don’t want to, I don’t want to ever be able to shake that.

And it haunts me, and I don’t sleep. And I find myself hanging on to my hugs with my 8 year old daughter a little longer, and I think all that’s good. Right?

So when it comes to this show, there’s a couple of calls that will hang on me every now and then, but, I think that separation and it’s also you know, it’s been a great reminder for me that just texting my wife, hey. I love you. Hope you’re having a great day. That’s not communication. That’s not a connection. I’m just sending her data.

I’m not connecting with her. In the same way that somebody can call me on the phone and say, hey, I cheated on my husband, and I don’t know how to tell anybody, and I just blew up my marriage. And will you talk to me? Will you help me?

Or my daughter’s sick and has cancer, and I don’t know what to do. And I can hang up the phone and then just go to lunch. That’s not because I’m psychotic.

It’s because we shared information back and forth. We’ve shared some connections there. But if you were sitting with me in person, it’d be a much different experience.

And so it’s a good reminder that these digital tools are cool, but they have to point back to human to human interaction. You gotta have real people connecting with you.

Julie [00:40:10]:
That’s a big key in really both of your books that that connection and that human relationship is

John [00:40:17]:
It’s everything.

Julie [00:40:18]:
It’s everything.

John [00:40:20]:
I actually have begun to ask my researcher nerd buddies who do social science psychology research, like, I’m really starting to have a lot of doubts about most of the stuff that’s out there, and here’s why.

Because almost every psychological study isolates somebody and then looks at them under a microscope.

Similar, I can’t know about my dog by I might know if my dog has an infection by looking at it at the cellular level, But I won’t know what color it is. It’s it’s it’s it’s it’s disposition. It’s joy whether it can sit or keep pooping in the house.

I don’t know any of that stuff. And so by pulling a person away from their tribe and looking at them really close and saying, oh, this is I know people now. No. You don’t.

Because I think you only know people in their gang. Right? That’s when people act the way they’re gonna act. Right? When they’re with their tribe or not with their tribe.

And so I’m becoming more convinced by the day that who we are in the community is about everything. That’s how we are even in, like, with marriage. Like, you gotta be fully you. They’ve gotta be fully them, and then y’all can give no.

You find out who you are as you do this thing together.

Which is scary, but that’s the way it works.

Julie [00:41:38]:
That’s the way it works. So what’s next for you? What’s gonna be the next book? What’s the next book that will change my life, John? I need that quickly. Can you get on that?

John [00:41:46]:
Well, so, as a part of that I was telling you earlier, a part of me and my wife sitting across the table from each other, we started, I had a buddy of mine, and he was a business professor. And he said, how stupid is it that businesses will spend months strategic planning for the next year, the next 5 years?

How stupid is it that businesses go through their monthly budgets and their weekly budgets and their annual budgets?

How stupid is it that 1 like, companies have leaders and then they have 1 on ones with their people that report up with their employees, and none of that matters.

And then we looked at our home. We get married. There’s no map for that. We just go. And then you have a kid, and 2 and 3. There’s no map.

You’re just like, I guess I’ll Google it. I’ll look on Instagram. Right? And so as a part of my wife and I deciding we’re gonna rebuild a new marriage, it was we’re gonna start strategic planning every year. And we’re gonna sit down at a table and say, how was your year?

What are some things we would need to grieve, when it comes to sex and intimacy, when it comes to hey. We’ve never tried to make out and have a high school kid.

That’s gonna be different from us because we can’t get away with it anymore. Right? Because he’s right there. His room’s right there.

So I mean, it’s gonna be different. What does that mean for us? Right. And all those things out on the table. So I mentioned that, and I’ve never had any I’ve never had feedback like that ever.

People first wanted the PDF document, like, what are the questions y’all ask and how do you do it? And then it turned into something bigger.

And so I think the next step is, I got haunted by a question at a live event I was doing. Someone said, hey. Can you prove that marriage is still worth it?

And I could say, mine is, for me, it saved my life, but I didn’t have the data and couldn’t say, yeah, financially yes, and emotionally yes, and psychologically yes, and physically yes.

I couldn’t make a case for it off top of my head. And so I got back to my admin. I was like, order every book on marriage that exists on Amazon. All of them. She’s like, all of them?

And I looked at her, and she goes, alright. I’ll get all of them. And so I’ve gone down a rabbit hole.

And it’s kinda my obsession now, because I think if we can I think most people wanna be married well? And I think people don’t have the tools, and their moms and dads, they know they don’t wanna do it like that, but they don’t know what that means.

And, I think if we can heal marriages, then we can heal parent kid relationships. And if we can heal homes, then we can heal this psychosis that we have in our culture.

And so, I’m kind of obsessed with giving people tools, because the rules of marriage have changed, and I don’t think people know how to deal with them.

Julie [00:44:21]:
And nobody talks about well, nobody talks about anything, you know?

John [00:44:24]:
They don’t talk about anything. Right?

Julie [00:44:25]:
No one talks about anything. And, I mean, certainly no one prepared me for this season of life. No one talks about marriage. They’re, I mean, my in-laws were just here.

They’ve been married forever. Forever and ever and ever. Forever and ever. Forever and, my parents and my dad’s been gone now a long time, but my parents are married for a long time.

And neither one of those sets of humans ever sat down with my husband and I and went, okay, now here’s where you’re gonna have some challenges or this is gonna be no, there’s no it was like, wedding, yay, okay.

John [00:45:02]:
And, like, we just aren’t honest about you and I could both be out for a run. And my old 6th grade girlfriend, I won’t say her name here, but the first girl I ever pet kissed at the local dance at Creekwood Middle School, right, in Houston, Texas.

I can tell you the song that was playing. Bad English is when I see you smile. I know it all. But she pops into my head, and I think, I wonder what she’s doing now. And for all of human history up until about 15 years ago, that was all that was.

And now I can get online and go see how she’s doing. And then I can shoot her a note. It says it looks like things are going great. And then she’s gonna say, that’s so cool. I’m gonna be in your town next week.

Can we get together for coffee? And we don’t have a road map for, woah. Right? Now we have just entered a variable into a modern relationship that has never existed before.

And that’s one of a 1000 different you know what would help your marriage? Y’all all just go, I won’t even get into it. But it’s just gotten bananas, right, with people grasping for straws as to how do I stay anchored into something relationally that’s bigger than me and at the same time, feel good about it and think good about it.

And when I don’t feel good, what does that mean? Does it mean it’s over or yada yada? So all I have to say is it’s become… I don’t know, I feel like it’s important, and I’m obsessed with it right now.

Julie [00:46:31]:
It all ties into a non anxious life. And I will say this, something that I really appreciate about your writing is when you talk about the belief, you talk about believing something bigger than yourself.

I love and resonate so deeply with the fact that it is so open ended the way you talk about it. And I just want you to know that there’s no, like, and this is the way. No.

We need a billion things bigger than ourselves. Whatever that looks like for you is awesome. And I think that’s not as common as it should be.

And it’s just really low. It’s just a lovely permission to explore what that might look like for each person.

John [00:47:06]:
One of the greatest gifts my dad gave me was halfway through my childhood, he quit being this super awesome, SWAT hostage negotiator.

And for those of you who listen and don’t know what that is, if somebody in the city of Houston had a bomb and said they’re gonna blow up a building or somebody was gonna jump off a building, they called in my dad.

And there’s all the you’ve seen the movies and it’s all the teams, But my dad was the one who would show up in a t- shirt and sit down and be like, hey, man. What’s going on? And talk to you. And there was no phone.

I mean, it was all person to person. And, he was such a gifted communicator. Well, halfway through my childhood, he quit that job over a weekend, and he’d always volunteered with youth programs in our community, in our local church.

And our church called him in. It’s a 1,000 person church, which back then, there wasn’t such a thing as a mega church back then. And they said, hey, we’d like to hire you to help our youth out. And he was like, alright. And he quit.

But here’s what he did. And I I at the time, I was, like, 12, I don’t and I rolled my eyes like I always did when he spoke when I was 12, but he said this, he said, belief in God is important to me, and it needs to be important to you, but now I’m not, I’m your minister now, and you’re not gonna be able to hear me both as a minister, you’re not gonna be able to hear me as a dad. And so, two things.

You gotta find men in your life that you trust, and I’ll point you in that direction. That’s my job. And the second thing is if you don’t find it here in this building, I don’t care. But go find something bigger than you.

Go find God somewhere where you can worship. And at the time, I didn’t realize he could lose his job by me going to a you know what I mean?

But that idea that I’m not gonna hold the outcome so tight. What I’m gonna hold really tightly is you gotta believe in something bigger than yourself.

Yeah. And I want you to know I love you, and I want you to go find it, and I’ll support you where you end up.

And that freedom, we go basically to the same church now. But that freedom to go find something, it was that that was such a gift, where he would have, he would have, suffocated me the other way around.

Julie [00:49:16]:
Yeah. For sure. Well, that made I just think it made your book so much even more accessible than it already is.

John [00:49:22]:
I appreciate that. I appreciate that. The goal is to, man, the goal is to have as many people sitting around the table trying to figure it out as possible.

Julie [00:49:29]:
Oh, my gosh. I just I mean… Me standing on the corner of my street just handing these books out everywhere that I possibly can.

That’s my next job. So where can people find you when they want to find you on this wild roller coaster that you’re on?

John [00:49:45]:
You can find me hiding under my front porch probably digging a hole trying to plant a tree or something. Yes, that actually is where you can find me, but, you can go to the John DeLoney Show after… only after you listen to this podcast.

Then if you have some spare time, you can go listen to the Dr. John Deloney Show, or you can watch it on YouTube. And, you can follow me on the internet at John Deloney. It’s awesome. Yeah. Awesome. Hospitality.

John [00:50:13]:
I’m really grateful for you, Julie. That’s awesome. Oh, gosh.

Julie [00:50:15]:
You’re awesome. I just appreciate you sharing some time with me. This has been fantastic.

John [00:50:19]:
Anytime. Anytime. You’re the best. Appreciate you.

Meet Dr. John DeLoney

You are worth being well.

After spending over twenty years in crisis response and leading students in higher education (and finding real solutions and freedom in his own wellness journey), John knew he wanted to help as many people as possible heal from their past trauma and live whole, connected lives.

He now writes, speaks and teaches on relationships, mental health, anxiety and wellness. He also hosts The Dr. John Delony Show where he answers callers’ questions about all of the above, and serves as co-host of The Ramsey Show where he helps unpack the psychology behind finances.

When John isn’t working, you can find him hanging out with his wife and two kids on their farm in Tennessee, headbanging at some obscure concert, or obsessing over his new lifting routine.

Thank you so much for listening to the Crank It Up podcast. If you know a friend who would benefit from this I mean, who wouldn’t? If you know a friend who would benefit from this episode, this conversation around personal growth, will you share this episode with them? I would appreciate it.

Let’s get the world, especially women, talking about personal growth. Let’s get the world, especially women, on an intentional personal growth journey. Let’s get the world, especially women, talking about cranking up your goals, cranking up your dreams, and cranking up your life.

Want more motivation & inspo sent directly to your inbox? Subscribe to my Peptalks!

Ready to level up your personal growth & development? Get info on the #1 tool I use on my journey! 

And let’s get connected on Instagram @julievoris and

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